JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP’S SPEECH FOR HIS WALL – IF THERE IS ONE THING TRUMP KNOWS IT IS HIS CUSTOMERS   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN CBC NEWS

 

“Trump used the Oval Office to make his border wall pitch — but experts doubt it will sway voters”

 

Our world is threatened by many serious problems.

Trump addresses few of them.

But he goes on and on over this waste of time and money, a wall, something which somehow hasn’t been missed in two and a half centuries.

Why does he do that?

Because it is an issue which speaks powerfully to his political base, as few others do.

A wall and foreigners and guns.

If there’s one thing Trump knows, it’s his customers.

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Posted January 13, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: JOHN BOLTON IN ISRAEL – AMERICA IN SYRIA – HOW TO OPENLY IGNORE AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT – SOME FACTS ABOUT SYRIA AND ABOUT IRAN AND ABOUT ISRAEL – AMERICA’S DECLINING INFLUENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST   1 comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT ON JOHN BOLTON’S TRIP TO ISRAEL

 

John Bolton has been on a trip to Israel to reassure Israel’s Netanyahu that Trump really didn’t mean what he said about withdrawal from Syria.

At least that is what Bolton’s actual words boil down to.

Bolton said that any withdrawal from Syria is “conditioned on the security of Israel and other allies and defeat of ISIL.”

That might sound good to an untutored ear, but it is, in fact, utter rubbish, rubbish carefully constructed to keep American troops in Syria as long as possible against Trump’s withdrawal decision. Hell, what do a mere President’s words mean anyway?

The United States only uses the presence of ISIS as an excuse to remain in northeastern Syria. For most of the history of the war in Syria, the United States did not fight ISIS, not at all. It viewed them quietly as welcome grief for Assad. Much of America’s (and Britain’s) early bombing effort basically provided ISIS and other mercenary cutthroats with a de facto air force by destroying Syrian national infrastructure. It was only Syria’s army, still loyal to Assad after a long and grievous war, with the invited help of Russia and Iran, who consistently fought ISIS.

And why would internal events in Syria have anything to do with Israel’s security? They do not, except in the sense that Israel’s main goals in the deliberately-constructed proxy war, the destruction of Syria and the toppling of Assad, have failed.

Plus, if there is anything Israel hates more than Assad, it is Iran. That very large (ten times the population of Israel) and potentially wealthy (oil and gas) country, which if viewed by any objective third party, would be understood as the region’s natural long-term regional power (exactly how America saw them back in the days of the Shah), but that is the role Israel has determined must be its own.

Israel needs to keep a hold on Washington because without the public and private subsidies pouring in from America, it would soon be seen for what it is, a small and relatively poor country located, much like a Crusader fortress, in a region of people for whom it largely has contempt.

Israel uses the legitimate presence of Iran in Syria (legitimate because it was invited by Syria’s government to help fight a war) much the way the United States uses the presence of ISIS in the Northeast – that is, as an excuse to do other things. Ergo, Israel’s estimated two hundred bombing runs against a country, Syria, with which it is not at war. Plus, lots of other nasty stuff like large covert shipments of weapons, expert advice, intelligence information, helicopter ferrying, and even medical assistance.

Well, at least ISIS is something worthy of our hatred. Iran is not, never having started any wars in its modern history and legitimately working to better its people and having demonstrated its willingness to cooperate and keep its word, as with the international nuclear agreement. Indeed, when America recently arbitrarily tore up that agreement, its only genuine reason for doing so was one that it could not state in public: tearing up the agreement was what Israel wanted.

Compare the record, and a fair-minded observer could only say Iran is much of what Israel is not. Israel with its secret nuclear weapons. Israel with its past record of secret nuclear cooperation with apartheid South Africa (which briefly, before its end, became a small nuclear power thanks to Israeli assistance). Israel with its dozens of broken United Nations’ resolutions and broken international laws. Israel with its unwelcome occupation of millions of people. Israel with its near-constant war and aggression for seventy years. And Israel with its long record of dark operations and assassinations throughout the region.

Even in terms of religious and ethnic tolerance, Iran has some favorable comparisons despite its being a theocratic state. A good-sized Jewish community in Iran flourishes. Compare that with the state of non-Jews or even Jews who happen to be black, as from Africa, in Israel. The property of Jews and other groups is secure in Iran, and you have only to turn on your television news to know that that is not the case in Israel.

