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TWO STATES OR ONE STATE?

THE STARK REALITY IS THAT BOTH SOLUTIONS ARE IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS IMPOSED FROM OUTSIDE, AND JUST WHERE DO WE SEE ANY PROSPECT FOR THAT?

 

John Chuckman

Israel has created a terrible problem which it is incapable of solving. That is why it has always been the case that the United States must pretty much dictate a solution, but it is unable to do so, paralyzed as it is by the heavy influence of Israel and America’s own apologists and lobbyists.

Trump’s suggestion of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is welcomed by some because Israel’s settler policy is said to have made two states impossible, as it was most certainly intended to do. However, a little reflection on hard facts makes it clear that a one-state solution is just as impossible.

A single-state solution would be acceptable to all reasonable minds, but you only have to follow the news to know that Israel contains a good many unreasonable minds. Its early advocates and founders were, quite simply, fanatics, and its policies and attitudes were shaped by that fanaticism.

The Israeli establishment could simply not accept a Palestinian population with equal rights and the franchise as part of Israel. They could not do so because they have embraced an almost mystical concept of Israel as “the Jewish state.” Of course, the de facto reality of today’s combined population of Israel and its occupied territories is that Palestinians, who importantly include not just Muslims but many Christians, are already about half of the total.

And there are physical realities forming huge barriers against a single state, things of which many people are not aware. Very importantly, fertility rates in Arab populations are considerably higher than in the European Ashkenazi population which forms Israel’s elite. That has nothing to do with ethnic characteristics. It is a result of much lower levels of affluence influencing the behavior of people having children. It is a universal reality we see.

That’s why Arabic populations are such relatively young populations with a high proportion of children. When Israel bombs a place like Gaza or Lebanon, as it does periodically, it always kills many hundreds of children because they make a big share of the population. An advanced country like Japan has low fertility and traditionally is averse to much migration. It faces a future with an aging and declining population.

All older European and North American countries have fertility rates too low to replace their otherwise declining populations. America or France or Israel or similar states simply do not have enough babies to replace their populations. That’s a fundamental reality of advanced, affluent society. People with rich, demanding lives do not have large numbers of children, anywhere, knowing, as they do, that the few they do have will almost certainly survive and will better thrive with more concentrated resources.

That’s the real reason behind most countries’ immigration policies, not generosity or kindness. But, of course, Israel has a serious problem with immigration, too. As the “Jewish state” it is open to only one category of migrant, and that category of people makes a tiny fraction of the world’s population. Further, most of that tiny fraction live in comfortable, affluent places, far more desirable to live in than Israel – places like America, Canada, Australia, Britain, France, etc.

A single-state Israel would combine low fertility Europeans with higher fertility Arabic people, thus creating a long-term trajectory for a minority-Jewish state, a reality which would be repellent to all conservative Jews and many others, in light of the founding notion of Israel as a refuge from believed widespread anti-Semitism, plus the vaguely-defined but emotionally-loaded notion of a “Jewish state,” and, still further, the biblical myths of God’s having given the land exclusively to Jews.

You simply cannot make rational sense out of that bundle of attitudes and prejudices, yet you cannot get a rational solution to a massive problem otherwise, a problem, it should be noted, of Israel’s own deliberate making in the Six Day War. Likely, when Israel’s leadership started that war, they calculated that Palestinians would come to feel so miserable under occupation that they’d just pick up and leave over time. Moshe Dayan, one of the architects of the war, actually spoke along those very lines of keeping the Palestinians miserable so they would leave. But their calculations were wrong. Most people, anywhere, do not pick-up and leave their native place. Otherwise the world would a constant whirlwind of migrations.

Although Israel does not discuss the relative population growth rate situation in public, authorities and experts there are keenly aware of the reality. It is difficult to imagine them ever embracing a single state for this reason. When you found a state on ideology and myths, as Israel was founded, you very soon bump up against some unhappy realities.

So, if there is not to be a Palestinian state, what are Israel’s other options? There seem to be only two.

One is to deport all or most Palestinians, an ugly idea which is probably also unworkable, although it has very much seriously been discussed among educated Israelis periodically. Apart from the Nazi-like connotations around such an act, who, on earth, is going to take literally millions of people from Israel? In the past, Israeli ideologues have seriously suggested both the country of Jordan and parts of Egypt contiguous with Israel as possibilities.

Can any realistic person believe those states stand ready to take millions of people in? No, of course not, but that hasn’t stopped the ideologues of Israel from going back to the idea again and again. Of course, there is the pure ethical problem of moving millions against their wills and seizing all their property, but ethics have never featured large in Israel’s policies from the beginning.

The other solution is to re-create apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans, little enclaves of land with often undesirable characteristics into which you crowd all the people that you don’t want and declare that these are their new countries. We see this already in Israel, notably in Gaza, which really is a giant refugee camp much resembling a concentration camp with high fences and automated machine-gun towers surrounding it, the residents being permitted almost no freedom of movement or even economic activity, as for example Gaza’s fishermen being fired on by Israeli gunboats if they stray even slightly beyond tight boundaries in the sea.

The world would not long tolerate that approach no matter how much influence the United States might unfairly exert. After all, for a long time, the United States protected and cooperated with apartheid South Africa, always regarding it as an important bulwark against communism, anti-communism being the fervent secular religion of the day in America. This was so much the case that it even overlooked what it absolutely had to know about, apartheid South Africa’s acquisition of a small arsenal of nuclear weapons with the assistance of Israel, Israel always being keen to keep good access to South Africa’s mineral wealth.

Clearly, those two options are not solutions. Realities absolutely demand either a legitimate two-state solution – which Israel’s leaders have never truly accepted while giving it time-buying lip-service – or a one-state solution which is probably even more unacceptable to Israel’s leaders and much of its population, guaranteeing, as it does, the eventual minority status of Jews.

Israel has itself created a terrible problem which it is incapable of solving. That is why it has always been the case that the United States must pretty much dictate a solution, but it is unable to do so, paralyzed as it is by the heavy influence of Israel and America’s own apologists and lobbyists.

So, in effect, the world just goes around and around on this terrible problem, never doing anything decisive. The macabre dance of Israel and the United States we’ve had for decades yields today’s de facto reality of Israel as nothing more but nothing less than a protected American colony in the Middle East, one in which all kinds of international norms and laws are completely suspended, one where millions live with no rights and no citizenship. But, after all, colonies have never been places where the rule of law and human rights prevail, have they? Never.

DID TRUMP JUST BLINK?

Did Trump blink in the face of a soft coup against an elected American government?

 

John Chuckman

 

On first hearing, the resignation of Michael Flynn seemed less consequential than it did after a little reflection. After all, appointed officials do get let go, and Donald Trump made a popular name for himself as someone who doesn’t hesitate to dismiss staff who are not up to expectations.

The plausible reason offered – Flynn’s having not told the truth about what was said at his meeting with the Russian Ambassador to the Vice President – is just that, plausible, but only barely. It is almost certainly a “face-saver” explanation used to cover something of greater consequence.

At such levels in international affairs, “backchannel” communications are, if not everyday occurrences, employed now and again in highly delicate matters. We know John Kennedy employed exactly this method with Nikita Khrushchev, using a Soviet Ambassador, and he started moving towards doing the same with Castro. Most instances of such activity never reach our attention, of course.

Kennedy was involved in seeking peace during the Cold War, and today many have great hope Trump seeks the same around the Neocon Wars and Obama’s attempts to provoke and threaten Russia. Some of Trump’s words have offered encouraging signals. Michael Flynn was clearly working towards peace, and he had Trump’s confidence, but America’s power establishment is larded with many powerful and unaccountable people who share exactly the opposite purpose. What those who wish for peace regard as hopeful, these others regard as threatening.

“Backchannel” simply means that none of the ordinary paths of communication are used and that few, other than direct participants, are privy to it. It is an important tool at times. There is nothing illegal or insidious or treacherous about it, but it is of its nature highly confidential.

In some corporate press write-ups, today, we actually have irresponsible claims along those lines. Among other contemptible statements published today was this in Britain’s Independent: “Veteran anchor Dan Rather Broadcast journalist describes Russia scandal as ‘around a 5 or 6 on a 10-point scale of Armageddon for our form of government’, but says it is getting worse by the hour.”

My comment to that ridiculous statement was to remind readers of Rather’s record as a journalist, including first and foremost, his infamous description of the Zapruder film offered shortly after Kennedy’s death to reassure Americans about what had happened in Dallas.

If you’ve never seen Rather’s performance, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuHdK-4M1Wc

And here is the film he pretended to describe at a time years before anyone was permitted to see it:  http://criminalminds.wikia.com/wiki/File:Zapruder_Film_Slow_Motion_%28HIGHER_QUALITY%29

I also reminded readers that Rather’s career with CBS ended over a story about George Bush, a story whose supporting materials he had failed adequately to scrutinize. He, essentially, was fired by the network. He certainly is a distinguished authority to quote in the current situation. Here is an outstanding example of a journalist the CIA has had in its pocket for decades.

Backchannel communication certainly was all that Michael Flynn was doing. But some insider, likely in the CIA – elements of which have already made more than one attempt to discredit Trump with stuff like evidence-free charges about Russian hacking and a paid-for, contrived Russian dossier, stuff which was rated as trash by the general public – got wind of Flynn’s effort and leaked it to one of his grateful journalist-contacts in a compliant corporate press.

There is a genuine question of treason here with security service people who decide to leak such ultra-secret material to a press which happily regurgitates the CIA view of events abroad daily. Does anyone want secret agencies determining who serves in government and what direction policy should go? This was a serious piece of dirty work which may well deserve the label treason. It is now being fully exploited by the very corporate press which has always hated Trump as well as by the hawks of both parties who gave us the Neocon Wars and Cold War Two.

Trump represents a threat against some of their favorite dirty projects, including the dangerous, non-stop assault on Russia, the engineered coup in Ukraine, and the deliberately-induced horrors of Syria employing hired terrorists.

We all lose if they win. Of course, by “all” I don’t include the corporate press so ably represented by Dan Rather and The Washington Post and The New York Times.

The American press establishment has been in bed with the security services for a long time. Much of what we read in the American as well as British press on subjects such as foreign affairs is little more than re-writes of stuff put “out there” by the CIA. I suppose in private, the owners and editors regard it as the patriotic thing to do, to support government policy no matter how bad it is.

CIA has scores of clever manipulators who work full time on generating junk they distribute to cooperative friends in journalism. Even half a century ago, during another long CIA-terrorist project, the long one against Castro, you can read of the many creators of news employed to put the right face on what was being done and to hide a great deal of it. Papers like The New York Times openly cooperated with them, as we later learned in the explosion of information years after Kennedy’s assassination. Today, more than fifty years later and with far more powerful tools at their disposal, we can only imagine the inner workings of America’s richly-financed Ministry of Truth.

Nancy Pelosi – daughter of an old Mafia Don and bosom friend of the Neocons – has now climbed back on the “investigate Trump and Russia” bandwagon. Hillary Clinton, of course, never got off it. Echoes of their shrill claims are even heard in Europe where several national elections now threaten governments which supported them. It’s what these people have been pushing for – the whole gang of the corporate press, senior Democrats, and various establishment interests. They have been trying to stop or derail Trump from Election Day.

It’s stylish and convenient for them to pretend their opposition is over matters like immigrants, but the truth is far darker. The War Party wants to continue literally re-shaping the face of the planet no matter how many lives it costs. Can you imagine, for even for one moment, rhino-hided politicians like Pelosi or Clinton or Chuck Schumer shedding so much as one genuine tear over immigrants or refugees? These are people who have been complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, including countless women and their families, in a whole series of countries.

It is deeply concerning now that Trump speaks of Obama’s maybe not having been tough enough on Russia. And we’ve heard that Crimea must be returned to Ukraine. Are these concessions from a wounded President to the people who inflicted the wound? Has Trump blinked after this attack?

The situation has the potential now not only of scuttling anticipated rapprochement with Russia but of cranking up the threat. Russia is no more “returning” Crimea to Ukraine than Germany is returning the former East Germany to its previous status. The local people have spoken and their choice was to rejoin Russia, with whom they have a history going back to Catherine the Great. They chose to leave a new version of Ukraine which displayed open hostility towards Russian-speakers from the first day of a CIA-financed coup.

This all has the smell of a “soft” coup against an elected American government, but that should not surprise us. To this day, we do not know the role of CIA in a number of watershed events, including the Kennedy assassination, 9/11 as the kick starter for the Neocon Wars, and even the downfall of Richard Nixon.

Is that your idea of democratic government?

OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS

A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain

 

John Chuckman

The books about The Wizard of Oz were written as satire on American politics, but Hollywood, in its inimitable way, turned them into a song-and-dance picture for children. Still, one scene in the film has a sense of the author’s intent. That scene is when Dorothy, in Emerald City, approaches a closet-like structure, which, as it happens, is the Wizard’s control booth for sounds and smoke and lights, his special effects for intimidating visitors and impressing them with non-existent power.

The entrance curtain happens to be open, so Dorothy sees a modest man busily pulling levers and pushing buttons and speaking into a microphone which alters his voice into a great booming one, echoing like a great organ in a cathedral. When the man realizes that he is being watched, he makes a last effort and booms out words along the lines of “Pay no attention to the man in the booth.” Of course, the jig is up, and we all understand there is no wizard.

What better allegory for events in Washington today could there be? We have booming noises and smoke and glaring lights, and it all comes from a rather sad little – little in the sense of failed – man with about two weeks left to sit at his big desk and pretend that he is great and powerful wizard. Except, when you are President, as this man is, you can never be observed in your control booth and you have your stunts and booming claims seconded by a chorus of flacks, hangers-on, and political appointees, presumably lending a semblance of authenticity and substance.

What the controversy engendered by “the Russians did it” has achieved is almost the opposite to what was intended. Dubious claims and pretend evidence have caused lights to shine brightly over what is a blanketing fabric of dishonesty in America’s establishment. The fabric covers everything from foreign affairs and the military to the details of domestic affairs. It is immense, complex, and carefully constructed covering, and those who created it have very little tolerance for any of it being scrutinized under spotlights. Achieving this scrutiny may be regarded as Obama’s final act of failure.

Whether it is “the Russians hacked the DNC” or “America has been bombing ISIS in Syria” or “the Russians threaten Eastern Europe” or “the Russians committed atrocities in Aleppo” or “Russia shot down Flight MH-17,” the same tiresome actors making the same unsupported claims have for eight years expected that just their inflated job titles should intimidate us into believing them. Proof? Who needs that? Would I lie to you about such matters? Once you start something foolish as Obama has done, and it is widely understood as being foolish, you only weaken your authority over all the other less-obviously dubious claims you have been making. The fabric of lies becomes weakened, and that is one of Obama’s small, but unintended, achievements now.

Even as I write these words, the first big wave of the Obama-Clinton unsupported claims, unsupported, that is, except by hack appointees like James Clapper, is receding. The world quickly reached a verdict of “nonsense.” But a second wave now laps up with an equally unsupported claim that the Russians have a compromising dossier on Donald Trump, an attempt to plant the idea that Russia will have direct influence over Trump’s policies. This malicious effort at “poisoning the well” for a political successor, brings to mind the time, some years back, when the ugliest of clutch of Israeli settlers, those who swaggered around Gaza behind barbed wire enclosed-compounds, full of attitude and always toting light machine guns while under the malevolent guard of Israeli soldiers, decided to leave their hopeless situation. They quite literally poisoned the water wells they had used before strutting away. I cannot imagine a much shabbier act. But here is Obama and his appointees doing much the same thing, effectively hacking away at what little democracy America has left out of sheer maliciousness.

I don’t mean to say that such gross lying began with Obama. The wizard’s control booth for smoke and lights and thundering sounds was not invented by him. There was nothing but eight years of lies from the weird triumvirate presidency of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush and from the corrupt and often-inept Clinton government. Lies are what big countries or organizations do when their activities will not stand up to public scrutiny. When countries secretly play dirty tricks, when they kill, and when they apply mafia-like pressure on allies and international organizations to do as they are told, they simply lie about all of it, always. Such activity has characterized America for a very long time. How can it be otherwise when you try to control the planet?

It’s just that eight years ago, we had some reason to believe Obama would be different, at least a little different, but he is not. He is just as shabby, murderous, and deceitful as his immediate predecessors, sometimes even more so. He has been at war somewhere every single day of his eight years. He has bombed seven countries. In his last year alone, he is said to have dropped over 26,000 bombs. Literally hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Peace Prize winner with the big boyish smile. I’ve often asked myself what it is that motivates Obama, and I don’t know. Sometimes he seems to fit the well-known pattern of the charming, smiling psychopath who secretly likes to kill.

Sometimes he just seems weak and, yes, cowardly, someone who has allowed the brass and big suits around those conference tables to run roughshod over him, leaving him with nothing but the pretense of authority. This could explain what is a remarkable sense of arrogance observed at times when he is around outsiders as a kind of psychological reflex to his living in his job under constant bullying. After all, Bush’s whole presidency was a pretense: he pretended to be president, and Cheney and Rumsfeld – the precise quality of men who, had they lived in 1930s’ Germany would have been seen happily “working towards the Führer” as they used to say – deferentially allowed him to do so as they ran everything. Bush was the first president to prove America doesn’t even need a president except to sign documents, much like the formal requirement for a witness’s signature on a legal document.

We know, too, that Bush was as close to a moron as ever held the office, because we watched his insipid face and listened to his inability to articulate a clear sentence for eight years. Sometimes, we do see glimmers of something similar from Obama, statements and behaviors that would not be expected from someone of forceful intelligence – the unsupported Russian hacking accusations being one, but also such matters as his foolish public dismissal of Russia, the only country which can literally obliterate the United States, as a great power – only with Obama we don’t see Bush’s Alfred E. Neuman look, we see a serious, stiff mien and a tone and posture of arrogance. A well-practiced cover-up behavior for inadequacies?

I don’t know, and it really does not matter. He has been a terrible president in every important respect, but he maintains a fair number of supporters who I guess are impressed with the big boyish smile, although that is seen far less often now, the baritone voice, and perhaps the sheer, unprecedented fact of a black man standing in his position. There’s no accounting for taste or popularity, as we see in every corner of contemporary celebrity culture, and American politics absolutely has an important element of celebrity culture, just as it loves to use celebrities as endorsements. Think of the last days of Hillary Clinton’s tired campaign when she had, yes, Beyoncé and Jay Z appearing in Ohio. It is hard to imagine what political or economic or social information that pair of pop celebrities had to offer voters, and it was reported by some that they were quietly paid millions for some minutes of effort to help swing the state with razzle-dazzle. After all, this was the Hillary Campaign, a glorious travelling circus that is estimated to have burned through $1.2 billion.

Many do expect something different from Trump, and we can hope their expectations are well-founded. His entire path to the presidency does show some unorthodox attitudes and methods – unorthodox, that is, by the claustrophobic standards and practices of that center of world empire, Washington, not unorthodox in some wider sense – and they show a very tough and driven man. It is simply a fact that anyone missing the last quality cannot function effectively as President in 21st-century America. The general environment in Washington, without the least exaggeration, may be compared to the proverbial snake pit or to scenes from the last days of Roman Empire.

That is why, for example, Bernie Sanders is such a hopeless hope. The man conducted an impressive crusade, displaying considerable skills, yet he just folded in the end, leaving his enthusiastic followers in limbo and giving up to Hillary Clinton who represented almost everything he opposed and who stood before him as someone who had just clearly cheated him out of the nomination through a whole range of cheats, ploys and gimmicks. Yet, he just accepted her and even did some campaigning for her.

Such a personality offers zero promise in face-to-faces with Pentagon generals, CIA Big Suits, mega-corporation presidents, and some foreign leaders who are closer to Mafiosi than politicians. What do you expect out of a little place like Vermont? It’s lovely. I’ve spent time there. But it resembles a great deal something from a backlot set for “Lassie Come Home” or “Anne of Green Gables.” I know, I know, Bernie originally came from hard-bitten New York, but the operative word there is “came.” Whatever his reasons for seeking bucolic, low-stress bliss, they do not make him material for presiding over Washington’s Chamber of Horrors.

Many Americans themselves, including both liberals and conservatives, are well aware of the dishonesty of their government, if only in a vague sense, but they know the task of doing anything about it is just too overwhelming and difficult to consider. After all, peasants on a 17th century estate hardly dared dream of changing the “natural order” in which they lived. And ordinary Americans work extremely hard to raise their families, and a great many of them do not work at all. They do not command great resources for all the costs and activities of a crusade. The general human condition in Western countries has not changed quite so much as some like to imagine over a few centuries of enlightenment and progress. A huge number of Americans count only for brief moments when their ballots are sought with sound-bites and vacuous ads. Afterwards, the establishment goes on just as before, ignoring them and getting back to the business of lying.

The papers people read – and, thanks to the spreading, corrosive effects of American imperialism, I include other Western countries, not just the United States – and the broadcasts to which they listen are uniform in discouraging any truly fresh way of looking at things and in suppressing the hope that arrangements can be much different. They universally avoid telling the truth where government prefers that they don’t. The idea of independent and principled journalism is something you only find in brochures for journalism schools or in Hollywood films.

The two major American political parties – together forming a duopoly of political power little different in overall its effect from the kind of monopoly power American authorities like to disparage in other, “less free” places – certainly do not provide much room for fresh voices or new initiatives. Over long periods, they can actually be quite stifling, much like high officials in a church concerning accepted truth and doctrine. The parties are totally dominated by money – money that can only come in the volumes required for marketing, advertising, polls, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, facilities of every kind, publicity, and travel expenses from extremely wealthy people and special interests who are not the least interested in any significant change to a very cozy and comfortable situation.

The dominance of the Clintons in the Democratic Party through their money connections has been an arrangement to defend the status quo. It was a clever construction. The Clintons got to be center stage, play-acting as liberals and agents of change, in exchange for the kind of money which absolutely guaranteed that they never for a moment could forgot that they were just playing parts, not really doing anything of consequence. Bill Clinton’s record as President is interchangeable, remarkably so, with what might have been expected from a traditional Republican. Hillary’s record as Secretary of State made her promise for the future, if anything, far more extreme in the same direction, and especially when it came to serving special interests and waging bloody war. The woman wore $11,000 Armani suits regularly and commanded $300,000 a pop plus expenses and comforts (right down to a standard demand for a certain bottled water to be supplied) for a long series of tedious speeches on America’s military given to investment bankers, and she made private jokes about people dying, as we know she said of Julian Assange, “Couldn’t we just drone him or something?” Or there was her appalling joke about the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, a man who had been a good leader to his people, “We came, we saw, he died! Ha, ha, ha!”

The Democratic Party, given its distant past, especially the now all-but-forgotten legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, is the one from which an outsider viewing America, with no close knowledge of it, might reasonably have expected to find some prospect for change. But that seems a naïve hope if you understand who are the interests keeping the wheels of the organization turning.

The Democratic Party has become completely an establishment party, and one that literally morphed into the War Party along the way. Today, it offers a menu of the lightest possible offerings of social interest – the political equivalent of a platter of Ladies’ Tearoom sandwiches and dainties served by waiters in white gloves – just to differentiate itself from the Republicans and to make Americans of any degree of genuine liberal sentiment feel a little more comfortable. Since there aren’t a great number of the latter left in America by all appearances, the offerings can indeed be extremely modest.

Of course, these menu offerings consist of suggestions, attitudes, and slogans, not hard proposals for change, real change, in anything. The Democrats’ recent history of political behavior much resembles what mega-corporations do when they stick an image of a pink bow on their product packaging for a while and run a few, likely tax-deductible, ads promising purchasers that they will be helping in the fight against breast cancer by buying the brand. Imagine a package of Marlboros with a pink bow printed on it, and you get the picture.

Nothing better represents this modern Democratic leitmotif than Hillary Clinton’s long record of sound-bite concerns on many topics accompanied by a record of no actual effort spent on doing anything beyond getting elected. She started her last campaign saying every woman who is a rape victim deserved to be believed – something surely many young women and sympathetic men found re-assuring – yet she herself had dismissed privately, out-of-hand, for years a platoon of women pointing to her own predatory husband with the same charge.

Again, her displeasure with the Electoral College – echoed recently after her defeat – was first declared back in 2000, when George Bush won with a popular minority, but there is no record of her doing any work towards amending that outdated and anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, as during her eight years as a Senator. No, that would be a huge task to undertake, and political rewards are greater for sound-bites than they are for actual slogging hard work on anything most people do not even understand. Captains on the bridge with their gold braid and brass buttons on immaculate uniforms get noticed, not the sweating engineers actually running the ship down in the boiler room.

Make no mistake, the Democrats are bedrock establishment today, a party defending mostly backward views of the world and of American society. They are nothing more than the political Coke to the Republican’s Pepsi, or vice versa. And all the endorsements and advertising in the world do not change the reality of two sugary, dyed, fizzy drinks, indistinguishable in taste to many. Eight years of Obama – a man whose first campaign saw him sometimes wearing sandals and eschewing a totemic, imperialistic American flag pin on his lapel and intoning to cheering crowds, “Yes, we can” – proved that beyond all doubt.

Political figures like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein are pretty close to irrelevant in the steaming boiler room of real American politics. Ideas are virtually never an issue in American elections. Neither is improving government’s service to citizens, from education to healthcare. Neither is the proper financing and budgeting of government. Neither is a reduction to insane military and security spending. How can it be otherwise in this “pounding fist” of an imperial society? All such American politicians tend to remind one of some naïve political science professor lecturing a rapt first-year audience of undergraduates excited about being out of high school and entering “the real world.”

This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments.

Barack Obama is not one of those marginal American politicians, having gained the leadership of one of the two great parties, and yet in eight years he changed almost nothing worth changing. Whether the plight of whistleblowers in America or the third-world conditions prevailing in American cities where many of his fellow black people survive in squalor. He did nothing to reform a financial system that gave the world a collapse from which it still has not recovered. He did virtually nothing about the nation’s rotting schools or rotting infrastructure. He whined about guns but never acted in a serious way on the huge problem of police who shoot people dead on the nation’s streets, more than 1,100 of them last year alone

Yet he signed, time after time, record legislation for squandering money on the military and Big Intelligence.  Under his command, the Pentagon literally burned pallet-load shipments of cash on bad programs such as the failed F-35 fighter, a new super-aircraft carrier that doesn’t work, a new type of littoral combat ship that doesn’t work, and a new Zumwalt-class destroyer that has proven an embarrassment. And there are the hugely expensive and highly intrusive NSA Supercomputer Data Centers. This is not a record of which to be proud, and it is about as far from liberal or progressive as you can go.

