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The brutal reality of the US-UK ‘Special Relationship’, and the persecution of Julian Assange

In an exclusive article, the world’s leading public intellectual says the handover of global imperial power from Britain to the US is at the root of the UK’s continued persecution of Julian Assange.

Declassified UK, NOAM CHOMSKY, 21 JULY 2022,

The abject submission of British authorities to the Master in Washington in the case of journalist Julian Assange is painful to observe but – unfortunately – not difficult to understand.

The roots go back to the Second World War, when Britain handed the mantle of world domination over to its former colony. The US had long surpassed the UK as an economic power and had displaced it from “our little region over here,” as Secretary of War Henry Stimson described the Western hemisphere. But it had not yet become a truly global power.

At the time, British officials were well aware that the UK was becoming a “junior partner” to the US, now subject to its will, which was often exercised crudely. 

Given their own ample experience with imperial arrogance, brutality and hypocrisy, British diplomats could easily read between the lines when their American counterparts protested that US global domination is “part of our obligation to the security of the world…what was good for us was good for the world”, as Abe Fortas, a leading figure in the New Deal administrations, put it.

The British Foreign Office, parsing this apparent altruistic concern, concluded that Washington was, in fact, guided by “the economic imperialism of American business interests” and was “attempting to elbow us out…under the cloak of a benevolent and avuncular internationalism”. 

UK officials continued that their American counterparts believe “that the United States stands for something in the world – something of which the world has need, something which the world is going to like, something, in the final analysis, which the world is going to take, whether it likes it or not.” What  true believers in the historical profession call “Wilsonian idealism”.

From then, Britain takes it, whether it likes it or not. Things could have gone a different way at various points in modern history, recently if Jeremy Corbyn hadn’t been destroyed by a vicious media campaign. But today’s British authorities just take the orders and Julian Assange is one of the victims.

Intricate handover

While Britain had become the “junior partner” by 1945, the handover process had played out in an extended and intricate way. 

One of the reasons why the now-famous Second Amendment of the US Constitution called for “a well regulated militia” was fear that “the Brits are coming”. The first foreign policy goal of the new Republic, apart from cleansing what became the national territory, was to take Cuba. 

The British Navy was in the way. But, as the great grand strategist John Quincy Adams explained, over time British power would decline while that of the US would increase and Cuba would then fall into US hands by the laws of “political gravitation”. 

This did happen in 1898 when the US intervened to prevent Cuba’s liberation from Spain and turn it into a virtual colony. This is called “the liberation of Cuba” in preferred doctrine…………………………………………..

The vast gap between law and practice is illustrated by the Assange case. Here Britain, adopting its usual role of “junior partner,” has been savagely supporting the effort of the inheritors of the Framers to infringe radically on freedom of the press. The media response has ranged from tepid to cowardly.

The precedent is all too clear. If the states that claim, with some justice, to be in the forefront of defence of freedom are granted licence to crush it when it interferes with state power and violence, the limited freedoms that have been won by popular struggle suffer a severe blow everywhere.

July 22, 2022 - Posted by | politics international, UK

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