By the way, part of Assad’s popular support in Syria comes from the fact that he is seen as a protector of religious minorities. The country’s many Christians definitely view him that way and were in great fear about what kind of government might emerge if Assad lost the war. Assad is sometimes seen walking with his wife on the streets of Damascus, something many leaders would fear doing. His troops, as I said, have stayed loyal through a long and bloody war.

Our press’s treatment of Assad has been consistently unbalanced. It has consistently been an Israeli government view of Assad, much as is the case with our press’s treatment of Iran.

Israel has a poisonous narrative it has developed and pushed about Iran surrounding them through its relationships with other states such as Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Never mind the nonsense of a non-nuclear nation being truly capable of threatening a nuclear one with an arsenal a third the size of France’s. Here’s where never acknowledging your illegal weapons comes in handy. You can pretend to be afraid of someone like Iran.

So why are American troops in Syria’s northeast, openly against the will of the county’s government?

They are there to assist Syria’s Kurds – who would like a separate state, a rather unrealistic expectation given Turkey’s intense feelings against a Kurdish state on any of its borders – in disrupting the reunification of Syria.

In the pettiest possible fashion, any disruption of Syria is viewed as positive by Israel and the United States. The same motive is at work in the United States having announced that it will not contribute to the rebuilding of Syria so long as Assad remains in power. Not contribute, despite having been a major contributor to the destruction.

Kurdish disruption in the northeast is a kind of consolation prize to Israel for having lost the main dirty war. It benefits Saudi Arabia, too, the main original financiers for ISIS, but the princes running that country these days quietly work hand-in-glove with Israel, so anything benefitting the one benefits the other.

That’s how you earn the right to buy more than a hundred billion dollars in the latest American military hardware, as Saudi Arabia did recently, and gain a new sense of self-importance in the region. Otherwise, that sale could not possibly have happened given Israel’s influence in Washington. Just as a measure of the massiveness of Saudi Arabia’s purchases, Russia, a country more than four times the land mass and more than four times the population, with a far more complex economy, has a defense budget of about $46 billion.

The proxy war of the last half dozen years – inaccurately called a civil war regularly in our press – has been a barely-disguised effort to destroy Syria and topple its leader, President Assad.

Israel’s leaders hate Assad – just as they hate all independent-minded Arab leaders, especially ones with any popular support who serve as unifying forces in their societies – and they hate him especially because he remains adamant about the return of the slice of Syrian territory Israel has (illegally) occupied since 1967, the Golan Heights.

Israel pretends to itself that it has formally annexed this land, but the world does not recognize the claim as valid, and it is against international law to annex land you occupy following a war. Indeed, Netanyahu took the opportunity of Bolton’s visit to once more push the idea of America’s recognizing the annexation.

It would all become easier with Assad out of the way, and there were potential additional benefits from his removal. Israel had hoped to seize a further slice of Syrian territory as a “buffer zone” for the stolen Golan Heights against the violence in Syria (the violence deliberately induced by Israel and its proxy-war associates), something Israel spoke about a number of times. In these objectives, the proxy war against Syria, which Israel worked hard to foster and supply, has failed.

That’s why we now have the effort to secure the consolation prize of encouraging trouble and division with the Kurds in the northeast. It would weaken Syria, especially since the region is Syria’s major oil-producing area.

But anything involving Kurds, a people without a state and scattered across several countries of the Middle East, anywhere near Turkey’s border is viewed as a genuine threat, Turkey having fought Turkey’s own Kurdish separatists quite viciously for years. Bolton made Turkey’s Erdogan extremely angry with words suggesting Turkey was interested in slaughtering Kurds in Syria’s northeast.

There are also reports of talks between Syrians and Kurds, talks aimed at the Kurds accepting the Syrian army as a protector against a Turkish invasion. It does seem likely that in the end, by one means or another, Syria will reclaim the Kurdish region.

So, the American-Israeli scheme to see Syria partitioned is likely to fail. Maybe then, Trump can have his troop withdrawal and show the world he is a man of his word and not a man whose generals and senior officials go around contradicting him days after he orders something done. Of course, they’ll only withdraw to new bases in Iraq near the Syrian border. America keeps building bases in Iraq even though the government there has told them it does not want continued occupation.

