Bulletin N° 864
A blend of television drama and documentary, that depicts a nuclear war. Written, directed and produced by Peter Watkins for the BBC, it caused dismay within the BBC and also within government, and was subsequently withdrawn before the provisional screening date of 7 October 1965. The corporation said that "the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting. It will, however, be shown to invited audiences..." This film eventually premiered at the National Film Theatre in London, on 13 April 1966, where it ran until May 3. It was then shown abroad at several film festivals, including the Venice one where it won the Special Prize. It also won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1967. Eeventually it was televised in Great Britain on 31 July 1985, during the week before the fortieth anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. . . .
Subject : The Capitalist Conspiracy, Part 2: In search of a theoretical framework for an intuitive grasp of the subject.
October 26, 2019
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
We depart momentarily from our discussion of Docherty and Macgregor’s 2013 study of The Secret Origins of the First World War to look at an orthodox Marxist view presented some years before by Eric Hobsbawm.
In his introduction to the fourth volume of his quadrilogy on modern world history, Age of Extremes, The Short Twentieth Century (1994), Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) wrote about the task of a professional historian:
The destruction of the past, or rather of the social mechanisms that link one’s contemporary experience to that of earlier generations, is one of the most characteristic and eerie phenomena of the late twentieth century. Most young men and women at the century’s end grow up in a sort of permanent present lacking any organic relation to the public past of the times they live in. . . .
However, it is not the purpose of this book to tell the story of the period which is its subject, the Short Twentieth Century from 1914 to 1991, although no one who has been asked by an intelligent American student whether the phrase ‘Second World War’ meant that there had been a ‘First World War’ is unaware that knowledge of even the basic facts of the century cannot be taken for granted. My object is to understand and explain why things turned out the way they did, and how they hang together. . . . Readers who belong to another era, for instance the student entering university at the time this is written, for whom even the Vietnam War is prehistory, should not forget this.(pp.3-4)
In his book, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (1987), on the origins of the First World War, Hobsbawm has very little to say about the role of finance capital. He tells the reader that before the turn of the 19th century most economic activities were shaped by nationalism. However there were exceptions to this pattern.
It is certainly true that there were and are economic activities such as international finance which are “essentially cosmopolitan and thus escaped from national constraints, insofar as these were effective. Yet even such transnational enterprises took care to attach themselves to a suitably important national economy. The (largely German) merchant banking families thus tended to transfer their headquarters from Paris to London after 1860. And the most international of all great banking houses, the Rothschilds, flourished where they operated in the capital of a major state, and wilted where they did not: The Rothschilds of London, Paris and Vienna remained major forces, but the Rothschilds of Naples and Frankfurt (the firm refused to transfer to Berlin) did not. After the unification of Germany, Frankfurt was no longer enough.
. . .
But the developed world was not only a aggregate of ‘national economies’. Industrialization and the Depression turned them into a group of rival economies, in which the gains of one seemed to threaten the position of others Not only firms but nations competed. Henceforth the flesh of British readers was made to creep by journalistic exposés of German economic invasion. . . . Their fathers had remained calm in the fact of (justified) warnings of the technical superiority of foreigners. Protectionism expressed a situation of international economic competition.(p.42)
At the same time, unprecedented economic concentration produced by mergers and market-controlling agreements between firms, which according to free-enterprise theory, should have been engaging in cut-throat competition to the benefit of consumers, gave birth to a handful of dominating firms, the oligopolies.
Such were the American ‘trusts’, which provoked anti-monopolist legislation like the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) of uncertain efficacy, the German ‘syndicates’ or ‘cartels’ – mainly in the heavy industries – which enjoyed government favour. The Rhine-Westphalian Coal Syndicate (1893), which controlled something like 90 percent of the coal output in its region, or the Standard Oil Company, which in 1880 controlled 90-95 per cent of the oil refined in the USA, were certainly monopolies. So, for practical purposes, was the ‘billion-dollar Trust’ of United States Steel (1901) with 63 per cent of American output. It is also clear that a trend away from unrestricted competition and towards ‘the combination of several capitalists who formerly operated singly’ became strikingly obvious during the Great Depression, and continued in the new period of global prosperity. A tendency towards monopoly or oligopoly is undeniable in the heavy industries, in industries closely dependent on government orders such as the rapidly growing armaments sector . . . , in industries generating and distributing revolutionary new forms of energy, such as oil and electricity, in transport, and in some mass consumer goods such as soap and tobacco.
