Sunday, March 24, 2019

IF YOU HATE HYPOCRISY AND POLITICAL STUPIDITY OF EVERY DESCRIPTION, THEN YOU'LL LOVE THIS SITE...



ABOUT JOHN CHUCKMAN


ME, ROUGHLY: THE DECLINE IS SO RAPID NOW





John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards it as a badge of honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something like 3 million Vietnamese in their own land because they embraced the wrong economic loyalties. He lives in Canada, which he is fond of calling “the peaceable kingdom.”

John’s writing appears regularly on many Internet sites. He has been translated into at least ten languages and has been regularly translated into Italian and Spanish. Several of his essays have been published in book collections, including two college texts. He has published a book, The Decline of the American Empire and the Rise of China as a Global Power, published by Constable and Robinson, London. John also writes book reviews.

Apart from his writing since retiring from the oil industry, John has taught university courses in economics, done a good deal of private tutoring, served as a professional newspaper restaurant reviewer (he likes cooking), followed his favorite hobby of photography, and created a popular family of image blogs on the Internet.

John may be reached directly at:  formersouthsideboy@gmail.com

SOME INTERNET SITES FROM JOHN CHUCKMAN:


CHUCKMAN'S PLACES ON WORDPRESS: FEATURING THE BELOVED URBAN VILLAGE OF SOUTH SHORE CHICAGO

CHUCKMAN'S PHOTOS ON WORDPRESS: CHICAGO NOSTALGIA AND MEMORABILIA

CHUCKMAN'S PHOTOS ON WORDPRESS: TORONTO NOSTALGIA

CHUCKMAN’S MONTREAL

CHUCKMAN'S PHOTOS ON WORD PRESS

CHUCKMAN'S KODACHROMES ON WORDPRESS: JOHN AND BOBBY LONG AGO

CHUCKMAN'S PORT STANLEY

CHUCKMAN'S BAYFIELD

CHUCKMAN'S GODERICH

CHUCKMAN'S ILES DE LA MADELEINE (MAGDALEN ISLANDS)

CHUCKMAN'S ART

CHUCKMAN'S ROBOTS

CHUCKMAN'S GALLERY OF GROTESQUES

CHUCKMAN'S CARTOON COMMENTS

CHUCKMAN'S PHOTOS ON WORDPRESS: 1920s ARCADE CARD BEAUTIES – THEIR CHARM AND GRACE AND WHIMSY

CHUCKMAN'S WORDS ON WORDPRESS: POLITICAL ESSAYS

CHUCKMAN'S WORDS ON WORDPRESS: COMMENTS FROM THE WORLD'S PRESS

CHUCKMAN'S MISCELLANEA OF WORDS

CHUCKMAN'S NON-SPORTS TRADING CARDS OF THE 1950S VOLUME 01 (OF 4 VOLUMES)


JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: IT APPEARS "RUSSIAGATE" IS OVER - IT WAS ONLY EVER A CHEAP POLITICAL SCHEME EXPLOITING AMERICAN FEARS ABOUT RUSSIA - BUT THE SCHEME ALREADY SUCCEEDED WITH TRUMP HANDING OVER FOREIGN POLICY TO NEOCONS WHO WILL ENTRENCH RUSSOPHOBIA AND ENDLESS WAR - ANOTHER FEAR ABOUT MUELLER

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN MOON OF ALABAMA



“Russiagate Is Really Finished”



"Russiagate" has always been a meaningless political fraud.

When folks like Hillary Clinton sign on to something and give it a great deal of emphasis, you really do know without further scrutiny that you are talking about an empty bag of tricks. She is a psychopathic liar, and one with a great deal of blood on her hands.

My problem with the expected result of the Mueller investigation is that it may tend to give Trump something of a boost, some degree of new credibility. He will, of course, start noisy daily bragging along the lines of, “See, I told ya so!”

The trouble with Trump has never been Russia - something only blind ideologues or people with the minds of children believe - it is that he is genuinely ignorant and genuinely arrogant and loud-mouthed - an extremely dangerous combination.

And in trying to defend himself from possible threats to his office, he also now has demonstrated himself a coward, completely surrendering American foreign policy to its most dangerous enemies, the Neocons.


https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/john-chuckman-comment-americas-democrats-launch-lawsuit-against-trump-and-russia-and-wiki-leaks-over-election-hilarious-this-is-a-country-fit-to-dominate-the-earth-they-cant-manage-their-own/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/john-chuckman-comment-yet-more-ignorant-gossip-and-innuendo-about-trump-and-russia-this-all-reminds-me-of-insane-past-american-campaigns-against-procter-gamble-or-harry-potter-charging-devil/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/12/08/john-chuckman-comment-what-americas-neocons-represent-for-arms-control-agreements-such-as-the-inf-with-russia-and-heres-the-deadly-weakness-in-trumps-psychology-that-has-allowed-neocons-to-ta/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/john-chuckman-comment-a-comment-rightly-asks-with-trump-doing-everything-the-establishment-wants-why-do-they-still-want-to-get-rid-of-him-i-think-these-are-the-essential-reasons/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/john-chuckman-comment-some-very-dark-thoughts-of-where-america-is-going-in-its-relations-with-russia-and-iran-i-do-think-we-live-in-dangerous-times-and-they-are-deliberately-manufactured/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/john-chuckman-comment-complete-degradation-of-a-self-styled-great-nation-which-allows-paid-thugs-to-use-poison-gas-to-give-it-an-excuse-for-still-more-killing-the-dark-place-we-are-brought-to-by-tr/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/john-chuckman-comment-more-on-the-strange-phenomenon-of-trump-and-americas-neocons-a-man-who-imagines-himself-a-great-leader-leading-nothing-and-he-still-has-pathetic-followers-who-think-hes-fi/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/john-chuckman-comment-new-phony-book-on-trump-and-russia-whats-really-going-on-with-all-the-mumbo-jumbo-insanity-in-america-the-real-target-aint-trump-neocons-and-russia/





JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: GAZA'S HEROIC MARCH OF RETURN HAS ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY - ONE OF THE BRAVEST SET OF ACTS IN THE NAME OF HUMAN FREEDOM I'VE SEEN IN A LIFETIME

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MIKO PELED IN MINTPRESS



‘Gaza March of Return Architect Abu Artema Celebrates Its First-Year Anniversary

‘“Why would we die here in silence? We want our message to reach the world. We want to say to the world ‘here there is a people. A people searching for a life of dignity, human rights and freedom.'” ‘



I find it extremely difficult to associate the word “celebration” with an event such as the March of Return.

Simply because Israel has used it as an opportunity for atrocities, for cowardly soldiers to kneel behind a fence, literally to ambush thousands of unarmed people, killing a couple of hundred and wounding thousands.

But despite Israel’s success in muffling Western media coverage and its success in using mass murder to intimidate, the Palestinians I believe have won a very important victory with the March of Return.

No matter how great Israel’s influence on the press, and it is great, when such obvious terror happens over and over, it becomes clear to a lot of people in the world that the people of Gaza are heroic in their opposition to oppression and that Israel’s armed forces behave no differently to the thugs of the Third Reich when confronted by genuine heroism – they shoot women and children and heroic medics and journalists. And the sad government of Israel lies about it, week after week, its hideously corrupt and murderous Prime Minister using the term “moral” to describe an army of cowardly assassins.

Americans are quite fond of the notion of having to sacrifice for freedom. It frequently provides a theme in popular songs and movies. But for most of them, it is only a phrase, nice to hear at Fourth-of-July picnic speeches, never having been asked to sacrifice anything.

But in these marches, we’ve witnessed the real thing, terribly oppressed people ready to give everything for change.

Were there any justice in the world, the Nobel Peace Prize would be awarded to the men who created and this movement and to the people who have made it happen. It is one of the bravest acts in the name of human freedom I have seen in my lifetime.

But, of course, there is no justice, and the prizes, for fear of offending America’s imperial establishment, are given for doing pretty much nothing.





Friday, March 22, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THOMAS FRIEDMAN TALKS OF HIS "ANCESTRAL HOMELAND" - AND HE DOESN'T MEAN MINNESOTA WHERE HE WAS BORN - THE SLIPPERY IDEA OF ISRAEL AS AN ANCESTRAL HOMELAND - FUN WITH SOME OF FRIEDMAN'S PAST QUIRKY WRITING AS A PENTAGON PR AGENT

John Chuckman


EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY YOSSI GURVITZ IN MONDOWEISS



“Tom Friedman’s belief in an ‘ancestral homeland’ is a toxic myth and not history”



Yes, and there's a whole lot more that could be said.

The Ashkenazi - who make up most of Israel's population and the bulk of early Zionist writers and, indeed, provide the very model for what most Americans think of as being Jewish - are simply a Germanic people, a European people, not a Middle Eastern people.

What’s Middle Eastern about Deli food? It’s Germanic and Eastern European. And what’s Middle eastern about the attire of ultra-Orthodox Jews? It’s from rural 18th or 19th century Eastern Europe.

The native language is Yiddish, a derivative of German. Hebrew is adopted and related to religious study, just as many non-Arabic Muslims study Arabic to be able to read the Koran in the original.

An historic period saw Jews, at least some, become evangelistic – perhaps envying the immense success of Christians who, after all, started as a small Jewish sect – and saw Jewish religious colonies founded in a number of places, as in Africa and in the Caucasus. Later, there was undoubtedly movement and travel among these diverse places, with the search for suitable mates in a relatively small population playing a role.

There likely are, then, bits of the Hebrew people's DNA in many of the Ashkenazi, but that doesn’t make them the Hebrew people.

The Ashkenazi share the Hebrews' religion, although even that is vastly changed from 2,000 years ago.

The Palestinians are almost certainly the nearest we have to the direct descendants of the Hebrews. And what a bitter irony that is. Of course, two thousand years of history and intermarriage and conquests have changed their culture and religion.

The Roman did not remove local populations from their conquests. They expected people to keep farming and working and paying taxes to Rome. And those great record-keepers left no record of having done so to the Hebrews. Rome typically didn’t even interfere in local religious practices. The entire story of wandering Jews kicked out of the Holy land is just that, a story, perhaps another way to bind a distinct modern people to the ancients whose religion they practice. It has no more historical validity than Noah’s ark or Jonah and the whale.

