It is hard to know which is the more outrageous: the US government’s forced landing this week of the Bolivian President Evo Morales’ official jet in Europe; or the European authorities’ compliance with the Americans in their act of international piracy.
In the first instance, it is just another typical example of how much of a rogue regime the US has degenerated into. Washington no longer shows a scintilla of concern to be even seen to abide by international laws and regulations. It is brazenly out of control. Whether it is waging criminal wars; blockading nations with unilateral sanctions; holding people for years without charge or trial in its concentration camp known as Guantanamo Bay; or persecuting its citizens for blowing the whistle on its massive breach of the American nation’s own foundational Constitution, the US ruling elite - erroneously referred to as “government” - has evidently become, more than ever, a completely lawless entity.
The US State Department’s forced landing of President Morales’ jet as it traversed European air space en route to South America on the basis of mere suspicion that the plane may have been carrying the whistleblower Edward Snowden is a graphic illustration of just how arrogant and imperious Washington has become. The sovereign rights of the Bolivian president, his government aircraft and his cabinet members onboard, were treated with reckless high-handed contempt.
Imagine the hue and cry out of Washington, not to mention retaliatory cruise missile strikes, if Air Force One was compelled to land somewhere randomly in South America on the grounds that President Barack Obama was harboring wanted felons onboard. Come to think of it, the latter scenario, although unlikely, is much more plausible - given the substantial evidence for war crimes prosecution stemming from US-led wars and assassination programs in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria, among other places.
But perhaps what is even more perturbing about the American de facto hijacking of President Morales this week is the pathetic willingness of European countries to aid and abet the US bullyboy. What’s more is that this craven complicity by supposedly independent states with American international banditry comes only days after it was revealed that Washington has been violating the sovereignty of “its allies” by conducting criminal spying operations on them.
Only last week, Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former CIA contractor, had revealed more damaging evidence of systematic infringements against European citizens and institutions by the US government and its National Security Agency.
Snowden, who fled to Russia to escape arrest by American authorities over trumped-up espionage charges, has divulged documents showing that US agencies have been running spy programs against European governments and the European Union over several years. The illegal surveillance and invasion of sovereignty has been conducted by the Americans in offices in Brussels and Washington and at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as well as targeting individual European countries on a huge scale.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reportedly vexed by the revelations of US spying, as was French President Francois Hollande.
Both the European Union Parliament and the European Commission have also voiced “protests” at the highest levels to Washington. The British government, of course, has said nothing of objection because it is fully complicit in the American global spy ring.
President of the European Union Parliament Martin Schulz said: “If the report is true, it will be a significant backlash for US-EU relations. I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices.”
Significant backlash? That is a bad joke. Just when official European anger is supposedly at its most intense over the American criminal spying, what does official Europe do when it gets the chance to demonstrate disproval? It rolls over like a fawning poodle to indulge the whims of the American thug regime.
Bolivia’s Evo Morales had just attended an international energy conference in Moscow earlier this week hosted by Russian leader Vladmir Putin, along with several other heads of state, including the outgoing President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
On Tuesday, as Morales’ official aircraft was returning him and several cabinet members back to Bolivia, it was forced to make an unscheduled landing in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Understandably, the Bolivian delegation responded furiously to this unprecedented violation of diplomatic protocol and international flight regulations. The South American country’s Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, said that the abrupt interference of flight plans had “put the life of the president at risk”.
The Bolivian Defence Minister, Ruben Saavedra, who was also on the diverted flight, said: “This is a hostile act by the United States’ State Department which has used various European governments.”
Bolivia claims that the president’s jet was denied, in mid-flight, entry into the air space of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. The plane was thus forced to make a U-turn and land in Austria where President Morales had to stay overnight in an airport lounge before his aircraft was finally given permission for onward travel the next day. His Vice President, Alvaro Garcia, described Morales as being “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe.
The parallel mistreatment of Edward Snowden, who is stuck in a transit lounge in Moscow airport after Washington cancelled his passport last week, is of a piece with the US government acting like a wild-west posse.
Adding to the outrage is that neither Washington nor the European states concerned gave a proper explanation for the mid-air diversion of President Morales. As it turned out, Edward Snowden was not onboard the Bolivian government aircraft, as suspected. But that is beside the main point. The point is that international relations and law have become so debased by rampant American official criminality and thuggery that a sovereign country’s president can be arbitrarily hijacked. Not only that, but European countries that have themselves been systematically violated by Washington’s illegal spying clearly haven’t the backbone to stand up to Washington. Far from it, these countries just roll over to indulge further criminality.
This cowardly conduct of European governments has many implications. One is that European citizens can expect nothing from these governments in protecting their rights from American privacy violations and ultimately repression; another implication is the corruption of European citizens and law by European authorities who are also cravenly colluding with Washington in other criminal acts, in particular the covert wars of aggression against Syria, Iran and other countries.
Such spineless behavior by European states in the face of Washington’s out-of-control imperialism makes a mockery of sanctions against Iran in particular, including the recent additional banning of Iranian broadcast channels.
If European governments cannot defend such outrageous breaches of international law by their American “ally” as in the ongoing global spying scandal, how can anything they say or do towards Iran be taken remotely serious? The US bullyboy and its servile European poodles have no more moral authority than that of a lynch mob.