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John Chuckman


The Vietnam War: terror, heartbreak and helicopters ablaze in an epic documentary

Ken Burns produces the video-equivalent of coffee table books.

His past historical series are expensive kitsch, having little historical value beyond viewers seeing some interesting archive photographs.

His whole career has been in doing this for Public Television in the United States, an institution so cautious, so safe, so unflinchingly patriotic, so unquestioning that much of its programming resembles pabulum for babies.

I lived through the war and protests and horror, and I would not give Ken Burns five minutes to lay out his interpretation.

I understand from other reviews that he is basically using the “tragic mistake” line, the line which can be easily swallowed by most now – again, much like baby pabulum – eliciting little controversy or anger or truth.

But it most certainly was not a mistake.

It was a deliberate war of aggression which Lyndon Johnson – always a loyalist to folks like J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI or the Pentagon and CIA – started firing up as soon as he was safely in office, having lied to everyone in order to get there.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was no mistake. It was a deliberate fraud to provide an excuse for war.

And what a war.

It was a true holocaust. Americans killed about three million people there, many of them in the most horrible fashion, as with napalm, early cluster bombs, and carpet bombing. It left the country a savage wreck with land mines and Agent Orange spread everywhere.

It helped kill at least a million more in Cambodia, a land it kept bombing and sending troops secretly into until its neutral government fell, making way for the horrors of the Killing Fields, something, by the way, America did nothing to stop.

No, throwing prisoners out of helicopters was not a mistake.

The CIA’s Project Phoenix – in which belly-crawling American special forces slipped out night after night to cut the throats of village leaders and other non-military figures, killing somewhere between twenty and forty thousand in this way – was not a mistake.

And those American helicopters taking off from the embassy at the shabby end, with the desperate hands of Vietnamese associates being pried or gun-butted off the landing gear as they took off to leave them all to their fate, was not a mistake.

Nor were the countless incidents of rape and murder by troops or the thousands of women left with no support for their Amer-Vietnamese children.

And all for what? For Captain Ahab seeking “the damned white whale.”

The war displayed American values at their most raw and vicious. What we see today in Trump and others is almost child’s play by comparison.

Response to a reader who wrote “Vietnam is a rare war for which Britain (thanks to Harold Wilson) didn’t sign up”:

Yes, thanks to Wilson.

And thanks to Pearson in Canada.

You know, Lyndon Johnson actually grabbed Peace-Prize winner Pearson by the lapels and pushed him against a wall, trying to “convince” him to commit some troops. We have the story from a very reliable source.

That’s the Lyndon Johnson who created all the horror in Vietnam, and much more before he left the presidency.

It is a sad exercise today to compare Europe’s leaders under America’s almost equally-destructive and brutal Neocon Wars in the Middle East.

There is not one Wilson. Not one Pearson.


John Chuckman


The Danger Of Patriotism

Samuel Johnson had it right at the time of the American Revolution on the subject of Patriots.

He especially had in mind at the time Thomas Jefferson, the biggest hypocrite in American history as well as the godfather of all the stupid militia and extremist groups America has produced since, including, by the way, the American Confederacy whose secession he anticipated and set the example for in Virginia decades earlier.

Response to another reader’s comment:

Yes, partly right.

Patriotism as practiced in America is actually a secular religion or cult with the Founders replacing the Disciples, the Flag replacing the Cross, the Declaration and Constitution replacing the Bible, plus a strong propensity to think only you are right and others are not worthy.

And all of the things on which the Patriot Faith is founded, as the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence, are heavily flawed and increasingly outdated, just as the Bible is.

Of course, you cannot say that to a Patriot True Believer without being treated much the way Christians used to treat heretics.

The events of the Revolution, which I have studied closely, as recited by True Believer Patriots are as full of exaggerations, myths, and fibs as the Biblical tales of Jonah or Lott’s wife or Jesus and the Devil’s Temptation.

There’s no explaining religion, it comes from dark places in the human mind, and America’s version of Patriotism is absolutely a religion, a very aggressive and unforgiving one, much, by the way, as was Communism at its height.

John Chuckman




The words of an idiot.

People in America do not have the right to protest?

Good God, what does it mean to be an American then?

Someone who supports a military which has killed at least 2 million people in the last 15 years of Neocon Wars?

Someone who supports thug police who kill over 1,100 Americans each year?

Someone who supports an elected idiot for President, a man who says you cannot protest?

A man, by the way, who evaded military service himself.

John Chuckman


Donald Trump ‘so proud’ of Nascar plan to sack anyone that protests against national anthem

Here is what America has come to in the 21st century.

Hillbilly Nascar owners threatening drivers over any hint of exercising free speech at the behest of the country’s first Trailer Park President.

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

John Chuckman


Labour is traditionally the party of the oppressed. So it’s about time Corbyn sorted their issue with antisemitism. Until Corbyn is seen to be on our side against the antisemites, British left-wing Jews won’t be able to contribute to the party

“…sorted their issue with antisemitism”?

