Archive for September 2009

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT IRAN HAS A SECOND NUCLEAR ENRICHMENT PLANT: SO WHAT?

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Even if Iran were working towards a weapon – something that is not at all clear – why would that be so terrible?

Israel has had a nuclear weapons program since about the 1960s.

That program is totally illegal and has always been hidden. Only gradually, with bits and pieces of information, do we understand the Israeli program.

Israel has abused its nuclear weapons status in several ways over the years.

It has frequently threatened its neighbors, using its weapons to intimidate virtually the entire Middle East. For example it has fitted its small fleet of German Diesel-powered submarines with American Harpoon missiles adapted to carry a nuclear warhead.

Israel participated in proliferation, a case as bad as anything done by Pakistan’s renegade scientist, in its strategic agreements with former apartheid South Africa, which briefly became a nuclear power thanks to Israel.

Israel has used secrets around nuclear weapons, stolen by spies from the United States, to trade with places like the former Soviet Union. That’s why Jonathon Pollard likely will die in prison, the American intelligence and military establishment considering him the worst spy in American history.

Israel has initiated wars and conflicts with every neighbor that it has.

Iran’s entire modern history is peaceful. It was forced to fight a bloody war with Saddam Hussein who was helped by the United States – and possibly secretly Israel – in that terrible war.

Iran is surrounded by nuclear powers, including of course America’s occupation of Iraq after killing a million people there.

Europe grew for decades under MAD, and today represents a great and thriving set of societies.

A form of MAD in the Middle East would also help peace.

I see only two likely scenarios for Israel ever to agree to what the rest of the world calls peace, to stop attacking everyone, to cease its apartheid, and to treat its neighbors with respect.

One is for the United States to stop subsidizing Israel and make some demands. This is a virtually fantasy scenario. Israel’s carefully-groomed influence in Congress makes it impossible.

The other scenario is for Israel to have a competitor that reduces its ability to behave the high-handed bully that it now is. A large state like Iran having nuclear weapons could have just that effect. MAD in the Middle East would be beneficial, not harmful – at least from the viewpoint of anyone other than Israeli Imperialists and their supporters.

And with all the noisy propaganda we read and hear around Iran’s extremists (this is actually if anything a very conservative government) everyone should remember that the only country ever to use nuclear weapons was the one represented by Obama, using them twice, both times on civilians.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: HARPER’S IDEALOGUES GET UP AND LEAVE WHEN AHMEDINEJAD SPEAKS AT THE UNITED NATIONS

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

George Bush was allowed to speak.

He killed a million people in Iraq and made refugees of another two million.

Ahmadinejad has killed no one.

Bush killed many tens of thousands in Afghanistan – at least 50,000 just in Kabul.

Ahmadinejad has killed no one.

Israel just killed 1400 people in Gaza and still keeps them penned up like animals.

Ahmadinejad killed no one.

Israel killed 1400 people in Lebanon, including a Canadian officer doing his duty.

Ahmadinejad killed no one.

Israel steals more homes and land and water every day in the West Bank.

Ahmadinejad has stolen nothing.

I do think it fair to ask whether we indeed live in a rational world or one governed by mindless ideologues like Harper?

The game that is being played here with the “agree” and “disagree” buttons couldn’t tell us more clearly.

A gang of mindless supporters of Israel’s every bloody excess works the buttons to create large and meaningless numbers.

And just so with the general behavior of Israel and her mindless supporters like Harper. The tide of world opinion is so clearly against them and growing more so in the face of so much injustice and brutality, yet they insist on shouting against the wind.

As the CIA has reported, Israel has maybe another 20 years before its own contradictions collapse it.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: PROPAGANDA POSING AS ANALYSIS – THE CASE OF TOM FLANAGAN AND GENOCIDE

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY TOM FLANAGAN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

When I read this piece by Tom Flanagan, I can only wonder at the basis of tenure in our universities, for, truly, here are bits of weak observation, clichés, and half-truths pasted together and offered as analysis. Worse, there is a thread of partisan propaganda holding the bits together like a string of beads.

