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Tuesday, August 21, 2012



There's only one song to listen to at present! Play it as loud as you can and sing it in the street.
(there's not too many lyrics to remember!).

Bravo to Rafael Correa for standing up to the international bully boys and granting Julian Assange political asylum. And shame on the British government for the pathetic stance they have taken on this issue. Mind you, it's exactly what we would have expected from William Hague and his rancid Neo-Con crew.

Also, on the subject of Ecuador, don't miss this great piece by the U.S. writer Glenn Greenwald on how western human rights critics of Ecuador & Russia parade their own hypocrisy. These people pretend to be oh, so concerned with the plight of political dissidents in countries which are independent from The Empire, but when they have a case of a political dissident facing persecution at home, they attack the dissident and side with the authorities. 


Robin Carmody said...

Two wrongs, Neil. Two wrongs.

Just because Western elites are riddled with hypocrisy and double standards *doesn't* mean that opponents of non-Western governments should just sit back and listen to their equivalents of "No Charge".

You can dismiss the one without needing to make excuses for the other; you can believe that Western governments have their own agenda, and act independently of that agenda, while still supporting dissidents in other societies. They shouldn't be set against each other in this cynical, dispiriting, either-or way.

Robin Carmody said...

I also think your "non-Western governments can do no wrong and anyone who supports their dissidents wants a one-world government, Western governments can do no right and their dissidents should be supported in all circumstances without any reservations" stance is at least as hollow and cynical as anything we hear from Western elites.

If you were a true humanist, you would be concerned about (for example) the Russian *people*, not the Russian *government*. You wouldn't want a non-Westerner taking the Cameron government to be the universal voice of all the British people, so why do you reduce those peoples to their governments? A true humanist, as opposed to a cynical politician, supports dissidents for the value of their causes in themselves, not according to their geopolitical convenience or otherwise.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Robin,

best response to that is the one from Chomsky which Glenn Greenwald quoted in his excellent Guardian piece y'day.

"It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century."

Political journalists in UK should be principally concerned with fighting for real, meaningful democracy in their own country before getting on their soapboxes to tell other countries what to do. When we do have real, meaningful democracy in the UK, when we do have social justice, when we do have a peaceful, international law abiding foreign policy and a govt that rejects war and making threats of war to other countries, then perhaps we can start to focus on other countries and their shortcomings. Let's get our own house in order first before we criticise/lecture others.

btw- hope you're enjoying the BBC4 Top of the Pops 1977 repeats. Last night's show, which featured the Alessi Bros & Fleetwood Mac among others, was a real classic.
Repeated again I think at weekend.

brian said...

hypocrisy 101!
note : '“It is a very serious issue if the bases are being used for purposes other than those explicitly set out in the Treaty of Establishment,” Markouli said.'....this is also the line used by the brits re Ecuador and Assange...that the embassy may or is being used for other than intended purposes etc

brian said...

Robins method is a familar gambit to freeze the activist into Burridans ass

Mark said...

Neil- Yesterday's article by Greenwald is even better. He demolishes the credibility of the the NS in-house 'legal expert' David Allen Green

Anonymous said...

If this whole story really is all about Assange running from US bullies, I reckon he is already fucked. (With all respect to them, I don't think Ecuador could protect him from the long reach of CIA snatch squads or assasins - not in the long run at least.)

On the other hand, maybe he really is just running away from the rape charges? It may seem pretty far fetched as an idea, but this is at least possible IMHO.

Undergroundman said...

On the subject of double standards and hypocrisy, the current crisis in Syria is instructive.

The problem is that international politics in the West since 1990 has become less about cautious diplomacy and far more about competing radical visions about reordering the world according to ideological precepts.

By comparison, Russia and China do not base their foreign policy on trying to overthrow regimes or demand adherence to human rights and to promote democracy but only it's power interests.

In that sense, powers that do not share the liberal internationalist stance of the USA and EU are not seen to be as hypocritical as they make no high standards they can be called to account on by internal critics.

The noble idea of human rights has become a tool of the USA to put forth a messianic vision in which it can do no fundamental wrong as it uses Great Power status to advance democracy.

If "regime change" brings about a new free country as in Afghanistan or Iraq that is seen as great: if not then it must at least by pro-Western in its foreign policy.

The current mess in Syria shows that humanitarian concerns and rhetoric about the Assad regime is used by liberals such as H Clinton to support regime change by stealth as only the USA has the right to intervene in Syria to support the Syrian opposition.