Sadly, such words are not uncommon today, but they truly are the words of idiots.

They are themselves loaded with prejudice or hate.

You cannot say such things if you have even a touch of fairness in your make-up.

And they are more than that. They are a political threat against someone so he will do the (unspecified) things that you want done. To what level would politics descend if everyone acted along those lines?

It much resembles the United States’ and Israel’s contemporary approach to the United Nations: do things my way or I won’t pay my dues.

If you have any genuine evidence about hate or hateful acts, then you are obliged to offer the specific evidence, minus the name-calling.

But we never get that, do we? We just get the name-calling and innuendo, as we did for months following Corbyn’s first election as leader. It was one of the most shameful displays in postwar British history.

That was an extended display of genuine McCarthyism. American Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s, a secret drunk whose career was failing, exploded onto the national scene waving a fistful of pieces of paper and shouting claims that they contained the names of a couple of hundred communists in the government.

We never saw any evidence, and we never even saw the names.

McCarthy went on like that for some time because there were secret interests backing him, interests like that master of hate and dishonesty and manipulation, J. Edgar Hoover. And just so here.

Many who have used this attack against Corbyn for one reason only: they simply do not like his views – completely fair-minded and balanced most would agree – on Palestine and Israel.

They do not want a Corbyn government simply because it would not be quite so obsequious to the often-unfair demands of Israel as the governments of Theresa May or David Cameron.

A Corbyn government might even expect that Israel show its dedication to peace rather than to territorial expansion and oppression of millions.

Terrible thing, that would be, don’t you think?

Tony Blair was very much in the Cameron camp and had a hand in starting all the original attacks against Corbyn. Now, Blair is a man of high moral character indeed.

Blair’s entire record of invading Iraq, helping kill a million people, receiving the Israel Peace Prize, and being showered with many sinecures in gratitude for his help, such as his well-paid, do-nothing appointment to the Middle East Quartet, display his unquestioning loyalty to Israel’s interests, ignoring fairness and justice.

In public life in the West, you are not allowed to be fair about Israel, you must be fanatically in its corner, ignoring all the rights of millions of others and ignoring Israel’s terrible abuses.

It is a very twisted worldview, and one of the methods for enforcing it in Western countries is a constant readiness to label people as anti-Semites. Or, in party circles, to withdraw monetary support, just as this writer does.

“Somehow, we as Jews are not allowed the title of minority, and antisemitism, as a crime, is not taken seriously.”

It would be hard to come up with a more dishonest assertion.

Those claims are false, entirely.

Jews are regarded as a legitimate minority, everywhere. I can’t think of an instance where they are not. If anything, in most jurisdictions, Jews are a minority whose rights and interests are more closely guarded than those of any other.

And anti-Semitism has been built into our laws despite the extremely grey and difficult matter of actually defining anti-Semitism in many instances.

We all know Nazi-like gutter literature when we see it, but the truth is we virtually never see it. It is banned, everywhere.

And speeches like Nazis used to make have been banned, everywhere.

Plus, we have dozens of other laws concerned with anti-Semitism, and they are enforced, everywhere.

But we also have demands for unfair new laws such as one making support of the peaceful BDS protest movement illegal. (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – the exact tactics used years ago against Apartheid South Africa or in the American South against Jim Crow laws).

Israel and its lobbies have worked hard to get such anti-BDS laws passed in many Western countries, nearly doing so recently in America, gaining the support of almost half the Senate with intense lobbying, even though such laws are plainly unconstitutional in lands where a Bill or Charter of Rights exists, something which, incidentally, has never existed in Israel where the rights of minorities are at the complete mercy of the majority.

Rather than genuine anti-Semitism, what we do typically see is people rightly questioning Israel’s motives and methods, its abuse and brutality and aggression, and we see other people, Israel’s apologists, suggesting or declaring that they must be anti-Semitic for noticing and saying so.

Response to another comment:

No one argues with the truly great contribution of Jews to Western civilization, but that has nothing to do with the topic, and, again, you assert what you do not prove, that violence against Jews is increasing.

I cannot honestly recall reading of one instance of violence against Jews in Britain.

On the other hand, we have an almost daily spewing of open hatred against Muslims. It very much is in the news. Daily.

Jews are leaving? We hear this assertion over and over, but where are the stats?

Who are all these people and where are they going?

To Israel? I doubt that. Moving from a relatively peaceful land of opportunity like Britain to one of genuine strife and hatreds and violence like Israel?

John Chuckman


Fearful neighbours look on as Iraq’s Kurds stake claim to nationhood Monday’s independence poll for the Kurdish north is supported by voters but opposed by Turkey, Baghdad and the west, which fear it will deepen instability

Well, perhaps were the vote taking place under normal circumstances, I could support it.

But it is not, and I do not.

The country has been at war, and still is to some degree.