In any event, nothing could be more of an invitation for trouble than basing modern national boundaries and identities on ancient texts. If, for example, the Greeks were to do that, they would claim part of Turkey, where ancient Troy was defeated and sacked 3,000 years ago. And there are innumerable such cases in the world offering possibilities for endless conflict.

Apart from his focus on Israel, Friedman in his writing is one of America’s greatest living apologists for the Pentagon and the use of American military power, an association which goes to my often-stated view of modern Israel being an American colony in the Middle East, a very special kind of colony, but a colony nonetheless. As for Friedman’s absurdities over the years, and there have been a great many, readers might enjoy:



https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/the-dumbest-story-ever-written/



https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/thomas-friedmans-life-as-a-pet-hamster/



https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/thomas-friedman-spokesman-for-enlightenment/

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP AND THE GOLAN HEIGHTS - BREAKING MANY LAWS AND GIVING AWAY OTHER PEOPLE'S PROPERTY WITH NO CONCEIVABLE AUTHORITY FOR DOING SO - OH FOR SOME BOLD MEXICAN ILLEGALS TO SEIZE MAR-A-LAGO AND DECLARE IT ETERNALLY THEIRS

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN SOUTHFRONT



"TRUMP: IT’S TIME FOR U.S. TO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL’S SOVEREIGNTY OVER GOLAN HEIGHTS"



The man is simply an idiot with no understanding of what damage he is doing - trampling international law, ignoring the views of allies, and legitimizing armed conquest as a means for national growth - a mighty dangerous set of precedents.

And by what conceivable authority is an American president granted power to set boundaries for other states?

Isn’t that just slightly presumptuous, to say the least?

I do wish a gang of Mexican illegal migrants would seize Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and proclaim it as eternally theirs.

It would make every bit as much sense as what Israel has done in Golan.





Thursday, March 21, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE INTERESTING CASE OF TURKEY'S PRESIDENT ERDOGAN - THE UNEASY RELATIONSHIPS HE KEEPS WITH AMERICA AND EUROPE

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN MOON OF ALABAMA



“WaPo Gives Campaign Space To Main Sponsor Of ISIS Who Also Jails More Journalists Than Anyone Else

“Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan uses the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand to whip up support for local elections in Turkey”



Erdogan is an interesting character.

Definitely, a bit unbalanced and prone to violence, but then that has been the case for many consequential figures in history.

He does make some pointed and welcome comments on some matters.

However, the next day he is sometimes perfectly capable of saying or doing something that seems absurd.

But he does have a powerful, often shrewd, intelligence.

Look how he is able to keep Washington totally off-balance on many matters.

Now he's getting his F-35s despite acquiring Russia's S-400 anti-craft missile system. Washington is concerned over S-400’s powerful radars and computers being able to store F-35 characteristics for future use.  Washington threatened him time and again, and it is Washington who has backed down.

Ditto for Europe, which has paid him extortionate amounts of money to house enough refugees in camps to populate a large city.

The threat of their being sent packing in the direction of Europe has been a powerful tool, and he has used it to maximum benefit. And, of course, at one and the same time, he is legitimately claim to the Muslim world that he is a protector of millions of Muslims.

He is the only figure in NATO to directly criticize America's protected and immensely spoiled colony, Israel, and he manages to get away with it. There’s, of course, a lot to criticize there, starting with out-and-out atrocities and massive oppression, but for the US or France or Britain, such words simply cannot be uttered.

The leverage of Turkey's geographical position and its NATO membership gives him a powerful tool, and he uses it effectively. The United States would be horrified by Turkey’s leaving NATO.

I have little doubt that the United States was instrumental in the attempted coup in Turkey a few years back. They may have used the Gϋlen movement, Gϋlen himself being a refugee in the US, the kind of thing so often done by CIA, but Gϋlen just provides a fig leaf-decency covering.

Erdogan is only too happy to play along, having gained new leverage against the US. He keeps demanding the US extradite Gϋlen, but it won't. Well, if he was responsible for a coup in a key allied state, why not?

Remember, NATO keeps fifty nuclear bombs in a bunker at the big Turkish NATO base, Incirlik. It's a very strategic place.

Putin, the master statesman, seized on the blunder immediately. His people having caught chatter on intercepted radio signals during the coup, he warned and assisted Erdogan. In one swift blow, he restored decent relations with Turkey and helped America once again to make a fool of itself.



Readers may like:



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/john-chuckman-comment-sometimes-you-side-with-the-devil-the-case-of-turkeys-election-and-erdogan-picking-your-battles-and-allies-strategically-in-the-murkiness-of-world-affairs/



https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/john-chuckman-comment-one-of-the-worlds-genuine-evil-geniuses-turkeys-erdogan-and-political-lessons-he-offers/

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICA'S ELITES AND HITLER'S GERMANY - SOME KEY RELATIONSHIPS OF THE PERIOD - HOW EASILY WE FORGET THE PAST AND INDEED OFTEN LIE ABOUT IT - NO LESSONS LEARNED

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY DMITRY KISELYOV IN RUSSIA INSIDER



“Head of IBM Sympathized with Hitler, Conducted Census of Jews in Preparation for Camps. (Russian TV News)”



IBM’s Watson wasn't the only one.

A number of prominent American businessmen and bankers worked willingly, and even eagerly, with Hitler. There's a long list of people with high posts in “blue chip” companies who did so.

Including George Bush's grandfather, Prescott, a Wall Street banker and politician and pretty much founder of the family’s wealthy status.

On the wall of Hitler's Chancellery Office, hung a picture of Henry Ford, someone he greatly admired for his racial views. Ford had written a whole book attacking Jews.

Remember, too, that in theses days, there were strict quotas at America's prestige Ivy League universities for the number of Jews who could be admitted.

And at various prestigious clubs and fraternal organizations. There were many organizations from which Jews were entirely banned, including places like fancy golf and country clubs

Hitler also admired America's eugenics laws. Years before Germany, America was involuntarily sterilizing people judged unfit to reproduce. Thousands of them.

The American Bund was a big movement in America, something resembling a cross between a fraternal lodge and the Brownshirts (the SA).

See:  http://chuckmangrotesques.blogspot.com/search?q=bund

The great journalist and chronicler of Nazi Germany, American William Shirer, once said he wouldn't be surprised at America's becoming the first country to become fascist voluntarily.

And Hitler was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938. Henry Luce, who owned Time-Life, was always a big booster the right-wing. Later, he was very instrumental in work assisting CIA dark projects.

And I'll just add the thought how easily we forget the past. America in contemporary times supports truly bloody rulers in a number of places - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and quite a few more. The only distinction it makes between them and governments it opposes - as in Syria - is whether they toe the line of American policy. All that rhetoric about the dangers of forgetting the past and supporting rights and freedom is just that, rhetoric. Indeed, in today's America, the very concept of truth has been gutted and has no meaning in either major political party. That's just how it is when you run an empire, instead of minding your own affairs.

Monday, March 18, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON A COMMENT CALLING AMERICAN POLITICIANS OMAR AND TLAIB "WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING" - YOU CANNOT EXPECT COMPLETE HONESTY FROM ANY U.S. POLITICIAN - AFTER ALL WE ARE SPEAKING ABOUT THE CAPITAL OF AN EMPIRE, NOT 1960s SWEDEN - THE REALITIES OF LIBERALISM IN AMERICA

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ITEM IN MOON OF ALABAMA



“There are freshmen from Michigan and Maryland in Congress who recently made some news with comments about the Zionist lobby. Some anti-imperialists and progressives lauded them for their efforts and defended them against attacks. But these are wolfs in sheep clothing.

“Rep. Ilhan Omar: ‘The people of Syria revolted against Assad's repressive dictatorship 8 years ago today, demanding a more just and free government. Peace loving people around the world stand in solidarity with them in this struggle!’

“Rashida Tlaib: ‘The anniversary of the uprising against the oppression in Syria was yesterday. We must recognize the struggle of those who organized and stood up against injustice. It is my hope that we can see a Syria that is truly free one day.’”



I like Ilhan Omar for speaking out on Palestine, just as I like Tulsi Gabbard's efforts to understand the ugly war in Syria. I admire them both for public courage.

But, please, this is America we are talking about.

To expect anyone in American politics to come along with completely fresh and informed and honest views is just dreaming.

Just as with Bernie Sanders' so-called socialism or, indeed, anything at all about Sanders.

He's a distinguished-looking bag of hot air.

He showed everyone what he was made of in his confrontation with the woman who plainly stole the nomination from him, Hillary Clinton.

He's never been a strong voice against global empire, against the secret terror of the CIA, against the vast intrusions of the NSA, or against the monstrous waste and mass killing of the Pentagon.

And then we have that thoroughbred phony, Elizabeth Warren, making precious little noises all the time about progressive matters while voting for hateful defense and security budgets and never opposing all those wars and offering us in speeches smatterings of the establishment’s poison about Iran.

I've said it many times. There are no liberals, genuine liberals, in the United States, at least not in any positions of authority or influence. Not one in the national government. Not one in charge of a major news source. None guiding the nation’s great institutions and foundations and education establishments.

America is about empire and the wars required to sustain it, and that is pretty much it. The rest is elaborate window dressing, theater, playacting. Empires do not get built and maintained and expanded by nice guys, and the resources constantly pouring into empire leave no room for great human or humane efforts.

Another thing I’ve said many times is that you can have either an empire or a decent country, but you cannot have both. America made its choice, long ago.

The entire atmosphere of the place, the education system, the press, the churches, the politics - all immersed and saturated in war and the drive for empire with little room for other values. It can be seen and heard and felt in a thousand details.

What could be more blatantly unfair and anti-democratic than what we see being done to Venezuela today? Yet, where are the American voices against their government’s open use of threats and terror? The politicians? The editors? The great university heads? The church leaders?

Some might claim an excuse over events in Syria because many facts about responsibility for that set of atrocities remained well hidden for a long time. Many facts remain hidden still, despite our learning a good deal here and there.

But here, in the case of Venezuela, we see daily the blunt face of fascism telling people who they should vote for, who should swear himself in as President, who should control the country's assets, and destroying the national power grid, an act of terror which undoubtedly killed and injured many and destroyed what was in the fridges of literally millions of the most ordinary people.

Why isn't anyone shouting at the top of their lungs?

All this done by men who say they respect democracy and human rights and expect to be respected in the world as leaders.

