Thursday, May 24, 2018
WHAT TRUMP IS DOING IN JERUSALEM AND WHY HE IS DOING IT?
“‘Declaration of war’: Trump’s Jerusalem decision lights Middle East powder keg” - Russia Today
Trump does seem like a dangerous idiot suddenly and unexpectedly set loose on the world of international affairs, a world which normally assumes an appearance of restraint and order and careful words.
With virtually everything he touches, he resembles a big, ungainly child breaking things – International trade agreements, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Russia, and, now, Jerusalem.
He seems to enjoy creating new problems and tensions, he does it so much. It’s certainly a way to maintain yourself as the center of attention, much as with his stream of “tweets,” only notable for their ability to shock and surprise millions unused to such words from a man in high office.
Trump’s psychological make-up has something in it of the Oscar Wilde line about it being better to be talked about badly than not talked about at all.
Of course, there is only one explanation for this decision on moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.
It is not an act to promote peace in the region. It is not even an act in America’s own long-term interest. Quite the opposite, indeed. It goes against the cautions expressed by many statesmen. And Trump is not religious, neither Jewish nor a practicing Christian, so Jerusalem and efforts to push dusty old Biblical texts into contemporary world affairs mean nothing to him.
Netanyahu is known to have heavily lobbied for this move, over and over. And we know from the inadvertent testimony some years back of high-level witnesses – former Presidents Sarkozy of France and Obama of the United States - what a relentless, headache-inducing man Netanyahu can be. Obama opined to Sarkozy, during an accidental open-mic event, about having to deal with daily calls from him after Sarkozy had complained about having to deal with him.
Trump has most certainly been assured that there will be favorable reciprocity for his taking this action, and deals are what Trump likes. There simply can be no other motive for what he is doing. What form could that reciprocity take, apart from generous campaign contributions, which are perhaps less needed by billionaire Trump than most other candidates?
Trump is a man with a massive, unquenchable ego, and he is undoubtedly tired of being attacked in the press. He has had a terrible time with the press - the big national press, what the British used to call “the quality press,” both print and broadcast - where he has been treated in a relentlessly hostile manner.
It is not prejudice to observe, but simply a fact, that a large portion of America's high-end press and broadcasting is owned and managed by Jewish Americans.
And the practice of that press’s journalism always has been to treat Israel extremely favorably, whatever views, liberal or conservative, they may take of domestic American affairs. As just one example, the New York Times has long had the practice of submitting all stories concerning Israel to the official Israeli censor before publication, hardly the stuff of unbiased journalism.
So, it is probable that we will see a definite, but gradual, change in the tone of Trump's treatment by the press.
Any easing of the intense opposition to him, any effort to make him look more sensible and friendly and palatable, especially in the high-end press, can only ease the constant controversy under which he works and help his chances for re-election.
Remember, we know from his own words, Trump relishes being regarded as “presidential,” even if he is so frequently incapable of behaving so. He likes dressing “white tie” even if his conversation resembles that of the manager of a small trailer park in Arizona on the Mexican border who sells XXX videos as a sideline.
Trump’s action, of course, means that any Democratic candidate in 2020 will be at a disadvantage publicity-wise, unless that candidate raises the Israel-Palestine stakes still higher. Which is always possible. Just consider the past words and acts of a number of Democratic candidates, as for example, Hillary Clinton, who was once recorded screeching insanely that she was ready wipe Iran, a country of about 80 million people, off the map.
This explains just one of the reasons Trump’s action is not in his country’s long-term interest. America has suffered a great deal already in a bidding war that way, a bidding war for press support and campaign funds, over the narrow interests of a small country which seems never to be able to live in peace with its neighbors and seems always to demand increasing levels of American support and subsidy.
Israel is a country which seems incapable of controlling its behavior, but it one also blessed with the extraordinary birthright resource of a large and successful and influential group of co-religionists in America plus an even larger population of Christian fundamentalists who regard the plain nightmare madness of the Book of Revelations as sacred text and promise.
Never mind what Trump’s act does for international affairs. The contemporary American view, and certainly the view of Trump, is that most of “those people” out there don’t count anyway, especially most of the Muslim world.
After all, America has spent the last decade and a half killing about two million of them, creating countless refugees, and literally destroying several countries. And the last year’s rhetoric from Trump and some of his supporters might well make you think America views Muslims as the just target of a new Holy Crusade.
Muslim refugees – who are the direct result of America’s destructive Mideast wars, wars conducted largely for Israel’s benefit – are frequently not written and spoken about in America as refugees, they are shamelessly regarded as undesirables, as security risks, as criminal elements. Such stuff flows daily like an open sewer from articles and reader comments in that part of Internet journalism which has served as Trump’s unqualified source of support, the Alt-right.
It, of course, plays right into the hands of Israeli politicians and lobbyists who relish anything which makes their aggressive, law-breaking efforts to seize still more of the property of others resemble some kind of worthy campaign against the forces of darkness.
I can only imagine what Trump’s reaction would be if a large group of Mexican migrants squatted on his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Rather than support them in their claim, he would most certainly strap on his six-shooter and help drive them off, undoubtedly driving them all the way to the Mexican border, shouting wildly the whole time.
NOTE: Less than a month later, Trump, in an interview with the New York Times at the Trump International Golf Club, said he believes members of the news media will cover him in a more favourable light in 2020. Surprise, surprise.
WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN SAUDI ARABIA?
Trump Says Saudi Elites Caught In Anti-Corruption Probe Were ‘Milking’ Kingdom For Years
This is just nonsense from Trump.
Corruption is and has been everywhere in Saudi Arabia. How else could it be with all the countless billions changing hands in a fairly closed society?
So, it is easy for a guy like the new Crown Prince to glance around and conveniently find some corruption among people he wants to discredit anyway.
It may go beyond merely discrediting them to having hundreds of billions seized by the Crown Prince. Not a bad day’s work.
What is going on is a kind of coup against the old order by the new usurper Crown Prince. His recent appointment was by a King well known for his senility, and it suddenly and surprisingly upset the established order of succession and all kinds of extended family compacts.
We likely will never know what truly happened in this secretive kingdom. But we do know the abrupt changes created lots of enemies who needed attending to, and that seems to be what is happening.
And the enemies have no friends in Washington to whom they can appeal. The old order in Saudi Arabia suffered terribly in the wake of 9/11, and despite great efforts to pacify the US with new levels of cooperation, it is now being swept out.
Now, whatever is considered good for a hyper-aggressive United States is coincidentally good for its de facto colony in the Middle East.
Trump himself has already proved to be one of Israel’s best-ever American friends. Israel has long had great influence, but it possibly never had it so good as it does now, as with a UN Ambassador who speaks as though she were a joint appointment of Trump and Netanyahu. Trump’s only competitor in this regard would be Lyndon Johnson.
The US and Israel closely embrace the usurper because he has proven his dependability with bloody projects like making illegal war on Yemen. That war is exactly like the proxy war waged by mercenaries – ISIS and Al-Nusra et al - in Syria except that in this case it is the open work of a nation-state. And now he joins Israel in making threats on Lebanon.
In all the Neocon Wars in the Mideast, great effort has been made, one way or another, not to have Israel at center stage, to avoid having Israel appear as aggressor. But, in fact, without the influence of Israel, none of these terrible wars would have happened.
Yes, the Crown Prince will be a dependable component in the years-long American-Israeli project of creating a new Middle East. The Crown Prince is essentially Israel's man in Saudi Arabia, just as President el-Sisi is in Egypt. Israel is comfortable being surrounded by absolute governments, so long as they are absolute governments beholden to its patron, the United States.
Right now, the new Crown Prince is doing another bloody service for Israeli interests. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, was called to come to Riyadh in the King’s name for some business, as it turned out on false pretenses. Hariri had his plane surrounded and he was effectively arrested upon landing. Just pure modern piracy. Later, and who knows after what threats, he announced his sudden and unexpected resignation as prime minister, and he remains in Saudi Arabia.
It just so happens, in very recent time, Netanyahu and some of his officials have made some very ugly noises against Lebanon and even staged a large-scale set of war games, including calling up reservists, clearly threatening the country.
Israel just cannot stand the idea of Hezbollah being part of the Lebanese government whereas a reasonable observer would say Lebanon had achieved a peaceful balance in governing a land of many diverse political and religious groups.
After all, it hasn’t been that long ago since Israel helped catapult Lebanon into a terrible, bloody civil war, and it did so with its own bloody and unwarranted invasion of the country. Hezbollah, an organization which has never been a true terrorist group no matter what Israel goes on about, came into its own by opposing Israel’s long-term, illegal occupation of Southern Lebanon.
