Sunday, August 19, 2012

Three pussies and a patsy

Julian Assange by Pants


You know a world community is in trouble when not one person with the power to do so is prepared to stand up and say, 'oh come on now, this is just silly', when it clearly is. And this is because all of them have skin in the game, as they say. They are not interested in what's right any more, only what suits. It's a bad episode of Spooks meets an am-dram production of Guys and Dolls.

The Russian trial of Pussy Riot and the stand-off over the Ecuadorians offering asylum to Julian Assange have much in common. The only material difference is that no one can influence the jailing of the Pussy Riot women, probably, and the drama is unlikely to impact outside of Russia - although it could cause plenty of trouble within it. 

But, official buffoonery from all sides in both cases is comparable. Pussy Riot's farcical trial was met with a response from the international community that reduces diplomatic rhetoric to the status of a card swap. Too bad if you have a fistful of 'disproportionate' cards, everyone has those. 'Disproportionate' is, apparently, 'unjust' in diplomatic sotto voce. Except that the utterance of it is a completely meaningless gesture. If one believes that Pussy Riot's exercising of a right to free speech is just, then where is the 'disproportion'? Surely innocence equals no sentence, not a fanciful bit of one. Luck certainly was not a lady for Pussy Riot.

Julian Assange's situation is far more complex. You might say it's a Crapshooters Ballet. Clearly, he didn't hear the frantic chorus of 'sit down you're rockin' the boat' before stepping into the oldest established, permanent floating crap game in the world.

This is a long game. Assange has held himself together for nearly two years already while under admittedly luxurious house arrest in Britain. No one should be thinking that's a particularly brilliant state to be in if you have a life you want to be getting on with. Aung San Suu Kyi was probably grateful not to be in an actual prison too but not so thrilled with having to spend twenty years chilling while none of the wrongs linked to her detention could be put to right. International influence remained impotently agog throughout her ordeal too.

Assange is an Australian citizen with, (presumably), leave to stay in the UK, wanted for questioning by the Swedish, in deep shit with the US and now an Ecuadorian by adoption. But no one really wants him, (except his Mum of course - bless). Every single one of the aforementioned nations is denying this individual his human rights by putting their own interests ahead of those rights. This is, of course, perfectly understandable but, they should admit that this is what they are doing instead of carrying on a bizarre pretence that they are somehow working together towards a mutually fair and beneficial solution. 

Contemporary diplomacy simply equals fear. But fear of what? Fear of losing an ally? Well, I suppose wars have been sparked before by events this banal. Fear of looking stupid? The time for avoiding that has come and gone. No one is coming out of this with an 'A' Level in Government and Politics. We're in a multiple bluff situation here. 

No one believes that Sweden would go to that much trouble for a couple of women. Everyone believes the US wants Assange to answer for publishing its cables - even though they only confirmed what everyone already knew. The Australian authorities put out a statement that it could find no 'evidence' that the US was seeking the extradition of Assange. Well, of course there's no evidence. It's a strategic ploy, innit? Everyone knows that Ecuador is just doing this to piss off the US and that Assange picked it not because of its exemplary history of protecting the right to free speech (feel free to lol here), but because it's one of the few countries in the world from which the US cannot legally extract him.

So, what to do? There really is only one solution - as, plainly, no one is going to step in and call a halt to this silliness. The British simply have to bungle it and allow him to slip away and onto a plane, post-haste. British Police have a fine record of the calibre of Keystonedness that's required here. Perhaps they could send the guys who were in charge of looking after the Wembley Stadium keys or sub-contract out the watch detail to G4S. Then they could go on a tea break while Assange escapes in a Dial A Pizza van. Someone should smuggle in some hair dye though. That grey mop makes quite a target.

But a serious question still remains. Fortunately, the Question Why has just come along to pose it. How much longer can 1960s-style posturing and play-acting survive as diplomacy in a global community where people are not fooled by crude devices masquerading as ethical positions? People who are supposed to be smart enough to lead us are reduced to scrabbling around looking for obscure points of law or precedents in protocol to support their shaky stand and save face instead of striving to do what is morally right and responsible. It's time to outgrow all that.

Dear world 'leaders' - follow the flock and stray no more. We, the people, suggest that if you act in the common interest instead of your own, we would have no need to waste our time protesting against your dictatorial idiocy. Seriously, we all have better things to do with our lives...