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Imperialism on Trial : Assange

Tuesday 11 June 2019
Wednesday 12 June 2019

Last week Tuesday, 11th June I attended the first session of the Imperialism on Trial event supporting Julian Assange. I wrote the following the next day:

I had heard of some of the speakers and they were all excellent. The person whose work I knew best and particularly wanted to hear was Chris Hedges. A former foreign correspondent of the New York times, Chris writes a regular column in online magazine Truthdig and has a show called ‘On Contact’ hosted by RT. Chris writes and speaks with a particularly lyrical voice and a particularly moral one that perhaps reflects his background as a Presbyterian minister as well as a journalist, academic and activist.

I filmed parts of the meeting, intending to comment later but I needn’t have bothered since the whole event was being much better recorded. It is really worth watching the whole almost three and a half hours but I may use parts of this to make comments later. I found Chris’s opening speech particularly gripping. I learnt a lot about Equador as well as Assange from Fidel Navarez a former senior diplomat at the Equadorian embassy. Navarez was proud to call Julian a friend and reminded us that Assange had been granted Ecuadorian citizenship and that therefore his being hounded and handed over by the current Ecuadorian government was an act of betrayal. Navarez spoke of being proud of the former Ecuador under Rafael Correa and ashamed of the current one under Lenin Moreno. Listening to and finding out more about the experience of implementing socialism in Ecuador would be instructive for Corbyn supporters who, like me, are unaware of this history.

All of the other speakers – Vivian Westwood, Tommy McKerney, Lauri Love, Catherine Shakdam, Catherine Mercouris, John Wright, Ahmed Kaballo – were also excellent and there is plenty of material here for discussion and reflection. This series of talks is called Imperialism on Trial and one of the speakers said that Imperialism may seem like an old fashioned word but the power of an imperial America with its principal allies that, to use the image of perhaps another speaker, grasps nations like Venuzuela by the throat and berates them for not breathing properly. The Empire also tries to silence, discredit and disgrace anyone like Assange who would reveal their crimes. The mainstream press colludes in the creation of a false narrative and in the oppression of whistleblowers and dissidents like Assange and Chelsea Manning. The attack on Julian is an attack on all of us who seek to know and speak the truth. If we do not stand up for Assange and see his freedom as fundamental to our own freedom to speak and to think then we will lose that freedom. As someone who has always felt the need to speak the truth as I see it, whether anyone else, however powerful, likes it or not, as someone aware of the risks that the small run in contradicting powerful and popular people and narratives, as someone who appreciates the importance of primary sources in getting to the truth of things, supporting Assange is particularly important to me.

I will be at the second session of this event this evening and I will be joining Julian’s supporters outside Westminister Magistrate’s court on Friday morning.

I did attend the second session of the event on Wednesday and found it equally absorbing. I’m not going to write about it in detail as what I have to say doesn’t matter – also, because I knew that the event was being wholly recorded and would be published through the good offices of RT, I didn’t take extensive notes.

Unfortunately I could not join the demonstration outside Westminister Court on Friday morning as I had to prepare for an event of my own the next day.

The two videos total over six hours but they are well worth watching.

Related Material

  1. Useful notes on the meetings from Catherine Brown’s Blog.
  2. Update on the opening of Julian Assange’s extradition hearings from 21st Century Wire

Against the dying of the Light

A world facing catastrophic climate change cannot afford the nonsense of war. We cannot afford to be governed by thieves, liars and killers. If we remain complacent and complient, inert and silent, as the leering wolves of war again and again contemptuously invite us to eat from the trough of their regurgitated lies, then we are co-conspirators, complicit again and again in the murder of countries, communities and children. Ultimately, and soon, we become the co-authors of our own extinction.

I remember a poem I learned at school:

‘Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

It always seemed silly to me to rage so much at one’s own death, at any individual death. I have no fonder wish for myself and those I love than that we should, “go gentle … at close of day”.

But together against a night that yet need never fall, 
Rave, rage and burn, old age and youth and all, 
Rave against the betrayal of the true and the right, 
Rage against the cruel predators of the night,
Burn against the silent dying of the light.

Standing with Iran

No person with good sense and decency could for one second think that a war against Iran is in any way justified. However the governments of the US and its cronies, particularly the UK, France, Israel, the KSA and the UAE but also all of the NATO countries, lack a truly moral compass and operate on a logic based on their own predatory interests as ruling elites rather than on the common interests and perceptions of the rational world or even of their own citizens.

These countries and their mainstream media will support or offer only token resistance to a US narrative that every honest and informed person knows to be carefully constructed in order to secure the continued dominance of their elites.

Evidence that Iran carried out the attacks on the two tankers is slight and the narrative spun about the attacks has been contradicted by the Japanese owner of one of the tankers:


The owner of the Japanese tanker attacked on Thursday said US reports have provided “false” information about what happened in the Gulf of Oman. The ship operator said “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the vessel, rather than mines used by Iranian forces, as the US has suggested. Yutaka Katada, chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, one of two vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedos that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline.

