Since the end of the last century, the expression “rogue state” has become increasingly acceptable within international public discourse. Driven by US propaganda, the concept aims to demonise countries opposed by Washington by portraying them as global threats.
However, in recent years, this argument has been turned against the White House. An alternative view is gaining traction – namely that the main rogue state of the planet and the greatest terrorist threat to world peace is none other than the United States, and it has the backing of the likes of eminent US intellectuals Noam Chomsky and William Blum, and the film director Oliver Stone.
Viewed from South America, the UK has done more than enough to share that accolade with its US cousins, and the attitude in Britain to Julian Assange is simply the latest example. The Ecuadorean foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, reported that the British government transmitted to Quito an “explicit threat in writing that they may assault our Ecuadorean embassy in London if we do not deliver Julian Assange”.
The British foreign secretary, William Hague, later confirmed the threat, thus breaching the Vienna convention, which establishes the immunity of diplomatic headquarters, something that not even the bloodthirsty South American dictators Jorge Videla and Augusto Pinochet dared to do.
As the spokesperson for the Russian foreign minister noted: “Everybody knows that tens of alleged criminals, whose extradition is requested by many countries, including Russia, found asylum and feel safe in Great Britain. Why then refuse to do the same in the case of Assange?” Worse still, London extended a welcome to one of the bloodiest Latin American dictators, Pinochet, but denies it to Assange. This regrettable moral double standard speaks for itself.
It seems that Assange’s offence of publishing the schemes and crimes secretly committed and supported by those who would lead us is unforgivable. As a result, the US has mobilised its friends and allies worldwide in order to capture the WikiLeaks founder, even if it must breach international laws and treaties and trample over human rights in order to teach him the lesson it feels he deserves.
The global media is praising the “bravery of Britain”. But the UK is a mere pawn in the imperial strategy, as are the governments of Sweden and, worse still, Australia, Assange’s country of origin, which has scandalously disassociated itself from the case.
However, there is some hope: last weekend an emergency meeting of the ministers of foreign relations of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) concluded with a unanimous declaration of solidarity with Ecuador and in repudiation of the attitude of the British government regarding this incident. It should be noted that Unasur includes governments at either end of the political spectrum.
David Cameron’s position was so reprehensible that conservative leaders such as Chile’s Sebastián Piñera and Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos as well as radical ones such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez sided with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador.
It is a discouraging sign that the country which, in the mid-19th century, welcomed Karl Marx is now ready to deliver Assange to a country that administers the infamous Guantánamo prison camp, sends prisoners overseas in secret flights to be tortured elsewhere, and deprives alleged criminals of the most elementary right of self-defence, unable to call a lawyer or even to communicate his or her whereabouts to their family.
Atilio Boron is an Argentinian sociologist.