They were only defending what is theirs, but they made Israel look very bad, and that is an unforgivable offence. So, here we have the new Saudi Crown Prince doing more dirty work on Israel’s behalf, much as with his war in Yemen where he bombs civilians regularly, saving Israel from having to act on its own to get what it wants in someone else’s country.
You see, if Israel itself actually had to do all the ugly deeds it wants done in the region, the world would see it with blinding clarity for the pariah state that it truly is, starting wars incessantly. Proxies – whether mercenary gangs like ISIS and Al-Nusra in Syria or tyrants like the new Saudi Crown Prince in Yemen and Lebanon - are the latest fashion statement from Tel Aviv.
JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: REFLECTIONS ON HOW LITTLE IS REVEALED BY JUST-RELEASED JFK ASSASSINATION DOCUMENTS AND JUST SOME OF THE MANY REASONS WHY THERE HAD TO BE A CONSPIRACY
REFLECTIONS ON HOW LITTLE IS REVEALED BY JUST-RELEASED JFK ASSASSINATION DOCUMENTS AND JUST SOME OF THE MANY REASONS WHY THERE HAD TO BE A CONSPIRACY
NOTE: PLEASE ALSO SEE MY LATER COMMENT ON AN IMPORTANT NEW PIECE OF INFORMATION, BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT WE HAVE RECEIVED AS IT CONTAINS OUR FIRST BITS OF TRUTH ABOUT THE ASSASSINATION FROM A GOVERNMENT SOURCE:
In the recent, and supposedly last, release of files pertaining to the Kennedy assassination, most of the corporate press did not dwell on the fact that the most important and secret files were kept from the public, but, of course, that was actually the big story.
Now, I say that not knowing just what was not released or indeed whether the unreleased files even contain any serious information. You see, in the world of state secrets, secrecy is often used to hide embarrassing incompetence or even criminality. The unreleased documents may be just as uninformative as much of what has been released. So much of what has been released over recent decades is of little hard value to the case. We may legitimately ask, why was a lot of this junk ever declared national secrets to be squirreled away for a half century and more?
I can’t answer that question, but exactly the same question may be asked about so very many things and activities pertaining to the assassination. Of course, it shouldn’t be that way, but it is, and that fact alone screams that important things always were, and still are, hidden. Are the key facts really that unbelievably sensitive? Are they even known?
The question might even be asked whether the authorities themselves ever really understood accurately what happened. The FBI and CIA not even knowing what happened might itself be a worthy state secret, reflecting on the sheer competence of these two massively-funded and often abusive security agencies. God knows, they both have long records of embarrassing and destructive failures at home and abroad.
And, it must be remembered that outfits like CIA always have fallback positions ready for major activities should the first story spring some unexpected leak. So, even if records were maintained of actual events - something which is not always certain going by CIA’s past record, as in the case of the coup in Guatemala against a democratic government, an event whose files could not be found at their scheduled release date - whatever is eventually released to the public may reflect a fallback narrative. The complexity of filing systems at a place like CIA permits some amazing antics, and no one from the outside is able to check. That of course is just one of the dangers of having such powerful, secret, and largely unaccountable agencies.
The facts of a murder case - no matter who the victim was, a rather simple murder actually if you believe the Warren Report, a murder by one disgruntled man with a rifle and no accomplices of any kind - should be public information in a free society. What possibly warrants secrecy in such a case? Nothing, of course. Yet we know we have had secrecy and still have it, massively so, and since the earliest days after the crime.
We still face a huge, impenetrable, blank wall, much resembling something from an ancient mysterious tomb, when it comes to this history-changing event.
If the assassination of an elected President can be effectively covered-up, what cannot? And a great many terrible events have happened in the United states since that crime. Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria plus many other bloody awful things that make little sense and have never been honestly explained to the people by government.
The press still is very fond of the term, "conspiracy theory," and it is easy to find articles weekly which employ it, but the term should always serve as a red flag for astute readers. It is said to have been coined by a CIA publicist/disinformation officer in 1967 as a way to express ridicule of those doubting the Warren Report, a document in fact riddled with errors and inconsistencies.
I've read some documents and summaries of documents recently released, and I have to say that many contain things which were already known. Other things were not known, but they include nothing of decisive importance. (SEE FOOTNOTE REGARDING THIS CLAIM)
We find in the released documents relative trivia like Hoover warning Dallas Police of an attempt on Oswald's life. A memo which of course could be interpreted as nothing but Hoover covering his behind, something he was very good at, having a great deal of experience doing it.
Hoover was always a suspicious character through the entire assassination events. First, it was his agency that did all the investigative work for the Warren Commission. His Agency that selected which witnesses would testify and which would not, the selection often seeming to show the most perverse inclination to the witness who an unbiassed observer might say was the least reliable.
And it was his Agency which browbeat many witnesses into amending details of what they witnessed and told a number in threatening terms not to divulge what they were saying. We also have witnesses who later discovered their words in the published Report had been altered from what they actually said.
And it is Hoover who early on named the guilty party as Oswald. He never offered any sound reason, always referring to Oswald along lines like “some lone nut communist.”
Hoover was of course aware of Oswald owing to Oswald’s having been a “defector.” And we even have an earlier memo of Hoover’s, never explained, about perhaps someone impersonating Oswald. It just hangs there in space with no context or explanation.
It should be mentioned, too, that Hoover loathed the Kennedys, both of them. I do not believe he was associated with the assassins – though some people very much do – but I think he privately rejoiced in Kennedy’s death. With the President gone, he would no longer be seriously subject to the demands of his formal boss, Attorney General Robert, a man he truly detested. And he would not be asked to retire because Lyndon Johnson loved him.
The investigation of the assassination was also the opportunity to once again preach his favorite official sermon about the extreme danger communists represented to America. He had pursued communists for decades, even at the cost of letting a genuine national threat, the Mafia, grow and prosper. It was said at one time that about thirty percent of the American Communist Party’s members were FBI agents or informants. And, quite simply, Hoover had no motive to relentlessly pursue the people who had actually improved his life as well as America’s, as he saw it.
The arrest of Oswald was one of the most bizarre and unexplained matters in the whole assassination saga. There was no reason at all for anyone to seek him. There was no basis for a suspicion. The only thing that was known not long after the assassination was that Oswald had left work, as did others. A description that went out on police radio was so generic as to be virtually useless in locating any specific person. And why would police converge on a movie theater away from downtown owing simply to call claiming a man had sneaked in without buying a ticket?
Why was Oswald at that movie theater? Almost certainly to meet someone he knew from the conspiracy, quite likely Jack Ruby. Ruby is very likely to have been the man who earlier shot Officer Tippet on the street. Oswald could not have made it there in time for that event, walking as he did from his boarding house. We have good timing testimony on that killing from several witnesses.
And Tippet was known as a shady cop in Dallas, with right wing associations. He was quite likely involved with the plotters in some minor way. Ruby shot him to silence him just as he may have been headed to the theater to meet and shoot Oswald, but all the sudden heavy police presence prevented him from doing so. He, of course, two days later shot Oswald while right in police custody in a supposedly high-security prisoner transfer.
The summaries of new documents just released I saw are so uninformative you have to ask yourself why the documents would ever have been classified in the first place.
They include things like the fact that Lyndon Johnson was once a member of the Klu Klux Klan in Texas. Wow, now there is a serious state secret. And a fact, considering all the other horrors of Johnson’s career – documented election rigging, massive financial corruption with people like Billy Sol Estes, foul behavior of every description, starting a massive pointless war in Vietnam, complicity in Israel’s 1967 War and its attack on an American spy ship – the KKK fact seems trivial.
Indeed, as was asked at the time of the assassination, why was any of it a matter of state security and secrecy if the murder was the work of one disgruntled man? Why were any documents ever made secret? And why are many still secret after this dump?
Oswald is said in one document to have spoken with a KGB agent, Valeriy Kostikov, from the KGB's directorate for assassination, in Mexico City? We already knew that story. You can find it in dozens of books.
The real question remains whether Oswald himself was, in fact, ever in Mexico City? It is just taken for granted by our press, as it pretty much was by the Warren Report.
The CIA covered the Soviet Embassy there with cameras and telephone intercepts 24 hours a day, yet when asked to produce photos and recordings of Oswald back for the early investigations, the CIA produced a photo of a total stranger, blindingly clearly not Oswald, and claimed any phone recordings had been routinely erased.
There is not one shred of solid evidence placing Oswald in Mexico City, although we know very well that someone resembling him was there, going between the Cuban and Russian Embassies and bringing a lot of attention to himself. Cuba? Russia? Early 1960s?
Why would anyone do that? The best guess is to have Oswald’s name associated with Cuba when the assassination occurred.