However, market control and the elimination of competition were only one aspect of a more general process of capitalist concentration. . . . In banking, a handful of giant joint-stock banks with national networks of branches replaced the smaller banks at great speed. Lloyds Bank swallowed 164 of them. After 1900, as has been noted, the old-fashioned –or any – British ‘country bank’ had become ‘a historical curiosity’.(pp.43-44)
Hobsbawm sees the origins of the First World War as related to the systemic contradictions of the capitalist system, and not to the moral failures of specific individuals or groups of individuals.
The symbiosis of war and war production inevitably transformed the relations between government and industry, for, as Frederick Engels observed in 1892, ‘as warfare became a branch of the grande industrie . . . la grande industrie . . . became a political necessity’. And conversely, the state became essential to certain branches of industry, for who but the government provided the customers for armaments. The goods it produced were determined not by the market, but by the never-ending competition of governments to secure for themselves a satisfactory supply of the most advanced, and hence the most effective arms. What is more, governments needed not so much the actual output of weapons, but the capacity to produce them on a wartime scale, if the occasion arose; that is to say they had to see that their industry maintained a capacity far in excess of any peacetime requirements.
In one way or another states were thus obliged to guarantee the existence of powerful national armaments industries, to carry much of their technical development costs, and to see that they remained profitable. In other words, they had to shelter these industries from the gales which threatened the ships of capitalist enterprise sailing the unpredictable seas of the free market and free competition. They might of course have engaged in armaments manufacture themselves, and indeed they had long done so. But this was the very moment when they – or at least the liberal British state – preferred to come to an arrangement with private enterprise. In the 1880s private armament producers took on more than a third of supply contracts for the armed forces, in the 1890s 46 per cent, in the 1900s 60 per cent: the government, incidentally, was ready to guarantee them two-thirds. It is hardly surprising that armaments firms were among, or joined, the giants of industry: war and capitalist concentration went together. In Germany Krupp, the king of cannons, employed 16,000 in 1873, 24,000 around 1890, 45,000 around 1900, and almost 70,000 in 1912 when the fifty-thousandth of Krupp’s famous guns left the works. In Britain Armstrong, Whitworth employed 12,000 men at their main works in Newcastle, who had increased to 20,000 – or over 40 per cent of all metalworkers on Tyneside – by 1914, not counting those in the 1500 smaller firms who lived by Armstoong’s sub-contracts. They were also very profitable.
Like the modern ‘military-industrial complex’ of the USA, these giant industrial concentrations would have been nothing without the armaments race of governments. It is therefore tempting to make such ‘merchants of death’ . . . responsible for the ‘war of steel and gold”. . . .(p.307-308)
According to Hobsbawm, the problem of discovering the origins of the First World War is not one of identifying the aggressor. “It lies in the nature of a progressively deteriorating international situation which increasingly escaped from the control of governments.” The creation of the unified German Empire in 1871, he writes,
made international relations more tense, it did not make a general European war inevitable, if only because the issues which divided France and Germany (namely Alsace-Lorraine) were of no interest to Austria, and those which risked conflict between Austria and Russia (namely the degree of Russian influence in the Balkans) were insignificant for Germany. The Balkans, Bismarck had observed, were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. France had no real quarrels with Austria, nor Russia with Germany. For that matter the issues which divided France and Germany, though permanent, were hardly considered worth a war by most French, and those dividing Austria and Russia, though – as 1914 showed – potentially more serious, only arose intermittently. Three developments turned the alliance system into a time-bomb: a situation of international flux, destabilized by new problems for and ambitions within the powers; the logic of joint military planning which froze confronting blocs into permanence; and the integration of the fifth great power, Britain, into one of the blocs. . . .