The United States effectively illegally occupies the country with many military and intelligence facilities, including the most massive fortress-like embassy/CIA operations center in the Middle East, built after the invasion with no genuine permission from Iraq.

All of these plans for the Kurds have been made with United States’ covert efforts.

In that sense, the vote is a fraud.

Many condemn Russia about Crimea, where there truly was a free vote before Russia entered, so how can anyone support the legitimacy of this vote after US invasion and under US occupation?

John Chuckman


Universal healthcare in the US is possible. We already have proof Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris’s universal healthcare bill is a step towards a humane and cost-effective system. Naysayers are denying reality

I’ll believe it when I see it, which I strongly suspect will be never.

I just do not think British people have a good grasp on American political attitudes.

“Socialized medicine,” for that is what universal healthcare is widely disparagingly termed there, is a non-starter.

The word “socialism,” which Bernie likes to throw around is only slightly less popular than “communism” or “radical Islam.”

That is the mindset of average Americans after a lifetime of wading through rivers of propaganda from the corporate press and some pretty Neanderthal politicians in key positions for life.

Also, British articles seem to have an exaggerated idea of Bernie Sanders.

He is not a powerful Senator, holding no really important Committee Chairmanships, and he comes from a state with the population of a large neighborhood of London. I believe it’s about 700,000. Tiny. Industrially insignificant. With virtually no corporate headquarters.

Bernie is an attractive figure, but in the brutal terms of American political reality, he is not too far from being a non-person.

John Chuckman


Healthcare bill: Latest Republican attempt at Obamacare repeal suffers grievous blow after John McCain announces opposition
‘I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition’, Mr. McCain said.

McCain is no hero on this or any other matter.

A life-long creep, a true war lover, he is, in his last days, behaving in a very strange way.

No one completely understands why this is so. His entire life bespeaks a man of the most extreme selfishness and right-wing sympathies.

He does personally hate Trump, we know.

And we know, in recent time, he has received substantial funds from George Soros. Their extent and what they are supposed to be buying we do not know.

Of course, Soros, in general, is himself kind of weird jokester who likes manipulating others with his wealth, a kind of political psychopath. He too has some very dark chapters in his life, as with his early Nazi associations in his native Hungary.

American politics are a dark and murky place, and few can understand what is going on from the kind of normal, simple headlines we see in newspapers.

For McCain’s life achievements, see:

Another aspect of McCain’s glorious career:

John Chuckman


Top Comedian Expertly Explains – The Washington Post Is a National Disgrace

Sorry, there is nothing new here.

The Washington Post has always been a distorted source of news on many subjects.

It may possibly have become more flagrant under Jeff Bezos, but its essential nature remains unchanged.

Always, always, over my adult lifetime, the Washington Post has been an outlet for CIA and Pentagon interests.

There wasn’t a war or shabby intervention it did not work to boost and support.

It published disinformation regularly.

It was one of the important organ keys in what an old CIA propaganda expert years ago called his “mighty Wurlitzer Organ” and described himself sitting down to it regularly to play new tunes.

All that phony-heroic stuff about “The President’s Men” decades ago was nonsense which gave the paper a big piece of credit for investigative reporting and made corporate journalists heroes for a while.

The truth is that the entire Watergate affair was a CIA set-up to topple Nixon, kind of a quiet coup.

The door-taping in the Watergate offices, which gave the break-in gang away to a guard, was done by James McCord, an old CIA hand recruited by Nixon’s Plumbers operation, the kind of experienced old hand who simply does not make that kind of stupid and obvious mistake.

And the Woodward part of Woodward and Bernstein in “All the President’s Men” had a not-widely-known history in intelligence work. Later, he would do things like writing a book praising George W. Bush.

Even if you don’t accept this interpretation of the Watergate affair, the Washington Post’s long-term record in reporting events abroad and in Washington itself remains shabby and dishonest.

So, as the French say, “The more things change…”

John Chuckman


Uber deserved to lose its licence – Londoners’ safety must come first

Oh, please, Mr Sadiq Khan, you are just so insincere.

Opponents of Uber are cut from exactly the same cloth as the Old Luddites. They even make similar arguments, as you do.

They oppose innovation which comes from new technology because it works against the interests of the old ways of doing things.

New technology almost always cuts into old-style jobs and old-style government administration programs. It’s inevitable.

If you were a better mayor, you would have negotiated a compromise arrangement which in one way or another allows both services to operate, effectively giving people a choice of premium or bargain service.

This has been done in a number of places, notably, recently in Toronto.

John Chuckman



“Falls in line” is almost too tepid a description.

“Grovels” is closer to the mark.

Trump is a stunning disappointment along virtually every policy line.

Hillary Clinton in drag.

His UN speech was the most inappropriate speech likely in the entire history of the organization.

Bristling with threats and dishonesty and not a word of statesmanship.

I almost could not believe my eyes when I read what he said in an organization whose entire purpose is supposed to be about peace.

