Archive for the ‘INDISPENSABLE NATION’ Tag


John Chuckman


“75 years after D-Day, has the old alliance fallen apart?

“The united front that cracked open Fortress Europe isn’t what it used to be”

No, it has not fallen apart, yet.

But it is aging, starting to fray considerably around the edges.

And why expect anything else?

It’s simply not the same world that it was three-quarters of a century ago. Every actor has changed, some dramatically. And new important actors have taken a bow.

Indeed, the alliance is beginning to be quite counter-productive in some areas. The aspirations of many Europeans to become what they have the potential for being, a major competitive and geo-political force in the world, is compromised by what amounts to American occupation with a smile.

And, of course, America is now off on new tears all over the planet, many of which are not in line with Europe’s hopes and ambitions  – eg, the insane, unilateral start of a trade war with China, a country many in Europe have started working with, something they intend to do more of with the New Silk Road and other big projects, including building nuclear power plants, something at which China is very good, especially in bringing them on at competitive cost.

Indeed, America has pretty much, over recent decades, changed the meaning and purpose of NATO, each step of the way exploiting the sentimental old attachments to get its way. You can only do so much of that before your allies start asking questions. NATO is barely recognizable. I think I’ve outlined that nicely here:


There has never been such a thing as a forever alliance.

It’s almost a childish fantasy to expect that there should be.

If you read history, especially for Europe, you know there has been immense change over the centuries, with the rise and fall of alliances, including some quite grand ones.

Just as is the case with the rise and fall of nation-states and empires.

God, modern Italy and Germany only came into existence well into the 19th century.

We’ve just seen states like Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union simply disappear.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire disappeared only in the early 20th century.

The very fact that almost everything about NATO has changed – its purpose, its constituents, its external environment – should tell us something.

People who speak of it, in terms of, say, the 1950s or 1960s, only display a lack of understanding, perhaps a dangerous lack.

It smacks a little of speaking of the days of America’s Red Scare and McCarthyism in sentimental terms. Of course, inside the United States, that is very much something we still see being done by some, so thorough was the indoctrination of decades ago.

Powerful institutions grounded in lack of understanding and old emotional attachments are indeed dangerous.


Response to a comment about the importance of D Day:

Yes, I accept all of that, but it not only doesn’t speak to our future, it is a bit careless with the past.

D Day, despite its importance, including symbolic importance, quite simply was, I’m sorry to say, a drop in the bucket compared to the Eastern Front.

I believe nothing is more important for history and the later decisions based upon it than perspective, accurate perspective.

23 American divisions, 14 British, 3 Canadian, 1 French and 1 Polish.

The Germans had 228 divisions fighting desperately on the Eastern Front, battle-hardened and originally equipped as the finest army ever fielded.

Had even a fraction of those German divisions been freed-up to turn towards Normandy, D Day either would not have taken place or been a tragic fiasco, a larger-scale version of Churchill’s terrible failure at Gallipoli in WWI.

About three-quarters of all German soldiers killed in the war were killed by Soviet armies.

The Soviets themselves lost 27 million people, the most terrible toll in all of recorded human history.

For comparison, America’s entire losses in the war, including the Pacific, were about 300 thousand.


Response to a comment that “America has never been a good ally, asking for help in every war that is important to America but only belatedly and reluctantly joining conflicts with worldwide significance”:

That is absolutely true.

It has a lot to do with “the indispensable nation” deciding on its own what is important to fight for and what is not.

Virtually every war and intervention by the United States since WWII, has had nothing to do with defense, either of itself or of its allies.

It has been a piteous, brutal record of imperial conquest and eliminating those whom it disliked.

Estimates vary for the number of people America has killed over that period and for those purposes.

It cannot be less than 8 million, and may well indeed be as many as 20 million, as some have estimated.

It killed at least 3 million alone in Vietnam. It caused another million or more to die in Cambodia because it destabilized the neutral government there during its Vietnam War. At least a million souls died in the illegal invasion of Iraq.


John Chuckman



While I am not a political partisan of any party, I believe there can be little doubt that important American agency heads and senior Democratic figures plotted along several lines either to discredit Trump before the election or to deprive him of office after the election.

He was viewed as a political outsider, a maverick, an unwelcome, intrusive figure whose entrance on the national stage might upset a lot of people’s relationships and plans. And it didn’t help that he was a rude and awkward man, given to expressing himself at times in words you might expect to see scratched inside a stall door at a public toilet.