Between 1903 and 1907, to everyone’s surprise including her own, Britain joined the anti-German camp. The origin of the First World War can best be understood by tracing the emergence of the Anglo-German antagonism.(p.312-314)
We share with this historian the belief that an understanding of the origins of the First World War will contribute to our understanding of the dire situation we find ourselves in today, which has been produced once again by the private profit motive of capitalism-in-crisis.
The 19 + items below present a collage of current events that depict the present stage of the capitalit crisis. We believe, as always, that a theoretical understanding of the system of which we are a part is essential for self-understanding, the first step towards taking control over our own lives.
honoraire de l'Université
Ancien Directeur des Researches
Université de Paris-Nanterre
Director of The Center for the Advanced Study
of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won
by Pepe Escobar
What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:
“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive. And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”
Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.
Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.
Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here
It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.
Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.
The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.
Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.
Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.
There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.
James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.
The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.
In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.
Kings Bay Plowshares 7: Trial Begins for Liz McAlister & Others for Breaking Into Nuke Sub Base
with Liz McAlister
From: Diana Johnstone [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 20, 2019 10:22 PM
Subject: US-backed "Color Revolutions" activist elected Scottish University Rector
For anyone who knows the history of CANVAS’ executive director, Srdja Popovic, this is beyond belief!
On Friday, April 13, Srdja Popovic officially became the 53rd Rector of the Scotland’s first university. (via St Andrews) Since 1858, the Rector has been elected by the students. Srdja follows in the footsteps of a long list of illustrious former Rectors, including authors J M Barrie and Rudyard Kipling, Monty Python founding member John Cleese and Catherine Stihler MEP. In addition to being President of the University Court, the highest governing body of the University, the Rector also plays an informal, pastoral role for students. The official installation ceremony followed the traditional student ‘drag’ (Wednesday 11 April), which saw students lead the new Rector on an epic six-hour tour of student halls and local hostelries in a day of celebration, which included a procession through the town. “I am proud and honoured to serve as a Rector – a voice and empowerment of students of St Andrews. I am ready to commit my term to listening to the students and turning their initiatives into concrete action. The position of the Rector belongs to the students, and it will be my goal to empower students to use it in their best interest!” Lewis Wood, President of the St Andrews Students’ Association said: “The Rector’s Installation is a day of celebration to welcome Srdja to the University community. Srdja’s campaign and vision for St Andrews inspired a lot of students last October and we look forward to inducting him into our traditions and culture. Both myself and the student body wish him all the best for the three years ahead, and look forward to working closely with...
Over half of the world still lives under an authoritarian regime, ruled by all different types of dictators. But people are not powerless to overcome their suffering under these regimes. On Kim Jong Un’s very own birthday, The Economist published this ultra-short lecture: How to fight for freedom and democracy in 5 simple steps, by CANVAS’ very own Srdja...
Despite the fact that activists in Poland have already made some important strides, their efforts still fall short of creating sustainable change. For RealClearWorld, CANVAS’ executive director Srdja Popovic writes about the worrying direction of the Polish democratic movement. After two waves of democratic movement in the last four decades, we are now seeing that same democratic process moves in reverse. Poland sits at the epicenter of that worrying dynamic. “The painstaking work undertaken over the past quarter century to create a civil society with solid democratic institutions is now under siege from a populist movement that operates under the thin guise of what it calls traditional values.” In stopping their country to move towards authoritarianism, and protecting civil society, activists in Poland have already fought some important battles. Almost as soon as PiS assumed power, activists have been able to mobilize civil society outside the sphere of party politics. They have extended the battlefield by strongly emphasizing the involvement of the international community, and effectively combined mass mobilization for street protests with concrete actions. Despite the progress that has been made, crucial elements for creating sustainable change are still missing. While the individual activist groups have been effective in their own way, there has been little effort to create a strong unity within collective action. Then, while the opposition forces in Poland have mostly beendefending democratic institutions by reacting to government actions, they must go on offense to create sustainable change. Finally, while uniting and taking the offense, activists have to develop an affirmative vision for the future. In a society where PiS’s message of traditional values clearly has resonance, what positive alternatives can the opposition movement offer? This years’ developments in Poland cause both worries and hope. Can Poland become...
