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John Chuckman



“’Nowhere near close:’ U.S. rebuffs Trudeau hope for quick NAFTA deal

“U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer cites ‘gaping differences’ after Trudeau says a ‘good deal’ is on the table”


This development really makes Trudeau and Freeland sound rather clueless.


Response to another comment:

There is the important point of keeping good and happy neighbors on your major borders.

I think that was unquestionably at work on the American side when the Agreement was first negotiated. America certainly was not giving stuff away, but Canada may just have received some degree of economic benefit in some of the Agreement’s terms to “buy” good will and security.

But America is a much-changed place since that time.

It is a far, far meaner place, and that is not just the effect of Trump, although he sure adds a great deal to the ugly tone.

Just look at America’s aggressive behavior all over the world. Against Russia. Against China. And the U.S. has burned down a good part of the Middle East. All of this new aggression goes back at least through three Presidents. It isn’t the individuals in office creating it, it is the power establishment they serve.

The old, sentimental U.S. of Jimmy Stewart movies is long gone. It was in fact always an illusion, but now America has stopped acting and pretending. Its power establishment, all of it, has grown quite openly ugly over the accurate perception of America’s relative economic decline in the world and over the country’s self-created financial and economic woes.

America is using the military and financial muscle that it has to bully its way to a more controlling position in the world, hoping to better control events for the future.

It is an extremely unfortunate time in which to be negotiating any kind of trade agreement with America. And I think all bets are off as to whether Canada can even succeed.

In general, big trade agreements concern more than just economics, otherwise there would be no need for elaborated negotiations and documents.

Indeed, no such agreements are true free trade.

If the parties wanted free trade, they’d just throw open the borders.

Formal “free trade” agreements create not free trade but an administered trade guided by sets of rules.

The administration of such ‘free trade” cannot escape the larger social and political environment of a country.

For example, there were a number of arbitrary American behaviors under NAFTA concerning such matters as softwood lumber and pork.

Even though the quasi-judicial mechanism of the Agreement’s administration, more often than not, found such American behavior was a violation, the U.S. often just ignored it. The behavior reflected domestic political pressure, and America responded by breaking the spirit and the letter of the Agreement a number of times.

In such a situation, there isn’t a lot you can do. Of course, either party, with proper notice, is free to withdraw from the Agreement. But accepting some loss owing to the other party’s violations would always seem better to a country like Canada than losing the entire Agreement.

A smaller country such as Canada can never really be totally secure from such actions by a much larger partner.

And now the larger partner isn’t pretending to be nice to anyone.

This, in my view, is a grave error for America’s own long-term interests, to say nothing of the world’s interests, but it nevertheless is the reality we face.

If Canada does manage to secure a new agreement, it will, to a certainty, be much diminished from the existing one. Good will in today’s America gets you a cup of coffee, if you also have two dollars.


John Chuckman



“Germany obtained novichok nerve agent sample in 1990s, reports say

“Development could help explain how Britain was able to analyse poison it says was used to attack former double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter


Oh, please, this suggestion is nothing more than a new distraction from one of the extreme implausibilities involved in the Skripal Affair. It is disinformation, based on a bit of real information, itself incomplete, and given no context.

The Czechs (and others) have made this stuff, as the government there has already told us.

Its formula was published years ago. I am sure military labs in many advanced countries, including Britain, have worked with it and have samples.

It is one of the jobs of military chemical labs is to investigate and classify the characteristics of potential chemical weapons, and the Porton Down facility, just a few miles down the road, cannot be any different in this respect.

You absolutely must administer an antidote for any nerve agent almost immediately – and there are many such agents, including Saran, VX, and Tabun. Saran, at least, is still heavily stocked in the arsenals of America and Israel.

You wouldn’t even know what antidote to administer at first, even if you suspected nerve agent, which no one did in the early period. And why would they?

The antidote must be administered in minutes, not a half hour or more later. It was that long until these people were discovered, sick on a bench, a place where still more time was consumed by emergency responders, including a local woman doctor who said she spent a half hour with the victims.

So then, the victims were eventually taken to a hospital, where they were treated how, no one having the least notion of such a poison?

And all the people handling the Skripals noticed nothing unusual in smell or appearance, and they themselves had no ill effects. One pin-point drop of nerve agent on the skin is lethal.

The Skripals are said to have been very sick, unconscious, with vomiting and diarrhea and breathing difficulties.

The emergency measures people strongly suspected a Fentanyl overdose. They are common in Salisbury.

Another strong candidate is food poisoning from the fresh shellfish pizza they had both eaten.

The whole story stinks to high heaven, still, after all this time, but the press makes no effort to investigate.

And, of course, it simply should not stink. All the facts could have been published quickly, but were not, and still have not been. Why not?

The British government simply blundered in, making public charges against a major government and taking punitive measures without one scintilla of anything a thinking person would call evidence. Almost laughable were it not such a serious matter.

And why can’t even a relative talk to them? Why can’t they be interviewed, under guard, if that is felt necessary? Bizarre.

The daughter left a whole world behind in Russia, including a fiancé, a job, and family, but no communication is allowed them?

Essentially, you are re-publishing government press releases.


 Response to another comment:

The entire business is a cover-up. Of just what? Who knows?

We don’t have the least idea what actually happened.

