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RUNAWAY TRAIN

America’s election and its inability to alter the nation’s deadly course

 

John Chuckman

 

America is engaged in another of its sprawling and costly national election campaigns. A few of the events, such as the New Hampshire primary or the Iowa Caucus, I’m sure have participants seeing themselves as Thomas Jefferson’s sturdy yeomen doing their civic duty. But such humble and misty-eyed tableaux can be deceiving for the big picture is quite disturbing, including, as it does, billions of dollars spent and a lot of noise generated about things which will not change in any outcome.

America is, despite all the noise and expense of its election campaigns, not a democracy, and, as the world’s greatest imperial power, it is not a place which genuinely honors human rights, either at home or abroad although its politicians never stop talking about them. It is a country controlled by wealth whose purpose is the acquisition of still more wealth, equipped with a military that in scores of wars and interventions has fought, arguably, precisely once for the country’s defense.

It marked a fateful time in the modern era when America, under Harry Truman, decided to partner with the emerging state of Israel, a very fateful time indeed. Today much of the Middle East is in ruins, whole states and societies have been destroyed, at least a million have died, and some of the world’s great archeological and historical treasures have been destroyed as though by a gang of gleeful wanton young men.

Accompanying America’s long march of destruction through the Middle East – the work both of its own armed forces and of various proxies – has been the rise of a phenomenon called international terrorism. Our newspapers and broadcasters all focus on this last, leaving the preceding great acts of destruction unquestioned. After all, America’s much-consolidated press is an industry like any other and is owned by a relatively small number of wealthy people, and it depends upon good relations with other great industries for its revenue and with the government for its operating environment. It never questions policies, no matter how brutal, and it never scrutinizes what those policies are doing to people. America’s major allies all carry on in exactly the same fashion for they have become highly dependent on America’s goodwill.

Day after day, our press gives horrifying accounts of events such as the bombing in Brussels or the attacks in Paris, and it has been doing so since 9/11, providing a relentless war chant of “See what these bastards do!” These horrors are always treated as though they had no context, having sprung full-blown from the minds of bizarre people who think nothing, for example, of blowing themselves up. But I’m pretty sure that virtually every person who does such things sees himself or herself in the same light as the Japanese Kamikazes everyone once fearfully admired.

When was the last time your newspaper or broadcaster featured life in Gaza or in Syria or in Iraq or in Libya or in Yemen? It simply does not happen, and except for the rare independent article or book, our information about these places and the terrible assaults they are under is deliberately constrained. I am convinced that the natural human sympathy of most people, including many residents of imperial America, would respond to such sights and reports, but you are simply not given the opportunity to do so.

For me, this subject is the pivotal matter in the upcoming American election. Donald Trump, despite many unpleasant views and much careless rhetoric, seemed to have a spark of something new, an independent mind not shaped by America’s political establishment, and he an extremely successful and self-confident man in business not beholden to the special interests which shape the insincere news and own the loyalty of a great many politicians. He has made a number of encouraging statements, saying America should get along with Russia and China, leave Syria for Russia to clean-up, and talked about making deals instead of conflicts, but, most remarkably, he said that Israel should pay for its own defense. That last, something most timorous American politicians wouldn’t dream of uttering, is an example of bravery under the threat of fire, a quality I admire and one sorely needed to ever have a hope of having America extricated from the its Middle East’s Gordian Knot.

But two things just recently have given me pause: Trump’s words about using torture and the recent appointment to his foreign relations team of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Torture is unacceptable, ever. Legally innocent people are kidnapped and hurt in the mere hope they know something of interest, and in the process many die, convicted of nothing. The CIA has killed a number of prisoners in its Rendition Gulag since 9/11, whether accidentally or deliberately almost doesn’t matter, but their filthy work violates every principle we hold dear.

Calls for more torture are not new thinking, and they are repulsive. They ignore the actual cause of terror, which is America’s treatment of countless people in societies swept aside and rudely rearranged as though their homes and places were toy living room furniture being tossed by an angry child giant. As for Senator Sessions, there is a man who gets along just fine with the bloodiest people in Washington doing the rearranging.

Perhaps I should not have allowed a glimmer of hope that at least in one part of America’s domain a few things might change for the better. After all, seven years ago, I had hopes for a young black man with a charming smile and a tendency to talk and act with more independence than we usually see in Washington, not afraid sometimes to wear sandals and do without the primordial totem of an American flag pin always fixed to his lapel, but look what happened to him. He joined the great game and became nothing less than a mass murderer. Oh, he had one or two modest successes, as in stopping Israel’s raging demands to attack Iran, a country which has attacked no one in its entire modern history, but otherwise his is a long and dreary tale.