Independent.co.uk

The likelihood is that this was a false flag attack by the US or by its Israel or the KSA, impatient that Iran has not responded to US provocation. Iran has effectively been under seige by the US which has forbidden other countries, its so called ‘international community’, from trading with Iran. Without trade the Iranian people will starve thus their government, in the absence of just international law, would have clear motive and justification in making a calibrated military response of this sort as a warning that they are capable of shutting down shipping routes and starving America’s allies of oil. However while the Iranians have such motive, justification and capability to carry out this attack there is no evidence that they did nor any reason why such an attack would be covert. Other players have clearer motives for this kind of attack. The EU has been opposed to Trump’s pulling out of the deal with Iran and I believe that Trump himself is not sold on the war that his neocon dominated administration want. Trump likely sees his sanctions as a ‘clever’ bullying tactic, a ‘genius’ ruse to get a better deal than the one Obama negotiated. This attack preemptively scuttles or tries to scuttle any such deal which would involve the EU and Russia, parties to the previous deal. It is not insignificant to this thesis that Japan’s Prime Minister Abe was in Iran at the same time as the two tankers were attacked.

War would be an unmitigated disaster for the Iranian people and their leaders and they will do everything to avoid it while doing their best to ensure their own safety and to ensure that they are not militarily castrated. The Iranians are open to diplomacy because it remains the best option for their survival. But if diplomacy is war by other means it makes sense that the Iranians should take military action. They, and their Shia allies in Iraq and Lebanon and elsewhere, have the capabability to set the region aflame. The Sampson option, bringing down the temple on your enemies even as you die yourself, is never a desirable one, for anyone, but it is an understandable and honourable one, and for all their flaws, as a religious people, understand the concept of honour.

If we have honour and wish to avoid war we should not simply dismiss the incidents in the Gulf of Oman as probable false flags but understand the context in which the US and its allies are bullying a nation as proud as our own and with a longer history of peace than our own and stand not ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the US, but with Iran.

Is Truth Antisemitic?

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/labour-party-backlash-after-peterborough-byelection-winner-lisa-forbes-liked-antisemitic-posts-on-a4161821.html

It was revealed this week that Ms Forbes had liked a post saying Theresa May had a “Zionist Slave Masters agenda” alongside a video of children praying after the New Zealand terrorist attack.

I don’t know what bearing the comment about Zionist slave masters had on the video but this sort of hyperbolic comment is hardly unusual in today’s political discourse and it’s well known that Israeli lobbying has a tremendous influence on both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.

By 2009, according to the Channel 4 documentary Dispatches – Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, around 80% of Conservative MPs were members of the CFI.[3] In 2013, the Daily Telegraph’s chief political commentator, Peter Oborne, called CFI “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.”

Wikipedia article:

The Standard article continues:

In another comment she said she had “enjoyed reading” a thread claiming Islamic extremism was created “by the CIA and Mossad.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that the CIA and Mossad and MI5 have sponsored Islamic extremism.

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” a former Israeli government official told the Wall Street Journal in a 2009 article titled “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas.”

salon article:

It seems to me that Lisa Forbes has been accused of antisemitism and forced to apologise on the grounds that she did not express outrage rather than sympathy. It seems too that it is antisemitic to enjoy reading a thread that discusses assertions widely recognised as true.

It is mystifying that Ms Forbes should be accused of being antisemitic because she enjoyed reading assertions that are accepted to be true. It is worrying and it is an attack not only on Ms Forbes and the Labour Party but also on freedom of thought, freedom of dialogue and on truth.

However, as worrying as these accusations are, what is more worrying is their endorsement by figures with the Labour party itself:

We read:

Labour former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who has clashed with Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism, wrote on Twitter: “Seriously mixed feelings about the Peterborough result. I never want to see Nigel Farage’s party in Parliament.
“But Lisa Forbes & the Labour Party have a lot to answer for. We must learn lessons & never have a repeat of this. Have formally raised concerns with party leadership.”

Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh, who worked on Lisa Forbes’ campaign, wrote that it was “extremely upsetting for all of us involved when the posts that Lisa had mistakenly engaged in came to light.

“They were thoroughly unacceptable and I know she sees that and is truly sorry.”

This is a response that would be easy to characterise as ‘slavish’. It is a response that shows a shocking lack of courage and a wholesale disregard for the truth.

Blair on Brexit

Blair make a contribution to the Brexit debate that is good and that is characteristic especially of him. However what is good is not characteristic especially of him and what is characteristic especially of him is not good.


1. Blair was the prime minister who deliberately lied about WDMs in Iraq in order to justify and prosecute a war which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. His actions make him a mass murderer. He dishonoured this nation and deserves no respect whatsover as a prime minister or as a human being.


2. While Blair’s assessment that Britain has more power and protection as a member of a strong economic bloc is as correct as it is obvious, there are reasons why so many people voted for Brexit and those reasons include distrust of slick politicians like Blair and Cameron who were seen as working on behalf of the well off in this country and not those who have nothing and do not see themselves sharing in any benefits from the UK being part of the EU. Dismissing the concerns of working class people in poor northern constituencies is not right. These concerns should be acknowledged and addressed whether we are inside or outside of the EU. Currently the only political leader attempting to respond directly to those concerns is Jeremy Corbyn.