And the press makes no effort to find out. None, at all.

See my detailed post above.




“Sorry not sorry: is Canada apologising too much?

“Canada’s sorriest prime minister is getting on people’s nerves. ‘What else does he do, besides apologize for things that happened years and years ago’”


Trudeau is a big disappointment for many Canadians.

And despite a huge amount of public goodwill when he started out, he has achieved remarkably little of real substance.

His only great merit has been that he is not Stephen Harper, the thin-lipped, grimacing Conservative who preceded him – and whose electoral success was largely the result of the Liberal Party being in self-inflicted tatters for years. Harper ranks in the opinion of a great many Canadians as the most unpleasant personality ever to hold the office.

But you can “not be Stephen Harper” for only so long, then you really have to show what you are. So far, it’s not too promising, I am sorry to say.

John Chuckman



‘US Ambassador Nikki Haley tells UN ‘no country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has’”


The woman is a gorilla in designer clothes.


Response to a comment, “The arrogant cynicism of these people is beyond belief”:

Yes, it truly is.

We’ve passed from polite pretense in American foreign affairs into gross crudity.

Americans can now have no claims to moral superiority over any hateful tyranny you care to name.

Trump has surrounded himself with the most grotesque retinue imaginable – Haley, Pompeo, Bolton, Haspel, and others.

My God, any of these people, born many decades earlier and in Germany, would have been leading figures in the Third Reich, serving it happily. They really are that ghastly, the lot of them.

The United States can no longer lose moral ground, it simply has none. Washington operates from a thick haze of lies and greed and brutality.

Many once thought of America as “Leader of the Free World.” Well, that expression today doesn’t even qualify as sarcasm.

John Chuckman



Churchill Had Stalin Killed, US Bombed Russian Far East in 50s – Top Russian Official (Video – Mikhail Poltoranin)

“We hid this from the rest of the world?  –  We hid a lot of things. Actually, we live in a fog of historical myth…”


Astounding stuff, if true.

There have always been questions about the death of Stalin, of course.

But this set of assertions is something I’ve never heard of. They are to be taken seriously coming from such an expert on the archives.

If true, all the major Stalin biographers of recent years are in error.

Would it be possible to do a follow-up article on this?

A few more details would be appreciated.

As for Churchill, his reputation in the West has never reflected the true man.

He is the one who started the bombing of civilians in cities in Germany before Germany bombed England.

He was a true imperialist, a war monger, and a considerable racist.

He was quite ruthless in enforcing order in the Empire where he had anything to do with it. Nothing wrong in his mind with machine-gunning down restless natives.

In private, he laughed about meeting the average British voter on the hustings. Never mind all that sentimental clap-trap about democracy.

I believe from his memoirs he actually had rather a grudging admiration for Stalin in private.


Response to a comment:

Yes, I know Churchill fairly well, having read several of the major biographies as well as his own set of books on the war.

I’ve never heard anything like that about Roosevelt. He really was a very sick man when he died, supposedly of a stroke, although, I note there was a book saying he actually had cancer which he kept hidden.

But anything is possible with the powerful, as I’ve well learned.

In general, it is not sheer ability or heroism or principles which guide major leaders, it is greed for money and/or power or some blinding driving ideology, and they faithfully serve those who can offer them what they want.

All the modern European history since the Enlightenment, with rise of voting and rights, etc., has a good deal of falsehood to it. Money still rules in society, with the very odd exception here or there. And of course, some wealthy people are a little more generous in their attitudes than others.

Political structures are arranged so that, despite elections, nothing can go too far from where those with money want to see it go. Some societies, as in the US, are just more blatant about it.


John Chuckman



“Emily Thornberry claims public support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has been ‘underestimated’

“Shadow foreign secretary refuses to denounce Russia for vetoing UN Security Council resolutions”


You bet it has.

He has long had a popular following.

Syria’s Christians, too, regard him as a genuine protector of their rights, and he is.

Syria’s army has remained loyal despite six years of the most horrible war induced by outsiders supporting mercenary armies of fake jihadis to destroy the country.

Until the outsiders decided to start destroying this beautiful land, it was at peace under Assad.

Indeed, when you consider the totality of residents, say, in Israel, including of course the poor Palestinians held in perpetual bondage with no rights and endless abuse, Syria to an objective observer was a better place than Israel, despite all Israel’s blubbering about democracy.

And the series of massacres we see in Gaza underlines that even to a greater extent. This is the third wave of mass killings by the Netanyahu government, and that’s apart from all its hostilities carried out abroad, including being a major player in Syria’s misery.

John Chuckman



“Election success for Muqtada al-Sadr shows Iraqi voters shaking off foreign intervention

“Analysis: Nationalist populist has always rejected any external presence in his country, be it the UK, Iran or the US’



The country is still occupied.

And the CIA has built itself a massive fortress-embassy there.

Also, I do object to the Orwellian euphemism, “intervention.” It was an invasion, a massive, totally illegal invasion.


Response to a comment:

Americans support democracies they like, and they overthrow democracies they don’t like. They’ve done so many times.

The key words for America are not about “democracy,’ they are “we like.”

Dictators, kings, and tyrants are treated in an identical fashion. There are ones “we like” and ones “we don’t like.”