To do so by aiding "the Syrian opposition" to co-ordinate militias, many of which are Sunni fundamentalists backed by the Saudis is not considered important: as our foreign policy is conducted by democratically elected governments, they still must be better than those backed by Russia or China.

This conceit is a dangerous one as the choice in practice is often between a secular dictatorship and a dysfunctional democracy in which rival sectarian militias jockey for control. Realism is not cynicism.

The problem, in my view, with Chomsky is that his belief in the fundamental malignity of US exceptionalism is itself based on an exceptional view that as a democracy "we" can change the world if "we" change our foreign policy first.

In reality, the other Great powers have their agendas and in practice there are limits to what the West can do and which it needs to learn. And one of those is to believe it can bring about a globe of liberal democracies using force as the midwife of history.

Undergroundman said...

An interesting case is also China's role in Africa. China makes no claim to improve human rights there at all but operates on a "no strings attached" policy.

This means corrupt dictatorships are supported with weapons if China gains the concession to mine precious minerals in return for infrastructure projects.

When the insurgents in Libya was supported by the USA, France and UK, John Pilger wrote,

"Africa is China's success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilisation, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams. What they want is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa's greatest oil reserves, Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was one of China's most important sources of fuel"

This is curious. In what way is propping up dictatorships a "success story" ? Really ? In Zaire where African's are slave labourers ?

Unless Pilger is suggesting that the West's foreign policy is so bad that China's seems better only by comparison, this comes close to rationalising dictatorship.

The best thing in the circumstances is to understand why this Great Game for resources is driving conflict, the better to try to avoid it.

As another source of hypocrisy is the one where people say "No War for Oil". Iraq and Libya were about oil, but what do people think powers the economy ?

If a lot more focus was put on finding alternatives to oil and stating clearly why these resource wars are happening, a sane alternative can be put forward.

Isn't it hypocrisy to insist we deserve higher living standards and growth when that necessarily means more oil must be forthcoming.

Or would people prefer to give up their cars, learn to live with far less ? Is that something consumers in Western democracies want ?

Note-I'm not endorsing wars for oil: i just think people ought to heed what Tolstoy said "everybody thinks about changing the world: too few about changing themselves"

Undergroundman said...

@Robin Carmody

Wouldn't it be better to look at the issue of double standards in relation to facts ?

Support should be given to true dissidents but it is increasingly difficult to tell who they are: oppositionists are not dissidents.

They are often no morally different to the regime: in Russia often far worse. They are supported only as tools of pure Western power politics over the heads of ordinary Russians.

If the Putin regime is to be opposed, it should be opposed by those who sdo care for their country and the people: not kleptocrats and oligarchs.

Much of the opposition in Russia is backed by the USA as a tool to restore the economic policies that ruined it in the 1990s.

This is why they are not popular and precisely why principled opposition to any government is what is needed-not super rich global elites presenting themselves through oily spin as dissidents.

In Cuba one example was the Christian democrat Oswaldo Paya who was opposed both to the Miami based opposition and neoliberal shock therapy backed by the USA AND the Communist regime of the Castros.

He was recently murdered and his death went largely unnoticed by all those who make a song and dance about Pussy Riot and their banal publicity stunt in Moscow.

Neil Clark said...

brian: thanks for links- let's hope Cyprus takes a stand. Regime change is illegal in intl law.

mark: i agree, that was a great Greenwald piece, I retweeted it.
anonymous-thanks for yr comment.
karl: great posts. of course where west is concerned there are 'dissidents' and 'dissidents'.Look at how Solzhenitsyn went from hero to villain. He'd served his usefulness by the 90s. Biggest opposition party in Russia today is the Communist Party- yet you'd think Kasparov was main opposition leader if you only followed US/western media.

"Much of the opposition in Russia is backed by the USA as a tool to restore the economic policies that ruined it in the 1990s."
Absolutely. Ordinary people endured a terrible time in the 90s in Russia, which is why vast majority of Russians don't want a return to those policies and why they prefer to vote for either Putin or the Communists and not the more neoliberal candidates the west favours.

Ian said...

I must admit I wholeheartedly agree with Robin.

Greenwald presents this article ( as evidence of 'long held and devoted Assange bashing'. If that is Assange bashing then I am afraid I'm guilty of it to, for wanting to see him answer allegations of rape.

