Juan Cole recently addressed Britain’s threats to Ecuadorian sovereignty. He rightly informed us that:
The British government’s menacing of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday morning, with its threat that its police might well come on to the embassy grounds to arrest wikileaks leader and fugitive Julian Assange, resembles nothing so much as the Iranian regime’s cavalier attitude to the supposed inviolability of embassies. To be sure, Assange does not himself have diplomatic immunity. But the ground on which the Ecuadorian embassy sits is considered in international law to be Ecuadorian territory, and breaching it is tantamount to an invasion.
The British and American governments ought to consider this apparent and real equivalence a colossal embarrassment for their countries. Both, after all, were deeply implicated in the path which concluded with the Iranian Revolution. That Revolution produced an embassy invasion and hostage crisis which cohered into the stake that finished off the decrepit Carter presidency. Despite many events like this, both countries do believe themselves to be the apex of civilized society. Both, however, are or were empires, and therefore have grown accustomed to covering for their many crimes with choice rhetoric. Empires mostly sit somewhere beyond embarrassment. That is one consequence of the enormous power. They suffer embarrassment only when their powers fail to support their arrogance, when the Lilliputians of the world smite them and when they fail to respect the limits which constrain them. Thus America’s embarrassment in this matter: Assange cannot fail to pay for what he did to Superpower. He must be punished just as Bradley Manning had been punished (tortured). Until the revenge is complete, Assange will be an embarrassment for Uncle Sam.
“Assange’s fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded,” as Glenn Greenwald pointed out not long ago. His quest for asylum just.
Chris Floyd concurred with the above and has written thusly:
It is apparent that the nation of Ecuador will now be in the frame for what American foreign policy elites like to call, in their dainty and delicate language, “the path of action.” Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday for one reason only: the very real possibility that he would be “rendered” to the United States for condign punishment, including the possibility of execution.
None of the freedom-loving democracies involved in the negotiations over his fate — Britain, Sweden, and the United States — could guarantee that this would not happen … even though Assange has not been charged with any crime under U.S. law. [And even though the sexual misconduct allegations he faces in Sweden would not be crimes under U.S. or UK law.] Under these circumstances — and after a sudden, blustering threat from Britain to violate the Ecuadorean embassy and seize Assange anyway — the government of Ecuador felt it had no choice but to grant his asylum request.
Of course, great harm has been done to the pride of the puffed–up poltroons who strut and preen atop the imperial battlements, thinking themselves the lords of all the earth and the apple of every little peon’s eye. Their crimes and lies and third-rate minds were exposed — in their own words — by Wikileaks: and it is for this that Assange must pay. (And be made an example of to all those who might do likewise). Our imperial elites (and their innumerable little yapping media sycophants on both sides of the political fence) simply cannot bear to have American power and domination resisted in any way, at any time, for any reason, anywhere, by anyone. It offends their imperial dignity. It undermines their extremely fragile, frightened, frantic egos, which can only be held together by melding themselves to an image of monstrous, implacable, unstoppable power.