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John Chuckman


Iraq’s lost generation: ‘I have forgotten what happiness is’
“… then Isis destroyed Mosul. Three years on, can they start over?”

Please, this was a terrible set of events, but it does not compare to the George Bush-Tony Blair invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps a million people killed. Millions made refugees. Children lacerated to pieces by American cluster bombs, and the brave photographers of Al-Jazeera actually gave us some unforgettable images of them.

Years of poor electricity service. Years of poor water service. National and world treasures looted, never to be replaced.

Torture, civilian bombing, the use of white phosphorus.

No jobs in what had been the Mideast’s most advanced society, one where women and religious minorities were treated better than in Saudi Arabia.

And of course, years of chaos with attacks by rival groups, groups the former government kept in their place.

And all that chaos led eventually to ISIS itself, an ugly monstrosity pretending to a be jihadi group but actually a collection paid mercenaries supported by the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and others including Britain and France.

Their job was to get rid of the previous Iraqi government, topple the government of Syria, and generally to create chaos, keeping the region in tatters.

And when the US actually decided to attack in Mosul the ISIS they’d helped create, for various reasons, they bombed in the most terrible and careless fashion. Thousands of the dead died from American bombing.

Almost twenty years of horror, thank you, America.


John Chuckman


CIA Urges Trump To Delay Release Of 3,000 Never-Before-Seen Documents On JFK Assassination

I’ve never believed they will release any truly critical documents.


Because they cannot help but show CIA involvement, both in the murder and in the cover-up.

Bertrand Russell, at the release of the hopeless Warren Report, profoundly asked: If as we are asked to believe the assassination comes down to murder by a single disgruntled man, where is the reason for secrecy?

His question was never answered, and it cuts to the bone of the whole business since the assassination.

Of course, we know from past events, CIA is also capable of hiding documents in its labyrinthian filing systems or, alternatively, just destroying them.

If any files indeed even exist over such a sensitive matter.

The last release of documents was a joke. The CIA was trying to flog a dead horse with the old Soviet defector Nysenko affair.

That matter is pretty well understood by all people who read history, and it really has no bearing on the secrets of the Kennedy assassination.

Such papers should never even have been regarded as secret. And they really are a pile of disinformation.

So, the CIA is perfectly capable of serving up a bad joke and calling it secret truths.

After all, that’s part of what they do for a living.

John Chuckman


US knew about 1960s mass killings of communists in Indonesia, declassified documents reveal
Embassy in Jakarta makes records public from 1963-1966 that expose CIA’s knowledge of and support for mass killings carried out at height of Cold War anti-socialist hysteria

We actually did know this already, although the knowledge was perhaps not widespread.

Indeed, the State Department was said to be burning the telephone wires to Jakarta at the time submitting the names of “communists” for the slaughter.

In every case of genuine genocide in the postwar period, rather than make an effort to halt the slaughter, the United States has either contributed in some way to its operation, reflecting political motives, or it has just ignored the whole thing, as it did under Clinton in Rwanda, not wanting to get its hands dirty. It is not an enviable record.

America’s secret bombings in Cambodia caused the toppling of a neutral government there and brought into power the Khmer Rouge with their killing fields. America did not lift a finger against the horror, just as it did not in Indonesia or Rwanda.

America’s armed services do not serve peace or rights of democracy or human decency. They do not protect the oppressed or brutalized. They do not fight injustice. They serve only the furtherance of empire. Where that is not involved, they will not be found at work.

Yet, it is interesting the way we still so often see words putting America in the place of world protector of democratic and human rights or dire warnings about genocides predicted from some set of events. The words are as empty as all the advertising claims for a thousand products blaring night and day from American television.

At least three times in my adult life, when it might have made a difference, America in fact did nothing. About 3 million lives snuffed out.

And yet people still mindlessly repeat, “Never again.”

John Chuckman


Britain is facing a terrorist threat as unrelenting as it is unprecedented, MI5 chief warns
Jihadis can ‘accelerate from inception to planning to action in just a handful of days’

Crap from on high.

There are only two forms of jihadi terror in this world.

One, the hired-mercenary kind employed by the US and its allies in destroying, or trying to destroy, countries like Libya and Syria.

Britain and France have been complicit in these horrors. Lying about fighting outfits like ISIS and Al-Nusra while in fact assisting them with weapons, advisors, and surreptitious air force support in bombing Iraqi or Syrian infrastructure.

The other form we see, one which is a direct result of the first, are small groups who are seeking vengeance for what has been done to their homes and families by the US and allies like Britain and France.

It is called “blowback” by the secret security people. All of the attacks in France and in London are exactly of this type.

However, just compare the carnage the US and its allies have caused in the Middle East. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other places including the coup against Egypt’s only brief democratic government, that of Morsi.

America’s march of terror through the Middle East has taken at least a couple of million lives, crippled countless numbers, and sent millions running for their lives as refugees, something which has nearly destabilized Europe.

Britain and France have not only never opposed America’s horrors imposed on a list of countries, they have indeed been willing helpers.

I think I can guarantee if governments get out of the American mass-killing business, the reprisal attacks by desperate groups, the behaviors mistakenly called “international terror” would utterly cease.

John Chuckman


Iraq seizes Kirkuk from Kurds leaving two US allies locked in conflict and bringing end to move for independence
Century-old movement for Kurdish independence suffers a calamitous defeat as military reaction to referendum leads to fall of city

Quite poor analysis here.

Iraq has only occupied in Kirkuk what has long been part of Iraq.

And why wouldn’t they when the region contains much of the country’s oil?

Iraq, before the American-British invasion, was by many measures the most advanced Arab state. Women had more rights than in almost any other Arab state, and certainly by far compared to Saudi Arabia. Fundamentalist religion was not forced on people. There was a vibrant economy with advances in many areas. Financed of course by oil.

This separation stuff is US-inspired, and of course the US has never had any business even being in Iraq. They are war-criminals.

It wants a weakened Iraq for Israel’s long-term benefit. And it wants the Kurds to supply oil to Israel. Neither of which is any of America’s business.

Imagine trying to get Texas to leave the Union. What do you think Washington’s reaction would be?