All indications suggest that Obama – the always-smiling but taciturn and secrecy-embracing Obama, his record on whistleblowers and leakers as well as his eight-year record of bombing countless people demonstrating him as being quite ruthless – led this effort, closely allied with Hillary Clinton, the woman, we know from documents, who cheated repeatedly in the Democratic primary campaign to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders.

These are ruthless people, although most of the public is not used to thinking of American political figures in that way. It is a hard thing perhaps for ordinary Americans to absorb the idea that their own country, “sweet land of liberty” as it’s termed in the national theology, is run along lines, not of respect for democracy and rule of law, but of what is sniggered at in Third-world lands.

The totality of the Democrats’ efforts – consulting with discreditable people abroad, paying an ex-spy to create a false dossier on a political candidate, spying on a political campaign, making outrageous public charges, and still other acts – does seriously flirt with subverting democracy and Constitutional government, and that actually approaches the definition of treason.

However, I cannot find myself entirely outraged by the dark series of events because, for me, Trump’s own behaviors are so outrageous and extremely dangerous that they tend to overshadow what the others did. I don’t exonerate them, but we are now faced with terrifying new dangers both to peace and to the health and stability of the world’s economy.

And it is not to be said that the Democrats understood and anticipated such developments and are at least to be partly excused for that reason. No, indeed, they very much contributed to bringing it all on.

The Democrats’ activity reflects the heightened sense of privilege and exceptionalism we now see in so many – indeed in most – of the words and deeds coming from Washington. America’s establishment has comfortably assumed a belief in its being God’s contemporary chosen people, or, in the outrageously self-serving words of Madeline Albright, the “indispensable nation.” Well, considering yourself as indispensable and chosen by God has always had some terrible consequences for those wielding great power. We have the eloquent testimony of Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories to just that effect.

Trump was targeted because he was something of an outsider, someone who hi-jacked, in effect, one of the two old-line political parties, depriving other establishment figures, old-line Republicans like the Bushes or Romneys, of a nomination that “should” have belonged to one of them.

That sense of things does come with something of a threat to the prevailing system of the American power establishment, a system where both parties, no matter what their campaign words, always end by closely supporting the American plutocracy, its empire, and all of the agencies of government concerned with maintaining and extending the empire, especially the Pentagon and the CIA. Even a suggestion that an outsider might represent a threat to that established order was enough to drive a number of insiders to distraction.

Normally, those who challenge the establishment in any fashion are simply allowed to say their piece while being largely ignored by the press and other politicians, having few of their words reach most Americans, as well as suffering the tremendous impact of a campaign-finance drought, those funds always overwhelmingly being gifts from the wealthy. Tulsi Gabbard is the best contemporary example of that approach. There have been others, people with various points of view, from Ralph Nader to Ron Paul.

But a unique set of circumstances in 2016, enabled an “outsider” to get inside under the edge of the big-top tent and assume a position at center ring under the spotlights. The main contributing circumstance, I believe, was the nature of the Democrat’s own candidate, Hillary Clinton, a woman who inspires a great deal of fear and hostility, both outside and inside her own party. But the Democrats were stuck with her because her husband, Bill, has been the key link for years in a supply chain of large campaign-fund donors. No one ignores money in American politics. Had someone else run, most of these events likely would not have happened, and Trump would not now be President.

The new dangers to peace to which I referred can also be at least partly attributed to the work of the Democrats and their senior agency heads. Here is the reason. Trump felt seriously threatened at various points, as we know from reports. One of his ways of dealing with the threat was to approach some powerful and influential people for support and money, people whose primary focus was not the American political establishment but Israel.

The money would provide a war chest for the 2020 election campaign as well as against the threat of a costly impeachment. We’ve only learned recently from an analysis of old tax records that Trump is far less wealthy than anyone had imagined, having been burdened with huge debts for years.

Trump got what he wanted, increasing his sense of security, but the price demanded saw him give away things in the Middle East that were not his to give and begin a seriously threatening campaign against Iran, a country which Israel detests but one which had followed the letter of the law scrupulously in its multi-party nuclear agreement as well as being a country which has started no war in its modern history, despite having had a vicious war launched against it in the 1980s. Its record in wars and strife, despite the rhetoric of Trump or Bolton or Pompeo, compares immensely favorably with those of the United States and Israel.