It seems that you just can’t tell those glorious defenders of freedom that you don’t want them. America just ignores the government of Iraq.

Overall, despite years of bloody war, the Neocon Wars, America has lost influence in the region, and largely because it has bet on the wrong horses. The effort has been pointless, destroying millions of lives, toppling some perfectly good governments, and leaving chaos in a number of places.

 

 

 

 

Posted January 9, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: “FIVE EYES” IS A HIGH-LEVEL WESTERN-GOVERNMENT SHELL GAME IN THE SECRECY OF CITIZENS THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR DECADES – PEOPLE ARE COMPLETELY RIGHT NOT TO TRUST THEIR GOVERNMENTS WHEN THEY BEHAVE LIKE THIS   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ABBY MARTIN ON YOUTUBE

 

“Exposing ‘Five Eyes’ Global Surveillance Cabal | Big Brother Watch

“Abby Martin takes a closer look at a recent NSA leak which links the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand as an international intelligence partnership focused on surveillance of each other’s citizens.”

 

Abby Martin has her emphasis right.

“Five Eyes” is a gimmick to get around all the laws in Western countries against security agencies spying on each country’s own citizens.

So, instead of the American security services spying on Americans, which is technically illegal, Americans security spies on, say, British citizens, and then simply exchanges the information they have on British citizens with British security in return for British-collected information on Americans.

It’s pretty shabby that we tolerate this. A shell game, for sure.

We pretend that laws we pass have force while a gimmick like Five Eyes renders them absolutely without force.

It represents a kind of deep, fundamental lying by government, the kind of stuff that has brought us to where we are.

And that is, that governments, Western governments, incessantly lie to their own citizens, as well as spy on them.

Is it any wonder people lose faith in their government? Or that members of government become arrogant with regard to those they represent?

Posted January 6, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE SAD HOPES OF THOSE CALLED (WRONGLY) AMERICA’S LIBERALS – ELIZABETH WARREN’S CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENT   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY SAM HUSSEINI IN CONSORTIUM NEWS

 

“Elizabeth Warren Nails Economy, Muddles Foreign Policy”

 

A very good piece by Sam Husseini, calling Warren into question on many important matters.

Warren’s “Right now, Washington works great for the wealthy and the well-connected. It’s just not working for anyone else,” actually troubles me quite a bit.

Superficially, of course it’s true, but that kind of line has a lot in common with corporate advertising slogans, and I think it has about the same weight and importance and endurance – which is to say, very little.

You can’t disagree with it, but it says nothing of substance, contains nothing actionable. It commits her to nothing. It is a momentary battle cry, quickly to be forgotten, as at the opening of the next season’s corporate advertising campaign.

I find much the same with some of her other rhetoric.

On matters I consider most crucial, Elizabeth Warren does not have a great record.

She voted for the truly unconscionable increases in budget for the Pentagon. Budgets which not only waste vast resources, they direct the nation’s attention away from so many important matters, and, effectively, such spending on the military commits you to war.

Where you put your resources tells me infinitely more about your values than any slogans or nice-sounding speeches.

Great standing armies have always been a powerful inducement to war.

There is a long historical record, including the assessment by great historians that the carnage of WWI reflected the very real impact of great standing armies. And Hitler’s destructive path across Europe could not have happened had he not been allowed to re-arm Germany.

Well, the Frankenstein we call the Pentagon is the greatest standing army of all time. And please note that the United States has been at almost constant war for two decades, wars which have killed a couple of million souls and created many millions of desperate refugees – all fought to no good, or even clear, purpose.

When resources to do something are at hand, they tend always to get used. Virtually unaccountably, too, knowing what we now know about the Pentagon’s bookkeeping and accountability for literally trillions of dollars.

Warren’s statements and votes, too, on dangerous issues like Iran’s supposed aggression and terrorism are troubling. Troubling because they are false and they serve interests that were better not served.