And, of course, this “liberal,” as so many insist still on calling him, ended by killing more people than any dictator or demagogue of this generation on earth you care to name, several hundred thousand of them in his eight years. And he found new ways to kill, too, as by creating the world’s first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation. Here he signs off on “kill lists,” placed in his Oval Office in-box, to murder people he has never seen, people who enjoy no legal rights or protections. His signed orders are carried out by uniformed thugs working at computer screens in secure basements where they proceed to play computer games with real live humans as their targets, again killing or maiming people they have never seen.

If you ever have wondered where all the enabling workers came from in places like Stalin’s Gulag or Hitler’s concentration camps, well, here is your answer. American itself produces platoons of such people. You could find them working at Guantanamo and in the far-flung string of secret torture facilities the CIA ran for years, and you could find them in places like Fallujah or Samarra or Abu Ghraib, at the CIA’s basement game arcade killing centers, and even all over the streets of America dressed as police who shoot unarmed people every day, sometimes in the back.

Obama has told more lies than anyone could possibly count while conducting so much killing and destruction, and he has done so unblinkingly. If you have ever noticed, government officials doing shameful and illegal things do tend to lie about what it is they are doing. And when Obama wasn’t telling lies, he made secrecy and lack of transparency hallmarks of his administration. He is said to feel very harshly towards whistle-blowers and leakers. He ends his grubby term of office with baseless, self-serving public accusations comparable in every way to those of Senator Joe McCarthy of the early 1950s.

McCarthy, a Republican, was also someone the establishment quietly supported for a time. He served their purposes, until he started weaving dangerously on the road, much like a drunken driver. He departed from the accepted script and began hurling accusations everywhere, and not just accusations about “commies” in the State Department, a place the establishment of the time hated. He came to relish accusing some targets of being sexual perverts, and he attacked new target after new target, threatening the ability of government even to function. For those who don’t know, J. Edgar Hoover, perpetual director of the FBI and an early supporter of McCarthy, was gay and a cross-dresser in private.

Of course, the establishment doesn’t have to worry about the embarrassing excesses of Obama and pompous appointees like James Clapper, as they finally did about those of McCarthy, because this pair of vicious clowns faithfully did just as they were supposed to do, and they are now headed for the exit doors. But they do have to worry about Trump, a man who already has expressed intelligent skepticism over the offerings of Big Intelligence as well as intelligent skepticism about the shameful and immense waste of the Pentagon. Importantly, he has asked why the entire Mideast is on fire and why Russia should be viewed as an enemy. And that is why the likes of Obama and Clapper have taken on a last-minute, rearguard destructive operation on behalf of those fearful of change.

It is certain that Joseph McCarthy’s rise to power could not have happened without important silent support, and his fall, after pretty much disgracing himself, allowed members of the establishment to congratulate themselves in public over protecting America from such demagoguery. All of this, from beginning to end, was complete hypocrisy, the very kind of hypocrisy we have screaming at us today from Washington. A similar claque of powerful people today congratulates themselves on efforts to interfere with the proper and peaceful transition of power to a man they’ve arbitrarily labelled a demagogue.

America’s mainline press has supported the claque by painting Trump as a dangerous demagogue, and I think it is largely over their resentment for his literally hi-jacking a very tired, almost worn-out, Republican Party – which resembled a becalmed antique sailing ship going nowhere – and promising to power it off in new directions. Of course, those loyal to the Clinton-Obama War Party greedily join in the accusations against Trump, seemingly completely innocent or even unaware of behavior ranging from insider plots to steal Hillary’s nomination from a contender to killing a third of a million people in Syria and who knows how many in Libya.

Also, they literally hate the prospect that the War Party, which they have faithfully supported for years, may be crumbling. And, who knows, even the possible further prospect of its demise after recent events revealed it to the public as a mafia-like operation with little respect for democratic process or principles of any kind? Stranger things in politics have happened, and political parties are no more guaranteed eternal life than the crowds at American revival meetings who raise their arms in child-like fantasy towards some huckster-preacher banging the Bible at the podium.

You must always remember, America’s press, which loves to congratulate itself regularly on its journalistic principles, is a mature and in some ways declining industry which is owned, through consolidations, by a very small number of corporate interests who completely support the Neocon Wars and a highly aggressive American foreign policy which puts American corporate interests first, everywhere, and reduces foreign governments, such as those in Europe or Japan, to American satrapies. The dominant views of America’s establishment are not enlightened, not democratic, not open-minded. They are “me-first” and keep competitors abroad under your thumb.

The subject of the Neocon Wars raises the related issue of the Israel Lobby’s influence in American politics. These destructive wars and an associated hyper-aggressive American foreign policy reflect this influence. The term “Neocon” refers to a coterie of influential people in Washington over the last fifteen years or so, people who have openly advocated for a highly aggressive policy of asserting American global dominance, always including a subsidiary aim, expressed with the euphemism, “the birth of a new Middle East.” Eliminating any independent-mindedness in the countries of the Mideast and assuring Israel’s complete imperialistic dominance over the region are the primary goals of the wars and interventions which have cost about two million lives and immense destruction over the Bush-Obama era. The extent of much of this holocaust is allowed to remain hidden from the public by our obliging corporate press, and efforts at explaining the causes has been a great throbbing engine for the production of lies.

But what is the long-term sense of assuring total dominance by eight million people, many of them immigrants, over hundreds of millions of others with centuries of history in the region? Eight million people who have no relationship or common history or culture and views with the great masses over which they are to dominate? An essentially European, urban people who share only a religion – and many of them not even that since Israel has a high proportion of non-believers – with the ancient Hebrews who once lived there? Even that number of eight million is deceptive since it includes over a million Arabs who are accidentally, and not with full equality, technical citizens of Israel.

These terrible Neocon Wars are, in addition, largely responsible for two devastating developments in our time. The first is huge movements of terrified refugees into Europe, millions of them, causing immense difficulties and putting great stress on the very foundations of the EU.

The second is the phenomenon we call international terror, which in fact is a side effect of the Neocon Wars. A huge amount of weaponry has been scattered around in the region by supporters of the American policy. Then, large numbers of mercenaries and rootless, violent people have been deliberately recruited, paid, and supplied to assist in carrying out America’s policy, as in Libya and Syria. Finally, there are large numbers of angry young men now who seek revenge for what has been done to their homes and families. It is a witches’ brew our press deliberately confuses by calling it international terror while constantly promoting the idea of Arabs and Muslims being undependable, unstable, and backward people, a concept welcomed and supported by the residents of the American crusader fortress we call Israel. The entire effort has been a guaranteed formula for instability and human misery.

In reality, what we call international terror is largely the “blowback” of American policies which themselves amount to state terror. Israel, of course, finds comfort in headlines in the West about “international terror” since the fear of that notion helps Americans and Europeans feel a bit more bonded to the fears Israel has always felt in its position as a colony planted by violence in an alien region. Many Israelis undoubtedly feel about their millions of neighbors much the way the Old South’s planters used to feel about the large number of inhabitants in the slave quarters as they went to bed each night with pistols and daggers kept under their pillows. Fear of rebellion was constant and worked like a poisonous substance in the Old South society, even though there was only one rebellion, a small one too, that ever happened. That endless unease explains why Old South society was well known for its inclination to violence, as in the infamous “code of the Old South.” Doesn’t Israel have much the same reputation?

America’s assistance and policies keep a garrison state not only going but growing, growing through the regular seizure of their neighbors’ property, a terrible practice which successive American governments fear addressing. Why? I think the Israel Lobby’s extremely well-organized efforts in American politics explain that. Support Israel, almost unconditionally, and you will receive large campaign donations and positive press coverage (remembering, it is a much-consolidated American press owned by quite a small number of companies). Criticize Israel and your opponents will get the donations and you will get negative press coverage. This has been an on-going pattern since the days when Harry Truman first agreed to recognize Israel, against his private best judgment, at a time when he felt vulnerable because his own re-election was quite uncertain.

While in the short term this massive bloodshed and destruction may be reassuring for Israel, having pretty much everything around it flattened, over the long term I do not see how this can be anything but destabilizing.

Destabilizing just as is the $38 billion, ten-year military-assistance agreement Obama just extended to Israel, a country perfectly able to pay for its own defense. This amount vastly exceeds what the United States gives any other country, even far larger ones in far greater economic need. The amount represents an increase of more than a quarter over the previous decade’s assistance agreement. And Obama gave it without a single condition imposed on Israel at a time when Israel’s government is constantly violating laws, rights, and international norms and agreements. I can’t think of any other place on earth where it is regarded as just fine suddenly to march out and seize someone else’s farms or homes. You cannot not build a sound future society for yourself that way, quite apart from the injustice and misery inflicted on others.

Yet, the press often gives the impression that Obama is no friend to Israel. It is well-known that Obama and Netanyahu personally dislike each other intensely, and Netanyahu has gone out of his way to demean or embarrass Obama several times. So, does the immense size of this military-assistance agreement reflect the influence of the Israel Lobby? I think it does, and it all points again to Obama’s total inability in office to fight for anything worth fighting for, such as conditions at least placed on a criminal government being handed a vast fortune, something approaching $500 each year for each citizen of Israel, almost a national basic personal income, if you will, supplied by America.

It is often asserted that the term “Israel Lobby” indicates prejudice, but saying that is just a form of reverse-prejudice, another version of the worn-threadbare accusation that if you criticize Israel, you are, ipso-facto, anti-Semitic. Indeed, this false idea has become as common as rain, and Israel has made considerable diplomatic efforts through the years, with some success, in Europe and in North America to have criticism of Israel criminalized in one fashion or another.

Two distinguished American scholars – John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government – wrote a serious book on the subject of the Israel Lobby, establishing the fact and of its existence beyond question. Others, too, have contributed to understanding the phenomenon.

And we also see, from time to time, events which bring the reality forcefully home. Israeli diplomats in London were just caught on video discussing bringing down British MPs regarded as unfriendly to Israel. Well, talk about direct interference in the internal affairs and elections of others! Newt Gingrich, when last running for his party’s presidential nomination, went around making speeches about how there really was no such thing as a Palestinian after receiving the best part of $20 million dollars in campaign donations from a very wealthy and avid supporter of Israel. Freshmen American Congressmen after an election are routinely “offered” – I put that in quotes because it is not an offer to be declined without political consequences – paid holidays to Israel for indoctrination. Recently, the New York Times confirmed the discovery that all of its stories concerning Israel are routinely passed by the official Israeli Censor before being published. Hillary’s most massive contributors over the years are members in good standing of the Lobby.

One of the most predictable and bordering-on-absurd regular happenings in Washington around this subject is Senator Lindsey Graham suddenly leaping to his feet at any mention of Israel which has even a hint of less-than-fulsome praise or at any proposal to give a less-than-lordly hand-out and going into paroxysms. I’ve asked myself why that would be. Why should Senator Graham, who represents Baptists in South Carolina, choose the role of political pit bull on guard for Israel? Why should he care so intensely and constantly about Israel? Well, I spent a short time reading about him and looking at photos, and I couldn’t help being struck by the distinct possibility of Senator Graham’s being gay.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, unless you happen to represent South Carolina, surely one of the more backward and least tolerant states in the Union. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Senator Graham was caught, years ago, in a “honey trap” by Mossad, and he has been given to understand that compromising photos exist. Today, he is a tireless defender of all things Israeli. It is hard to explain such sustained motivation otherwise. Exactly the same kind of thing happened to the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover early in his career. The Mafia is said to have had compromising photos of him and a male lover, and that old bull dog-faced lawman eventually became notorious for not pursuing the Mafia, allowing it decades of comfortable growth after the repeal of Prohibition.

He always chased instead almost non-existent Communists, keeping the Communist party of America’s ranks packed with undercover FBI Agents and its coffers filled with their expensed donations so that it kept the appearance of something formidable when it wasn’t and served to justify constant FBI budget increases. It might be called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” approach to spying, much like the CIA’s approach to its annual Soviet estimates during the Cold War. The estimates were always wildly inflated, and the CIA always got the budget increases it sought. Security service empires have a way of growing exponentially regardless of the threat level. They share with the military the almost magical ability to be always discovering dire new needs for their services.

The whole set of matters concerning Israel forms a huge indigestible mass at the very center of American politics. Clearly, it is better in every way to halt the Neocon wars. Clearly, also, it is better to force Israel to make peace and define its still undefined borders by accepting the status quo of 1967. Clearly, it is better to have a stable, peaceful region with good long-term relations with the United states. But, these things are easier said than done, and precisely because of the Israel Lobby which always defends Israel, even when it pursues destructive policies and goals, as it so frequently does.

A lot of people hope Trump will halt the stupid wars, and a lot of people, recognizing his political history of being an upstart without a lifetime’s obligations to the usual political crowd, think he may be in a good position to do something important in the Mideast. There is ambiguity here though, owing to some references about moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a non-starter for peace, if ever there was one, but the references are also quite possibly a deal-maker lure, for there can be little doubt that Jerusalem will be the capital of both Israel and Palestine in the end.

At least, ending the wars is the sine qua non of anything to be called progress. It is also part of a needed de-escalation in America’s current hyper-aggressive global posture. If you want a better domestic economy, there are few better places to start than paring back the unbelievable waste of great masses of ships and planes and tanks rumbling around everywhere and creating nothing of economic value. Nothing is more wasteful and destructive than maintaining such a military establishment. No one better knows how to waste money than the military with its every movement of a truck or plane costing immensely more than the same act in the civilian economy and none of the movements producing any worthwhile good or service. And the nonsense of keeping Europe and Russia as near-enemies rather than flourishing economic partners only impoverishes everyone.

But it is not sound economic thinking or a sensible approach to world affairs which has governed America’s use of its military for years. It is indulgent, uncaring pride, the arrogance of a wealthy establishment which does what it does simply because it can. It is a formidable barrier against progress which is not going to just fade away. And Trump’s political base, while clearly excluding Neocons, does include the belly-over-the-belt types who, perhaps unthinkingly, like to see Old Glory waving everywhere. So, there is a big set of difficulties for him to work through, and it is not at all clear how he can do so.

The establishment’s waste and arrogance and paying-no-attention to ordinary people really are what motivated a lot of Americans to vote for Trump, especially when the other choice was the very embodiment of those arrogant qualities, annoyingly and patronizingly taking a moment, here and there, to nibble a piece of fried chicken with the folks in some obscure diner. Good photo-op. Americans very much feel they have a national government which behaves more as an occupying power than as a legitimate institution to serve them. And the fact that it spends so much time and money and credibility on trying to control the planet does have a tendency to influence its resources and its very attitudes at home. After all, they are occupied with earth-shattering matters abroad, and you, well, you just don’t count in the scheme of things.

But politics never provides complete change, as some naïve political thinkers like to believe. America remains a huge imperial power essentially run by wealthy people for the interests of wealthy people, and that is not going to change any time soon, but that does not preclude some changes in the way things have been conducted because not all wealthy people see their interests as being identical, and wealthy people making decisions do sometimes make very bad ones. Never mind how the Pentagon and CIA, under Obama and Bush, have stomped their heels into the necks of countless thousands of innocents and wrecked whole societies, just look on the home front at the shabby way corporate giants can behave.

We have Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post and turning it into a more complete propaganda factory than ever, publishing, for example, a scurrilous, libelous list of Internet sites said to be under Russian influence, a list obtained from an “anonymous source” which almost certainly just happen to reside in Langley, Virginia. We have Facebook’s shuffling, t-shirted multi-billionaire appointing himself American Guru of Truth and Fakery in the News. This from the founder of one of the most fake-filled sites on the Internet, notorious previously for fake reader “likes” which affect advertising rates, but, more importantly, an outfit which ceaselessly censors and spies on its users, sucking information from them like a Dyson whirlwind vacuum cleaner to sell to marketers and send along to the security services. Recently, when I use my Google bookmark link for Russia’s Sputnik (formerly, RIA Novosti, The Voice of Russia), an informative and entertaining site I have checked for years, Google frequently inserts a warning page telling me that it is dangerous to proceed, a page which includes a button marked “Back to Safety,” as though I were approaching a phishing or pornographic site. This from the company that started years ago with a motto, “Do no harm,” but, of course, today Google is a vest-pocket affiliate of CIA, an outfit which does almost nothing but harm. And look at the way Microsoft introduced Windows 10, including violations of fundamental conventions on the Internet such as a pop-up “install” box whose “dismiss command” did precisely the opposite when the “x” was selected, or the way another giant, Apple, has treated some of its customers, including things like “bricking” their costly phones if any effort is made to change or repair anything.

It is simply about the arrogance of power, a phrase the late Senator Fulbright wrote years ago to describe America’s murderous and pointless crusade in Vietnam.

Politics can shake-up a few institutions which need shaking-up, expose a few rotten actors and send them packing, turn around a few dangerous policy paths, and it can grant the people at large a sense of some new possibilities. Sometimes, and this may be one of those times. But the fanatical wing of Trump supporters, especially those on the “alt-right” are almost certain to be disappointed when he does not re-create America the way “accepting Christ” is supposed to re-create a sinner.

Trump seems a man of enough independent-mindedness and independent wealth and seasoned toughness of personality to withstand the assaults he will face from the establishment in Washington. Actually, I shouldn’t say “will” because he is facing waves of them before he even takes the oath, and he is doing admirably well at handling them. There is a claque of very rich and influential people who are not going to disappear into the woodwork despite losing control now. However, he is himself a rich man with a rich man’s interests, and he is not likely to lose his sense of direction in a wave of patriotic fervor which some Americans confuse with religion. He will have done as much as any candidate could if he ends the killing and the mindless interference in the affairs of others and creates some programs which bring jobs to large numbers of now-hopeless Americans. He actually does have a chance at genuine political greatness, but I would not bet the farm on it.

 

 

THE INSANE CIRCUS NOW GOING ON IN WASHINGTON – A SAD PARODY OF JOSEPH MCCARTHY WAVING FISTFULS OF BLANK PAPER IN THE EARLY 1950s, INSISTING THEY WERE LISTS OF RUSSIAN SPIES

 

John Chuckman

 

The single most important point to keep in mind about the “Russians did it” three-ring circus underway in Washington – after the essential fact that still no proof has been provided to support accusations coming from the highest level – is that there is no issue around the contrived notion of interfering in an American election or endangering American security. None.

What essentially happened in this leak of private information – yes, I think it was leak, not a case of hacking – was that personal conversations of a highly embarrassing nature were released to the public.

That is not a crime against the state. That is not a matter of national security. And that is not interference in a country’s election. Those are all stupidly false issues even to raise here.

This is the sort of information that gossip columnists or investigative reporters or authors of tell-all books have always been ready to provide the public.

No such reporter or writer is regarded as a spy. None of them is viewed as an agent of a foreign power. But, of course, they are very much resented by the people hurt or embarrassed by the information they provide.

So, we have a double fraud here being perpetrated, right before our eyes, at the highest level in America.

The first fraud is the deliberately dishonest notion that the release of private gossip in any way represented interference in an election.

The second fraud is the unproven assertion that Russia was somehow responsible for obtaining the information.

My mind is not closed to any possible truth here, I do not pre-judge and assert that we are being showered with falsehoods by Obama and his servants, although I do believe that is what is close to certain.

And I believe that it is close to certain because my instincts tell me strongly that when someone makes strong accusations and provides no believable proof, the accusations are almost certainly false, and, as a matter of principle, they should be regarded as false.

This goes double when the accusations are dressed up in strikingly dishonest language – the kind of language beloved by a lowlife politician like John McCain or a demonstrated reckless-tongued and prejudiced anti-Russian bureaucrat such as James Clapper – language, delivered with theatrically somber tones and faces, about interfering in America’s democracy. Incidentally, intelligence staff’s disgraceful characterization of Assange as a pedophile exactly mimics the empty accusations of sexual perversion old Joseph McCarthy used to level at some of his targets.

Gossip is not interfering in democracy. It is just information people may weigh when they vote, just as valid or not as any other information available. Indeed, its information value to each voter is privately weighed against empty campaign slogans and an avalanche of truly false news provided by an utterly-biased corporate press in the last election. Voters were arguably better informed than in a long time.

What a tiresome circus Washington has become with this matter. All these well-paid officials asserting this or that, carrying on with speeches and committees, and concocting completely unconvincing proof. Meanwhile the nation is absolutely jammed with serious problems receiving no attention. That fact alone tells you more than you may want to know about America’s political establishment.

And all of the circus is because the insanely ambitious Hillary Clinton cannot accept that she is not widely liked and was defeated for that simple reason.

And all because the Democratic Party, married tightly and corruptly to the Clintons as its biggest source of money for years, cannot accept that it ran the wrong candidate.

And all because the Chairman of Hillary’s disastrous campaign, John Podesta, cannot face the embarrassingly stupid fact of his own utter carelessness, his computer password having been “password.”

As Julian Assange has said, a 14-year old could have hacked Podesta’s computer easily. And may we not ask, if what the password guarded was indeed so precious, why wouldn’t this man be considered the chief guilty party for his negligence?

And also, finally, because one of the most disappointing presidents in American history, a man who has failed at most of what he has attempted except at mass killing and displaying extreme arrogance, Obama, viscerally dislikes Vladimir Putin for besting him in Ukraine and in Syria.

He is also miffed and embarrassed that his ridiculous crisscrossing of the country in Air Force One, at public expense for a private purpose, failed to elect Hillary.

He is even further resentful at the lost prospect of being appointed to the Supreme Court by Hillary, something there is every reason to believe she promised him.

As for pretentious appointed hacks like James Clapper, well, the entire history of what I like to call Big Intelligence is littered with their fraudulent claims and failed projects.

There hasn’t been a significant American war in which Big Intelligence didn’t play a role of first concocting “evidence,” the kind of stuff that would be thrown out of any court of law but which serves just fine to assist politicians in temporarily bamboozling the public.

Readers may be interested in the fact of Obama’s unusually cozy relationship with the Pentagon – yes, the Obama of the Peace Prize and people’s 2008 hopes and the big smile and the baritone voice, but also the Obama of all the killing and arrogance and abject failure:

http://chuckmangrotesques.blogspot.ca/2017/01/john-chuckman-grotesques-obama-barack.html

He is their man.

 

 

THE PROFOUND DISAPPOINTMENT OF ANGELA MERKEL

John Chuckman

 

Anyone who says she admires Hillary Clinton, as Angela Merkel has said, plainly invites revulsion if not contempt. The lack of judgment broadcast by such words strikes the mind like a grating noise. Clinton’s record of behavior literally stinks to high heaven, much as a pile of corpses left to rot in the hot sun, and, as it happens, there are a great many rotting corpses in Clinton’s history.

What an immense disappointment Merkel is. Intelligent and well educated with an appealing, fairly benign face, but, wait, am I describing Merkel or, in fact, Obama? It turns out not to matter. They are a pair of malignant soul mates born thousands of miles apart who conspired later in life to bring the world a great deal of unhappiness.

Merkel has been de facto leader of Europe during an extremely challenging period, one demanding real statesmanship. Instead, she has provided attitudes and short-term fixes married to complete acceptance of the most destructive American policies possible. Her policies have alienated large numbers of her own people and, almost more importantly, contributed mightily to the weakening of loyalties in Europe – not a record of which to be proud.

Unfortunately, during the period of her Chancellorship, there have been no other European leaders of stature and ability to balance or oppose her. Absolutely none. Britain had the flabby joke of David Cameron who collapsed his own house of cards through sheer political incompetence. France had the absurd Francois Hollande, an impossibly pompous man with not a single achievement to his credit, a parody of a French President, certainly the worst leader in modern French history.

So, Europe at a time when America put great new stresses and demands upon it for its own selfish reasons had no leadership worth mentioning. All the major figures were content with accommodating America’s harsh and destructive initiatives. Well, I do think there is something to be said for the dictum that history is biography.

Everyone involved has suffered for Merkel’s attitudes and whims. Europe simply could not have done much worse. The press so glibly speaks of the rise of the political Right in Europe and in America, but what we really see on both continents is public reaction to years of blundering policies causing vast misery in many places.

You cannot support America’s destruction of the Middle East without accepting its direct consequences both in massive migrations of terrified people and in the rise of terror by relatively powerless young men wanting revenge for what has been done to them, their families and homes. Yet this is precisely what Angela Merkel has tried to do, trying to avoid inevitable, destructive consequences of stupid acts she has supported. Having never raised her voice against what America was doing, Merkel decided to deal with some of the consequences by playing the grandmotherly figure who welcomes an avalanche of refugees, seemingly not appreciating for a second what that means on the streets of her own country.

No decent person is against organized, peaceful immigration or against giving assistance to desperate refugees. There is an ethical obligation for both as well as some sound economic reasons. But if a truck, set to deliver two hundred gallons of fuel oil to your home’s heating system, pumps instead two thousand gallons, you suddenly have a disturbing, costly, and dangerous situation. The analogy is actually quite inadequate for what has happened in some places with armies of terrified people fleeing America’s imposed-horrors.

Merkel, realizing what her support of America’s destruction in Libya, Syria, and other places has wrought, tried setting the example of a benign figure ready to help everyone, a kind of bonhomie approach to what was a totally-avoidable catastrophe. The impossibility of this should have been seen, but it was not. Too many extremely-different refugees – different in language, customs, religion, wealth, and politics – cannot be absorbed quickly or peacefully by any country, and perhaps that is even more true of relatively old and homogeneous societies such as Germany.

We like to speak of xenophobia with contempt, but in the gritty real lives of vast populations everywhere on the planet, it is a reality just as much as backward religious practices, which cannot be wished away. True xenophobia, indeed, much resembles fundamentalist religion in that it is an expression of superstitious instincts, deeply-rooted instincts whose origins go beyond mere learned behaviors. Just try asking highly religious people to set aside their feelings for completely different newcomers, the example coming to mind of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel and their “take” on others. It is possible only in the imagination.

But xenophobia is only part of the mix, despite the claims of a superficial mainstream press, and I am not just speaking of it. We promote nationalism and national unity in every Western country with flags, anthems, pledges, holiday customs, uniforms, speeches, parades, even laws, and then some leaders seem to expect their people, almost on command, to turn their backs on all the lifelong indoctrination and embrace sudden, great change? It simply cannot be done.