America has played this dirty game with the Kurds more than once.

In Kissinger’s day, the Kurds were given encouragement and support to rebel against Saddam.

Saddam crushed them.

Kissinger and Co in the US just sat picking their noses.

John Chuckman


Israel’s Helpers in Media, Government, and Academia – Al-Jazeera Documentary
“No American national interest, apart from the completely phony contention that Israel is some kind of valuable ally, would justify the taxpayers’ largesse.”
“In reality, Israel is a liability to the United States and always has been.”

This effort is a very important work of investigative journalism.

I understand that Al-Jazeera also did work inside the American Lobby.

That will be interesting to see whether it can even get air play in the US, the pressures brought to bear by the Lobby in the US at times being almost beyond belief.

Israeli-friendly interests simply control every major broadcaster in the US plus all the big-name newspapers.

This kind of investigation brings to light truths many already understood, but it is always welcome to have additional support for the truth.

In Britain, Tony Blair’s “New Labour” was really a code word for a new deal by his Labour Party and Britain’s Israel Lobby.

The truth of this is seen in Blair’s readiness to lie and manipulate his way into helping the US kill about a million Iraqis in a totally illegal war.

The truth is also seen in his being given the Israel “Peace” Prize of a million dollars after the carnage.

And again, Blair’s appointment to a number of positions and sinecures – such as The Mideast Quartet, where he did absolutely nothing – all of which helped make him a very rich man.

The Iraq War was about nothing but destroying the Mideast’s most advanced Arabic society and balkanizing the country for Israel’s benefit. It had no other purpose, despite all the phony talk at the time, even by deluded liberal opponents, about grabbing the oil.

And just so, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Also the coup in Egypt. All of it an effort to create a cordon sanitaire around Israel and dispose of any governments which were independent-minded about American policies. It has been a 15-year long gradual slaughter, and one which produced millions of refugees, almost de-stabilizing Europe.

Of course, America’s whole new tear of aggression in many directions is encouraged by the same interests. The Neocons in the US view a hyper-aggressive America as Israel’s best security.

And despite the huge bloodshed and waste of resources and completely immoral behavior of America, the average American just does not understand what is taking place. They always naively believe America fights for democracy and rights. The “Stars and Stripes” always stands for what is right. They believe that because the television and newspapers and paid-politicians all keep telling them so.

And here, of course, we come to the reason America’s Washington establishment is so against Russian media. It is simply because the Russian media are able to counteract some of the nonsense ordinary Americans are fed night and day.

In fact, years ago, Al-Jazeera was also extremely controversial in the United States. Some of their brave journalists and photographers gave the world a peek at what was really happening in Iraq and other places. There was a big lobbying effort against Al-Jazeera being allowed to operate in North America, with members of the Israel Lobby leading the charge.

I actually did not think Al-Jazeera had it in them anymore to do this kind of expose, so I’m not quite clear about the whole political atmosphere which permitted this, but the results are welcome. Truth should always be welcome, especially in democratic societies so that voting can be based on facts and not just advertising slogans.

John Chuckman


“Anti-Semitism Weaponized”

An accurate phrase for what we see occurring.

The most glaring case was the long campaign against a decent man, Jeremy Corbyn, after he was elected new leader of the Labour Party.

Newspapers like The Guardian – likely the most prejudiced newspaper in Britain – carried on a regular campaign against him on the grounds that there was anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Not one shred of evidence was ever produced, but there were articles, editorials, and stories.

The campaign reminded me of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s phony attacks on “communists in the State Department.” McCarthy, an old drunk, had hit upon a way to spark up his flagging political career.

Good old Tony Blair and his acolytes made major contributions, Mr. Blair – with his Iraq War, his Israel “Peace” Prize, and his sinecure appointments like the one to the Mideast Quartet – was one of the Israel Lobby’s driving forces in British in British politics.

Why was Britain’s Lobby so set against Corbyn?

His views on Israel and Palestine are far-minded, and that is not allowed in Western politics where the Israel Lobby has a firm grip. You must be overwhelmingly for Israel and ignore its countless abuses. Otherwise you are “anti-Semitic.”

Well, the brave and capable Corbyn managed to survive the hideous attacks, and today he thrives.

Response to another reader’s comment on the Origins of contemporary Israelis:

Yes, it is even possible that the Palestinians themselves are the closest we have to descendants of the Hebrews.

The Romans were not known to remove the people from the lands they conquered, and they left no record of having done so with the Hebrews.

The dominant people who identify as Jews today are the Ashkenazi, a Germanic people, whom some DNA tests suggest arose about a thousand years ago on the Mediterranean near Italy and migrated north.

Their language is a Germanic language, Yiddish, not Hebrew, although many or most maintain the tradition of learning the ancient Hebrew tongue in their religious schools, just as many Muslims around the world learn Arabic in order to read Koran in its original.

Some DNA tests also suggest Ashkenazi origins, again maybe a thousand years ago, in the Caucasus region going back to the Khazar (Turkic) civilization, another group of people converted to Judaism. But as with other ancient groups affected by Hebrew evangelism, of course, there was movement back and forth between regions and inter-marriage.

Following the extreme success of Christianity which actually started as a sect of Judaism in evangelizing, evidence suggests the Hebrews were for some period evangelists. That’s why there are Jewish groups in central Europe, in the Caucasus, and a little in North Africa. There is even a small group called Cochin Jews in India.

Of course, there would eventually have been some inter-marriage – Judaism being a relatively small religion whose various adherents have often have had problems finding a large enough pool of marriage prospects (we see this today with the ultra-Orthodox sometimes travelling long distances for marriage prospects) – so DNA tests today do find some Semitic characteristics in the Ashkenazi.

But overall, the science tells us the Ashkenazi people are Germanic from central or eastern Europe.

Of course, we see the origins not only in DNA and language but in food and physical culture. The traditional foods of Jewish delicatessens and for holiday events such as Passover Seder have no Middle Eastern origins.

The people in Israel have made a conscious effort to assume Middle Eastern foods as their own – thus, we have everything from “Israeli” couscous to “Israeli” olive oil. Thus, Jaffa oranges, which existed well before Israel was re-created, are regarded as Israeli.