The new dangers to economic stability are largely Trump’s work, his constant noisy haranguing, his many threats, his arbitrary imposition of large new tariffs, and his creation of an entire new branch of public service, one dedicated to illegally sanctioning people all over the world. I say “illegally” because all of the sanctions represent efforts to enforce American law on other people, ignoring the rule of law in other countries and ignoring virtually all international law and diplomatic protocol.

But while Trump is particularly rude and loud about the way he approaches other countries, the essence of what he tries to do is supported quietly by the American establishment, all of them from both parties. Big matters such as the rise of China and new relationships between Germany and Russia have been establishment concerns for decades. They foreshadow the emergence of a brave new world order, one very much not welcomed by America’s establishment.

The American establishment dreads its relative decline in importance to the world’s economy and its geopolitics. So, they appear, all of them, willing to support, at least for now, Trump’s crude efforts to extract concessions from countries like China by methods which really do reflect traditional mafia methods of gaining footholds in other people’s businesses, with “offers they can’t refuse.”

In the 1950s and 1960s Chicago where I grew up, restaurants and other businesses periodically burnt down for no explained reason. It was widely understood that it was the price of having refused to cooperate with “The Outfit,” to pay the required fees for services such as “protection,” that they offered.

So, we have an extremely complex and devious situation in Washington. Senior members of one major party came close to treason in their opposition to a newcomer. However, at the same time, the newcomer has proved himself so destructive in world affairs, in matters of trade and war, that some might almost be tempted to say that the efforts by Democrats and their senior agency heads were warranted.

But no reasonable person can say that. Rule of law is civilization’s greatest founding principle. Take that away, and you have the rule of the strongest, but it so happens that that is something both parties have long worked towards in America’s foreign affairs. There’s nothing of law or principle involved in any of America’s long string of colonial wars and coups and interventions since the end of WWII. They all involved forcing others to do as they were told. They all involved breaking innumerable laws and conventions and treaties. And they involved a great deal of killing and destruction. Now, that same long-accustomed approach has found a home at the very center of American power in Washington.

We were all treated to the most arrogant display of power and abuse and contempt for law with recent events in Venezuela. It’s never been so plainly on display, almost resembling the free summertime performance of a play in a neighborhood city park, even though it represented immoral and illegal practices America has used many times, perhaps with variations, such as more killing, here or there – in Ukraine, in Cuba, in Chile, in Guatemala, in Iran, in Nicaragua, and in other places. Maybe it is just a reflection of the incompetence of those in charge today that we saw the failed efforts so plainly, but that is just the kind of thing immense and unwarranted arrogance produces, a bizarre belief that if you say something should happen, it must happen.

The center of the American empire is in an unprecedented tangle of downright criminal behavior and fears, on all sides, and represents the greatest possible danger both to the world’s peace and its economic stability. I do not see how it all can end well, even if this or that particular crisis is diffused.

It really does remind one of tales of the last days of Rome, but if you find that an excessive comparison, there’s no escaping the fact that what we are seeing is the close-to-absolute corruption that accompanies close-to-absolute power.


Posted May 25, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



“Trump Folds at G-20 on Everything

“To the neocons. “Welcome to the end of Trump’s presidency…He has become Bush the Lesser with arguably better hair.”


I agree with the thrust of this piece by Tom Luongo.

I have been saying much the same thing, with some different emphasis.

It almost makes me smile when I see pieces on the Internet still displaying the naive belief that Trump is “out there” fighting the good fight against the forces of evil in Washington, pieces written by people who have adopted Trump’s vision of himself as revelation.

What can you say when people so deceive themselves?

But there is, and always has been, a great deal of self-deception in the world.

It’s what makes cults and fads and great scams and meaningless political movements possible, and are those very things not major landmarks on the American social and political landscape?

Trump is a kind of gigantic bad joke in fact. He is bereft of any real knowledge of history, itself a common trait in America, or of much else outside the field of fleecing people out of their money, which very much represents his life’s work. Vision from this man? To embrace him as a source of vision is a kind of sad public confession.

And he has this inner conviction, much resembling an intense, cultish religious conviction, or perhaps the delusion of a crazed person, that he represents “the great man” able to lift America out of its sleepwalking and lethargy.