As with anything else you may care to discuss, the time to act is before a great problem or crisis has been created. Preventative health care is no less valuable for nations than it is for individuals. The leaders of Europe should have seen what America’s fanatical crusade was going to do and opposed it, forcefully, before it was started. In doing so, Europe would have been strengthened instead of diminished as it has been., to say nothing of preventing the death and maiming of millions in the Middle East. Instead they quietly supported it and even donated resources to the insane efforts of America’s Grande Armée in the Middle East.

Merkel’s contribution to disaster goes further, to her relations with one of the planet’s genuine madman-leaders, Netanyahu. She has been selling him sophisticated submarines at knock-down prices for years. Only recently they agreed to three more of them in a deal which has Netanyahu being examined in Israel for criminal activity. I think it fair to ask, too, why a sardine-sized country needs a fleet of sophisticated submarines, some or all of which are widely rumored to be outfitted with nuclear-armed cruise missiles? Does that make sense to anyone other than Merkel, Netanyahu, Clinton, and Obama?  Does that contribute to stability in the Middle East? And why doesn’t the excruciating injustice of Israel’s occupation and regular theft of land enter into considerations?

Germany’s taking a million refugees is roughly equivalent to America’s taking four million. It does not take a great imagination to see what the results of such a massive, short-term influx would be. Moreover, never mind Donald Trump, there has been no American government, ever, willing to accept such numbers at one time. Indeed, had America’s recent governments demonstrated the slightest sense of responsibility for what they had caused, they would have taken extraordinary steps for the refugees, but they did not. Instead, they encouraged measures like Merkel’s response, which, in terms of total numbers involved in the human catastrophe, is necessarily pathetic.

But, if you read enough history, you will know it has always been part of the American government’s character to do what as it pleases in the world with little or no regard for the consequences, so long as those consequences are on foreign shores. It is an attitude bred in a people who too often feel they can have it all and have it now and a people who have the illusion, generated both in commercial advertising and in fundamentalist Christianity, of endless youth with all its happy irresponsibility. It is something which actually marks America as especially unsuitable for enlightened world leadership, while it is the very quality demonic figures such as Kissinger or Brzezinski regarded as useful to their twisted international purposes.

Merkel quickly learned what she had done was a terrible political mistake. Consequences were quick, so she backtracked, never a dignified behavior for a national leader. But more than that, Merkel, realizing what the consequences might be of a few million more refugees temporarily encamped in Turkey continuing on into Europe, was quick to strike a deal with another of our planet’s most unscrupulous and dangerous leaders, the madman who rules Turkey, Erdogan. She agreed to pay him several billion Euros to keep the refugees in their massive Turkish camps.

This was not just a highly unethical deal, it should have been seen for the ongoing danger it represented, especially in view of Europe’s general relations with Erdogan and its confused efforts to deal with his many demands, ranging from visa-free travel in Europe for Turks to full membership in the EU. Again, American policy had created a huge problem by treating Turkey, an undemocratic country with limited respect for human rights and one for some years ruled by a madman, as an indispensable ally against Russia, so the EU to this day feels it must accommodate that ugly reality in all its policies.

Obviously, a country in the state we see in Turkey – constant war and terror against the Kurds, serious government suppression of free speech and activities, assassinations, widespread Muslim fundamentalism, and now new waves of repression following a failed coup – is in no shape to qualify for EU membership under the EU’s own requirements, which at least struggle to be faithful to Enlightenment principles.

Erdogan, never one to be shy about what he wants, has already threatened publicly to “open the gates” if the EU does not proceed in treating his demands appropriately. So, Merkel’s dirty deal with the devil is seriously threatened and becomes just one more source of uncertainty and instability. It is not a promising situation.

I believe Merkel was permanently scarred by growing up in East Germany and likely harbors both inordinate fear of Russia and slavish admiration for America, neither attitude being warranted in the least today. Her mental landscape possibly includes images of Andropov versus Jimmy Stewart, but policy built on fantasy and fears is bad policy, always.

The Bush-Obama years have been, in so far as foreign policy goes, about as stupidly and blunderingly destructive as Lyndon Johnson’s bull-headed insistence on fighting a major war in Vietnam. Johnson ended by killing about 3 million people, generating instability and misery, dividing America itself, and achieving nothing worth achieving. Bush-Obama have killed at least a couple of million, generated instability and misery, divided the countries of Europe, also achieving nothing worth achieving. There is not one part of the vast sphere America has arrogantly viewed as its area of influence that has not been made worse by Bush-Obama policies.

Mass killing, mass destruction of old societies and cities, induced-coups, threats, fears, torture, the creation of huge and desperate human movements, promotion and reward of terror as a covert policy tool, the decline everywhere in the rule of law, extra-judicial killing on an organized scale, a huge erosion in respect for international institutions like the now much-debased UN, an endless and confusing patchwork of lies told about terrible events – all while ignoring genuinely terrible situations like those in Palestine or in Saudi Arabia or in Turkey.

Apart from the horrors Merkel has implicitly or explicitly embraced and apart from the anger and disruptions and economic hardship her embrace has meant for Europe – America’s arbitrary and unwarranted sanctions against Russia have cost the German and French economies literally billions which America smilingly allows them to pay –  one look at a map of Europe tells you just part of the reason why her views are so utterly counter-productive.

For scores of reasons, the future of Europe is in a cooperative and close relationship with Russia. It just cannot be otherwise, although, if you are determined to waste enough resources, impoverishing to some degree your own people through decreased trade and increased military waste, you can hold the inevitable off for quite a while. Look at America’s ten years of sheer insanity in Vietnam if you doubt for a moment that it is possible for a great country to do absolutely pointless and insanely costly things. Well, another insane and costly crusade is exactly the course America has been on in recent years, and leaders like Merkel have served as the most willing helpers in the task.

Obama and his political associate, Hillary Clinton, are total failures as figures of principle and as leaders, and Merkel very much resembles them, even down to the pathetic recent appeal she is using with German voters in anticipation of 2017 elections. She has imported wholesale Hillary’s squalid, 1950s-style claim that Russia threatens the integrity of elections, her empty claims being just an effort to stoke-up fears to get what she wants.

And then there are the remarkably empty and pretentious words she wrote in her official letter to President-elect Trump:

“Germany and America are united by shared values: through democracy, freedom, respect for the right and dignity of every individual, irrespective of origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political attitude. On the basis of these values, I would like to offer you a close cooperation between the governments of our countries.”

No clear-thinking person can accept such words as anything but hypocritical establishment claptrap – the kind of phony stuff just rejected by the American people. There is not a sincere phrase contained in the paragraph, just an arrogant assumption of moral loftiness and a presumption of setting standards for future relations. Can any thoughtful reader not sense almost an insult in the words? Insufferable stuff coming, as it does, from someone who never lifted a finger, except to assist, in the killing of tens of thousands of women and their families in half a dozen lands.

Trump will not do everything right, I know, but Merkel has done almost nothing right, much as her admired friends, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

 

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS ELECTION?

 

John Chuckman

 

Brushing away the extreme claims and rhetoric of much election analysis, there are some observations which deserve attention. These unfortunately mostly provide hard lessons and not a lot of encouragement for people who hold to principles of democracy, enlightenment, and progressivity.

The election demonstrated perhaps better than ever, and better than has been generally been recognized, that American is, indeed, a plutocracy. It took a genuine American Oligarch, a multi-billionaire, a man with a lifetime’s economic empire-building, to defeat a family which could provide the very definition of being politically well-connected, a family which had laboriously constructed and carefully maintained a kind of deep well ever-flowing with money for their ambitions.

It was the ever-flowing well of money, drilled by Bill Clinton with help from some extremely shady friends, such as Jeffrey Epstein, that made the Clintons keystone establishment figures in the Democratic Party. It was not personal charm or exceptional political generalship – although Bill, in his heyday, displayed some of both of those – that earned the Clintons their place, it was the money, the “mother’s milk of politics.” In what is euphemistically called “fund raising,” many hundreds of millions of dollars were provided for the party over the last couple of decades by Bill Clinton’s efforts.

Hillary fully appreciated the fact that money buys power and influence. She lacked Bill’s superficial charm, but she certainly more than shared his ambition.  On the charm front, when she was ready to move into running for office, she adopted, perhaps under Bill’s tutelage, a kind of forced clown face with arched eyebrows, bugged-out eyes, and a smile as big as her lips would allow, and these expressions were accompanied by little gestures such as briefly pointing to various on-lookers or waving helter-skelter whenever she campaigned.

Her gestures reminded me of something you might see atop a float in a Christmas Parade or of the late Harpo Marx at his most exuberant. These were not natural for her. They were never in evidence years ago when she spent years as a kind of bizarre executive housewife, both in a governor’s mansion and later in the White House, bizarre because she indulged her husband’s non-stop predatory sexual behavior in exchange for the immense power it conferred on her behind the scenes over her far more out-going and successful politician-husband.

Anyway, Hillary knew that gestures and simulated charm do not get you far in American politics. She determined to build a political war chest long ago, and there are many indications over the years of her working towards this end of making this or that change in expressed view, as when running for the Senate, when sources of big money suggested another view would more acceptable. She was anything but constant in the views she embraced because when she ran for the Senate she spent record amounts of money, embarrassingly large amounts.

In her years of speaking engagements, she aimed at special interests who could supply potentially far more money than just exorbitant speaking fees. Later, in the influential, appointed post of Secretary of State – coming, as it does, into personal contact with every head of government or moneyed, big-time international schemer – she unquestionably played an aggressive “pay for play” with them all. Covering up that embarrassing and illegal fact is what the private servers and unauthorized smart phones were all about.

A second big fact of the election is that both major American political parties are rather sick and fading. The Republican Party has been broken for a very long time. It hobbled along for some decades with the help of various gimmicks, hoping to expand its constituency with rubbish like “family values,” public prayer and catering to the Christian Right, and anti-flag burning Constitutional amendments, and now it is truly out of gas. That is precisely why a political outsider like Oligarch Trump could manage to hi-jack the party.

He was opposed by tired, boring men like Jeb Bush, seeking to secure an almost inherited presidency, and a dark, intensely unlikable, phony Christian fundamentalist like Ted Cruz, and it proved to be no contest. It was a remarkable political achievement, but I think it was only possible given the sorry state of the party.

The Republican Party had been given a breather, some new life, by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He had an extremely mixed record as President, but he was popular, held in some affection, and did have a clear vision, but his effect on the party was not lasting. Trump could be seen as another Reagan, but I think the comparison is superficial. Trump literally hi-jacked the party, and he was not deliriously crowned by its establishment.

The Republican Party itself was formed not long before Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy out of the remains of worn out and collapsed predecessors, including the Whigs and Free-Soil Democrats. Parties do not last forever, and here was Trump creating something of a minor political revolution inside a tired and fairly directionless old party, a phenomenon which I do not think was sufficiently noticed.

The press was too busy attacking him from the start to take notice or do any intelligent analysis, and he was attacked precisely for the potential damage to the establishment he represented. His most promising quality is his potential for creating a new coalition of interests and one excluding the continuation of the Neocon Wars Hillary vigorously embraced and would expand.

But the Democratic Party is in serious trouble, too. It has a great deal of internal rot, as the Wiki-Leaks material from the DNC clearly shows us. Arrogance, lack of direction, ignorance of the people it has always claimed to serve, bad decision-making, and the absolute prostrate worship of money are the major symptoms.

It would have been impossible for the party to have so made up its mind and committed its resources to Hillary Clinton without serious rot. She has always had strong negatives in polling, always been (rightly) suspected concerning her honesty.

The Wiki-Leaks material tells us about many internal conflicts, including harsh high-level judgments of Hillary’s decision-making, resentment over the back-stabbing character of daughter Chelsea who is said to resemble Hillary in her behavior and attitudes, and the belief of some that Hillary just should not have run. And, frankly, she had become for many a rather tiresome, used-up figure from whom absolutely nothing spectacular in politics or policy could possibly be expected. But they not only blindly supported her, they broke all their own party rules by internally and secretly working to defeat a legitimate and viable contender, Bernie Sanders.

Sanders might well have been able to win the election for the Democrats, but their establishment was blind to the possibility and rejected his candidacy out-of-hand. After all, there were Bill and Hillary beckoning to their running well of money. In hindsight, it might be just as well that Sanders was cheated out of the nomination. He proved a weak individual in the end, giving in to just the forces he had claimed to oppose and leaving his enthusiastic followers completely let down. He may well even have been secretly bribed by money from the Clintons since he bought a fairly expensive property not long afterward. But, in any event, there he was, out on the hustings, supporting everything he ever opposed personified in Hillary Clinton. Men of that nature do not stand up well to Generals and Admirals and the heads of massive corporations, a quality which I do think we have some right to expect Trump to display.

Another important fact about the election is that it was less the triumph of Trump than the avoidance of Hillary that caused the defeat. The numbers are unmistakable. Yes, Trump did well for a political newcomer and a very controversial figure, but Hillary simply did badly, not approaching the support Obama achieved in key states, again something reflecting the documented fact that she is not a well-liked figure and the Party blundered badly in running her. But again, money talks, and the Clintons, particularly Bill, are the biggest fundraisers they have had in our lifetime. No one was ready to say no to the source of all that money.

Now, to many Americans, the election result must seem a bit like having experienced something of a revolution, although a revolution conducted through ballots, any other kind being literally impossible by design in this massive military-security state.  In a way, it does represent something of a revolutionary event, owing to the fact that Trump the Oligarch is in his political views a bit of a revolutionary or at least a dissenter from the prevailing establishment views. And, as in any revolution, even a small one, there are going to be some unpleasant outcomes.

The historical truth of politics is that you never know from just what surprising source change may come. Lyndon Johnson, life-long crooked politician and the main author of the horrifying and pointless Vietnam War, did more for the rights of black Americans than any other modern president. Franklin Roosevelt, son of wealthy establishment figures, provided remarkable leadership in the Great Depression, restoring hopes and dreams for millions. Change, important, change, never comes from establishments or institutions like political parties. It always comes from unusual people who seem to step out of their accustomed roles in life with some good or inspired ideas and have the drive and toughness to make them a reality.

I have some limited but important hopes for Trump. I am not blind or delirious expecting miracles from this unusual person, and after the experience of Obama, who seemed such a promising young figure but fairly quickly proved a crushing, bloody disappointment, I can never build up substantial hopes for any politician. And what was the choice anyway? Hillary Clinton was a bought-and-paid one-way ticket to hell.

Trump offers two areas of some hope, and these both represent real change. The first is in reducing America’s close to out-of-control military aggressiveness abroad. This aggressiveness, reflecting momentum from what can only be called the Cheney-Rumsfeld Presidency, continued and grew under the weak and ineffectual leadership of Obama and was boosted and encouraged by Hillary as Secretary of State. Hillary, the feminists who weep for her should be reminded, did a lot of killing during her tenure. She along with Obama are literally responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of women and their families, many of them literally torn apart by bombs.

The other area of some hope is for the welfare of ordinary American people themselves who have been completely ignored by national leaders for decades. George Bush’s lame reaction to Hurricane Katrina (before he was internationally shamed into some action) has become the normal pattern for America’s national government when it comes to ordinary Americans.

The truth is that the legacy of FDR has withered to nothing and no longer plays any role in the Democratic Party, and of course never did in the Republican Party. By welfare, I do not mean the kind of state assistance that Bill Clinton himself worked to end. Nothing can impress someone not familiar with America’s dark corners more than a visit to places like Detroit or Gary or Chicago’s South Side, parts of New Orleans, or Newark or dozens of other places where Americans live in conditions in every way comparable to Third World hellholes. No, I mean the people’s general well-being. Trump’s approach will be through jobs and creating incentives for jobs. I don’t know whether he can succeed, but, just as he asked people in some of his speeches, “What do you have to lose?” Just having someone in power who pays any attention to the “deplorables” is a small gain.

People should never think of the Clintons as liberal or progressive, and that was just as much true for Bill as it is for Hillary. His record as President – apart from his embarrassing behavior in the Oval Office with a young female intern and his recruitment of Secret Service guards as procurers for women he found attractive on his morning runs – was actually pretty appalling. He, in his own words, “ended welfare as we know it.” He signed legislation which would send large numbers of young black men to prison. He also signed legislation which contributed to the country’s later financial collapse under George Bush. He often would appoint someone decent and then quickly back off, leaving them dangling, when it looked like approval for the appointment would not be coming. His FBI conducted the assault on Waco, killing about eighty people needlessly. A pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was destroyed by cruise missiles for no good reason. There were a number of scandals, including the suicide of Vince Foster and the so-called Travelgate affair, which were never fully explained to the public. It was his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who answered, unblinkingly, a television interviewer’s question about tens of thousands of Iraqi children who died owing to America’s embargo, “We think it’s worth it.”  He committed the war crime of bombing Belgrade. When news of the horrors of the Rwanda genocide were first detected by his government, the order secretly went out to shut up about it. No effort was made to intervene.

No, any real change in America could never come from people like the Clintons, either one of them.

 

AMERICA DESERVES BETTER, BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE WORLD DESERVES BETTER

 

John Chuckman

 

The one verity going into the first presidential debate, not widely recognized, was that it did not matter how Clinton managed and what she said, although a collapse on the stage clearly would have been a decisive-enough matter.

Her comportment or responses did not matter precisely because she has a record, a long and detailed political record which absolutely tells us the kind of leader she has been and will continue to be, although, given that the position at the very top of the political pile allows more latitude for a person’s attitudes, biases, and quirks, one might reasonably expect an even more extreme version of the unpleasant past.

Clinton could no more change what she has been than she could change the size of her shoe. As a politician, she is fixed in amber much as a prehistoric dragonfly.

Extreme precautions were taken against her fainting or having a spastic event or coughing seizure or having her eye wobble – all of which have previously been observed in her deliberately limited number of public appearances and all of which are solid evidence of a sickness she dishonestly hides from us. She was even ushered in and out of the building through a kind of temporary, custom-built tunnel with Secret Service agents using special lights so that no might photograph another sudden episode. I’m certain for the debate proper she was pumped with enough drugs to raise a corpse temporarily to life.

Clinton will be Clinton no matter the debating points, and Clinton represents the very darkest heart of a governing establishment many Americans and most of the world are simply sick of, an unresponsive group of privileged people who lie consistently and squander resources doing horrible things. They bomb and destroy and support tyrants in a dozen places, always lying about what they are doing, and they take no interest in the sheer lack of justice and decency at home, unless you count their token words at election time. There is no more perfect representative of this pattern of behavior than Hillary Clinton.

And it was Trump’s task to make that clear to listeners, but he did not do so, and he left the unattractive impression of someone offering nothing new beyond some corporate tax cuts and rental fees for NATO members.

From the viewpoint of those desperate for change, Trump’s debate performance was disheartening. From cybersecurity to ISIS and America’s financial meltdown to Russia, Clinton said things which opened her to the most devastating responses and revealed her inability to anticipate the consequences of pat generalizations, but the responses never came.

She should have been pinned to the backdrop, much like an insect being pinned to a display board in an entomology collection, with reminders of her actual record as well as that of her husband, a dark and questionable figure whom she insisted on dragging in, much like a proud cat entering the house with a nasty-looking dead bird in its mouth. Trump seemed flat on his feet.

And, it must be mentioned, we have a photo of Hillary showing quite clearly she was wearing a communications device similar to what George Bush wore some years ago. I don’t know why the debates are not free of such gimmickry, but clearly they are not. (See footnote)

On the economy, Trump statements were truly disheartening. He has said a couple of pretty interesting things on the campaign trail, especially in his Michigan speech directed to black Americans, but in the debate what we heard was tired old stuff, re-tread notions dating back to Reagan or before, about corporate tax cuts and little else.

On the topic of foreign affairs, a desperate subject and the one area of his greatest hope for many, he said surprisingly little. And how could you help but be disappointed when, out of this vast topic, he chose to mention his meeting with the leader of one of the world’s smallest countries, one designated by the United Nations as having the world’s worst human rights record, and called the bloody man by his affectionate nickname?

Even on the causes of the financial collapse of 2008, Clinton spoke vague nonsense and reflected on Bill’s illusory economic achievements when in office. Well, Trump should have said that some of Bill’s own work contributed, with a time lag, to the 2008 mess. He should also have said that Bush’s lackadaisical attitude towards good regulation, much resembling his attitude and response to Hurricane Katrina, had a direct effect on the financial disaster. And he certainly should have said that Obama, Clinton’s direct boss and political supporter, has in eight years done nothing to correct the regulatory disorder. He told the ugly truth that Obama had done nothing but print money to keep the economy afloat, but he did not articulate it or its implications forcefully, and that should have been his territory.

But what he should have said most of all was that government does not make the economy, a lot of people, including Hillary, talking as though the Oval Office had almost a set of start and go levers for the economy which, if used by an appropriate leader, made things hum. That is a genuinely silly but persistent idea, and it is really time for the American people to have this quasi-religious myth laid to rest. She certainly believes this nonsense as demonstrated by references to her husband’s past success and by her unwelcome and repulsive promise, a while back, to put “Bill in charge of the economy” when she is elected.

Government’s real role is to maintain a national environment favorable to economic activity with fair regulation and taxation and avoidance of frivolous or vexatious legislation, and it must avoid totally counterproductive burdens like wars. It must also avoid favoritism and special interests. It must do what is necessary maintain the nation’s essential infrastructure from roads and bridges to broadband and airports. And it must assure that education and justice flourish. But the American government for years has done none of these things, and that is what exhausts the American people and much of the world.

Endless, unbelievably costly wars, crumbling infrastructure, injustices to be seen in every corner of the land, poor schools in ten thousand places, poor drinking water, the dominance of special interests and favoritism in government, and more. These are built-in weaknesses, not only impairing the lives of millions of citizens but leading to decline. Changing that is what good government is about, and it what people hope for from any candidate who beats the Clinton we all know so tiresomely well.

A good friend, in discussing my disappointment with the debate, did offer an interesting perspective, saying that Trump might have said just enough in generalities to buoy his supporters and would-be supporters, who of course do not all think in the same terms or expect the same details. I hope so. What this world needs more anything is an American leader who is not Clinton, a woman who was recorded saying about the destruction of Libya she helped engineer and direct as Secretary of State and about the assassination of a decent leader who kept his country out of war and supplied his people with everything from free health care to education, “We came, we saw, he died. Ha, ha, ha!”

We indeed have little to lose in giving someone a chance to start at least a few things over again. I am not even certain that is possible, given the heavy shadow of America’s massive, unelected security and military establishments, but it is worth a try. In terms of the hundreds of thousands killed and countries torn apart under Obama and Clinton, the world has a great deal to gain by some change.

And if that is not possible under the American political system, I think the genuinely dark thing America has become, an immensely well-armed bully and thief who lies about every act, is what we are all fated to suffer under until its eventual and inevitable decline. It is the Obamas and Clintons – pretending to liberalism while expending their total energy on killing and destabilizing and pushing others around in hopes of custom-molding the lives of the planet’s many peoples, an activity much resembling the way a psychopath toys with victims before killing them – that quite possibly will bring us to a nuclear holocaust with Russia and/or China.

 

FOOTNOTE: See: http://investmentwatchblog.com/nteb-exclusive-hidden-wires-and-mechanism-of-some-kind-clearly-seen-under-hillarys-jacket/

 

WHY HILLARY IS THE PERFECT PERSON TO SECURE OBAMA’S LEGACY

 

John Chuckman

 

I read a piece that said Hillary, with her speech about racism and extremists taking over the Republican Party, was making a play for a one-party state. That seems rather an exaggeration, but it does contain an important bit of truth. I do indeed believe Hillary thinks along the lines of a one-party state as suggested, but without ever saying so directly, and she is not focused on the particular political party with which she is now associated.

Hillary stands for the establishment, and her views appear to include the idea that anyone without attachment to that establishment is to be designated as a kind of “plebe,” as in 1984, or even “untouchable,” as in the old Indian caste system. That’s the approach that she took in her “racism” speech. It is, if you will, very much a one-party approach to politics as well as an implicitly anti-democratic one.

And, of course, it represents a truly super-arrogant attitude.

But isn’t that the natural inclination of all tyrant temperaments? And there is every indication in Hillary’s past acts and words of a tyrant’s temperament.

Her views on the military and on a long history of events from the FBI Waco massacre (she advocated for aggressive FBI action to get the event out of the headlines) and the bombing of Belgrade (which she advocated privately to her husband) to the invasion of Iraq (which she supported as a Senator) and the death of Libya’s Gadhafi (there’s her infamous, “We came, we saw, he died. Ha, ha, ha,” quote as Secretary of State) to the employment of paid terrorists and poison gas in Syria (an operation she oversaw as Secretary of State), could provide a good working definition of a tyrant’s temperament.

And just look at her close friends and associates in, or formerly in, government, people like Victoria Nuland or Madeleine Albright, extreme Neocon advocates for violence and America’s right to dictate how others should live. Madelaine Albright is best remembered for answering a journalist in an interview, when questioned about tens of thousands of Iraqi children dying in America’s embargo, “We think it’s worth it.” She is also remembered for her dirty, behind-the-scenes work in dumping as Secretary General of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a highly intelligent, fair-minded, and decent man who just happened to disagree with the United States once too often. Victoria Nuland’s claims to fame include being recorded talking about America’s spending $5 billion to create the coup in Ukraine. There is also her wonderfully diplomatic quote, “Fuck Europe,” and a seemingly endless stream of photos of her scowling into cameras.

And the same temperament is revealed in her record of “I know better than the expert`” when it comes to matters such as a Secretary of State’s protocols around computer security. Again, her record as First Lady with the Secret Service agents assigned to her protection was so unpleasantly arrogant that there is a residual of ill will still towards her in the Secret Service, enough to cause a number of past agents to tell tales out of school to journalists and in books.

Hillary likes to use language in public speeches which puts her “on the side of the angels” where various social issues are concerned, but it is entirely an advertising campaign of no substance, much resembling the big, clown-like or grimacing smiles she puts on at public events. Many mistakenly associate her with the historic traditions of the liberal left in the older Democratic Party, the kind of traditions Bernie Sanders brought momentarily flickering back to life, although they are in reality now virtually dead in the Democratic Party. Her actual record of behavior, as opposed to her “sound bites” and slogans, just cannot support that view of her as a liberal or progressive light.

Just to start, Hillary conducted the most corrupt campaign against Bernie Sanders I can recall in my adult lifetime. It included an inappropriate insider relationship with the Chairman of the Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who used every opportunity with the press and other means to disadvantage Bernie Sanders. It included voter suppression in a number of states as well as outright vote fraud in a number of others. Academic statistical analysis of the primaries’ data suggests that Bernie Sanders in fact won the nomination.