“Harper announced that his Conservative government would adhere to the national interest in formulating Canada’s foreign policy…”

I am sorry, but anyone who genuinely understands the history and foreign affairs knows that that has, everywhere and always, been the basis of foreign policy. To say anything else is a declaration of just plain ignorance.

Genuine national interests do change over time – after all, your interests are different when you are exporting, say, fighter planes than when you are exporting wheat. But also, and very importantly, yet something Flanagan conveniently leaves out, people’s and government’s perceptions of what are the national interests change, often for no more reason than political ideology.

The authors of the report Flanagan pretends to analyze are “not mushy-headed idealists obsessed with soft power…” so they deserve some attention. Is it usual for a professor intending to be taken seriously in what follows to use the kind of pejorative language and straw-man argument we’d get from Rush Limbaugh?

Yes, if you are a neo-con propagandist.

“These people deserve our attention when they talk about genocide.”
Good God, “genocide” is one of the most over-worked words in our contemporary language, and, far more importantly, concern about it is always used by people like Mr. Flanagan as a tool for other purposes. This is no small point.

No power or great power ever goes to war over perceived genocide.

Most importantly, has the US, a Frankenstein of military power if ever there was one, ever opposed genocide, other than in words? It is the US which holds political and economic sway over international agencies like the UN, and it is the US which has the military power to do something.

We have had several authentic genocides in the modern period.

We had a genocide in Rwanda (around a million killed). The US simply refused to use the word internally so that they could ignore it.

We had a genocide in Cambodia (over a million killed), caused by America’s de-stabilizing of the once peaceful country with its bombing and secret invasion. When tough little Viet Nam went in to do something, the US stood back and said, ‘See, we told you, the domino theory at work!’

We had a genocide in Indonesia with the fall of Sukarno. Five hundred-thousand people, vaguely identified as communists, had their throats cut and their bodies dumped into rivers.

Not only did the US not react, there were officials at state department phones late into the night transmitting names of candidates.

I would argue, too, that America’s slaughter in Vietnam was a genuine genocide. About three million were killed, mostly civilians, for no reason other than embracing the wrong economic system.

Many aspects of Bush’s “war on terror” have assumed aspects of genocide. Ever heard of the three thousand prisoners in U.S. care who were driven out to the desert in sealed vans to suffocate by General Dostum’s men while American soldiers watched, picking their noses? This came after Secretary Rumsfeld publicly declared Taleban prisoners should be killed or walled-away for life.

‘Never again’ is a slogan – we’ve proved that – and, like all slogans, it is selectively applied to sell something, just as Flanagan does here.

Great standing armies have virtually no record of doing worthy things.

They do, very much, have a record of fighting pointless wars, intervening where they do not belong, and even intimidating or overthrowing governments.

Flanagan’s “beyond our power to fulfill” is nothing but a plea for more militarism and closer association with a United States which has overthrown governments in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and a dozen other places as well as killing millions in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq for absolutely no good purpose.

Great power like that is something to be very wary of, not to embrace.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICA’S GHASTLY GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL CALLS FOR MANY MORE TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Vietnam, here we come again.

The simplest truth in military matters is you always fail when you seek the wrong successes.

You cannot convert a fourteenth century, economically depressed land into a modern society.

There is simply not enough resources on the planet to do that.

The US went there for bloody vengeance, and as soon as it killed enough people, it did not know what to do with the place.

And it still doesn’t know, except to keep killing and spread the killing into Pakistan.

McChrystal is a true “dog of war.”

The guy’s entire background is in secretive operations involving assassination and torture.

Anyone who would take the word of this psychopath for anything is a fool.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE TIRED NEWS THAT OBAMA IS TO HAVE A MEETING WITH ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This does seem a tremendous waste of time.

Israel clearly has its own agenda, and that agenda does not include what any fair-minded person calls peace.