She is an old admirer and associate of Hillary Clinton, one of the most dishonest and murderous people in the international politics of our generation. It is not in the least an exaggeration to say that Hillary ranks with the likes of Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The resources squandered on the Pentagon and security services have many other effects, none of them good. They feed the gigantic corporations serving the Pentagon, much like a blood bank for vampires. They feed the entire class of wealthy and influential people who own and run those corporations, working towards the greater division of American society into “haves” and “have nots.” They subsidize the dishonest press and media conglomerates that relentlessly serve the interests of the “haves.”

They keep the nation in a kind of dangerous division where many ordinary people do not even see Washington as their legitimate government, and for the simple reason that it does virtually nothing for them, pretty much ignoring them.

The Washington power establishment focuses on running the world and keeping the privileged “haves” happy. That’s where the resources and career opportunities are for aspiring American politicians. What does Warren represent to change any of that? Absolutely nothing that I can see.

Here’s an interesting fact to think about. Russia’s military has annual budget of about $46 billion, which compares to more than $700 billion for the United States. Yet Russia is able to defend itself, and indeed is quite innovative in the technology of defense.

It also is responsible for no threatening aggression on the planet, whatever some Democrats and Republicans may say. It is America ringing Russia with threatening weapons and making countless threats and irresponsible charges. After all, apart from Trump’s crude noises, Obama was bombing and killing people every single day of his administration. He destroyed whole well-run societies such as Libya, started the covert war in Syria, and threatened Russia. He fomented the counterproductive coup in Ukraine.

In all of this, Hillary Clinton was his more-than-willing helper. Recall her charming jokes like, “We came, we saw, he died” laughingly said of Gaddafi, a good leader for his people. Or her “Can’t we just drone him or something?” said of Julian Assange, one of the heroic figures of our time. And Elizabeth Warren supported it all.

I see Elizabeth Warren as having virtually nothing to offer. If you do not address fundamentals, you will change nothing but the slogans. And, good God, America has far too many of those already. Its politics too much resemble its corporate consumer economy.

And finally, she has a huge silliness factor to overcome. That whole needless and pointless business of hers about having Native American heritage just becomes a source for jokes, but it means more than that. It very much calls her basic judgment and values into question. Why would anyone seriously concerned with America’s dangerous course play such trivial games?

Posted January 6, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE MOST RIDICULOUS GOVERNMENT ON THE PLANET, AUTHOR OF THE OUTRAGEOUS SKRIPAL AFFAIR, PREACHES TO RUSSIA ABOUT USING PEOPLE AS “PAWNS” – THE RUSSIAN ARREST OF PAUL WHELAN FOR SPYING WHO AS IT TURNS OUT HAS MORE PASSPORTS THAN JAMES BOND   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A REUTERS ARTICLE IN CBC NEWS

 

“Russia warned not to use people as ‘pawns’ as ex-U.S. marine born in Canada held on spying charges

U.K. ‘extremely worried’ about Ottawa-born former marine Paul Whelan

“Individuals should not be used as pawns of diplomatic leverage [or] being used in diplomatic chess games,”

 

I don’t think there is a more ridiculous government on earth than the present British government.

In virtually everything it does, from two years of Brexit fiasco to the Skripal Affair, it makes itself look silly.

I am not in a position to judge, but an article I read about Paul Whelan’s case said he was caught red-handed by FSB agents with a list of the employees of a Russian secret agency. They were on some electronic memory device such as a memory stick.

Mr Whelan also has a long history of visits to Russia in his capacity as head of international security for a large American corporation. The FSB has said that some of his behavior over that time was unusual and rather suggestive. A background in the American military only adds to the mix.

If those are indeed the facts, there is nothing unusual in Russia’s arrest. It is what security agencies do, everywhere, if they have strong suspicions and, indeed, evidence.

For the government that gave us the Skripal Affair to say this is laughable. That case of asserted, but totally unproved, poisoning represents the very height of diplomatic games. The “victims,” to this day, have not been allowed to talk to anyone. They are not even seen. Russian relatives have not been able to visit. They have not been granted any consular services (in contrast to Whelan who was quickly granted consular services), despite many requests by Russia’s government. Yet the British government saw fit on such a flimsy basis to create a major diplomatic incident.

 

AFTERNOTE:

An intriguing fact about Paul Whelan has just been revealed.

