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9 March 2020 | Draft

Systematic Global Treachery and Betrayal

In the light of Donald Trump's condemnation of traitors and pardoning of the convicted

-- / --

Julian Assange: traitor, hero, spy, terrorist?
Identification of Donald Trump as a "traitor"
Checklist of traitors identified by Donald Trump
Controversy with regard to any identification of "traitor"
Global treachery and betrayal -- crimes against future generations?


Much is currently made of betrayal, treachery, espionage and terrorism. Together treachery and betrayal are framed as evidence of treason by traitors. Espionage is deplored when undertaken by others against a particular nation and may well be seen as the work of traitors. On the other hand the widespread espionage by one nation on another, or by one corporation on another, is otherwise considered a surprisingly normal feature of a competitive society.

Terrorism is framed as an ultimate consequence of treason and betrayal. It is however problematic in that many of those labelled as terrorists may later be redefined and welcomed as leaders of their countries or political faction -- with the classic examples of Jomo Kenyatta, Menachem Begin, Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, and George Washington. Terrorism is in itself only problematically defined -- notably to exclude the perspective of those who experience terror, as in the case of bullying, harassment and domestic violence (Varieties of Terrorism extended to the experience of the terrorized, 2004).

This complex of definitions is necessarily relevant to how an "enemy" is defined. An enemy of the state is a person accused of certain crimes against the state, such as treason. An enemy is then a person who engages in treachery or terrorism.

Less evident is whether those engaging in espionage are to be understood as enemies, especially when they may themselves be simultaneously spied upon -- and highly honoured in the countries they serve. That "everyone does it", seemingly does not make everyone an enemy -- although possibly to be considered a potential enemy. A degree of betrayal is seemingly a feature of intergroup relations -- or potentially so. Overt disagreement may be understood as justifying recognition as an enemy, as with the foreign policy principle favoured by the USA: You're either with us, or against us (Bush: 'You Are Either With Us, Or With the Terrorists', Voice of America, 21 September 2011).

The USA, in the person of Donald Trump, is highly volatile in defining its current enemies, whether within the USA or elsewhere (James Petras, America's Enemies: who's on the list?, Global Research, 24 November 2017). The latter distinguished high priroity external enemies (Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Syria), middle priority enemies (Cuba, Lebanon, Yemen), and low priority enemies (Bolivia, Nicaragua). The status can vary rapidly, notably as opportunity presents itself for the purpose of media declarations.

For Donald Trump the range of internal enemies can also vary:

Then there is the question of whether Trump himself is to be considered an "enemy of the USA". Does the process of impeachment of Donald Trump imply that he is so considered by Democrats? Does the failure of that process imply that he is not to be so considered -- and that those making the accusation are indeed to be considered in that light? Is it a feature of American politics that all competitors for any position are to be recognized as enemies -- until it is necessary for everyone else to submit to the victor with an oath of fealty, however they may think otherwise?

Any focus on Donald Trump in the following argument is however simplistic and irresponsible -- however readily he may lend himself to such comments. Donald Trump is the duly elected President of the USA -- elected by the American People according to well-defined electoral procedures. It is currently irrelevant whether those procedures are in any way in question. They have yet to be revised -- if that is feasible and desired by the American People. Trump is therefore the legitimate representative of the American People and is variously acclamed and recognized as the leader of the world's greatest superpower.

That point is made in a separate exercise of the unprecedented media coverage of Donald Trump -- by replacing "Donald Trump" by the American people" in a range of examples of articles in the media (Who to Blame: "Donald Trump" or the "American People"? Let's get real clear on any responsibility for imminent global disaster, 2019). Failure of such recognition frames the question of who is weaseling out of any responsibility? Plausible deniability? Culpable deniability? Scapegoating?

Julian Assange: traitor, hero, spy, terrorist?

Of particular interest at this time is the focus of the indictment of Julian Assange, based as it is on his declared role as an "enemy of America" (Benn Quinn, Trump administration targeting 'enemy of America' Julian Assange, court told, The Guardian, 25 February 2020). The indictment focuses on charges of "espionage" -- but who is he to be understood as serving?

As an Australian, it is unclear that he can be defined as a "traitor" by the USA, although presumably he could be so defined by the Australian authorities ("on behalf of the USA") in terms of their secret Five Eyes agreement. Despite the views of the Australian prime minister (Assange is on his own: Morrison, InDaily, 12 April 2019), many consider that Assange has himself been "betrayed", whether by his country or by the media (Charles Glass, Julian Assange Languishes in Prison as His Journalistic Collaborators Brandish Their Prizes, The Intercept, 14 April 2019)

Despite the confusion of terminology, media reports have indeed raised the possibility that he is indeed a "traitor". Less evident is who he has indeed "betrayed".

The following list draws from an extesnive bibliography (Extradition and Trial of Julian Assange: web resources, 2020) employed in a speculative exploration (Future Commemoration of the Trial of Julian Assange: a Passion Play for Truth reframing the Christian glorification of speaking truth to power, 2020).

Ed Krassenstein frames Trump's dilemma: whether to continue to embrace the idea that Chelsea Manning is a "traitor", which essentially puts Assange in the same category, or does he continue to side with WikiLeaks and embrace the fact that they may have helped him in his 2016 election campaign? (Trump is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Julian Assange (The Independent, 11 April 2019).