Every knowledgeable official from the chief UN expert on nuclear weapons to the President of France has said, in effect, Trump is lying about Iran.

Why would he do that?

Because he is completely under the influence of Washington’s Neocons and the war criminal, Netanyahu, something I doubt any Trump voter would have expected.

Instead of courageous new initiatives in the world from a maverick Washington-outsider, we have just one more typical Washington coward shouting threats at less powerful states who have done nothing.

And at a time of economic peril, we have a man who has done nothing worth doing to improve things. Instead, almost his every measure limits economic policies and threatens economic catastrophe, from imposing sanctions on Russian-European trade to threatening major steps against China.

If the man had any pride, he’d resign with an apology to the American people, but he doesn’t have any genuine pride, no one who grovels, as he does, has any pride.

He has only boastful bellowing, unwarranted arrogance, and no sense of shame in having proved such an utter failure.

John Chuckman


Memo to Trump and the SAS – send the Afghans fewer bullets and more books

It was always stupid and brutal to send bullets, especially since the people of this poor, hardscrabble society, a place which can only barely be called a nation state, never in fact did anything against America.

But sending books to such an extremely poor and backward place, despite sounding nice, largely would be futile.

Our civilization is built on a foundation of increasing prosperity since the Middle ages.

Remember, in the Middle Ages, even many of the “lords” were genuine illiterates, and no peasants could read.

Only rising prosperity yields all that we have in schools, skills like reading, supplies of books, and almost everything you care to mention in real civilization, to say nothing of the opportunities to even use a skill like reading.

If you seriously study history, there is no other way to look at it.

The United States, if it dropped anything on these poor people, should have dropped dollar bills, not bombs.

But the truth is the US was never seriously interested in advancing Afghanistan’s poor people, nor is that the case now.

The invasion was about Captain Ahab seeking the “damned white whale,” and nothing else.

All the stuff about women and learning, while true enough, simply never seriously mattered except as copy for the press and official spokespeople for Washington.

You would have had no more luck in 14th century England dropping books. Why would you think it is different in Afghanistan?

Sounds thoughtful and cute, but it is pretty much a non-starter of an idea.
Response to another comment:

Governance, just as with every other aspect of human culture, advances with prosperity too.

Eventually, instead of absolute king in Europe, groups of powerful nobles gained authority.

Then, as prosperity increased through changing technology – roads, ships, etc. – a middle class arose, people at an early time in England who were termed “the new men.” The “new men” did not own great estates or have castles but they had know-how and increasingly they had wealth by applying their know-how.

That is the key to modern society, the middle class.

Those are the people who eventually build parliaments and congresses. Those are the people who say we don’t need decisions made by kings or lords. Those are the people who get real public education going.

You cannot do these things in a very poor and backward place.

It’s a little like talking about putting clothes on farm animals.

Without growth in prosperity, there is little of what we all take for granted.

John Chuckman


Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeat in Iraq and Syria, where the vast majority of terror victims are
The only long-term way of preventing these terrorist attacks is not only to eliminate Isis in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere but to end these wars which have allowed al-Qaeda to become a mass movement

Please remember, the United States and, especially, its comrade in arms, Israel, have not really given up on the goals they set when then helped create and sustain ISIS and Al-Nusrah.

Israel’s leader is launched off madly in all directions, from recognizing a phony Kurdish state before it even exists to demanding more land from Syria to bombing in Syria and to threatening Iran for being involved in Syria.

Were there any justice or decency left in international institutions, Netanyahu would certainly be named for what he is, a war criminal, and perhaps charged.

But that doesn’t happen because America has crushed every international initiative and cut-down every organization with private threats and bribes.

John Chuckman


Is Trump about to repeat George W Bush’s worst mistake?

Yes, especially the greatest and bloodiest one, listening to the Prime Minister of Israel.
Response to another comment:

No, the problem isn’t that simple.

What you’ve said is right out of Netanyahu’s fantasy playbook.

Good God, what does Israel have to do with any of this?

Here, the answer is simple. Netanyahu wants Trump to hurt Iran. In return, he’ll support any activity Trump likes, including making the most threatening and inappropriate speech in the UN’s history.

They were the words of a street thug, and Netanyahu praised them as brave.

By the way, whenever we speak of illegal nuclear weapons, weapons causing terror for all neighbors in a region, it is absurd to ignore Israel.

Somehow, it’s okay for Israel to have 150 nuclear weapons plus medium range missiles that can reach most of the capitals of Europe plus submarines, some of which have been jerry rigged to carry a nuclear missile?

But North Korea, which the US literally flattened in the 1950s, killing a full twenty percent of the entire population, is evil for its far more limited number of weapons?

Readers who don’t know, should read:
Response to another comment:

As does every knowledgeable official from the chief UN expert to the President of France.

These stupid charges about Iran are owing solely to Netanyahu.

He is upset how things have gone in Syria, so he is ready to attack Iran.