You know, Hitler gave one of the great speeches about peace, not long before he started a new war. It was reported by that great journalist and chronicler of Nazi Germany, William Shirer.

And, under the Nazis, Germany had some window dressings of progressivity, various socialistic measures, if you will. It even sometimes held plebiscites.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: FURTHER THOUGHTS ON WHAT TERROR IS - THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN "ORDINARY KILLING" AND TERROR KILLING - USING "TERROR" AS A LABEL LIKE "WITCH" - NATIONS USE THE WORD "TERROR" TO SERVE SELFISH INTERESTS - A GREAT DEAL OF DELIBERATE CONFUSION IN OUR PRESS WITH THE WORD "TERROR" - STATE TERROR PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN OUR WORLD

John Chuckman


EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN CONSORTIUM NEWS

_______________________

Response to another commenter who offered a different interpretation of what terror is:



No, sorry, the definition of terrorist is not “Someone who commits acts of Terror on a mass scale.”

In fact, that definition is rather circular and leads you nowhere. And terror does not have to be “on a mass scale.” It quite often is not.

The existence of a manifesto certainly does not tell us that someone is a terrorist. Manifestos have been used by madmen and others, various criminal types, time and again. They mean very little. The famous Unabomber, sought for years by the FBI in the United States, was a very good example.

He had a manifesto, a long one, and it made about as much sense as a poor madman rambling on the streets about being Jesus. As it turned out, he was a tragically afflicted man, a greatly gifted one, once a brilliant young mathematician with a promising career, his mind destroyed by late-onset paranoid schizophrenia.

Genuine terror is the tool of the powerless against power, generally power that is oppressing them. It is always a political tool. Indeed, there’s not much point in having a special word for abhorrent violence if there is no political purpose. Otherwise these acts are just violent crimes.

If you will, an operation like France’s Résistance movement in WW II was a large and well-organized terror operation against a powerful occupying German army. We, of course, don’t call them that because we are in sympathy with their aims.

The word “terror” in recent decades has gained a new connotation as a result of events in the Middle East. “Terror” today is often used as a way branding someone or something as a kind of Twentieth Century witch, so they become automatically hated by others. This use is effectively what the military call a “psy-op.” It actually makes little sense on an analytical level, but most of the ways the general population reacts to words and events, ones which are incompletely explained, are not on an analytical level. Otherwise, we would have no such things as panics and ugly mobs and lynchings. It has proved a very effective label, the public reaction to it closely resembling that of villagers in the Middle Ages on hearing the charge of witchery, as we can see from its widespread use and misuse, over and over, in the press.

This use of “terror” also has the effect of setting an opponent apart from civilized norms, thus legitimizing the people using the term, who may in fact themselves be just as guilty of abhorrent violence. Israel and the former PLO provide the perfect example of this. Modern Israel was, of course, born in terror and violence, and it has extended the violence indefinitely by occupying and abusing millions of people against their will. An outfit like the original PLO, indeed a genuine terror organization, somehow got labelled first, so that they are not viewed as the WWII French Résistance, but that is really what they are in every respect. The successful labelling perhaps wasn’t just a matter of being first out the door. All of America’s major press and broadcasting are notably Israel-friendly, highly biased in fact, and the Palestinians never did develop effective means to tell their story to others, either enough good English speakers or the press to cover them. We see in recent years what a healthy impact quality new English press in Russia has had in telling Russia’s story to counteract the immense waves of bias from Washington.

Characterizing too many violent acts as “terror” has a knock-on effect, too, a highly undesirable one. A good many people hearing and reading the word all the time become a bit paranoid about it, much as they do from some urban American local television stations which squeeze every ounce of juice they can from local crime reporting. Some people do truly get the idea that it’s not safe to out the front door. This a real phenomenon that I’ve witnessed in an American city, and it’s clearly unhealthy. In the case of “terror” being repeated all the time, a lot of ordinary people only become further conditioned to accepting government’s terrible excesses – spying on everyone, increasing censorship, torture, improper imprisonment, extrajudicial killing, more wars and bombing, and the stream of violent abuses they plainly see coming from Israel.

Terror may also be an act of vengeance by the powerless against power. That is precisely what most of the so-called “international terror” in Europe has been. Angry young men seeking revenge for what has been done to their friends and families and countries by Western operations in places like Syria. After all, countries like France and Britain have been secretly assisting the United States for years in its violent efforts to create “a new Middle East,” in its so-called Neocon Wars, wars which have both conventional aspects, as in massive bombings, and employ all kinds of rag-tag terrorist mercenaries and dark operations.

The kind of terror events we’ve seen in Europe have no hope of overturning the societies they attack or of defeating their armies, with whom they never even engage, as in theory, at least, a Résistance or a PLO did. They are acts of angry vengeance, but it should always be kept in mind that the desire for vengeance has a cause. In these cases, it is a response to government violence by countries like France and Britain who long secretly bombed or supplied covert special forces in many parts of the Middle East, killing many people.

In many cases, the word “terror” is abused by our press. Our politicians and press embrace, for example, Israel’s own description of its opposition in the Middle East. Even outfits like Hamas – a democratic organization which has worked to organize the desperate people of Gaza and give them some hope – and Hezbollah – a Lebanese organization born out of Israel’s years-long illegal occupation of Southern Lebanon, one which finally succeeded in driving them out – are called terrorist, not because they actually carry out terror in Israel but because they oppose Israel’s efforts to dominate their places.

Of course, as I said, modern Israel was itself born in terror. Organizations like Irgun, Lehi, and Haganah assassinated people and carried out classic terror operations such as bombings and ambushes. In 1948, Israeli groups actually slaughtered many hundreds of innocent villagers, including women and children, in order to terrorize the Palestinians and send them fleeing for their lives. And they did run. That is how, for example, Gaza became such a densely occupied space. And the terror at some level really has never stopped. A recent book counted 2,700 assassinations by Israel. Every leader of any ability who arises from the Palestinians is threatened with assassination, often openly.

Terror has also been widely employed by powerful states like the United States as a covert means of getting what it wants or hurting those it dislikes. The phony jihadists (actually recruited mercenary gangs) of Syria or Libya are examples. These people have been trained, supplied, paid, and provided all kinds of special assistance from transportation to intelligence by the United States or, in large part, by one of its cooperative allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia. The recent country-wide electricity blackout in Venezuela, causing hardship for millions and undoubtedly a number of deaths and injuries, is terror as surely as, say, planting a bomb in a vital facility.

The CIA’s long and costly efforts against Fidel Castro, from the late 1950s right through a fair part of the 1960s, was the purest example of state terror. That long campaign went from attacks on ports and ships from boats and attempts to set crop fields on fire and setting various bombs to supplying weapons to Castro opponents and to many assassination attempts – quite apart from the invasion of the country by paid, trained, and supplied gangs of men who had previously emigrated from Cuba to the United States. For these purposes, there were secret camps in the United States, and other places, which made Osama bin Laden’s efforts in the mountains of Afghanistan resemble a boy-scout outing.

And, on an even larger scale, it might be fair to call many of America’s unilaterally-declared wars since WWII, terror operations because they had no other purpose than extracting concessions or privileges from other people through violence. They were in defense of nothing. The methods used definitely have involved the worst kind of terror. In Vietnam, carpet bombing was used to terrorize an entire population, and it did. In the CIA’s Operation Phoenix, which continued for a number of years, somewhere between twenty and forty thousand village leaders of various descriptions had their throats cut by night-crawling special ops. And in the invasion of Iraq, what do you think a name like “shock and awe” was about? I don’t insist on the point, you might look at these wars as just mass killings, but they are sure in keeping with a country so ready to use and support terror, so long as it’s terror for the “right” reasons.



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Saturday, March 16, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE NEW ZEALAND MASS KILLER - NOTHING TO DO WITH TERROR - A GREAT DEAL TO DO WITH THE HATRED AND VIOLENCE WITH WHICH AMERICA FILLS THE VERY AIR WE BREATHE - INABILITY TO IDENTIFY AND HELP SICK PEOPLE - ACCESS TO GUNS

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SUZIE DAWSON IN CONSORTIUM NEWS



“Misguided Spying and the New Zealand Massacre

“While intelligence agencies were looking in all the wrong places, a conspicuous target slipped through the cracks”



I don't find this very enlightening. In fact, not at all.

The man was not a "terrorist" in the strict meaning of the word, and I do think we should keep to strict meanings. We have enough careless language in the mainline press and from politicians around this topic.

The man is a mentally-ill, violence-prone person who has had easy access to weapons and whose thoughts have been deeply stained by the 24-hour-a-day mainline press’s talk of terror and Muslims and migration of groups of people, talk which reflects the very words of some of our most senior politicians.

It is hate-speech in the true sense of the term, and it is not only permitted, it is actively supported at the top in most Western governments today. It is the United States which provides the driving force in this. All of its allies feel the pressure to go along to get along.

Trump deserves direct blame here with his genuinely foul public statements feeding the fires of the press. It does seem to me that the United States has become something of a 24-hour-a-day hate machine, just spewing out filthy thoughts about refugees, migrants, Muslims, Palestinians, and others. Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams, Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham, the late John McCain. There is a long list of such people in high places.

I do think a sick person such as the New Zealand killer – in fact, he is no different to earlier American mass killers in Las Vegas or Florida or the Columbine high-schoolers - might have done something like this, sooner or later, no matter what the target. The human population, as a matter of course, turns out a certain number of such dangerously faulty minds regularly, just as it does people with bad hearts or other grave disabilities.

“Might have,” I stress. Because it is intense hatred and fear which generally tip the potential danger of a seriously disturbed person into certain horror.

It really has nothing directly to do with politics or religion. Politics and religion only feed the fears and provide the targets for such people. And, of course, politics and religion provide the underlying reason why we see and hear so much hatred and ignorance coming from the United States and influencing everyone. Perhaps the real question we should be asking is, why is that so?

It is our political and journalistic environment which causes some sick people to focus on groups like Muslims, and of course our politicians and press never accept any responsibility.

It is not the job of intelligence services to seek out people like this. It never has been. Nor should it be.

That is a completely faulty line of thinking, and indeed it only lends support to further massive intrusion by Western governments into the lives of ordinary citizens. We are already approaching the point where citizens in the West have come to resemble herds of cattle with identifying tags stapled to their ears.