Identification of Donald Trump as a "traitor"

In this curious period it is Donald Trump, as leader of the free world, who has himself been variously labelled a "traitor" -- implied to some degree (as noted above) by the impeachment process instigated against him:

Checklist of traitors identified by Donald Trump

In this same period it is Donald Trump who has variously identified a range of people as being traitors, including some associated with the impeachment process against him. At the same time, a remarkable range of people previously convicted for offences against the USA or its peoples, or for crimes against others elsewhere, have been pardoned by Donald Trump, had their sentences commuted, or been given protection from prosecution elsewhere.

An earlier example of such a listing is that of Zachary Basu (The 24 times Trump has accused somebody of "treason", Axios, 16 June 2019) -- a list culled from the page on "treason" in (primarily focused on tweet references).

Controversy with regard to any identification of "traitor"

Whether Trump is a "traitor" is a focus of continiung debate:

Uncritical reference to "traitor" has however also been called into question:

Global treachery and betrayal -- crimes against future generations?

What can be said at this point in time regarding "global treachery" and "global betrayal"? Rather than a simplistic focus on "Donald Trump" or "Julian Assange" in the here-and-now -- as above -- are there larger systemic forces in play, possibly hidden (as many would argue), which are more usefully associated with such labels?

Disparate references to such terms include the following:

These clearly suggest a need for careful ordering to distinguish a pattern of dimensions.

Curiously the most widely cited reference to "global treachery" takes the form of a song (Unearthing Global Treachery in an album appropriately titled Serpents Beneath the Shrine, 2017); "global betrayal" is similarly expressed in song. Also of significance are the many references to the development of the Global Deception Technology Industry (Global Industry Analysts, 2020). There are many references to "betrayal of the people".

More intriguing is recognition of any responsibility for the "betrayal of humanity", or a "traitor" in that regard, whether understood "as a whole" or variously appropriated otherwise. In this case examples include:

Such references could be considered the tip of the iceberg of the extensive literature on crimes against humanity (President Rohani, U.S. committing crime against humanity by targeting Iranians' livelihood, Tehran Times, 16 October 2019). From such a perspective, most clearly articulated has been the disassociation from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, whether explicitly or by the skilled avoidance of implementation, as evident on the occasion of the Madrid Conference (Julia Conley, In Final Hours, COP 25 Denounced as 'Utter Failure' as Deal Is Stripped of Ambition and US Refuses to Accept Liability for Climate Crisis, Common Dreams, 14 Decmber 2019).

References tend to focus on past or ongoing crimes against humanity as may be more readily described and documented, whether or not the argument is vigorously denied. More subtle, and "below the radar" are the crimes against future generations, as separately argued. Although "future crimes" can be set aside as a speculative legal abstraction, the concept has been explored with respect to the future of cybercrime in a widely cited work by Marc Goodman (Future Crimes: everything is connected, everyone is vulnerable and what we can do about it, 2015). The author has since founded the Future Crimes Institute.

As argued by the World Future Council (Crimes against Future Generations, 11 February 2013). These crimes are understood as:

Actions which are so terrible that they put the very survival of life at risk or threaten the way of life of communities should be prohibited and prosecuted. When individuals act despite knowing the severe consequences of their acts or conduct on the long-term health, safety, or means of survival of human populations, they are committing what we call a crime against future generations....

Crimes against future generations would not be future crimes, nor crimes committed in the future. Rather, they would apply to acts or conduct undertaken in the present which seriously harm the natural environment, human populations, species or ecosystems in the present and which have consequences for the long-term.

Clearly less evident is the capacity of humanitarian agencies to engage in seemingly beneficent initiatives in the short-term but negligent of the mega-deaths which those strategies are enabling in the longer term. As separately argued, one example are those now to be sanctioned by the deliberate support of the UN's Global Compact for Migration (GCM) (Global Compact Enabling Complicity in the Ultimate Crime against Humanity: institutionalizing global myopia in anticipation of excessive population growth, 2018).

A major difficulty over centuries, and especially present in the current period, is the reference to "evil". Those labelled "traitors" for whatever reason are also readily labelled as "evil", to the point that disagreement with a preferred strategy now tends to be framed by many in this way. Dissidence is evil! Examples of such labelling by the highest authorities are presented separately (Existence of evil as authoritatively claimed to be an overriding strategic concern, 2016). Ironically those so framed are typically framed in the same manner by others (Framing by others of claimants of evil as evil, 2016).

Thus for Donald Trump the impeachment process was itself "evil" (David Smith, 'It was evil': Trump basks in acquittal as he settles scores and fires his insult cannon, The Guardian, 7 February 2020; Ben Gittleson and Jordyn Phelps, Trump declares victory over impeachment: 'It was evil', ABC News, 7 February 2020; Tamara Keith, Trump Gives Defiant Speech, Lashing Out At 'Evil' Impeachment Opponents, NPR, 6 February 2020). However he himself is variously perceived as "evil"::

Rather than focus blame on any exemplary individual (Donald Trump, Osama bin Laden, Julian Assange, etc), on any group (the World Economic Forum, the American people, Iran, the banking community, organized crime, etc), or on any belief system (religion, science, hedonism, etc), there would seem to be a case for insights into "blame management" in contrast to "anger management". This may be variously explored (Collective Mea Culpa? You Must be Joking! Them is to blame, Not us! 2015; Responsibility for Global Governance: Who? Where? When? How? Why? Which? What? 2008). Insightful systemic cycles in that regard are presented by Marilyn Paul (Moving from Blame to Accountability, Systems Thinker, 2018).

2000-year-old Warning
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.
For the traitor appears not a traitor
He speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.
He rots the soul of a nation -- he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city
He infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.
Cicero, Roman statesman, 42 BC
Dan MacGuill: Cicero's 'Two Thousand Year Old Warning' About Treason (31 July 2018)

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