There were other efforts at such association during Oswald’s time in New Orleans. He worked passing out leaflets for the Fair Play for Cuba organization, even though he was never a proper member. Some of these leaflets were actually mistakenly stamped with the address of Guy Bannister Associates on Camp Street, Bannister being a retired fairly senior FBI Agent and a known advocate for right-wing causes.
His Agency was likely in part a front for CIA’s anti-Castro weapons acquisition and distribution. Remember, these were days of intense anti-Castro activity by CIA and its proxies like the various anti-Castro groups. A couple of witnesses saw Oswald at the office once or at another location with Bannister.
Oswald’s leaflets, when people filled out the form to support Fair Play for Cuba, simply provided Bannister and those working with him with lists of local Castro sympathizers. The effort of course further associated Oswald’s name with Cuba and with vaguely Marxist sympathies, something that was certainly an act.
Why would he desire to create all that attention? So that, after the assassination, the name Oswald would be firmly connected with those awful places, Russia and Cuba. And believe me, there is nothing in 1963 that the CIA wanted to see more than another invasion of Cuba. The Bay of Pigs invasion by a proxy army of trained refugees in 1961 had badly failed, and part of Kennedy’s agreement with Khrushchev, late 1962, to end the Cuban Missile Crisis included a promise not to invade Cuba. Those two events alone and their aftermath made Kennedy loathed at the CIA and by America’s Cuban refugee terrorist groups in places like New Orleans and Miami.
Another not widely-known fact which screams conspiracy were previous assassination plots against Kennedy, one in Chicago and one in Miami. The one in Chicago was planned remarkably along the same lines as Dallas. High-power rifles, elevated position, several shooters, and a patsy candidate. It was broken up, but the would-be assailants escaped. In Miami, the President’s trip was changed from a car to a helicopter in the face of serious threat information.
The people actually plotting the assassination wanted not only to get rid of a President they hated but they wanted the assassination itself to provide America with an irresistible cause for invading Cuba in force despite any previous understanding with the Russians. They were trying to “kill two birds with one stone.”
It should also always be borne in mind that Oswald himself had no known motive. He said more than once that he admired Kennedy. He was not really some wild-eyed Marxist either, despite pretenses. Indeed, the suggestion provided by his associations in New Orleans – as Guy Bannister - was that, if anything, he might have had right-wing sympathies. But there is reason not to believe even that. Oswald did work as an FBI informant, despite Hoover’s denial, and I believe that work would have been associated with the Kennedys’ efforts to clamp down on CIA and anti-Castro activities to improve relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba after the Missile Crisis.
The likelihood of Oswald being impersonated briefly in Mexico parallels somebody resembling Oswald involved with a list of pre-assassination incidents in Dallas we know about. These ranged from a man acting bizarrely while test-driving a car with a salesman and claiming to be Oswald (Oswald himself could not drive) to a man making a spectacle of himself at a shooting range.
Everyone who has read at length on the subject knows there was a man resembling Oswald deliberately and showily doing various odd things around Dallas, there being many witnesses, to call attention to himself in the weeks before the assassination. Indeed, right in the Texas Book Depository, there was another employee named Billy Lovelady who greatly resembled Oswald, enough to often be confused with him. Indeed, Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, a man whose various testimony suggests good observational ability, maintained that he thought he saw Oswald leave the Book Depository and jump into a light-colored station wagon which sped away. Oswald himself we know did not leave that way.
Of course, no serious assassin would ever do such things to call extreme attention to himself as someone did in Oswald’s name shortly before the assassination, and the set of events is just one of a number of things which strongly suggest conspiracy.
We still have no indication how Oswald learned to speak Russian in the United States while in the Marines, but we have evidence that he did so fluently although not always with good grammar, and he spoke it before his discharge and going off to the Soviet Union. The Warren Commission studiously avoided details of this tricky topic.
And how did a man who had threatened to tell the Soviets radar secrets about the U-2 spy plane he learned in the Marines, as Oswald very much did, get to return home without any controversy or penalties?
How did he get an early discharge from the Marines on the flimsiest of evidence of a compassionate problem with his mother, whom he left just two days after arriving from the Marines to take off on an elaborately-planned journey to Russia? Who planned that elaborate trip which reflected knowledge of the easiest location for entering the Soviet Union? Who paid his costs?
How did he manage to bring a Soviet wife, who spoke almost no English, with him when he returned to America in less than three years? In the early 1960s, with the “Reds are at the Gates” rage going on? Unbelievable.
And how did he manage to hit upon a group of White Russian emigres and Russian-speakers in Dallas, people who gave the couple all kinds of assistance? And several of those people had past associations with CIA although they weren’t employees. People like George de Mohrenschildt and Ruth Paine.
Why would White Russian (anti-communist)-associated people take any interest in a so-called Marxist just returned from having defected to the Soviet Union, and a young man of very humble means and origins when some of them were seriously connected? Mohrenschildt, for example, was a sophisticated aristocrat and was related to Jackie Kennedy.
I could make a long list of important facts screaming cover-ups and conspiracy, but I think one of the more important ones came to light recently, and not from these documents. It was from the Cuban refugee, CIA-trained terrorist Antonio Veciana of the violent anti-Castro group, Alpha 66, finally telling us the truth about a famous incident known to all researchers.
Veciana saw a contact of his, a man with the pseudonym Maurice Bishop, talking with Oswald before the assassination. In the past, he would never identify Bishop as the CIA’s David Atlee Phillips, but he finally has done so in his recent book. So here we have a quite senior CIA agent, David Atlee Phillips, meeting with Oswald before the assassination, identified by a man who worked closely with him, albeit under another name.
Again, during the meetings of the Warren Commission, there was an emergency meeting called about the discovery of an FBI informant number for Oswald as well as an uncashed voucher for $200. They simply dropped the whole matter with a self-serving letter from Hoover denying any connection.
We know Oswald had intelligence connections, but still apparently nothing is in this release of trivia.
This dump of bits of redacted papers it seems will add nothing of substance to our understanding, and that is what it clearly was meant to do. It has been done only to say, “See, we told you so.”
Saying CIA had no involvement in Kennedy's assassination is exactly like the claim, made a thousand times, that CIA had no role in the induced-terror imposed on Syria to topple its government, or, indeed, a long series of ugly coups and assassinations in a number of countries abroad.
In the first moments after the shooting, some police headed uphill on the Grassy Knoll. Many indications from sound to the way crowds moved and pointed suggested something had occurred there. One policeman ran up the slope and began searching behind the barriers with his gun drawn. He met a suited man who quickly offered an official-looking ID card for the Secret Service.
The policeman holstered his gun and didn’t pursue the direction he had been headed. Nor did he note the identity of the “agent.” The trouble with that brief episode is that the Secret Service is known not to have stationed any officers on the Grassy Knoll. It was, of course, a terrible error in their preparations for the motorcade, but it is nevertheless what they did. So, who was the suited man with the false Secret Service ID? And what was he doing there? And where would he obtain such an ID? I think we’re safe in saying he wasn’t Oswald.
The fake Secret Service agent may well have been a man seen by another witness briefly earlier. A man who could only communicate by sign language told a clear story of being on the overpass and noticing a man in a suit, just behind the wooden picket fence that stood along the top of the Grassy Knoll, holding something. He saw the man in the suit swing around and toss what he was holding to another man in work clothes, waiting nearby.
The man who caught what looked like a rifle quickly broke it into two parts, stashed them into his large open toolbox, and walked away. Just behind the Grassy Knoll with its picket fence then was a parking lot and extensive rail yards, just the kind of place for a workman with a tool box to disappear into. The official investigators chose to ignore this witness. Most people who ‘heard” a story like that from a witness speaking in sign language would take it very seriously. After all, in a sense it requires a great of extra effort for such a witness to give his testimony and I think that adds to its credibility.
Why was the immensely important evidence of the presidential limousine so quickly destroyed? The car was sent back to the manufacturer near Detroit to be rebuilt instead of being preserved for serious and extended forensic study. The interior was, of course, spattered with blood, but it also contained bits of bullets and marks from bullets, things which were very important evidence.
There were witnesses at the hospital, when the car was briefly parked in front to deliver the mortally-wounded president, who testified that there were both a bullet crease on the windshield’s chrome frame and a small hole in the windshield’s glass. Shouldn’t this have been preserved for close study and to reassure people that every detail was scrutinized? But it was not. Why? Even if the car was rebuilt, key pieces like the windshield or the rear interior could easily have been set aside, as were so many more trivial objects that found their way into the National Archives.