In our Western world of intense and growing disparity, such practices advocated only reinforce the social-control tools of the privileged few who effectively rule over us, and they only further shred what is left of our pretenses about democracy.

Since our world is also one now of almost constant war and threats and destructive acts by the privileged running the United States, such practices advocated also serve to keep supporting the flimsy excuses they use to justify it all.

Local society everywhere should be working at identifying such dangerous people. Identifying them early. Keeping them from weapons. Perhaps treating them to the extent that treatment is possible. I’m sure countless interactions in schools and with police and with others over the years would have made this man obvious.

Psychopaths tend to reveal themselves quite early and in some well-understood ways, two being a fondness for arson and the violent abuse of animals. And why was he allowed access to weapons? And he obviously earlier had practice with his weapons, as at shooting ranges, being quite proficient at his grisly work. Were none of those around him listening or looking?

No, there is no easy way of preventing such events, and advocating for more intelligence intrusion is not an answer. Stopping the violent outpourings of hatred and ignorance with which we live would sure help, besides being a worthy goal on its own, but responsibility for that goes right to the top.

People just seem to miss the fact that what the United States government has done in the Middle East over the last couple of decades is precisely the same kind of behavior as this New Zealand mass killer, only it is magnified tens of thousands of times by the might of the military and security services. Almost no one shows any concern. Nor is there any serious opposition to the horror of a couple of million killed, millions more reduced to desperate refugees, and whole societies left as chaotic, smouldering ruins.

I am reminded of the hideous murder and disposal of Jamal Khashoggi, an intelligent and thoughtful and decent man. He was hit on the head, cut up alive, and burnt in a backyard barbeque – all on the premises of the official Saudi consulate in Istanbul, all of it the work of a gang of high-ranking loyalists to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince. We know absolutely who had to order that, even the CIA confirmed that it was so, yet we see the President of the United States and others, smiling and shaking hands with him regularly, and he is at absolutely no risk of facing justice.

That is perfectly symbolic of the entire ethical and moral tone of Western world today, a tone for which the leaders of the United States bear major responsibility in their vicious drive to control the globe. You cannot create wars and coups and terrors, lying about them every step of the way, and not have disastrous effects on almost everything.

Just look at America’s truly ugly behavior right now in Venezuela. The privileged in Washington use every dirty trick they can think of to assist the privileged in Venezuela, even to destroying the food in the fridges of millions of ordinary people and to carelessly taking the lives of the vulnerable with their life-saving machines unable to function at home or in hospitals or nursing homes. Cutting off most of a nation’s electricity for many days literally is an act of terror, genuine terror.

Or how about the week-in, week-out, taken-for-granted extrajudicial murder of legally-innocent people? Again, the work of the United States, and it goes virtually unquestioned.

It’s literally in the air for all of us to breathe, this non-stop bullying and threatening and killing and hate. What would anyone expect its effects to be on violence-prone, sadly unbalanced minds?

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WHY A CRITICISM OF TRUMP'S HALTING CIVILIAN-DEATH DRONE REPORTS REPRESENTS SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG - PICKING OUT A SMALL PART OF THIS UGLY STORY IS LIKE CRITICISING AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR AT A DEATH CAMP

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY DANIEL BRUNSTETTER IN CONSORTIUM NEWS



“Trump’s Backward Move on Drone Civilian Casualties

“On March 6, President Trump signed an executive order that revoked the requirement, formulated under the Obama administration, that U.S. intelligence officials must publicly report the number of civilians killed in CIA drone strikes outside declared war zones”



Yes, it’s backward, but focusing on this detail gives Americans the wrong perspective.

America is running an industrial-scale, extrajudicial-killing scheme, and I see very little criticism of this human-rights abomination.

And it was started by the boyishly-smiling Obama. The first to receive stacks of “kill lists” in his inbox at the Oval Office.

The scheme was championed to Obama by Joe Biden.

And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could make such a callous statement about one of the genuine heroes of our time, Julian Assange, saying, “Can’t we just drone him or something?”

Trump is awful, but he’s a comparatively small character in the story of America’s institutionalizing the ghastly ways of the old Argentine junta and its “disappearing” thousands of people.

Too much association I think with the horrors of Israel and its reported past 2700 assassinations. Only the other day, Israel’s election candidate Gantz said he would start assassinating the leaders of Hamas, a democratic, absolutely non-terrorist organization which gives the people of Gaza some little scrap of hope for their desperate futures, and we hear not a word of objection.

Most of America’s current mass killings by drone are in that region of the world.

This article provides an excellent example of what is really wrong in America. A liberal critic focuses on one recent administrative detail of an overall program that is monstrous and ethically repellent.

To my mind, it’s a little like a complaint about some errors made by administrators at Auschwitz.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CHANGING NATURE OF VOTING UNDER A PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM - PROBLEMS REPRESENTED - GETTING RID OF BAD LEADERS - NEED FOR ELECTION REFORM

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN CBC NEWS



A critical piece about the behavior of the Doug Ford government in Ontario

_______________________

Response to a comment saying people vote for their local representative and not for the leader:



Yes, sort of.

That was the original concept of a parliament.

But read the news coverage, and it is clear that the general public and the press today think in terms of voting for the leader. In other words, parliamentary government has become Americanized, its elections resembling American presidential elections.

Individual members over time have been reduced to nonentities, too, with the dominance of powerful, well-financed political parties run under strict rules of discipline by the leader.

It's an awkward reality. Voters who want a leader often have to vote for an MPP they don't care for. And just the opposite, those who very much want to avoid a leader may have to vote against a well-liked MPP.

At any rate, voters can at least avoid votes which support atrocious leaders. It's not much, but it's something.

We badly need vote reform, serious reform, too. Justin Trudeau really let us down on that,  although perhaps not any more than he has on a number of important matters.

But to my mind, the bottom line, as they say, is with the political parties doing a conscientious job in selecting leaders. They are badly failing us in that, time after time.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: HOW AMERICA'S USE OF SANCTIONS RESEMBLES ITS USE OF BOMBING

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN RUSSIA INSIDER



“Economic Sanctions: Washington's Best Tool to Control the World” 

“The lessons taught by nearly 70 years of American economic isolation against Cuba are a prime example; while the sanctions have been painful, they resulted in a nation that has maintained its resolve in the face of economic difficulties and a leader that outlived and out ruled the reigns of U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II."



How very true.

Of course, an important aspect of sanctions is that they always hurt the little people, the ordinary citizens of a country, people who are guilty of nothing even if you believe their leaders are.

That makes sanctions no different than American bombing.

America’s heavy use of bombing has shifted the impact of its wars from soldiers to civilians.

It mainly kills civilians in every theater of war.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: JUST IMAGINE THE DAMAGE TO MILLIONS DONE BY AMERICA'S UGLY STUNT OF DESTROYING VENEZUELA'S ELECTRICITY GRID? - SUCH IS AMERICA'S CARE FOR PEOPLE'S WELFARE

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY LEE CAMP IN MINT PRESS



“We Are Being Lied Into War Again”



Yes, and can you just imagine how much damage was done with America's attacking Venezuela's electricity production?

People in hospitals or old-age homes who were hurt and killed?

People dependent on life-saving machines of every description right in their homes?

People's stored food in refrigerators ruined - millions of refrigerators full of food, something demonstrating a new level of American concern with supposed food shortages in the country?

What a vicious stunt.

Done by leaders of the world's most powerful nation, leaders craving the world's respect and admiration. Leaders constantly mouthing words about rights and humanity and democracy.

I see this as a new low in America's lousy behavior.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUTH COMES WRAPPED IN THE IMAGE OF A GENTLY-SMILING MADONNA - ILHAN OMAR IS A MIRACLE

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY AS’AD ABUKHALIL IN CONSORTIUM NEWS



‘"hy Ilhan Omar is a Dangerous Woman for the US

“Washington doesn’t like its Muslim Arabs to take pride in their heritage or oppose the Israeli occupation”



Ilhan Omar is something of a miracle.

She has the face of the Madonna. Which I think makes it far more difficult to attack her with any credibility.

She proudly wears her hijab. Which I think is a wonderful statement against all the ignorant haters out there.

And she speaks the truth – not prejudice, not hate, but the truth.

Of course, truth, and especially on the subject of Israel, is almost unheard of in Washington.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: "RUSSIA-GATE" HAS ALWAYS BEEN POLITICAL CRAP - BUT THERE IS ANOTHER CLOSE ASSOCIATION OF TRUMP'S THAT IS NOT AND IT'S EXTREMELY DANGEROUS - THE NEOCONS' NEOCON

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY CAITLIN JOHNSTONE IN RUSSIA INSIDER



“Russiagate: Pelosi Rules Out Impeachment. Libs Furious”



“Russia-gate” has always been crap. It resembles a light bulb that generates heat and no light.

However, there is another kind of Trump association which is indisputably true, and it is an increasingly dangerous one.

Trump has become the Neocons' Neocon.

Whether he always had that identity and just kept it hidden from us is unclear. That is quite possible.

But today, he and his chief appointments all talk and act as though they were card-carrying members of the ugly American political faction. Gold Cards, no less.

The Neocons despise Russia because its strength gets in the way of America's becoming the entire world's bully. Ditto, China.

Since the Neocons have always focused a lot of their interest on Israel, Russia is even more an object of contempt owing to its fighting terror in Syria and preventing Assad from meeting Gaddafi's fate. After all, this particular terror was an Israeli-sponsored project. Russia’s relations with Iran are another gigantic negative. You are supposed to treat Iran, a nation which attacks no one, as poison.

Despite Russia's good relations with Israel, which are carefully maintained by Putin, in private, there can be little question that Netanyahu and the boys deeply resent Russia for its efforts in spoiling their fun.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: IS THE WESTERN WORLD RATIONALLY GOVERNED? NOT IF YOU LOOK AT THE EXISTING SITUATION WITH BRITAIN AND THE EU - AND THEN THERE'S AN EVEN MORE OMINOUS SITUATION AS AMERICA NOW SPREADS THREATS AND DANGER ALMOST EVERYWHERE

John Chuckman


EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN CBC NEWS



'Absolutely devastating': British lamb farmers fear impact of no-deal Brexit



Britain in recent years has offered the most vivid example of genuinely disastrous government.

First, David Cameron, likely the most incompetent Prime Minister in British history, offers a vote to the public about remaining in the EU.