Search as you might, you will not find a history of Hillary actually being involved, beyond uttering slogans every so often, with social issues. She has no record at all. But her history does very much include such acts as being fired from her early job as a Watergate Committee lawyer for unethical behavior (the man who fired the young lawyer still has his contemporary notes of the event) and, in an early volunteer case, grinding down a 12-year old rape victim about fanaticizing over older men and getting her brutal 42-year old attacker freed, smiling in an interview later that she in fact knew he was guilty.

There is literally a line of women who were her predator husband’s lovers at one time or another who say that Hillary afterwards approached them with threats about keeping their mouths shut. And, perhaps her single clearest achievement on social issues, is her record of enabling her husband to carry on with a convicted pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, who lives on a private island and keeps a stable of underage girls for the use of visitors. He is a very wealthy man with wealthy friends and arranges large political contributions, so he receives visitors such as Bill. Epstein actually once claimed he co-founded the Clinton Foundation, and he and associates have made large donations, tens of millions. We have a documented record of 28 trips to the island by Bill, and there is no way on earth Hillary wouldn’t know about them. Just as there is no way she could not know about important developments with the Clinton Foundation. She implicitly approved of the relationship with her often seen money-before-morals attitude.

Her husband’s office-leaving pardon of Marc Rich is often regarded as corrupt and having been paid for by Mr. Rich’s family and friends who donated large and continuing sums over time. Mr. Rich had been indicted in New York for tax evasion and fraud, but perhaps the outstanding aspect of his career, as it relates to Hillary and her slogans about social issues, is the way he made a considerable part of his fortune. He smuggled oil to the apartheid government of South Africa over time against international sanctions, and he is said to have made $2 billion doing so. Well, it does seem more than a little hypocritical to have supported a pardon for this man and then today to be giving speeches on someone else’s purported racism, and even to have been photographed, with toe-scrunching smarminess, eating fried chicken with a group of black voters.

We also have the fact of her talking, quite fiercely and recorded on video, about black “super-predators” when she was First Lady. Her husband signed legislation which likely put more young black males in prison than any other piece of legislation. Bill also bragged, as he signed another bill, of ending “welfare as we know it,” again legislation which hit poor black people hard. And, in all these acts, we know he had Hillary’s support. By a great many reports, Bill Clinton never dared do anything major of which his wife disapproved. With his years of flagrant sexual adventures and his need, on more than one political occasion, for her public lies of support when he was caught out, she had a virtual hammer over his head. Besides, Hillary has always regarded herself as having considerable acumen in such policy matters, and hers is a personality type you do not comfortably ignore.

In terms of pure competence, despite her assuming a public air of swaggering competence, her record is simply meagre to poor. We can return to that early instance, her dismissal from the Watergate Investigation for what her boss called unethical conduct and lying. Later, as First Lady, she took over the healthcare portfolio from her husband, the President, with unprecedented arrogance for an unelected person and one holding no formal appointment to office, and she failed badly in the complicated task.

As a Senator from New York, her eight-year record is remarkably undistinguished. Only three bills she sponsored became law, a bill to rename a highway, a bill to re-name a post office building, and a bill to designate a house as a national historic site. As Secretary of State, she of course ran the Benghazi operation which saw an American Ambassador and others killed, and her handling of the families of the dead afterwards, as the bodies were returned, echoes to this day with insensitivity and even brutality. She is deeply resented by family members and accused of lying.

I do believe it would be a difficult task to come up with a more fitting candidate than Hillary Clinton for carrying on the Obama legacy, a legacy of killing in a half dozen lands on behalf of America’s establishment, lying daily, and leaving your own people, the people who elected you with great hopes more than seven years ago, with nothing.

 

THE CASE FOR DONALD TRUMP

 

John Chuckman

 

Anyone who knows my writing and background knows I am not a conservative and certainly have little use for the right wing anywhere.

But they will also know that I despise war and that I believe America’s establishment has brought moral degradation to the country’s international affairs. It has also brought degradation to America’s own people, completely ignoring their welfare for decades, regarding them only as a herd from which to solicit votes with television advertising and from whom to collect taxes.

America’s establishment – as, for example, represented by the Senate, its most powerful and anti-democratic tool in government – is almost indistinguishable from members of the old Politburo in the heyday of the USSR. Crinkly faces, heavy-set bodies, more money than they can spend, dripping with special privileges, enjoying limitless terms of office, but enjoying no ability to say anything fresh or interesting or helpful, ever.

So, too, the arrogant, almost unchecked power of America’s massive security and military establishments. Almost the only sounds coming from them, including even retired members looking for fifteen minutes of media fame, are ugly threats about Russia or Syria or Iran or a number of other places in this world. They function like a powerful Mafia with arms and assistance to mercenary trash and fanatics as well as to the privileged trash of absolute monarchies in a dozen different places. And they function as a Murder Incorporated with their organized extrajudicial executions and bombings in many lands.

America’s establishment, either directly using “the boyz” or with proxies, has likely killed two million people in the last fifteen years or so of the Neocon Wars. It has virtually destroyed several states and societies, and it has sent millions running for their lives as refugees, effectively de-stabilizing the foundations of Europe.

There are two major impacts of this dirty work, if you choose to ignore the sheer mass killing and destruction. First, what we call ‘international terror” is in fact the illegitimate child of these efforts. It is a result of many young men with limited means trying to protect, as young men tend to do everywhere and always, their own kind from the horrors being visited upon them. It has nothing to do with the nature of Islam. After all, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin were all brought up in Christian churches, and millions of Christian young men have gone to fight in bloody, unholy causes in countless places over the centuries.

International terror was also fostered by the government’s own use of such groups in the Neocon Wars. The Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, some of whose members were every bit as bloody and extreme as the Taleban, was used to fight the Taleban, minimizing American casualties. That success gave a model to repeat. America again used and supplied cutthroats in Libya to get rid of a decent and reasonable ruler it did not like. It did the same in the aftermath of the colossal horror its own troops made in the original invasion of Iraq. And it does so today in the beautiful land of Syria. The arrogance, ruthlessness, and immorality of these acts are breathtaking.

Second, these wars have produced the greatest refugee crisis of our time. Waves and waves of desperate people running for their lives have smashed through organized border control in many places. There have been an estimated six million refugees from Syria alone. About three million sit in camps in Turkey, and they could be released gradually by a Turkish government angry over an American-engineered coup if Europe doesn’t pay for their support as promised by Germany’s Mrs. Merkel.  About a million and a half are in poor little Lebanon. Europe has close to de-stabilized itself politically by accepting a million or more. This is completely the doing of America’s vicious policy in Syria, and no European leaders or others have had the courage to speak up about it. It could all have been prevented, but any European speaking out would only have received serious economic or other threats behind the scenes.

The Neocon Wars have been the greatest moral and ethical disaster of the modern era, and they have achieved nothing worth achieving.

Months ago, when Trump started his run for the nomination, a sudden rumbling noise of opposition became apparent. The most vociferous voices and most extreme words suddenly came from the Neocon crowd. People like William Kristol became extremely active. Some other, lesser known figures, in unprecedented and vitriolic language, actually used the word “assassination.” Now, none of these people are known for deep humanitarianism or concern over social issues, as with migration issues, so their intense opposition became a bit of a mystery. It became clear, in view of Trump statements around war, the mess made of the Middle East, Syria, and relations with Russia, that Trump was hated for his views on war by the nation’s most powerful and entrenched war lobby. That fact made me listen to Trump more carefully.

Meanwhile, the people of the United States have been lied to through the entire Neocon War effort, and they have been subjected to many deliberate scares and non-stop press promotion to keep them on edge for what the establishment has been doing. They also have had their privacy secretly destroyed by an arrogant government which never explains anything.

The government doing these things, at the same time, has completely ignored the economic lives of Americans. Real incomes have dropped for decades, cities have rotted into vast slums in some cases, corporate jobs have been transferred offshore on a massive scale, many schools are in poor shape across the nation, and their own government cannot provide a rational healthcare system for them, Obamacare being a poorly designed creation which is already failing. The middle class is in decline by every measure, median family income has fallen steadily, the hopelessly poor are on the increase with an explosion in food stamps, home ownership levels are in decline, student debt has exploded, and labor force participation has only declined.

Lack of adequate government regulation and oversight literally created the 2008 financial disaster – much in the fashion of the hideous George Bush’s response to hurricane Katrina – and this leaves a gigantic threat overhanging the lives of hundreds of millions. Obama has made no effort at repairing the structural and regulatory mess responsible, and all he has done to keep things somewhat steady is to print money – a la Weimar Germany – for eight years, creating yet another threat overhanging the future.

Obama has not only kept the Neocon Wars going, he has expanded them and introduced an entire new establishment for extrajudicial killing, differing in no way other than in its technology from the filthy work of the Argentine military junta of the 1980s. The Pentagon and CIA today receive and consume unholy amounts of resources so that they can kill, plot coups, and de-stabilize others while millions of Americans are not provided with decent schools or the most basic public services such as clean drinking water.

No one can solve all these problems, and I certainly think it would be foolish to expect that Trump can, but I am confident that he can make an important contribution. America’s priorities need re-ordering, and it needs to extricate itself from the bloody lunatic adventures of the Neocon Wars.

And, while I at first expected nothing special from Trump on the domestic front, his recent speech in Michigan ranks as a great one. As a child of the Midwest, I can tell you everything he said to black people was deadly accurate. And courageous. Professional politicians are afraid to speak the truth. If you want to see what he was talking about, look for images of the South Side of Chicago or Detroit, Michigan, or Gary, Indiana, on the Internet. Many Americans never see such places in their own country. There are sights as appalling as one sees from war zones in the news, and no one in government lifts a finger to help. Any effort here would be a blessing, and if Trump could carry it off to any degree, he might well be proved right in his speech’s claim, that in future, he’ll get 95% of black votes and “What in the hell do you have to lose?”

As an old saying goes, you must pick your battles, and nowhere is this truer than in politics. Candidates, in the language of economics, always represent a bundle of goods, not all of which will be attractive to any voter. When you choose a candidate, you always get goods you don’t want along with those you do. It much resembles what happens when you buy an album of music to get certain songs.

Politics, being quite rightly described by Bismarck as “the art of the possible,” is an institution you must not look to solve or correct everything, but if you can get a few important things right, you are doing well. The politicians, supported by manipulative media flacks, try to endear themselves to many kinds of voters with cheap sound bites or suggestive statements, none of which are in any way specific. They are trying to assemble a virtual bundle of goods that will be bought by a majority. If elected, they go on to do as other powerful forces would have them do, never having to deliver on what were mere, fleeting suggestive statements.

It will take a mighty tough and determined leader to achieve any progress with America’s miserable problems. We all see how the man who looked decent and intelligent and caring eight years ago has been totally flattened by the establishment. He resembles Rachel Corrie after being backed over by an Israeli bulldozer. We may just have been deceived by his manner in 2008, not realizing the smile was the smile of a charming psychopath, but I am inclined to think he was simply overwhelmed by the rooms full of arrogant, be-tinseled generals, intelligence executives, fat with privilege and resources, and extremely powerful and arrogant special interests.

Trump has the merit of being a very tough-minded man who has dealt for decades with powerful people to get what he wants, and he has made billions doing it. He is no mere respecter of title or position, but a man who judges by what you actually can do. By comparison, Obama appears a weak figure next to such people, and so he has proved. He leaves office having achieved the status of a smiling mass killer. He has done not a single worthwhile thing for his own people.

And that is the so-called legacy Hillary Clinton is there to preserve and extend. This is a woman who has done little besides take huge amounts of money from many powerful people for years, special interests and ugly foreign governments. It is all packed into a foundation, treated but not functioning as a charity. It happens to function as a giant political slush fund, a money-laundering scheme for questionable funds, and a source of employment for relatives and friends. She starts on day one, as it were, as a completely bought-and-sold figure many times over.

I think no story better sums up these personal qualities of Hillary’s than one found in her recently released tax records. She apparently made “charitable” donations last year of about $1,0040,000, which at first glance sounds vaguely impressive. Then you read that $1,000,000 of that was in donations to her own the Clinton Foundation. It just doesn’t come more corrupt than that.

This also is the woman who, as Secretary of State, ran America’s filthy operation out of Benghazi that collected weapons from prostrated Libya – prostrated by American bombs and American-paid terrorists – plus boatloads of maniac fanatics to send to Turkey for transshipment into Syria. The American ambassador killed at Benghazi was an instance of “blowback” in a covert operation when some of the maniacs decided he made a better target than anything to be found in Syria.

Our last great investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, has just told us for the first time that the sarin nerve gas, actually used in Syria a few years ago a few times, was transshipped from Libya under her auspices. Hundreds of civilians were hideously killed by America’s proxy fanatics in the clearest of war crimes. It was an effort to create a crossing-a-red-line stunt with which to blame Syria’s beleaguered, elected government so that Obama could send in the jets and bomb the crap out of yet another country. Only Putin’s deft statesmanship prevented that disaster.

The moral and ethical characters of the American leaders involved here – Obama and Hillary plus the generation or two before them – surely rank with some of history’s most hateful figures, and it is time to put a stop to their handiwork. As well, it is time for a government that actually works for the interests of its own people, a simple idea but one which is entirely foreign to contemporary Washington.

I think of the great Franklin Roosevelt, and people who have no history do not realize how intensely hated he was by a major part of the establishment. Apart from constant attacks in the press, his life was threatened. I think also of Abraham Lincoln, and again, people with no history do not realize how hated the man was at first. He was called “an obscene ape” in the newspapers, and he felt the need to travel to Washington for his inauguration in disguise.

I am not comparing Trump, but I am reminding readers of some of the unpleasant details that never appear on the plaques of monuments to such great figures. I do very much believe, despite the sometimes loose and careless words of an inexperienced politician, that there is great promise in this man. He is a doer, not a talker, but his Michigan speech especially had intimations of greatness in it. Just as he said, addressing America’s more than thirty-million black population, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

And just look at the alternative. My God, none are so blind as those who will not see, and anyone who can be enthusiastic for a woman of her bloody and corrupt achievements is indeed willfully and dangerously blind.

Many commentators still miss the most essential truth of this election, and I owe the profound observation to Robert Reich. This election is not about Left versus Right. It is not about Democrat versus Republican. It is about pro- versus anti-establishment, a very bloody, corrupt, and dishonest establishment.

 

FOOLING MOST OF THE PEOPLE MOST OF THE TIME IS WHAT AMERICAN POLITICS ARE ABOUT, EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR

John Chuckman

I read a column recently, and it was imbued with hopeful thinking about America’s political establishment dealing with its constituents concerning the now increasing threat of nuclear catastrophe.

The author said the piece was intended as “Drano” to clear the political pipes, but I am afraid that much as I sometimes enjoy the same author’s pieces, this one for me had to be characterized as illusion. It may have a lot to do with the author not being a native of the United States, and I do think my background in that country and having studied its history removes any possibility of illusion ever seriously taking hold.

When did America’s establishment ever discuss, in elections or at other times, issues of war and peace for the people’s understanding and consent?

Virtually never.

There was no mandate for Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or a dozen other conflicts.

Of course, once a war gets going, there is a tendency for Americans to close ranks with flags and ribbons and slogans such as “Support our troops” and “Love it or leave it.”

The senior leaders know this psychological pattern, and they count on it, every time.

The fundamental problem in America’s government is an elaborate political structure much resembling democracy but with actual rule by a powerful establishment and a set of special interests – all supported by a monstrous security apparatus and a huge, lumbering military, which wouldn’t even know what to do with itself in peace.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any apparent solution to this horrible political reality, and, while once it affected primarily Americans themselves, today it affects the planet.

There is an intense new element that has been added to America’s governing establishment: the drive of the neo-cons for American supremacy everywhere, for complete global dominance, and it is something which is frighteningly similar to past drives by fascist governments which brought only human misery on a vast scale.

The neo-cons’ underlying motive, I believe, is absolute security for America’s colony in the Middle East, Israel – put another way, their concern is for Israel’s hegemony over its entire region with no room for anyone else to act in their own interests. It is only if the United States is deeply engaged all over the planet that Israel can constantly benefit from its strange relationship with America.

It did not require the neo-cons to interest America’s establishment with interfering in other people’s affairs. America has a long history of doing so, stretching back to the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the brazen seizure of Hawaii from its people and going right up to the pointless War in Vietnam and Cambodia in the hope of keeping the Pacific Ocean effectively an American lake. But the neo-cons have added a new force, a new impulse to something which would be better left alone, and they are very influential in American affairs.

Ordinary Americans are not interested in world affairs, and there is a great deal of evidence to support that statement. American Imperialists of earlier times disparaged this tendency to just want peace at home with the pejorative name, isolationism, and avoiding isolationism became an excuse for a whole series of wars and interventions.

So, Americans today cannot be allowed to fall back into their natural tendency of not caring. Thus we have the drive of the neo-cons and, tragically, thus we have America being driven into direct confrontation with Russia. And with China, too, of course, but Russia is my focus since Russia is the only country in the world literally capable of obliterating the United States. There is unquestionably a sense here of Rome wanting to go after Carthage, although cavalry, swords, spears, and catapults no longer can settle such conflicts.

The situation is compounded by the American establishment’s dawning realization that its days of largely unquestioned supremacy in the world are fading into memory, as other countries grow and develop and have important interests in world affairs. In many respects, it has been a long downhill slide for the average American since the economic heyday of the 1950s. Decline in real incomes, decline in good job opportunities at home, the export of American industries abroad to areas of less costly labor, and the virtual collapse of American towns and cities in many places, Detroit being perhaps the most sorrowful case of many – all these are evident year-in and year-out.

I do think the American establishment simply does not know how to handle its role in a brave new world, but do something it clearly thinks it must, and that is an extremely dangerous state of mind. It is armed with vast armies and terrible weapons so that it retains a sense of being able to act in some way to permanently reclaim its place, an illusion if ever there was one.

We know from scholars of the past the role that the mere existence of terrible military power can play in disaster. Huge standing armies were one of the major underlying causes of the First World War, a conflict in which twenty millions perished. Germany repeated the effort with Hitler’s government working tirelessly to create what was to become the finest and most advanced army the world had ever seen until that time, but it, too, ended in disaster, and of even greater proportions. America has not discovered the secret to making itself invulnerable, although I fear that its establishment believes that it can do so, and that represents the most dangerous possible thinking.

Contrary to political speeches, America’s establishment has never shown great concern over the welfare of ordinary Americans, and today its lack of concern is almost palpable. Washington’s white-maned, over-fed, crinkly-faced Senators spend virtually every ounce of effort in two activities: raising funds from special interests for re-election (estimated at two-thirds of an average Senator’s time) and conspiring on how to keep America dominant in the world. Anything else is just piffle. America’s unique place in the world of 1950 took care of ordinary Americans, not any effort by government. Again, the utter contempt for ordinary Americans perhaps offers a dark element in the thinking of America’s establishment when it comes to possible nuclear war.

Russia is not, of course, a direct threat to neo-con interests, except when it comes to matters like Syria, a deliberately-engineered horror to bring down the last independent-minded leader in the Middle East and to smash and Balkanize his country, parts of which, Israel has always lusted after in its vision of Greater Israel. The coup in Ukraine, which borders along a great stretch of Russia, represented a direct challenge to Russia’s security, offering a place ultimately to be filled with hostile forces and missiles and American advisors – all of which was expected to silence Russia’s independent voice in the world and its ability to in any way thwart neo-con adventures, if not, in the longer-range, savage dreams of some, to provide a platform for the ultimate destruction or overthrow of Russia herself.

Russia’s effective countering with skillful moves in its own interests both in Syria and Ukraine has driven some of America’s establishment to the edge of madness, and that madness is what we see and hear in Europe. Europe is once again being turned into a vast armed camp, and it is now seething with anti-Russian rhetoric, threats, and activities such as huge war games, the largest of which occurred around the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Russia, the single most destructive event in all of human history.

America has created deliberately a situation almost as dangerous as the days of the Cuban missile crisis, which itself arose from the American establishment’s belief that it had every right to interfere in Cuba’s affairs.

We have another element, now compounding the danger, in a far greater variety and level of sophistication of weapons, including some nuclear weapons whose controlled yields are regarded by America’s military as being perhaps “usable” in a theater like Europe. The installation of anti-missile systems near Russia is very much part of this threat since these systems not only are intended to neutralize Russia’s capacity for response to a sudden, massive attack but to provide a cover for future covert, easily-done substitution of other kinds of missiles into the launchers, faster-arriving, nuclear-armed missiles which would indeed be an element in such an attack.

Russia, a country twice invaded with all the might of Germany and before that by Napoleon’s Grande Armeé, cannot be expected just to sit and do nothing. It won’t. It cannot.

The world must not forget that America’s military, a number of times in the past, created complete plans for a massive, surprise nuclear attack on what was then the Soviet Union, the last of which I am aware was in the early 1960s, and it was presented as being feasible to President Kennedy, who is said to have left the Pentagon briefing sick to his stomach.

Nuclear war, just as with any other kind of war, can happen almost by accident through blunders and careless acts and overly-aggressive postures. Just let the blood of two sides get up enough, and an utter disaster could quickly overtake us. Constantly decreasing the possibilities for accidents and misunderstandings is a prime responsibility of every major world leader, and right now the United States is pretty close to having completely abdicated its responsibility.

TO PARAPHRASE CHURCHILL, TURKEY RIGHT NOW IS A RIDDLE WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY INSIDE AN ENIGMA

 

John Chuckman

Events in Turkey just become stranger with each passing day.

We now have Middle Eastern and Persian sources, cited by Russian and German papers, that Russia’s security agencies overheard helicopter radio transmissions by the coup participants, and President Putin warned Erdogan about what was happening, likely saving his skin.

If true, this would help explain the apparent ineptness of the coup forces. My first hypothesis explaining this ineptness plus other peculiarities of the coup was that the plotters were unwittingly working in a dark operation run by Turkish security forces, intended to make them fail while flushing them out and giving Erdogan a free hand.

This possibility of Russian advance warning put together with Erdogan’s own belief that the coup originated in America should yield some serious geopolitical shifts in the region.

We could have an even stronger rapprochement between Turkey and Russia than was already underway, a rapprochement, by the way, which could well have helped tip the United States into giving a wink and a nod (and of course, as always, some cash) to Turkish rebel forces.

But that would not be the only reason for America’s supporting a coup. The truth is, from the American point of view, Erdogan’s erratic behavior – shooting down a Russian war plane, firing artillery into Syria at American Kurdish allies, blackmailing Europe over large numbers of refugees resident in Turkish camps, and still other matters – over the last few years has added uncertainty and potential instability to a strategically important region.

Even if the United States were not involved in the coup, although right now Turkey’s government appears to believe firmly that it was, Putin’s warning would add a powerful positive element to Russian-Turkish relations.

Just as America’s failure to warn Erdogan adds a new negative element to Turkish-American relations. After all, no one is better equipped for international communication interception than the NSA. If the United States were not involved, why didn’t it warn Erdogan? Either way, the outcome is negative for Turkish-American relations.

One of the strongest suggestions for American involvement is the fact that Turkish jets, for bombing and fuel supplies, took off from the İncirlik Airbase during the coup. This airbase is Turkish, but has many Americans resident, including some high-level ones, since there is not only a sizable air force stationed there but an estimated fifty thermonuclear bombs. The Turkish commander, Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, was in daily contact with the Americans and sought asylum in the United States before he was arrested by Turkey.

If it is true that Putin warned Erdogan, this would also be the second time Putin has blunted the success of a major American-inspired coup, as he very much did in Ukraine.

Seems as though poor old America, for all its grossly swollen and over-paid security services, just cannot run a good coup anymore.

Putin is disliked by Washington’s establishment precisely because he successfully blunted a huge and costly operation in Ukraine, so disliked that NATO has been pushed dangerously into something resembling the terrifying preparations for Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in Eastern Europe, 1941.

And, of course, Putin also has thwarted the American effort to overthrow President Assad with paid and supplied proxy forces of mercenaries and religious maniacs. Interestingly, Erdogan has been a key player there. French intelligence has just estimated that even now about a hundred thugs cross the border from Turkey into Syria each week.

If Putin has now also stopped a Turkish adventure, the hissing in Washington will likely become much louder.

A new relationship between Turkey and Russia offers a lot of possibilities, none of them favorable from America’s point of view, the restart of the Turkish Stream natural gas project being just one.

And if Europe speaks up or acts too strongly against Erdogan’s counter-coup measures, there’s always the possibility of a new release of refugees from Turkish camps, something which could genuinely destabilize the EU after so many other recent woes. And smooth control of the EU has been one of America’s chief policy objectives for years.

Of course, we should remember that Churchill’s famous quote originally applied to Russia in the days of Stalin. It does not apply to contemporary Russia, and Putin’s deft moves have made some of America’s clumsy efforts at re-ordering the world rather make it resemble Stalin in international affairs.

 

AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL:  JOHN KERRY – FROM HIS REMARKABLE RECENT COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY TO THE REMARKABLE CAREER THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE

John Chuckman

 

John Kerry is, besides many other unpleasant things, a rather ridiculous man, and he has managed to prove that proposition time and time again.

He used his recent commencement address at Northwestern University to attack Donald Trump. It is difficult to understand why young graduates at one of America’s better universities would want to hear political boiler plate from a key member of a failed and dying administration, rather than the usual vaguely inspiring stuff about the future, but that is what the graduating class got for their student fees.

I suppose, as so often is the case in America, the empty prestige of having someone with a big job speak, even when they have nothing to say, mattered. After all, Hillary Clinton has collected countless millions doing exactly the same thing for audiences at investment banker and defense contractor banquets in recent years.

Well, the part of Trump on which Kerry focused was his proposal for a wall with Mexico.

I don’t like walls myself, and it is my belief that even if elected Trump, for many reasons, will not succeed in emulating the Emperor Hadrian. Still, you might expect from the point of view of a Secretary of State, supposedly gazing upon the world’s countries with an impartial, god-like eye, that if it is okay for Israel to keep building walls, and it has several new ones underway right now, all built on other people’s property, why can’t others? The reasoning in both cases, and in all other cases such as those in Kerry’s contemporary Europe where new walls of various forms are frantically being built, is the same: we need to stop unwanted people crossing the border.