He apparently holds at least four citizenships – British, American, Irish, and Canadian.

So, he has more passports than James Bond.

Posted January 4, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: A FEW WORDS ON WHY LAUREL AND HARDY WERE SO VERY SPECIAL   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MARTIN CHILTON IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Laurel and Hardy: Two angels of our time

“As ‘Stan & Ollie’ is released in UK cinemas, Martin Chilton reflects upon the duo’s astonishing impact on modern culture”

 

They were wonderful, casting almost a magical spell in their best work. I’ve loved them since I was a boy and saw their shorts played on a regular local kids’ television show in the mid-1950s.

I think what most distinguishes them from other comedy teams is the mix of human empathy and pathos with comedy. Some images of them, after one of their on-screen disasters, are iconic in displaying these qualities. So are parts of story plots, as when they overhear a widow telling a sad tale to a visitor about being thrown out of her home and determine to help her by selling their only possession, an old car, unaware that what they’ve overheard are lines being practiced from an amateur play.

I especially love the talking shorts like “Laughing Gravy” and “The Music Box” and “The County Hospital” and “The Chimp.” “Sons of the Desert” is a somewhat longer one, but just wonderful.

Unfortunately, their feature-length films are disappointing, with huge amounts of padding, but that’s what Hollywood did with performers often.

I have a wonderful video collection, if you are interested. It’s called “Laurel and Hardy, The Essential Collection.” The transfers are good quality, and the set comes in a book-like format with handy little summaries.

_____________________

Response to a comment:

Yes, indeed, and watching some of those “dated” films is like gazing at the displays in a wonderful museum, capturing beautifully the sense of an era.

Posted January 4, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE ODD NOTION THAT AMERICA “POLICES THE WORLD” HAS SIMPLY NEVER BEEN THE CASE – WHAT WE DO FIND IN FACT – AND AMERICA’S INABILITY TO GOVERN EVEN ITS OWN FINANCES – A HUGE SOCIETY’S DANGEROUS UNEXAMINED ASSUMPTIONS   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY DOUG BANDOW IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST

 

“The One Reason America Can’t Police the World Anymore: Washington Is Broke”

 

While the main theme of this piece is quite accurate, its initial premise is utterly false.

I refer to the idea of America policing the world.

The function of police is to enforce laws, supporting the rule of law, but that is not what America does or has ever done.

Trump recently said that the United States would no longer be the “policeman of the Middle East,” but it has never served the role of policeman there, except in its own imagination.

Its role has been as praetorian guard to regimes it favors and as open threat to those it does not favor. Police enforce laws, but the only “laws” that the United States enforces in the region are its own political biases.

Every regime America defends is at least as lawless and brutal as any it opposes, and I certainly count Israel in that category – along with the likes of Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Bahrain – because the rule of law does not exist on the territory it occupies and is ignored in all of Israel’s efforts to bolster its position in the region, from several thousand assassinations to illegal bombing sorties by the hundreds in neighboring countries.

Well, you can’t arrive at truth by assuming something false.

And despite all the noise over “fake news” and propaganda and censorship we hear today, here we have a prime example of a fake idea quietly assumed by a piece published in a non-establishment publication, and that is not at all an uncommon thing to find.

The truth is that Americans in general do not scrutinize or analyze the assumptions of their own society, no matter from which part of the political spectrum they come.

And that, surely, is America’s most fundamental problem.

 

AFTERTHOUGHT:

Trump and others who expect allies to pay more for “defense,” charging them with having drained America’s treasury, actually expect, in a very real sense, those being bullied to pay the bully for his services. While that is not the focus of this piece, there is to my mind some degree of implicit agreement here.

I find it impossible to distinguish the idea from the classic mafia business protection scheme, and I think, privately, so do many traditional allies. That expectation alone is a good measure of just how unexamined are America’s assumptions.

Just as is the case with America’s assumption that you can keep running a huge government with deficits and debts, the main focus of the piece.

America’s truly reckless approach to leadership in the world is now starting to unravel the very seams of an entire set of long-established global arrangements, a dangerous and potentially revolutionary situation. This is the opposite of what one expects from leadership.

If the philosopher was right in saying that the unexamined life is not worth living, how much truer is the principle for great nations?

Posted January 1, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized