"FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!" declaims my mate Gauche on Facebook, to which the reply, surely, can only be, "... with every packet of condoms."
"Try our new Assange range. So featherweight, you'll never know it's on."
With US politicians calling for Wikileaks whistleblowing founder Julian Assange to be abducted and assassinated and not necessarily in that order, and his current incarceration in Her Majesty's Wandsworth Prison for alleged todger offences, one way or another this blond beast is being brought down for his Promethean release into the public domain of knowledge about the behaviour and attitudes of the people we pay for. At least he's not getting his liver pecked out every day by the US eagle, but don't tell Sarah Palin and start giving her ideas ... even if she does need a few.
It's like we've switched realities or someone has put a hallucinogen in the water supply. Or perhaps we're in the Matrix and this is the best story the system controllers can come up with: a sub-James Bond plot as life imitates schlock. There's even a sex subplot and a fine treacherous role for Sharon Stone as cooked up by Joe Esterhas in five coke-frenzied minutes.
Meanwhile, back at the funny farm: in another bit of cold war gamesmanship, Chinese Charter 8 dissident Liu Xiaobo gets his Nobel Peace Prize in a couple of days, joining that noble Nobel firmament of famous peaceniks such as Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair. While it is an utter disgrace that he should be imprisoned for disseminating ideas that challenge the government – and his wife shouldn't be banged up, either – I'd like to know exactly for which services to world peace Liu is being honoured.
I was hoping that China would nominate Julian Assange, as he really does seem to have ruffled hawkish feathers around the globe. But the Chinese have gone one better and created their own ceremony: the Confucius Peace Prize. Nominees include Bill Clinton (Somalia!), Bill Gates (oh dear!) and the Panchen Llama (cue Dalai hissy-fit). But they do seem to have missed a trick here and ignored the West's most persecuted dissident.
Which brings me back to America. In a further irony, the US will be hosting Press Freedom Day in 2011. Wow. ONE WHOLE DAY!
China should offer Julian Assange political asylum.
UPDATE: Tariq Ali on Liu Xiaobo.
For the record, Liu Xiaobo has stated publicly that in his view:
(a) China's tragedy is that it wasn't colonised for at least 300 years by a Western power or Japan. This would apparently have civilised it for ever;
(b) The Korean and Vietnam wars fought by the US were wars against totalitarianism and enhanced Washington's 'moral credibility';
(c) Bush was right to go to war in Iraq and Senator Kerry's criticisms were 'slander-mongering';
(d) Afghanistan? No surprises here: Full support for Nato's war.