3. Blair talks of blocs confronting each other and alludes to possible military conflict. To survive the world needs to get beyond a paradigm of competition and conflict and move towards cooperation and communication. We need to transition away from blocs and think in terms of new constructive relationships with and within the EU and constructive relationships between the EU and other national and supernational partners. This requires thinking that is disruptive of the current neoliberal paradigm and that is not on offer from the Conservatives, the Brexit Party, the Liberal Democrats or the Blairites within the Labour Party. A Corbyn led Labour Party has a social dimension at home and internationally that is not shared by the other parties. It offers possibilities beyond the retreat to Remain or the blind leap of a mismanaged Brexit. These possibilities are grounded in socialistic principles of respect for people and the pursuit of peace and justice and they are only on offer from a Corbyn led party.

Not A Unique Evil

Trump is not an anomaly in US politics, nor is he uniquely evil, he continues the policies of previous administrations. This is particularly true with regard to the Middle East. These policies are not only US policies they have been supported by the UK through the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by Blair and Bush, the destruction of Libya by Cameron and Obama, their support for terrorism in Syria and the current aggressions against Iran and Venezuela.

Those who oppose Trump on the grounds that he is a ‘misogynist’, a ‘racist’, an ‘Islamaphobe’ and that he has been rude to London’s Mayor (who has been rude about him – I don’t care who started it), and other ‘royal’ people, are missing the point. They should be opposing Trump, but as the leader of the American Empire, they should be opposing the wars of regime change, the use of economic power to coerce and starve countries like Venezuela and the perpetuation of a policy of confrontation rather than partnership with Russia and China.

Those who say that they, respect the office of President but not the man who holds it, who think that the ‘special relationship’ with the US is something to be proud about, are really missing the point. The visit of Trump should be an opportunity to revisit the relationship with America – particularly as it coincides with the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing and what might be seen as the inception of the present world order. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade or protest but focusing on the personal failing of Trump makes them politically irrelevant. Even if they were, improbably, to lead to whatever just retribution the protesters wish to befall Trump, they would still make no difference to the wider imperialist projects of the US, UK, KSA, Israel and France.

Corban – The Blessing

“Corban may refer to: Korban, a sacrifice or offering given to God among the ancient Hebrews. Corban, a given name meaning a blessing from God dedicated back to God.”
Corban – Wikipedia

In another age we might sit by fires and whisper: “Lo .. Even his enemies exalt his name.”

The Corbyn Consistency

Prior to and during the 2016 Referendum Corbyn declared that he was pro Remain. He supported triggering Article 50 after the Referendum result as did Parliament by 498 votes to 114 – Perhaps he thought that if you hold a Referendum it is proper to respect the decision while trying to make it work. Yet this is being presented as a dishonourable position. His position on this and on the EU are constantly misrepresented. Corbyn has worked consistently for a social, moral and just Europe.

He has never been against immigration and the free movement of labour. It was not Corbyn who produced Labour’s infamous anti-immigration mug. The EU has indicated its willingness to negotiate on the widely different basis that Corbyn would be offering as this would be avantageous to both sides. Further Corbyn’s policy and the Labour Party’s policy is now to have a confirmatory ballot on any deal. I really don’t see how these is a better option for Remainers.

I’ve collated three BBC pre-referendum interviews with Corbyn, partly for my own amusement, to remind people of Corbyn’s position before the referendum and of the consistency of his social goals. The only thing that has fundamentally changed (and for the better) is his dress sense.

Notes on the Labour Antisemitism Allegations

When people of the calibre of Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and many other intellectuals and activists (many of them Jewish) are supporting Jeremy Corbyn and characterising the allegations of antisemitism laid against him and allegations of widespread antisemitism Labour Party as contrived it is bizarre that an MP like Chris Williamson should be suspended for making the same characterisation which every honest and informed person knows to be correct.

The Collusion Illusion

Glenn Greenwald’s position on the Trump collusion story is one that I entirely agree with. Donald Trump is a horrible individual but there is no evidence that he colluded with the Russians to win the presidency or that he is serving Russian interests because the Russians hold compromising information on him. Cenk Uygur held the view that there was collusion but is backing away from that now that the Muller investigation has found no evidence of such collusion. Cenk continues to hold the view that there are past and present ties between Trump and Russian oligarchs that could influence Trump’s decision making. When Greenwald points out that Trump has taken actions that are very hostile towards Russia, Cenk points to meetings between Trump and Putin whose content Trump has refused to publish and suggests that Trump does not know what will harm Russia unless Putin makes it explicit to him. This is clearly absurd. and it genuinely puzzles me that intelligent people like Cenk Uyger can maintain absurdities and continue to endorse narratives that have no grounding in evidence and are even contradicted by evidence and argument.

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