How can you have “peace” while you continue daily to steal the farms and homes and water of those with whom you are supposed to be making peace?

Of course, there’s also Israel’s re-creation of South African apartheid in all its unrelenting fury, treating millions as less than equal humans.

And what additionally do we have in Gaza?

A brutal blockade stopping assistance to a people who have done nothing other than elect a government Israel doesn’t like, and that act of war (for so blockades are considered in international diplomacy) comes after a savage attack, killing hundreds and hundreds of civilians, including a great many children.

Israel insists it is a victim, but the claim is ridiculous on the face of it.

Israel is unrelentingly aggressive, and demonstrates no guiding principles of democracy and human rights towards others.

That ugly Israeli stance can only change if the United States finally shows some courage and stops sending a gigantic annual subsidy to a state that takes its money and then sneers back that it will do exactly as it pleases.

And, considering Israel’s supporters’ fine-tuned art of constantly lobbying Congress with targeted contributions, what does any realistic person believe are the chances of that?

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: IGNATIEFF: CAN YOU TRUST THIS GUY?

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DENIS SMITH IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

‘“Can I trust this guy?” And he hasn’t given us the answer.’

I disagree with that point in your otherwise excellent article, Denis Smith: he very much has given us the answer.

The truth is Ignatieff has always been a politician, and a rather shallow one. Anyone who listened to him carefully years ago knows that.

Most importantly, Ignatieff’s stuff on human rights has always seemed more of a cocktail-party view than a bred-in-the-bone characteristic: it is precisely the kind of stage persona shallow politicians assume.

He reminds me of a rich blue-haired Boston matron attending a dazzling gala to benefit some cause somewhere out there in the third world. She doesn’t much care in about the nitty-gritty of the cause, and perhaps even knows little about it, but she is concerned with her reputation among a certain social set.

Ignatieff has always given us words with little or no substance, and different words to different audiences, nicely calculated to appeal to each with half truths.

I believe there is no center, no “there,” to Michael Ignatieff, and that has always been the case. His writing and lectures betray that. They are characterized by mannered ambiguity and not particularly insightful or exhibiting the thirst for justice.

The Liberal Party has made a terrible choice in Ignatieff, and it was not even a democratic choice.

The fact that he accepted the leadership in this fashion speaks volumes.

God, we desperately need a genuine leader, a person of eloquence and driving concern for justice. It is regrettable to have to say that Gilles Duceppe displays these characteristics immensely more than Harper or Ignatieff.

That great thumping political cretin, Harper, is shaming our country in a dozen ways, from handing out orders in Foreign Affairs to have the term “child soldier” not used to condemning the UN for deaths of observers in Lebanon murdered while bravely doing their jobs.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE IDEA THAT WE HAVE SUCH AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I’m sorry, but these are silly pop ideas.

The notion that there is such a vast amount of knowledge is almost childish.

The truth is virtually the polar opposite. We are only at the first beginnings of real knowledge, and a bit of humility would be most appropriate because false assumptions and arrogance are behind so many of humanity’s miseries.

In area after area of human knowledge, we are only the most rudimentary stages of development.

Think of the human brain and how little we know despite the posturings of psychologists and educators.

We do not understand why some people are extremely violent or why some people are sexually attracted to children.

We do not understand the cause or even the full nature of conditions like schizophrenia or manic-depression.

We do not understand the cause or full nature of conditions like autism or psychopathy.

We are nowhere near to understanding how the brain develops and learns, although some half-educated educators would have you believe that they understand.

We do not understand many ordinary natural processes, including notably the earth’s cycles of climate change and the sun’s cycles of change.

We do not understand the basic building blocks – if one may use such a term – of the universe, despite our wonderful achievements in relativity and quantum mechanics.

We do not even understand the basic nature of time.

We have no idea, beyond speculations, of how life arises in the universe.

We have no idea of how to square the basic notions of randomness in nature and cause and effect.