Julian Assange contributed so much to the victory of Donald Trump in the November 2016 US Presidential elections, but that is not why I, a Trump supporter is asking for Donald Trump to release him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which has been his defacto prison for the past 6 years.
Yes, under the rules of political give and take, a case can be made for the freeing on Assange due to his effective use of media that benefitted The Donald’s campaign. Whether you like Assange or hate him, you cannot deny that the email leaks he published on his Wikkileaks site were so effective they were a real problem for Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In fact, at a point, the Clinton Campaign was so feeling the heat that they asked Assange to also publish leaks on Donald Trump. But you know, like every media organization, Wikkileaks and its publisher may had an agenda. And that agenda was to prevent Hillary Clinton – who as Secretary of State had seriously considered a drone strike to eliminate Assange- from becoming President of the United States, a position that would have enabled her to turn her proposals on Assange into presidential orders.
Assange wanted to have a clean brake from President Obama, who never hid his wish for Assange to be extradited to the United States for publishing leaks that showed that the United States was spying on the phone communications of world leaders like the President of Brazil and the German Chancellor.
For President Obama, those leaks were a stain in an otherwise scandal-free presidency. And since Hillary Clinton had promised to protect Obama’s legacy should she become POTUS, supporting her in any way was a risk Assange was not prepared to take.
That is one reason why he was so vehement in his leaks. That is one reason why, in spite of the fact that he became despondent towards the end of the election season, complaining to the media that he didn’t think the Washington elite would let Trump win, he still decided to ‘publish and be damned’ anyway.
His sentiments are understandable if you look at it from the angle of self preservation. If you also look at it from a Machiavellian angle it is also understandable, as Machiavelli counseled against helping an opponent one who wants to destroy one get power.
So, having put all this into consideration, you can see that there is so much Assange invested in Trump’s victory, and if he were a free US citizen, perhaps he would have gotten an appointment like another new media mogul who contributed so much to Trump’s victory….of Breitbert News who is now President-Elect Trump’s Chief Strategist and White House Counsel.
But for Assange it is not that simple. It will take a whole basket of political will and political capital form Trump to free Assange. But that is what he must do. Let me explain why:
The greatest power in the kitty of the United States is not its impressive nuclear arsenal. It is the conception that America is the ‘Leader of the Free World’. To many, for generations, America has been an example of what freedom should be like, and that includes freedom of the press. The level of freedom the press enjoys in the United States has always been seen as a great standard to strive towards.
But with the 6 year-long virtual imprisonment of Mr. Assange by the Obama Administration and the its ally United Kingdom, that image of America has suffered a severe beating.
Richard didn’t arrest Bob Woodard for revealing his Administration’s role in the Watergate Scandal and Dirty Tricks. That restraint did a lot to burnish America’s image as the land of the free press and of freedom. But Obama has spent many years hunting Assange. So one of the first things Trump should do as President is to ask the US Department of Justice to drop all investigations against Assange.
That way Assange will be able to go safely to Sweden and answer questions over alleged sexual misconduct against him; and if he is found not culpable, he would be free to continue keeping governments in check through Wikkileaks.
It is not going to be easy, because the Pro Clinton camp in the media are going to fight it. They are still feeling very bruised from Trump’s shocking victory after all their poll numbers that showed Clinton on the match to a record victory. They would bay for blood, and if Trump and Bannon are now out of their reach, Assange will be a great target to ‘get one back for the team’. They are going to point out how it would be against the interests of the United States for Trump to free Assange. Lots of articles will be published saying that Trump would harm the United States by freeing Assange.
America needs to remain the model of media freedom it is, but the Pro Clinton section of the media may try to pressure Trump to the detriment of that freedom. Trump should brace himself for that. He has to remember that there is such a thing as a silent majority- like the American voters that silently made up their minds, in spite of all the noise against him in the media.
Will Trump lose a lot of political capital? Yes, because the media is so powerful that they can bug down a president for years, and slow down his progress on many issues if they are so inclined to. But if Trump is serious about Making America Great Again, he has to free Assange, and get America back on track on a soft power basis.
Concentrating on hard power alone will not do the trick, as is evident from George Bush’s misadventure in Iraq. The Pope has no military Divisions, but he is one of the most influential world leaders largely because of his projection of soft power. Trump should factor that in his geopolitical calculations for the next four/eight years.