If indeed the Palestinians are the true descendants of the Hebrews, it only adds a level of bitter irony to the whole abusive situation of contemporary Israel where they are oppressed and abused and often despised.

John Chuckman


Seven years has changed nothing at Oxbridge. In fact, diversity is even worse

“But for too long they have been allowed to be elitist as well, drawing up the ladder to success underneath them and reinforcing centuries of entrenched privilege.”

While I am sure there is some of this owing to the expectations that members of the royal family and aristocracy be given admissions, I seriously doubt that that description covers the situation at Oxbridge.

Why? Were admissions to truly ignore merit, the schools would quickly sink into mediocrity.

The definitive measure of a university’s world standing is the quality of the student applicants it attracts, not its buildings, not its traditions or age, and not even how distinguished the faculty are.

Oxbridge obviously now still draws a world-class cut of applicants.

Writers on this kind of social issue invariably take the view the numbers are prima facie evidence of some unfairness or prejudice.

But that just is not necessarily correct, and indeed when you begin arguing that a top-notch university should make diversity rather than sheer proven academic excellence a significant criterion, it does seem to me you are arguing the case for a definite kind of reverse-prejudice.

Universities like Yale or Harvard do make provision for a limited number of under-qualified students, but they can afford to do this owing to the great size of their institutions, the generally extremely high level of applicants, and the huge size of their private endowments providing effectively subsidies.

Even in the United States, you get the “aristocracy effect” at the best universities. Harvard and Yale, for example, take under-qualified applicants if they come from very wealthy families who can be counted on to give generously to the school’s endowment. Ergo, alumni like George Bush at Yale, but, remember, these are privately-funded institutions who must always be looking to their endowments.

John Chuckman


Donald Trump’s ‘downward mental health spiral’ could lead US to war, clinical psychologist says
Health professional argues there is a possibility President Trump’s mental health could leave America vulnerable to terror attacks or war

This is just dumb.

As were the previous articles done on this topic or related to it.

First, the President alone cannot make war.

Second, while I regard Trump as unpleasant and uninformed and impulsive, he is no madder, and maybe even less, than a number of America’s leading lights.

Hillary Clinton has to be certifiably insane. John McCain is a weird psychopath. So is Joe Lieberman. Newt Gingrich is an unprincipled fool. Nancy Pelosi is genuinely bizarre and likely senile. And smiling Obama led the country in killing at least half a million people and causing huge upsets in populations and refugees.

It strikes me as absolutely uninformed, and indeed dangerous, to ignore the rest of America’s political elites and write of Trump as though he were uniquely twisted.

That group of leaders plus others in the hierarchy have just taken the US through 15 years of mass killing in the Middle East with at least 2 million victims.

As well, it has supported such horrors as Guantanamo, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, and launch of an industrial-scale extralegal killing operation, one that makes people disappear in a number of countries without any judicial or legal proceedings.

The record almost could not be worse. So, again, while Trump has proved a grave failure, I don’t see how he is that much worse than the rest of the murderous tribe in Washington.

John Chuckman


Former NATO Chief Rasmussen Really, Really Wants War in the Ukraine
“The Donbass rebels have about 40,000 troops and hundreds of heavy weapons systems. Take a look at Syria and Iraq, and how long it took to capture cities such as Aleppo, Mosul, and Raqqa, against armies much smaller and less well-equipped.”

What else do NATO officials and commanders have to do?

Truly NATO does nothing which isn’t completely decided in Washington.

The jobs of all these people with big salaries and big titles is to serve as window dressing, or a stage play, working against the perception that Europe is in fact occupied, occupied by America.

They are actually fairly pathetic characters.

John Chuckman


Rand Paul | ‘John McCain Is A Fake Conservative’

Well, no, you’ve got that wrong, Rand Paul.

John McCain is a fake human being.

His record is disgusting. See:

Incidentally, while I admire the independent views of Rand Paul’s father, a consistent and thoughtful man, it does seem to me the son is not cut from the same quality of cloth.

Rand Paul over the years has made some ridiculous statements.

And his Tea Party caper was just one more blindingly clear example of P. T. Barnum’s old saying about suckers always being in great supply.

John Chuckman


Saudi Arabia’s driving ban and the pioneering women who got it lifted
Ben Hubbard talks to the protesters who were shunned from society when they protested against the law in the 1990s

Look, I’m glad women can now drive, but going on about such a trivial step in the 21st century is insane.

Saudi Arabia is backward and dangerous.

Indeed, some of the countries America has attacked or destroyed with Britain’s help were far more advanced in their treatment of women and quite a number of other things.

Articles about this trivial advance by the Saudis are an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Meanwhile, the Saudi government kills women and children in Yemen.

And I’m sure women and children have died inside Saudi Arabia with the government’s brutal program against its native Shia Muslim population, which includes such Israeli-style behavior as taking bulldozers to homes.

John Chuckman


Cold War 2.0 More Dangerous Than Original – Stephen Cohen Podcast
Today’s American-Russian confrontation is developing in unprecedented ways—and the US political-media establishment seems not to care

Stephen Cohen, as always, brings a well-informed and very focused intelligence to his subject.

He is so very right in these points, and the dangers they collectively represent should deeply concern us all.

I do think there’s more than a suggestion of America’s unelected government at work here. It ain’t just politicians.

That, too, should deeply concern us all.

The CIA and its ally, the Pentagon, before Kennedy’s assassination played all kinds of dirty little tricks to defeat American-Russian rapprochement.

After all, the CIA, using pilot Gary Powers and the then-secret U-2 spy plane, sabotaged Eisenhower’s 1960 Soviet summit and effort to establish better American-Soviet relations. Such CIA efforts are always done in a fashion so that they can plausibly be interpreted in another fashion, as with the U-2 being an effort to provide the President the very latest intelligence for his talks.

In Kennedy’s case, they failed, but the very fact that they even tried, actually going against some direct orders from the President was chilling to those who understood.

Today, both these agencies are immensely more powerful than they were in the early 1960s. They are larger, better funded, and even less accountable than they were. And, the political atmosphere in which they operate is truly poisonous with American politicians seemingly blind to the dangerous consequences of their careless words, as those of Hillary Clinton since her election defeat.