After being approached by a St. Andrews student, CANVAS founding member Srdja Popovic ran for the position of Rector at St. Andrews University – and won the election last week. Running against MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Popovic was able to secure double the student’s votes. The position of Rector, existing at Scotland’s oldest universities, is elected by the student body every three years to become President of the University Court, presiding over meetings taking essential decisions for the University. In the new position of Rector at the prestigious university, Srdja Popovic “aims to empower students in St Andrews to mobilise themselves”, he told Rachel Miller from BBC News. The Serbian activist further stated that one of the goals should be to build a student movement as a platform for broader social change. Srdja Popovic already came closer to achieving this goal by helping 50 students active in the campaign to build their own ‘students for students’ movement. He also revealed to BBC that what ultimately convinced him to run for the position, was the discovery that one of the former Rectors was John Cleese who inspired him in his own creative protest through Monty Python’s absurd humor. To read more about Srdja Popovic and his new position as the Rector of the University of St. Andrews, read this BBC article. For those who speak Serbian, take a look at this N1 Info article. Photo: N1...
Srdja spoke at TEDxKraków, an independently organised TED event which took place on 20 October 2011 at the Manggha Centre for Japanese Art and Technology in Kraków, Poland. Srdja talked about people power movements and bringing down dictators through non-violent struggle....
“Is it food?” - NYU’s Marion Nestle
with Chris Hedges
ExxonMobil Is Still Bankrolling Climate Science Deniers
by Elliott Negin
Freedom Rider: Trump, Obama and Syria
by Margaret Kimberley
Women Are Missing at Central Banks
Haiti and the Convenience of Imperial Amnesia
by Jemima Pierre
“We Want Democracy to Be Restored”: Protesters in Chile Decry Inequality Amid Military Crackdown
‘A 1950s show trial’: John Pilger describes ‘disgraceful’ courtroom treatment of Julian Assange by UK judge
That we live under a dictatorship is now unquestionable: The Assange Case
From: Diana Johnstone
Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Subject: IMPORTANT: Only Cowards And Sadists Support The Persecution Of Assange
Only Cowards And Sadists Support The Persecution Of Assange
Laura Flanders Show: How to Make a Democratic Economy
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Gilets jaunes Acte 49 honours France’s firefighters
RT NEWSLETTER (October 20, 2019)
Noam Chomsky signs call to boycott Turkey
and prevent the ethnic cleansing of Kurdish people
Black Activists Targeted -- by FBI and Killers Unknown
with Glen Ford
TRNN correspondent Jacqueline Luqman and Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford discuss the murders of Botham Jean and Joshua Brown in Dallas, Texas, the deaths of Black activists in Ferguson, Missouri, and the FBI’s long campaign to target Black activists for judicial and extrajudicial harm.
Botham Jean and America’s Apartheid Police State
by Danny Haiphong
The death of Black males under American apartheid is not only absolved by white society but also treated as necessary for the upkeep of the status quo.
“The shock troops for the American apartheid regime can depend on the Black misleadership class for protection and safety.”
The word apartheid has generally been used to describe South Africa up until 1994 and most recently Israel’s present colonial arrangement. However, South Africa and Israel received direct support and encouragement from history’s most effective form of apartheid, the United States. The United States, also known as “America,” is an apartheid state—one based on the mass kidnapping African people and the establishment of a white settler regime designed to protect the profits derived from slavery and land theft. Botham Jean is but another victim of the American apartheid police-state. Off duty cop Amber Guyger received ten years in prison for her act of lynching. Whatever real or imagined justice derived from Guyger’s slap on the wrist prison sentence was discredited by the spectacle of forgiveness present at her trial. Brandt Jean’s forgiving testimony and embrace with Guyger gave the corporate media the opportunity to restore white innocence, which is a core assumption of American apartheid’s project of mass Black elimination.