Not for any claimed threat – there is none, Iran never having attacked anyone – but because Israel wants to completely dominate its region, just as the US dominates much of the world, and Iran is now a serious competitor.
Response to another comment:

In fact, the Saudis assisted the Pakistanis with big money in developing their weapons.

There is an agreement under which the Saudis can get some number of weapons if they feel threatened.
Response to another comment:

But even more unfortunately, it isn’t just Trump.

American presidents cannot alone start war.

Look at the leaders of the Congress, pretty much a group of disastrous characters, all of them beholden, under America’s money-drenched election system, to the lobby representing Mr. Netanyahu’s interests.

John Chuckman


Facebook’s war on free will

You forgot Facebook’s war on intelligence and decency.

What a horrible site it is, manipulating and cheating its users every step of the way.

Packed with snares to extract information every time you click anything. The questions popping up in boxes are so clearly calculated not to let people answer the way they might want to, to force them into unwanted choices.

The site also has been caught cheating numerous times, as with phony trending news stories and phony, purchased “likes.”

And the truth is, it is just an ugly thing.

I do not understand why people use it, except they want “one stop shopping,” so to speak.

There are so many ways to do things on the Internet, Facebook is just a waste.

A good example is when looking for a new restaurant. If a restaurant has its own little site, you will be able to find it quickly with a search engine and the owners will have a showcase, often quite attractive, to give you a quick idea of what to expect, as a few photos and a menu.

Restaurants which only use Facebook unwittingly create an unpleasant experience for would-be customers. First, many will be greeted by one of Facebook’s snares before they are even able to look. Very off-putting.

Second, the actual structure of Facebook sites is ugly and inflexible (compared to your own site).

I think people only turn to it out of laziness since it is a kind of internet within the Internet, a single site whose name has become a household word.

There’s a lot more that’s unpleasant about Facebook, including its connections with the CIA, its sale of user information, its constant effort to create new ways of extracting information from users, and the insufferable smugness and pronouncements of its founder.

John Chuckman


“Don’t laugh at liars like Boris Johnson and Sean Spicer. Call them out”

I am not a fan of either of these individuals, although Boris has supplied the odd laugh over the years.

However, the attitude here is highly selective.

“A known liar”?

Well, I guess that eliminates half the Prime Ministers of Britain.

Certainly, it eliminates Tony Blair, a man frequently given publicity or praise in these pages.

And certainly, David Cameron, as colossal a failure in his own way as Trump, and one who rarely told the truth.

Hillary Clinton? Good God, what a dismal record she has.

Bill Clinton? He actually made a joke or two about telling the truth while telling a great many lies.

And it is hard to imagine a more practiced liar than the baritone-voiced, boyishly-smiling previous President.

He killed an awful lot of people bombing in seven different countries and running America’s first organized extrajudicial killing operation and on a massive scale. He never told the American people what he was doing.

He loved secrecy, hated whistleblowers, and rarely told the truth.

It is a rare modern politician who tells the truth. When an honest one does come along – I think of Jeremy Corbyn – he is attacked ruthlessly, as he was very much in these pages.

John Chuckman


After making building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico a cornerstone issue of his 2016 presidential campaign, it appears President Donald Trump is content with addressing the wall at a later date.

“…protect your families”?

Why would a migrant, legal or not, represent any more of a threat to your families than your own native population?

You do understand, don’t you, that America has the highest domestic violent crime rates in the western world already?

As for Israel’s Nazi-like wall, if you haven’t noticed that it includes a series of tall guard towers with men behind bullet-proof glass at machine guns, you’ve missed the most important part.

That in fact is the only reason Israel’s wall works at all, that it is not bulldozed, blown-up, or tunneled under constantly.

The brutal Israelis have certainly proved, many times over, that they have no compunction about shooting civilians for the slightest reason.

I don’t think, or at least I hope, that most Americans are not ready for that kind of behavior over a two thousand mile stretch of their country, rendering it into a gigantic maximum-security penitentiary.

Of course, what you and other Trump acolytes also miss is that there has always been a powerful American lobby for some degree of illegal Mexican migration.

Trump may well have been ignorant of this fact – he has proved ignorant of a remarkable number of things in a few months – when he blubbered about his wall, but I’m sure he has since been filled in.

Many of the vegetables and fruits on your dinner table are picked by them. Half the low-wage jobs in the American Southwest are staffed with them – cleaners, packers, baby sitters, caregivers, fast order cooks, etc.

It ain’t a simple situation, and people who yelp otherwise prove only their own simplicity.

John Chuckman


United Nations has ‘exhausted’ options on North Korea, says top US diplomat

“…top US diplomat”?

I beg to differ.

Nikki Haley couldn’t even provide a definition of diplomacy.

The woman is authentic trailer park, tarted-up with expensive suits.

I like the description of her they sarcastically use in “Russia Insider” as a former Waffle House Waitress. It summarizes her accurately and succinctly.

