Let justice work Yet another piece extolling the virtue of the Australian government getting involved in the Assange case (“Time is right for Morrison to step up for Assange,” December 16). This man is involved in a complex legal fight, being prosecuted and defended by the most senior legal minds, and being heard before the highest courts in the land. What would be the relevance of a prime ministerial letter to the court suggesting that the man be set free on the basis of him being an Australian citizen and demonstrating we don’t much care for the British justice system?
— Letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 2021
Julian Assange is being tortured to death in a British prison. How can this be?
On 22 April, a British Magistrate’s Court ordered the extradition of Assange to the US to face charges under a World War I espionage Act, with Assange facing certain death in a hellish prison. How can this be?
Assange has an army of supporters across the globe. Their support has had little to no tangible impact on Assange’s fate. How can this be?
Among the rest (the majority) are the indifferent and those who are hostile to various degrees, precisely because the US and the UK have captured him and put him on trial. Assange has to be guilty of something or other. After all, these countries are pivotal leaders of the “free world”!
Then there’s Assange’s run-in in Sweden. Sweden, as we all know, is pure as the driven snow. Assange must be guilty of whatever the Swedes are charging him with. His skipping bail on the Swedish charges to the embassy of some banana republic confirms his probable guilt.
It’s all a matter of black and white. Do the Assange supporters not much care for the British justice system and, after a millennium of organic evolution, its evident majesty?
The letter writer, by virtue of him being a reader of the Sydney Morning Herald (in contrast with the Murdoch trash media) would no doubt consider himself right-thinking – morally concerned and reasonably well-informed.
He may be vaguely familiar with the fact that the US has a few peccadilloes to its credit, invading and/or overturning governments that aren’t to its taste. Perhaps they deserved it! But one first has to break through the dense fog of the “freedom and democracy” epithet that is the US’ calling card.
It is possible, unless actively researching the issue and having access to a decent library, that he sees what he knows as aberrations and is not aware of the extent of such interventions. But even the moderately curious would discover (the late) William Blum and thus his succession of books on a common theme. The text of Rogue State (2002 edition) is even available on the web.
After galloping ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population and violent appropriation of vast tracts of Mexican land, the Yanks moved onto a highly profitable war with Spain and the world was their oyster. It’s now in their DNA and appears incurable. “Manifest destiny” is its coat of arms.
Best not to know these petty details, as the US is our protector Down Under against evil everywhere, now embodied in the gigantic Yellow Peril threat from the North.
Nor is Sweden lily-white. Sweden (with Finland) did not join NATO (unlike Norway and Denmark/Iceland/Greenland), in spite of consistent pressure from the US after World War II – the US seeking Scandinavian bases for ready access to Soviet territory. Sweden (with Finland) remains outside NATO but has long been a fellow traveller, its military increasingly embedded with NATO and the US – thus joining in belligerent military exercises.
There is the curious case of the assassination of political giant Olaf Palme in February 1986. Officially, the case remains unsolved. The trail of Lee Harvey Oswald patsies has run dry. Diana Johnstone, in her 2020 memoir Circle in the Darkness, airs another possibility (Ch.17). It is not out of the question, she notes, that the killing could have been the work of Sweden’s security police “whose notorious hostility to the late Prime Minister Palme made them prime suspects, if not as perpetrators, then as accomplices of the friendly security forces of another country”.
As backdrop, Johnstone refers to articles by Al Burke, “Death of a Troublesome Socialist,” February 2011, and “With Licence to Kill and Cover Up,” January 2017 (this latter cannot be found by googling). Jordan Shilton also weighs in on WSWS, “Decades-long cover-up continues …,” June 2020.
The celebrity noir novelist Stieg Larsson was at the Palme murder scene the next day to map the terrain in his then journalistic capacity as illustrator. Years after Larsson’s death in 2004, his friend Jan Stocklassa discovered a massive cache of documents collected in pursuit of the assassination. Stocklassa published a book in 2018 based on Larsson’s material and it has been in the relevant authority’s hands since. The investigation continues at breakneck speed …
Sweden participated in the CIA’s post-9/11 “extraordinary rendition” program, facilitating the secretive global movement of abducted supposed terrorists to other countries for interrogation. Sweden has recently announced that it is sending anti-tank weaponry to Ukraine as one “democracy” to another.
