America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally 437



I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter
them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises
of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of
transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.

437 thoughts on “America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally

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  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq Association

    The 21st century change in human consciousness and perception may well herald a new epoc where one cannot assume the ad baculum fallacy that might makes right.

    Non sequiturs such as “we fight, therefore we are” now seem crude, gross, tactless and uncouth, proven obsolete by the continued chaos, disorder and suffering in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

    Amidst the torture, anguish and misery we witness the aggressors calls for the right of peoples to self-determination. Yet that self-determination is denied in varius ways as we have seen in Syria and historically in the succinct words of Theodor Herzl who said, “We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own
    country; the Keren Kayemeth Leisrael enacted his vision on the assumption that the indiginous peoples lacked the ‘power’ of the land owning classes necessary to build a modern State.

    The ‘modern’ state being one with a well trained army, phosphurous gas, dioxin defoliant, depleted uranium and nuclear bombs to boot.

  • Lee

    Chris: What I don’t understand is why the US didn’t ask the UK government to extradite Assange directly without sideslipping him through Sweden

    Probably because the US decided to set up the CIA sting operation in Sweden, which is where Assange was living at the time. The hope was that Sweden would detain Assange, investigate the sting (the trumped up sex charges) “decide” not to prosecute, and then extradite Assange to the US. But Obama’s plan went wrong. By the time Assange landed in Britain, it was too late…Britain would legally have to deal with the Swedish charges first.

  • Lee

    I am sure as well that behind the scenes, Sweden has been seeking assurances that Obama will not execute Assange. Under EU law, as I understand it, extradtion to a country that is likely to execute, is not permitted. It would be typical of Obama’s arrogance that he would refuse to give such an undertaking..”no one dictates to Murka”

  • Yitzhak

    @Jon. Hi. There are 79 instances of the word ‘Israel’ on this page alone, and most of them were posted before I even knew of the existence of this blog entry. I do appreciate that this post is about Assange, but I have yet to see a single entry by Mr Murray on this site, that does *not* blame Israel for something or other. I genuinely and firmly believe Mr Murray to be mentally ill.

  • Yitzhak

    @Lee. Under EU law, it is equally illegal (under Swedish law as well as EU and international law) to deport persons to countries where they may face torture. You might like to ask Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery what they think of *that* particular guarantee…

  • nevermind

    Yitzhaks selectivity of laws he says Israel prescribes to, is duly noted, so are the hundreds of ignored UN resolutions, breaches of international law, arms regulations as well as border violations, East Jerusalem/Golan land grabs, a fine word for stealing, and many more human rights violations, not to speak of the use of phosphorous gas on school children and woman.

    Your effort here is lost Hasbarra, go and read Livia Rockach study of Moshe Sharatts diary, its available in Hebrew only.

    Now go and bother your PM, his obsession with wanting to make his mark on history, his over active brain, an overbearing ignorance of his populace who can’t afford his debt raising and escalating food prices, will be the end of Israel.

    Sorry for not agreeing with your claim, for us here the Nakhba has happened, as much as the Hollocaust’s, the vicious campaign against the British in Palestine and the Ghaza massacre of children and woman.

    Shame on you to come here preaching your Apartheid policies, trying to vie for attention like a spoiled child. This thread is about diplomatic candour and a rule of law, now go and play with Melanie Phillips.

  • Jon

    @Yitzhak – good thing for us that in general, one can be mentally ill and right at the same time! I am not sure you are arguing in good faith, but I’m happy to debate you if you can demonstrate an even-handedness to the debate.

    I put forward my approach towards a peace process, at [15 Aug, 2012 – 3:18 pm] on the previous thread. It features clauses that will sting on both sides, but then if we are to get a peaceful resolution, not everyone will get exactly what they want. Compromise is necessary. If you want to respond to that there, please do.

  • Lee

    Following Yitzhak’s observation, and from wiki:

    “Ahmed Agiza (Arabic: أحمد عجيزة‎) and Muhammad Alzery (Arabic: محمد الزيري‎) (also Elzari, el-Zary, etc.) were two Egyptian asylum-seekers who were deported to Egypt from Sweden on December 18, 2001, apparently following a request from the United States Central Intelligence Agency.[1] The forced repatriation was criticised because of the danger of torture and ill treatment, and because the deportation decision was executed the same day without notifying the lawyers of the asylum seekers. The deportation was carried out by American and Egyptian personnel on Swedish ground, with Swedish servicemen apparently as passive onlookers.”

    Exactly. Obama and the neocons on which he bases his “moral code” have no interest in international law or human rights. There is a direct line from Leo Strauss to Barack Obama via Reagan and GW Bush, which gives the US the sole right to decide which laws it will follow and which it will ignore. And it does so with total impunity because the world is too shit-scared to challenge the US. That is why Ecuador’s action is so profoundly important.