She is almost always photographed pointing or stabbing her finger at someone, behavior most of us learned as children was rude in the extreme.

John Chuckman


Samuel Johnson: The celebrated lexicographer’s 10 finest quotes and witticisms
Today’s Google Doodle raises a dish of tea to the man who said, ‘Sir, you have but two topics, yourself and me. I am sick of both’

A rather tepid selection, as you might expect from Google, aka, America’s friendly domestic face of the CIA.

Johnson could be so forceful and was one of our great defenders of humanity.

I’ve always especially liked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

That rings true down to the present day in some sense.

The words were a dart aimed right for the heart of Thomas Jefferson, the century’s greatest hypocrite.

The famous “Patriotism and scoundrels” quote was also aimed at him, but few Americans appreciate the fact.

John Chuckman


I Agree With Jimmy Carter, Talk To North Korea
A couple of weeks ago I told you the Neocons were about to run amok across the globe because President Trump cut a deal with them on foreign policy. You know they are in charge because all pretense of talking to other people is dispensed with.

I don’t think Washington’s Neocon crowd care a fig for what anyone thinks of them, including this or any other writer.

Ideologically-driven fanatics are just that, fanatics.

They have given us an extremely dangerous world for the sake of objectives most people couldn’t care less about.

These objectives include America’s remaining the preeminent power on earth, able to dictate its will almost anywhere.

A corollary to this is the preeminence of America’s Mideast colony, aka Israel, in its part of the world. For many, and perhaps most, Neocons, it is the corollary to which they are fanatically attached, the push for American dominance everywhere being only a necessary means to that end.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to see this situation ending any time soon. America’s Neocons have used the country’s immense economic and financial power in many international organizations, too. Organizations which might otherwise strengthen the voices of reason in the world, including the United Nations.

Just look at the public theft, aggression, non-compliance with norms, and threats of Israel, and almost no voices are raised – much less any penalties imposed – in international organizations against them.

The United Nations, for example, was created to oppose exactly this kind of ugly, dangerous behavior, but its voice has been all-but-silenced by behind-the-scenes threats and bribes.

What Trump’s election has proved, and with blinding clarity, is that there is no simple political path to eliminating their influence. Hillary Clinton was completely an ally and beneficiary of the Neocons, as is virtually every Congressional leader, and I think an awful lot of people supported Trump in the hope of some progress being made against their current tyranny.

But Trump is a complete failure, having proved himself pretty much a coward in the face of an organized opposition. Indeed, his behavior today in most aspects of foreign policy tells us clearly that they have effectively recruited him to serve their goals.

He is much like some dumb kid who has been recruited to go join ISIS, and there is more truth than exaggeration in that comparison since we know ISIS and other terrorists in Syria were the creations of the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia working together towards Neocon goals.

I am afraid they are entrenched. Gradual changes in the American public’s attitudes towards the current situation might change things, but that is an extremely difficult thing to achieve since all of America’s corporate press works without fail towards the Neocon goals.

We have seen examples of American public opinion turnaround, accompanied by decisive change in government policy, before, especially that which occurred with regard to Apartheid South Africa, a state long viewed by Washington’s establishment as a bulwark against “international communism,” but public opinion came to be convinced about the horrors of South Africa, and government priorities changed.

Israel is a much more difficult proposition since it has an immensely well-established lobby in America, has the complete sympathy of the press, and has that whole vague Biblical set of associations affecting a country which still has a lot of backwardness in religion from tent preachers to televangelists.

Of course, modern Israel has no connection with Biblical Israel, any more than modern Turkey has any connection to ancient Troy or modern Lebanon has to do with ancient Phoenicians. The residents are in fact an entirely different people – migrants from America and Europe who are of central and eastern European origin (the Ashkenazi), rather than descendants of ancient Hebrews.

Of course, they practice the same religion, but the average religious American has no idea of the differences and distinctions. They also have no idea of what a secular, unreligious society much of modern Israel is. There is only the emotional, unanalytical attachment to Biblical notions and mysteries.

And, for American politicians, given America’s dedication to the corrupt system of virtually unlimited money in financing elections, there is an organized and reliable source to turn to for portions of those funds in the Israel Lobby.

Realistically, only the ongoing growth in the relative strength of the BRICS countries, and the possible turn to more self-reliance in the EU, is likely to shake the hold of the Neocons in America. That plus the gradual and inevitable loss of the dollar’s position as the world reserve currency, a status which allows American authorities to abuse finances in a way they never could otherwise and allows them many routes to bribe and threaten other states, will do the job of ending American pretentions.

And there is the possibility of a disastrous major financial melt-down in America which might quickly alter its status and some balance of power, but that is, of course, something terrible which will hurt everyone.

John Chuckman


Iran will stand firm against any ‘wrong move’ by US over nuclear deal, says Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The US President called the nuclear accord ‘one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen’

Ayatollah Khamenei only speaks the most basic truth.