John Chuckman



“The Guardian Publishes Smear Against Isolated, Arbitrarily Confined Journalist Julian Assange”


The Guardian is shamelessly prejudiced in many things.

Despite its old identity of a sober left-wing voice, its current management has turned it into an establishment mouthpiece which fogs its trail with loads of silly articles about millennial angst and fluff.

It stands today squarely for a Tony Blair-type Labour Party, attacks the party’s actual leader, Jeremy Corbyn, countless times, and it ceaselessly runs mindless items on anti-Semitism in Britain.

It is virulently anti-Russian, showing no understanding at all. For days, it ran articles with no facts supporting the government on the phony Skripal Affair and on the phony gas attack in Douma, Syria. Commenting was excluded. It is slavishly pro-American, as was its criminal hero, Tony Blair. Virtually no article relating to Israel is ever open to comment.

Assange is without question one of the most honorable figures in our world, and of course The Guardian doesn’t like him. He made some of its heroes look bad, as in the case of Hillary Clinton, for whom during the election, the paper did daily rhetorical somersaults and backflips to praise and encourage.

Readers may enjoy:



John Chuckman



“Solo: A Star Wars Story review – Han Solo origins film is boisterous bromance’


Beyond tiresome.

In creative terms, Star Wars has been the living dead since the first film.

And what a pathetically dull vision of space and other worlds.

Battleships and guns strapped to hips.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find the Pentagon offers quiet support here to fire-up young male minds for war.

After all, the Pentagon, some years ago, began paying the NFL to have the players come out and stand on the football field for the national anthem. It increases military recruitment.

Before that, the players just stayed inside until the game actually started.

Star Wars is, after all, Disney now. Long a source of the mother’s milk of fantasies making friendly and cozy the working of the American empire.


John Chuckman



“How huge dinosaurs nested without crushing their eggs

“Larger oviraptosaurs laid eggs in a stacked ring to keep eggs close without sitting on them’


I just love the pictures of the fossilized ring of eggs from China.

My God, they have done some amazing paleontology in China in recent years.

Things such as this and the discovery of dinosaur feathers.

Concepts of dinosaurs from the time I was a boy have changed remarkably. Their variety of types, their characteristics are a new world compared to the wonderful old murals of big reptiles by Charles R. Knight in old museums such as the Field Museum in Chicago.

John Chuckman



“Modigliani’s Nu Couché is a trite pastiche – and the buyers saw through the hype”

I don’t understand even that amount.

While I sometimes like Modigliani, this particular painting reminds me of commercial art, advertising art. A poster.

It’s, to my mind, very self-conscious, much like a figure suggesting why don’t you smoke Kools or drink Pepsi?

The distance between this and Ingres or Titian is close to infinite.

John Chuckman



“Assange BETRAYED: Ecuador Negotiates With UK to Hand Him Over

“Ecuador’s leadership continues alarming remarks that it may hand over Assange to authorities”


He is one of the most important and principled and thoughtful men of our time.

He made a lot of other people think and gave them something to think about.

He brought more truth to light than all the pathetic major Western corporate press put together.

A man dedicated to rule of law, democratic rights, freedom of speech, opposition to tyranny and oppression, and an inspiration to others.

If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it’s Assange, but I know perfectly well the sniveling Norwegian Nobel Committee that hands them out would never do that.

But isn’t this to be expected in a corrupt society, which establishment Britain most certainly is?

Remember Doctor Stockmann in Ibsen’s moving play, “An Enemy of the People”?

Nothing has changed. Those who, in any way, threaten the comfort of those with power are considered a threat to society.

John Chuckman



“Should President Trump Have Moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?”


Trump is just trying to buy his 2020 election. Principles get tossed. Israel’s Lobby in America will see that he gets what he needs.

Trump’s decision is totally illegal under international law and has no sanction from the UN.

But that kind of thing has never bothered Israel, the world’s worst country so far as law-breaking and violating all principles of rule of law are concerned.

And the US anymore is not far behind. It has evolved into a truly ugly thing once outside of its borders. Extrajudicial killing. Torture. Coups. Mercenary wars. Pushing people around everywhere. Always ordering sanctions without any compliance with international institutions. Just a rogue state.

It almost makes me ill to my stomach to see someone using the friendly nickname “Bibi,” as this author does, for one of the world’s greatest mass killers (he’s into his third Gaza massacre plus lots of other bloodshed) and a figure of utter corruption, Netanyahu.

This article is replete with ignorant statements. It’s a mind-numbing collection of clap-trap propaganda for anyone who knows anything.

Just consider this absurdity: “the Middle East doesn’t just belong to the Muslims, it belongs to Christians and Jews alike.”

No, it belongs to the people who live there, the people of each country and community, including the great diversity of Syrians and the people of Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

What we see in and from Israel is simply the ugly and dangerous principle of might makes right and absolutely nothing else.

You know that was the principle guiding all of our past dictators and tyrants.

Readers may enjoy:


Response to another reader’s comment:

Yes, well said.

We hear endlessly from lobby organizations about increasing “anti-Semitism” in the “West.”

Many of the claims, taken from data bases maintained by Jewish organizations, are likely spurious or counted in such a fashion that many would not agree. You have to analyze data before you just accept it as valid. someone with pre-conceived notions ticking off boxes on a form does not necessarily constitute valid data recording.