Importantly, America has no strong figure like John Kennedy to stand in the way of these powerful agencies. Trump has proven himself all bluster and ranting, someone who was actually cowered by such frivolous provocations as the infamous Russia dossier, not a serious opponent.

Trump comes after eight years of Obama, who despite his boyish smile and seeming liberality, gave the CIA and the Pentagon everything they wanted. Eight years of bombing, terror, and coups. The eight years of Cheney-Rumsfeld – the pathetic Bush being only a timid and not-very-intelligent figurehead – also gave the CIA and Pentagon everything they wanted.

So, there’s been a very long period of time during which these agencies have increased their capacities, freedom-of-operation, and sheer arrogance. At the same time, and perhaps it is not merely a coincidence, the political atmosphere in America has degenerated badly.

Instead of a Kennedy, today there is a blustery, now seen-as-cowardly, Trump, who actually told the CIA that it knows best whom to kill in America’s extrajudicial killing program by drone. Obama at least went through the pretense of signing off on “kill orders” put on his desk.

Trump also pretty well gave the Pentagon a free hand in Afghanistan, a pointless war that has accomplished nothing for 15 years.

And, despite confidential understandings with Russia, clearly elements of CIA and/or the Pentagon are actively at work in Syria carrying out serious provocations.

We have the story in today’s Russia Insider of a CIA plan, which failed, to assassinate Greek Premier Karamanlis in 2008.

A dramatic recent book has revealed the CIA as the source for the assassination of several Western leaders, including Swedish Premier Olof Palme, a kind of assassination at an entirely different level than the ones we have long known the psychopaths at the CIA are engaged in. This goes far beyond just interfering in countries’ elections, something again the CIA has always done.

The United States’ establishment has gradually granted immense power to these largely unaccountable agencies, and they are now endangering the safety of everyone on the planet.

John Chuckman


If the NFL wants to recover from the anthem protests, it needs to start showing some leadership
The league needs to find a way to let players air their concerns without alienating a large portion of their viewers

Drop the stupid anthem at sports events where it has no business.

Playing it at the start of a paid entertainment has always, always been inappropriate.

And many British people may not know this, but back a decade or so ago, the NFL players stayed inside for the anthem, only appearing on the field when it was over.

The only reason they have appeared on the field during the anthem since is because the American military started paying the NFL to have the players stand there.

Why would it do that? To excite young men to join up when they see their sports heroes standing there.

So, who is it that really has been disrespectful to America’s symbols? The guys manipulating them to get recruits, the American military in need of young bodies to send off to America’s pointless colonial wars.

Of course, at a “deeper” level, one perhaps not appreciated by Trump or his trailer-park devotees, the very essence of being American is supposed to have something to do with rights and freedoms, including the right to protest injustice.

Only a couple of days ago, a police officer in Salt Lake City was released without blame after he shot a young black man in the back and killed him. The young man was running away, and a camera caught the entire sequence.

Some who saw the video say the officer literally executed the young man. Protests were immediate.

That’s what the players are kneeling about. In my sense of values, their protest is entirely fitting, and an even more demonstrative one would be.

Ironically, the players protesting have been almost overly respectful by going down on their knees, a gesture understood by most as respectful. It is only a protest because the gesture is different than the expected one.

Just think of what Trump and his pick-up truck crowd would be saying if these players instead were doing what some black American athletes did at the Mexico City Olympics of 1968. They raised their arms high in the black power salute while the anthem played.

This controversy has been ridiculous almost beyond telling. With all the terrible problems in America, from violent police to terrible ghettoes, and with all the wars and terror in the world, much of it deliberately created by America, here is the President and other major figures and commentators fiercely engaged over how football players pose during a piece of music.

The utter stupidity is comparable only with the Russo-phobia which has totally gripped the country for many months, a phenomenon comparable in every way with some primitive wave of fear over demon-possession. Yet this nonsense has engaged virtually all the country’s highest figures and its major security institutions and news organizations.

“Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

John Chuckman


“Last night, I saw Hillary Clinton – every young woman I told was excited and every middle-aged man asked why I’d bother
“There’s no one who saw her speak last night who could not have left knowing that, for all her faults, she deserved that presidency and it was stolen from her. Now it’s our job to claim that power back”

This piece by Sirena Bergman has to be one of the most intellectually-flimsy you’ve ever published.

“…presidency and it was stolen from her”?

Stolen? You mean the way Hillary stole her nomination from Bernie Sanders, something we know to a certainty?

How was her election stolen?

By the United States’ Constitution with its antiquated, anti-democratic provision of the Electoral College?

That’s ridiculous. That antiquated provision has been part of the rules from the beginning.

Hillary knows all about it. She complained, as she is wont to about so many things, about it after George Bush was elected as a minority president in 2000, his minority election only being the latest of a number in American history.

Yes, she complained, as always, but did she do anything about it? Did she aggressively pursue an amendment to the Constitution, something for which she could have been praised for even if she failed?

No, just as she rarely has done anything about anything. Her 8-year record as a U.S. Senator is devoid of a single significant piece of legislation she championed.

“…every young woman I told was excited…”

But what can we make of that, if it is accurate?

Hillary Clinton’s major financial supporters include accused rapist and serial assaulter of women, Harvey Weinstein, and Clinton took the best part of a week even to respond to the horrors being revealed about Weinstein, horrors it is said by many were an open secret in Hollywood, and Hillary has not even returned his money.

Another important supporter is Bill Clinton’s convicted-pedophile friend, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a man who lives on an island and procures underage girls for the pleasure of visitors like Bill. Jeffrey was in large part responsible for creating the Clinton Foundation, a shameful scheme of self-enrichment.

Another of her important sponsors is George Soros, an eccentric, manipulative billionaire whose early background in his homeland of Hungary includes work for the Nazis. Today, this sick old man funds many dangerous and questionable groups, such as BLM and Antifa. He is also notorious for assisting CIA operations in coups and interference operations in European governments.

There’s more dark stuff, too, in the background of this woman who has rarely told the truth in her entire adult life.

