Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s Ambassador In London, Personally Responds To Emails

Not sure you can say that of many national ambassadors! This is what I wrote to this email for expressing condolences on Chavez’s passing:

After a heroic battle with cancer, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías has shuffled off this mortal coil, but his dream will endure forever and continue giving hope unto the hearts of men and women all over the world. In his dream, nations can triumph over comprador elites, even when the latter are backed by international plutocrats and the world’s greatest superpower. It is the dream of 21 century socialism, which has resoundingly proven that social justice, better living standards, and democracy are not trade-offs, but complementary to each other. It is the dream of a Venezuela and a Latin America that is democratic, socially cohesive, independent, and sovereign. Salutations to the late Comandante, in the firm conviction that Venezuela will find worthy successors to continue pursuing the Bolivarian dream.

Here is his response:

Dear Anatoly,

Thank you very much for your kind message.

During this difficult time for us as Venezuelans, your words were greatly appreciated.

In spite of Chavez’s absence, we will always carry with us his example, perhaps the most important of which was his true dedication and constant perseverance to realise his dreams of independence, sovereignty, justice and solidarity.

Thanks again for your support.

Samuel Moncada, Ambassador.

Incidentally, Mr. Moncada has an impressive academic pedigree, with a PhD in history from Oxford University. Just goes to show that the claims that Venezuela has no meritocracy and all the prestigious political/diplomatic jobs go to chavista cronies are probably false or at least very exaggerated.

Another thing to note is that Samuel Moncada also writes for The Guardian. This article is particularly interesting - apparently he was almost arrested by the CIA-backed coup plotters in 2002. (Many in his apartment block were not so lucky). I try to keep from empty moralizing, but sometimes it’s really sickening how the same people who crow the loudest about Chavez’s “rollback” of democracy studiously ignore – and perhaps privately lament the failure of – the comprador elites’ attempt to unseat a democratically and legitimately elected President.

Assange Should Have Picked The Russian Embassy

UK police descend on Assange’s embassy refuge.

According to the Ecuadorians, their Embassy was threatened with a revocation of its status as Ecuadorian sovereign territory in the case that President Rafael Correa offers Julian Assange political asylum. This would clear the way for PC Plod could go in and fish out Assange. Presumably this is to avoid breaking one of the cornerstones of international law, satisfying its letter while raping its spirit. Truly fascinating the lengths and lows to which Britain is prepared to go to satisfy its puppet masters.

My initial thoughts are:

(1) Assange should have chosen the Russian Embassy. Ecuador is small and doesn’t have clout. Russia (or China, for that matter) wouldn’t have handed over Assange either, for the propaganda coup if little other reason, and even as cringingly obsequious a country as the UK would have hesitated to take them on so directly.

(2) A timely reminder that Assange is wanted for questioning (not charged) on a crime that it is not even a crime in the UK itself. I wonder if there is anybody, anybody at all, who is still willing to argue that his case is not entirely political?

(3) One would hope that Ecuador does not tolerate any British violation of its sovereignty and mounts a like response – and that countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and (preferably, though highly improbable) Russia and China join them in solidarity. But either way one of the good things about this is that it will make clear to any lingering doubters in non-puppet countries like Russia that Western rhetoric on human rights and international law only goes as far as it benefits them.

EDIT 8/16: And asylum was granted.

Alex Mercouris Untangles Syria

He has an excellent article over at his blog discussing the motivations behind the Western smearing of Russia for supporting – well, not opposing – Assad, against the Islamist insurgent freedom fighters. I highly recommend you read the article Russia, Syria, and the West in full; as Mark Chapman correctly notes in the comments, if you only did that then you would “come away better informed than 90% of those who have followed the situation from the outset.”

Basically, the West pretends that Russia is pursuing mercenary objectives in propping up Assad, while its own motives are altruistic and well-meaning. This of course ignores many inconvenient facts:

  • The situation in Syria is in fact a civil war with the insurgents, vast majority of whom are Islamists, not without their own share of atrocities. (And being supported by Western proxies for months now).
  • Western duplicity in supporting regimes like Saudi Arabia which executes people for witchcraft and militarily intervening in Bahrain to put down a Shi’ite revolt. This exposes their protests vs. Russia, China as hypocritical moralistic posturing; the real objective is to undermine Iran.
  • The BRICS as a whole are against the Western moves to intervene militarily in Syria (with Russia taking most of the flak), or create the pretexts for such. This is an eminently reasonable move given the Libyan experience. Libya, by and by, is hardly ever mentioned now in the Western MSM, as that whole democracy and liberal rights thing doesn’t appear to be panning out with daily reprisals, collapse of central authority, and fast-growing influence of radical Islamists.
  • Ignoring Russia’s (and China’s, etc) real arguments and motivations: Not supporting Assad per se (as Putin pointed out, Assad made more visits to Paris than Moscow in the past few years), but preventing the Western powers from usurping the right to make war, regime change, and general hostile interference in the affairs of non-Western aligned states. I.e., holding to the letter of international law.