The most important single piece of evidence in the case, the Zapruder film, has its own remarkable story. The film was purchased from Abraham Zapruder, who happened to be standing on the concrete pergola along part of the Grassy Knoll taking home movies of the parade (just a note, his position was hidden by trees or shrubbery from the position further along the picket fence from which at least one assassin fired). His film was purchased by Life Magazine for what was then a very large amount of money. Actually, you might have thought it should have been seized by local police or FBI as evidence, but for some unknown reason, this single most important piece of evidence ended up in private commercial hands.
Apart from the police not seizing key evidence, what is wrong with that, you might ask? Well, it is just a fact that Henry Luce’s Time-Life publications in those days often worked with and served as covers for the CIA. Allen Dulles was part of Luce’s social circle. Luce himself wrote a famous article in the 1940s called “The American Century,” the title becoming a frequently-used expression, and he was an ardent supporter of the values we associate with the Washington establishment, especially with the CIA.
It is no secret that the Luce newsmagazines were considered as important keys on the CIA’s “mighty Wurlitzer,” as one former agent referred to the list of publications and writers that was regularly used in getting a story “out there” to the public.
The film was withheld from the general public for a long time. Why should that be? We even had Dan Rather on CBS Television do a little broadcast of what he saw when supposedly shown the film in private. His was a completely false description, as you may easily see for yourself (see FOOTNOTE). Why was that required, a deliberate false description broadcast by one of the most well-known men in American broadcasting? One can only be sure Rather did not just decide on his own to do this or that his broadcast had anything to do with Oswald, except to support the unproved notion that Oswald, supposedly behind the president on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository building, was the sole assassin, an idea that had been set in stone early by J. Edgar Hoover.
We have testimony that the film was delivered to a quickly-assembled group of specialists at CIA by hand. They worked into the wee hours to assemble a “story board” for some very high-level presentation. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at a later date, one of these technicians was shown what we now understand as the Zapruder film, and he said that it clearly was not the original film.
Importantly, the halo we now see above Kennedy’s head as a bullet struck was not on the original film. Instead there was a cone-shaped ejection from the rear of Kennedy’s head. That ejection would, of course, suggest a shot from the front, and it would also support other testimonies as that of a police outrider on his motorcycle being spattered with blood and brain tissue. That simply could not happen with a shot from where Oswald supposedly was.
The film, as we know it, has been altered. You see, we know an early copy of the film – three had been made – was delivered also to the CIA’s top photo lab in Rochester for work. This was a lab in which almost anything possible to do with film could be done. The world’s best equipment and top experts worked there. We do not know what was done, but considering the comment, above, of the technician who worked on what definitely was the original film, it would appear changes were made to a copy that resulted in the film we now see.
There are a great many more such serious issues left totally unresolved today, the kind of issues which should not be unresolved with the most ordinary murder, let alone the murder of a president. Perhaps the greatest set of issues is around the President’s autopsy. There is a huge set of issues here, and I won’t go through them all. Several entire books have been written on the topic, including the very important “Best Evidence” by David Lifton. I’ll mention only a few glaring matters.
In the Zapruder film, we see President Kennedy, his car emerging from behind a freeway sign, grasping at his throat with both hands. Clearly, even in the altered film we have - and there is reason to believe that this emergence-from-behind-the-sign sequence was also altered - Kennedy was hit by a bullet in the throat. The emergency medical people attending him – all experienced, very senior people – later described the wound as a small puncture wound just above the knot of his necktie, a puncture wound with bullets invariably indicating an entrance wound. A tracheotomy was performed - involving two tiny slits (about two centimeters long) on the sides of the wound – to accommodate the insertion of a tube for emergency breathing.
Now at some point in time later, autopsy photos of the President were taken by someone and distributed to the press. Some of them are strange and mysterious photos, poorly lighted, not always well focused, and in black-and-white – not at all to the standard of official autopsy photos of the time. The most striking one is of Kennedy on his back with his eyes still open. There is a sizable gash in the center of his throat, big enough to almost resemble someone having started to try slashing his throat. This was what the official autopsy doctors and technicians saw, and it bears no resemblance to what was described in Dallas. This strange wound ended-up being called an exit wound for a bullet which entered Kennedy from behind – in other words, the direction of the bullet making it was reversed.
The official autopsy notes, which of course in a murder case becomes an important legal document, were destroyed later and burned by the doctor writing his report. He wrote fresh ones, and we have often been given the silly excuse (silly certainly when it comes to matters like an autopsy) that this was because the original notes had blood on them. This destruction was an illegal act.
Of course, legality played very little role in how the President’s body was treated. We know that local officials in Dallas demanded that the body be autopsied there, as required by law, and a literal fight broke out with the Secret Service drawing guns to wheel the body away. The body was flown to Washington along with Mrs. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Even its treatment then is seriously in doubt with many bits of evidence suggesting it was not even in the coffin brought along with Mrs. Kennedy to the autopsy hospital. Instead it appears to have been delivered in the rear in a kind of cheap shipping coffin.
The importance of this lies in the fact that we have testimonies that the President’s body, when received for formal autopsy, had already had some medical work done on it. The technician receiving and opening the shipping case has described what he found which you can read in Lifton’s book.
Further, and very importantly, two FBI agents who attended the autopsy made notes which became an official record apart from the doctor’s report. Two riveting small items are in that FBI write-up. The first involves the agents’ description, before the autopsy was started, of the body as having had some “surgery about the head.” We are given no details. The second is a tiny mention of receiving a “missile” removed from the President by one of the doctors. Again, no details. Was this missile the bullet that we believe entered Kennedy’s neck from the front?
We don’t know exactly what happened to the President’s body in being moved from Dallas to Washington. Was his body ever in the casket with Mrs. Kennedy and President Johnson? Had it been sent off separately for the quickest possible receipt in Washington? Or was it surreptitiously removed aboard the plane? The fact is that work was done on the body by someone somewhere in Washington before the official autopsy seems beyond dispute. The autopsy proper, an event with a number of generals and admirals and big suits standing in the room as witnesses, must have been a very bizarre event. Why were they necessary?
Why was the autopsy even held in a military facility with military doctors and many high-ranking military men watching and even sometimes telling the doctors what to do, as one of the doctors related years later? The military autopsy doctors did not compare in expertise to the pathologist in a large American city like Dallas where shootings are frequent. But of course, military doctors follow orders.
Another intriguing and unexplained event involving the trip back to Washington was Lyndon Johnson’s insistence on being sworn into office. We’ve all seen the photos taken inside the plane. Poor Mrs. Kennedy had to stand there in a confined space, still in her blood-spattered clothes, watching the man she knew her husband distrusted being sworn into office. It was all completely unnecessary. Was Johnson subjecting the Kennedy family to some kind of degradation ceremony? It was possible with this unbelievably crude man, a man who, as President in the White House, is known for behaviors like talking to reporters while sitting on the toilet and once, in response to a question about why America was in Vietnam, unzipping his pants and pulling out his penis, saying something like, “See, this is why.”
Of course, once Johnson was sworn into office and had possession of the “best evidence,” Kennedy’s body, a fundamental division in post-assassination events occurred. Attention in many respects shifted to Washington rather than remaining where it should have been, the scene of the crime in Dallas. Johnson could, with the cooperation of people like the admired and admiring J. Edgar Hoover, direct the way events unfolded, and he very much did. Bobby Kennedy’s authority was imperceptibly, to outsiders, reduced to that of a token office holder. Within a week, the Warren Commission was appointed, a commission whose job was twisted badly from the beginning.
Earl Warren did not want to serve as Chairman of the Commission, but Johnson used a suggestive and threatening line, delivered in a theatrical tone of voice, to convince him otherwise, a line he used on many people at the time. It went something like, “If you knew what I know, the lives of tens of millions could be at risk in these events.” Well, what responsible high official could turn down an appeal put in those terms? It was a complete lie of course, but it had not been that long since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and memories of those truly frightening events were fresh.
The terms establishing the Warren Commission virtually guaranteed its failure. Most importantly, the FBI did all the investigation, Hoover’s FBI, that is. Hoover, the man who extraordinarily-early had said they had their man in Oswald. Also, behind the scenes there was Johnson’s often repeated, “If you knew what I know, the lives of tens of millions could be at risk in these events.” So, it was essential that findings be established quickly to avoid some vaguely-forecast catastrophe. Since Hoover considered that they already had their man, it was only necessary to collect a big pile of tidbits supporting that conclusion, and that is precisely what was done.