Can anyone even imagine Kerry – this man who, once not long ago, reminisced over Champagne toasts about some distant relative or another of his who was allegedly part-Jewish (truly, has grovelling by a Secretary of State reached such levels before? I would have expected his entire audience either to choke or throw up) – ever saying a single word to Israel about its walls, walls which go far beyond serving Israel’s border fears to literally chopping up and destroying the land which supports millions of other people? It would be as though Trump were demanding a series of walls inside Mexico to balkanize the entire country and then set about building them himself with America’s armed forces. Now that would be utterly ridiculous, not to say criminal, but Israel’s doing just that is never called ridiculous or criminal, and it is certainly is never questioned by Kerry.

And then, as though in an effort to reclaim the stature of his address from just political campaign boiler plate, Kerry’s rhetoric drifted off to the subject of a future borderless world.

Now that is an old idea that appeals greatly to me, but I know very well that Kerry is being dishonest here. The world in fact, not all that long ago, pretty much was borderless. It was precisely the rise of the modern nation state in the 19th century which killed off that amiable concept requiring no passports or visa or permissions for moving about. Of course, we are talking about precisely the kind of modern nation state which Kerry has lovingly served in expanding its power and influence over others for his entire adult life.

Kerry’s dishonesty extends into what he even means by a “borderless world.” Now, I have always believed the Apostle Paul in emphasizing deeds rather than words, so If we are to judge by Kerry’s actual acts and those of predecessor Secretaries of State such as Hillary Clinton or Madeleine Albright or Henry Kissinger, and not by the State Department’s regularly-broadcast, doubtful advertising claims, John Kerry’s concept of a “borderless world’ is one in which the United States runs everyone’s affairs, rendering the borders of individual countries meaningless.

Now, that is a concept which very much does not appeal to me, nor does it appeal, I suspect, to a great many of the world’s seven billion people and their governments.

Just recently, this dishonest and generally unpleasant man has put an ultimatum to the government of Syria, making threats that if he doesn’t see what he wants by the beginning of August, there will be serious consequences. That certainly sounds to me like a Mafia Don speaking, demanding payment of protection money from some business, or else.

John Kerry has no business telling the government of Syria to do anything, much less to dissolve itself. It is, and has been, a reasonably popular government, one which receives the support of a majority of Syrians in polls and elections. Among other reasons for its popularity is President Assad’s defence of religious minorities. Syria’s citizens form an elaborate quilt of various religions, and they know their rights to worship as they please are protected in a region of the world where that is not common. Some of Mr. Kerry’s closest working associates in the region cannot say the same thing, and indeed they include associates who are quite violent towards people of differing faiths.

The proxy forces which Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, have supported for five years in tearing Syria apart consist literally of various gangs of intolerant extremists and cut-throats. Boy, when it comes to double-speak, John Kerry is your man.

By what right does he do this? None, except that might makes right. America has supported terror in Syria, supplying weapons, platoons of cut-throats, and training while supporting the thugs of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in their logistics of destruction, all while pretending in State Department advertisement after advertisement that it opposes terror. And we’ve only just learned that Hillary Clinton supported the transfer of supplies of deadly Sarin nerve gas from Gadhafi’s stockpiles in wrecked Libya (another stunning State Department achievement) through a secret pipeline (read: Turkey) to the cut-throats in Syria where it was promptly used to kill civilians in the hope of blaming Assad and creating a casus belli for the United States (or, as Obama put it in his elliptical language, responding to Assad crossing a red line).

But John Kerry still hasn’t got what he wants in Syria, so now we have a new threat. Why is Kerry so determined to topple the government of Syria? Because Assad is an independent-minded leader, one who does not immediately say “yes, sir,” to every whim of Washington’s, and if there is anything which recent history teaches us, it is that the outfit Kerry serves has no tolerance for the independent-minded. So as to emphasize the point, Washington has left behind a trail of death and destruction in the region – perhaps a million dead and millions made refugees – all of it aimed at getting rid of inconvenient independent leaders.

This intolerance by Washington of independent-mindedness is strongly supported – supported is actually much too feeble a word, demanded being more apt, and demanded regularly over heated phone lines – by the government of America’s colony in the region, the same government to whom Kerry fears even saying so much as a word about its many walls criss-crossing other people’s land.

Quite a disgusting business I think which somehow manages to be converted by our press into “foreign policy,” just as one of its authors, John Kerry, manages to be converted into a “diplomat.’

Kerry was a rich boy who, after graduating university, started his political ascent by spending four months in Vietnam, busying himself with shooting peasants in the back from an armored speedboat racing up and down rivers. He wanted to gain some war “creds” for an anticipated political career. Apart from his killings in Vietnam, he made such a muck of things, leaving behind colleagues who had only contempt for his false heroics and self-promotion. Then our man Kerry, having returned home and seeing how badly the Vietnam War was regarded by people, decided to add some new “creds” to his resume, anti-war ones. So, no matter how the political winds turned in the future, John-boy was covered. He appeared with some anti-war demonstrators, once throwing his filthily-earned medals into a bin, from which they were later quietly retrieved for him.

As to Kerry’s actual attitude towards America’s dirty colonial wars, we have the testimony of his whole career in the Senate, as a Presidential candidate, and finally as Secretary of State, faithfully serving and supporting them.

Kerry’s campaign, in running for President in 2004, was so unbelievably dreary and empty of all meaning, that the American people actually re-elected the most disliked president in the country’s history, George Bush. That feat stands as a remarkable testimonial to John Kerry’s talents.

The only big thing Kerry seems ever to have done that was genuinely successful was marrying the woman who inherited the Heinz Ketchup and Pickle Fortune. That made him wealthy beyond his dreams, perhaps planting in his brain fanciful thoughts of an ambitious young George Washington marrying the widow, Martha Custis, said to have been the wealthiest woman in the American colonies.

When John Kerry says anything on any topic, his listeners would be wise to consider the source, for even though he walks around in the appointed robes of America’s Secretary of State, he is pretty much a life-long, ambitious, and dishonest failure.

 

 

 

 

THE ILLUSION OF RIGHTS

John Chuckman

 

In truth, there is no such thing as a right.

The last three centuries or so of European history developed the concept and fixed it in our minds as something real and many modern states have enumerated lists of rights, but, in the limit, the concept of rights has no force behind it.

Words on paper mean nothing when those with real power in your society decide that the words are only that, words. Judges have no power to direct where the society’s power is unwilling to cooperate.

Apart from what has happened at various times in a number of European countries, the ability simply to switch off rights has been demonstrated many times in America’s history, and there can be little doubt that dimming down and gradually switching off rights now has become a central activity in American society.

Nothing so effectively trumps rights as government claims of emergency situations, such as civil war and now the so-called war on terror. For the foreseeable future, rights in Western countries are going to increasingly be limited or ignored, if not even proscribed.

This is certainly the case in the United States where construction of a national security state is well underway, the template being that of Israel, a state which despite a stage show of democracy is quite literally more of a security state than the former East Germany, more both because technologies now are vastly more effective and penetrating than anything the Stasi had and because the proportion of military and security services in society is far greater in Israel than it was in a supposed absolute state.

Establishing such a vast state apparatus anywhere is never without consequences for human freedom and rights, although Israel has never pretended to establish defined rights, it being an impossible task to do so for a “democracy” where only one kind of person is welcome and where millions are literally held against their wills and where the state apparatus feels free to seize anyone’s property at any moment.

So it is a very ominous model towards which America is working. The work has proceeded gradually since 9/11, so that there is no sudden panic in such a large general population, but it proceeds inexorably, with new steps announced periodically limiting this or that activity. Of course, it just so happens that the project serves the establishment’s own power interests, effectively securing continued and increased authority.

The events used to excuse the project and make it acceptable, those of so-called international terror, were themselves natural outcomes, reactions to the establishment’s abuse of authority in a long series of attacks and wars to reshape the Middle East and its endless tolerance of an intolerable human situation in Israel. The establishment’s behavior created international terror.

In the end, the unpleasant truth is that only might makes right, and sentiments and fine words count for very little. We truly have made small progress since the days when a French nobleman’s coach could run down a peasant in the roadway without consequences. We are still ruled by wealth, and the security services, servants of wealth, gain added and unaccountable powers almost daily.

After all, that is how America governs much of the rest of the planet today, isn’t it? Why should home be any different?

 

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.

 

 

HILLARY’S SECRET LETTER AND THE WHOLE MATTER OF ENDLESS WAR AND THE ALMOST COMPLETE CORRUPTION OF AMERICA’S GOVERNMENT

 

John Chuckman

 

An almost perfect measure of the decay of democratic values in American politics is found in a letter from Hillary Clinton to Haim Saban, a wealthy American-Israeli and a major contributor to the Democrats. It is a letter whose only purpose is to elicit funds, ingratiating its author to the recipient by condemning the perfectly legitimate right of free people to choose boycotting Israel over its appalling behaviors.  The letter is disturbing in some of its views and characterizations, but it has been reviewed and remarked upon by many, as here.

We were not supposed to know this, but there are actually two letters. The first letter was released by its recipient, but the second letter was intended only for its recipient’s eyes. Somehow, it managed to be leaked to The Guardian, although in searching the Internet to discover just what happened it seems Google has done a pretty good job of sweeping over the trail.

It is the second letter, the one we were not supposed to see, which goes beyond being disturbing.

I am not exaggerating when I characterize it as something comparable to words which might have been written by… well, choose the name of any grisly dictator, but Adolph Hitler’s would have to be the one jumping to the minds of most people. This second letter’s words are absolutely chilling. If you think I’m exaggerating, here are Hillary’s words:

“Quite frankly, Israel didn’t teach Hamas a harsh enough lesson last year. True to form, Obama was too hard on our democratic ally, and too soft on our Islamofascist foe.

 “As president, I will give the Jewish state all the necessary military, diplomatic, economic and moral support it needs to truly vanquish Hamas – and if that means killing 200,000 Gazans, then so be it.

 “We realist Democrats understand that collateral damage is an unavoidable by-product of the War on Terror, and me being a mother, grandmother and tireless children’s rights advocate does not mean that I will flinch even one iota in allowing Israel to obliterate every last school-cum-rocket launching pad in Gaza. Those who allow their children to be used as human shields for terrorists deserve to see them buried under one-ton bombs.”

 Let’s just analyze a few of the more unacceptable and repugnant statements in this letter.

“Israel didn’t teach Hamas a harsh enough lesson…”

In 2014, Israel killed over 500 children plus another 1,700 adults in Gaza, and that came after another invasion, 2008, and a series of operations beginning in 2006, which saw Israel kill more than another 1,500 Palestinians. It should be noted that the Palestinian population is a young one, so a disproportion of children is always at risk in any attack. We had reliable reports that Israeli soldiers grabbed Palestinian children to hold in front of them in a number of instances. We also had first-hand reports of families being targeted.

Over this period, Israel has maintained a brutal blockade of Gaza, which in its first inception included an actual calorie count for the amount of food which could just keep a person alive, an idea we might want to credit to Himmler. International pressure brought an end to that aspect of the blockade, but even today the Palestinians cannot get cement to repair their sanitation and homes. Israel also launched its infamous Gaza flotilla raid in 2010, seizing half a dozen ships attempting to bring aid to Gaza and killing 10 crew members, all of them unarmed.

I remind readers just what Gaza is. It is essentially a huge refugee camp, a place where Palestinians huddled for protection from Israel’s 1948 terror campaign against residents of ancient villages long since bulldozed out of existence. Today, surrounded by fences and guards and towers with automated, radar-operated machine-guns, Gaza resembles a vast outdoor prison, or, if you will, a Bantustan or concentration camp. Even its fishermen are allowed to go only a short distance into the sea before being attacked by Israeli gun boats. Periodically, Israel does dirty work like cut its power or foul its water. Recently, a huge swath of land around its perimeter was sprayed with herbicides, cutting food supplies and insuring future malformation of children, just as we see in Vietnam as a result of America’s use of Agent Orange.

“…our democratic ally…”

 Israel is certainly one of the world’s strangest “democracies.” About half the people living under its rule do not want to live under its rule, have no votes, have absolutely no rights, and are treated in the most abusive manner. Even their homes are not their own with Israel periodically seizing them for its own purposes.

Then we have the fact that only Jews are supposed to live in “the Jewish state.” Only Jews are welcomed. Indeed only Jews are accepted. Other kinds of refugees are turned away. There is a government program underway right now to clean out the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, of its few Arab members. These are the representatives of Arabs trapped in what became Israel in 1948 and reluctantly granted citizenship, although in daily practice and in many laws, Arab citizens are not deemed as full citizens, identity papers are stamped and they are subjected to hearing regular demagogic demands that they all be pushed across the Jordan River and out of the country.

If you consider Israel a genuine democracy, then you must also view the American Confederacy or South Africa under the National Party as democracies. They both held elections and had legislatures and the dress-up appearances of democracy. It was just that huge numbers of those countries’ people could not vote and could not own certain property and had no rights.

Israel’s so-called democracy has other serious impairments, including a structure for the role of money in politics that much resembles America’s. It is at best a plutocracy. Millions pour in to favored candidates like Netanyahu from sources like American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Israel has another highly undemocratic characteristic, and that is its aversion to democracy in countries or groups anywhere near it. It always has supported happily tyrants like Mubarak in Egypt and has worked assiduously to get what was a democratic organization like Hamas declared and treated as some kind of terrorists.

If Israel is, as Israelis like to say, the Middle East’s only democracy, I think we can be glad there are not more such democracies.

“…our Islamofascist foe…”

 Since when are the Palestinians – who, as is often ignored, include both Islamic and Christian people – “our foe”? I don’t recall them threatening or attacking anyone? Women and children and hard-working men on farms and in shops are our foe? People without even the semblance of a military?

Since when are they “Islamofascists”? They are just people driven out of their own ancient homes and farms by groups of well-armed newcomers from Europe and America. And what is an “Islamofascist,” beyond a slur term coined in Israel for people who are resented, hated, and abused merely for the fact of their very existence? We did briefly see in the last assault on Gaza how ugly things get in Israel, something generally kept from our eyes, with video of Israelis in lawn chairs on the heights watching homes being bombed and cheering as though it were the home team scoring a goal at a football match.

“I will give the Jewish state all the necessary military, diplomatic, economic and moral support it needs to truly vanquish Hamas…”

 What in God’s name does that mean? America literally pours military, security, and technical assistance into Israel. There is continuous typhoon of it hitting Israel’s shores. And how would more help “truly vanquish Hamas”? What would be the shape of that? A couple of thermonuclear weapons lobbed into Gaza? But Israel already has its own thermonuclear weapons, albeit through lying and deceit and even theft and against the intent of all international law and organization, although with the secret contrivance and acceptance of a couple of generations of politicians like Hillary.

Why should Hamas be vanquished? It was elected to office in a clean election, likely cleaner than most American and Israeli elections. But I forget, Israel hates having democracies anywhere near its borders. It prefers dealing with – when it deigns even to speak to its neighbors – men like Mahmoud Abbas, who last legally held office in 2009 and has unilaterally extended his own term as President ever since, and who is completely ineffectual in his relations with Israel.

We shouldn’t forget that after Hamas’s internationally-supervised election, Israeli troops raced into Gaza and illegally arrested many of its elected officials. It also publicly threatened the leader’s assassination. Funny, but I don’t recall things going the other way from this supposedly terrorist organization. After all, it earned the “official” designation as terrorist from politicians like Hillary Clinton or Newt Gingrich or Dick Armey working to keep those pro-Israeli campaign funds flowing in.

All of the horrors of invasions, bombardments, and blockades came after that simple election. Israel hates Hamas because it does not do exactly as it is ordered to do. Always the excuse is used that Hamas won’t recognize Israel as “the Jewish state,” but that view deliberately hides many legitimate issues. In conflict or disagreement, countries typically do not extend formal recognition. The United States has done this countless times, including for the last half century with Cuba. It did it for years with the Soviet Union.

But Israel’s case is not just a matter of formal recognition. There is a subtle but immensely important difference. It wants recognition as “the Jewish state.” What would happen to those million or so Palestinians who hold Israeli passports and are now at least nominally Israelis? Forced marches across the Jordan River? What happens to the many important Palestinian claims on Israel? What claims do you think a non-Jew can have in “a Jewish state” under purely Jewish courts and laws? What happens to the entire West Bank, which exists under Israeli occupation and is regularly predated by sudden demands for non-Jewish properties? This is no simple issue as Israel repeatedly and tiresomely insists that it is.

You are not a terrorist because you refuse to accept Israel’s terms: you are a people looking out for your own interests, something all people have the right and need to do. Israel always insists that this acceptance come before any other matters can be dealt with, and it then turns to the press and says, “See, I told you, they are terrorists.”  Simply absurd, expecting people to just lie down and let you do whatever you want to them!

“…and if that means killing 200,000 Gazans, then so be it…”

 Only a person so exceedingly biased towards Israel as to be effectively blind would fail to recognize the tone of those words. They could easily have been written by Adolph Hitler or one his charming goons such as Heinrich Himmler or Joseph Goebbels.

In the churches and schools where I was brought up, such speech could never be countenanced, yet here it is, written by a woman who was Secretary of State now wants to be President. She obviously knows enough to keep this morally-filthy language secret, hence her method of the second letter. So, even in her, maybe there is some little remaining sense of shame? But I doubt it because she is writing these ghastly words for what purpose? To ask for a large amount of money.

Now, if you wrote words like that in Israel or in a number of countries, only changing the name of who are to be killed in mass, you would most certainly go to prison, besides being labelled a terrorist for life. Apparently, when Hillary learned that this letter leaked, she made the excuse that there had been a typo, that it should have read “20,000.” Her moral and ethical organs are so charred and twisted that she actually thinks 20,00 people killed sounds okay, just fine, maybe ten times as good as killing 200,000?

But of course, Hillary is grotesquely lying even in this excuse, as she has lied innumerable times over her adult life, an ongoing stage play we have all enjoyed in the news: watching her defend her predatory husband for the sake of future political success, watching her politically-motivated statement of being shot at in Bosnia in 1996, a claim almost instantly proved fraudulent by the press, watching her squirm and lie about what really happened during the murderous events at Benghazi, and watching her lie as she is investigated about using her private server for top secret material as Secretary of State.

“Those who allow their children to be used as human shields for terrorists deserve to see them buried under one-ton bombs”

 This statement is so sick and twisted, it is frightening. It begs the whole genuine issue of whether any Palestinian ever did this, while we know from witnesses that Israeli soldiers did. Just what is it here that we are talking about where children are said to have been used as shields? A full-fledged invasion by heavily-armed troops, supported with tanks and artillery and fighter planes into a densely-crowded civilian area, often aptly described as an open-air prison for a million and a half souls. How could children avoid becoming targets? In the poor places of the Middle East with their high birth rates, children are a greater portion of the population than in advanced countries. Only a genuine monster would launch such an invasion, and only an equal monster would defend it.

To my mind, this damnable behavior of Israel’s could be compared to, say, the Detroit Police Department, supported by the Michigan National Guard, invading the ghettos of Detroit to capture a few criminals and killing literally thousands of innocent people in the process and leaving the place a pile of rubble. The whole world would be appalled. But even that comparison is inadequate. Israel was not chasing criminals. What Israel was really hoping to do was murder the leaders of Hamas, a legitimate political party. But even if Hamas were not a legitimate party, Israel’s act is comparable to Detroit’s police and National Guard killing thousands to try getting a few members of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s.

We’ve surmised that things like this letter go on in private because we see our politicians countenancing mass murder and we see the entire Middle East in flames owing to the same cause. But having the paper in hand is another matter. For instance, we know Newt Gingrich received the best part of $20 million for his last nomination campaign from billionaire Sheldon Adelson and proceeded to make campaign speeches about there being “no such thing as a Palestinian.”

We know former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a man whose career was well financed by special interests, actually said in the late part of his career that Israel should just sweep all the Palestinians out of the country.

We know that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in response to a question about 500,000 deaths of children in Iraq, “We think the price is worth it,” and does anyone wonder why Albright not only strongly supports Hillary but recently spoke of “a special place in hell for women” who didn’t support Hillary?

It tells us a great deal of the lengths to which an American politician will go to secure large sources of funds. It tells us too something about her relationship with the recipient that Hillary believed she could freely address him in such an appalling fashion. Finally, it confirms everyone’s worst fears about the Israel Lobby and the extremes to which its supporters are prepared to go.

We all know there is a huge amount of behind-the-scenes, dirty dealing in American politics, but not just in politics, in foreign affairs. There is no other explanation for the murky, bloody swamp into which America’s government has towed the country. America has been continuously at war for a quarter century. It has killed great numbers of people and destroyed whole societies. And none of those people threatened the United States, not even the Taleban who were arbitrarily and without proof held responsible for the events of 9/11.

Virtually all of it relates directly or indirectly to Israel and making the Middle East comfortable for a state which itself never hesitates to threaten, attack, kill, imprison, torture to gain its objectives, its objectives being to enlarge itself far beyond its original accepted boundaries, to reduce the native Palestinian population of millions to such miserable discomfort that they flee their homes, and to assure itself of hegemony throughout the region, seeing independent-minded leaders like Assad or Gadhafi literally murdered and their countries torn apart.

It is a program which parallels closely historical examples which none of us has been taught to admire or approve, historical examples which have caused great wars and massive human misery. We have established some of our greatest international institutions precisely out of the wreckage of history with the aim of not letting it happen again, but today every one of these institutions is compromised by American pressure on Israel’s behalf, the work of corrupt politicians like Hillary Clinton.

So it is happening again, although on a smaller scale – though I wouldn’t want the job of explaining to the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and a number of other places that their desolation and misery are on a smaller scale.

The present Secretary General doesn’t even peep at America’s many appalling acts. Past Secretaries General who managed to get elected despite their opposition to American imperialism – an example was Boutros Boutros-Ghali – were removed in behind-the-scenes plots. Madeleine Albright for example won her State Department spurs arranging just that kind of thing. Combinations of threats and bribes do the job nicely, and, of course, the UN hasn’t forgotten the long period of time the United States simply refused to pay its treaty-required dues, a quarter of the institution’s budget.

But ordinary Americans and others rarely get even a peek at any of the details going into the shaping of their world. Here is one small instance where they do, and it is a telling one.

 

FOOTNOTE: It comes to my attention that there is reason to suspect the original source of the second letter. It may well have been a hoax. But even if that proves to be the case, I stand by my comments and observations as things which needed saying, having their own validity quite apart from that of the letter.

OBAMA’S TEARS

 “Even those tears, I me mine

“I me mine, I me mine” – the Beatles

 

John Chuckman

 

Had I seen the image of Obama, weeping over American gun deaths, seven years ago, I know I would have been deeply moved. It would have reinforced my view of him then as an empathetic, bright, and progressive politician. And I did then, and do now, find America’s violence – all of it, not just the small fraction of it seen in street killings – an appalling assault on the human spirit.

But the image comes seven years later, following a period of Obama’s proving himself an utterly cold and dry-eyed killer. Actually, apart from seven years packed with regular killing and support of others doing killing in at least half a dozen lands, he is reliably reported to have once said at a high-level meeting, without tears or the least change in demeanor, “I’m pretty good at killing.”

I don’t know whether the recent tears were artificially induced, as by an irritant placed on a fingertip to be touched to his face at the right moment of his performance, or squeezed out from heretofore unknown political acting talent. Perhaps they just reflect a kind of strangely compartmentalized brain.

This last possibility would make him more bizarre than I had come to regard him. I had come pretty much to accept him as just one more of the garden-variety psychopaths who have held the American Presidency for decades. There were even rumors, stemming from gaps in his resume, that he was CIA, an organization that employs a lot of psychopaths and has now deeply penetrated America’s elected government, having itself produced several presidents – George Bush père for sure – and other high office holders. The practice is equivalent to the Mafia’s having a “made man” on the bench of a high court.

After seven years of mass murder, dirty tricks destroying countless lives and destabilizing many peaceful lands, thousands of extrajudicial killings conducted by young thugs from basement computer-games rooms at CIA, and unblinking acceptance of such brutal savageries as we’ve seen from Israel or Saudi Arabia or Turkey, his tears truly mean nothing, except perhaps somewhere in the back of his own dark and terrible mind.

Only a few days before my writing this, I read of Israel spraying a huge swath of land inside the boundary of Gaza with a deadly herbicide. So these miserable people – these people who cannot even import cement to repair Israel’s savage destruction of homes and schools and public sanitation in 2014 – are now also to live with reduced arable land plus the virtual certainty of heavy future birth defects, much as the Vietnamese still experience from America’s hellish saturation of their land with Agent Orange about half a century ago.

That Nazi-like behavior solicited no teary scenes from Obama, just as Israel’s slaughter of more than 500 children and 1,700 adults in 2014 solicited not a tear from Obama, not so much as an awkward throat-clearing.

I don’t know what caused him to cry in his little performance about guns in America, but if you tell me it was because a decent human was overwhelmed momentarily by America’s hideously murderous society, I will not even bother to answer.

As remarkably few in other lands appear to grasp, America is a massively brutal society. This is true both at home and abroad, and I should know because I grew up there. I also know it will not change within the lifetimes of any readers, the overwhelming size and nature of the situation being beyond what many outside observers can imagine.

Certainly the insipid measures Obama has taken will not make a dint in the toll. Strangers to American society simply cannot imagine how many guns are floating around there. A recent Small Arms Survey estimated 270 million small arms, but there are a remarkable number of military-grade weapons in private hands as a result of exposure to a vast armed services with its galaxy of local military bases, major national guard organizations and facilities in every state, and the past heavy arming of police and numerous agencies such as the TSA. The kind of police who beat up drug suspects and take their money are also the kind of police who illicitly trade in guns, and America has large numbers of them amongst its rag-tag collection of a million or so.

America swims in guns, and there is a vast market just in private sales and stolen guns. There will always be a market under such conditions no matter what regulations Washington may impose. And increasingly, the individual states have permitted what was in my day in Chicago a serious felony, the concealed carrying of guns. Some also allow citizens to carry them openly in holsters.

Remember, there is not just the matter of thousands of murders and countless maimings each year. There is, as was revealed by The Guardian for the first time ever, 1,134 people killed by their own police in 2015. It all charges the atmosphere of the United States with a kind of regular, low-grade terror. And America’s prisons have an international reputation for brutality. They include such barbaric innovations as super-max prisons (in which prisoners live out entire lives in total isolation), private profit-motivated prisons, and a prison population whose total size dwarfs that of all other advanced countries.

I read in British newspapers, discussing Obama’s efforts, expressions from readers such as “it’s about time” or “those awful Republicans,” and I know they reflect views of people who just really do not understand America.

America is a country which has killed at least 6 million people over the last half century abroad, virtually all the killing to no purpose other than America’s trying to have its own way in places as distant as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and still others. If you think violence officially sanctioned on such a scale has no effect on the country responsible for it, you are extremely naïve.