However, it is impossible that there would not be seriously negative feelings aroused in tens of millions of people by Israel’s barbaric and savage behavior right before cameras and witnesses.

There is no other appropriate description for what is going on in Israel than “Nazi-like.’

And there’s Trump’s ridiculous daughter, smiling and twirling around in a costly dress, at the front door of this new (illegal) embassy while people are shot down by the score as though they were unwanted wild dogs.

It is chilling beyond words.

And I think it is going to become something of a turning point. It is too gross and overwhelming, and there will be effects for the horrible government of Israel.



I note in this morning’s papers that the government of Israel has just threatened publicly to kill Gaza’s leader, the head of the Hamas Party, if he does not stop holding public demonstrations.

Well, “the Middle East’s only democracy” has spoken, and you had better listen.

I guess Israeli soldiers are fatigued by yesterday’s heavy work of wounding 2,400 people and killing 58, six of whom were children. Even “the world’s most moral army” has its limits.

John Chuckman



“I’m Just a Girl Who Likes to Tweet About Syria – I’m Real’ – We Chat with Sarah Abdallah, the Girl the BBC Loves to Hate

“… yes I am a real person. Yes, I’m the girl in the photos; these are my personal photos. Yes, I operate my own Twitter account (and all my other social media accounts) all by myself.”

Sarah Abdallah is a rather remarkable young woman.

There’s no question that in matters of substance here, Sarah has it right.

I look at some British papers daily on-line, and I am well aware of the various efforts made to “muddy the waters” as it were, just as with the ceaseless attacks on Russia, one of the only sane players in the region.

I also think that the equilibrium she demonstrates, as about what happened in Lebanon’s past, is at the level of some good statesman.

That is a fairly rare capacity, and it is very much needed for Syria’s ability to get through all the horrors they have had inflicted on them by outsiders – eg., by America, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France, and, originally, Turkey.

You really have to wonder how the leaders in some of those countries can get to sleep at night.

But apparently, they do. Of course, the usurper Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia helps himself get to sleep, it is said, by counting heads chopped off.

John Chuckman



“Why Trump’s presidency is almost identical to Boris Yeltsin’s Russian premiership

“Trump is often compared to other political figures from US history, including Richard Nixon, but perhaps the most striking parallel of all is not with a figure from the American past but with a Russian: Boris Yeltsin, post-Soviet Russia’s first president”


I thought this a good piece.

There’s some I disagree with, but it is definitely well worth reading.

Yeltsin was an interesting public figure, although without a doubt, a very destructive one.

But one can say that of many figures in history. In America, Lyndon Johnson is a strong example. Very able in political machinations, but a failed leader with his personal qualities of deviousness and greed driving him to disaster.

So, too, Trump, although a far less interesting and sympathetic figure. He’s actually a pretty twisted personality with his teetotaling ways – please remember, Hitler was a teetotaler – and his complete wrong-headedness in listening to the words of others. In that, he is like a very egocentric child.

The relationship with the daughter is also strange. She has been proven to be a not a very capable person. She’s not even charming, as both she and daddy very much think she is. She shares his ego, almost like the Greek myth where three sisters shared an eye.

Her and Daddy’s performance at a world summit was breathtakingly dumb. All the leaders have kids or grandkids they could have insisted on putting into official group pictures of leaders, but only Trump did it and only Ivanka was thick enough to smilingly go through with it with no sense of embarrassment over her performance in front of infinitely more qualified and experienced people.

The Trumps have proven to be genuine American grotesques.

There was an underlying appealing human quality in Yeltsin that is missing almost completely from Trump. One would likely have enjoyed sharing a bottle with Yeltsin while vigorously chatting away, as many did.

But we got Trump through the badly-failed American political system. A choice between Trump and Clinton? What kind of a “choice” was that?

America has just reached a stage of corruption I think with no turning back. Money is totally at the center of national politics, and big money means only big and powerful interests having any influence. It has pretty much reached the stage of a plutocracy which goes through an elaborate and costly play of elections, elections in which only the wealthy and influential have any role that counts. The ordinary voter is treated like the ordinary consumer, someone to be subjected to immense campaigns of advertising and marketing. The establishment wins no matter what the outcome because both parties vet candidates to be acceptable to imperial interests.

Now, Trump slipped through that vetting process as a genuine political outsider who only succeeded because the Democrats insisted on running the very much disliked Hillary Clinton. And Americans do like mavericks, which is what Trump seemed to be, but he has proven to be quite the opposite of a maverick.

The establishment took him by the hand very early and explained the rules of the game, which he has embraced enthusiastically, with virtually every maverick hint or suggestion from his campaign forgotten. Get along better with Russia? Get out of Syria, leaving it to the Russians to clean up? Why can’t Israel pay for its own defense? Why is the Middle East on fire? Those and other important questions are gone, leaving something which is almost pathetically laughable, a big-mouthed provincial who blunders around, posing for pictures with stern face and jutted jaw, while carrying out his establishment-set tasks faithfully.

The egomaniacal signatures on documents in almost Crayola-thick lettering ten inches high are held proudly before the cameras each time, as if to say, see, folks, I signed an order. He’s an embarrassment to many Americans of both parties, but so long as he does what he is supposed to do, he is tolerated by the people who matter.

