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Empty Lectures About the Sanctity of the ‘Rule of Law’

The spectacle of the US threatening Hong Kong, China, Russia and now little Ecuador with all manner of reprisals if they don’t respect the “rule of law” and hand over whistleblower Edward Snowden to the tender mercies of the US national security apparatus is delicious to watch.

The very idea of Secretary of State John Kerry lecturing Russia about “following the law” is laughable. He cites seven common criminals that the US handed over to Russia over the past year, but Russia no doubt recalls cases where the US used diplomatic pressure to extradite Russian citizens from countries like Lithuania and Thailand that the Russians did not believe had committed extraditable crimes.

Also comical is Kerry and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) referring to Russia as an “ally” or “friend” and asking how President Vladimir Putin can then behave so badly in refusing to hand over the vile traitor Snowden. Ally? Friend? If so, why is the US emplacing anti-missile batteries around Russia? Why is the US National Security Agency, as Snowden disclosed, secretly tapping Russian leaders’ cell phones during a G-8 conference? This is the behavior of a “friend” and “ally”?

Beyond that, Kerry is a fine one to talk about betrayal. He has famously betrayed his own Vietnam War comrades-in-arms — veterans who had, with him, risked their careers in the military and their futures in the US by coming forward in the Winter Soldier movement during the early 1970s to speak out about US war crimes the US, and often they themselves, had committed in Vietnam. But Kerry, in the interest of pursuing his political career, later abandoned that honorable stance and became instead an avid supporter of US empire, even becoming an apologist for the Vietnam War in his failed 2004 campaign for the presidency, when he tried to capitalize on his alleged heroism as a Navy riverboat captain. Such a stunning betrayal of one’s comrades and one’s conscience is hard to even contemplate.

Also stunning is hearing Kerry and the US government lecture Ecuador and other Latin American nations that might be considering offering Snowden asylum about respecting the “rule of law,” and threatening them with “consequences” if they offer him haven from US prosecution.

The US, almost since its founding, has treated all of Latin America as its private property, launching invasions to topple leaders it opposes, propping up fascist military dictators for centuries, orchestrating coups to overthrow legitimately elected governments, and even training generations of future fascist leaders at its School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, GA. This country is hardly in a position to issue such pious admonitions when Latin Americans of almost every nation can point to coups and murders and years of police state terror in their history that are all directly attributable to the US.

Indeed, the Obama administration itself was behind the latest coup against a democratic government in Honduras, and actively interfered in the last democratic presidential election in Venezuela in a failed effort to prevent the populist successor to the late Hugo Chavez from winning.

Ecuadorians certainly recall that in the early 1960s, the American CIA infiltrated the Ecuadorian government, setting up CIA-dominated news agencies and radio stations, bombing right-wing newspapers and churches and blaming the left, all to force a democratically elected president, Velasco Ibarra, out of office.  When Carlos Arosemara, who replaced Ibarra, refused to cut off relations with Castro’s Cuba, the CIA orchestrated and financed a military coup, after which the ensuing military government outlawed Communism and cancelled elections scheduled for 1964.

The intervening decades have seen plenty more US interference in Ecuadoran politics, including a coup attempt widely believed to have been backed by the US as recently as 2010, during the first Obama administration. That coup by a group of National Police senior officers sought — unsuccessfully — to deny a second term to President Rafael Correa, the country’s current president. They held the wounded Correa captive for 12 hours in a hospital before he was finally rescued by the Ecuadoran military. Now in his third term after a resounding victory in the last election, Correa clearly has that incident burned in his memory.

Just a few days ago, Correa’s government bluntly ordered the US Embassy’s first secretary, Mark Sullivan, out of the country, accusing him of meddling in the Ecuador’s domestic affairs. Sullivan, a shady character who has long links with the military in Colombia, appears to have been the CIA’s station chief in Quito, using his embassy position as a cover, and was reportedly demanding a say in personnel decisions of the Ecuadorian National Police as a condition for US “law enforcement” aid. Given the US government’s suspected role in the strike by the National Police that morphed into the attempted coup only three years ago, and its earlier blatant intervention in presidential elections where it backed candidates trying to defeat Correa, that demand by Sullivan was tantamount to a demand for the US to be able to name the next coup leaders.

And then Kerry has the gall to go and lecture Ecuador, and other Latin American nations, about the need to adhere to “the rule of law,” and not to grant asylum to Snowden.

Are you laughing yet?

Ecuadorians and other Latin Americans are not.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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