Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):
One of the many, many signs that Australia is nothing more than a US military and intelligence asset is the way its government has consistently refused to intervene to protect Australian citizen Julian Assange from political persecution at the hands of the US empire.
In a new article titled “Penny Wong moves to dampen expectation of breakthrough in Julian Assange case,” The Guardian quotes Australia’s foreign minister as saying, “We are doing what we can, between government and government, but there are limits to what that diplomacy can achieve.” Wong said this when asked if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese discussed the world’s most famous press freedom case with the US president and British prime minister when he met with them together two weeks ago.
Wong refused to say whether her government’s leader had raised the issue with his supposed US and UK counterparts, repeating instead the same line she’s been bleating since Labor took over: that the Assange case “has dragged on long enough and should be brought to a close.” Which if you listen carefully isn’t actually a statement in favor of releasing the WikiLeaks founder or blocking extradition — it’s just saying the case should be concluded hastily, one way or another.
These statements came in response to questions from Greens Senator David Shoebridge, who took a jab at the Labor government’s “quiet diplomacy” approach to the Assange case.
“The idea that quiet diplomacy must be so silent that the government can’t tell the public or the parliament if the PM even spoke to the president is bizarre,” Shoebridge said.
Wong told Shoebridge that Australia is powerless to intervene to protect the acclaimed Australian journalist, saying, “We are not able as an Australian government to intervene in another country’s legal or court processes.”
While it is true that Australia can’t force the US to end the political imprisonment and persecution of Assange for exposing US war crimes, it obviously can conduct diplomacy with its supposed ally in order to protect an Australian citizen. Even nations with whom Australia has no form of alliance are vocally confronted by Canberra when they imprison Australian citizens, like the statement Wong released yesterday regarding China’s detention of Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei in which the foreign minister explicitly and unequivocally calls for “Ms Cheng to be reunited with her family.”
Just yesterday alone Wong tweeted to demand justice for Cheng and for American journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been arrested in Russia on espionage charges.
“It is one year since Australian citizen Cheng Lei faced a closed trial in Beijing on national security charges,” tweeted Wong. “She is yet to learn the outcome. Our thoughts are with Ms Cheng and her loved ones. Australia will continue to advocate for her to be reunited with her children.”
“Australia is deeply concerned by Russia’s detention of Wall Street Journal Moscow correspondent Evan Gershkovich. We call on Russia to ensure access to consular and legal assistance,” Wong tweeted a few hours later.
Now guess how many times Penny Wong has tweeted the word “Assange”?
What is the basis for this discrepancy? Why has Australia’s foreign minister been publicly demanding that China release Cheng Lei and return her to her children, without making the same demands of the US for Julian Assange? Assange has children too, and he has been imprisoned for four times longer than Cheng — more than ten times longer if you count the period of his arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London before his arrest. Why are we seeing more action from the Australian government to defend an Australian journalist in China than to defend an Australian journalist fighting extradition to a nation we’re supposedly allied with which upholds itself as the leader of the rules-based international order?
The answer is that Australia is not a real country. It’s an American colony. It’s a giant US military base with kangaroos.
That’s why the Albanese government’s “quiet diplomacy” to free Assange is so quiet that it can’t actually be said to exist.
Regular readers may recall that the last time we discussed an interaction between Senators Wong and Shoebridge was when the former condescendingly dismissed the latter’s efforts to find out if the Australian government is allowing the US military to bring nuclear weapons into the country. Wong angrily told Shoebridge that the US has a standing “neither confirm nor deny” position with regard to where it keeps its nuclear weapons, and that the Australian government understands and respects that position.
We’re so far under Washington’s thumb that we’re not even allowed to know if there are American nukes in our country, and our own government can’t even advocate in defense of its own citizen when he’s being persecuted for the crime of good journalism.
Add that to the fact that Australia has been pressed into an AUKUS pact which makes us much less safe and a hostile relationship with China which hurts our own economic and security interests, the stationing of a US nuclear intelligence site which makes us a nuclear target, and the US staging literal coups of our government whenever its elected leaders threaten US strategic interests, and it becomes clear that our so-called “country” is functionally just a US aircraft carrier that happens to be the size of a continent.
Which would be bad enough if these bastards weren’t pushing us to play a front-and-center role in World War Three. We’ve got to start fighting against our enslavement to the US empire and against the Pentagon puppets in our own government like our lives depend on it, because they very clearly do.
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Articles, poems, stories and thoughts by Caitlin Johnstone. Everything published here always remain free to read.
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Military
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