Trump is making an unholy mess of the Middle East for that very reason of America’s money-drenched politics. He knows he will need a lot of money for any chance of success in 2020, so he caters to the likes of multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson to get it. And money does matter – for advertising, for polls, for marketing, for travel, for campaign-stop preparations, for clever organizational people, for speech-writers, for bands, for flags, for make-up, for photographers, and on and on. American elections have very costly production values.

So does good press, and I thought from the start the embassy move to Jerusalem, a completely unnecessary, clumsy, and complicating act, was about securing some more sympathetic press for the future. It is just a fact that virtually all of America’s high-end press and broadcasting are in hands very sympathetic with Israel. At any rate, there was nowhere to go but up from what he experienced in his campaign.

Adelson eats and breathes Israel. It is hard to understand why he spends any time in America except that it is where the source of his wealth is located and it is the location of politicians to influence on Israel’s behalf.

The proven psychopath, Netanyahu, is always ready to encourage and flatter, too, as with a new Israeli coin to be issued with Trump’s portrait commemorating the foolish embassy re-location to Jerusalem. It’s all a pretty sick way – real insider, money-driven stuff – to make policy affecting hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East.

Policy artificially constructed to benefit a few million in Israel against the interests of hundreds of millions of others is not sound and is mighty dangerous stuff, but for all one can see, Trump never gives it a thought, but then neither does a great part of the American establishment, some maybe being quite happy in private that Trump can take the flak for doing what they wanted done. Israel is a cozy partner with the American political establishment and powerful agencies like CIA.

In matters like that, Trump does act much like a drunken Yeltsin dancing around.

Trump’s situation is also complicated by the American establishment’s own perception of the country’s relative decline in the world – an inevitability given that “the American Dream” was built on the temporary circumstances of the post-WWII – and its determination of how to react, which is extremely aggressively, as though they thought it possible to bully their way through continued leadership in a changed world. A big-mouthed bully like Trump is only too glad to accommodate and act as though he is leading the charge.

Trump’s showy ego and empty knowledge enable him to play the role of vainglorious fool leading the enterprise. Things here get very muddled with the powerful role of the Neocons who advocate an aggressive America, the better to defend Israel. Trump is now thoroughly caught in a thick web of these interests. And one can have no trust in his ability to negotiate his or America’s way.

Trump also is a prisoner of American Nativism, people with baseball caps comprising his primary political base. It is odd that this group so embrace a billionaire wheeler-dealer from New York, New York City for many of them always having represented almost a symbol of Eastern putridness, but they very much do. Just as a lot of Christian fundamentalists embrace this worldly, cynical, and often quite immoral man (as a recently married man paying for sex with a porn star) and he has no church affiliation. This base support represents another dangerous situation, especially where matters of migration and religious identity are concerned. These are groups which do not care that Trump, the supposed super-Patriot, weaseled his way out of military service, so long as he salutes the flag and condemns (legitimate) shows of protest at football games. Facts don’t matter to people who don’t think.

John Chuckman



“BAE Systems ‘does not know’ if British weapons used to commit war crimes, chairman admits

“Chairman told shareholders gathered at the company’s annual general meeting they were not complicit in war crimes allegedly committed by Saudi Arabia using BAE-made planes and bombs in Yemen.”


Well, something we have learned just recently is that Britain has been using thermobaric bombs in Syria. I am not aware of the manufacturer, but the Ministry of Defence apparently accidentally revealed they are used from drones.

These horrible weapons are like a hi-tech version of fire-bombing in WWII.

They use the oxygen in the air to create an extremely intense force, the pressure alone can crush internal organs.

This is barbaric. No wonder the British press is always going on with security service disinformation about Assad’s army using poison gas and “barrel” bombs.

John Chuckman



“The Iraqi elections and the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem will illuminate the damage Trump has really done to the Middle East

“As one commentator put it, there are more unpredictable ‘moving parts’ than ever before in the different crises, parts which may break loose at any moment”


Response to a comment about Israel and Saudi Arabia:


Actually, they are somewhat like two peas in a pod.

They have secretly worked together for years, as in Syria.

Of course, all their mutual work is destructive to others, others who do not toe the American imperial line.

These two states have a very great deal in common, as might not be clear at first glance, including intense antipathy towards democracy in the region or towards independent-minded nationalistic leaders like Assad or Qaddafi. I know, I know that sounds odd to some who embrace that advertising slogan, “The Middle East’s only democracy,” but is true.

Israel loves dictators and absolute monarchs around it. It loves people like Mubarak or el-Sisi who keep their people in line. It loves the King of Jordan. The Saudi Crown, too, now that it no longer embraces its pre-9/11 attitudes. It cannot stand genuine democracies around it, which is why it hates Hamas and hated the first elected government of Egypt. Iraq is okay because it was half destroyed and is still heavily occupied by America.

You could credibly argue that Israel’s presence and influence are important explanations for the retarded development of democracy in the region.

Both states, Israel and Saudi Arabia, represent privilege, the privilege of birth and wealth in Saudi Arabia’s case, and the privilege of massive foreign subsidy plus a large population of people alien to the region in Israel.

They both have their extremist sects, but the Wahhabi, I do not believe, have driven Saudi policies quite the way settler/orthodox types have in Israel.