Not a week passed after Guyger was simultaneously convicted and forgiven that Joshua Brown, Jean’s neighbor, was brutally killed. Brown was set to testify in a lawsuit against the Dallas police and had provided the most important testimony at Jean’s trial. For challenging Guyger’s proclamation of victimhood, Joshua Brown was murdered. The swiftness of Brown’s murder and the botched criminalization of his reputation following the capture of his alleged assailant indicates that Guyger and the Dallas police department have facilitated another lynching, this time in retribution for testifying against a police officer. As Tommy Curry makes clear in his book, The Man-Not, the death of Black males under American apartheid is not only absolved by white society but also treated as necessary for the upkeep of the status quo. Black Americans such as Brown who challenge the normalcy of state-sanctioned violence are discredited, defamed, and assassinated.
“Off duty cop Amber Guyger received ten years in prison for her act of lynching.”
In the Black Lives Matter era, America’s apartheid police state has been subject to an increased level of popular scrutiny. Police impunity in the killing of Black Americans has been thoroughly exposed by the Black activist movement and its allies. Still, it remains rare for cops to receive an indictment let alone a conviction for murdering Black Americans. Most killer cops, like Stephon Clark’s murderers in blue, end up back in uniform . Amber Guyger assassinated Botham Jean in his own home, so the American apartheid state felt compelled to give the known racist a slap on the wrist for first degree murder. However, the armed troops of American apartheid were far from satisfied with Brandt Jean’s gesture of forgiveness and decided to make Joshua Brown yet another victim of racist state terror after his emotional testimony exposed Guyger’s crimes against humanity.
Jesse Ventura talks about CIA implanted in State Government, his CIA interrogation and trip to Cuba! (video)
Former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, expounds on his personal experiences and knowledge of such facts!
Assange is a physical and mental wreck. What have they done to him? Here's a description of his state in court:
Judge Denies Assange Extension on Extradition Hearing
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
by Horace G. Campbell
Up In Smoke: The Neocon Assault on Syria Is Finally Over
by David Stockman
By a vote of 354-60 last week the U.S. House of Representative proved that Imperial Washington is addicted to war, and that the level of ignorance, bellicosity and mendacity among the people’s representative has reach appalling heights.
Having never voted for Washington’s pointless, illegal and destructive fomenting of Syria’s calamitous civil war in the first place, as the constitution requires, the bipartisan congressional mob actually had the gall to vote to keep US forces in the middle of a centuries old Kurd/Turk conflict that has zero implications – and we mean as in none, nichts and nada – for the security and safety of the American homeland.
The pretext, of course, is that the ISIS caliphate will come roaring back to life absent the armed resistance of the Kurdish-SDF forces positioned in Syria’s northeast quadrant; and that with these bombed-out, impoverished, no-count towns, villages, farms and dusty plains back under the black flag of ISIS, next up will be IEDs in the New York City subways.
That’s just blatant claptrap. If Syria becomes whole again, the Islamic State doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in the hot place of reviving. And letting Syria become whole again was exactly the purpose and consequence of Trump’s courageous decision to remove American forces from the Syria/Turkey border.
That singular move paved the way for the already emergent tripartite deal between Turkey, Damascus and the Kurds. The latter would:
reestablish Syrian sovereignty on it border with Turkey (already substantially accomplished),
establish an approximate 13-mile deep "buffer zone" (per the map below) that would be off-limits to the Kurdish SDF, which Ankara considers to be an extension of its long-running domestic Kurdish separatist insurrection,
set the planking for a reciprocal withdrawal of Turkish support for rebel militias on the northwest border (blue area) as well as the handful of border towns in the Kurdish northeast they had penetrated before today’s ceasefire,
accommodate the formation of some kind of limited self-governance arrangement for the two million Syrian Kurds domiciled in the Syrian northeast, and
provide regular Syrian military uniforms and paychecks to Kurd fighters now enrolled in the SDF.
Moreover, once this emergent tripartite deal is reasonably finalized and implemented, the remaining cleanup of the giant political and military mess Washington has foisted upon Syria could be accomplished with alacrity.