Well, if young women indeed feel as this writer claims they do, all I can do is say how very sad it is. Hillary Clinton is not worthy of admiration, and she is certainly not worthy of high office.

Of course, her greatest political achievement, the one she refuses to acknowledge, will stand as being directly responsible for getting Trump into the White house. It couldn’t have happened without her withering presence in the election, a presence solely owing to the masses of crooked money she and Bill brought into the Democratic Party and to her completely unethical operations in the Democratic Primaries.

John Chuckman


“How the oligarchy wins…”
“… two recent books can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs’

I’m sorry, but this is just not possible, at least not without something close to a revolution.

In every Western country we like to call a democracy, the truth is that they have only an elaborate stage set of democracy.

I prefer the term “plutocrat” to “oligarch,” but whatever word you choose to use, the facts of society are the same.

Power, no matter how it is granted, is power.

And money is power, serious power.

We can see this in a thousand aspects of our societies from the long-term success of someone like Harvey Weinstein in business to the many powerful lobbies which determine the direction of national policy.

In the United States, the last national election was between a multi-billionaire and the best financed candidate in history, a woman who burnt through somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion to lose.

It has been studied, and the fact is that members of the American Senate spend about two-thirds of their time raising money.

The American House of Representatives actually has call rooms were Representatives spend time every week raising money.

And when I say “raising money” I don’t mean the contributions which come from the likes of you or me. I mean big money from big sources of money, the only ones who really count.

Look at a phenomenon like Macron in France. He came from nowhere and seems to have very limited talents, yet the plutocratic interests who backed him managed to grab the French Presidency.

Former French President Sarkozy, a man who proved mostly ineffective, took huge sums from General Gaddafi to the richest woman in France, a woman rumored to not have been even fully competent at the time.

Not only are the contributors of big money – both individuals and lobby groups – at the center of Western politics, but our very institutions are constructed to accommodate leadership which does not reflect the views of a majority. This is done in many structural ways from district gerrymandering to the nature of the “first past the post” ballots we use.

Look at Britain’s most utterly incompetent modern politician, David Cameron, the man who single-handedly created the entire Brexit mess plus engaged in a terrible lot of dishonest and brutal behavior in the Middle East. He was never popular and ruled with something over 35% of the vote. Britain’s institutions accommodated that.

In Canada, Stephen Harper, the man most Canadians likely regard as the shabbiest ever to rule the country, managed to do terrible things with about 39% of the vote.

And everywhere, people don’t vote for war, interests do, rich interests, and they get what they want.

Response to another comment saying oligarchs may be better than democracy sometimes:

Yes, but the fundamental issue has always been, how do you choose the oligarch and how do you get rid of one who is clearly badly failing or abusing power?

Democracy is a compromise, but it is one that virtually no one argues against. At least leaders are obliged to leave periodically.

Churchill had it right when called democracy the worst form of government except for all the others.

Oligarchy clearly serves some developing countries well, always assuming the oligarchs are people dedicated to doing their best for the country as a whole. And they do do that sometimes.

Yet, we have supported nonsense like killing a Gadhafi, who gave his people good government and peace, and pitching Libya into chaos.

All in the name of democracy from our dishonest “democratic” politicians.

Look at Israel, always slapping itself on the back as the Mideast’s “only democracy,” while it consorts happily with kings and tyrants in its neighborhood and continues to hold millions of people in occupation against their will.

John Chuckman


We will soon find out what ‘unity’ really means for the Palestinians
Following the deal between Fatah and Hamas, the real question is: does Israel want peace with its neighbour?

“the real question is: does Israel want peace with its neighbour?”

Yes, but that question is becoming very old, and when a question goes unanswered decade after decade after decade, I think it reasonable to conclude that the answer is “no.”

Israel’s starting attitudes were those of early Zionist Jabotinsky, display an iron wall towards the natives of Palestine.

And it has only gone from bad to worse.

The 1967 War was a deliberately planned war of conquest, a war aimed at realizing the dream of Greater Israel.

There was even some still-unknown American complicity in that war by President Lyndon Johnson, judged from Johnson’s strange reaction, during the war, to Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty, an American spy ship. After all, this was the man who gave us the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to start the modern holocaust of the Vietnam War. This was also the man whose rise to power involved documented vote fraud. Secrecy and underhandedness were stock in trade with Johnson.

Complicity of some kind seems the only way to explain the anger-prone and violent Texan’s silent and accepting reaction to Israel’s deliberate (the ship was well-marked and Israel’s lead pilot recognized it as American, checking home by radio about how he should proceed), long (more than an hour), and extremely violent (planes and boats delivering torpedoes, bombs, rockets, and napalm plus heavy cannon fire) attack on the Liberty. Every effort was made to sink that ship with its entire crew. The ship proved tougher than expected, but, as it was, 34 of the crew died.

Were it not the case that the 1967 War was a deliberate war of conquest, there would be no reason why Israel still occupies millions of people after half a century.

The winning general of 1967, Moshe Dayan, is on record as saying if the Palestinians were made miserable enough, they would leave.

It is hard to see Israel’s subsequent acts in any other light. The giant concentration camp of Gaza. The massive walls with gun towers, all built on another people’s land. The regular open theft of other people’s property with “settlements” in the West Bank. The new level of brutality and theft going on in East Jerusalem.

Yes, Israel wants a kind of peace, the peace of enjoying other people’s property without the people.

You know, defenders of Israel often say how different Israel behaves than other regimes which either exterminate unwanted populations or brutally ethnically-cleanse them.

But my response is that I simply do not see a great distinction. More than half a century of holding millions of innocent people in a kind of living death with no rights and no prospects supports no claim to humane and decent behavior.

In the case of Gaza, the million and half or so are held in almost inconceivable brutality. Automated gun towers. Patrol boats shooting fishermen. Poisonous herbicides sprayed on large swathes of land. Human waste water dumped on land in some areas. Deprivation of electricity. Refusal to provide adequate medical assistance. A blockade which prevents the supplies to rebuild what Israel destroyed. And now a metal underground wall to prevent tunnels from delivering vital supplies from Sinai. All, to say nothing of having bombed and shot about 4,000 people, 1,000 of whom were children.