He has America still killing in Iraq, still killing in Afghanistan, destroying a decent civilization in Libya, supporting destruction in beautiful Syria, re-inserting an absolute dictator into Egypt to keep its prickly neighbor Israel happy, and creating an armada of drones to assassinate people in far off places guilty of no crime, killing in the process many others besides the innocent targets. Oh, and there are many other Neanderthal stupidities, from creating a coup and ensuing civil war in Ukraine to demanding Europe join in destructive economic sanctions and a huge military build-ups tight on Russia’s borders. And then there are all the efforts to intimidate China in its own sphere of influence.

You see, these are all the brutal stupidities of America’s establishment which our press would have you ignore while it goes on and on with its war chant about mindless international terror, virtually all of which is simply a pathetic human response to the stupidities, a response likely as unavoidable as having accidents if you go around driving drunk.

I say unavoidable, but that is not absolutely true. If a society goes far enough into the suppression of rights, terrorism can be almost eliminated. Stalin’s Russia did not experience much in the way of terrorism. Neither does Netanyahu’s Israel. And there is no doubt that America’s huge effort to suppress traditional rights and freedoms since 9/11 reflects that understanding, and the effort at suppression is not over. New surprises await Americans and their allies without question. It is an interesting sidelight to this ongoing process of building a super-security state that it just happens also to leave the ruling establishment increasingly unchallenged and unchallengeable. It is, indeed, a very dark path America has taken.

Is it any wonder I would grab at straws to see some change, even a modest re-think about what is being done? But I do fear that’s just what it is, grabbing at straws. The only realistic alternative is Hillary Clinton, a proven killer and serial liar and someone who much resembles Tony Blair for repulsive insincerity and selling herself to wealthy interests.

Indeed just at this writing, Radovan Karadzic has been convicted of war crimes during the Serbian war. I think it would be impossible to convincingly distinguish a great deal of what he did to Muslims in Bosnia and what Hillary Clinton did in Libya, which included running a program to gather small armies of thugs and arm them for insertion into Syria where they helped kill more than a quarter of a million people and create devastation. Her satanic laughter over her own bizarre joke about the leader of Libya, “We came, we saw, he died,” speaks volumes about her. This was a leader who had for decades given his people enlightened state policies and who ended being murdered in an American-created chaos.

It has been interesting to see the reactions to organized opposition against Trump, opposition taking a form sadly resembling 1930’s German Brownshirts shoving, threatening, and shouting at political rallies. Trump’s base, which is not only part of the Right but includes people who decades ago would have been Democrat-voting union people before their jobs disappeared, has very confusingly attributed all the organized opposition to “liberals.” Well, George Soros and Hillary Clinton are not, by any stretch of the imagination, liberals. Soros is in the CIA’s pocket, as Russia well knew when it recently banned his NGOs from operating there, and Hillary is just a plain killer.  I’m pretty sure America has no liberals anymore, at least as an organized body. George Soros and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are perhaps best described as neocon “fellow travellers.”

Now, in case you don’t know who the neocons are, they are a group of influential people in the Washington establishment and in Right-wing publishing who forcefully advocate that America use its full might to re-order the planet to its liking. Many of the best known of them are Jewish Americans who never have Israel far from their concerns. There was a natural meshing of interests in supposedly re-making and stabilizing the Middle East with support for Israel. All the countries flattened or decimated in recent years effectively represent a collective effort to make the Middle East safe for Israel, to surround it with a vast cordon sanitaire, eliminating virtually all independent-minded leaders in an almost continent-sized region, and assuring Israel’s hegemony as a kind of regional miniature replica of what the United States has become in the world.

The chief problem here has been the murder of huge numbers of people and the perfectly natural reactions of many to revenge what has happened to their families, friends, and lands. If that is to be called terror, so be it, but in other times we have called the same reaction everything from the resistance or national liberation to war by other means or simple vengeance. The most important thing to understand about it is that it is not some unnatural eruption of insane extremists as our press constantly makes every effort to impress upon us.

The only way to control terror is to stop your part in it. The biggest part of all modern terror is the work of the United States, unless you regard a family blown up in Damascus or Tripoli or Fallujah or Gaza City or Sana’a as being somehow different in kind to the victims in Brussels or Paris. America also pressures all its traditional allies to support the work with efforts of one kind or another, anything from arms to training, always maintaining the stance that it opposes terror and insisting they do the same. Well, it does oppose terror, but only the wrong kind of terror, the terror which does not support or advance America’s efforts. America’s destruction and mass killing in recent years are the great bulk of what any reasonable person, one not dedicated to the silly idea that America is a benign force, would call terror. Events in Brussels or Paris or even New York have been only the results of what America and its allies have been doing, the “blowback” as they quaintly put it in intelligence circles.