Those who are familiar with the Warren Report understand that it is just one long prosecutor’s brief. It is not an objective effort in the least. Indeed, at times it goes so far out of its way to be unfair, it is embarrassing to an honest mind. None of the Commission’s activities reflected the standard rules of courts with arguments and evidence from both sides. In essence, it is a document which cast aside all principles of normal justice and fair procedure to declare a dead man guilty of murder with a carefully-selected pile of exhibits and witnesses, that man having no proper representation even in the proceedings, and certainly no other person or group was even considered worthy of investigation.
Why was it necessary to do things in that fashion? If you wanted to find the truth, you would never proceed that way, but it is just what you would do if you wanted to get a story “out there,” and out there with an impressive shelf-full of books which resemble the client-confidence props you see in every lawyer’s office. The twenty-six volumes of “evidence” published after the 889-page report were so carelessly assembled that no index was provided. Imagine, publishing the equivalent of a huge encyclopedia of photos and transcripts and exhibits with no way of finding anything? And as all researchers know, the way in which these were thrown together, literally in a jumble, makes an index even more necessary. It did serve, though, to slow mightily all efforts for independent checking of the report’s claims. You see, even though exhibits and witnesses were carefully selected and many witnesses were guided as what to say by FBI agents, the vast pile does contain some interesting information, a good deal of it suggesting the Commission’s conclusions were often not well-considered and even deceptive.
There are many anecdotes demonstrating the “agenda” of the Commission and that of its investigative arm, the FBI, but my favorite one is when the Chairman, Earl Warren, visited Jack Ruby in his Dallas cell, Ruby having killed Oswald on national television and in the police station. Ruby literally told Warren that if he wanted him to talk about the truth, he must take him to Washington. He strongly suggested that events hadn’t been as they appeared. He pretty close to begged Warren, saying it was not safe in Dallas for him to talk.
This was all said in Ruby’s usual gangster-like, twisted and garbled speech, but what he was saying couldn’t be clearer. And who could doubt the matter of safety with a police department riddled with corruption and dark secrets, some of whose members clearly had assisted Ruby in his tasks and some of whose members had so badly handled pieces of evidence that they became legally useless?
Warren told Ruby that that would not be possible. Why would that be? Who would have argued with the Commission Chairman and former Chief Justice if he said that is what he wanted to do to secure vital information? No one, of course. So much for Warren’s battle for truth.
FOR DAN RATHER’S EARLY DISHONEST DESCRIPTION OF THE ZAPRUDER FILM PLUS THE ACTUAL FILM ITSELF AS WE NOW KNOW IT, SEE:
FOOTNOTE CONCERNING FBI MEMO OF 1964 BY MANNING C. CLEMENTS:
Some might say that my assertion that there is little new in the latest batch of released documents is wrong, pointing to the FBI Memo sent by Manning C Clements in 1964, and reporting the words of one Oren Potito in Florida. That memo is only eyebrow-raising for those who have not studied the assassination. The bullet hole in the windshield of Kennedy’s limousine has been known about for years, and it is discussed in a number of books.
As far as the memo’s mentioning Kennedy’s throat wound being from the front, the entire expert emergency staff treating Kennedy said that to the public in 1963, although every effort was made over the years to contradict their words and to disguise evidence. The real original purpose of this memo appears to have been to label both Jack Ruby and Oswald as communists, a completely false assertion. It seems also to almost suggest a fallback position from Hoover’s early absolute insistence that only Oswald was the killer and that he was a communist. No matter how many did it, in a word, they had to be communists.
OTHER JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAYS ON THE TOPIC OF JOHN KENNEDY'S ASSASSINATION:
FORTY YEARS OF LIES
LINCOLN WAS WRONG, THE EASE OF FOOLING MOST OF THE PEOPLE MOST OF THE TIME
JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: TWO STATES OR ONE STATE? THE STARK REALITY IS THAT BOTH SOLUTIONS ARE IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS IMPOSED FROM OUTSIDE, AND JUST WHERE DO WE SEE ANY PROSPECT FOR THAT?
TWO STATES OR ONE STATE?
THE STARK REALITY IS THAT BOTH SOLUTIONS ARE IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS IMPOSED FROM OUTSIDE, AND JUST WHERE DO WE SEE ANY PROSPECT FOR THAT?
Israel has created a terrible problem which it is incapable of solving. That is why it has always been the case that the United States must pretty much dictate a solution, but it is unable to do so, paralyzed as it is by the heavy influence of Israel and America’s own apologists and lobbyists.
Trump's suggestion of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is welcomed by some because Israel's settler policy is said to have made two states impossible, as it was most certainly intended to do. However, a little reflection on hard facts makes it clear that a one-state solution is just as impossible.
A single-state solution would be acceptable to all reasonable minds, but you only have to follow the news to know that Israel contains a good many unreasonable minds. Its early advocates and founders were, quite simply, fanatics, and its policies and attitudes were shaped by that fanaticism.
The Israeli establishment could simply not accept a Palestinian population with equal rights and the franchise as part of Israel. They could not do so because they have embraced an almost mystical concept of Israel as "the Jewish state." Of course, the de facto reality of today’s combined population of Israel and its occupied territories is that Palestinians, who importantly include not just Muslims but many Christians, are already about half of the total.
And there are physical realities forming huge barriers against a single state, things of which many people are not aware. Very importantly, fertility rates in Arab populations are considerably higher than in the European Ashkenazi population which forms Israel’s elite. That has nothing to do with ethnic characteristics. It is a result of much lower levels of affluence influencing the behavior of people having children. It is a universal reality we see.
That’s why Arabic populations are such relatively young populations with a high proportion of children. When Israel bombs a place like Gaza or Lebanon, as it does periodically, it always kills many hundreds of children because they make a big share of the population. An advanced country like Japan has low fertility and traditionally is averse to much migration. It faces a future with an aging and declining population.
All older European and North American countries have fertility rates too low to replace their otherwise declining populations. America or France or Israel or similar states simply do not have enough babies to replace their populations. That’s a fundamental reality of advanced, affluent society. People with rich, demanding lives do not have large numbers of children, anywhere, knowing, as they do, that the few they do have will almost certainly survive and will better thrive with more concentrated resources.
That’s the real reason behind most countries’ immigration policies, not generosity or kindness. But, of course, Israel has a serious problem with immigration, too. As the “Jewish state” it is open to only one category of migrant, and that category of people makes a tiny fraction of the world’s population. Further, most of that tiny fraction live in comfortable, affluent places, far more desirable to live in than Israel – places like America, Canada, Australia, Britain, France, etc.
A single-state Israel would combine low fertility Europeans with higher fertility Arabic people, thus creating a long-term trajectory for a minority-Jewish state, a reality which would be repellent to all conservative Jews and many others, in light of the founding notion of Israel as a refuge from believed widespread anti-Semitism, plus the vaguely-defined but emotionally-loaded notion of a “Jewish state,” and, still further, the biblical myths of God’s having given the land exclusively to Jews.
You simply cannot make rational sense out of that bundle of attitudes and prejudices, yet you cannot get a rational solution to a massive problem otherwise, a problem, it should be noted, of Israel’s own deliberate making in the Six Day War. Likely, when Israel’s leadership started that war, they calculated that Palestinians would come to feel so miserable under occupation that they’d just pick up and leave over time. Moshe Dayan, one of the architects of the war, actually spoke along those very lines of keeping the Palestinians miserable so they would leave. But their calculations were wrong. Most people, anywhere, do not pick-up and leave their native place. Otherwise the world would a constant whirlwind of migrations.
Although Israel does not discuss the relative population growth rate situation in public, authorities and experts there are keenly aware of the reality. It is difficult to imagine them ever embracing a single state for this reason. When you found a state on ideology and myths, as Israel was founded, you very soon bump up against some unhappy realities.
So, if there is not to be a Palestinian state, what are Israel’s other options? There seem to be only two.
One is to deport all or most Palestinians, an ugly idea which is probably also unworkable, although it has very much seriously been discussed among educated Israelis periodically. Apart from the Nazi-like connotations around such an act, who, on earth, is going to take literally millions of people from Israel? In the past, Israeli ideologues have seriously suggested both the country of Jordan and parts of Egypt contiguous with Israel as possibilities.
Can any realistic person believe those states stand ready to take millions of people in? No, of course not, but that hasn’t stopped the ideologues of Israel from going back to the idea again and again. Of course, there is the pure ethical problem of moving millions against their wills and seizing all their property, but ethics have never featured large in Israel’s policies from the beginning.
The other solution is to re-create apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans, little enclaves of land with often undesirable characteristics into which you crowd all the people that you don’t want and declare that these are their new countries. We see this already in Israel, notably in Gaza, which really is a giant refugee camp much resembling a concentration camp with high fences and automated machine-gun towers surrounding it, the residents being permitted almost no freedom of movement or even economic activity, as for example Gaza’s fishermen being fired on by Israeli gunboats if they stray even slightly beyond tight boundaries in the sea.
