And so the Left and progressive movement in the UK and further afield rip themselves apart over Julian Assange. I’d repeatedly said to myself ‘Don’t blog on this, you’ll annoy people, get your blood pressure up, and waste a good hour of your life’. But, I can’t help it, after seeing ‘old heroes’ of the left supporting a bloke who has taken residence in a foreign embassy to avoid answering allegations of serious sexual assault, and hearing on the TV news people cheering him as if he’s some sort of hero.
Wikileaks started off with some good ideas, but I started falling out with it big time when it made some serious errors of judgement or process and ended up publishing secret information that made it more likely for folks who’d acted as interpreters or informers to Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to be identified. All of a sudden the business of providing ‘Heat magazine for the chattering political classes’ was also making it possible for folks to be shot, bombed or tortured to death for giving information to Western forces. Whether some folks on the left actually applauded this accidental release I don’t know – but any blood spilt because of these leaks has to lie at the door of Wikileaks and it’s team.
When Assange got himself in to trouble with allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, it was immediately leapt upon by many of the left as a set up of some sort. Stories abounded about whether the events had happened, whether the women were CIA agents, all sorts of stuff. the bottom line, though, was that Assange was wanted for questioning about these allegations in Sweden, ended up in London, then went to the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden as he and his supporters felt that he would be extradited to the US to answer potential espionage charges. Which is ironic in itself, given that a journalist in Ecuador picked up 3 years in jail for ‘defamation’ of the Government of that country…. http://www.hrw.org/americas/ecuador
Which is where we are today, with long time doyens of the left like Tariq Ali, Ken Loach and John Pilger bending over backwards in support, and the progressive and left movement in the UK tearing itself apart over the whole issue. I hate being able to say ‘I told you so…’ but I’m afraid that I’ve been warning anyone who will listen about the dangers from Assange for at least 3 years. Here are a few points for my left wing friends supporting Assange to bear in mind.
If the US wanted Assange, I’m quite sure that between 2010 and now, it defies belief that the evil US Government wouldn’t have snatched him off the streets of wherever he happened to be. The fact that they haven’t means that either they don’t want him badly enough, they don’t want him at all, or the US Government isn’t quite that evil….
It would be easier for the US to request extradition directly from the UK than go through this malarkey of asking Sweden to extradite first. In recent years the UK has agreed to extradite bankers, alleged terrorists and computer hackers at the drop of a hat. Are you genuinely trying to tell me that the UK Government wouldn’t agree, if asked, to extradite someone who the US want to talk to over leaks that may have impacted on UK military and diplomatic issues?
The likelihood of Assange being extradited from Sweden is low; why won’t he answer questions about the alleged allegations?
The whole issue looks like it reinforces a lot of rumours about just how mysoginistic the British left and it’s supporters can be when ‘the cause’ is viewed to be under threat. By refusing to even consider whether or not the sexual assault allegations have any ground to them at all, supporters are denigrating the stories of women who have been assaulted.
Is the blind support of Assange and Wikileaks worth the massive rift that is being caused in the left and progressive movement? Or is it a traditional knee jerk reaction as described by Nick Cohen in ‘What’s Left’ in which anything that gives the opportunity to hit at the US or UK must be right?
Come on folks, think this out – the Wikileaks material is what I’d expect to see in secret documents. There’s little, if anything, in there that hasn’t been brought to the attention of journalists through other means. Just how many of the supporters of Assange have read the Wikileaks stuff? Did it enlighten you about anything? Is it worth the risk that by splitting the progressive movement around Assange and Wikileaks we damage the chances of change in the future?
Think carefully – the folks who’re suffering hard under Government policies in the UK right now may be very unforgiving if this demonstration of how ‘right on’ the left can be wrecks the chance of change.