Trump is utterly wrong-headed in his every word and gesture towards Iran. He looks like a big dumb clown to anyone with some facts.

There is no other way to look at this.

Trump is, without question, following a script thrust into his hand by the madman, Netanyahu.

Every expert source worth listening to has told us Iran has scrupulously kept to the terms of the nuclear agreement. Not just “kept,” but “scrupulously kept.”

I remind readers that this is also a country which has attacked no one in its modern history (except terrorists in Syria), unlike both Israel and the United States who almost never stop threatening and killing someone somewhere.

What more can a country do to deserve being left in peace?

You do exactly what you are supposed to do, as confirmed by all observers, but you are still wrong and are told you must do still more things? Does that make sense to anyone except a madman?

In the eyes of Netanyahu, you have to leap, like a trained circus dog, through a long series of hoops he holds up, none of which have anything to do with the agreement proper, all while Israel threatens attacks and prods the US to attack.

And, of course, all while Israel maintains an arsenal of about 150 advanced nuclear weapons plus nuclear-capable missiles plus submarines (some or all of which have been rigged to carry a nuclear missile or two).

This is the most ridiculous charade we have on the planet, perhaps only excepting Israel’s completely illegal intervention in Syria – supporting phony jihadi outfits in their violence against a legitimate government and doing at least a hundred bombing runs of its own.

Of course, its criminal activity in Syria is aimed at keeping the Golan Heights which it stole fifty years ago, and whose petroleum and water resources it now exploits, and then this crazed man is demanding still more Syrian land right now.

And Israel’s criminal behavior towards Iran is based solely on its fanatical quest to completely dominate the region, behaving as a miniature replica of the US as it seeks to dominate the earth.

This surely is foreign affairs conducted as someone like the fascist dictators of the 1930s understood how to conduct them.

Response to a reader comment:

Trump is under the complete domination now of the Neocons in Washington, doing exactly what the ghastly Hillary would have done.

He has proved a remarkable coward in standing up for his original views. Lots of noise and bluster, and total capitulation.

John Chuckman


Sorry, Hillary, But Benghazi Isn’t Going Away

I’m always troubled that American critics of Hillary focus on the American security arrangements in events at Benghazi.

The terrible thing about Benghazi wasn’t a few Americans killed while conducting nefarious business.

It was the nefarious business itself.

Gathering arms and thugs from destroyed, war-torn Libya to transship into Syria.

The purpose in Syria was the five years of horror we’ve experienced with about 400,000 people killed. Lots of women and children, too, but Hillary never was one to worry much about that kind of detail.

Both the horror created in Syria and the horror created in Libya drove millions from their homes to become refugees, nearly destabilizing Europe and generating waves of hatred of migrants in the United States.

The four Americans killed – while they were doing dark, murderous-inducing stuff – was the tiniest part of the whole thing.

It is always interesting and disturbing the way Americans – even critics of American policy – focus on what happened to some Americans, almost always ignoring what those Americans were doing to others.

In Vietnam, over ten years of horror, a relatively small 60,000 Americans died, and there was always huge concern and chest-beating over that.

But those Americans died in a cause that would kill 3,000,000 Vietnamese in their own homeland and leave their country a dumping ground of bombs, landmines, and Agent Orange to keep killing for decades.

The Americans also helped kill a 1,000,000 Cambodians by destabilizing that neutral country with bombing and constant incursions, effectively giving it over to the Khmar Rouge.

No sense of proportion ever, and no sense of regret or shame for the horrors inflicted on others – that is a consistent pattern in America.

John Chuckman


Video: T-80 Test-Drive: Hitting The Track On The Russian Main Battle Tank

The Russian T-34 tank was responsible in good part for stopping Hitler’s Legions.

It was a crude but effective product, ultimately defeating Europe’s most advanced country’s products.

Today. apart from this T-80, Russia has the new versions of the heavy T-90 (which was filmed taking a direct hit from an American Tow Missile in Syria and just kept going) and the remarkable new, hi-tech T-14 Armata., a new kind of tank entirely.

The Russians are really good at this stuff protecting their homeland.

Why does the US keep pushing up against the borders? Aggressive stupidity and arrogance.

John Chuckman


The talking is over, the occupation goes on. Will there ever be peace in the Middle East?

Let’s be honest and put the responsibility where it belongs.

Netanyahu has always despised Oslo. We have many quotes from him to that effect, quite apart from his actions.

And how can anyone speak of peace while seizing the homes and farms of Palestinians and trying hard to make-over the ethnic composition of East Jerusalem?

You cannot.

Israel keeps an old man, Abbas, propped up as “president,” a man many would whose character resembles a kind of Palestinian Stepin Fetchit, a man who has not faced election in years. He is their stage prop to wheel out whenever there is a photo-op to show Israel is interested in peace.

Israel will not even talk to anyone else.