The world would not long tolerate that approach no matter how much influence the United States might unfairly exert. After all, for a long time, the United States protected and cooperated with apartheid South Africa, always regarding it as an important bulwark against communism, anti-communism being the fervent secular religion of the day in America. This was so much the case that it even overlooked what it absolutely had to know about, apartheid South Africa’s acquisition of a small arsenal of nuclear weapons with the assistance of Israel, Israel always being keen to keep good access to South Africa’s mineral wealth.
Clearly, those two options are not solutions. Realities absolutely demand either a legitimate two-state solution - which Israel’s leaders have never truly accepted while giving it time-buying lip-service - or a one-state solution which is probably even more unacceptable to Israel’s leaders and much of its population, guaranteeing, as it does, the eventual minority status of Jews.
Israel has itself created a terrible problem which it is incapable of solving. That is why it has always been the case that the United States must pretty much dictate a solution, but it is unable to do so, paralyzed as it is by the heavy influence of Israel and America’s own apologists and lobbyists.
So, in effect, the world just goes around and around on this terrible problem, never doing anything decisive. The macabre dance of Israel and the United States we’ve had for decades yields today’s de facto reality of Israel as nothing more but nothing less than a protected American colony in the Middle East, one in which all kinds of international norms and laws are completely suspended, one where millions live with no rights and no citizenship. But, after all, colonies have never been places where the rule of law and human rights prevail, have they? Never.
DID TRUMP JUST BLINK?
Did Trump blink in the face of a soft coup against an elected American government?
On first hearing, the resignation of Michael Flynn seemed less consequential than it did after a little reflection. After all, appointed officials do get let go, and Donald Trump made a popular name for himself as someone who doesn’t hesitate to dismiss staff who are not up to expectations.
The plausible reason offered – Flynn’s having not told the truth about what was said at his meeting with the Russian Ambassador to the Vice President – is just that, plausible, but only barely. It is almost certainly a “face-saver” explanation used to cover something of greater consequence.
At such levels in international affairs, “backchannel” communications are, if not everyday occurrences, employed now and again in highly delicate matters. We know John Kennedy employed exactly this method with Nikita Khrushchev, using a Soviet Ambassador, and he started moving towards doing the same with Castro. Most instances of such activity never reach our attention, of course.
Kennedy was involved in seeking peace during the Cold War, and today many have great hope Trump seeks the same around the Neocon Wars and Obama’s attempts to provoke and threaten Russia. Some of Trump’s words have offered encouraging signals. Michael Flynn was clearly working towards peace, and he had Trump’s confidence, but America’s power establishment is larded with many powerful and unaccountable people who share exactly the opposite purpose. What those who wish for peace regard as hopeful, these others regard as threatening.
“Backchannel” simply means that none of the ordinary paths of communication are used and that few, other than direct participants, are privy to it. It is an important tool at times. There is nothing illegal or insidious or treacherous about it, but it is of its nature highly confidential.
In some corporate press write-ups, today, we actually have irresponsible claims along those lines. Among other contemptible statements published today was this in Britain’s Independent: “Veteran anchor Dan Rather Broadcast journalist describes Russia scandal as 'around a 5 or 6 on a 10-point scale of Armageddon for our form of government', but says it is getting worse by the hour.”
My comment to that ridiculous statement was to remind readers of Rather’s record as a journalist, including first and foremost, his infamous description of the Zapruder film offered shortly after Kennedy’s death to reassure Americans about what had happened in Dallas.
If you’ve never seen Rather’s performance, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuHdK-4M1Wc
And here is the film he pretended to describe at a time years before anyone was permitted to see it: http://criminalminds.wikia.com/wiki/File:Zapruder_Film_Slow_Motion_%28HIGHER_QUALITY%29
I also reminded readers that Rather's career with CBS ended over a story about George Bush, a story whose supporting materials he had failed adequately to scrutinize. He, essentially, was fired by the network. He certainly is a distinguished authority to quote in the current situation. Here is an outstanding example of a journalist the CIA has had in its pocket for decades.
Backchannel communication certainly was all that Michael Flynn was doing. But some insider, likely in the CIA - elements of which have already made more than one attempt to discredit Trump with stuff like evidence-free charges about Russian hacking and a paid-for, contrived Russian dossier, stuff which was rated as trash by the general public - got wind of Flynn’s effort and leaked it to one of his grateful journalist-contacts in a compliant corporate press.
There is a genuine question of treason here with security service people who decide to leak such ultra-secret material to a press which happily regurgitates the CIA view of events abroad daily. Does anyone want secret agencies determining who serves in government and what direction policy should go? This was a serious piece of dirty work which may well deserve the label treason. It is now being fully exploited by the very corporate press which has always hated Trump as well as by the hawks of both parties who gave us the Neocon Wars and Cold War Two.
Trump represents a threat against some of their favorite dirty projects, including the dangerous, non-stop assault on Russia, the engineered coup in Ukraine, and the deliberately-induced horrors of Syria employing hired terrorists.
We all lose if they win. Of course, by "all" I don't include the corporate press so ably represented by Dan Rather and The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The American press establishment has been in bed with the security services for a long time. Much of what we read in the American as well as British press on subjects such as foreign affairs is little more than re-writes of stuff put "out there" by the CIA. I suppose in private, the owners and editors regard it as the patriotic thing to do, to support government policy no matter how bad it is.
CIA has scores of clever manipulators who work full time on generating junk they distribute to cooperative friends in journalism. Even half a century ago, during another long CIA-terrorist project, the long one against Castro, you can read of the many creators of news employed to put the right face on what was being done and to hide a great deal of it. Papers like The New York Times openly cooperated with them, as we later learned in the explosion of information years after Kennedy’s assassination. Today, more than fifty years later and with far more powerful tools at their disposal, we can only imagine the inner workings of America’s richly-financed Ministry of Truth.
Nancy Pelosi - daughter of an old Mafia Don and bosom friend of the Neocons - has now climbed back on the "investigate Trump and Russia" bandwagon. Hillary Clinton, of course, never got off it. Echoes of their shrill claims are even heard in Europe where several national elections now threaten governments which supported them. It’s what these people have been pushing for – the whole gang of the corporate press, senior Democrats, and various establishment interests. They have been trying to stop or derail Trump from Election Day.
It’s stylish and convenient for them to pretend their opposition is over matters like immigrants, but the truth is far darker. The War Party wants to continue literally re-shaping the face of the planet no matter how many lives it costs. Can you imagine, for even for one moment, rhino-hided politicians like Pelosi or Clinton or Chuck Schumer shedding so much as one genuine tear over immigrants or refugees? These are people who have been complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, including countless women and their families, in a whole series of countries.
It is deeply concerning now that Trump speaks of Obama’s maybe not having been tough enough on Russia. And we’ve heard that Crimea must be returned to Ukraine. Are these concessions from a wounded President to the people who inflicted the wound? Has Trump blinked after this attack?
The situation has the potential now not only of scuttling anticipated rapprochement with Russia but of cranking up the threat. Russia is no more “returning” Crimea to Ukraine than Germany is returning the former East Germany to its previous status. The local people have spoken and their choice was to rejoin Russia, with whom they have a history going back to Catherine the Great. They chose to leave a new version of Ukraine which displayed open hostility towards Russian-speakers from the first day of a CIA-financed coup.
This all has the smell of a "soft" coup against an elected American government, but that should not surprise us. To this day, we do not know the role of CIA in a number of watershed events, including the Kennedy assassination, 9/11 as the kick starter for the Neocon Wars, and even the downfall of Richard Nixon.
Is that your idea of democratic government?
THE CHANCE FOR GREATNESS, BUT IT IS SO EASILY LOST
The chance for greatness is not something offered every leader.
The opportunity requires both a set of extremely adverse circumstances and an exceptional person in power who overcomes them.
All too briefly, Obama seemed to have the chance in 2008, but he very quickly proved himself incapable of rising to the challenge.
So, Obama goes down in history, despite his remarkable achievement of becoming the first black President, as an extremely mediocre leader who was bent by the very forces he should have controlled. He almost melted away before our eyes, proving definitively that there is a great difference between the talents required for political campaigning and those required for success in office.
Trump now has an opportunity for greatness, more so than any politician I can recall. He is faced with huge problems, many of the them the work of the failed Obama, and they are more than just any set of problems, for they involve the deaths and misery of millions and the risks of an international nuclear holocaust.
It is already clear that Trump has the strengths required – immensely energetic and hard-working, absolutely not intimidated by a powerful and pervasive establishment, and a surprisingly resourceful mind.