As that old Neocon and worker for American empire, Madeleine Albright, conferred a title on the cause for which she so mightily laboured, the “indispensable country,” so Trump sees himself as a kind of indispensable man working for the same cause.

And a good many naive people believe him, just as many people, many in perhaps more influential positions in Washington, accept Madeleine Albright’s view of America.

It is all self-delusion, bred of the immense, corrupting influences of great wealth and power. The wealthy actually almost always regard themselves as somehow exceptional apart from the mere fact of their wealth. It is perhaps an extension of the old Puritan doctrine that material success and prosperity only display God’s special acknowledgement of an individual’s worthiness. And just so, America’s power establishment. That provides the nourishing environment for American Exceptionalism, a very real and palpable faith.

At the level of Trump’s supporters, many a bit lower on the social-economic totem pole, the sense of exceptionalism came out of a postwar period when American workers sometimes reached the level of a genuinely privileged working class. You know, it’s very easy to fool yourself with the idea that such success represents your own special merits. American politicians and elites have traditionally been only too happy to foster the belief.

But the situation resulted not from any special merit of American workers. Nor from any special magic of American society endowing its people with special properties. It represented a temporary set of circumstances resulting from the collapse of much of the world in a great war and America’s unique position, relatively unscathed by the war, of being able to supply a great part of the world’s demands, thus producing jobs and incomes for American workers that were indeed exceptional by world standards.

Thus, the appeal of Trump’s empty slogan about making America great again. What he is really saying is about bringing back the glories of the 1950s, the time of the birth of another slogan, the American Dream. It is obviously an impossible expectation and an impossible task, but what did I say above about there’s always a lot of self-deception in society?

And slogans, when they are timed right, much like advertising jingles, find a new batch of willing believers, at least for a while. Another of America’s great Trump-like promoter types, P. T. Barnum, famously said there was “a new sucker born every minute.”

Anyway, this hopeful illusion plus lots of rhetoric about keeping America free of others who aren’t entitled to share the Dream – migrants, refugees, foreigners in general – is how Trump keeps his pretty much hopeless political base fired up. Of course, he cannot succeed, but the self-deception is enough to get him by in office. Broken election promises are an accepted reality in American politics, and Trump’s are no different for being based in fantasy.

It cannot be 1950 again. No matter how hard he tries, and he cannot make it so. He perhaps believes, having sold so many condo units in the past based in part on illusions that he is capable of carrying it off on an immensely grander scale. But that is no more possible than commanding the winds and waves to halt.

He likes to think he is brave and tough with an iron will and, yes, that he is indispensable. But he is not, and his even holding and keeping office has been under assault by the people who really run America, its power establishment, from the beginning.

Of course, virtually the opposite is true of his personal qualities. In his drive to be seen as a figure worthy of a place on Mount Rushmore, he has surrendered virtually everything of the precious little he once seemed to understand and embrace to America’s power establishment, featuring today, as it does, a major role for the Neocon cult.

He works strenuously for their interests now and does so, not necessarily out of any native conviction, but out of cowardice, a quality he has quietly displayed his whole life despite all the bombast and bluster. He wants to stay in office and is ready to do just about anything to be allowed.

And that’s what makes him an exceptionally dangerous figure. The power establishment already had been on its own new tear for a while, a tear to re-establish its once almost unquestioned authority in the world despite America’s relative economic decline for decades. Obama served them well with wars and threats and coups and defense and intelligence budgets, despite his public image of seeming progressive and peaceful.

The relative decline which preoccupies American elites concerned with their continued influence in the world is reflected for Trump’s base in the virtual disappearance of America’s almost-elite working class and the gradual melting away of real incomes for much of the lower middle class over decades as America’s unique postwar economic position gradually eroded away.

So, they cheer him on to “make America great again,” but he has become preoccupied, apart from the sheer impossibility of his original goal, with just hanging onto office and maybe having a bit of luck here or there so that he can say, “See, I did that!”

And, boy, have we all learned how he loves to be able to say those words when it comes to just about anything, “See, I did that!” It is pathetic and childish and dangerous.

And surely at some point he has realized that his general assumptions about making the world into 1950 again are hopeless, but there is a way still to affect “America’s greatness,” and that is through the program of the power establishment and its Neocon inner cult. He has signed on with full enthusiasm to show them what he can do.

Posted December 6, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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