Gerald Warner: Hague rattles sabres as the US pulls his strings
HAS William Hague, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, resumed his daily intake of 14 pints of Best Bitter that he supposedly renounced at 21?
It is a pertinent question as an affirmative answer would supply the most logical explanation for his recent behaviour, culminating in the threat to violate the diplomatic immunity of the embassy of Ecuador in pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Assange is an unlikely, indeed implausible, hero or victim. To make any representation that might coincide with his interests is distasteful; but the real test of principles is when they operate to the benefit of those we despise. Attempts to depict Assange as some kind of high-principled whistle-blower are unpersuasive. Most people enjoyed seeing the pseudo-democrats who rule Western nations exposed by WikiLeaks for the hypocrites they are. However, when twisting the tails of governments that intrude into their citizens’ privacy degenerates into indiscriminate and irresponsible exposure of security-related material, public sympathy evaporates. Julian Assange knew the rules of playing hardball and he must live with the consequences.
Yet that intransigent reality in no way justifies the buffoonery of William Hague in threatening to invade the Ecuadorian embassy. Although he has now tried to back-pedal, the damning facts are exposed in the British government’s letter to the Ecuador government: “You should be aware that there is a legal basis in the UK – the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act – which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy. We very much hope not to get to this point, but if you cannot resolve the issue of Mr Assange’s presence on your premises, this route is open to us.”
That letter is a disgraceful act of purported intimidation. It is a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. It ought to be a resigning matter for William Hague. Since the embassy of any country is per se a part of its territory, an invasion of Ecuador’s embassy would be an act of war. It is as serious as that. The fact that the British Parliament unilaterally passed the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act in 1987 does not affect the universally recognised laws of diplomacy. That Act was passed in reaction to the abuses committed by the Libyan embassy in London in 1984. It was enacted without any amendment of the Vienna Convention, its effects on diplomatic inviolability are not part of its main provisions and it is impossible to see how it could legitimise an invasion of the embassy of Ecuador.
If civilised intercourse between nations is to be preserved, diplomatic immunity is non-negotiable. At the height of the Cold War, the fugitive Cardinal Mindszenty lived in the American embassy in Budapest for 15 years and even the Soviet Union did not dare to violate diplomatic immunity. Any nation that does so proclaims itself a rogue state. Hague’s sabre-rattling against Ecuador prompts the question: would he act so aggressively against the embassies of Russia, China, or America? If he is so anxious to proclaim Britain’s authority, why does he not revisit the one-sided extradition treaty between this country and the United States? Or repudiate the outrageous European Arrest Warrant that surrenders British subjects, without trial, to a foreign jurisdiction?
Hague is pursuing gunboat diplomacy without any gunboats. He has made himself and Britain a laughing stock. That he has done so over so trivial a subject as Julian Assange can only provoke suspicions that he is acting as an American puppet, as is the Swedish government. The allegations of sexual misconduct against Assange are a red herring. He is not “facing charges” of sexual assault in Sweden: he is only wanted for questioning. He has offered to make himself available for questioning by the Swedish authorities in Britain or, more recently, in the Ecuadorian embassy, but Sweden refused this offer. If he were extradited to Sweden, cynics suspect the allegations against him would be found inadequate to support prosecution. “However, we have an extradition request from the US government, Mr Assange, so your next destination is Guantanamo Bay – in which you have always taken an informed interest.”
As America’s global influence wanes, it compensates with bullying tactics. Hillary Clinton, the Democrat harridan, tours the world telling developing nations to abandon their cultural values and embrace abortion, homosexuality, feminism and other totems of America’s liberal elite, or forfeit aid. A gratifying number of nations have told her where to put her ultimatums. Barack Obama’s foreign policy is a nasty car-crash. So is Britain’s, with William Hague subsidising Syrian rebels whose real motivations are jihadist. The Foreign Secretary is not fit for purpose.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west