  • Yitzhak

    @Nevermind. ‘Yitzhaks selectivity of laws he says Israel prescribes to, is duly noted, so are the hundreds of ignored UN resolutions, breaches of international law, arms regulations as well as border violations, East Jerusalem/Golan land grabs, a fine word for stealing, and many more human rights violations, not to speak of the use of phosphorous gas on school children and woman.’

    The UN Resolutions which Israel ‘ignores’ are not binding. Those of us who – evidentially, unlike you – have studied the law, know that UN Resolutions (General Assembly *and* Security Council) are only binding when they are promulgated under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. The *overwhelming* majority of the Resolutions are Chapter VI, and are therefore nothing but advisory. The same goes for the much-vaunted ‘World Court’. Nothing they say or do is in any way binding on Israel. Moreover, exactly why should Israel ‘obey’ an organisation dominated by anti-Semitic, human rights abusing Islamic theocracies? Are you on drugs?

    Please detail the ‘breaches of international law’. Note that for your reply to be taken seriously, you will need to demonstrate *binding* decisions of an authority or authorities competent to judge.

    There are no ‘land grabs’ except those perpetrated by Arabic-speaking nomads bent on whittling away at Israel piece by piece, until their dream of ‘dar al-Islam’ is fulfilled, and the Jews in Israel are either murdered, expelled or dhimmified.

    Your knowledge of the law is laughable. Try evening classes, and you might not take such a thrashing next time.

  • Clark

    Yitzhak, here’s a URL and a re-post:

    @Mary, re the occupation, yes – that’s a given. My approach of late is, “what’s the workable solution” to the conflict? My answer is, broadly, to assume security as an inalienable right for both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people, without pre-conditions on either side. (Imo Hamas has always been willing to come to negotiations without any conditions at all, and it is always Israel who demands right-to-exist statements, and ceasefires, which they know will be hard for their fractious opponents to agree and stick to).
    I agree that Israel should never have existed, but the history of the Holocaust plus the widespread reactionary support for Israel (esp. in the US) makes that a politically impossible policy. So, we need to work with what we’ve got.
    I’ve also been analysing the situation in terms of propaganda and psychology, but it is important to see that this cuts both ways. We’re all aware of the images of Israeli children signing IDF rockets destined for Palestinian children – pure indoctrinated racism – but as Palestine supporters are less inclined to admit the same happens on their side too. I have therefore found class as a useful strategy: if I think about the Israeli people and the Palestinian people (as distinct from their leaderships and elites) I consider they are all just people who want stable employment, freedom from hunger, and protection from the perils of war.
    This leads me to humanising both populations, not only as ordinary people who want ordinary lives, but as stupid and self-destructive peoples who can’t see the wood for the trees. That goes for the Israeli mother who votes for a murderous right-wing hardliner in the Knesset, and it goes for the Palestinian teenager who launches ineffective rockets into built-up civilian areas. Each has been programmed to hate, and often with good reason.
    I am still firmly a Palestine supporter, though. As a wealthier, more powerful and more developed country, Israel should be first to the negotiating table, and last to leave it. Sadly Israel has been greatly more obstructionist than the other side, worried that whatever it does it will lose international sympathy, and aware that all the mechanisms of international law sit ready to judge their cruelty and militarism.
    I could write a bunch more, but perhaps I’ll end with this, on the topic of a class-solidarity with the Israeli people. We rightly condemn in the UK the propaganda that keeps the working classes angry and unemployed, the middle classes thumbing their noses selfishly at the poor, and the elites in their ivory towers laughing all the way to their very corrupt banks. We keep on voting for the same elites, and suspect with good reason that new parties backed by the unions wouldn’t do very well anyway, and get angry at the media that keeps us in such a permanent bind. But when it comes to ordinary Israelis, we blame them personally for Netenyahu (or for the latest IDF atrocity) and yet it was the same despicable process that got him where he is. Propaganda, money, power. After all, some British people voted for Michael Gove, and I suspect if we were to pop him in the Knesset, he’d fall into line with reactionary policy as he was required to.
    I suspect I am following Daniel Barenboim’s approach – ordinary people are not broadly the problem, and racism/hate can be unlearnt. It’s the elites we should be having difficulty with.

  • Jon

    Yitzhak, sure.

    The first part of my piece is here, and I followed it up after a difference of views with another contributor here. Scan the posts before and after for context.

    The background to my posting is my observation that a proportion of supporters on each side and have become firmly entrenched, thus making finding a solution that garners at least some support from both peoples harder. Both sides – and all facilitator countries – need some humility right now.

    I should be happy to read/respond to your reply on that page, so we can keep each thread (reasonably 🙂 ) on-topic. Thanks!

  • Yitzhak

    @Jon. I’m sitting reading this on my netbook in a pub in central London. I shall reply from home this evening.

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