Well, it has been my faint hope that Trump might represent at least some progress in this horrible business, but I am growing to doubt that possibility. I do think for many reasons things are rather out of control, hence my reference to a runaway train. The American establishment of wealth along with its Praetorian Guard of military and security services is firmly in control and the ability of any elected individual to redirect things seems remote, as does the initial likelihood of such a person even being elected to office.

In my heart of hearts I do still believe that Obama was the kind of man who wanted things otherwise, but the realities of those meetings at huge conference tables surrounded by square-jawed generals in uniforms stiff and glittering with brass and medals and the sneering, elusive country-club types of the security services, impenetrably self-confident in all their secret operations and resources, many of which will never even be known to a president, made him what he has become. That and the pressing demands of hugely wealthy individuals and corporations, powerful lobby groups, and the virtually daily calls from people like Netanyahu (we do know that “daily calls” is no exaggeration from a slip of Obama’s tongue several years back) have given us this failed man who may well have had good intentions at the start.

The cause of so much of the war and terror in the world, the artificial re-creation of Israel and its endless demands for the re-ordering of its region, will likely just have to run its course. It is a state which, rather surprisingly, shares a great many features with the former Soviet Union. It is monstrously over-militarized, occupied by vast and invasive security services, with no guarantees of any rights, holding millions down who don’t want to be held, and boasts an inefficient economy only kept afloat by huge subsidies from outside. I do think, just like the Soviet Union, it eventually will collapse on its own weak foundations.

As for the United States, I have long believed that the era of its unquestioned authority in the world, which it has always greatly abused, is drawing to a close. The world is not only becoming multi-polar, the United States simply cannot govern itself in many of its activities, almost like a great spoiled child who cannot stop gobbling ice cream cones. It is always pushing to excesses. Its finances are in appalling shape and it can only be a matter of time before huge corrections occur with all the terrible consequences they entail for many. It is spending unconscionable amounts it doesn’t even have on its military and security, and the exaggerated, paranoid perceptions of need motivating these expenditures reflect all that we’ve discussed above. But perhaps most important of all, it has no effective leadership, and its absolutely corrupt political system is unable to provide any, allowing the inside ruling coterie to just keep stumbling along towards we don’t know quite what.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS REALLY AT STAKE IN THE ODDEST AMERICAN ELECTION SEASON OF A LIFETIME

John Chuckman

 

I keep reading stuff in British papers about what America’s Left must do in an election where Donald Trump “has thrown caution to the wind.” Each time I read anything along that line, invariably, I ask myself, “What Left are they talking about?” As perhaps few in Europe understand, there is no Left in the United States.

Bernie Sanders comes closest to being Left, but he is not only from one of the very smallest states in the Union, it is a state known for its liberal bent, something which exists in very few corners of that huge “pounding fist” of a country.

It would be refreshing if Sanders could win, but he cannot. The odds are completely stacked against him. I believe the unexpected force of his campaign, this man whose name was widely unknown west of New England in a campaign against someone whose name and face are, by contrast, as well known as Hershey bars, is a quiet wave of public recognition of just how repulsive a person Hillary Clinton is. It seems a miracle that he has run so well against her, sometimes beating or virtually tying her.

But remember, this is America we’re talking about, a plutocratic imperial power, not a democracy, and one engaged in vast military and secret state security operations. There is simply no room for a self-declared “democratic socialist.” America has no truck with socialists, even rather nice and soft ones.

Money counts hugely in politics, as it does in every nook and cranny of American life. An accurate motto for America might well be, “If it can’t be bought, it ain’t worth having.” Hillary is exceptionally well connected with, and financed by, the people who really count in shaping American government. Short of a tidal wave of support, any primary lead by Sanders would be stripped of delegates or would be defeated by “super-delegates” at the convention by party insiders.

As for Hillary being elected, nothing in my view could be a greater disaster. She has a murderous record, and I doubt she has told the truth twice in her entire life.

There is simply no question about her tendency to brutal violence. She pushed husband Bill on the needless war in Serbia. She advocated inside the administration for what became the Waco horror. She voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq. She ran at least part of what went on in Libya, a black operation to gather weapons and men to send to Turkey for terrorizing Syria. And we have her brutal idea of humor, complete with sneering laughter, about Gadhafi, a man who on the whole did a decent job of governing in a difficult part of the world: “We came, we saw, he died.” She supports Israel’s worst bloody excesses with a smile and regularly takes money from some of the people who work strenuously to keep them going.