For a statement of the Russian position on Syria, I recommend Russian FM Sergey Lavrov’s article in the Huffington Post (On the Right Side of History), as well as Mercouris’ earlier posts on the matter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

“Israel Belongs To The White Man”

At least according to Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is hilariously a Sephardi Jew, i.e. closer to Arabs than Europeans.

Well, all countries have a right to sovereignty over their own borders, and stemming the inflow of illegal African immigrants is perfectly justifiable in Israel’s case. To this end they are ramping up legal sanctions against them.

However, what’s striking is how little flak Yishai got for his White Nationalist-like outburst. When a Russian Federal Migration Services spokesman said immigration was putting the “future of white race under threat” in a BBC interview, he was promptly fired (which was, BTW, the correct thing to do). However, the incident was plastered all over the Western media. But in Israel’s case, in which an actual Minister was involved, the incident was only mentioned on Haaretz and a few blogs.

And in general, Israel gets away with a lot of things that would draw huge opprobrium if done by any other country. E.g., you can be convicted of rape for falsely claiming to be a Jew in a seduction. It imprisons several journalists (unlike, say, Russia) but organizations like Freedom House consider it to be perfectly democratic. Palestinians in the West Bank arguably have it worse than South African blacks under apartheid. At least the latter were left to themselves (“apart”) whereas Israeli right-wing settlers gobble up the best land and sources of water in Palestine.

Of course, begrudging Israel for this is stupid. As is blaming it on an imaginary Zionist conspiracy, as the guys at Stormfront would (for a start, Jews in the US and Israel are very, very different). No, it just speaks to the importance of having a powerful lobby in Washington DC.

Karlin Freedom Index 2012

This is the Karlin Freedom Index for 2012, a political classification system I formulated more than a year ago in response to systemic bias on the part of traditional “freedom indices” such as Freedom House and The Economist Democracy Index (hint: they give massive bonus points for neoliberalism and pro-Western foreign policy orientations).

The explanation: Reconciling democracy with liberalism is really hard: since people are illiberal by nature, there is usually a trade-off between the two. The more frequent result is Semi-Liberal Democracy (describes most “Western” countries), which in turn can degenerate into a full-blown Illiberal Democracy (as did Russia around 1993, or the US and Hungary around 2011). Oligarchy is meant in the sense of rule by a few. It should be noted that some legislation ostensibly enacted to protect the public interest, such as libel laws, surveillance laws and anti-terrorist laws – in practice serve more to undermine liberalism. When they go too far, there appear Semi-Authoritarian states of permanent emergency. In the lower rung, Authoritarianism consolidates all political power unto the state (Semi-Authoritarianism tries to, but isn’t as successful). Totalitarianism extends the political realm over all spheres of life, bringing us into the realm of (Viereck’s) Metapolitics.

Liberal Democracy

  • Iceland – In the wake of its post-financial crisis constitutional reforms, this small country may claim to have the most direct democracy on Earth.
  • Netherlands
  • California (state government)
  • Germany
  • Finland
  • Sweden – Not as high as it might have been due to the politically-motivated prosecution of Assange.
  • Spain
  • Czech Republic

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Wikileaks As A Mirror On The West

A foreign “subversive” journalist, driven by fevered idealism, publishes reams of leaked internal documents from an Authority that, beneath its carefully positioned mask of civility, honor and justice, views the whole world – of both friend or foe – as its own playground, and engages in the most corrupt and underhanded wheelings and dealing to maintain its lofty pretensions to hegemony. Though the Authority is entirely comfortable with selectively using the material contained therein to legitimize its ideological-imperialist projects to the public, its minions in the Mainstream Media and even its most prominent Archons experience no cognitive dissonance in calling for that accursed fiend, the revealer, to be branded with the number of the Beast that is “terrorist”, and to be henceforth sentenced to eternal imprisonment, or the death penalty, or the most apocalyptic of all, a Perunian thunderstrike from the skies. Now if this were real life as allegory, what would it it refer to?

Perhaps its the Mooslims? Nah, the Islamists aren’t that well organized or articulate. More to the point, they don’t leave extensive paper trails. The Rooskies? But when Russian officials make shady threats, their targets at least tend to be Russian Federation citizens and real traitors. No – as usual, it’s the West and its hypocrisy at its finest.

Now let’s make some things clear, first. As Defense Sec. Robert Gates correctly points out, the real impact of Wikileaks is modest. For instance, one of the ostensible “shocker” cables, revealing the support of the Arab elites for a US strike on Iranian nuclear installations, was well known in geopolitical circles well beforehand (heck, I mentioned this back in August and earlier). Even the impact of these official revelations on the “Arab street” are likely to be minimal, given that (1) polls show a (slight) majority of Arabs in Egypt and Lebanon willing to resort to military force to prevent an Iranian nuke and (2) alleged censorship of Wikileaks in the region.

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