But there are clouds on the horizon. Trump is one of those people whose mind seems to crackle with ideas and notions, and, just as is the case with others of this type, including many famous scientists and creative talents, a fair number of the ideas and notions are not worth pursuing and some are complete rubbish. I put into this category notions like a national Muslim registry or the round-up and deportation of millions of Mexican illegals or crippling the United Nations.
I would certainly add Trump’s words around the utterly repulsive subject of torture, but here we find an example of Trump being really clever, showing the kind of skill a statesman must possess. With his words on torture, Trump got to tell the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America, but he then played the game of deferring to the wisdom of one of his most intelligent appointments, General James Mattis, who opposes torture. Who can argue with a “Marine’s Marine” on such topics? The Iron Chancellor himself would be proud of the whole performance.
Trump’s wall with Mexico for me is neither here nor there. Lots of countries build walls, and while I am opposed to them in general, I recognize the arguments for them, and of course every country has the right to protect its borders.
But you cannot round up and deport millions, even if they are illegals, without great adverse consequences. It is a non-starter as an idea. What we have is a situation created by the ineffectiveness of past governments over many years. That is a reality you must accept unless you want to create, to put it mildly, one of the worst public relations fiascos of the century. Remember, we live in the age of cell phone videos and the Internet, an entirely different situation than what prevailed the last time America did the very thing Trump is proposing, roughly ninety years ago.
Not many Americans likely realize that there was a precedent. Starting in 1929 and for some years after, huge numbers of Mexicans – estimated to have been between half a million and two million - living in America were deported summarily. It is not a precedent to copy, smelling as it does of activities we associate with the fascist governments of that same dark period. It is something that cannot even be done without many extremely unhappy scenes.
Trump should build his wall and keep strict compliance with law afterwards, but mass deportations will not go down well anywhere and will only create big and ugly barriers in many of America’s relationships, and not just those with Mexico.
Trump needs a filtering mechanism for his bubbling, teeming thoughts because his better ideas and notions are the ones that promise to mark him for greatness. I include here the end of America’s interfering and overthrowing foreign governments, the end of the terrible Bush-Obama Neocon Wars that have killed a couple of million and created millions of desperate refugees, and his bold efforts to bring jobs to millions of Americans living in what can only be called squalor. Those are the goals of a great leader.
And if he can succeed, I believe it is possible for Trump to build a new coalition for his party. This kind of thing has happened before, and if he could succeed at it, it would be yet another great achievement. The Republican Party, before Trump hi-jacked it and gave new purpose, was moribund, lacking any clear purpose beyond trying to achieve power and divvy up the spoils of periodic victory.
The interesting thing is that the Democratic Party Trump defeated has been in a somewhat similar state. Perhaps that fact is part of why it morphed into the War Party. That party’s de facto leadership since the 1990s has been the Clintons with their bounteous, mafia-like money connections. But the Clintons were not only defeated by Trump (literally, both of them), but their defeat was accompanied by shocking revelations about them and their party’s inner workings which I do not believe can be easily lived down, and there remains a substantial probability that one or both of them is going to be prosecuted, either for the frauds of the Clinton Foundation or for the flagrantly illegal behavior of Hillary as Secretary of State.
Those facts make Trump’s opportunity even greater. He can rise to it, or he can fall over his worst ideas and become just one more failed American President.
JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS... A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain
OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS
A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain
The books about The Wizard of Oz were written as satire on American politics, but Hollywood, in its inimitable way, turned them into a song-and-dance picture for children. Still, one scene in the film has a sense of the author’s intent. That scene is when Dorothy, in Emerald City, approaches a closet-like structure, which, as it happens, is the Wizard’s control booth for sounds and smoke and lights, his special effects for intimidating visitors and impressing them with non-existent power.
The entrance curtain happens to be open, so Dorothy sees a modest man busily pulling levers and pushing buttons and speaking into a microphone which alters his voice into a great booming one, echoing like a great organ in a cathedral. When the man realizes that he is being watched, he makes a last effort and booms out words along the lines of “Pay no attention to the man in the booth.” Of course, the jig is up, and we all understand there is no wizard.
What better allegory for events in Washington today could there be? We have booming noises and smoke and glaring lights, and it all comes from a rather sad little – little in the sense of failed - man with about two weeks left to sit at his big desk and pretend that he is great and powerful wizard. Except, when you are President, as this man is, you can never be observed in your control booth and you have your stunts and booming claims seconded by a chorus of flacks, hangers-on, and political appointees, presumably lending a semblance of authenticity and substance.
What the controversy engendered by “the Russians did it” has achieved is almost the opposite to what was intended. Dubious claims and pretend evidence have caused lights to shine brightly over what is a blanketing fabric of dishonesty in America's establishment. The fabric covers everything from foreign affairs and the military to the details of domestic affairs. It is immense, complex, and carefully constructed covering, and those who created it have very little tolerance for any of it being scrutinized under spotlights. Achieving this scrutiny may be regarded as Obama’s final act of failure.
Whether it is “the Russians hacked the DNC” or “America has been bombing ISIS in Syria” or “the Russians threaten Eastern Europe” or “the Russians committed atrocities in Aleppo” or “Russia shot down Flight MH-17,” the same tiresome actors making the same unsupported claims have for eight years expected that just their inflated job titles should intimidate us into believing them. Proof? Who needs that? Would I lie to you about such matters? Once you start something foolish as Obama has done, and it is widely understood as being foolish, you only weaken your authority over all the other less-obviously dubious claims you have been making. The fabric of lies becomes weakened, and that is one of Obama’s small, but unintended, achievements now.
Even as I write these words, the first big wave of the Obama-Clinton unsupported claims, unsupported, that is, except by hack appointees like James Clapper, is receding. The world quickly reached a verdict of “nonsense.” But a second wave now laps up with an equally unsupported claim that the Russians have a compromising dossier on Donald Trump, an attempt to plant the idea that Russia will have direct influence over Trump’s policies. This malicious effort at “poisoning the well” for a political successor, brings to mind the time, some years back, when the ugliest of clutch of Israeli settlers, those who swaggered around Gaza behind barbed wire enclosed-compounds, full of attitude and always toting light machine guns while under the malevolent guard of Israeli soldiers, decided to leave their hopeless situation. They quite literally poisoned the water wells they had used before strutting away. I cannot imagine a much shabbier act. But here is Obama and his appointees doing much the same thing, effectively hacking away at what little democracy America has left out of sheer maliciousness.
I don’t mean to say that such gross lying began with Obama. The wizard’s control booth for smoke and lights and thundering sounds was not invented by him. There was nothing but eight years of lies from the weird triumvirate presidency of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush and from the corrupt and often-inept Clinton government. Lies are what big countries or organizations do when their activities will not stand up to public scrutiny. When countries secretly play dirty tricks, when they kill, and when they apply mafia-like pressure on allies and international organizations to do as they are told, they simply lie about all of it, always. Such activity has characterized America for a very long time. How can it be otherwise when you try to control the planet?
It’s just that eight years ago, we had some reason to believe Obama would be different, at least a little different, but he is not. He is just as shabby, murderous, and deceitful as his immediate predecessors, sometimes even more so. He has been at war somewhere every single day of his eight years. He has bombed seven countries. In his last year alone, he is said to have dropped over 26,000 bombs. Literally hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Peace Prize winner with the big boyish smile. I’ve often asked myself what it is that motivates Obama, and I don’t know. Sometimes he seems to fit the well-known pattern of the charming, smiling psychopath who secretly likes to kill.
Sometimes he just seems weak and, yes, cowardly, someone who has allowed the brass and big suits around those conference tables to run roughshod over him, leaving him with nothing but the pretense of authority. This could explain what is a remarkable sense of arrogance observed at times when he is around outsiders as a kind of psychological reflex to his living in his job under constant bullying. After all, Bush’s whole presidency was a pretense: he pretended to be president, and Cheney and Rumsfeld - the precise quality of men who, had they lived in 1930s’ Germany would have been seen happily “working towards the Führer” as they used to say - deferentially allowed him to do so as they ran everything. Bush was the first president to prove America doesn’t even need a president except to sign documents, much like the formal requirement for a witness’s signature on a legal document.
We know, too, that Bush was as close to a moron as ever held the office, because we watched his insipid face and listened to his inability to articulate a clear sentence for eight years. Sometimes, we do see glimmers of something similar from Obama, statements and behaviors that would not be expected from someone of forceful intelligence – the unsupported Russian hacking accusations being one, but also such matters as his foolish public dismissal of Russia, the only country which can literally obliterate the United States, as a great power - only with Obama we don’t see Bush’s Alfred E. Neuman look, we see a serious, stiff mien and a tone and posture of arrogance. A well-practiced cover-up behavior for inadequacies?