Brian: lovely to see you spamming some non-sequitur and then being snide about someone you don't agree with, seems nothing much has changed since I last checked in.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Ian,
why don't you think the Swedish govt makes a statement pledging that Assange wld not be extradited to the US in relation to wikileaks charges?
It's very important to understand that this is no longer the Sweden of Olof Palme: it's very much a part of The Empire. Witness the very aggressive stance they're taking on Belarus for instance. Some people seem to think though that it's still 70s and 80s socialist/social democratic Sweden we're talking about here.

brian said...

'On the other hand, maybe he really is just running away from the rape charges? It may seem pretty far fetched as an idea, but this is at least possible IMHO.'

non wonder this commentator prefers to be anonymous! your not so humble opinion is bollocks...Assange was cleared of rape allegations by a swedish magistrate before a 2nd magistrate (on whos orders?) decided to reopen the case...and order his arrest...its all bogus...and sweden has a history of letting US agents take people off their soil

brian said...

ian,..charmed to see you still support the empire...non wonder the swedes are ready to role over when you show how easy it is

brian said...

From WikiLeaks:
SECRET police docs show cops told to arrest Assange "under all circumstances", including breaking diplomatic immunity

brian said...

'It's very important to understand that this is no longer the Sweden of Olof Palme: it's very much a part of The Empire.'

A flaw of 'electoral democracy' is that you may get 4 years of good govt followed by 8 years of bad

Robert said...

I think that even I, whose memory problems always prevent me from being a karaoke Arteest, can get my head around the lyrics to that "Ecuador" clip.

In my day, conservatives (I'm talking about talented and sincere conservatives like Kingsley Amis, not degenerate merchant-bankers) would have greeted the very idea of Swedish women's rape accusations with hearty and justified mirth. Can't you imagine Sir Kingsley on the very idea of regarding Stockholm's wimmin as moral avatars?

Kingers might well have told Assange not to be such a damfool as to meet such wimmin in the first place. But that he would advocate a craven capitulation by Assange to Swedish "law" is absurd on its very face.

jock mctrousers said...

In case you missed it here's a statement from some members of 'Women Against Rape' which says it all about the 'rape' charges IMHO:

That video really sells Ecuador eh? A hot, dry spaghetti-Western set complete with vultures and electronic dance music? Stay in the embassy, Julian.

Ian said...

Hi Neil, I must admit to not being up on Swedish law but my assumption would be that it isn't the place of the government to interfere with the rule of law, and decisions on extradition would be made by the independent judiciary.

In regards to Belarus and Sweden are you referring to the parachuting Teddy bears?
If so I'm surprised that you would regard the Swedish response to this as being the 'very aggressive' one, but maybe I have missed something from inside the brainwashed 'Empire'

Neil Clark said...

Hi Ian,

yr assumption re Sweden/extradition is wrong:

Sweden has refused to extradite suspected Chechen terrorists to Russia, yet refuses to rule out extradition of Assange to the US.

Of course, there's nothing 'political' about this, as Sweden is a 'neutral' country!!!
On the myth of Swedish 'neutrality' plse also read John Pilger's piece in the new edition of the NS.

Re Belarus: Yeh right, parachuting 800 teddy bears with anti-govt statements into another country is not 'aggressive'-it's the country that reacts to that which is being 'aggressive'. Moreover that great 'statesman' the Swedish FM Carl Bildt has been busy attacking Belarus on Twitter: how very 'grown-up', to use Tory MP Douglas Carswell's phrase about Sweden. Just imagine if Belarus had pulled off the teddy bear stunt agaisnt Sweden, what the reaction of the Swedes would have been!

"maybe I have missed something from inside the brainwashed 'Empire'"

I'm afraid you've missed quite a lot, Ian.

Ian said...

Like I said, I am not really an expert on Swedish law, I would just assume that the rule of law would stop it from being the case. And I have read bloggers putting forward both sides, each hacking chunks out of the others treachery and 'whataboutary' and quoting a different Swedish academic. I would hope that the whole thing could be put to rest; Assange can be tried for the alleged crimes and Wikileaks can carry on fulfilling its new and exceptionally important role.

I know this isn't the place to show faith in the rule of law underpinning free society but it is what I genuinely believe, this acts as a test case for me.

In regards to Belarus, I think you seem to be confusing the 'Swedish government' with, 'some Swedish people'. If a PR stunt with Teddy bears and some tweets leads to the suspension of diplomatic ties and arresting of people that dare to upload pictures, I would regard that reaction as the aggressive one rather than just being a country that happens to be where the PR firm are based.

But I guess that is my nativity shining through and actually this is 'the Empire's' main tactic in overthrowing adversaries and the Bilderberger's played a central role in planning the stunt. A display of 'soft' power par excellence.