It was something he didn't need to do at all, and it came after forty years of being part of EU. And, in such a huge and complex matter, not well-understood by the general public, it makes little sense to hold a vote, especially coming at a time of considerable public agitation over refugees and migration, a highly emotional topic where cool-headed facts did not at all feature. If for some reason you insisted on a vote, it should only have been held after, say, a one-year period of public education and discussion and debate. It is a hugely consequential decision.

Leading up to the vote, he ran around flapping his arms and pretending to play statesman, telling people he'd sure stay in the EU with the adjustments in terms he had obtained from Brussels.

Then we have Theresa May spend a few years trying to sort out terms with the EU, making quite a spectacle of herself on several occasions, as having cabinet ministers quit and having votes against the government's position, as well as forming an alliance from hell to stay in power.

Yet, the bottom line, as they say, remains clear: Britain will suffer in leaving the EU, no matter under what set of terms.

And the EU itself, one of the world’s largest economies, has been given a serious wound at a time of other menacing economic and social problems, and that in a world with many signs of weakness and instability.

May insists, bull-headedly, on going ahead with Brexit, yet so easily she could just declare that she, as Prime Minister, now sees how much damage this is doing and will not proceed, in the national interest. She could easily also hold a second vote, something polls suggest would go the other way from the original vote.

But no, damn the torpedoes, we're going full-steam ahead.

Rational government? I think not. And it is just one portion of what we see in a number of Western countries and around a number of important issues.

Oh well, maybe people can console themselves with, "At least it's not quite the vicious lunatic government we see in the United States, rampaging through every country where it finds anything it dislikes, threatening everyone with sanctions or sabotage or war, and, of course, threatening the world’s very stability."

Does anyone believe the world is going to survive this period and maintain its economic and political and social health? I certainly don’t.

Monday, March 11, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: SHABBY EFFORT TO MALIGN BDS - ISRAEL AND APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA - ON BUILDING IRON WALLS INSTEAD OF BRIDGES - ISRAEL'S HELP WITH SOUTH AFRICAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS - WHY THERE IS NO "ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT" - IT'S A MANUFACTURED PHRASE TO HIDE REALITY

John Chuckman


EXPANSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY GIL TROY ON CBC NEWS



“The BDS movement is nefarious, but it's better to push back politically — not legally

“Anti-BDS legislation in the U.S. is unhelpful. BDS should be fought subtly, without giving it too much oxygen”



"The BDS movement is nefarious, but it's better to push back politically — not legally"



The first part of that statement is simply insupportable.

Boycotts changed the landscape of Nationalist South Africa, peacefully. They played a big role in the American civil rights movement, too. What’s nefarious about that?

A boycott is a peaceful expression of disapproval, one with some economic bite, for the unacceptable acts of states. Free expression by millions.

The word "nefarious" has no place in the discussion. It actually could only fairly be applied to the author himself, for his effort, more roundabout than most, to equate criticism of a well-armed state with a form of prejudice.

Advocating a grant of exceptional status to any state – as in seeking to absolve it of blame or consequences for its wrongdoing - represents genuine prejudice.

It doesn’t matter whether the method used to obtain that status is constant social pressure, as we get with countless articles like this one, or lobby-driven, anti-democratic legislation. The result is the same, the suppression of the rights of millions to express their disapproval of something they regard as seriously wrong.

Would any clear-thinking person regard that as a suitable goal? Guaranteeing a powerful state that it may do as it pleases without objection or consequences?

“Anti-Semitism” claims about criticism of Israel’s actual behavior – not its identity, not its religion, not its ethnicity, but its actual behavior – are precisely parallel with someone’s having claimed that criticism of the Soviet Union – and we all know there was a great deal, both at home and abroad, to criticize in the practices of the Soviet Union – was the same thing as hating Russians, what today we would call “Russophobia.”

Anyone can understand the absurdity of that.

The only thing different in Israel’s case is the charged, threatening atmosphere that always accompanies accusations of “anti-Semitism,” an atmosphere that has been deliberately cultivated by apologists over many years.

_____________________

Response to another comment:

Well said. Exactly the case.

The United States government was long in Nationalist South Africa's corner because South Africa was viewed as such a strategically important place during the Cold War.

Only the acts of millions of individuals and some companies, voting with their pocket books, finally drove the American government to act against South Africa.

And we all know the story after that. Apartheid died a welcome death.

Nothing about the Israeli situation is any different. Not a thing, except names and location.

We see open abuse and oppression. We see millions of people with no citizenship and no legal rights being held against their will. We see unequal laws and unequal treatment under the law.

For more than half a century. Good God. It's appalling, but our governments and public figures are intimidated, afraid of being labelled "anti-Semitic," in what itself is an unfair and genuinely nefarious campaign.

____________________

Response to another comment:

Well said.

Of course, it is not anti-Semitic.

Calling people who are concerned with human rights names like that is abusive and unacceptable.

By the way, concerning your reference to “building bridges,” perhaps the most famous Zionist writer, a Russian named Ze'ev Jabotinsky, regarded as a founder of modern Israel, wrote of the need for building “an iron wall."

And that approach, from the beginning has characterized modern Israel, it maintains an iron wall.

It even keeps extending the area which the iron wall covers.

Albert Einstein offered a completely different approach to Palestine, but he was ignored.

_______________________

Response to another comment:

That is true about weapons and South Africa and Israel.

It is also true that Israel secretly assisted Apartheid South Africa to become, for a brief while, another small nuclear power.

The nuclear weapons were given up and dismantled after the fall of the Nationalists.

But the very fact Israel was assisting the Apartheid government in such a fashion tells us something about its feelings and attitudes of the time concerning human rights and democracy.

There have been relatively few cases of genuine proliferation in the history of nuclear weapons, and Israel's was perhaps the most dramatic.

The story has always been downplayed in the mainline press, but over time, we have received enough information, here or there, to know some truth.

The United States in those days was definitely in Apartheid South Africa's corner for Cold War strategic considerations.

And South Africa was then always playing up its anti-Communist credentials for America's benefit. Of course, they could also say what a terrible threat the ANC and Nelson Mandela were to “the West” since they were regarded as having communist sympathies.

A few years back, we had an old secret document from top government officials in Israel released by South Africa, a document which concerned Israel's willingness to sell "a package" to Nationalist South Africa. We know the Nationalists had at least six nuclear warheads when their government collapsed. Israel wanted to keep strong ties with South Africa for its long-term supplies of strategic materials.

Israel also assisted the Nationalists in building nuclear-capable missiles, South Africa having several such missiles at the time of its collapse.

____________________

Response to another comment:

Your tone is reasonable, but there is no such thing as an "Israel-Palestine conflict.”

That term is a creation of the mainline press. It hides far more than it reveals.

What we have is an occupation with constant abuse of five or six million people who have no rights at all and live under laws written and interpreted by their occupier.

The "conflict" could be over swiftly were Israel just to return to its original borders and tear down walls and fences and machine-gun towers built on the property of others.

But that is not going to happen any time soon. The government of the United States, which could enforce it - indeed, would have to enforce it - simply will not do so. Lobby interests hold the American government in a dark place regarding fairness or peace or rights in the region.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE BRAVEST PERSON IN AMERICA DESERVES THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE - CHELSEA MANNING - WHY IT CANNOT HAPPEN

John Chuckman


COMMENT TO A VIDEO ON CONSORTIUM NEWS



“As Manning Goes to Jail, Watch the 19th Vigil for Assange”



A truly brave person, Chelsea Manning.

We have very few like her.

There clearly would a lot less ugly crap from America – lies and unnecessary wars and dark secrecy around them – if we had more like her.

But you don’t get decency with empire. All the rewards for careers go for displaying other qualities.

If there is anyone who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, it is Chelsea.

But it won’t happen.

The Nobel people are as intimidated today as the UN is about doing anything that might embarrass the US, the way Martin Luther King’s prize did.

The prizes have become meaningless.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THUGS LIKE MARCO RUBIO - VICIOUS ATTACKS ON VENEZUELA - AMERICANS SEEM COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT CAN ONLY BE CALLED FASCISM

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN MINTPRESS



“Senator Marco Rubio: US Must Initiate Widespread Unrest in Venezuela

“In public testimony, Marco Rubio called on the U.S. to promote “widespread unrest” in order to eventually bring down the Maduro government in Venezuela.”



It is amazing that genuine thugs like Marco Rubio can flourish politically in the United States.

You might think people would be repelled by his kind of rhetoric and advocacy.

All decent and thoughtful people should be repelled by it.

But Americans in general seem not to be, which says a very great deal about the political and ethical tone of the country.

Americans – most of them, anyway, judging by the press - seem comfortable with their government claiming a right to threaten, to tell others what to do, and just unambiguously to interfere in the internal affairs of others.

I do believe that set of behaviors is called fascism.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WHY WOULD ANYONE CARE ABOUT BERNIE SANDERS MAKING IT TO THE OVAL OFFICE? - A MEASURE OF AMERICAN LIBERAL DESPERATION AND CHILD-LIKE FANTASY FEELING

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY NORMAN SOLOMON IN CONSORTIUM NEWS



“This Time the Big Obstacle for Bernie Isn’t DNC Rigging”



And why would anyone care whether Bernie makes it to the Oval Office?

Despite his attractive rhetoric, he would be a terribly ineffective President.

His dealings with Hillary Clinton conclusively proved that he does not have the capacity to deal appropriately with a truly hard-nosed member of the power establishment.

She literally cheated him out of the nomination, he said virtually nothing and went away with his tail between his legs… to campaign for her.

His own record shows no serious opposition to American militarism and imperial wars. He just makes little noises around the edges here and there.

Then there are his domestic proposals – never mind the Republicans, a major portion of his own party would not support what he calls “socialist” proposals.

They are not of course really socialist, but in America, they are regarded as being very much so and stand no chance of enactment.

So, what would be the point of electing him?

Just to listen to nice speeches?

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WINSTON CHURCHILL'S MENTAL CONDITION - REFLECTIONS ON HIS CHARACTER

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY RICHARD GALUSTIAN IN RUSSIA INSIDER



“The Mental Condition of Winston Churchill”



Churchill's drinking and depression are one of the most common afflictions of writers, and when I think of Churchill, I think of him first as a writer. He wrote massive memoirs, history, and, of course, memorable speeches.