Much of the killing was savage beyond description, employing fire bombs, napalm, white phosphorus, Agent Orange, carpet bombing, and that truly hideous invention, cluster bombs.

America also remains the only country ever to use nuclear weapons, twice, on civilian targets of no military significance, and this after Japan had made strong feelers for its surrender. No, for America only unconditional surrender was acceptable. And a series of 12 atomic bombs for 12 cities was scheduled. Some sensible minds questioned the lunacy, considering that Japan had been almost flattened by a ferocious campaign of fire-bombing, so that not one primary or even secondary military target was left standing.

The fact that only two atomic bombs were used had nothing to do with America’s humanity. In later years, detailed plans for massive atomic attacks on Russia and China were drawn up, the last of which so far as I am aware was in 1961, being earnestly advocated to President Kennedy by the insane men then running the Pentagon. Nuclear weapons also were seriously discussed as options during the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.

America is, far and away, the world’s largest arms dealer, literally dwarfing the trade in death machines of any other country, and it sells its arms to tyrants and madmen across the planet enabling players like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, or Egypt to hugely expand the total number of deaths for which America is responsible.

America also spends as much on its military as all the world’s militaries combined. It is an obscene amount of money dedicated to killing and oppression.

American advisors are in the business of advising kings and tyrants how they can control people and efficiently kill them if needed. America had an outfit called The Army School of the Americas which became infamous for its teaching military personnel sent from Latin America in the fine points of killing and torture. Today it’s been reborn as the bland-sounding Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

In a county like contemporary America, with its often poor employment prospects for young adults, the military is a major employer. It has an elaborate enticement system to attract young people. General military training anywhere consists of just two central matters: how to be doggedly obedient and how to kill people. So every year in America, many thousands of such young people are dumped back into the general population. Many of them then go on to become police because military service is a favorite entry qualification. Many of them remain unemployed. Some even homeless.

There are not just the regular armed forces involved in saturating the country with military values and attitudes, there are also the huge national guards and reserves and high school and college ROTCs. It is a massive effort, blanketing a supposedly democratic society with undemocratic and violent ideas. You might view it as kind of a national immunization program, immunization against democratic and human values, conducted year-in, year-out. So the young generation of Americans is constantly immersed in the concepts of blind obedience and killing. And all this is further reinforced by the vast numbers of Americans dependent upon work at its many regional military bases and other facilities.

Just a portion of this avalanche of annual spending on murder might have created countless new opportunities in America with new and better schools, better medical facilities, improved housing, and intervention into troubled families. No, instead, everything is just allowed to rip, and on the streets of Chicago and other cities, week-in and week-out, the toll of young blacks resembles minor battle scenes with as many as twenty-five shot (not all killed) on a single week-end.

That brings us to yet another aspect of American violence and passion for guns. America remains in many respects just as divided a society on racial lines as it was a century ago. The unspoken reason for many Americans keeping guns is the same one that caused Southern plantation owners to sleep each night with a knife and a pistol under the pillow. It rarely is openly discussed, but it is there like a great unnerving presence in a thousand dark places.

There is yet one more dimension to American violence. About half a dozen years ago, a study, led by a Harvard Medical School researcher, found evidence of mental problems in 26.4 % of people in the United States, versus, for example, 8.2% of people in Italy. The researchers were concerned with matters such as lack of access to treatment and under-treatment, but for those concerned about a safe and decent world, I think the salient finding is simply America’s high percentage. The world is being led by a nation where more than one-quarter of the people have genuine mental problems.

I’m afraid America’s movie industry has created sugary fantasies about America which still influence the views of many abroad. There really are no Jimmy Stewart types, with tears in the eyes and benign expressions, running America.

And in case you missed it, even in as sugary a confection as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” sobbed over by millions every Christmas season, some raw truth creeps in. Jimmy Stewart’s run-in with Bert the cop ends with Stewart running madly away in the snow and good old Bert pulling out his pistol and firing several times, trying to hit Stewart in the back and putting at risk pedestrians up and down the charming street. That’s the truest scene in the film.

And that is America. Fine-tuning and tears are about as fitting for the state of America as they would be on the Russian Front in World War II, the most horrendous conflict in all of human history in which 27 million Soviets and millions of Germans perished.

DONALD TRUMP IS ELECTABLE AS PRESIDENT, BUT…

John Chuckman

I think it entirely possible Donald Trump could be elected President. I am not in favor of it – but then neither am I in favor of any of the other candidates on offer – yet I do think his election is increasingly possible. America displays every four years – almost like a temporary clothesline erected on the front lawn of the White House loaded with soiled and tattered undergarments – the sheer poverty of its political system. Every four years, a gang of mediocrities and thugs spend vast amounts of money to say, from coast to coast, nothing worth hearing.

Sometimes I wonder why anyone bothers to run for office in a long, costly, and exhausting contest which if won means four years of taking directions from the Pentagon and seventeen security agencies. America is not a democracy, and the last president who actually tried to exert some significant influence on affairs left much of the right side of his head in the streets of Dallas. But ego is a mighty powerful motivator, and the gang engaged in national American politics has plenty of it, even if few other redeeming qualities.

Trump could make Hillary Clinton regret she ever shared a stage to debate with him, especially a Hillary Clinton whose past has finally begun to catch up with her, now finally wounded by her long record of dark intrigues and vicious lies. Trump is no angel by comparison, but his focus has been on making money and aggrandizing his name, things most Americans respect. He has no political record for which to account or apologize.

He has said many things which make him sound like a juvenile given to insulting people’s appearances, and he has some proposals which would prove impossible for anyone to implement, yet somehow he has hit on some issues which find a welcome hearing by many, especially unsophisticated people who might even once have been Democratic voters. Americans are tired of unresponsive politicians, something of which they have stables full. They are also tired of the bewildering events in a world at the center of which invariably the United States finds itself. Most Americans never voted for such things and have no interest in them. Only dishonest appeals about supporting the troops keep them from rebelling, and their own increasingly difficult economic lives generate a lot of stress. America is full of frustrated and angry people, many of them not even sure what it is they are so angry about and many of whom have no time or patience to understand the world in which they live. Hard-hitting simplicities are music to the ears.

One of the sharpest ironies of Trump is that not all of his views are simplicities. Some are dead-on assessments of things which could have been avoided and leaders who failed the country. So this man comes bundled with a wide-ranging group of political goods, far more so than anyone I can recall in recent times. Just think of the simple-minded recitals of senior American politician after senior American politician. They all sound rather like Sarah Palin reciting her money-generated mantra but with differing levels of sophistication and vocabulary. She is the basic template while other models come with little tweaks and feature, but they all say nothing worth hearing. There is a very real reason for that: under America’s establishment-run, aristocratic political system, there is almost zero latitude for change either in domestic or foreign affairs, except in the field of war where more seems always welcome.

No matter what you think of Trump’s views – and the author should confess he is not an admirer of most of them – many people find it utterly refreshing to hear him touch subjects none of the usual Washington politicians touch. He goes far beyond the pathetic high-school recitation of lines by Sarah Palin. Or, I might add, the paid lies of men like Newt Gingrich and scores of others who will literally speak in absurdities in return for multi-million dollar campaign contributions. I only mention Newt because the last time he tried to campaign, he ran around the country saying there really was no such thing as a Palestinian, his quid pro quo for nearly twenty million dollars in funds from a man with claustrophobic ties to Israel.

Just think of the all the bland, say-nothing-worth-hearing types, epitomized by Jeb Bush who resembles nothing so much as a well-groomed hamster both in the sounds he makes and in his blinking-into-the-camera, insipid-smile looks. And think of all the grotesque liars who run for high office in America never telling people what really motivates or enables them or what special interests pay their way. It all really is a parody of democracy.

You might think a brash and independent-minded guy like Trump is just the answer to changing some of that, and I can well understand the hopes, but there are very powerful barriers in American society as it now has come to be organized against such hopes being realized. The first day of sitting at a huge polished conference table, greatly outnumbered by arrogant country-club security chiefs with secret budgets you cannot imagine and rigid generals whose uniforms glitter almost like Christmas trees, might just test the mettle of a Trump. Add to that the heads of great corporations each worth hundreds of billions of dollars making private appointments. And then the polished heads of mighty special interest lobby groups used to getting their way. And just who are your allies and confidants in opposing some of the things they demand? You have no political background from which you would have built such relations.

It’s a daunting and dreary picture, and you have to remember, these powerful people who compose the formidable American aristocracy are the very ones who allowed and encouraged the ugly situations into which America is straight-jacketed.

Despite Trump’s freshness and energy, a Trump victory could prove a disaster. Not because he would flirt with atomic war, something Obama now already does regularly, or create vast new domestic schemes. Of course, the scheme of building a fence across Mexico and rounding up and returning all illegal migrants is vast indeed – a virtual moon-landing project from scratch – but this author thinks it would fortunately prove impossible. Even if the American aristocracy permitted him to pursue such a Don Quixote project, it would only be in order to gain his compliance in other, far more important and consequential matters such the vast, destabilizing, and murderous wars in the Middle East and the bullying of Russia and China.

On top of all that, Trump has made some deadly serious enemies, and number one on the list is Israel and its supporters who view him as not adequately friendly to Israel’s interests.

When Trump, for example, speaks, entirely sensibly, about leaving Syria for Putin to sort out, he goes dead against a dark and costly scheme which was in part created by Israel. They want Assad dead. They want Syria Balkanized much as Iraq is. And they are enjoying the stolen, discount-priced oil they get indirectly from ISIS through Turkey.

And they don’t want Russia gaining genuine influence in the Mideast, the United States being Israel’s source of seemingly inexhaustible assistance, permission, and protection – the provider of vast subsidies of every kind imaginable. Moreover, Netanyahu and other leaders in Israel have long striven to have Israel assume a geopolitical role in the Mideast as a kind of miniature replica of what the United States is in the world, a bully hegemon. There’s no room in that picture for Russia.

If you read the kind of columnists who regularly serve as apologists for Israel’s brutality – there’s at least one filling that role on the staff of every mainline newspaper – you find a universally negative attitude towards Trump. It has nothing to do with conservatism versus liberalism, and it certainly has nothing to do with human rights. The columnists use words about human rights to make their view more palatable to the general population of readers and to serve as a smokescreen for what it is with which they are really defending.

After all, Israel’s Netanyahu is perhaps the world’s most flagrant violator of human rights, holding about five million people completely against their will with absolutely no rights or freedoms, periodically stealing their homes and land, violating the sanctity of their religious places, and frequently just killing large batches of them – always undoubtedly with an eye to making them so miserable that they will pick up and leave. The people of Gaza are not even allowed to import cement to repair Israel’s recent destruction of their homes and institutions. I simply do not know of crueler circumstances in the world completely tolerated by America’s aristocracy.

There have been several ugly outbursts recently, including one from an executive of Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union who was yelling about assassinating Trump voters, words I just could not believe when I first read them.

But then in past years we have had extremist defenders of Israel propose many horrible measures including one from an American lawyer who proposed summarily killing the entire families of any Palestinian acting as a “terrorist,” so the raving speech is not without precedent. The executive’s words communicate the intense level of hate which simmers. I am sure this disturbed man – since forced to quit – is not the only one with such thoughts bubbling like sewerage through his mind.

Always admirers of political hamsters and gerbils as candidates with dark eminences behind them doing the necessary filth, the Bush-Cheney model if you will, or indeed the Eisenhower-Dulles or Reagan-Casey one – the Republicans will make every effort to stop Trump with backstage political manipulations, such as a brokered convention, but they may well not succeed, his position being made quite strong by the possibility of his running as a third-party candidate, and one with huge financial resources to boot.

But if they fail, and he wins, look out for the darkest possibilities.

All this is quite terrible, but that is simply what America is today, terrible.

John Chuckman

BRITAIN’S DAVID CAMERON WANTS TO USE BOMBS TO PROSPECT FOR GOLD IN SYRIA

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, is a man of genuine integrity and honesty in his opposition to British bombing of Syria.

Indeed, he is everything the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, is not.

I think we see from the storm in the British press against Corbyn just how much the establishment values integrity and honesty, which is to say, not at all.

Almost every word of Cameron’s on the subject of bombing is deliberately deceptive.

He is in fact an intimate part of “the club” which privately regards ISIS and other murdering rogues as tools to an end, and that end is to destroy Assad and turn Syria into a rump state. The club’s members always falsely describe the situation in Syria as a civil war rather than what it truly is, an invasion of a peaceful land by the creatures of outside powers.

They freely admit ISIS is horrible, innumerable propaganda videos having established the fact for the public, but they make no move to do something genuine about it. They portray the only man who is doing something to help Syria’s brave army, Vladimir Putin, as some kind of evil figure with dreams of empire. There is a stream of propaganda and lies about everything Russia does, from its cruise missiles hitting Iran to its planes bombing hospitals, all offered with zero evidence.

Cameron’s every word on Syria is inappropriate. A British Prime Minister has no business pronouncing on the legitimacy of this or that government, especially one supported by the majority of the country’s people, clans, and armed forces. Cameron himself, posing as some cheap knock-off defender of democracy, positively Churchillian in his own eyes, enjoys the support of about 35% of British voters.

Assad’s government has fought bravely against monsters shipped in by Turkey and supplied by Saudi Arabia, Israel, and America for years now, while David Cameron sat back and pontificated.

Assad is not an angel, but he runs a state with tolerance for all religious groups in a region where that is not common, and he has often been generous in helping those badly hurt by the likes of David Cameron – for example, the millions of refugees created by the criminal invasion of Iraq. The reason Assad is hated by Cameron and his associates in “the club” is his independent-mindedness in not following Washington’s dictates. Cameron functions as a noisy little lap dog yapping and snapping at anyone ignoring his master, always in expectation of another approving stroke on the head. It truly is that simple, and all the rest we read and hear is just noisy propaganda.

Washington and Tel Aviv are determined to see Assad gone. And you must ask yourself why that should be a shared goal of the two most violent societies on earth today, each of them in a state of perpetual war and oppression of millions.

Yes, Turkey and Saudi Arabia hate Assad, too, but they mostly do as they are told by Washington.

And remember, one of those countries, Turkey, is run by a lunatic who assassinates journalists and any Kurdish person he can get his hands on, and the other, Saudi Arabia, is run by a senile absolute monarch who regularly cuts off heads and crucifies people and is conducting an illegal war in Yemen, killing civilians daily.

Those are the characters with which David Cameron shares his bed.

What is really at stake here is virtually never discussed in public: the right of countries to exist in peace without outside interference from aggressive states like America and Israel. The United Nations should be in the forefront of demanding just that, but it has been reduced to servility through internal manipulations and threats, especially threats of withholding American financial support as was done some years back. Ban Ki-moon is perhaps the most ineffectual Secretary General in memory, sometimes sounding like a pope enjoining peace with no one listening.

Britain’s bombing in Syria would be just plain old-fashioned aggression adding to that already being done by ISIS, al-Nusra, and other cutthroats. We don’t know what targets Cameron has in mind, but he simply has no business in the country, and we can be sure that if he were sincere about only attacking terrorists, Syria would have welcomed him in its desperate fight. Cameron just keeps repeating, like an unpleasant child who thinks repetition makes something so, that the government of Syria must go.

The government of Syria has not sought Britain’s help, and contrary to arrogant people like David Cameron, Syria does indeed have a government, as legitimate as most in the world.

The only people doing any bombing with the permission of the government are the Russians, and they are supporting the only people doing any real fighting, the Syrian army.

This is not a small point for all those concerned about the rule of law, which you might think would be a prime concern for those who claim they oppose terror.

It took centuries to establish some rule of law in international affairs, and today states like America and Israel and Turkey ignore it completely.

Good old David Cameron wants to join the mob, getting his bit of attention.

And it can’t have escaped Cameron’s attention how handsomely the war criminal, Tony Blair, has been rewarded for doing his dirty part in tearing apart Iraq. He has been showered with gold and sinecures.

Wouldn’t it be natural for Cameron to expect a bit of that for dropping bombs on Syria?

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH IN PARIS AND THE UGLY TRUTH OF STATE TERROR

John Chuckman

Mass murder, as that which just occurred in Paris, is always distressing, but that does not mean we should stop thinking.

Isn’t it rather remarkable that President Hollande, immediately after the event, declared ISIS responsible? How did he know that? And if he was aware of a serious threat from ISIS, why did he not take serious measures in advance?

Within days of Friday 13, French forces assaulted an apartment with literally thousands of bullets being fired, killing a so-called mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Just how are you instantly elevated to the rank of “mastermind”? And if security people were previously aware of his exalted status, why did they wait until after a disaster to go after him?

Well, the ugly underlying truth is that, willy-nilly, France for years has been a supporter of ISIS, even while claiming to be fighting it. How do I know that? Because France’s foreign policy has virtually no independence from America’s. It could be described as a subset of American foreign policy. Hollande marches around with his head held stiffly up after getting off the phone at the Élysée Palace, having received the day’s expectations from Washington. He has been a rather pathetic figure.

So long as it is doing work the United States wishes done, ISIS remains an American protectorate, and regardless of Hollande’s past rhetoric, he has acted according to that reality. But something may just have changed now.

It is important to note the disproportionate attention in the West to events in Paris. I say disproportionate because there are equally ugly things going on in a number of places in the Middle East, but we do not see the coverage given to Paris. We have bombs in Lebanon and Iraq. We have daily bombings and shootings in Syria. We have cluster bombs and other horrors being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And of course, there are the ongoing horrors of Israel against Palestinians.

We have endless interviews with ordinary people in Paris, people who know nothing factual to help our understanding, about their reaction to the terror, but when was the last time you saw personal reactions broadcast from Gaza City or Damascus? It just does not happen, and it does raise the suspicion that the press’s concern with Paris is deliberately out of proportion. After all, Israel killed about twenty times as many people in Gaza not very long ago, and the toll was heavily weighted with children, many hundreds of them. Events in Paris clearly are being exploited for highly emotional leverage.

Leverage against what? Arabs in general and Muslims in particular, just part of the continuing saga of deliberately-channeled hate we have experienced since a group of what proved (after their arrest) to be Israeli spies were reported on top of a truck, snapping pictures and high-fiving each other as the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001. What those spies were doing has never been explained to the public. I’m not saying Israel is responsible for 9/11, but clearly some Israeli government interests were extremely happy about events, and we have been bombarded ever since with hate propaganda about Muslims, serving as a kind of constant noise covering the crimes Israel does commit against Palestinians and other neighbors.

It is impossible to know whether the attack in Paris was actually the work of ISIS or a covert operation by the secret service of an ISIS supporter. The point is a bit like arguing over angels on a pinhead. When you are dealing with this kind of warfare – thugs and lunatics of every description lured into service and given deadly toys and lots of encouragement to use them – things can and do go wrong. But even when nothing goes wrong in the eyes of sponsors for an outfit like ISIS, terrible things are still happening. It’s just that they’re happening where the sponsors want them to happen and in places from which our press carefully excludes itself. Terrible things, for example, have been happening in the beautiful land of Syria for four or five years, violence equivalent to about two hundred Paris attacks, causing immense damage, the entire point of which is to topple a popularly-supported president and turn Syria into the kind of rump states we see now in Iraq.

A covert operation in the name of ISIS is at least as likely as an attack by ISIS. The United States, Israel, Turkey, and France are none of them strangers to violent covert activities, and, yes, there have been instances before when a country’s own citizens were murdered by its secret services to achieve a goal. The CIA pushed Italian secret services into undertaking a series of murderous attacks on their own people during the 1960s in order to shake up Italy’s “threatening” left-wing politics. It was part of something called Operation Gladio. Operation Northwoods, in the early 1960s, was a CIA-planned series of terrorist acts on American civilians to be blamed on Cuba, providing an excuse for another invasion. It was not carried out, but that was not owing to any qualms in the CIA about murdering their own, otherwise no plan would have ever existed. The CIA was involved in many other operations inside the United States, from experiments with drugs to ones with disease, using innocent people as its subject-victims.

There have been no differences worth mentioning between Hollande’s France and America concerning the Middle East. Whatever America wants, America gets, unlike the days when Jacques Chirac opposed the invasion of Iraq, or earlier, when de Gaulle removed France’s armed forces from integration within NATO or bravely faced immense hostility, including a coup attempt undertaken by French military with CIA cooperation, when he abandoned colonialism in Algeria.

If anything, Hollande has been as cloyingly obsequious towards America’s chief interest in the Middle East, Israel, as a group of Republican Party hopefuls at a Texas barbecue fund-raiser sniffing out campaign contributions. After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Hollande honored four Jewish victims of the thugs who attacked a neighborhood grocery store with France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor. I don’t recall the mere fact of being murdered by thugs ever before being regarded as a heroic distinction. After all, in the United States more than twenty thousand a year suffer that fate without recognition.

Israel’s Netanyahu at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack actually outdid himself in manic behavior. He barged into France against a specific request that he stay home and pushed himself, uninvited, to the front row of the big parade down the Champs-Élysées which was supposed to honor free speech. He wanted those cameras to be on him for voters back home watching.

Free speech, you might ask, from the leaders of Egypt, Turkey, the UAE, and Israel, who all marched in front?  Well, after the free-speech parody parade, the Madman of Tel Aviv raced around someone else’s country making calls and speeches for Jewish Frenchmen to leave “dangerous” France and migrate “home” to Israel. It would in fact be illegal in Israel for someone to speak that way in Israel to Israelis, but illegality has never bothered Netanyahu. Was he in any way corrected for this world-class asinine behavior? No, Hollande just kept marching around with his head stiffly up. I guess he was trying to prove just how free “free speech” is in France.

But speech really isn’t all that free in France, and the marching about free speech was a fraud. Not only is Charlie Hebdo, the publication in whose honor all the tramping around was done, not an outlet for free speech, being highly selective in choosing targets for its obscene attacks, but many of the people marching at the head of the parade were hardly representatives of the general principle.

France itself has outlawed many kinds of free speech. Speech and peaceful demonstrations which advocate a boycott of Israel are illegal in France. So a French citizen today cannot advocate peacefully against a repressive state which regularly abuses, arrests, and kills some of the millions it holds in a form of bondage. And Hollande’s France enforces this repressive law with at least as much vigor as Israel does with its own version, in a kind of “Look, me too,” spirit. France also has a law which is the exactly the equivalent of a law against anyone’s saying the earth is flat: a law against denying or questioning the Holocaust. France also is a country, quite disgracefully, which has banned the niqab.

Now, America’s policy in the Mideast is pretty straightforward: subsidize and protect its colony Israel and never criticize it even on the many occasions when it has committed genuine atrocities.  American campaign finance laws being what they, politics back home simply permits no other policy. The invasion of Iraq, which largely was intended to benefit Israel through the elimination of a major and implacable opponent, has like so many dark operations backfired. I call the invasion a dark operation because although the war was as public as could be, all of America’s, and Britain’s, supposed intelligence about Iraq was crudely manufactured and the reasons for undertaking an act which would kill a million people and cripple an entire country were complete lies.

America’s stupid invasion created new room for Iran to exert its influence in the region – hence, the endless noise in Israel and Saudi Arabia about Iran – and it led directly to the growth of armed rabble groups like ISIS. There were no terrorists of any description in Saddam’s Iraq, just as there were no terrorists in Gadhafi’s Libya, a place now so infested with them that even an American ambassador is not safe.

Some Americans assert that ISIS happened almost accidentally, popping out of the dessert when no one was looking, a bit like Athena from the head of Zeus, arising from the bitterness and discontents of a splintered society, but that view is fatuous. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by accident in this part of the world. Israel’s spies keep informed of every shadowy movement, and America always listens closely to what they say.

It is silly to believe ISIS just crept up on America, suddenly a huge and powerful force, because ISIS was easy for any military to stop at its early stages, as when it was a couple of thousand men waving AK-47s from the backs of Japanese pick-up trucks tearing around Iraq. Those pick-up trucks and those AK-47s and the gasoline and the ammunition and the food and the pay required for a bunch of goons came from somewhere, and it wasn’t from Allah.

A corollary to America’s first principle about protecting Israel is that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in Israel’s neighborhood that is not approved, at least tacitly, by the United States. So whether, in any given instance of supply and support for ISIS, it was Israel or Saudi Arabia or Turkey or America – all involved in this ugly business – is almost immaterial. It all had to happen with American approval. Quite simply, there would be hell to pay otherwise.

As usual in the region, Saudi Arabia’s role was to supply money, buying weapons from America and others and transshipping them to ISIS. Ever since 9/11, Saudi Arabia has been an almost pathetically loyal supporter of America, even to the extent now of often cooperating with Israel. That couldn’t happen before an event in which the majority of perpetrators proved to be Saudi citizens and which led to the discovery that large amounts of Saudi “go away” money had been paid to Osama bin Laden for years. But after 9/11, the Saudis feared for the continuation of their regime and now do what they are told.  They are assisted in performing the banking function by Qatar, another wealthy, absolute state aligned with the United States and opposing the rise of any possibly threatening new forces in its region.

Of course, it wasn’t just the discoveries of 9/11 that motivated Saudi Arabia. It intensely dislikes the growing influence of Iran, and Iran’s Shia Muslim identity is regarded by Sunni sects in Saudi Arabia in much the way 17th century Protestantism was viewed by an ultramontane Catholic state like Spain. The mass of genuine jihadists fighting in Syria – those who are not just mercenaries and adventurers or agents of Israel or Turkey or the Saudis – are mentally-unbalanced Sunni who believe they are fighting godlessness. The fact that Assad keeps a secular state with religious freedom for all just adds to their motivation.

ISIS first achievement was toppling an Iraqi government which had been excessively friendly to Iran in the view of Israel, and thereby the United States. Iraq’s army could have stopped them easily early on but was bribed to run away, leaving weapons such as tanks behind. Just two heavy tanks could have crushed all the loons in pick-up trucks. That’s why there was all the grotesque propaganda about beheadings and extreme cruelty to cover the fact of modern soldiers running from a mob. ISIS gathered weapons, territory, and a fierce reputation in an operation which saw President al-Maliki – a man disliked by the United States for his associations with Iran and his criticism of American atrocities – hurriedly leave office.

From that base, ISIS was able to gain sufficient foothold to begin financing itself through, for example, stolen crude sold at a discount or stolen antiquities. The effective splitting up of Iraq meant that its Kurdish population in the north could sell, as it does today, large volumes of oil to Israel, an unheard of arrangement in Iraq’s past. ISIS then crossed into Syria in some force to go after Assad. The reasons for this attack were several: Assad runs a secular state and defends religious minorities but mainly because the paymasters of ISIS wanted Assad destroyed and Syria reduced in the fashion of Iraq.

