Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oslo or Guantanamo: Assange at a crossroads

Even I was impressed last week. The publishing of yet another batch of US military intelligence documents, this time from the war zone in Iraq, was a well planned and well executed military type of operation. Together with international media outlets such as The Guardian, New York Times, Le Monde and der Spiegel, WikiLeaks brought another dark chapter of the young history of the 21st century to a wider public's attention.
Once again the United States were thrown from the throne of their self proclaimed moral high ground. WikiLeaks' papers revealed that Iraqis were torturing Iraqis with the US troops responsible for them looking the other way. That Iran was (and probably still is) outfitting and training Iraqi Shiite militias with the US troops not able to stop them. And WikiLeaks proved that Nouri al-Maliki directly ordered political assassinations - and these days the US want him back as the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Which can of worms the Americans have opened after 9/11? For some people, what happened after the attacks in New York City justified a posteriori the attacks themselves. When you didn't know already that the United States are no less better than the states, regimes and governments they were now fighting under the pretext of creating a better world, you learned it now. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram, their very secretive and little talked about prison in Afghanistan, will in 50 years hopefully - or shall I say "sadly"? - recognized as the Gestapo cellars of our times. The US even outsourced their dirty jobs. US-friendly but Humans-unfriendly dictatorships like Egypt and Syria were "Hotel Terminus" for American rendition flights, using their well honed skills for torture in support of George Bush's war on terror. The Americans wanting to teach the Syrians a lesson in 2005? Let's start with water boarding techniques then. It's clean hands but bloody minds.

The Americans sold their Iraq campaign with war on terror, weapons of mass destruction and the establishment of a democratic government in Baghdad. After almost eight years of war they have indeed sold out: Iraq to Iran and the Iraqi people to the everyday fear of becoming the victims of yet another bombing attack in the name of some higher interest. In the 400'000 documents made public by WikiLeaks, IED (improvised explosive devices) are mentioned 146'895 times and democracy 8 times. The Lebanonization of Iraq is a fact for a country that will be the playground for political power projections of regional and global actors in the years to come. While Iraq will have to deal with its history of the past years at one point or another, the US will go further up down the road and leave the Iraqi mess behind. The American geopolitical attention span is very short, they are militarily present in more than 150 countries - somebody, somewhere will always be dialing nine one one.
 
While there was a lot of talk about WikiLeaks' Iraq papers last week, the world once again remained silent on affairs in Palestine. The siege of Gaza was finally broken with the Viva Palestina 5 convoy entering the strip from Egypt. But not even the Palestinians didn't care much. Have they given up on themselves? Hadn't I monitored my Twitter timeline, nobody would have told me. Imagine Gaza is opened and nobody celebrates. Hamas didn't seem to be enthusiastic either about the Viva treck. Every interference from the outside is perceived as a danger to their undisputed reign in the fiefdom by the sea. It's better to be the King of Gaza than the Jester of East "Jewish and democratic" Israel, a/k/a the West Bank.

For Julian Assange, the founder and spiritus rector of WikiLeaks, it's either Oslo or Guantanamo. Oslo? Yes, to collect the Peace Nobel Prize 2011. I herewith officially nominate Assange, Australian with a denied Swedish residency, for this noble award. But would Julian Assange even qualify for the honor? Alfred Nobel stated that the Peace Nobel Prize should be awarded to the person that "...shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The effects of Assange's work will only be visible after some years, if at all, so to give him the Prize in 2011 could be deemed premature. But also Barack Obama was a winner last year, not honored for the reduction of standing armies, but awarded for being the president of the United States elected by 100% of the European population. Would Assange deserve the prize? Some people find him sleazy and shady and suspect him to work for the US government. I don't buy into that but I agree that we haven't heard his entire story yet. Will we see more leaks? Will we have a WikiLeaks China - and their secret dealings with Google? Will we have a WikiLeaks Russia - and their efforts to regain what the Soviet Union once was? And finally, will we have a WikiLeaks Iran, making transparent their backdoor deals on Iraq with the nation state retailers in Washington. Or will WikiLeaks strictly stay "American only"? And what does this tell us about the sources and the affiliations Assange is enjoying? (Or am I totally on the wrong path here and we have to congratulate Hugo Chavez in 2011? He is a political entertainer being on a neverending New World Order tour and it looks like he wants to trade his frequent flyers miles for a Nobel Prize next year.)

Or is it rather Guantanamo for Julian Assange? The White Knight is a hunted man it seems. On Fox News, outraged commentators ask for his assassination. The Pentagon's hellhounds are on his trail. They want him, they want his sources, they want to stop the spooky project called democracy by leaking. Maybe the US government will issue a Fatwa against Assange and he will be forced to be a runaway like Salman Rushdie. Or even worse, he has to go into hiding, maybe joinng Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah in his bunker somewhere in Southern Lebanon. This could bring Julian Assange on Israel's payroll: What Nasrallah cooks up in his bunker, Assange could leak - in real time!