Peace for Israel is just a word.

Response to another comment about Palestinians being able to vote in their own elections:

Yours are manipulative words.

Palestinians can vote, yes, in a place which is not allowed any kind of real authority, a place with no rights of any kind, a place without even physical access to other places, and a place where even basic property rights are violated regularly by an occupying force.

It is the vote, effectively, of prisoners, under the watch of armed guards, for various small day-in, day-out arrangements in their maximum-security prison.

That is not an exaggeration, not in the least.

Oh, and if they just happen to vote for the wrong choice, they are treated as the people of Gaza have been treated.

Still further, selected leaders, for whom the people might well have voted, are simply assassinated by Israel, with a long series of assassinations going back for decades.

We’ve actually seen this done by an Israeli gang with stolen or forged passports and poisonous injections, behavior impossible to distinguish from that of North Korea. Several Western countries in the past, including Canada and Australia, actually had to ask Israel to stop using their passports for such killings. Dozens more Palestinian leaders have been killed by missiles launched from planes or drones, blown apart in their own homes, along with families or friends.

Arafat, Palestine’s most revered leader despite his nepotism and favoritism, in his last days was made a close prisoner by Israel with tanks sticking their gun barrels through his walls. He wasn’t even permitted to go to the Christmas religious services he always attended. Later, he was assassinated with radioactive poison.

That’s some idea of the right to vote.

Response to another comment declaring Israel has peaceful relations with all of its neighbors except the Palestinians:

Yes, Israel has “peaceful relations”… with tyrants and kings.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc. – all are tyrants or kings.

When any other kind of government shows up in the neighborhood, Israel is ready to attack it, either overtly or covertly.

Egypt’s first and only democratic president, Morsi, was eliminated by an engineered coup. Yes, there was some popular discontent in Egypt, but in what state isn’t there, including very much the US and Israel? Coups are not the typical result of popular discontent, particularly where the United States is deeply involved as Israel’s protector and may easily warn off coup forces, instead of encouraging them.

The Egyptians are stuck with still another tyrant-for-life, but, my, we can be grateful because Israel gets along with him just fine.

You see, Israel, by its very nature, as something imposed by force upon others, has almost no tolerance for democracy, not in any of its neighbors and not among the Palestinians it has displaced.

There’s a reason Israel is the Middle East’s only “democracy,” and the reason is that Israel likes dealing with tyrants who keep the natives, as it were, in line, and it very much makes its desires felt everywhere around it.

And, of course, the United States is there, with all its vast military and security resources, to assist in keeping the neighborhood the way Israel likes it. The kings and tyrants who get along with Israel are put under its protection and enjoy favorable treatment. Any leader, whether elected or not, who does not get along with Israel is overthrown – just what we’ve seen done horribly in Iraq and Libya and attempted at immense cost of life in Syria.

Even in the West Bank, the pathetic “president” Israel supports, Abbas, hasn’t faced an election in years. He is only supported – “tolerated” would be a better word since he is permitted almost no authority or initiative – because he’s the kind of accommodating, unchallenging personality with which Israel likes to deal. He’s a stage prop Israel can roll out, every once in a while, for the appearance of talks.

As far as Israel itself, what kind of democracy has only one kind of people allowed to become citizens and vote? Or has established many theocratic rules reflecting just one religious group?

Yes, there are a fair number of non-Jewish, Palestinian Israeli citizens, but they were an accidental result of the 1948 conflict and waves of terror. They were trapped in a location, much as the large group huddled into Gaza was, and, short of going into the extermination business, there was nothing just-created Israel could do about them. But they sure are not made to feel welcome or equal, being often to this day harassed or threatened and not receiving the same full measure of citizenship as Jewish Israelis.

But compared to the millions of Palestinians held against their will in the occupied territories since the 1967 War, the Palestinian Israelis created by accident in 1948, remain a relatively small group.

I think it fair to say the last time we saw similar arrangements in a state styling itself a democracy was in Nationalist South Africa. And the time before that was in the American Confederacy.

And remember, even if Israel really were a democracy in the sense most people understand the term, it still is not organized to protect its minorities. A permanent majority of any one group or interest or religion anywhere puts the rights and freedoms of all others, not part of the majority group, in constant jeopardy.

Power granted by a majority vote may be just as abusive or unfair as the power of a dictatorship. Power is power, however granted, and those not sharing in it must be protected against those wielding it.

That’s the whole reason for having a Bill or Charter of Rights, to protect minorities from belligerent majorities. And Israel has no Bill of Rights, nor can it ever have one, given the very nature of its society.

John Chuckman


A truck driver and his ride-along filmed and commentated as they drove alongside a massive covert convoy of 18-wheelers which were boasting full-on police escorts
Massive convoy of ‘unmarked big rigs’ escorted by police, driver ‘looked Russian’

The convoy story is interesting.

Of course, the American military does this kind of thing with some regularity, transshipping nuclear weapons or other important military equipment. Seeing it underway is of course fascinating and intriguing.

But what is amazing in this little story is the driver/photographer’s quoted statement about the driver of one of the convoy trucks “looking Russian.”

Amazing not for what the words say on the surface. They are nonsense, of course.

But amazing because they provide a very good measure of the effect of all the insanity about Russia that has poured like a roaring cataract from America’s politicians and press for months.

The night-and-day insanity has literally planted suggestions in this man’s mind, like some powerful advertising or propaganda campaign.

I doubt the man would even know what a Russian looked like. Indeed, there are many types of people in such a vast country as Russia.

And, of course, Eastern Europe was a big source of legal immigration to the United States in the early Twentieth Century. Literally millions of American descendants have that heritage.

What we are seeing here is a new eruption of “the black helicopters” rage of some years back, only this one has been deliberately fed and encouraged by American politicians and press.

John Chuckman


Britain will greet Trump [on his upcoming visit] with our biggest ever carnival against hatred

“biggest ever carnival against hatred’?

That’s a rather bizarre turn of phrase.

But in addition, what I see in Trump is not so much hatred as ignorance and arrogance, the same qualities which you will find in almost every leading American political figure.