That’s because in part Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. Its leaders only have to appear to be respecting the religious views of their extremists. They know how to fake it. And most of those princes are extremely corrupt too, religious devotion being a necessary pretense between fly-overs to Vegas’ sin pits.

Israel is an impossible mess of a kind of democracy (what kind of democracy has pretty much only one class of people who can vote and accepts only one category of people for in-migration? The kind we called the American Confederacy and the kind we called Nationalist South Africa) with an electorate so splintered that coalitions with the settler/orthodox types are always necessary. So, these unbalanced people drive much of Israeli policy. The lunatics really are running the asylum.

Saudi Arabia has been reaching out for American approval and acceptance since 9/11 when they very much feared American military action. That’s why it has secretly cooperated with Israel in a list of things since that time. Syria, Yemen, etc. For America’s establishment, that is the acid-test of having the right attitude.

The Saudis earned a place at the table, so to speak, and now have gone even further with the new usurper Crown Prince beginning to be open about what was secret. And look at how he has been rewarded, with the sale of hundreds of billions in American weapons, making Saudi Arabia a regional military heavyweight (something that Israel would never have allowed at an earlier time, but he is family now), and a grand American tour visiting many important national figures. In the corporate press of Britain and America, there have been the most transparent attempts to build his image as a reformer (possibly the world’s first usurper-killer-kidnapper-thief reformer). He even talks about developing nuclear weapons, predicated on Iran’s obtaining them, without a word of reprimand from Washington.

John Chuckman



“The royal wedding: is there too much TV coverage of Meghan and Harry’s big day?” 


You must be kidding? We’re drowning in this treacle.

And why are newspapers left out?

There is at least one little real lesson in this.

And that is the illusion that the press and broadcasting are able to produce and sustain that something of importance or significance is happening.

That in the face of the manifest truth that any royal wedding is close to meaningless, and that this particular one sets a record for vapidity.

Intensely ambitious, aging B-actress is determined to marry a Prince who has, time and again, demonstrated himself as unbalanced and uninteresting. So what?

By the way, that ability to create and sustain a public illusion plays a much more consequential role in foreign affairs, as we can see with recent events in Syria or Russia or Salisbury.

John Chuckman



“Hamas Gaza leader hints at mass breach of Israel border fence as he compares Palestinians to ‘starving tiger’

“Analysis: In his first briefing to foreign press since taking his position, Yahya Sinwar makes clear just how desperate the people of Gaza have become”


He’s only right.

And it’s not a threat.

It just is a reality Israel ignores.

When Russia went into its terrible decline after the fall of the USSR, there was a similar possibility for Europe.

America ignored it, thinking cynically any hurt to Russia was good for America, just the way Israel thinks about Gaza.

But Germany thought very differently at the time and gave billions in assistance to Russia. It was humanitarian, but it was also out of fear of millions of desperate people migrating.

You know, General Dayan, after his victory in Israel’s planned Six Day War conquering the territories still occupied half a century later, said it would be necessary to make the Palestinians miserable so that they would want to leave.

Well, that’s just what Israel has done for all those years, but nowhere more so than in Gaza. Every past Israeli Prime Minister has given desperate thought to getting rid of Gaza, a place which started as a giant refugee camp for people running from Israel’s 1949 terrors. One Israeli Prime Minister was quoted saying he had nightmares over Gaza.

Well, the blood-soaked hands of Netanyahu have made a heroic effort to do what eluded others. Three mass slaughters, an immoral years-long blockade, and a host of unbelievably abusive measures stretching from turning electricity off to spraying large swathes of land with dangerous herbicides.

It is a humanitarian disaster, and the West’s governments just ignore it and let Israel carry right on. Our press and others go on and on about the Rohingya crisis in Burma, and it is a crisis, but here in Gaza we have something just as terrible before our vey eyes, something not being conducted by a junta as in Burma, but by a self-proclaimed democratic government which supposedly adheres to Western principles. A government whose leader repeatedly calls a gang of bloody murderers “the most moral army in the world.”

John Chuckman



“As a former diplomat to the US, I know how Britain needs to respond to Trump after his Iran deal decision with realism

“European leaders have to deal with the president they have, not the one they wish they had”


The piece starts off well, but then goes downhill.

Europe should start to pull its weight in NATO? That sounds like Trump.

In fact, Europe should work towards its own defense and saying good-bye to NATO. It would be the most adult thing that it could do, as well as being something very much in its own long-term interests.

NATO was created in 1949. That was literally in another era. It offered defense to a war-weakened Europe against legitimately-feared possible aggression by the USSR still led by Stalin and with its massive war-winning Red Army intact.

In normal life and in government – yes, government can be quite a different thing from normal life – it is not often that a special-purpose costly institution still operates nearly three-quarters of a century later. Everything you can name has changed dramatically in that time. The nature of Russia. The nature of Europe. And certainly, the nature of America. Computers. The Internet. Satellites. The very nature of weapons.

NATO in its original role has been obsolete for a very long time, even in the later years of the USSR when it certainly had ceased being an imminent threat and focused on trying to live compatibly with “the West.” That phrase, “the West,” is one I do not especially like because it was fixed in Cold war thinking, but it is still sometimes used.