Great numbers of famous authors suffered from depression and/or drunkenness. It's almost an occupational hazard. It has to be in the genes.

While of course Churchill was a memorable figure in WWII, he was on the whole a poor leader who likely created as many problems as he solved throughout his career.  He was also quite prejudiced on many topics, and he was an unapologetic supporter of imperialism. He thought nothing of imperial forces machine-gunning revolting peasants in some part of the empire.

Having read many of his books and several major biographies, I've also always had the impression that his opposition to "Herr Hitler," as he often called him, was not at all based on opposition to tyranny or brutality, as the official propaganda likes to tell us.

One senses a definite respect for Stalin in his memoirs and the immense, virtually absolute power he enjoyed. I think he was actually a bit jealous of Hitler and his early success. His ego would not let him believe Hitler could possibly be his equal.

Churchill was definitely not a democrat deep down. He made a number of disparaging remarks about British voters.

A further aspect of Churchill's brutality, in contrast to his friendly but stalwart, pudgy heroic image of WWII, was his use of civilian bombing on Germany.

Contrary to the widely-held view that Hitler first started bombing civilians in Britain, it was in fact the other way around with Churchill doing raids on Berlin.

Readers might like:

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/john-chuckman-comment-in-response-to-a-film-review-why-i-wont-be-going-to-see-darkest-hour-about-winston-churchill-and-starring-gary-oldman/

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CANADA'S STUPID ARREST OF A HUAWEI EXECUTIVE AND WHAT IT MEANS

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN CBC NEWS



“China accuses detained Canadians of stealing state secrets”

______________________

Response to a comment:

Indeed.

The American effort is contrived from the start, part of its new global dominance effort.

It is trying to hinder anything China does to slow them down or hurt them - it's that simple and that ugly.

Their global dominance drive now even has an official motto, "Full-spectrum dominance."

This initiative against Huawei and its superior technology comes out of the same bent thinking as America's demanding a twice-elected President of Venezuela is not in fact the President. Instead, a man who never even ran for the office, but who swore himself in (Over the bathroom sink as he shaved, I wonder?), is the President.

I don't like what China is doing here, but they did not start this, and they are a proud and ancient people who are not going to just accept American slights and insults.

Of course, our dynamic foreign-affairs duo of Trudeau and Freeland go along with the nonsense about Venezuela too.

I wonder how Justin is feeling about renewed American threats against Cuba just announced? After all, he showed considerable affection for Cuba as a place where his father played a significant role.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: JUSTIN TRUDEAU FINISHED? LET'S HOPE - JUST SOME OF HIS INCOMPETENCE AND FAILURE - AND THE UNPLEASANTNESS OF CHRYSTIA FREELAND, HIS CLOSEST CABINET APPOINTMENT

John Chuckman


COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN MOON OVER ALABAMA



"Justin Trudeau Is Finished”



Here's hoping, but not just because of his embarrassing, blundering performance in the face of two honest ministers who resigned owing to their principles, an act, as we all know, that is rare in government.

Trudeau has been a steady disappoint.

Actually, “disappoint” is the wrong word because I was virtually certain before he got the job that he was just not up to it.

His father, Pierre, was made of far sterner stuff, as well as having a sharp intelligence not demonstrated in any of Justin’s acts and words. No, Justin has only disappointed in showing he is not able to overcome earlier low expectations.

He appears literally to kowtow to American wishes at every turn. You name it, Russophobia with tanks in Latvia, the dark Monty Pythonesque coup effort in Venezuela, China and the deplorable enforcement of an American request for the arrest of senior Chinese businesswoman (from Huawei), which reflects nothing but American efforts to hobble a competitor.

His father gave America the finger over the Vietnam War, throwing Canada’s doors open to tens of thousands of American war resisters. He did the same for America’s mindless, vicious policies in Cuba, where he established new business and personal ties.

Justin promised vote reform, promised it strongly, and then dropped it when it appeared a little difficult, and vote reform is something sorely needed.

He has been completely ineffective in solving the serious problems of Alberta’s land-locked oil industry. Here is an important natural resource which commands low prices and completely misses new markets, and it represents a true national problem.

He has not been a strong voice for human and democratic rights, something his father definitely was.

As far as words go, his oratory skills are flat, but worse are the words he wraps things in. Justin’s were recently described as “verbal porridge,” a deadly accurate description.

Justin’s record on other matters is touched on in my remarks below about his Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, a regrettable appointment, one who is not only supported by him but is seen more frequently with him, by far, than any other minister.

Freeland was called in to attack with slighting words ("She's told 'her' truth") the testimony of a genuinely honest and decent minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

If there is one member of Trudeau's cabinet I literally cannot stand, it's Freeland., yet she holds a very important and sensitive post.

I regard her as genuinely prejudiced on many matters, as against Russia, and I regard her as someone who fails to speak up seriously for human and democratic rights, something which always should be a hallmark of our country.

I resent stunts like her recent taking a well cared-for, upper middle-class 17-year old runaway girl from Saudi Arabia who wanted to smoke and break parental rules and playing publicity games by allowing her to be a "refugee" in Canada. Meanwhile other Saudis are tortured and die miserable deaths, and we hear not a word. Nor do we hear a word about Yemen or the horrors inflicted in Syria largely with Saudi money. And meanwhile, too, Canada keeps selling billions in weapons to the Saudis.

She's preachy without having anything worthwhile to preach, she manages to find genuinely unattractive ways of expressing herself, and her views resemble something from an American cheerleading squad. Of course, with her grim hound-dog looks, she would never have made it to a non-political cheerleading squad.

She actually is serving as a leader in the CIA's front outfit, the Lima Group, against an elected government in Venezuela (with other Latin American targets coming up in the near future), a shabby business no Canadian Foreign Minister should be involved with.

This is not my idea of a voice for Canada in international affairs, yet Trudeau clearly likes her and depends on her.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S FORMER RIGHT-HAND MAN/OPERATOR TESTIFIES - VERY CONVINCING COMPARED TO AN HONEST AND DECENT WOMAN'S TESTIMONY - DETAILS OF MY PARTISANSHIP IN RESPONSE TO AN OBTUSE COMMENT

John Chuckman


COMMENT TO AN ARTICLE BY CHRIS HALL IN CBC NEWS



“In the SNC-Lavalin affair, everyone seems to be entitled to their own opinions — and facts

“Gerald Butts managed to turn the narrative into a high-stakes 'he said/she said'”



We are supposed to be impressed by Gerald Butts, Trudeau's former right-hand man?

When attacking the testimony of a clearly honest and thoroughly decent minister? Her decency backed up by a second honest and decent minister?

Well, he's no more believable or acceptable than the unpleasant Chrystia Freeland was recently.

Trudeau in my view has been very weak in office over a range of matters. I believe he understands his own weakness and leans on people like Freeland and Butts, but that fact doesn't make them right.

________________________

Response to a comment calling me a “loyal Conservative partisan”:



Well, there's an old saying perhaps you need to take to heart.

"You should know the words to the music before standing up to sing."

Nothing in my words makes me a "loyal Conservative partisan." Nothing.

I am a published writer on politics and international affairs, and I have hundreds of thousands of words, including a book, which unmistakably tell the world that I am a classical liberal, rather a progressive, and a critic of all anti-democratic and anti-human rights activity.

I am a member of no party, and I strongly dislike blind partisanship of any kind. I also truly dislike dishonesty.

And, I regarded Stephen Harper as the most unwholesome Prime Minister in our history.

Our parties just are not doing a good job for us. God, the Liberals stuck with that hopeless and arrogant man, Ignatieff, for quite a while. That helped Harper's survival.

I find Trudeau immensely disappointing, and not just in this matter. But the Conservatives have only offered us a so-far unimpressive man, as has the NDP. That is not my idea of a healthy political choice.

I admired Trudeau's father in many things, but the son is a very different kind of man.

A Jack Layton would have my vote in a heartbeat. Or a Paul Martin. As would a thoroughly decent man like Joe Clark. Those names represent three different parties, but so what?

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: REFLECTIONS ON PUTIN AS A LEADER AND ON THE WORLD SITUATION IN WHICH HE WORKS

John Chuckman


REFLECTIONS ON PUTIN AS A LEADER AND ON THE WORLD SITUATION IN WHICH HE WORKS

[Note to readers: this long piece really is more an essay than a comment. But I have not gone through the effort I always used to do of submitting it to a list of publications. Instead, I'm just posting it here, and I will post it also on my companion site for political essays. I do think it makes some important and timely observations.]



There is an immense amount of criticism of Putin, especially coming from America, most of it empty criticism which ignores realities and genuine analysis. For the more thoughtful, it represents only the stink and noise of propaganda, and not honest criticism in its true sense at all.

In politics, and especially in the direction of a country’s foreign affairs, there are certain behaviors and ideas and attitudes which mark out a person as exceptional. I think there can be no doubt, Putin is just such a person, and I am very much inclined to say, the preeminent one of our time. Frankly, compared with Putin’s skills, Donald Trump comes off as a noisy circus act, a sideshow carnival barker, and not an appealing one. He has an outsized impact in the world only because he represents the most powerful country on earth and has embraced all the prejudices and desires of its power establishment, not because of the skilfulness of his actions or the insight of his mind. Obama made a better public impression, but if you analyze his actions, you see a man of immense and unwarranted ego, a very secretive and unethical man, and a man who held no worthy ideals he promoted. He was superficial in many things. And he was completely compliant to the power establishment, leaving no mark of his own to speak of.

Putin is a man who advocates cooperation among states, who argues against exceptionalism, who wants his country to have peace so that it can grow and advance, a man lacking any frightening or tyrannical ideologies, a man who invariably refers to other countries abroad, even when they are being uncooperative, in respectful terms as “our partners,” a man who knows how to prioritize, as in defense spending, a man with a keen eye for talent who has some other exceptional people assisting him – men of the calibre of Lavrov or Shoygu, a man who supports worthy international organizations like the UN, a man who only reluctantly uses force but uses it effectively when required, a highly restrained man in almost everything he does, a man who loves his country and culture but does not try foisting them off on everyone else as we see almost continuously from American presidents, a man with a keen eye for developing trends and patterns in the world, a man with an eye, too, for the main chance, a man whose decisions are made calmly and in light of a lot of understanding. That’s quite a list.