Pelosi? Hillary? McCain? Lieberman? Gingrich? Schumer?

Trump alone cannot make the things happening in America happen, except for all the bellowing noise he is good at generating.

America is on a world-wide tear for dominance.

It is frightening almost like nothing in my lifetime.

To call it dangerous is an understatement.

But to put all the responsibility on Trump, big mouth that he is, is foolish in the extreme.

A bit like saying if you just get rid of the big bad wolf, everything will just be fine again.

Well, no, it won’t.

It was the boyishly-smiling Obama (assisted part of his term by Hillary) who was bombing someone every day of his eight years in office. He killed at least half a million and created millions of refugees.

Do you think the near-destabilization of Europe with refugees was an accomplishment? What about the brutal ending to a government in Libya which gave its people free education, improved infrastructure, clean water, and peace? Today, the results of Obama’s handiwork are blood-drenched chaos.

It was the same boyishly-smiling man (assisted greatly by Joe Biden) who instituted the hellish program of extralegal killings on a grand scale, putting to shame the amateur efforts of the old Argentine Junta. Imagine, a country claiming to support democratic and human rights and rule of law creating a huge killing machine?

It was the same boyishly-smiling Obama who instituted a coup in Ukraine against an elected government just to annoy and threaten Russia.

Again, it was the same boyishly-smiling Obama who used Russia’s measured and reasonable response to the coup to run NATO tanks and planes right up against Russia’s borders. Are we more secure now, or less?

And, it was that same boyishly-smiling charmer who talked about “a pivot to Asia”, a phrase which meant the beginning of the same kind antagonism and hostility towards China as Russia.

No, I don’t like Trump. He is an embarrassment and a failure. But as eight years of Obama showed, with eight years of Bush before that, America has no leadership worthy of the title. It is an imperial monstrosity which wears a smile while it destroys and demands its way in everything.

Trump is just the latest message-carrier from the beast, one who happens to speak in ridiculous and less-than-rational terms (much like Bush, actually), but if you think you change anything with “a carnival against hatred” you delude only yourself.

John Chuckman


Michael Moore calls for repeal of “ancient” and “outdated” Second Amendment

Well, there’s not much that Michael Moore says with which I can agree. He’s often a big fool.

But here he is completely correct.

And few Trumpites seem even to understand why.

In the 18th century, standing armies were regarded as a costly excess.

That’s why well-regulated militias existed. That’s also why mercenaries like the Hessians were available for hire to states like Britain as needed.

And that is what the Second Amendment is about. Nothing else. It has nothing to do with the possible tyranny of your own government. That’s a modern fable.

In any event, it should be apparent that all national arrangements have reversed over the last couple of centuries. Modern nations have completely changed the way things are organized compared to the 18th century.

Large standing armies are everywhere, and that of the US is a Frankenstein, and America’s organized military includes a monstrous National Guard and reserves.

There is no such thing as the 18th century concept of a militia anymore. It is completely irrelevant.

And this complete change over time makes the argument about “fighting tyranny” all the more ridiculous.

It truly is Monty Pythonesque to speak of opposing tyranny in the US with arms, a bit like saying a bunch of farmers with rifles and shotguns could have opposed the Third Reich, only in view of the nature of modern armies and weapons, it is even sillier than that.

The US has become an imperial monstrosity, and only fools even talk of challenging it internally.

The mouse that roared. A dangerous and rather demented mouse at that.

But, of course, the silly tyranny stuff is only an excuse for the gun-mad set.

The real drive of the gun-mad set is more closely related to America’s terrible racial history and its continued reverberations. And the highly aggressive, paranoid attitudes displayed are just what a massive military such as America’s encourages with its continuous intake of young men for killer-training and its endless march through imperial wars against non-existent “enemies.”

The truly bitter irony of the gun-mad set in America is that it serves exactly the tyranny it believes it opposes.

John Chuckman


Ex-Pentagon Advisor Reveals How CIA Killed Western Politicians During Cold War
German investigative journalist Patrik Baab and former Pentagon adviser Robert Harkavy have released a bombshell book, revealing the links between the murders of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, West German politician Uwe Barschel and former CIA director William Colby.

We all know the operations branch of the CIA has been in the murder business. Indeed, they very much are today with America’s industrial-scale, extralegal execution program abroad using drones and missiles, the hi-tech version of what the old Argentine Junta used to do, making thousands disappear.

However, it has never been clear that they went after important Western politicians before, and this new book quite changes our understanding. No wonder the Swedes could never solve Prime Minister Olof Palme’s murder.

Well, I’ve always attributed the death of John Kennedy to the CIA-trained and -armed Cuban refugees assisted perhaps by some of the lower-level CIA fanatics working with them in the field, but never to the CIA itself.

After this revelation, and having read a very important book about the Kennedy assassination, Peter Janney’s “Mary’s Mosaic,” I am coming around to the conviction that the CIA did indeed kill Kennedy.

The Janney book, as nothing previously, reveals what undoubtedly were strong motives for the kind of men who ran the CIA. I’ve read all the important books on the assassination, and I have never believed from the time of its publication that the Warren Report was anything but a cover-up.

But it is only with Janney’s book that we see real visceral stuff that might clearly affect the top at CIA to go over the top and kill their president. Yes, they already hated him for his Bay of Pigs reaction and for the way the Cuban Missile Crisis was settled, but how could the kind of self-righteous Cold Warriors running CIA not be affected by the President’s intimate relationship with Mary Pinchot Meyer?

A beautiful and intelligent and extremely well-connected woman of very liberal views who had herself been married to a high-level CIA man, Mary Meyer stood out from all of Kennedy’s other female relationships. He and she talked about important policy matters, and she was dedicated to world peace and, importantly as a motive for CIA, she introduced him to drugs. They smoked marijuana together in the White House, and she may also have introduced him to LSD.

Less than a year after Kennedy’s death, Ms. Meyer was herself killed by a professional assassin – I say “professional assassin” because of the classic pattern of a small pistol to the head and the calm walking away from the scene observed at a distance by a witness – and her diary was stolen. This came after she had built something of a head of steam about the CIA’s possible involvement in Kennedy’s death.