Trump carries a great deal of heavy baggage, and has said many things with which I totally disagree, but he does not have Hillary’s record of death and destruction on a grand scale. He may often be quite unpleasant, but Hillary is almost certainly a psychopath whose narcissistic personality feels driven and entitled to be President so she can continue toying with human beings. I reject 90% of what Trump says, but I reject just about 100% of what Hillary has actually done.

There is one area, and a very important one, where possibly Trump can do something good for the world, and that is foreign affairs. Some of his views there are sound, sounder by far than Hillary’s. His views on matters like Syria and Russia are entirely rational and not weighed down by America’s malicious policies of the last quarter century, policies which Hillary not only supports but helped to establish and execute.

A vote for Hillary is a vote for more American bullying and terror in the world, and that is not in the least an exaggeration.  Terror is the right word for what America has done in the Middle East: it has crashed and raged through the region, leaving it in blazes. Hillary has served as a “willing executioner” in that hellish effort.

If you look at the groups and individuals who are key Hillary supporters, it is a pretty grim picture. It includes many corrupt and brutal foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Israel, and a vast collection of gigantic international corporate special interests, even financial terrorists like the firm of Goldman Sachs who played a key role in the collapse of 2008 and who have never really been called to account for bringing so many to ruin. There is not a glimmer of genuine liberalism or democratic ideals in the people paying and easing her way, although she likes to put on her best clownishly little-girl face and claim how interested she is in the welfare of ordinary Americans at campaign stops.

If we could only gain some sense and rationality in America’s foreign affairs, it would be a genuine advance for the entire world. Almost certainly you have to pay a price for doing that in a place like the United States. Nothing comes free in a throbbing plutocratic power. That price may be living with Trump’s many unpleasant aspects.

The neocons especially see that possibility in Trump, which is why they hate him beyond telling. Already many have said really ugly things in public. And, remarkably, the word “assassination” keeps popping up in those circles. That fact alone should tell us how destructive the impact of the neocons has been upon America’s own society.

It would have been unthinkable fifty years ago for prominent Americans to talk or joke of assassinating a political candidate.  That is how low American society has sunk during its long march with neocons, bombing, invading, promoting terrorism through proxies, and assassinating in the Middle East and in places like Ukraine – virtually all of which derives from the special influence of the neocons.

The political poverty of America was embarrassingly displayed in the original field of Republican candidates which resembled nothing so much as Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors. Fortunately, most of them are gone. As for Ted Cruz, the neocons’ possible “go to” man for stopping Trump, he is, just for a start, a right-wing religious wacko. There is a video of him on-line sitting at breakfast holding hands with his perfect little suburban family praying over the Sugar Pops. Staff working for Cruz include neo-con and CIA-types, and his wife is associated with Goldman Sachs. He is intellectually gifted, but many of his old associates in government say he is an extremely unpleasant man with which to work, extremely arrogant, and one not to be trusted, being given to treacherous turns. His former roommate at Princeton tells of getting e-mails from other students asking why he didn’t suffocate Cruz with a pillow while he had the chance. At least one person has commented on his resemblance to a serial killer. It would be a pretty desperate move by Republicans to try stopping Trump by loading Cruz, a man they simply don’t like, with money and influence. And I tend to feel the effort would fail in any event.

You get nothing free in a big, ugly place like America, so if you would like to see some end to a quarter century of brutal wars and the savage practices which have taken root under Bush/Clinton/Obama, perhaps you need to take a chance.

As few non-Americans realize, in domestic affairs the American President’s office is a rather weak one. It was designed to be that way. We have seen the frustration of Obama trying increasingly to govern by executive order, a pernicious practice not much different than imperial fiats, but even with that practice he has made little headway in this rigidly structured society. And no one, certainly no genuine liberal, ever can, without fundamental changes we have no reason to expect any time soon. America in its governance much resembles a giant wearing a huge, thick suit of concrete.

It is only in the area of military and foreign affairs that the American President has some real power, and that is an area which needs serious change. It won’t happen under bloodthirsty Hillary, loyal servant to neocon interests.

As far as ugly stuff like great walls or drastic changes to migration, Trump could do nothing without both houses of Congress, so they are proposals unlikely to become realities. Even on such domestic subjects, however, we do hear echoes of the neocon influence. After all, Israel has built many walls and builds more now, all on other people’s land and all of which prevent normal life for millions of others. It couldn’t be more unfair and anti-democratic, but the same people viciously attacking Trump for his proposals are the last ones to say a word about Israel’s actual practices. So those most violently attacking Trump cannot claim concerns for human decency or human rights motivate them, although they very much pretend to do so rather than being open about their real motives. Calling Trump a fascist over mere rhetoric and proposals is pretty ridiculous when we see Israel’s actual practices left unquestioned by crowds of prominent people.