Once again and infamously, Britannia waives the rules.
The U.K. government's letter to Quito threatening to storm Ecuador's embassy building in London to seize Julian Assange was radical cheek even by the uppity standards of the the British ruling class. It also spat spoiled bangers and sour mash on international law and diplomatic accords.
Now in the fallout everyone with a dog in the fight is pulling the predictable punches.
I have no doubt (without, I confess, any hard evidence -- yet) that Washington is pulling the strings of the Swedish and British governments in all of this.
Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, sought asylum in Ecuador to prevent his extradition to Sweden to face "questioning" over allegations of sexual improprieties with two women during a visit with supporters there. Specifically, he is alleged to have failed to accede to the women's request that he wear condoms during consensual sex. By some stretch of the imagination, a Swedish prosecutor decided that, if true, this would constitute rape.
Assange's lawyers -- rightly, I believe -- argued that if he were extradited to Sweden he'd be tossed in the clink until the United States of Police and Torture could grab him and bring him over here for treatment that would make Bradley Manning's year and a half of torture, and ensuing kangaroo court proceedings, look like love-making.
The government of Ecuador first proposed that the Swedes conduct their questioning in their London embassy, where presumably the interrogators could be relieved of rubber hoses, cattle prods and water boards before the the questioning began. No, said Sweden.
Well then, Ecuador countered, what about an iron-clad guarantee that you won't turn him over to the U.S. if we allow Britain to send him to Sweden to answer your questions? Neither the Brits nor the Swedes bought that one.
At last, President Rafael Correa and his advisers in the government of Ecuador rightly concluded that Assange's human rights would in all probability be violated if he were not granted sanctuary.
Sweden went bonkers. Who is this guy Correa, the Swedes are saying, to preach about rights when he oppresses the noble, free press in his very own country. He's a bloody dictator who orders his police to fire on hospitals! Similar charges are flying around the United Kingdom, as well.
Now, I urge you, ask any of the millions of Americans whose homes have been foreclosed just how free might be a press that is largely owned by bankers -- as are most of the private media in Ecuador?
Oscar Wilde -- or was it Martin Amis? or an ancient Arab philosopher? -- once noted that the character of a man can be judged by the character of his enemies. President Correa's enemies, in addition to the banker-owned media, include foreign oil investors, local banks, telecommunications companies, the U.S. government and the Catholic Church. This, in my book, makes him a candidate for sainthood.
Then there's the matter of Articles 71 through 74 of the Constitution of Ecuador, largely shaped by Correa and adopted in 2008, the first such document in the history of man to recognize as a matter of law the Rights of Nature. It mandates that ecosystems have an inalienable right to exist and flourish, that citizens have the right to petition on behalf of nature, and that government must intervene against violations of these rights. Powerful stuff on a planet whose other governments -- especially the United States -- give benign and tacit support to those who degrade our environment.
The constitution of Ecuador also takes pains to recognize the influence of indigenous people, who, in the puppetmaster U.S. or Assange's native Australia, still get short shrift from their governors. Now, with the brave humanitarian act of protecting Julian Assange from those who would persecute him, President Correa and the people of Ecuador are once again on the side of the angels. The better angels of human nature.