The differences between recent American leaders, all truly mediocre, and Putin probably has something to do with the two counties’ relative situations over the last few decades. After all, if the support isn’t there for someone like Putin, you won’t get him. Russia’s huge Soviet empire collapsed in humiliation in 1991. The country was put through desperate straits, literally its own great depression with people begging or selling pathetic trinkets on the streets. And America made no real effort to assist. Indeed, quite the opposite, it kicked someone who was down and tried to shake all the loose change from his pockets. Out of Russia’s desperation came a man of remarkable skills, a rather obscure figure, but one who proved extremely popular and was obviously supported by enough powerful and important people to employ his skills for the county’s recovery and advance.

And he showed no weakness or flinching when dealing with some of the extremely wealthy men who in fact became wealthy by striping assets from the dying Soviet Union, men who then also used their wealth to challenge the country’s much-needed new leadership. He was, of course, excoriated in the United States, but to the best of my understanding, he did what was necessary for progress. The results are to be seen in a remarkably revitalized Russia. Everywhere, important projects are underway. New highways, new airports, major new bridges, new rail lines and subways, a new spaceport, new projects and cooperative efforts with a whole list of countries, new efforts in technology and science, and Russia has become the world’s largest exporter of wheat. Putin also has committed Russia to offering the world grain crops free of all GMOs and other contaminants, a very insightful effort to lock-in what have been growing premium markets for such products, even among Americans.

The military, which badly declined after the fall of the USSR, has been receiving new and remarkable weapons, the products of focused research efforts. New high-tech tanks, artillery, ships, and planes. In strategic weapons, Russia now produces several unprecedented ones, a great achievement which was done without spending unholy amounts of money, Russia’s military budget being less than a tenth that of the United States. Putin’s caution and pragmatism dictate that Russia’s first priority is to become as healthy as possibly, so it needs peace, for decades. Few Westerners appreciate the devastating impact of the USSR’s collapse, but even before that, the Soviet empire had its own slow debilitating impact. Russia’s economic system was not efficient and competitive. The effects of that over many years accumulated. The USSR always did maintain the ability to produce big engineering projects such as dams and space flight, but it always was sorely lacking in the small and refined things of life that an efficient economy automatically sees are provided.

The new strategic weapons are an unfortunate necessity, but the United States threatens Russia as perhaps never before with the expansion of NATO membership right to the Russian border, something breaking specific American promises of years back. And it has been running tanks all over Europe and then digging them in them right at the frontier just to make a point. It has deployed multiple-use covered missile launchers not far from the border which may as easily contain offensive intermediate-range ground-to-ground nuclear missiles as the defensive anti-missile missiles claimed to be their purpose. And it has torn up one of the most important nuclear-weapons treaties we had, the INF Treaty, pertaining to intermediate-range missiles. Intermediate-range nuclear missiles based in Europe give the United States the ability to strike Russia with little warning, their ten-minute flight path compares to a roughly thirty-minute flight path for an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) coming from America. These are extremely de-stabilizing, as are the counter-measures Russia felt it must take, Russian intermediate-range nuclear missile aimed at European centers. Everyone eventually recognized that, and that’s why the treaty was successfully completed. Europeans appreciated no longer becoming the immediate battlefield in a nuclear war.

But relations with the United States now have entered a new world, and it is not a brave one. America’s power establishment has assumed new goals and priorities, and in those, Russia is not viewed well, despite its new identity as a nation ready to participate and peacefully compete with everyone, a nation without the kind of extreme ideology communism was, a kind of secular religious faith. Despite its readiness to participate in all Western organizations and forums and discussions, it is viewed with a new hostility by America. It is arbitrarily regarded as an opponent, as an ongoing threat. As I discuss below, America, too, has been in kind of a decline, and the response of its leadership to that fact involves flexing its muscles and extracting concessions and privileges and exerting a new dominance in the world, a response not based in economic competition and diplomatic leadership, a response carrying a great deal of danger.

And, very importantly, its response is one that involves not only bypassing international organizations, but, in many cases, working hard to bend them to its purposes. There are many examples, but America’s treatment of the UN has been foremost. It has in the recent past refused for considerable periods to pay its treaty-obliged dues until it saw changes it unilaterally demanded. It has dropped out of some important agencies completely, most notably UNESCO. In general, it has intimidated an international organization into better accommodating American priorities, including very much imperial ones opposed to what the UN is supposed to be about. And it has used this intimidation and non-cooperativeness to influence the nature of leadership at the UN, the last few Secretaries-General being timid on very important matters and ineffective in general. That’s just the way America likes them to be now. A harsh Neocon like Madeleine Albright won her government-service spurs at the UN by engineering the departure of an unwanted Secretary-General.

Promoting coups is not a new activity for the United States. There is a long postwar record, including Iran’s democratic government in the 1950s, Guatemala’s democratic government in the 1950s, and Chile’s democratic government in 1973. But the recent coup in Ukraine represented something rather new, a very provocative activity right on a major Russian border. It was also against an elected government and in a country which shares with Russia a history and culture going back more than a thousand years to the predecessor state of Kievan Rus. Yes, there are resentments in Ukraine from the Soviet era, and those are what the United States exploited, but the country was democratically governed. In any event, staging a coup in a large bordering country is a very serious provocation. You can just imagine the violent American reaction to one in Mexico or Canada.

The new, post-coup government in Ukraine also made many provocative and plainly untrue statements. The ineffective, and frequently ridiculous, President Poroshenko kept telling Europeans that Russian troops and armor were invading his country. Only his brave army was holding the hordes back. He was literally that silly at times. Of course, none of it was ever true. American spy satellites would quickly detect any Russian movement, and they never did. In an effort to put the wild claims into perspective, treating them with the contempt they deserved, Putin once said that if he wanted to, he could be in Kiev in two weeks. Undoubtedly true, too. Well, the statement was taken completely out of context, treated as a threat by America’s always-faithful-to-the-narrative press. Journalism in the service of government policy – all of it, from the most elevated newspapers and broadcasters to the humblest. And I think that nicely illustrates the absurdity of events in Ukraine and the way they have been used.

The United States paid for the coup in Ukraine. We even know how much money it spent, five billion dollars, thanks to the overheard words of one of America’s most unpleasant former diplomats, Victoria Nuland. The idea was to threaten Russia with the long Ukrainian border being put into genuinely hostile hands. Never mind that the government driven from office with gunfire in the streets from paid thugs was democratically elected. Never mind that many of the groups with which the United States cooperated in this effort were right-wing extremists, a few of them resembling outright Nazis, complete with armbands and symbols and torchlight parades. And never mind that the government America installed was incompetent, not only sending Ukraine’s economy into a tailspin but promptly igniting a completely unnecessary civil war.

The large native, Russian-speaking population (roughly 30% of the country) is completely dominant in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Those two regions partly turned the tables by seceding from Ukraine with its government which early-on worked to suppress historic Russian-language rights and carried on a lot of activities to make those with any Russian associations feel very unwelcome. It’s a deliberately provocative environment, and, as we all know from our press, not a day goes by in Washington without anti-Russian rhetoric and unsupported charges. While Washington greatly failed in this effort, it nevertheless succeeded in generating instability and hostility along a major Russian border. It also gained talking points with which to pressure NATO into some new arrangements.

In the case of Crimea, it is important to remember that it has been Russian since the time of Catherine the Great. It only was in recent history that Crimea became part of Ukraine, and that happened with the stroke of a pen, an administrative adjustment during the days of the USSR, the very USSR the people now running Ukraine so despise, rejecting almost everything ever done, except for the administrative transfer of Crimea apparently. Just one of those little ironies of history. The people who live in Crimea speak Russian, and they did not welcome the new Ukrainian government’s heavy-handed, nationalist, anti-Russian drive around Ukrainian language and culture, necessarily a narrow, claustrophobic effort since the late USSR was a multi-national and multi-lingual state, and given Crimea’s much longer-term history as part of Russia. Even during Crimea’s recent past as part of Ukraine, Russia continued to maintain, under lease, its major naval base at Sevastopol on the Black Sea, so the connections with Russia have been continuous.

In virtually every newspaper story you read and in places like Wikipedia on the Internet, you will see the word “annexation” used to describe Crimea’s relationship with Russia. It simply is not an accurate description, but its constant use is a very good measure of America’s ability to saturate media with its desired version of events. The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from an unfriendly new Ukraine, and they voted to petition Russia’s admitting them as part of the country. How can you call the results of free and open votes annexation? Well, only the same way you can tell the twice-elected President of Venezuela that he is not President and that another man, who did not even run in the election and administered the oath of office to himself, is the President. This is the kind of Alice-in-Wonderland stuff that comes as part of America’s new drive for dominance. It simply paints the roses red. What is claimed to have happened in Crimea provides the only support for charges of Russian aggression, the laying on of all kinds of sanctions, and running around all over Europe tearing up road surfaces with tanks. This is the atmosphere within which Putin must work, trying to maintain as many sound relationships with Europe as he can, and he actually has been quite successful. A number of prominent European politicians, especially retired ones who aren’t under the immediate pressures of politics and relations with America, have voiced support for Russia. Some have even visited Crimea by invitation and toured. And Russia’s major new gas pipeline into Europe, Nord Stream 2, proceeds despite constant American pressure against it. It is at this writing 70% complete. The Europeans cannot just abandon their long-term ally, the United States, even though I’m sure they understand the illusions and false claims of the current situation. The United States also retains considerable capacity to hurt Europe financially, so they rush into nothing, but I believe there can be no doubt that American words and actions have significantly weakened old and important relationships. No one likes being lied to, and they like even less having to pretend lies are truth.