Few people in the press seem to have noted that ISIS never attacks Israel or Israeli interests. Neither does it attack the wheezingly-corrupt rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic equivalent of ancient Rome’s Emperor Nero. Yet those are the very targets a group of genuine, independent warrior-fundamentalists would attack. But ISIS is not genuine, being supplied and bankrolled by people who do not want to see attacks on Israel or Saudi Arabia, including, notably, Israel and Saudi Arabia. ISIS also is assisted, and in some cases led, by foreign covert operators and special forces.

There does seem to be a good deal of news around the idea of France becoming serious in fighting ISIS, but I think we must be cautious about accepting it at face value. Putin is reported as telling ship commanders in the Mediterranean to cooperate and help cover the French aircraft carrier approaching. Hollande keeps calling for American cooperation too, as Putin has done for a very long time, but America’s position remains deliberately ambiguous. A new American announcement of cooperation with Turkey in creating a “safe zone” across the border with northern Syria is a development with unclear intentions. Is this to stop the Kurds Erdogan so despises fighting in the north of Syria from establishing themselves and controlling the border or is it a method for continued support of ISIS along the that border? Only time will tell.

I do think it at least possible Hollande may have come around to Putin’s view of ISIS, but America has not, and the situation only grows more fraught with dangerous possibilities. I’ve long believed that likely America, in its typically cynical fashion, planned to destroy ISIS, along with others like al-Nusra, once they had finished the dirty work of destroying Syria’s government and Balkanizing the country. In any event, Israel – and therefore, automatically, America – wants Assad destroyed, so it would be surprising to see America at this point join honestly with Putin and Hollande.

America has until now refused Russia any real support, including such basic stuff as sharing intelligence. It cooperates only in the most essential matters such avoiding attacks on each other’s planes. It also has made some very belligerent statements about what Russia has been doing, some from the America’s Secretary of Defense sounding a lot like threats. Just the American establishment’s bully-boy attitude about doing anything which resembles joining a Russian initiative does not bode well.

After all, Putin has been portrayed as a kind of Slavic Satan by American propaganda cranking stuff out overtime in support of Ukraine’s incompetent coup-government and with the aim of terrifying Eastern Europe into accepting more American weapons and troops near Russia’s border, this last having nothing to do with any Russian threat and everything to do with America’s aggressive desire to shift the balance of power. How do you turn on a dime and admit Putin is right about Syria and follow his lead?

And there are still the daily unpleasant telephone calls from Israel about Assad. How do you manoeuvre around that when most independent observers today recognize Assad as the best alternative to any other possible government. He has the army’s trust, and in the end it is the Syrian army which is going to destroy ISIS and the other psychopaths. Air strikes alone can never do that. The same great difficulty for Hollande leaves much ambiguity around what he truly means by “going to war against ISIS.”

It is an extremely complicated world in which we live with great powers putting vast resources towards destroying the lives of others, almost killing thousands on a whim, while pretending not to be doing so. We live in an era shaped by former CIA Director Allen Dulles, a quiet psychopath who never saw an opportunity for chaos he did not embrace.

The only way to end terror is to stop playing with the lives of tens of millions in the Middle East, as America has done for so long, and stop supporting the behaviors of a repressive state which has killed far greater numbers than the madmen of ISIS could dream of doing, demanding instead that that state make peace and live within its borders. But, at least at this stage, that is all the stuff of dreams.

 

DANGEROUS FLAILING AND BELLOWING OF THE BEAST

John Chuckman

When I think of America’s place in the world today, the image that comes to mind is of a very large animal, perhaps a huge bull elephant or even prehistoric mammoth, which long roamed as the unchallenged king of its domain but has become trapped by its own missteps, as caught in a tar pit or some quicksand, and it is violently flailing about, making a terrifying noises in its effort to free itself and re-establish its authority. Any observer immediately knows the animal ultimately cannot succeed but certainly is frightened by the noise and crashing that it can sustain for a considerable time.

I think that is the pretty accurate metaphor for the situation of the United States today, still a terribly large and powerful society but one finding itself trapped after a long series of its own blunders and errors, a society certain ultimately to become diminished in its prestige and relative power with all the difficulties which that will entail for an arrogant people having a blind faith in their own rightness. America simply cannot accept its mistakes or that it was ever wrong, for Americanism much resembles a fundamentalist religion whose members are incapable of recognizing or admitting they ever followed anything but the divine plan.

America has made a costly series of errors over the last half century, demonstrating to others that the America they may have been in awe of in, say, 1950, and may have considered almost godlike and incapable of mistakes, has now proved itself indisputably, in field after field, as often not even capable of governing itself. The irony of a people who are seen as often unable to govern themselves advising others how to govern themselves brings a distinct note of absurdity to American foreign policy.

America’s establishment, feeling their old easy superiority in the world beginning to slip away in a hundred different ways, seems determined to show everyone it still has what it takes, determined to make others feel its strength, determined to weaken others abroad who do not accept its natural superiority, determined to seize by brute force and dirty tricks advantages which no longer come to it by simply superior performance.

Rather than learn from its errors and adjust its delusional assumptions, America is determined to push and bend people all over the world to its will and acceptance of its leadership. But you cannot reclaim genuine leadership once you have been exposed enough times in your bad judgment, and it is clear you are on the decline, just as you cannot once others realize that they can do many things as well or better than you.

In the end, policies which do not recognize scientific facts are doomed. Policies based on wishes and ideology do not succeed over the long run, unless, of course, you are willing to suppress everyone who disagrees with you and demand their compliance under threat. The requirement for an imperial state in such a situation is international behavior which resembles the internal behavior of an autocratic leader such as Stalin, and right now that is precisely where the United States is headed. Stalin’s personality had a fair degree of paranoia and no patience for the views of others. He felt constantly threatened by potential competitors and he used systematic terror to keep everyone intimidated and unified under him.

Stalin’s sincere belief in a faulty economic system that was doomed from its birth put him in a position similar to that of America’s oligarchs today. They have a world imperial system that is coming under increasing strain and challenge because others are growing and have their own needs and America simply does not have the flexibility to accommodate them. America’s oligarchs are not used to listening to the views of others. Stalin’s belief in a system that was more an ideology than a coherent economic system is paralleled by the quasi-religious tenets of Americanism, a set of beliefs which holds that America is especially blessed by the Creator and all things good and great are simply its due. Americanism blurrily assumes that God’s promise in the Old Testament that man should have dominion over the earth’s creatures applies now uniquely to them. Such thinking arose during many years of easy superiority, a superiority that was less owing to intrinsic merits of American society than to a set of fortuitous circumstances, many of which are now gone.

In Vietnam, America squandered countless resources chasing after a chimera its ideologues insisted was deadly important, never once acknowledging the fatal weaknesses built right into communism from its birth. Communism was certain eventually to fail because of economic falsehoods which were part of its conception, much as a child born with certain genetic flaws is destined for eventual death. America’s mad rush to fight communism on all fronts was in keeping with the zealotry of America’s Civic Religion, but it was a huge and foolish practical judgment which wasted colossal resources. In Vietnam, America ended in something close to total shame – literally defeated on the battlefield by what seemed an inconsequential opponent, having also cast aside traditional ethical values in murdering great masses of people who never threatened the United States, murder on a scale (3 million) comparable to the Holocaust. It used weapons and techniques of a savage character: napalm, cluster bombs, and secret mass terror programs. The savagery ripped into the fabric of America’s own society, dividing the nation almost as badly as its Civil War once had. America ended reduced and depleted in many respects and paid its huge bills with devalued currency.

Following Vietnam, it has just been one calamity after another revealing the same destructive inability to govern, the same thought governed by zealotry, right down to the 2008 financial collapse which was caused by ignoring sound financial management and basically instituting a system of unlimited greed. The entire world was jolted and hurt by this stupidity whose full consequences are not nearly played out.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were completely unnecessary, cost vast sums, caused immense misery, and achieved nothing worth achieving. We now know what was kept hidden that more than million Iraqis died in an invasion based entirely on lies. These wars also set in motion changes whose long term effects have yet to be felt. Iraq, for example, has just about had its Kurdish, oil-producing region hived off as a separate state.

America’s primitive approach to the Soviet Union’s collapse, its sheer triumphalism and failure to regard Russia as important enough to help or with which to cooperate, ignored America’s own long-term interests. After all, the Russians are a great people with many gifts, and it was inevitable that they would come back from a post-collapse depression to claim their place in the world.

So how do the people running the United States now deal with a prosperous and growing Russia, a Russia which reaches out in the soundest traditional economic fashion for cooperation and partnership in trade and projects? Russia has embraced free trade, a concept Americans trumpeted for years whenever it was to their advantage, but now for Russia is treated as dark and sinister. Here America fights the inevitable power of economic forces, something akin to fighting the tide or the wind, and only for the sake of its continued dominance of another continent. Americans desperately try to stop what can only be called natural economic arrangements between Russia and Europe, natural because both sides have many services, goods, and commodities to trade for the benefit of all. America’s establishment wants to cut off healthy new growth and permanently to establish its primacy in Europe even though it has nothing new to offer.

America’s deliberately dishonest interpretation of Russia’s measured response to an induced coup in Ukraine is used to generate an artificial sense of crisis, but despite the pressures America is capable of exerting on Europe, we sense Europe only goes along to avoid a public squabble and only for so long as the costs are not too high. The most intelligent leaders in Europe recognize what the United States is doing but do not want to clash openly, although the creation of the Minsk Agreement came pretty close to a polite rejection of America’s demand for hardline tactics.

The coup in Ukraine was intended to put a hostile government in control of a long stretch of Russian border, a government which might cooperate in American military matters and which would serve as an irritant to Russia. But you don’t get good results with malicious policy. So far the coup has served only to hurt Ukraine’s economy, security, and long-term interests. It has a government which is seen widely as incompetent, a government which fomented unnecessary civil war, a government which shot down a civilian airliner, and a government in which no one, including in the West, has much faith. Its finances are in turmoil, many important former economic connections are severed, and there is no great willingness by Europe, especially an economically-troubled Europe, to assist it. It is not an advanced or stable enough place to join the EU because that would just mean gigantic subsidies being directed to it from an already troubled Europe. And the idea of its joining NATO is absolutely a non-starter both because it can’t carry its own weight in such an organization and because that act would cross a dangerous red line for Russia.

Kiev is having immense problems even holding the country together as it fights autonomous right-wing outfits like the Azov Battalion in the southeast who threaten the Minsk Agreement, as it tries to implement military recruiting in Western Ukraine with more people running away than joining up, as it finds it must protect its own President with a Praetorian Guard of Americans from some serious threats by right-wing militias unhappy with Kiev’s failures, as it must reckon with the de facto secession of Donetsk and the permanent loss of Crimea – all this as it struggles with huge debts and an economy in a nosedive.

America is in no position to give serious assistance to Ukraine, just plenty of shop-worn slogans about freedom and democracy. These events provide a perfect example of the damage America inflicts on a people with malicious policy intended only to use them to hurt others. There is such a record of this kind of thing by America that I am always surprised when there are any takers out there for the newest scheme. One remembers Kissinger encouraging the Iraqi Kurds to revolt against Saddam Hussein and then leaving them in the lurch when the dictator launched a merciless suppression. I also think of the scenes at the end of the Vietnam War as American helicopters took off in cowardly fashion from the roof of the embassy leaving their Vietnamese co-workers, tears streaming down their faces, vainly grasping for the undercarriages of helicopters, a fitting and shameful end to a truly brainless crusade.

I don’t know but I very much doubt that the present government of Ukraine can endure, and it is always possible that it will slip into an even more serious civil war with factions fighting on all sides, something resembling the murderous mess America created in Libya. Of course, such a war on Russia’s borders would come with tremendous risks. The American aristocracy doesn’t become concerned about disasters into which they themselves are not thrust, but a war in Ukraine could easily do just that. In ironic fashion, heightened conflict could mark the beginning of the end of the era of European subservience to America. Chaos in Ukraine could provide exactly the shock Europe needs to stop supporting American schemes before the entire continent or even the world is threatened.

I remind readers that while Russia’s economy is not as large as America’s, it is a country with a strong history in engineering and science, and no one on the planet shares its terrifying experiences with foreign invasion. So it has developed and maintains a number of weapons systems that are second to none. Each one of its new class of ballistic missile submarines, and Russia is building a number of them, is capable of hitting 96 separate targets with thermo-nuclear warheads, and that capability is apart from rail-mounted ICBMs, hard-site ICBMs,  truck-mounted missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, sea-launched cruise missiles, and a variety of other fearsome weapons. Modern Russia does not make threats with this awesome power, and you might say Putin follows the advice of Theodore Roosevelt as he walks softly but carries a big stick, but I do think it wise for all of us to keep these things in mind as America taunts Russia and literally play a game of chicken with Armageddon. I don’t believe America has a legitimate mandate from anyone to behave in this dangerous way. Europe’s smartest leaders, having lived at the very center of the Cold War and survived two world wars, do understand this and are trying very carefully not to allow things to go too far, but America has some highly irresponsible and dangerous people working hard on the Ukraine file, and accidents do happen when you push things too hard.

In another sphere of now constant engagement, instead of sponsoring and promoting fair arrangements in the Middle East, America has carried on a bizarre relationship with Israel, a relationship which is certainly against the America’s own long term interests, although individual American politicians benefit with streams of special interests payments – America’s self-imposed, utterly corrupt campaign financing system being ultimately responsible – in exchange for blindly insisting Israel is always right, which it most certainly is not. An important segment of Israel’s population is American, and they just carried over to Israel the same short-sightedness, arrogance, and belligerence which characterize America, so much so, Israel may legitimately be viewed as an American colony in the Middle East rather than a genuinely independent state. Its lack of genuine independence is reflected also in its constant dependence on huge subsidies, on its need for heavily-biased American diplomacy to protect it in many forums including the UN, and on its dependence upon American arm-twisting and bribes in any number of places, Egypt’s generous annual American pension requiring certain behaviors being one of the largest examples.

Here, too, inevitability has been foolishly ignored. The Palestinians are not going anywhere, and they have demonstrated the most remarkable endurance, yet almost every act of Israel since its inception, each supported by America, has been an effort to make them go away through extreme hardship and abuse and violence, looking towards the creation of Greater Israel, a dangerous fantasy idea which cannot succeed but it will fail only after it has taken an immense toll. Despite America’s constant diplomatic and financial pressure on other states to support its one-sided policy here, there are finally a number of signs that views are turning away from the preposterous notion that Israel is always right and that it can continue indefinitely with its savage behavior.

Recently, we have had a great last effort by America and covert partners to secure Israel’s absolute pre-eminence in the Middle East through a whole series of destructive intrusions in the region – the “Arab Spring,” the reverse-revolution in Egypt, the smashing and now dismemberment of Iraq, the smashing and effective dismemberment of Libya, and the horrible, artificially-induced civil war in Syria which employs some of the most violent and lunatic people on earth from outside and gives them weapons, money, and refuge in an effort to destroy a stable and relatively peaceful state.

I could go on, but I think the picture is clear: in almost every sphere of American governance, internally and abroad, America’s poor political institutions have yielded the poorest decisions. America has over-extended itself on every front, has served myths rather than facts, has let greed run its governing of almost everything, and has squandered resources on achieving nothing of worth.

I view America’s present posture in the world – supporting dirty wars and coups in many places at the same time and treating others as game pieces to be moved rather than partners – as a desperate attempt to shake the world to gain advantages it couldn’t secure through accepted means of governance and policy. America is that great beast, bellowing and shaking the ground, and for that reason, it is extremely dangerous.

MORE MONEY WON’T FIX CBC

John Chuckman

I’ve heard leaders of both the Liberal Party and the NDP promise more money for CBC should either of them be elected later this year. We know CBC has suffered fairly severe cuts in funding from Stephen Harper’s bleak government. But at the same time, something else has been happening for years at CBC, and much of it has little to do with money. CBC relentlessly has dumbed itself down, hiring hosts with little interesting knowledge or even effective intelligence, muting and censoring the content of shows, and demonstrating, again and again, its implicit rejection of what should be its mandate.

A national broadcaster can never compete directly with commercial broadcasters. You don’t have to be an expert to understand that. A national broadcaster only makes sense if it focuses on quality, as a showcase for the nation’s talent, as an educator for children and the nation’s immigrants about the political and cultural nature of a country, as a forum for new ideas, and as a contributor to general understanding by others about what Canada is.

CBC is failing miserably today on all fronts. I address radio broadcasting since I am not someone who watches television, and besides it is the radio service which long has enjoyed the superior reputation, but that now has ceased to be the case. Much of what now is broadcast day-in, day-out, both on Radio One and Radio Two, is simply a waste of airtime. Blubbering about pop music for hours of every day, as CBC Radio has done now for years, is about as far as you can run away from the responsibilities of a national broadcaster.

Some once-excellent shows are decaying even as we listen. “The Current,” for example, with Anna Maria Tremonti, one of most capable interviewers Canada has ever produced, has her doing few incisive interviews, avoiding topics, and substituting Oprah Winfrey-style fluff, as for example, a half hour about plus-size women recently. I’m eagerly anticipating the “complete make-over” show. Apart from the noticeable decline in political or cultural interviews, which to my mind were the show’s raisons d’être, the now-usual Friday host and temporary fill-in is a person (aka, future possible replacement in training) who has neither the skill nor sharp intelligence to conduct an enjoyable, hard-hitting interview.

Moreover, that fill-in host just happens to be the wife of a senior newsman on the same station, raising once again the problem of nepotism and favoritism which has long plagued the radio network.

The “Sunday Edition” with Michael Enright is a mere shadow of itself, not only cut from three to two hours but filled with boring crap like precious personal essays and documentaries from wannabe producers and there is a noticeable limit on the worthiness of the people being interviewed. There is a rather viciously quiet, persistent strain of bias on some topics, one being the Middle East, injected regularly and without the least effort to balance other views. Such news and current event shows have been drained of most of their meaningful content.

The show, “As It Happens,” has been literally run into the ground, its original premise of telephone interviews with an assortment of the day’s newsmakers or eccentrics having become outdated by the timeliness of events on the Internet. Anyone who spends a bit of time on a computer knows those things before this show gets around to them today,  yet the show desperately tries to hold on and find a purpose with not-very-good interviews and even boring little panel groups.

The National News and the regional news, coming out of Toronto, border on embarrassing at times. Apart from the now-often poor grammar of newsreaders, the content is just thin and uninformative. There is no digging, there is no follow-up, and there is no judgment or concern demonstrated over clearly unanswered questions. It comments on events in other parts of the world today with no understanding and often considerable bias, often sounding as though as though press releases from Washington were being read. A truly Canadian viewpoint has just about disappeared. Reportage on other stories throughout the country is often by very young women correspondents who sound as though they just graduated from Ryerson, using the obviously-learned gimmicks of journalism courses, always attempting to end with little punch-lines, which are more often than not predictable and desperately contrived.

The parade of not even second-rate musical talent jammed into every available opening – everything from junky rap to knock-offs of soul or 1960s stuff and a lot of silly girlie-sounding elevator music – has increased steadily everywhere so that barely a few minutes pass before it starts up again. I doubt one out of ten of these is worth broadcasting, making CBC sound like what I imagine the old, fabled Ted Mack Radio Amateur Hour must have sounded like. And besides, the main content of Radio One should be intelligent talk, not music, much less starving-artist style pop music.

All of the classy, knowledgeable people on specialty shows – from Bernard St Laurent to Bob McDonald or Eleanor Wachtel or Ed Lawrence – are getting old, and one can only imagine with what teeny-bopper horrors they will be replaced.

The show, “Ideas,” originally of some interest, now is pretty much a tired, deflated balloon. There rarely is anything worthy of the name idea making an appearance. The show buys documentaries of remarkably little worth and broadcasts them with a vapid voiceover by the host.

A complete lack of imagination and meaningful direction at CBC has been running things into the ground for years. The management has only one theme, come up with some pop stuff so that we’ll be popular, and of course that’s questionable assumption as well as a dereliction of its duty as a national broadcaster.

I think the hideous Jian Gomeshi saga nicely illustrates what has happened, serving almost as an allegory, his dreary career closely corresponding with the descent of CBC into meaninglessness. Apart from his grotesque personal life, the man always was a walking mediocrity with almost nothing he said worth hearing but with a lot of bad judgment and bad taste thrown in as flavoring, yet because the show achieved some popularity – after all, if you throw enough crap on a wall, there will always be people entertained by the act – the man was allowed to run his show for years as a sadistic bully, supposed CBC principles of humanity and fairness cast to the wind by all involved. No, there’s far more in that dreary story than a man charged with rape and abuse of women, there’s the mask of the CBC ripped off to reveal a whining, inadequate, and timid management.

I simply do not see how handing over hundreds of millions of additional public funds can change CBC for the better, given the people who are entrenched there now and have made nothing but poor decisions for years.

OBAMA KILLS TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

Hints of the dark place he is taking us

 John Chuckman

Obama has been quoted saying he “takes full responsibility” for the two hostages, one American and one Italian, killed recently in a drone attack. At the same time, Obama praised the United States for its transparency in such matters.

What in God’s name does he mean? How can you have responsibility with no consequences? Isn’t that a bit like patting yourself on the back for high principles, having just committed murder? And transparency? That also is a word without meaning when applied to a country which runs a string of secret wars and coups, a country which spies on virtually the entire planet, and a country whose warehouses bulge with so many classified documents it would take a thousand years to review them.

Obama’s use of words has no meaning, much like the lack of meaning inherent in the kind of world into which he is eagerly helping to pitch us.

He has killed two innocent people in the course of an extrajudicial killing of others who were themselves, as is usual in these attacks, mere suspects.

And it is not the first time he has done this, only the first time where we know the names and faces of his victims. We only know the names and faces here because they were an American and an Italian. Our feeble and utterly corrupt press never lifts a finger to investigate who the thousands of others have been.

Estimates vary, but something on the order of 2,500 people have been murdered this way by the United States, almost all of them innocent, ordinary people, and even America’s intended targets, supposed terrorists, are guilty of nothing in law.

If a leader uses the word terror today, he can pretty much do anything he or his sadistic military/ security/ intelligence creeps want to do. I do not see any difference in these acts from those of the former military juntas in South America who made thousands of “undesirable” people simply disappear.

There’s an old saying about democratic governments that you pretty much deserve the government you get, but the glib saying is, of course, considerably less than true. Besides, it is not a great stretch to say of America today that it is about as much a democracy as was the former Soviet Union, with the key difference being voters in America get two choices instead of one on their ballots, each of them however ready to do exactly the same things, with only minor stylistic variations. You might say the choices represent two fashion statements in one official party.

However, if Western people in general just quietly accept the institutional barbarism Obama represents, they will indeed deserve the governments they get.

And what’s hurtling towards us, far more quickly than many realize, is government entirely by and for elites – wealthy, wealthy people with their paid mouthpiece political leaders and the vast military/ security apparatus they employ – the rest of humanity being reduced to unimportant mobs to be kept under control at the smallest sign of their becoming difficult, not so very much different from prisoners and perhaps even livestock.

We actually have an early prototype of the kind of society our leaders are working towards. We see it in Israel. The word “terror” there plays the same ugly role, almost like an air raid siren, justifying literally any response.

Has the world said one word of 2,200 people slaughtered in Gaza recently and left to rot in its rubble? How about Israel’s treatment of refugees of color? I see no protest over their being horribly abused and even being turned away against international laws and conventions.

And now Israel uses dirty tricks like shipping refugees off to questionable African states whose leaders have been paid bribes to take them. Can you imagine a bright future for any of them under such circumstances? They too are more than a little likely to disappear.

Of course, assassination in many forms and in many places has played a large role in Israel’s brief history. Anyone Israel does not like is expendable, and America’s whole response to “terror” is right out of an official Israeli manual.

Israel loves to sing tired songs about democracy, but half the people under its control have no rights, no vote, no future, and are frequently openly told they are undesirable and should get out. Thousands are kept in prisons, and brutal acts like spraying farm land with filthy wastewater or with potent herbicides or cutting off power supplies are fairly regular events. When those on the receiving end get too uppity, they will be either assassinated or bombed or have their homes stolen through some of the most unjust laws on the planet.

Apart from the ghastly lives enforced upon millions of non-Jews by the “Jewish state,” Israel’s Jewish population demonstrates another part of the social model. Ordinary Israelis have quite unpleasant lives by Western standards, with home ownership out of reach, the price of everything exorbitant, being subject to oppressive army service, and living in a place which in many ways resembles a high security prison with guards, spies, and restrictions everywhere. The elites of Israel do very handsomely, thank you, just as oligarchs anywhere do, all the groaning mass of other residents’ problems and limits providing them with boundless opportunities, and most of the oligarchs freely move back and forth between continents with their dual passports to cut deals or avoid troubles.

That set of conditions and practices has become a model now for the United States, and where the United States goes, so go its weak-kneed allies like Britain, France, Germany, and even our once fair-minded Canada.

THE ENDURING REALITY OF GOVERNMENT BY WEALTH AND SOME OF ITS CONSEQUENCES

John Chuckman

 

If you really want to understand the world in which we live – its endless wars, coups, interventions, and brutality towards great masses of people – you need to start with a correct understanding of the political machinery at work. Talk of liberal interventions or fighting for rights, Western values, and democracy are hopelessly naïve and mostly deliberately deceptive. America’s record in such matters is one of securing everything from bananas, copper, and crude oil concessions to, at the very least, foreign governments obedient to its mandates after removing a disliked leader, whether elected or not. There is no concern for principles outside of their being featured in blowhard, insincere political speeches. The interests of America’s government do not match the interests of ordinary people, those in America or anywhere else, and, were the informed consent of the governed genuinely involved in launching bloody adventures, they likely never would happen.

The underlying reality of how people in the West are governed now compared to hundreds of years ago is surprisingly unchanged, much the way the rules governing how chemical bonds form have not changed despite a long and great parade of events and discoveries in the visible world. Despite all the revolts, revolutions, congresses, constitutions, and great movements over the centuries, we are in fact governed in the same essential way people people were governed in 1600 or even earlier.