Swedish authorities ignored Assange’s offers to be questioned, both initially in Sweden and subsequently in England. Assange’s then lawyer, Mark Stephens, described Sweden as “one of the lickspittle states” of the US. Sweden bears primary responsibility for Assange’s almost 10-year long incarceration.
As for the UK, here is that blessed nation that brought civilisation to the uncivilised (the “White Man’s Burden”), of which we (white) Australians are representative and exemplary beneficiaries.
The lie that is the UK’s “civilising mission” is better submerged than that of the US’ history. Britain might have brought the unifying elements of the English language, the common law and the trains to India. But at what cost in how many millions of lives, local economies and societies dismantled, and ending in the holocaust surrounding the 1947 partition.
But before India there is Ireland – a masterpiece of centuries-long repression and grievous exploitation. An edifying documentation of the essentially repressive character of British imperial rule is given in Richard Gott’s 2011 Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt.
As Britain loses its empire, it lashes out on its way to seeming global irrelevance, not least in Kenya and Malaya. Five standout rearguard ops are the 1944 bloody intervention in Greece, the 1953 coup in Iran over oil, the 1956 invasion of Eqypt over the Suez Canal, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 alliance with Sarkozy’s France in the overthrow of Gaddafi and the destruction of Libya.
In the first, the US was aiding Britain. By 1965, Britain had been reduced to playing satrap for Washington with the occupation of the Chagos Archipelago and subsequent handing over for occupation by the US. True to its new role, in 2003 Britain conspired with the US to invade Iraq and supplied 18,000 troops to show the Iraqis who was boss by destroying the country. The “suicided” David Kelly was a casualty on the home front of this aggression.
Establishment journalist David Hayes noted in April 2013 (reflecting on a decade after the Iraq invasion) that: “After all, martialism in Britain is self-replenishing: since the late nineteenth century, 1968 is the only year that no British soldier has died in action.” This self-replenishing martialism is also reflected in Britain’s preposterous commitment to upgrading its Trident nuclear “deterrent” and to the construction of two mega aircraft carriers.
Increasingly, Britain’s attempted ongoing global reach has been directed through underground black ops. Representative is Britain’s joining with the CIA by 1964 in Ghana in secretly undermining Nkrumah (deposed in 1966). A significant black op involved, from 1965, the undermining of Indonesia’s Sukarno (who opposed Britain in Malaya) and support of the Suharto coup and associated large-scale massacre. Britain has provided material support for Israel’s illegal occupation, in spite of the terrorist foundation of that state on the spilling of British blood (notably in the blowing up of British HQ in the King David Hotel, July 1946). Recently, Britain has provided significant support to the terrorist-aligned “White Helmets” group in Syria.
Britain is also active indirectly into arms supply (juicy profits for BAE) for rogue nations (as in Saudi Arabia’s relentless mass murder in Yemen).
Time-scarce and/or disbelieving readers looking for a general roundup of Britain’s ongoing nefarious global ambitions will find it in Mark Curtis’ 2003 Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World. Add Curtis’ 2010 Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam. Subsequently, Curtis (with colleagues) has maintained the exposure with the online site Declassified UK.
Then there’s Russia. For centuries, Britain has had Russia / the Soviet Union / Russia in its sights. Britain did a sterling job in brushing off the Soviet Union’s extended push for collective security against Hitler, via the persistent and long-suffering Maxim Litvinov (vide Michael Jabara Carley’s 1999 1939: The alliance that never was and the Coming of World War II). Rather, let Hitler direct his military might at the Russians themselves. Kill two birds …
The long obsession of British Intelligence (sic) with Russia is pilloried by John Helmer here (October 2020). This parry is in the context of the much-publicised “novichok” poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March 2018 near Skripal’s home in Salisbury. Helmer has pursued the Skripal story forensically in myriad articles on his site. The British authorities have it that the evil Russians poisoned the ex-double agent and daughter (and Dawn Sturgess by accident) with a deadly poison. The unfortunate Sturgess is dead, with some health- and lifestyle-related factors plausibly responsible. The Skripals, however, are very much alive, spoiling the script. They are being held prisoners – they have been “vanished” by the Brits and not by the Russians – so that they cannot tell their side of the story.
