Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Knock-Down Drag Out Battle has Begun

RT this morning interviewed half a dozen people about the astonishing developments in the case of Julian Assange. After weeks of reflection, the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, granted him asylum. In response, the government of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth vowed to storm the Ecuadoran Embassy in London where Assange has been holed up for weeks awaiting the decision.

As all the commentators pointed out, this is unprecedented in the annals of diplomatic history and contravenes every law on the subject EXCEPT A BRITISH LAW would allow the government to remove a foreign embassy’s diplomatic status! I have neither the time nor the inclination to research this ridiculous law, but I am certain it will be discussed on RT if it has not already. (Busy with a tech support issue I have not been watching for the last hour or so.) What interests me as always is the big picture, and what this development signifies in terms of the overall situation of the world

. I believe this is a watershed moment for what is commonly referred to as ‘the international community’, which I would designate in broader terms as ‘humankind’. Perhaps a bit over the top, but not when you consider that virtually all peoples, from the Amazonian jungle to Myanmar to sinking islands, are affected by the decisions of a few thousand actors on the world stage. Not only is the fate of the world controlled by the 1%, the means at their disposal are ever more frightening: digital technology, like every other ‘advance’ in civilization, has enabled the 99% to weigh more heavily in the balance, but it is also providing ever more frightening means for the 1% to lash back. Julian Assange’s safety is paramount, and the 99% will rally to his defense. But the 99% also wants climate control, an end to nuclear weapons, and equity, and it is now becoming clear that the chances of these goals being realized is very slim indeed.

At the same time, however, and although the Cold War has been over for almost twenty years, the world is again dividing into camps: on one side those whom Richard Falk refers to (see my yesterday’s blog) as the Maximalist proponents of a New Geopolitics, and on the other the Old Geopolitics, with the Minimalist New Geopolitics floundering in the middle. Assange’s defenders represent the first category, those seeking a new, participatory democracy, the U.S. and its allies represent the second, while the rest of the world represents the last desperate attempts to prolong the life of parliamentary democracy which has resulted in the Old Geopolitics resorting to ever increasing lethal force and surveillance.

And as in any conflict, the party with the most apparent strength is digging in, choosing to ignore the implications for the civilization it purports to defend. The Julian Assange asylum case constitutes the opening round in a knock down drag out battle between the forces of light and darkness.

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