Wikileaks, Sex and Afghanistan: What Matters Now
By: fairleft Tuesday August 24, 2010 11:50 am
SEX! criminal charges have a way of drowning out substance and dominating the mainstream media take on a ‘story’. And, so, Julian Assange
being briefly charged over the weekend with rape and still facing allegations of sexual harassment (‘molestation’ is a misleading translation) can’t be particularly good for making the ‘Wikileaks story’ about the routine killing of large numbers of Afghanistan civilians by the U.S. and NATO (continuing as we speak), or for bringing widespread attention to that aspect of the story.
Certain important things, however, are now fairly clear about the ‘Assange
charges’ story (the best account of which is now here):
1. The facts we know point away from a conspiracy of intelligence operatives generating the initial and quickly dropped rape charge or the now being investigated ‘sexual harassment’ (or ‘unwanted sexual contact’) charge. The rape charge looks like it was just a mistake made by a "late hours special prosecutor’ not familiar enough with the charges and/or applied Swedish law. However, no one inexpert in the facts and relevant Swedish law should rush to drag the apparently mistaken prosecutor through the mud just yet.
2. The sexual harassment charges are based on testimony from two apparently independent alleged victims, neither of whom seems likely to have been a CIA, Pentagon, or Interpol dupe.
3. Especially for media-outgunned causes, credibility matters and conspiracy mongering damages that; sensitivity to potential victims of sexual harassment also matters. So neither Assange
, nor prominent pundits such as Glenn Greenwald, nor leftist media critics such as Gavin MacFadyen should have immediately asserted the charges were probably part of some CIA or Pentagon smear. Even, yeah, when there was a ‘perfect’ conspiracy feel to the way things ‘went down’.
4. If Assange
is guilty, from what I gather the crime appears have been insisting on and then having unprotected sex with the two women, despite their refusals. To clarify: the women are charging that although the sex began as consensual it became non-consensual to some extent (to what extent I do not know) when Assange
refused to wear a condom. In other Western countries, perhaps in Assange
’s home country of Australia, this may or may not be a crime, but that doesn’t matter. He was in Sweden, both alleged victims are Swedish, and they have a right to be protected by their country’s laws.
5. This affair likely will not go away for awhile, despite antiwar activists’ wishes. So it may matter that antiwar activists figure out how to use the Wikileaks revelations to focus on civilians and the war ‘despite’ a sex-hung-up media’s desires.
6. But let’s face it: the ‘Wikileaks story’ was already largely disappeared from mainstream (though not ‘alternative’) news by the time of the charges against Assange
. The antiwar movement needs to stay reality-based, and one aspect of that is that the Pentagon and the news ‘masters’ didn’t ‘need’ this incident/story.
7. Wikileaking will not stop the war in Afghanistan; truth telling and punditeering can play only an antiwar support role. They are supposed to support a robust antiwar movement, by a citizenry angry about its young men and women getting killed for no reason, angry about killing Afghanistan civilians for no good reason, angry about wasting half a trillion dollars a year on military imperialism when that money needs to be spent at home, and then expressing that anger massively and in ways that cannot be ignored.
8. What matters about Afghanistan in ‘The West’ is that there is virtually no antiwar movement in the world headquarters of imperialism, the United States. Please, college students, as you come back to school over the next several weeks, wake up from Obamaism and apathy and change that!