Together with its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies, Damascus would make short shift of the remaining jihadist fighters in Idlib province (dark brown area) now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which was formerly called al-Nusra Front and before that Al Qaeda.
In short, the Donald’s bold decision to stand down rather than dither in place forever ala the Afghan fiasco has paved the way for a swift end to the horrific Syrian Civil war. The latter caused more than 500,000 deaths, generated upwards of 9 million internal and external refugees, utterly ruined the Syrian economy and civilian infrastructure and dangerously roiled the entire middle east.
Needless to say, with Syria whole again and Damascus able to militarily secure its own territory with the help of the Russian air force and the professional military detachments of the Iranians and Hezbollah, there won’t be any ISIS caliphate reviving itself anywhere on the map below.
Nor would there be any reason for Washington’s war addicts to tie-on another binge of full-throated fear-mongering about the threat of "radical Islam" and the barbaric head-choppers of the short-lived, flukish Islamic State.
Even a cursory examination of the history, in fact, reminds us that the caliphate was actually enabled, fostered and armed by Washington’s regime change interventions in Iraq and Syria. Had the neocons not caused Washington to plunge into the 2011 Syrian uprising with billions of weapons, training and walking around money, there would have been no armed civil war in Syria; ISIS would not have implanted itself in Raqqa and in the north and east of Syria; and Washington would not have had cause to arm the Kurdish separatists, which had long been a both thorn in Damascus’ side and viewed as an existential threat by the Turks.
Steve Bannon – a Profile of a US Apparatchik. From China to the Pope
Interviewed by Joe Rogan
From: Diana Johnstone
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2019
Subject: Julian Assange SOS
The plain truth is that Julian Assange is alone, facing all the power of the U.S. determined to crush him, and with no effective defence.
His listless legal defence has done nothing to extract him from his British dungeon, where his health is visibly deteriorating.
His lawyers, such as they are, seem more anxious to score human rights points than to denounce the total illegality of the whole case mounted against him for merely revealing documented truth.
The United States dares accuse of “treason” a citizen of another country, which has dire implications for freedom of expression all over the world.
Please read the document below, and think what you can do. . . .
All the best,
Liberating Assange: A woeful lack of leadership
For years there has been widespread and growing support for Julian Assange in many parts of the world. This I have learned from a variety of sources, including so-called alternative media, and queries addressed to me in consequence of my own modest efforts to inform (see www.julian-assange.se and www.nnn.se/nordic/assange.htm).Recently, for example, two correspondents in France inquired if I had any opinion of or additional knowledge relating to an article containing brutal criticism of Julian’s lawyers. Both women expressed what one referred to as ”my frustration and sense of powerlessness” concerning Julian’s predicament. Such sentiments are far from uncommon, and may in large measure be explained by the sorrowful fact that Julian’s supporters worldwide — who at this point number in the millions and are clearly prepared to contribute time, energy and money— have been left unorganised and poorly informed.That observation is in no way meant to disparage or trivialise the efforts of individualslike John Pilger, who for years has been conducting an extensive one-man information service, making himself available to all sorts of media for interviews, etc. — while donating large amounts of time and energy that he might devote to more personal matters if there were equally knowledgeable, accessible and responsive additional sources to share the burden. I, for one, have not discovered any. Discouraging initiativeIt was due to my great respect for John Pilger, both for his unflagging support to Julian Assange and for his many journalistic achievements, that I unhesitatingly assented when he earlier this year asked me to help with a project in Sweden.The objective, at least initially, was to gather a respectable number of endorsements for a statement in support of Julian Assange to be published in Swedish media, commissioned and financed by the WikiLeaks organization. The name-gathering began on 22 May and soon everything was arranged for full-page ads to be published in two leading Swedish newspapers on Monday, June 3rd, with a statement endorsed by over 100 citizens in various walks of life.But a few days before scheduled publication, WikiLeaks leaders informed John that it had decided not to go ahead with publication ”at this time”. No discussion. No consultation. No explanation. Only some vague noises about publication at some unspecified later date which became increasingly vague and less specific as the days passed. In the end, under mounting pressure from endorsers to act upon their eagerness to openly declare their support of Julian, the statement was published on a website established for that purpose. (More detailed account at https://julian-assange.se/english/history.htm.)To put it mildly, this episode indicated a state of disarray or worse among the presumptive leaders of Julian’s most crucial and well-informed support in London. It also seemed to express a dismal lack of respect for John Pilger, who through the years has contributed so much. And, of course, it demonstrated an utter disregard for all the Swedes who donated their time, energy and good names to the project.