It almost reminds of something from the early days of one of America’s Neocon Wars of recent years. I think it was during the invasion of Iraq, when the sometimes very silly New York Times started using the WWII expression “GIs” to try sentimentalizing the fact that non-conscript, professional American armies were busy with an illegal invasion and a great deal of killing.

With America’s new Russophobia, its efforts at firing up Cold War 2.0, there has been an effort to re-spark the old purpose, but it is welcomed not even half-heartedly. Europeans understand the situation. Many of the leaders know Putin personally and get on well with him. They know also the feeble ineffective and remarkably corrupt government America installed in Ukraine with its five-billion-dollar coup there. So, while Europe plays along with the American game of rolling tanks up to the border, its heart is very much not in it.

Well, America quite some time ago “re-purposed” NATO, rather than see such a large organization fade naturally as it should, it now serves new American purposes.

One, something never discussed in public but an implicit fact, NATO represents a kind of peaceful occupation of Europe, which is, after all, a potential world rival in trade and other matters. Europe’s political tone is definitely affected, its outspokenness muted, by this de facto occupation.

Two, America now uses NATO as a kind of elaborate theatrical convenience with much of its imperial dirty work abroad. Newspaper headlines, back home, no longer read, “US jets bomb such and such.” They read instead, “NATO jets bomb such and such.” This creates an implicit sense of “Western” consensus. “Hey, folks, this is not just another squalid little American imperial war, it’s the ‘West’ taking action against bad guys, various swarthy third-world nasties.”

Three, Europe is pressured to buy costly American weapons systems such as the Trident submarine or the F-35 fighter. This provides the Pentagon with subsidies for some of its sinfully expensive projects. Arguments include notions like we should have standardized and interchangeable weapons, but also arguments along the lines of if we’re defending you, you should buy from us. Of course, this only more tightly binds Europe to America. In effect, Europe is at least partially removed as a competitor in the huge world arms market that America literally dominates.

Overlooked is the fact of an organization long ago created for Europe being bent out of shape in places like Libya or Afghanistan. Overlooked also is the fact that what was a defensive organization has been turned into one for aggression.

None of this is in Europe’s long-term interest, to say nothing of the entire world’s interests.

Trump’s ugly bullying – in everything from who you may buy natural gas from and whom you should trade and do deals with to how much you should spend in your budgets – hopefully may create a European backlash that may see work towards a new more appropriate order.

Remarkably, Mrs. Merkel herself has suggested something along these lines, and she is not known for opposing American policies. She has stated more than once Europe cannot now see America as a dependable partner, and she is right. The destruction of the Iran nuclear agreement is just one major recent example pointing to the truth of the assessment.

It was an act which can only bring instability and danger and which reduces the readiness of anyone to take America’s promises seriously. Here was a perfectly-operating agreement, a fact with which all experts agreed, serving peace and non-proliferation just wantonly destroyed, as by an angry child.

And when America starts pressuring its new unfair sanctions against a peaceful Iran upon European governments and companies, there is going to be some unholy arguments. Of course, in effect, when America plays these ugly games with sanctions, it is effectively being protectionist for its own industries.

John Chuckman



“Defiant Russia showcases new weapons in Victory Day parade

“Moscow debuts new hypersonic missile systems, drones, robotic fighting vehicles and stealth fighter jets’


“Defiant Russia showcases new weapons in Victory Day parade’?

Really shabby headline.

Why is this characterized as “defiant”?

It is Russia’s Victory Day, the most important day in their calendar, marking the most colossal event in all of human history, Russia’s defeat of Germany.

The Soviets lost 27, 000, 000 souls in an effort which dwarf’s the efforts of Britain or France or America. It dwarfs the toll of the Holocaust, too.

In the course of it, they experienced such events as most of us cannot even imagine.

The greatest single battle in all of history at Stalingrad. The greatest tank battle ever fought at Kursk. The terrifying siege of Leningrad which saw about a million perish.

They have every right and duty to parade and commemorate such events. And to remind the world of who actually won the war and defeated Germany. Three out of every four German soldiers killed in the war were killed by Soviets.

And, yes, it is an opportunity to display some new forces and weapons, but, my God, Russia is being threatened at this moment by the United States and its cowardly and unquestioning allies in Europe.

You’ve rolled tanks up right to their border, military planes approach their skies regularly, military ships are in the Black Sea and the Baltic, Russia’s leader is openly maligned, irrational sanctions are imposed regularly, it has been ringed with missiles, and America instigated a paid coup in Ukraine against a democratic government right on Russia’s doorstep, installing an incompetent government which has sent Ukraine’s economy into a tailspin.

Do you have no understanding?

John Chuckman



“Doctor For Billionaire Sex Slave Ring NXIVM, Charged for Conducting Horrific Human Experiments”


Pretty horrifying stuff.

We always like to comfort ourselves with naive notions such as the Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan or other twisted organizations are the locus of human depravity.

And if they are just defeated or eliminated, society can go back to normality.

But, no, depravity is a quality found here and there throughout the entire human population.

Of course, I’ll just add that the kind of stuff done on an official-government level by the United States in Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and a whole lot of other places is exactly of the same nature, as is the grisly work of Israel in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and other places.