Putin has been more cautious in the case of the secession of another Russian-speaking portion of Ukraine, an even larger one in population and in economic importance, the Eastern portion called Donbass. The people there declared two republics, Donetsk and Luhansk, and they petitioned to be admitted as part of Russia. But Russia does not officially recognize them although it has sent large volumes of aid as they were besieged by the new Ukrainian government. The government of Ukraine started a small civil war in the region. Russia supports the Minsk Accords, which it helped to write, accords to reunite the region with Ukraine but which require Ukraine to grant it a degree of constitutional autonomy to the region. This is a reasonable approach to ending the conflict, but it is not easy to implement. It is not something looked favorably upon by Ukraine’s right-wing extremists who push the government hard, having even threatened it at times. The entire business has been mired in difficulties from the start. Ukraine displayed remarkable military incompetence in this civil war against a much smaller opponent. It tried to increase the size of its forces with conscription in the West of Ukraine, but the number of no-shows and run-aways grew embarrassingly large. And, of course, none of this even needed to happen had the new government’s policies been sensible and fair in the first place. But you got no pressure from the United States over fairness. It is merely content to have caused a lot of difficulties on Russia’s border. And there is the matter of the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines’ Flight MH-17, which my study of the circumstances suggests unequivocally was an act by Ukraine, whether accidental or deliberate. The United States has pushed hard to have this blamed on Russia, so as to not discredit its installed Ukrainian government, but the facts, as we know them, simply do not support that conclusion. The United States has shamefully pressured a NATO member, Holland, not even a central party to the event, to conduct a long and tortoise-paced investigation of the crash. It has ignored key evidence, and all of its interim conclusions can readily be seen as couched in the kind of suggestive but inexact language criminal lawyers advise their clients to use in court. What we see in Ukraine, is government incompetence, almost uniformly in all its activities, and again there is no concern expressed by the United States about all the difficulties – economic, military, and social - its efforts have caused for the Ukrainian people.

Putin’s adroit handling of the coup in Ukraine, frustrating many of America’s aims without getting Russia involved in conflict, determined Washington to further stoke-up anti-Russian feeling in Europe. You must always remember that NATO does represent a vehicle for the peaceful American occupation of Europe, Europe being an important economic competitor and potentially a major world power. The obsolescence of the original arguments for NATO - the threat of the USSR and the massive Red Army, now both long passed into history - had the potential to see America eventually lose its occupying perch in Europe.

Russian-threat hype added force to recent efforts over the last decade and a half to have inconsequential new states admitted to NATO, some of them having the attraction of borders with Russia and lots of simmering old anti-Soviet hostilities. Certainly, countries like Estonia or Latvia bring neither military nor economic strength to the organization. Other small states, such as Slovenia or Slovakia or Montenegro just fill holes in the map of Europe, so NATO is a contiguous mass. The small states are in fact potentially a serious drag. But for America, they were attractive new members because they are so grateful about being asked “to play with the big boys.” Their votes as part of the organization effectively dilute the influence of the larger, older states, such as France or Germany, who sometimes disagree with the United States, and some of whom have been developing new relationships with modern Russia. The entire series of American activities in Europe after the disappearance of the USSR represents absolutely nothing constructive, indeed, quite the opposite.

As I mentioned, America, too, has been in a kind of decline, but absolutely nothing resembling what Russia experienced. America’s establishment has come to realize that over the last couple of decades it is in a relative decline. It went from producing, after WWII, about forty percent of what the world used to twenty-something percent, and all signs point to the trend continuing. America was waking-up from an extended fantasy – a period when fluffy notions like “the American Dream” were embraced as real, a period explained by the simple fact that after the war all of America’s serious competitors had been flattened. America was waking to a time when those competitors were coming back and a time when fierce new competitors were rising. The “Dream” part of the advertising slogan, “the American Dream,” became all too apparent.

During that period of unique prosperity and power following WWII, a good deal of America’s leadership became what people who have been given too much often tend to become, spoiled and corrupt, unable to make good decisions in many cases, indulging in god-like notions of the planet being run for their benefit, and always, steadily leaving behind their own people’s welfare for imperial concerns abroad. The entire ethic of the New Deal period evaporated, and by the 1990s, a Democratic President like Clinton could actually make a speech bragging about “ending welfare as we know it.”

The people who really run the country, its power establishment, fixed on a new strategy to address uncomfortable realities. That strategy involves using America’s still great military and financial power to dominate international affairs in a more obvious and palpable way than ever. Dominance became an openly-discussed theme, as it rarely was before, in the hope, over time, of squeezing concessions and advantages from others to regain or at least hold on to its global position. This is an openly aggressive posture that has been assumed. No more pretence of being a nice guy. And it was actively promoted by a new political faction in Washington, the Neocons, a group who share certain interests and see America’s use of power as serving those interests. They have been open advocates of using military force to get things you want, and they hold many important and influential posts. Perhaps their greatest common interest is the welfare of Israel, and they see an America perceived as aggressive best serving Israel’s security.

It is important to note that while Russia maintains excellent relations with Israel – Putin has been visited often by Israel’s Prime Minister - nevertheless, by virtue of its sheer size and geographical location and military power, Russia is seen as a barrier to America’s more unrestrained use of power. “Russia” is almost a dirty word for many of America’s Neocon faction and for many Israelis. Russia’s recent decisive assistance to Syria in fighting gangs of terrorists introduced and supported from outside was viewed about as negatively as is possible. That is war Israel wanted President Assad to lose, and it secretly gave a great deal of assistance to the terrorists. It was hoping to secure a permanent hold on the Golan, grab even another slice of Syria as a buffer for its illegal residents in Golan, all while seeing one of the region’s leaders it most dislikes eliminated. It worked closely in the effort with Saudi Arabia’s murderous Crown Prince, and America oversaw and encouraged all aspects of a dirty war to topple a legitimate government which has remained fairly popular with its people despite years of agonizing conflict and endless dishonest American claims about such matters as chemical weapons. Assad is seen as a defender of the rights of Syria’s diverse religious groups, including its many Christians.

So, there is a built-in powerful negative towards Russia in Washington power circles for which there is no clear possible remedy or correction, and, indeed, no matter how reasonably Putin behaves, his country faces this opposition. For some American politicians, and very notably Hillary Clinton, this has proved a handy tool, Clinton long having been a close-to fanatical supporter of Israeli interests. The fact has earned her a great deal of campaign funding and other support over the years. Clinton’s ego also just could not take the fact that she lost the election to the leader of “the deplorables,” as she once called Trump’s supporters, so in dark claims of Russian interference, supported by absolutely no proof whatsoever, she protects her ego. And long before election day, Clinton had a hand in exploiting attitudes about Russia in another way. She is known to have paid, at least in part, for the fraudulent Steele Dossier commissioned from an ex-British spy. It was used to try to discredit Trump over Russian connections.

This dislike for Russia by the Neocons and other boosters of resurgent American power really is what is at the heart of America’s current Russophobia obsession, not any threatening actions by Russia. It becomes a kind of vicious circle with new accusations piled on all the time by various actors each with their own motives, and it is clearly quite dangerous.

So, these are the positions of the two countries today, Russia having risen quite impressively from the depths under a remarkably able leader, extremely popular and well-supported by powerful elements of its society, versus America, now in a much different kind of decline than what Russia experienced, led by an establishment group with rather less-than-honorable intentions and with a political system virtually designed to produce no real leaders who might interfere with establishment plans.

Putin is further supported from the outside by the rising colossus of China, one of the great miracle stories of our time. In the past, the two countries have not always been friends, and America, in the time of Nixon, actually worked at playing one off against the other. But that is no more. The American establishment’s intentions for China are too clear. It is virtually reneging on many old promises such as those around Taiwan being an integral part of China, it is treating China as an unwanted competitor, accusing it of every nefarious activity you can think of to impede its economic progress and demanding trade concessions as though China had been an unfair competitor rather than just a new, more successful one. America is now attacking in every way possible - from questioning motives and methods to trying to generate opposition by participants – China’s unprecedented and magnificent global enterprise, the Silk Road Project, a project dwarfing the great canals of the past and destined to bring new prosperity to all participants through trade. It hardly represents a positive attitude to oppose and impede it.

Putin is exactly the kind of man to quickly recognize and embrace a project like that. Russia is also rushing to help China greatly increase its supply of natural gas from Siberia’s immense reserves in order to decrease its dependence on coal. The first great new pipeline is almost finished.

So, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, both highly intelligent leaders, have a great many weighty common interests in working together as never before. America’s new policies have been a driving force in bringing them together, and there is no reason to expect any diminishment of that force. Recent American international behavior requires others to accept what Putin likes to call America’s “exceptionalism,” its position first and above all other nations, its self-granted privilege of not having to play by the same rules as everyone else – its status of “the indispensable nation” as one of America’s more arrogant diplomats put it not very long ago – and it requires that from two major, proud, and ancient societies which cannot possibly grant it.

America’s dependence on its gigantic military and security establishment represents a serious long-term weakness in many ways, even though it provides the very foundation of the American establishment’s new strategy for dominance. Empires, after all, while benefiting the privileged segments of a society, are a drag on most of its citizens, depriving them of many benefits, including the simple, important benefit of good and caring national government. America spends more than ten times as much as Russia on its military. China, compared to not many years ago, has increased its military spending greatly, but for a country with such a huge economy, second only to the United States and likely to overtake it before long, it still spends less than a quarter of what the United States does. And America does not even have the money to pay for its atrociously large military. It borrows the money, and who do you think pays the stream of interest payments for those massive borrowings? You’d be right if you said all of its ordinary, tax-paying citizens without privileges. They also are “on the hook” for the ultimate negative economic consequences of all this debt and borrowing.

Of course, from a world perspective, America’s military represents an ongoing threat to peace and security, much the opposite of what is claimed for it inside the United States. Great standing armies have always represented threats, and here is the greatest standing army in history. Many historical analyses hold them largely responsible for such terrible conflicts as WWI (a war whose outcome made WWII inevitable also). When such power is at hand, the temptation to use it is constant, and its very presence distorts all attitudes and decisions. Many of America’s own Founders understood that, but it has been forgotten by the contemporary American establishment in its relentless pursuit of empire and influence.

Security expenses are hard to compare, so much is secretive, but the United States with its 17 separate national security agencies and such a vast enterprise as the NSA’s new archipelago of facilities stuffed with hi-tech gear and supercomputers which spy on and record every American plus others would put any other country out of the competition. Again, the demands of the American establishment utterly compromise the interests of the country’s own citizens at large. Indeed, now in security matters, ordinary Americans have been pretty much reduced to a herd, each with an identifying tag stapled to his ear.

Russia’s democracy may be quite imperfect, but America’s - what it had of one, it never from the beginning identified itself actually as a democracy - has been transformed into plutocracy with an elaborate window-dressing simulation of democracy, an arrangement in which the state’s resources are committed to its privileged class and the advance of empire. And, as I’ve written many times, you can have a decent country or you can have an empire, but you cannot have both.



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