It would be difficult to devise a more effective method for repelling adherents and discouraging initiative. What’s happening, how to know?The arbitrary cancellation of the Swedish initiative is one of many signs that a coherent, well-organised campaign in support of Julian Assange is notable by its absence. Much the same can be said of the information available to those who may wish to participate in such campaign. For an uninitiate in Saskatchewan, Sweden or Sri Lanka wanting to learn and help, where to turn for enlightenment? One obvious place to start, of course, is with the organisation that Julian is world-famous for having founded. But a visit to the WikiLeaks website does not have much to say about his persecution. There is nothing about it on the home page at www.wikileaks.org. In the ”News” subsection there are a couple of related articles, the most recent dated June 7 of this year. Those who seek further under the ”About” heading will, toward the end of the page, find this reference: ”Julian Assange's ongoing detention without charge is best described here: https://justice4assange.com/3-Years-in-Embassy.html”That’s all there is to learn about the Assange case from the WikiLeaks website. Not so incidentally, the link to the justice4assange website does not appear to be functioning. When I yesterday and today clicked on that link with both Firefox and Chrome, I got either a blank page or this message: ”Error. Bad request or the file you have requested does not exist. Please wait few minutes and try again.” Those who know what to do next may be able to access the Justice for Assange website via its home page at https://justice4assange.com— but often first after receiving and complying with the ”Bad request” error message. If they eventually succeed, they are greeted with this sight:
The video is a 37-second excerpt from a statement on 5 February 2016 by Christophe Peschoux, identified only as ”UN working group secretary”. The group in question is presumably the UNWGAD. Note that the date is Feb. 2016, more than 3½years ago. Among many other things not mentioned is the far more powerful statement by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture from May of this year. Beneath the video are some Frequently Asked Questions which include ”When did Assange enter the embassy, and why is he there?”, indicating that the website has not been updated since before Julian’s arrest in April this year. Otherwise, the site does not appear to be functioning well or at all. Clicking on the section headings in the top menu (Action, Statements, etc.) has no effect, i.e. one remains on the home page. But it does produce some mixed headings in the menu, for example: These and other problems, including the frequent reappearance of the ” Bad request” error message, render this website of little or no use. Yet it is recommended by WikiLeaks as the source where ”Julian Assange's ongoing detention without charge is best described”.Defending WikiLeaks — not Julian AssangeApparently some person(s) decided several years ago that the principal source of information about the Assange case on the Internet should be the website entitled ”Defend WikiLeaks” (not ”Defend Assange”). It may, however, be questioned how widely that is understood or agreed. I routinely explore a broad range of sources via the Internet for information about Julian Assange and many other subjects, but rarely come across any reference to Defend WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks’ own website makes no mention of its Defender, but instead links readers to the error-prone site of Justice for Assange. The Defend WikiLeaks website seems to be equally prone to the ” Bad request” error message. Those who succeed in gaining access see this home page:
The top menu clearly indicates that ”Julian” is a subsidiary issue.There is no photo or other image of Julian on this, the opening page of the section labelled ”Julian” on the Defend WikiLeaks website. The banner headline seems to suggest that the arrest of Julian was a recent event, not something that occurred over half a year ago. The 45-second video was apparently produced by the British Labour Party. After a half-second with the puzzling opening image —apparently taken during the arrest of Julian in April — the video segues to a statement in support of Julian recited by an unidentified but presumably Labour politician, accompanied by excerpts from the infamous ”Collateral Murder” video.WikiLeaks’ own website makes no mention of its Defender, but instead links readers to the error-prone site of Justice for Assange. In relation to Julian’s current predicament, the relevance of the video and the quote beginning ”Congress shall make no law” is not immediately evident. The appeal for money is very clear, however. Visitors — presumably from all over the world and with many different native tongues that are not English — are apparently expected to understand what ”Liveblog” means, and that in this