Again, the establishment journalist David Hayes is instructive. His comments refer to the character of the 2003-04 Hutton Inquiry (the death of David Kelly and the media), the 2004 Butler Review (WMD-related “intelligence”), the 2009-11 Chilcot Inquiry (the Iraq invasion in general), and a 2010 strategic and defense review – A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty.
“As part of the methodology of elite British governance, [these documents are] impressive to behold. But it is also a performance in which all involved are conscious of their core function, namely to record, criticise, recommend, move on – while leaving everything fundamentally as it is. …
“… Britain’s inquests on matters of state tend to remain circumscribed, not just by their terms of reference but also by the informal formalities of the elite political culture. It’s also because much of the past – empire and all that – is still too uncomfortable to examine closely. …
“The [2010 strategic and defense] review says that “Britain’s interests remain surprisingly constant,” and that “in order to protect our interests at home, we must project our influence abroad” via “continued full and active engagement in world affairs.” For Britain’s leaders, the desire to “punch above our weight” (as Douglas Hurd put it in 1993) is a given. Britain, it seems, both needs and can have it all.”
In short, Britain continues to seek to “punch above its weight” and damn the consequences for its victims.
Of which Julian Assange, kept in confinement in a high-security prison on trumped up charges and in a cage during court proceedings.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury was first performed in 1875. There we hear from the bench:
“Though all my law is fudge / Yet I’ll never, never budge / But I’ll live and die a Judge! / It was managed by a job! / It was managed by a job! / It is patent to the mob / That my being made a nob / Was effected by a job.”
Trial by Jury was a victimless farce. The farce that is the Assange series of trials is of enormous consequence. Not only is Assange’s life at stake, but the integrity of the British legal and judicial system in its entirety.
Facing the preposterous Vanessa Braitser, Assange’s defense team should have early broken into song. Without doubt, W.S. Gilbert’s thinly-veiled reality script was not invented out of thin air. In Assange, the dénouement of the British judicial system has been a long time coming.
What does Her Majesty think of all this? She must have an inkling of the dark side but formally retains her monarchical detachment. Yet the Queen has just knighted the war criminal Tony Blair! I read somewhere that 63 per cent of those polled were against, and that an opposing petition had collected more than 1 million signatures. On a par with the record demonstrations that opposed Blair’s war dance at the time.
We know, courtesy of the dogged work of Australian historian Jenny Hocking, that Buckingham Palace participated knowingly in the dismissal of Australian Prime Minster Gough Whitlam in November 1975. Royalty directly involved in cloak and dagger and knife in the back activity in one of the Crown’s most faithful dominions.
The imminent dubbing, on order, of Tony Blair might have been an appropriate occasion for the Queen to call it quits. But no, the show of splendour, whatever it hides, must go on. The British Monarchy as lipstick on a pig?
The US state is essentially a criminal enterprise. Ditto the British state.
This reality generates an existential crisis for us right-thinking Anglos. We can’t accept it or live with it. We are mercifully a part of the “good guys” team, at permanent war with the “bad guys” team. Period. Our sense of ourselves, our entire being, our world of ideas and truth (fed daily by the media and sources that we trust) is entirely rooted in the good guys – bad guys duality.
It’s a massive case of cognitive dissonance. In August 2021, Jonathon Cook gave us an extended tour of the significance of this malady with respect to the reality of climate change and attendant massive environmental degradation. And of those vested interests that want to keep us in our security bubble in ignoring the impending catastrophe.
But cognitive dissonance reigns supreme in our stance regarding global conflicts. We don’t want to know.
This has been confirmed in spades in Western popular uproar (nurtured by our respectable media) against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, wanting to know nothing of the background to that invasion. Fortunately the current Australian Government has our well-being at hand. It is acting to prevent “the driving and disseminating false narratives about the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine …” and sanctioning the purveyors of such. There are no neo-Nazis in Ukraine by order. We can sleep easy.
Hence the indifference or antagonism to Assange. To accept that Assange might be a victim of the “good guys” team of which we are members is to throw overboard everything that defines us.
The truth, alas, is that, as Walt Kelly’s Pogo lamented, the enemy is us. The crime of Assange is that he holds a mirror to the ugly side of ourselves.
Julian Assange is being crucified for our sins.
This article is a modified version of that appearing on Dissident Voice, 9 March 2022.