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The Guardian’s vilification of Julian Assange

The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do, says Jonathan Cook.

by Jonathan Cook

Part 7 - Heroes of the Neoliberal Order

Equally, The Guardian has made clear who its true heroes are. Certainly not Corbyn or Assange, who threaten to disrupt the entrenched neoliberal order that is hurtling us towards climate breakdown and economic collapse.

Its pages, however, are readily available to the latest effort to prop up the status quo from Tony Blair, the man who led Britain, on false pretenses, into the largest crime against humanity in living memory – the attack on Iraq.

That “humanitarian intervention” cost the lives of many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and created a vacuum that destabilized much of the Middle East, sucked in Islamic jihadists like al-Qaeda and ISIS, and contributed to the migrant crisis in Europe that has fueled the resurgence of the far-right. None of that is discussed in The Guardian or considered grounds for disqualifying Blair as an arbiter of what is good for Britain and the world’s future.

The Guardian also has an especial soft spot for blogger Elliot Higgins, who, aided by The Guardian, has shot to unlikely prominence as a self-styled “weapons expert”. Like Luke Harding, Higgins invariably seems ready to echo whatever the British and American security services need verifying “independently”.

Higgins and his well-staffed website Bellingcat have taken on for themselves the role of arbiters of truth on many foreign affairs issues, taking a prominent role in advocating for narratives that promote U.S. and NATO hegemony while demonizing Russia, especially in highly contested arenas such as Syria.

That clear partisanship should be no surprise, given that Higgins now enjoys an “academic” position at, and funding from, the Atlantic Council: a high-level, Washington-based think-tank founded to drum up support for NATO and justify its imperialist agenda.

Improbably, The Guardian has adopted Higgins as the poster-boy for a supposed citizen journalism it has sought to undermine as “fake news” whenever it occurs on social media without the endorsement of state-backed organizations.

The truth is The Guardian has not erred in this latest story attacking Assange, or in its much longer-running campaign to vilify him. With this story, it has done what it regularly does when supposedly vital western foreign policy interests are at stake – it simply regurgitates an elite-serving, western narrative.

Its job is to shore up a consensus on the left for attacks on leading threats to the existing, neoliberal order: whether they are a platform like WikiLeaks promoting whistle-blowing against a corrupt western elite; or a politician like Corbyn seeking to break apart the status quo on the rapacious financial industries or Israel-Palestine; a radical leader like Hugo Chavez who threatened to overturn damaging and exploitative U.S. dominance of “America’s backyard”; or social media dissidents, who’ve started to chip away at the elite-friendly narratives of corporate media, including The Guardian itself.

The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do.

***

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