POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE GUARDIAN
It is a platitude to say that we must take such murders seriously. In fact, we don't.
If Litvinenko was under threat, why wasn't he protected in Britain, as Rushdie was?
Putin has enjoyed almost complete freedom of action for his murderous crimes in Chechnya. Why? Because Bush granted it to him in exchange for silence on Iraq.
If you want to level charges at Putin, it is ridiculous without also leveling them at Bush, or for that matter, Bush's obnoxious mascot, Blair.
One has to ask in a time when political assassination is almost ordinary, why the highly selective focus on Putin? The word 'terror' today is used almost exactly the way Stalin used 'wreckers.' When Stalin started talking about wreckers of the revolution, it was time for a new round of murder.
The word 'terrorist' has become a code-word and a justification for brutal excess.
Apart from many hundreds of civilians killed, Israel assassinates other people almost weekly, sometimes daily. The deaths are brushed off in our press as the deaths of militants or extremists or terrorists without any scrutiny.
The United States spent years and millions of dollars trying to assassinate Castro. While it failed, it did assassinate a number of others who were less well loved and guarded.
Today Bush protects a man who blew up a Cuban airliner full of people from justice in Venezuela. The recent savage attack on a madrassa in Pakistan, killing eighty people, almost all of them teenagers, was certainly the work of the United States.
Assassination is either morally wrong (as I believe), or it's not. This focus on Putin seems contrived. We in the West who claim love for justice and human rights cannot accept assassination selectively as we have.
No more than we should accept torture, but then we have accepted that, too, haven't we?