If Israel wanted peace it could have it tomorrow. Just return to the Green Line and put your boundaries into law. Few may realize it, but going on three-quarters of a century into its existence, it has no boundaries.

Why would that be? Because the land seized in the 1967 War is slowly being absorbed into some definition of Israel which exists nowhere else than in the minds of leaders like Netanyahu. Peace while stealing?

Just look at Netanyahu’s attitude towards neighbor Syria. Israel has conducted at least a hundred bombing runs against that war-torn land. And it has been involved in helping the mercenary fighters there who try destroying a legitimate government while posing as jihadis. It has talked of seizing still more land as a buffer.

And it has made it clear it regards the illegally-seized Golan Heights as its own in defiance of all international law. It is even drilling for oil there and making arrangements to sell it. Does that sound like a person who wants peace?

Netanyahu is now threatening Lebanon with another invasion. The threats are heard regularly. As are the threats against Iran, a country that has attacked no one in its modern history, except the terrorists at work in Syria. Israel openly spurns the Iran nuclear agreement and prods the United States to end it. Some devotion to peace.

Response (Promptly removed by Guardian editors) to a reader pointing out how Israel gave back Gaza for peace:

Israel never handed Gaza back to anyone, because in fact it never had Gaza.

It had a handful of settlers running around behind barbed wire with submachine guns and surrounded by soldiers.

They ran from an unsustainable and physically ugly situation, by the way, doing such peace-loving things as they left as poisoning their water wells and demolishing anything useful to others.

Hamas is a very key fact in the whole matter of peace. When Hamas was largely a humanitarian agency, back in the days of Fatah, Israel’s security services actually secretly assisted it, hoping to make trouble for Fatah.

When Hamas became a political party – political Hamas actually stood for clean government as opposed to the old, well-known corruption of Fatah – and won an open, observed, election, Israel changed its stance. Suddenly Hamas was a terror group.

They were not. They were a democratic organization which, of course, had no great affection for Israel.

Israel, after Hamas’s election, actually seized by force of arms many elected officials and threw them in jail. It assassinated a number of Hamas officials and openly threatened to kill its leader several times.

What Israel doesn’t like is that Hamas is democratic and independent-minded. Israel’s friends in the region are the King of Jordan, the King of Saudi Arabia, and the dictator of Egypt. It embraces democracy nowhere in the region. It hated Egypt’s first and only democratic government (that of Mohamed Morsi) and pressured the US to do something about it, which it promptly did, instigating a coup by the armed forces and the setting up of a new dictator.

Israel also doesn’t like Hamas because it will not automatically agree to Israel’s definition of itself, as “the Jewish state.” Why? There are more than a million Palestinians living in Israel. What happens to them if there were a strict definition of Israel as a Jewish state?

Anyway, the usual way of dealing with such issues is negotiation, but Israel does not negotiate. It tries to dictate. That’s not peace. That’s not even reality.

Response (Promptly removed by Guardian editors) to another reader who said that Hamas stood in the way of peace:

Not at all. Hamas has always been ready to come to an understanding, but Israel does not want an understanding, it wants to dictate.

John Chuckman


What does Putin actually want? Russia’s endgame with Trump, Europe and the Soviet Union 2.0
Former KGB man has been an indomitable force in Russian politics for two decades, but what is his geopolitical masterplan?

Russia is and was a great nation.

It has people of exceptional abilities and achievements.

But it has experienced some terrible difficulties, and today, despite its orientation to Western business principles, it faces constant hostility from America’s establishment.

Why? Because Russia is the only country on earth that can obliterate America. Not even China yet has that capacity.

And it stands in opposition to many of the goals of America’s Neocons, the dangerous fanatics who run foreign policy in the United States today.

Putin’s goals are no secret.

He has frequently revealed them in his often surprisingly frank talks and question-and-answer sessions.

He wants a multi-polar world in which a number of powers do not allow a single power to dictate.

We do not like the idea of dictators running our countries, and yet today we tolerate a would-be dictator in the international affairs, the Neocon-dominated United States.

This makes no sense to Putin or to millions of others.

You see American dominance considerations frequently overwhelm considerations of economic health and benefit.

Just look at what America tries to do in Europe vis-a-vis Russian energy supplies. This is completely against the economic well-being of Europeans.

Or look at the disastrous American wars in Libya or Syria which have driven millions from their homes to become refugees.

The refugees who have nearly destabilized Europe and created an intense fog of hatred against migrants in the US itself.

These are just a few of many examples where American Neocon geopolitical aims work entirely against the interests and well-being of others.

We are all significantly impoverished by them. The world could be a more prosperous and peaceful place.

Putin is the perfect practical statesman working towards goals, with skill and talent, that are in almost everyone’s interests.

It is a sad fact, but it is a fact, that America’s establishment today works towards “full spectrum dominance” everywhere. This is unhealthy and dangerous and impoverishes us all.

If you want a better, more open, and decent world, it is inevitable that you will come into conflict with America whose goals are something else entirely.