Of course to see this, you have to strip away the forms and rituals we have constructed over the centuries, forms and rituals which create impressive effects much like the green smoke and thunderous voice of the Wizard of Oz, a wizened old man who worked from his curtained control room, pulling levers and hitting buttons to create intimidating effects. Most Americans remain impressed with the smoke and thunder and cheap magic tricks, it requiring some dedicated effort to shake off well-done illusions, and, as I’ve written before, Americans work extremely hard in their jobs or live a kind of marginal life trying to scrape by on low wages or part-time work, either of which situations leaves little time or inclination to question what government is really doing and for whose benefit.

And so long as America remains under the rule of wealth, it is unlikely other states, as in Western Europe, will emerge from it because America’s establishment has such decisive influence – economic, financial, military, and political – over many of them.

What is considered as wealth changes over time and with economic development, and with those changes so do its interests as well as the practices of its power. Great deposits of copper ore or crude oil In the Middle Ages were virtually worthless. Wealth then was land for agriculture, forestry, and hunting, with the family names of owners determined by their estates. The revenue from that natural wealth was converted to great houses and jewels and the implements of war. War, too, was a source of wealth with most wars being little more than adventures for dominance and looting on a grand scale. Again, as in our own day, they were dressed up with slogans about principles or causes which had almost no meaning. The case of the “Christian” Crusades, which continued their pillaging and orgy of killing, on and off, for centuries, springs to mind. Soldiers and sailors, up until modern times, were not motivated by their paltry pay and poor supplies, it being understood as a condition of employment that they would enjoy a share of the bounty looted in any campaign.

Today, the forms wealth are as diverse and complex as is our society, and many of them are not apparent to ordinary people in the way great estates and hunting rights and obligations in war and peace to great lords were apparent in 800. Even as late as, say, 1850, wealth in the form of belching factories employing armies of people was often still quite apparent, but today’s complex banking and securities and financial institutions are not well understood by most people, although they represent immense wealth just as real in its demands and power as estates and obligations of the 9th century. Wealth today also comes from huge global manufacturing concerns of every description often with operations scattered out of sight, great shipping and transportation fleets, or electronic and communications empires. Land itself remains an important form of wealth where it can produce industrial-scale crops or contains deposits of valuable minerals or can generate flows of electricity or has been developed into great cities or resorts. War remains a source of wealth, only on a scale which could not have been imagined a few hundred years ago, but the spoils no longer go to soldiers in professional armies, they go to those responsible for the war, often in forms not easily recognized, as with special rights and concessions and secret arrangements.

As the nature of wealth evolved from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era, outward forms and rituals of government also changed. We have moved from the near-absolute power of kings and autocrats through aristocracies and republics with senates to a great variety of forms, parliaments and congresses, which appear designed to yield, to one degree or another, the consent of the governed.

But appearances, as in the case of the Wizard of Oz, can be deceiving.

Today, a single wealthy individual cannot make the kind of demands upon ordinary people that marked arrangements in the Middle Ages – although that must be qualified as I’m sure anyone who has become involved in a dispute with a wealthy neighbor or a great corporation will be happy to explain – but the class of wealthy people can indeed make just such demands, and they do so all the time. You will be taxed to pay for the schemes that their lobbying establishes, your water and air will contain the pollution of their manufacturing and mining, your children will be sent to kill and die in their wars, the ethics or morals you were taught as a child will be trampled upon, and virtually all important legislation will deal with the rights and interests of wealth, and not those of the broad mass of people.

In America, once in four years you will be asked to choose between two names, both of which have been closely vetted by the powers that be, to elect as head of government. Not only have they been vetted, but the immense costs of their campaigns in reaching you on television, at rallies, and with opinion polls to regularly fine tune their words will be paid almost exclusively by those whose real interests are at stake in every major election, the wealthy and their important serving institutions of government. The end effect is not really all that different than the old single-candidate Soviet elections at which the press trained Americans to sneer.

Many of America’s founding fathers had dark suspicions about the existence of wealth being secure in the presence of democratic government, and that is why they created forms – mostly adapted from Britain, a place no one regarded as a democracy then – to keep wealth safe. Over a couple of centuries, the original arrangements were modified, the country moving from a tiny one percent or so privileged voters – for perspective, that’s roughly the same as the percent of voters in China’s Communist Party deciding who rules the country – to something approaching universal suffrage, but always arrangements were made to safeguard wealth against the assumed predations of democracy.

In elections for the American Senate, the legislative body with real power, authority, and privilege, you again will be asked to choose between two well-vetted and well-connected candidates. Others may run, but they will be rendered helpless by the vetted candidates’ flood of money and resources, you will never hear their voices, and America’s press – itself an empire of wealth serving wealth – will waste no time on their views. In the case of the Senate, you will be asked once in six years to vote, with the elections staggered so that only one-third of that body faces election at any time – a perfectly-conceived formula for keeping the old bunch in charge despite issues which might have generated election discontent. In fact, you can never “throw the bums out” in America. Anyway, there really isn’t much risk for Senators running for re-election, with incumbents winning about 95% of the time. Senate seats are so secure they sometimes become family sinecures, handed down from father to son. After the election, unless you live in a small-population, insignificant state, you will never see or meet your Senator, and you will certainly have no opportunity to lobby. Virtually all seeing, meeting, and lobbying will be done by the wealthy sponsors of the successful candidates or by their hired help.

The average American Senator is said to spend two-thirds of his or her time securing funds for the next election, and such elections have now been bid-up to unbelievable amounts of money. The huge costs serve as what economists call “a barrier to entry,” a kind of high financial wall which keeps others from entering the political market, or, if somehow they do manage to enter, keeps them from effectively competing. Only the other wealth-vetted and connected candidate will have any hope of collecting a big enough pot of money to threaten an incumbent. The belief that people giving millions of dollars to candidates expect nothing in return is not even worth discussing. What they get – apart from goodies like important and prestigious appointments or valuable government contracts – is access, and access is exactly what most people never enjoy. Intimate access to politicians in high office, people always mindful of the necessity for another overflowing campaign war chest, is genuine power.

It is not impossible to have compatibility between democracy and wealth, but it requires a set of laws and regulations concerned with campaign financing, lobbying, and dis-establishing a political duopoly of two privileged parties, laws which simply cannot happen in America over our lifetimes. In America, law makes corporations persons, and the highest court, packed by judges appointed to serve wealth’s interests, has ruled that campaign money is free speech. These are not things easily turned around.

The American system of campaign financing not only assures the secure power of domestic wealth, it assures also the influence of wealthy lobbies serving the interests of foreign states, Israel being the most outstanding example. Other foreign states also exploit this system to varying degrees, but no other state has more than five million American citizens in great part keen to serve its interests. And many of them are successful, affluent, and well-placed people enjoying a connected set of organizations and well-funded lobbies. Other foreign states also do not enjoy having many of their lobbyists in America being dual-citizens, free to move back and forth between the country being lobbied and the country being lobbied for, surely an ethical issue for politics and foreign affairs of the first magnitude. It is a unique situation in many respects, and it has helped create a unique set of problems in the world.

The wealthy interests of America happen to share some important interests with lobbyists for Israel, including securing the Western world’s supply of energy and not permitting the rise of states of any power in the Middle East who disagree with America’s essential views. It is important to keep in mind that “America’s essential views” are not necessarily the views of most of the American people and that many of those “essential views” have never received genuine informed consent. Elections conducted the way America’s high-level elections are conducted are incapable of bestowing meaningful consent, especially in vitally important matters.

The Israeli-American alliance is something of an unholy one because in binding America so closely to Israel, some huge and unresolvable conflicts have been created. Israel is associated with a long series of wars and abuses in the region, and, ipso facto, so is America. Israel, given the nature of its founding, expansion, and practices, is not liked by any neighboring states, although many now cooperate secretly, and sometimes even openly, in areas of mutual interest and have learned to tolerate its existence, the way generally eased by large American bribes or equally large American threats.

Traditionally, states in the Middle East are not democracies. Their often short histories have given limited opportunity for wide-spread development and prosperity creating a strong middle-class, the sine qua non for democracy. With the United States always (insincerely) praising democracy – including Israel’s grotesque contradiction of “democracy for some but not others” – it has been caught in a bind between supporting what it says it opposes and opposing what it says it supports.

Its proposed solution was a huge CIA project, nick-named “the Arab Spring” by America’s wealth-serving and often dishonest press, a set of manufactured uprisings intended to bring a semblance of democracy to the region. It has been largely a failure, ending with some countries trapped in chaos or civil war and others, notably Egypt, briefly gaining a government Israel hated intensely, the truth being that genuine democracy in virtually any of these countries will not be friendly to Israel’s geopolitical ambitions in the region nor to those of its American promoter and protector. While the “Arab Spring” was allowed to proceed in some states, in others, where it was neither intended nor desired, such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, spill-over effects were deliberately and violently suppressed with American assistance. So the American-Israeli relationship now still locks the United States effectively in fighting against democracy in some countries and in supporting absolute monarchs and oligarchs in others, while in still others, such as Syria and Iraq, it is involved literally in smashing them as states, in violation of all international law and long-term good sense.

The entire situation is an ongoing disaster and is almost certainly not sustainable over the long term. How do you insist a huge country like Egypt remain a backwater without democratic rights indefinitely? How can you justify the destruction of an ancient and beautiful country like Syria? How can you justify supporting absolute monarchs and keeping their people in total political darkness? How do you continue supporting Israel in its abuse of millions, depriving them of every human right, or in its constant aggression to secure its hegemony? The drive for regional hegemony is all that is behind Israel’s constant hectoring of Iran, and how is that behavior different to the aggressive wars condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal? It’s not, of course. Further, destructive, deliberately-induced conflicts like that in Syria, by degrading its economic advance, only slow the day for democracy’s having a real chance to emerge.

So here is America, self-proclaimed land of the free, mired in a vast situation where it works to suppress democracy, supports tyrants, and supports aggressive war because its leaders, with no genuine consent of the governed, have put it there, and this is just one of many unhealthy and destructive consequences of wealth’s rule in the United States. Wealth has no inherent interest in democracy, and it is entirely up to a people anywhere to demand respect for democracy through laws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CIA AND AMERICA’S PRESIDENTS
Some rarely discussed truths shaping contemporary American democracy

 

John Chuckman

Many people still think of the CIA as an agency designed to help American presidents make informed decisions about matters outside the United States. That was the basis for President Truman’s signing the legislation which created the agency, and indeed it does serve that role, generally rather inadequately, but it has become something far beyond that.

Information is certainly not something to which any reasonable person objects, but the CIA has two houses under its roof, and it is the operational side of the CIA which gives it a world-wide bad reputation. The scope of undercover operations has evolved to make the CIA into a kind of civilian army, one involving great secrecy, little accountability, and huge budgets – altogether a dangerous development indeed for any country which regards itself as a democracy and whose military is forbidden political activity. After all, the CIA’s secret operational army in practice is not curtailed by restrictions around politics, many of its tasks having been quite openly political. Yes, its charter forbids operations in the United States, but those restrictions have been ignored or bent countless times both in secret programs like Echelon (monitoring telephone communications by five English-speaking allies who then share the information obtained, a forerunner to the NSA’s recently-revealed collection of computer data) and years of mail-opening inside the United States or using substitutes to go around the rule, as was likely the case with the many Mossad agents trailing the eventual perpetrators of 9/11 inside the United States before the event.

As with all large, powerful institutions over time, the CIA constantly seeks expansion of its means and responsibilities, much like a growing child wanting ever more food and clothing and entertainment. This inherent tendency, the expansion of institutional empire, is difficult enough to control under normal circumstances, but when there are complex operations in many countries and tens of billions in spending and many levels of secrecy and secret multi-level files, the ability of any elected politicians – whose keenest attention is always directed towards re-election and acquiring enough funds to run a campaign – to exercise meaningful control and supervision becomes problematic at best. The larger and more complex the institution becomes, the truer this is.

Under Eisenhower, the CIA’s operational role first came to considerable prominence, which is hardly surprising considering Eisenhower was a former Supreme Commander in the military, the military having used many dark operations during WWII, operations still classified in some cases. In his farewell address, it is true, Eisenhower gave Americans a dark warning about the “military-industrial complex,” but as President he used CIA dark operations extensively, largely to protect American corporate interests in various parts of the world – everything from oil interests to banana monopolies in Central America. Perhaps, he viewed the approach as less destructive or dangerous or likely to tarnish America’s post-WWII reputation than “sending in the Marines,” America’s traditional gang of paid-muscle for such tasks, but, over the long term, he was wrong, and his extensive use of CIA operations would prove highly destructive and not just tarnish America’s image but totally shatter it. It set in motion a number of developments and problems which haunt America to this day.

In the 1950s, the CIA was involved in a number of operations whose success bred hubris and professional contempt for those not part of its secret cult, an attitude not unlike that of members of an elite fraternity or secret society at university. The toppling of disliked but democratic governments in Guatemala and Iran and other operations had, by about the time of President Kennedy’s coming to power in 1960, bred an arrogant and unwarranted belief in its ability to do almost anything it felt was needed. The case of Cuba became a watershed for the CIA and its relationship with Presidents of the United States, President Eisenhower and his CIA having come to believe that Castro, widely regarded by the public as a heroic figure at the time, had turned dangerous to American corporate and overseas interests and needed to be removed. Fairly elaborate preparations for doing so were put into place, and parts of the southern United States became large secret training grounds for would-be terrorists selected from the anti-Castro exile community by CIA officers in charge of a project which dwarfed Osama bin Laden’s later camp in the mountains of Afghanistan.

A just-elected President Kennedy was faced with a momentous decision: whether to permit and support the invasion of neighboring Cuba, great effort and expense having gone into the scheme. Kennedy supported it with limited reservations, reservations which became the source of the deepest resentment by the old boys at the CIA looking for someone to blame for the invasion’s embarrassing public failure. The truth is the CIA’s plans were ill-considered from the beginning, the product of those arrogant attitudes bred from “successes” such as Guatemala. Cuba was not Guatemala, it had a far larger population, fewer discontented elements to exploit, a cohort of soldiers freshly-experienced from the revolution against former dictator Batista, and Castro was widely regarded as a national hero. The Bay of Pigs invasion never had a chance of success, and the very fact that the CIA put so many resources into it and pressured the President to have it done shows how badly it had lost its way by that time.

That failure of the invasion, a highly public failure, created a serious rift between the President and the CIA. When the President, in an unprecedented act, fired three senior CIA figures, holding them responsible for the fiasco, we can only imagine the words which echoed in the halls of Langley. CIA plots against Castro nevertheless carried right on. America was an intensely hostile place on the matter of communism at that time, its press continuously beating the drums, and no President could afford politically to appear even slightly indifferent. Kennedy himself was not quite the peace-loving figure some of his later admirers would hold him to be. He was a work in progress, and he gave speeches often colored by strident martinet and jingo phrases. Secret attempts were made to assassinate Castro, and the Kennedys, at that time, undoubtedly would have been pleased had they succeeded.

Again, in some these attempts, the CIA went to great and genuinely weird lengths, including an arrangement with Mafia figures, something the public did not know until the 1975 Church Committee looking into illegality in CIA operations. Rumors and threats of another invasion, likely often fed by the CIA itself as psychological warfare against Cuba, led to the confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962. Here, more than ever, the President was ill-served by the CIA and the Pentagon. They wanted an immediate invasion of Cuba when U2 spy cameras detected what appeared to be missile installations under construction, utterly unaware that Russia already had battlefield-ready tactical nuclear weapons mounted on short-range missiles ready to repel an invasion.

The 1975 Church Senate Committee looking into earlier illegality came into being because a number of sources were suggesting the CIA had been engaged in assassination and other dark practices, matters which at that time quite upset the general public and some decent politicians. The names in rumors included Lumumba of Congo, Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Diem of Vietnam, Schneider of Chile, and others, but since only part of the Church Report was released we cannot know the full extent of what had been going on. Another possible name is Dag Hammarskjöld of the UN. It is perhaps a key measure of how far things have deteriorated with the CIA that the Church Committee today appears almost naïve. Following the committee’s report, President Ford issued an Executive Order banning assassinations. This was replaced just a few years later by an Executive Order of Ronald Reagan’s, Reagan being a great fan of dark operations, having appointed one of the more dangerous men ever to hold the title of CIA Director, William Casey.

The CIA, of course, now runs a regular assassination air force which has killed thousands of innocent people apart from the intended targets, themselves individuals proved guilty of nothing under law. The CIA today thinks nothing of using mass killing to reach desired goals, the Maidan shootings of innocent people demonstrating in Kiev being an outstanding example, shootings which precipitated a coup last year in Ukraine against an elected government. And then there are the trained and armed maniacs which were set loose upon the people of Syria to do pretty much whatever they pleased.

Kennedy managed to resist demands for invasion in 1962, perhaps his one great achievement as President, and he took another path which eventually led to an agreement with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. That agreement, which included America’s pledge not to invade Cuba, made Kennedy a marked man. He was hated by the fanatical and well-armed Cuban émigré community, and he was hated by all the men who had devoted a fair part of their lives to eliminating Castro, the émigrés’ recruiters, trainers, handlers, and suppliers – members all of the CIA country club set whose commie-hatred was so intense it could make the veins in their foreheads pop. Some at the CIA were undoubtedly even further irked by backchannel communications which opened up between Kennedy and Khrushchev, and tentative efforts to open something of that nature with Castro. They weren’t supposed to know about these efforts, but they almost certainly did.

It is difficult today for people to grasp the intensity of anti-communist and anti-Castro feelings that pervaded America’s establishment in 1963, more resembling a religious hysteria than political views. One thing is absolutely clear, Kennedy’s assassination was about Cuba, and it was conceived out of a simmering conviction that Kennedy literally was not fit to be President. No important person who ever expressed a quiet opinion on the matter – including Mrs. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and some members of the Warren Commission – ever believed the fantasy story fashioned by the Warren Commission. Neither did informed observers abroad – the Russian and French governments for example later expressed their views – as well as a great many ordinary Americans.

Other facts about Kennedy undoubtedly added to the volatile reactions of the plotters, facts not known by the public until decades later, one fact in particular was his relatively long and intense affair with Mary Pinchot Meyer, a highly intelligent woman, socialite, and former wife of a senior CIA agent, Cord Meyer, who for a time ran Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Kennedy and Mary Meyer are said to have had long talks about world affairs and prospects for peace, and she also is said to have introduced Kennedy to marijuana and LSD, he, given his chronic back pain, willing to try almost anything. She kept a diary which was known to the CIA’s James Angleton because he was discovered searching for it after her mysterious, professional hit-style murder in 1964 (small calibre bullet by a gun held to the head). One can only imagine the raised eyebrows of CIA officials when they learned about drugs and Mary’s influence on Kennedy (could some of their numerous meetings possibly not have been bugged?). Double betrayal over Cuba, backchannel communications with Russia, and drugs and sex with an artistic, intellectual type – those surely would have made the men who decided the fates of leaders in much lesser places extremely uneasy about the future.

My focus is not the assassination, but I’ve gone into some length because I believe it was a defining event in relations between future Presidents and the CIA. After this, every President would work under its rather frightening shadow.

Lyndon Johnson was ready from day one to give the CIA anything it wanted. Whether Johnson was involved in the assassination as some plausibly believe, or whether he was just intimidated by those involved – after all, like all bullies, Johnson was at heart a coward as he demonstrated numerous times. He wasn’t long in launching the most vicious and pointless war since World War II with the cheap trick of a story about an attack upon American ships. The CIA got right into the fun in 1965 with its Operation Phoenix, which over some years involved tens of thousands of silent assassinations of village leaders and others by night-crawling Special Forces soldiers guided to their targets by CIA agents.

Like all the CIA’s more lunatic operations – this one just kept running until at least 1972 – chalking up a toll of murders estimated as high as 40,000 and proving a complete failure in its goal of securing America’s artificial rump-state of South Vietnam. It was madness to be involved in Vietnam, and it proved in the end infinitely more embarrassing and destructive to America’s morale and reputation than the Bay of Pigs invasion, but then more a few people who knew and worked with Johnson have said that he was pretty much mad himself. The CIA fed Johnson the kind of things he wanted to hear, but the War in Vietnam was always characterized by poor intelligence, and when the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched the huge, surprise of the Tet Offensive in early 1968, Washington was hit by an earthquake, and a lot of people suddenly understood Vietnam was a lost cause. Johnson, always the coward, his party starting to split into factions over the matter, announced his resignation not long after.

Of course, the truth is that the information side of the CIA’s house has never been very good at its work. Apart from the abject failures of Vietnam, the CIA is said to have never once got the most critical assessments of the Cold War era, those of the Soviet Union’s economic and military strength, anywhere close to accurate. There were many reasons for that, but the perceived need to exaggerate your enemy’s strength to inflate the size of CIA budgets was an important one. Whether Big Intelligence ever really works in obtaining reliable information and reliable information which will be used by politicians is certainly a topic open for discussion. The most successful information-gathering intelligence service of the early Cold War, the KGB, often had its sometimes remarkable material questioned or cast aside by Stalin.

Richard Nixon’s demise in the Watergate scandal likely was served up by CIA dirty tricks. The Watergate break-in was in mid-1972, although it took more than two years before Nixon resigned. Some of the old CIA hands who worked for Nixon’s secret “plumber’s unit,” a private operations group which did jobs like breaking in to the Watergate Hotel offices of the Democrats, had a history going back to the assassination. They undoubtedly kept Langley informed of what steps they were being ordered to take. Nixon was a problem for some of the CIA’s darkest secrets: he was jealous and bitter towards the Kennedys for beating him in the 1960 election (he also knew election fraud was used), and he had an obsessive curiosity about the assassination, having made a number of attempts to ascertain just what happened for which he was rebuffed.

A possible second reason for the CIA’s wanting to dump Nixon was the deteriorated situation in Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were signed early in 1973, however there is evidence that Nixon and Kissinger actually put forward their proposals in the hope that they would be rejected and Congress then would allow them a free hand in seeking a clearer victory. But by that time even the CIA recognized the war in Vietnam could not be won by conventional means and that the interests of the United States were being damaged by its continuation. Despite press blurbs about peace, Nixon always desperately wanted to triumph in Vietnam, having gone so far in secret as to discuss the possibility of using nuclear weapons on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Despite various speculations, we have never learned just what Nixon’s burglars were after at the Watergate, and the reason for that may just well be the CIA’s having baited him with false information about what might be discovered there. The job very likely was deliberately sabotaged when old CIA hands do things like sloppy door-taping. The neat little trick alerted a security guard and led to the whole long Watergate Affair and Nixon’s eventual resignation, just the kind of neat outcome operations-types love to chuckle over at expense account lunches.

George H. W. Bush senior, the man for whom the Langley headquarters is named was more than a short-term appointed CIA Director. He had a long but never acknowledged background in CIA, a fact which has come to light from a few references in obscure documents obtained by assassination researchers over decades. He almost certainly was involved with the operations against Castro before the assassination. He was likely America’s first official CIA President. One of the regular activities of the CIA abroad is to pay secret pensions to likely future leaders in select countries so that they will be both beholden and in a position to be compromised. They do this in dozens of significant countries as part of an effort to control future relations with America. So why not take a similar approach to leadership inside the United States? The first clear example was George H. W. Bush whose single term as President gave the CIA several schemes abroad dear to their hearts, including setting up Saddam Hussein for invasion after his foolish invasion of Kuwait (done following the seeming approval of the United States’ ambassador to Iraq), and the invasion of Panama in 1989. Panama’s General Noriega had apparently done the unforgivable thing of setting up “honey traps” in which American diplomats and CIA officials were photographed having sex, giving Noriega a powerful weapon against Washington’s interference. So he was set up on drug charges – which may or may not have been true, but they were not the business of American justice – other provocations were arranged like a silly stunt about an American sailor being beaten up, and Noriega’s country promptly was invaded.

Of course George Bush Junior was not CIA, lacking the fundamental requirement of a decent brain. But his presidency was effectively America’s first dual presidency, with Dick Cheney serving as senior partner despite his lesser title, and Dick Cheney was CIA-connected, having served as Secretary of Defense under George Bush’s father, overseen such operations as Desert Storm, and after George H. W.’s election defeat, serving as Chairman and CEO of Halliburton, a gigantic oil services company which operates all over the globe. Such companies – in much the same fashion as large American news organizations such as Time-Life, CBS, or The New York Times – notoriously are well connected with the CIA. Because companies like Halliburton operate in scores of countries, deal with strategic resources, travel to remote sites, and often have access to important figures, they provide perfect cover for CIA agents and other intelligence assets. The Bush-Cheney period was certainly a golden one for the CIA in terms of institutional growth and new projects. Many ugly projects now making our world a less secure place were started in this period.

The CIA now is so firmly entrenched and so immensely well financed – much of it off the books, including everything from secret budget items to peddling drugs and weapons – that it is all but impossible for a president to oppose it the way Kennedy did. Obama, who has proved himself a fairly weak character from the start, certainly has given the CIA anything it wants. The dirty business of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is one project. The coup in Ukraine is another. The pushing of NATO’s face right against Russia’s borders is still another. Several attempted coups in Venezuela are still more. And the creation of a drone air force for extrajudicial killing in half a dozen countries is yet another. They don’t resemble projects we would expect from a smiley-faced, intelligent man who sometimes wore sandals and refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel during his first election campaign.

More than one observer has speculated about Obama’s being CIA, and there are significant holes in his resume which could be accounted for by his involvement. He would have been an attractive candidate for several reasons. Obama is bright, and the CIA employs few blacks in its important jobs. He also might have been viewed as a good political prospect for the future in just the way foreign politicians are selected for secret pensions. After all, before he was elected, there were stories about people meeting this smart and (superficially) charming man and remarking that they may just have met a future president.

If Obama is not actually CIA, then he is so intimidated that he pretty much rubber stamps their projects. A young, inexperienced President must always be mindful of that other young President whose head was half blown off in the streets of Dallas. Moreover, there are some shady areas in Obama’s background around drugs and perhaps other matters which could be politically compromising. The CIA is perfectly capable of using anything of that nature for political exposure while making it look as though it came from elsewhere.

So, when people write of America’s secret government or of its government within the government, it is far more than an exaggeration. It is actually hard to imagine now any possibility of someone’s being elected President and opposing what the CIA recommends, the presidency having come to resemble in more than superficial ways the Monarchy in Britain. The Queen is kept informed of what Her government is doing, but can do nothing herself to change directions. Yes, the President still has the power on paper to oppose any scheme, and then so does the Queen simply by refusing her signature, but she likely could exercise that power just once. In her case the consequence would be an abrupt end to the Monarchy. In a President’s case, it would be either a Nixonian or Kennedyesque end.