And I could not have imagined as a young man, growing up in America, a time coming when the United States would have an entire industry in the grisly work of extrajudicial killing, much like the old military junta in Argentina which used to make people disappear off the streets regularly. No charges, no trial, no rights – just a name on a “Kill List” and incineration by Hellfire missile.

Of course, all the actual American targets are completely legally innocent, but the teams of killers at computer screens also frequently incinerate others, too, the kind of bystanders the Pentagon likes to label “collateral damage.”

One can get a remarkable perspective on the journey America has traveled by comparing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to a copy of a Kill List.

It’s been a remarkable trip, from idealistic aspirations about liberty and rights, straight to hell.

John Chuckman



“Putin to be inaugurated for fourth term as Russian president with lavish ceremony in former tsars’ throne room”


What rubbish propaganda this article is.

My God, the American President is inaugurated with the most lavish set of ceremonies and entertainments on earth.

Russia keeps and uses its historical buildings and furniture for many occasions. It is ridiculous to associate that with the suggestion of Putin’s being a Czar.

As far as your “hundreds of demonstrators arrested,” please keep in mind that American police actually kill more than 1, 100 citizens on the streets each year, most of them unarmed.

Keep in mind, too, that America maintains the largest prison population of earth, by far exceeding that of any other country. And America has some of the most brutal prisons on the planet, the so-called Super-Max prisons, which are literally a national disgrace.

America has about one percent of its entire population in prisons and jails. Another full two percent of its population is on probation or parole. That makes literally millions of citizens.

Not only that, but in many parts of the US, convicted felons lose the right to vote. You effectively stop being a citizen. It is an extremely harsh place.

And how about Israel’s platoons of snipers almost daily shooting and killing unarmed Gaza protesters? Imagine, posting snipers, some of whom use dum-dum bullets, to confront unarmed protesters?

Israel also keeps something like 7,000 Palestinians in prison without any legal charges or trial. They are subjected to stress and torture, too, as we well know.

This is a country where a young girl, Ahed Tamimi, 17 years old, is sent to prison for merely slapping the face of an insulting and brutal Israeli soldier.

And this is country where a government official recently said in public that she should at least have been shot in the kneecap.

And it is only recently revealed in a published book that Israel has conducted at least 2,700 assassinations.

Putin’s Russia looks like Nirvana by comparison.

John Chuckman



“The War on Iran Has Already Begun — and Russia Must End It

“The destruction of states such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iran will isolate Russia when its own turn comes”


An interesting and perceptive article.

While offering genuine insight into what is taking place, it also is rather bleak and distressing.

Russia is in a critical position, and failure to act, after all the hard work in Syria and other places, would be extremely dangerous long term.

Iran is clearly in Washington’s cross-hairs, and largely owing to the inordinate influence and rather savage demands of Israel, its de facto colony. America has already worked to destroy Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and others for the benefit of Israel and what it narrowly sees as its interests in the Middle East.

If Iran is allowed to be destroyed or dismembered, it represents the loss of a very substantial ally, and there is little doubt who is next on the checklist.

I think there can be little doubt that somewhere in Pentagon and CIA vaults, there are plans – likely various and alternate ones – for the destruction of Russia, or at least for its dismemberment.

“Delenda est Carthago” is truly what the establishment in Washington thinks to itself. The place is rife with hostile words and the smell of aroused hormones twenty-four hours a day now. The American press, while it may not be much for conveying the news, conveys this reality unmistakably.

This is an establishment clearly dedicated to dominating the planet militarily now that it understands its economy is in relative decline in an evolving world, an economy with no hope of regaining anything like the accidental golden period of post WWII. And America’s Neocons, out of their own concerns for reborn Israel, are on the sidelines cheering all the way.

I am not even sure there can be any effective opposition anymore in America. Both major parties are committed to American imperial efforts completely. One is no better than the other, both hiding ugly drives under the guise of that American secular religion called Patriotism, much as the brutal Crusades of the Middle Ages hid their greed and bloodlust behind a symbol of Christianity.

And American society at large, under the pretext of international terror, has been totally wired and rigged to detect and deal with opposition. The gigantic security establishment – 17 agencies and all of them better funded than you can imagine – is unprecedented in American history for its elaborate spying and snooping and interfering, but then so is the entire arrogant, imperious attitude of America’s establishment.

That is an absolutely deadly mixture brewing and bubbling away. It is hard even to imagine it changing anytime soon.  An economic catastrophe, which in one form or another is definitely on the horizon, may contribute to its fizzling out, but that is not at all certain. The establishment in Washington is better insulated against shocks than most parts of American society. Trump’s maladroit efforts on trade and other matters will only hasten its coming and perhaps deepen its effects.

Russia is the only country now capable of obliterating America, so unless it chooses unilaterally to disarm and commit itself to Washington’s tender mercies, it will remain a menace to American plans for complete dominance.

We’ve already seen numerous moves – some big, some small – along this line with Chechnya, Ukraine, Armenia, sending tanks and troops to Russian borders, ringing Russia with anti-missile missiles, readiness to nullify important treaties like INF, committing a fortune to new-generation nuclear weapons, a stream of contrived personal attacks on Putin, sanctions and still more sanctions, pressuring other countries not to buy Russian goods and weapons, and many others, some of which would not be public knowledge.

It is already pretty close to war by another name.