Yeah, nah to Assange


Let’s not say yes to this request:

Julian Assange’s father has called on New Zealand to offer his son asylum after a UK judge blocked a US extradition attempt today. . . 

The mixed ruling found the WikiLeaks founder’s precarious mental health would likely deteriorate further under the conditions of “near total isolation” he would face in a US prison.

Lawyers for the US government said they would appeal the decision, and the US Department of Justice said it would continue to seek Assange’s extradition.

After this development, Assange’s father John Shipton added his name to a letter calling for New Zealand to offer asylum to his son. . . 

Even without Covid-19 dangers and restrictions are we under any obligation to let this man have asylum here?

The application to extradite him wasn’t turned down because of the weakness of the case against him but because his precarious mental health would likely deteriorate further under the conditions of “near total isolation” he would face in a US prison.

Could we, and should we accept him in that state and if we did could we give him the help he needs when our mental health system is overloaded?

Our borders are closed.

Should we make an exception for Assange when thousands of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are having to wait weeks for places in managed isolation; families are in forced separation; people can’t get in to visit terminally ill family and friends or to attend funerals; and lots of other people with far stronger claims than Assange’s aren’t being permitted to come here?

Yeah, nah.

Soldiers can’t hide


Soldiers serve countries, Assange only himself, Jim Hopkins writes :

Soldiers can’t hide in embassies – though they can be ordered to rescue hostages from them, as the SAS was in Kabul last August. Soldiers can’t make grand speeches from the balcony, safe from capture or attack. They can’t claim diplomatic immunity when it suits or seek the protection of their enemy’s enemy to avoid being brought to book. They can’t recklessly publish whatever they choose, heedless of whom it may harm or betray, then join “the club of the persecuted”. . . 

. . . Soldiers just do what soldiers have always done. They go where they’re sent. And fight when they must. They obey orders, do their duty, as it is given to them, and serve their country’s interests, in wars great and small, sometimes popular, sometimes not.

Because soldiers cannot choose their battlefields, any more than they can hide in embassies. They cannot tell their governments or their commanders they’d rather fight in Florida than in Bamiyan province. They can’t claim diplomatic immunity halfway through a battle or ask their enemies to “renounce” the “witch-hunt”.

What they must do, unlike those who hide in embassies, is confront the very essence of themselves. They must discover every ounce of fear in them and every skerrick of courage too. Because soldiers in Bamiyan, like soldiers on the Somme or on the island of Crete, know they are doing the most dangerous thing that anyone can.

For which they are not well paid. Not when compared with those who run websites and hide in embassies. But there is something every soldier can claim that those who pursue the protection of presidents or seek the sanctity of victimhood will never understand. More clearly than those who choose to hide, soldiers have the measure of themselves. They understand the consequence of choice, the meaning of duty and the character of courage.

Those are not fashionable things in this WikiLeaks age. Better to build a pedestal and put yourself upon it than defend a charge of rape. Better to claim “protection from oppression” than face the music. Better to hide than risk the battle. Better to blame everybody else for your circumstance than confront a lack of courage. . .

Apropos of this, Keeping Stock wonders if there’s a link between Wikileaks and recent action from the Taliban in Afghanistan.


O wad some Power the giftie gie us . . .


Another Wikileaks revelation:

“The Labour Party also tends to attract its membership from the ranks of academics, unions and government workers.

“National’s younger candidates, in contrast, typified the cross section of younger New Zealand professionals and middle class families – and were candidates who attracted important swing voters in urban centers where Labour traditionally had strong support,” she said.

Whether Labour could field a similar broad range of younger candidates among its traditional left-of-centre support base was in question.

“The party will also need to revamp its current parliamentary list, which is replete with tried, tested, and largely defeated Labour Party stalwarts.”

Political parties and politicians should acquaint themselves with the work of Robert Burns, paying particular attention to To A Louse from which comes: O wad some Power the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!

Stating the obvious


Shock horror, one of the WikiLeaks revelations is:

Former National Party leader Don Brash was “not unhappy” about losing the 2005 election because it meant he didn’t have to work with NZ First.

“Winston Peters really is a nutter,” he is quoted as saying by a United States Embassy staff member in a November 2005 diplomatic cable. The comments come in an intelligence briefing to Washington after Peters’ first big trip as foreign minister.

If there was a silver lining to National not winning the 2005 election it was not having to work with Peters.

Brash said yesterday: “I don’t recall saying that but it doesn’t really surprise me. I certainly don’t have a very high regard for Mr Peters.”

That could be the understatement of the year.

Separation just got harder


It’s not easy being in the SAS for the soldier or his family.

His wife and young children are at home while he’s in Afghanistan.

They prepared for his absence as best they could, including making videos of him reading stories which the children can play while he’s away.

But it’s not easy for his wife being a semi-solo mother. It’s not easy for the children who miss their father. It’s not easy for his parents, siblings, wider family and friends who miss him and worry.

It’s not easy for him either, being away for so long in a place where danger is ever present.

Thanks to Wikileaks it’s just got harder.

As Andrei says:

. . . Now Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks is basking in his moment of glory, feted by the media and casting himself as a truth teller.

But he is a traitor, whose actions will undermine the war in Afghanistan and reveal to our enemies our strategies for defeating them.

Hands up anyone thinks the world will be a better place if Afghanistan is lost?

Now if Mr Assange had revealed to the world the Taliban’s strategies and cruelties or Iranian ones that would be something.

Mind you anyone who did that would be gutted (literally not metaphorically) . . .

Leaking what is very sensitive information wasn’t striking a blow for freedom of expression; nor will it help bring peace.

It was playing politics with potentially serious consequences for the people who are trying to make a very troubled corner of the world a safer place.

Assange may have had a higher goal in mind but that will be no comfort at all to the soldier and his family for whom the war isn’t an abstract concept but a day to day reality.

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