case it involves current news about the Assange case. Those who, for whatever reason, choose to click on the Liveblog link are at risk of being met with the ”Bad request” error message. If and when they do gain access to that page, they will probably find it difficult to navigate — sluggish and erratic, as appears to be the case with navigation within and between most pages of the website. How much life there is in the Liveblog is open to question; the most recent entry is from October 16, three days ago. The lead headline is ” Julian Assange Arrested, Donate to the campaign now”. Beneath that is a small subhead: ”Arrest info and how else to get involved here”. Clicking on that link opens either the ”Bad request” error message or a page headlined ”Emergency: Julian Assange has been arrested”. That again.There is some mention of his imprisonment in ”About Julian Assange” — 142 of the 2519 words on that page touch upon the subject. The ”Prison Updates” page contains two entries with a total of 491 words, the most recent dated 30 September 2019. The section labelled ”Take Action” opens with another appeal to ”Donate”. That is followed by some fairly self-evident suggestions about what one might do to help. It is noted that ”There are numerous local groups and campaigns that have sprouted up in support of Julian Assange around the world”. But no effort has been made to unite them into a coherent force, or even to document them and their activities. Then there is the question of the website’s visual appeal. Design is a matter of taste, of course. But I am fairly confident that if a random sample of Internet uses were asked to compare this website with just about any other —www.wikileaks.orgor www.julian-assange.se, for example — the harsh yellow-blackness of defend.wikileaks.org would not be seen as especially inviting. Clearly inadequateEtc., etc.... In short, the website designated by some obscure process to serve as the primary Internet source of information about the Assange case is clearly inadequate. Among other things, I have never before encountered a website that performs so poorly from a purely technical standpoint — more than slightly perplexing, given the technical expertise of those associated with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The failure to provide vital, up-to-date information is even more perplexing, to indulge in understatement.Of course, it can be and has been reasoned that there are many other sources available among alternative and even mainstream media, some of which are referenced on the Defend WikiLeaks website. But how to interpret and choose among them?To take one of countless examples: Some media have recently reported that Julian is in very poor health, others that he is in good health. Which to believe?What is very much needed is an authoritative source, acting on Julian’s behalf, which provides reliable fresh information while resolving the contradictions, confusions and inaccuracies of media and other reports. That would appear to be a precondition for any global campaign to secure his freedom. Needless to say, such a campaign would be very difficult to organise and coordinate. But difficult tasks have been accomplished before — by Julian Assange, for example. It may well be that those who have been leading current efforts, whoever they are, have been doing their very best. If so, their efforts are to be gratefully acknowledged.But in a situation like Julian’s, the need for dedicated and effective leadership does not dissipate just because certain individuals are unable to provide it. The time to identify and recruit such leadership is long overdue, and that will no doubt require some blunt and open discussion.
Initial suggestionsBy way of imitating such a discussion, here are a few suggestions about what needs to be done:• Launch an independent global campaign dedicated solely to the release of Julian Assange from captivity, with an appropriate title such as ”Assange Freedom Now!”•Recruit a qualified steering committee to lead and legitimise the campaign. Names like Mairead Maguire, Craig Murray and Ray McGovern come to mind. So does John Pilger’s, of course; but he has already done so much that it seems impertinent to contemplate asking. • Establish an adequately staffed and funded campaign headquarters, presumably in London but possibly elsewhere, to carry out tasks including:Create and constantly maintain an attractive, easily read and technically efficient website to provide continual and authoritative reports on Julian’s current situation and related matters, correct errors in other media, answer reader enquiries, etc.Develop and maintain a comprehensive list of solidarity groups around the world, document their actions, respond to their requests for information and guidance, etc.Help plan, organise and execute major actions.Anyone who wishes to discuss these and related issues is very welcome to contact me.
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