I once considered Julian Assange a man of principles and admired his efforts to create a platform where all the world’s darkest secrets could be shared without someone fearing reprisal. I even went to see Cumberbatch immortalise the Australian in The Fifth Estate – I was sadly that enthusiastic. But since Assange’s calculated smear campaign against Hillary last summer, I’d not have expected hippy Assange to prop up such a candidate like Trump. I questioned WikiLeaks’ allegiance to the truth.
I couldn’t seem to rationalise why WikiLeaks published the hacked DNC emails on its website; I even convinced myself Assange was a man with no true allegiances, just wanting to spur on a kind of dialectic, ushering in some anarchic change. However, Business Insider UK’s report of long-standing links between Nigel Farage and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, and Farage’s shady visit to the Ecuadorian Embassy on Thursday 9 March, made me stop and think twice. Both Assange and Farage, as well as Trump, are the anti-establishment. But is this at all newsworthy? And what are their shared motivations — their common ground?
It turns out there’s quite a lot. As for Assange and Trump, they’ve been implicated in a clandestine love affair since the very beginning of the DNC hacks, with Russia the spectral middle man. In a brief breakdown:
- FANCY BEAR, i.e. Russia’s military intelligence agency, infiltrates the DNC in April 2016. Its targets? Opposition research on Trump and the DNC’s emails.
- In June, WikiLeaks, Assange’s technological showpiece, publishes a torrent which it encourages the DNC hacker’s findings to be uploaded to. Later that month, Julian Assange claims he has “enough evidence” to indict Hilary Clinton.
- It reaches a crescendo on July 22 when WikiLeaks releases 20,000 DNC emails. WikiLeaks threatens a journalist with legal action over Twitter two days later for suggesting links between Russia, Trump and WikiLeaks.
Assange’s vendetta for Clinton was made clear in an interview with ITV political editor, Robert Peston. Assange derided her Libyan blunder in 2011, labelling her a ‘liberal war hawk’. By contrast, Assange defended a Trump presidency as “completely unpredictable”. And that’s somewhat more reassuring, of course.
Putin’s motivations are more convincing; she’s the epitome of neo-liberalism and short-sighted American imperialism. However, Clinton’s thinly veiled comments on the legitimacy of the 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia are believed to be the main reason for pop president Putin’s hostility.
Trump’s unrelenting barage of attacks weren’t visceral, rather tactical. He’s a pragmatic man, and the Clintons, former expedient business aquaintances, were simply obstacles firmly established on the Hill who needed to be torn down. Trump’s opposition to Clinton was obviously for the presidency, and this did not stop him from appropriating campist discourse and utilising its outlets.
And if it’s not all dead obvious that something suspect was going on between the three, I leave you with the man himself:
“Russia, I hope you’re listening. If you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will be rewarded mightily by our press” – Donald J. Trump, 27th July 2016
and then the not too subtle
“I love WikiLeaks” – Donald J. Trump, 10th October 2016
So what about Farage? In short, UKIP under Farage has been arguing for Assange’s release and the dropping of the European Arrest Warant in relation to rape allegations in Sweden. UKIP MEPs have been calculated, attempting to positively present Assange’s release within the EU Parliament and even the House of Lords. It’s worth noting at this point that an American reporter questioned Sean Spicer on Farage meeting with Assange on the 9th March, asking whether he did so on behalf of the Trump Administration. The links with Farage may be tenuous insofar as what’s materially there, though the ideological similarities between Trump and Farage suggest that something may be amiss.
But the common ground is unquestionably Russia. Russia’s political elite have had their fingers in all three of their pies; through financial support to Trump’s property enterprises, but also in the form of foreign agent Michael Flynn, and a dose of saucy kompromat. But pan-eurosceptics like Farage and Le Pen have also benefitted, with the latter financially entwined in the Russian banking system, while the former rims the Russian propagandist mouthpiece RT. He’s an eager guest, most recently berated by a young girl for his xenophobia, shortly after being knighted with an inflatable sword. But apparently nothing on WikiLeaks?
Were you to go and visit the WikiLeaks site, you’d be faced with pages upon pages of WikiLeaks revelations on domestic and international US controversies. But go enter ‘Russian cronyism’ or ‘Russian corruption’. Nothing appears on the subject. I challenge you to find any WikiLeaks document discrediting Russia.
WikiLeaks can be seen as a campist organisation; a conduit for Russian intelligence enhancement, and as such a proponent of a bipolar world like that during the Cold War. The WikiLeaks revelations on American foreign and domestic surveillance fit well within the grand narrative of American distrust and imperialist tendencies. The likes of WikiLeaks and RT present these happily to an enraged, campist left. But ironically, the undermining of American security agencies is in turn bolstering right-wing crony Trump’s attacks on the corrupt establishment.
Whether it intended to or not, WikiLeaks has inadvertently propelled Trump to dizzying heights, who’s enacting isolationist and protectionist measures. But crucially, the US is now getting cold feet over duties it’s performed thus far. Trump’s shaky on NATO, accuses the ECB – most notably Germany – of currency manipulation, and is already lifting sanctions on Russia following the DNC hacks and the annexation of Crimea. This gives Russia hella confidence; the undermining of its neighbouring political block is advantageous as it seeks disunity to exploit political and economic opportunities. Think Brexit. Think the Baltics. Think Ukraine. Think resentful Turkey. It’s just like the prophecying Russian foreign policy bible: Foundations of Geopolitics.
So should we worry? These political actors have been playing the long game and are sure to continue. What is lacking, unfortunately, is concrete evidence implicating each individual in a group conspiracy. More likely is that the Kremlin is directing these snide operations so as to avoid crossing paths. But funnily enough, we rely on Assange-like whistleblowers to confirm these links. Looks like we’re going to have to play the long game with them.