Of course, it should not surprise anyone if people, the kind of intelligent psychopaths favored in the operations branch, people with immense resources who are pretty close to unaccountable and are allowed and expected to play God with leaders of other countries, should one day have turned on their own leader.

Of course, one should also remember that whoever killed John Kennedy was certainly also responsible for later killing Robert. Robert was a ferocious opponent for anyone and had he obtained the powers of the presidency, he would have pursued his beloved brother’s killers with a fury.


Trump’s tough talk on Iran could end in a big, blame-evading dodge
Response to another reader who wrote: All you people complaining about Trump’s America – either do something about it or shut up. The US throws its weight around in part because nobody in Europe or the wider Western world ever does much to stand up to it. Even in the run up to the disastrous Iraq War, only France had the cojones to say anything.

Indeed, but it’s Europe’s leaders, not people commenting in a newspaper, that are the problem.

Europe hasn’t had a single leader for years worthy of the title.

Cameron? May? Hollande? Macron? Etc.

And Ms. Merkel, who had a chance for greatness as Europe’s leading figure and threw it away, basically eats America’s crap daily.

She never said a word about the horrors of the Neocon Wars and their vast slaughter, and she hurt her own country by taking in too many refugees at once, those refugees being the direct result of America’s slaughter in the Mideast.

And she always smiled with that mass killer Obama, the man who bombed people every day of his time in office. And she swallowed his immense arrogance.

And she further hurt her people keeping to the Obama nonsense about Russia. And she helped that fairly sick man, Erdogan, gain some real leverage on Europe.

In America, it isn’t just Trump. It is the entire American ruling establishment. They are all on aggressive tear, all fearful of the coming relative decline of the country, all desperate to enforce the Pentagon’s dictum of “full-spectrum dominance.’

All of them are the worst blood-drenched imperialists.

God, Europe with some good leadership could provide an important new force in the emerging world, instead of behaving as America’s domestic servant.

Readers might enjoy these examples of Obama’s immense but rarely noted arrogance:

John Chuckman


Turkey to Liberate Western Syria and Itself
By moving into Idlib Turkey cements the future of the Russia/Iran/Turkey alliance

I don’t think it is at all clear what Erdogan’s intentions are.

This is a very erratic, high-strung man, and his past behaviors, including shooting down a Russian plane, should be a fair warning to anyone making easy predictions.

Erdogan resembles a Joker in a deck of cards. His relationship with the United States runs hot and cold, as does his relationship with Israel and Russia and Germany and the EU.

A very unpredictable man. The only valid prediction about him would be that he would do whatever profits his vision of Turkey, a vision which sees himself as a very important historical figure.

John Chuckman


“We can no longer pretend the British press is impartial”

Well, Mr. Owen Jones, I can’t imagine who it is that you are addressing.

No well-read person, at least one with fully-operating critical faculties, has ever pretended that the press is impartial.

Bias and various kinds of favoritism and propaganda have been with us for as long as the press has existed.

Indeed, in the 18th century, early political parties started their own newspapers, or formed alliances with existing ones, precisely to get across their views of things.

One of the oldest tools of outfits like the old Nazi Party or the Soviet Communist Party was to create newspapers tailored to their propaganda needs.

The apparent level of bias or propaganda may heat up or cool down at various times, as with the Guardian’s on-again, off-again campaign over nonexistent anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party, but it is as much an enduring reality as the sun’s rising.

The record of “distinguished” newspapers like The New York Times or The Washington Post is literally riddled with advocacy, propaganda, and even disinformation. Actual CIA people were discovered more than once working for them.

An old CIA hand in the business of “getting stories out there” once told of sitting down to his “mighty Wurlitzer organ” and hitting the keys, by which he was referring to the various publications and columnists who cooperated.

Just why do you think all the old press Moghuls always wanted to own press empires?

It is for the power to influence others, to intimidate or accommodate governments, it is for the entree that influence gives in high places and the ability to gain treatment favorable to your interests or desires. The ability to make a politician look good or bad to millions of readers has proved a very powerful tool in getting what you want.

The press is not, and never has been, about genuine news and journalism, although of course some happens along the way almost by accident as it were.

It really is only in the advertising brochures for journalism schools that we find language which naively speaks of journalistic principles.

You know the last time we had a big heroic public story about journalists, Woodward and Bernstein, it actually proved in the end less than heroic. Woodward had long-established intelligence connections and would later be found doing such wonderful things as writing a phony book praising president George Bush’s ability and character

John Chuckman


The U.S. Justice System Must Focus on Elite Criminality

It just cannot happen – not, that is, without some great and unpleasant circumstances or events.

In many ways, America has come to resemble France of the early 18th century, a time when a powerful duke’s carriage might safely run down a peasant in its way, the dead human being regarded as “roadkill.”

America’s dukes are not the owners of vast ancient estates, as in 18th century France, but the owners and managers of vast corporations with new ones added and old ones passing away as technological change and creative destruction proceed.

Today’s Mr. Facebook, Mr. Google, and Mr. Amazon are replacing an older generation of wealth, although their levels of wealth are even far greater than the older plutocrats.

Why is that? America’s tax laws have been butchered to make it so. Such wealth cannot be amassed without a very accommodating tax system.

And, please note, just as taxes are shaped to please wealth, just as imperial wars abroad are shaped to please wealth, and so is the administration of all justice.

It actually cannot be otherwise.

America has some superficial attributes of democracy, but it clearly is not one. It is a plutocracy.

Money has been declared as protected free speech, and American elections resemble nothing so much as a marketing battle between Coke and Pepsi. It took a multi-billionaire to defeat the best-financed candidate in history, who blew through something on the order of 1.2 to 1.8 billion dollars to lose.

In addition, we saw revealed massive fraud in many details by the Clinton Party sinking Bernie Sanders. Those efforts involved both bad intent and lots of money.

Power, no matter how it is gained, is still power.

It is a naive American idea that a stack of old papers – such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights – can genuinely protect anything if the powers that be do not want it so.

All laws and rules get shoved aside, at least periodically, by those with great power when it is to their advantage to do so, which exactly describes America’s plutocracy. We see this regularly in America and in other societies.