I don’t know, and it really does not matter. He has been a terrible president in every important respect, but he maintains a fair number of supporters who I guess are impressed with the big boyish smile, although that is seen far less often now, the baritone voice, and perhaps the sheer, unprecedented fact of a black man standing in his position. There’s no accounting for taste or popularity, as we see in every corner of contemporary celebrity culture, and American politics absolutely has an important element of celebrity culture, just as it loves to use celebrities as endorsements. Think of the last days of Hillary Clinton’s tired campaign when she had, yes, Beyoncé and Jay Z appearing in Ohio. It is hard to imagine what political or economic or social information that pair of pop celebrities had to offer voters, and it was reported by some that they were quietly paid millions for some minutes of effort to help swing the state with razzle-dazzle. After all, this was the Hillary Campaign, a glorious travelling circus that is estimated to have burned through $1.2 billion.
Many do expect something different from Trump, and we can hope their expectations are well-founded. His entire path to the presidency does show some unorthodox attitudes and methods – unorthodox, that is, by the claustrophobic standards and practices of that center of world empire, Washington, not unorthodox in some wider sense – and they show a very tough and driven man. It is simply a fact that anyone missing the last quality cannot function effectively as President in 21st-century America. The general environment in Washington, without the least exaggeration, may be compared to the proverbial snake pit or to scenes from the last days of Roman Empire.
That is why, for example, Bernie Sanders is such a hopeless hope. The man conducted an impressive crusade, displaying considerable skills, yet he just folded in the end, leaving his enthusiastic followers in limbo and giving up to Hillary Clinton who represented almost everything he opposed and who stood before him as someone who had just clearly cheated him out of the nomination through a whole range of cheats, ploys and gimmicks. Yet, he just accepted her and even did some campaigning for her.
Such a personality offers zero promise in face-to-faces with Pentagon generals, CIA Big Suits, mega-corporation presidents, and some foreign leaders who are closer to Mafiosi than politicians. What do you expect out of a little place like Vermont? It’s lovely. I’ve spent time there. But it resembles a great deal something from a backlot set for “Lassie Come Home” or “Anne of Green Gables.” I know, I know, Bernie originally came from hard-bitten New York, but the operative word there is “came.” Whatever his reasons for seeking bucolic, low-stress bliss, they do not make him material for presiding over Washington’s Chamber of Horrors.
Many Americans themselves, including both liberals and conservatives, are well aware of the dishonesty of their government, if only in a vague sense, but they know the task of doing anything about it is just too overwhelming and difficult to consider. After all, peasants on a 17th century estate hardly dared dream of changing the “natural order” in which they lived. And ordinary Americans work extremely hard to raise their families, and a great many of them do not work at all. They do not command great resources for all the costs and activities of a crusade. The general human condition in Western countries has not changed quite so much as some like to imagine over a few centuries of enlightenment and progress. A huge number of Americans count only for brief moments when their ballots are sought with sound-bites and vacuous ads. Afterwards, the establishment goes on just as before, ignoring them and getting back to the business of lying.
The papers people read – and, thanks to the spreading, corrosive effects of American imperialism, I include other Western countries, not just the United States - and the broadcasts to which they listen are uniform in discouraging any truly fresh way of looking at things and in suppressing the hope that arrangements can be much different. They universally avoid telling the truth where government prefers that they don’t. The idea of independent and principled journalism is something you only find in brochures for journalism schools or in Hollywood films.
The two major American political parties - together forming a duopoly of political power little different in overall its effect from the kind of monopoly power American authorities like to disparage in other, “less free” places – certainly do not provide much room for fresh voices or new initiatives. Over long periods, they can actually be quite stifling, much like high officials in a church concerning accepted truth and doctrine. The parties are totally dominated by money - money that can only come in the volumes required for marketing, advertising, polls, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, facilities of every kind, publicity, and travel expenses from extremely wealthy people and special interests who are not the least interested in any significant change to a very cozy and comfortable situation.
The dominance of the Clintons in the Democratic Party through their money connections has been an arrangement to defend the status quo. It was a clever construction. The Clintons got to be center stage, play-acting as liberals and agents of change, in exchange for the kind of money which absolutely guaranteed that they never for a moment could forgot that they were just playing parts, not really doing anything of consequence. Bill Clinton’s record as President is interchangeable, remarkably so, with what might have been expected from a traditional Republican. Hillary’s record as Secretary of State made her promise for the future, if anything, far more extreme in the same direction, and especially when it came to serving special interests and waging bloody war. The woman wore $11,000 Armani suits regularly and commanded $300,000 a pop plus expenses and comforts (right down to a standard demand for a certain bottled water to be supplied) for a long series of tedious speeches on America’s military given to investment bankers, and she made private jokes about people dying, as we know she said of Julian Assange, “Couldn’t we just drone him or something?” Or there was her appalling joke about the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, a man who had been a good leader to his people, “We came, we saw, he died! Ha, ha, ha!”
The Democratic Party, given its distant past, especially the now all-but-forgotten legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, is the one from which an outsider viewing America, with no close knowledge of it, might reasonably have expected to find some prospect for change. But that seems a naïve hope if you understand who are the interests keeping the wheels of the organization turning.
The Democratic Party has become completely an establishment party, and one that literally morphed into the War Party along the way. Today, it offers a menu of the lightest possible offerings of social interest – the political equivalent of a platter of Ladies’ Tearoom sandwiches and dainties served by waiters in white gloves - just to differentiate itself from the Republicans and to make Americans of any degree of genuine liberal sentiment feel a little more comfortable. Since there aren’t a great number of the latter left in America by all appearances, the offerings can indeed be extremely modest.
Of course, these menu offerings consist of suggestions, attitudes, and slogans, not hard proposals for change, real change, in anything. The Democrats’ recent history of political behavior much resembles what mega-corporations do when they stick an image of a pink bow on their product packaging for a while and run a few, likely tax-deductible, ads promising purchasers that they will be helping in the fight against breast cancer by buying the brand. Imagine a package of Marlboros with a pink bow printed on it, and you get the picture.
Nothing better represents this modern Democratic leitmotif than Hillary Clinton’s long record of sound-bite concerns on many topics accompanied by a record of no actual effort spent on doing anything beyond getting elected. She started her last campaign saying every woman who is a rape victim deserved to be believed – something surely many young women and sympathetic men found re-assuring - yet she herself had dismissed privately, out-of-hand, for years a platoon of women pointing to her own predatory husband with the same charge.
Again, her displeasure with the Electoral College – echoed recently after her defeat - was first declared back in 2000, when George Bush won with a popular minority, but there is no record of her doing any work towards amending that outdated and anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, as during her eight years as a Senator. No, that would be a huge task to undertake, and political rewards are greater for sound-bites than they are for actual slogging hard work on anything most people do not even understand. Captains on the bridge with their gold braid and brass buttons on immaculate uniforms get noticed, not the sweating engineers actually running the ship down in the boiler room.
Make no mistake, the Democrats are bedrock establishment today, a party defending mostly backward views of the world and of American society. They are nothing more than the political Coke to the Republican’s Pepsi, or vice versa. And all the endorsements and advertising in the world do not change the reality of two sugary, dyed, fizzy drinks, indistinguishable in taste to many. Eight years of Obama - a man whose first campaign saw him sometimes wearing sandals and eschewing a totemic, imperialistic American flag pin on his lapel and intoning to cheering crowds, “Yes, we can” – proved that beyond all doubt.
Political figures like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein are pretty close to irrelevant in the steaming boiler room of real American politics. Ideas are virtually never an issue in American elections. Neither is improving government’s service to citizens, from education to healthcare. Neither is the proper financing and budgeting of government. Neither is a reduction to insane military and security spending. How can it be otherwise in this “pounding fist” of an imperial society? All such American politicians tend to remind one of some naïve political science professor lecturing a rapt first-year audience of undergraduates excited about being out of high school and entering “the real world.”
This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments.
Barack Obama is not one of those marginal American politicians, having gained the leadership of one of the two great parties, and yet in eight years he changed almost nothing worth changing. Whether the plight of whistleblowers in America or the third-world conditions prevailing in American cities where many of his fellow black people survive in squalor. He did nothing to reform a financial system that gave the world a collapse from which it still has not recovered. He did virtually nothing about the nation’s rotting schools or rotting infrastructure. He whined about guns but never acted in a serious way on the huge problem of police who shoot people dead on the nation’s streets, more than 1,100 of them last year alone
Yet he signed, time after time, record legislation for squandering money on the military and Big Intelligence. Under his command, the Pentagon literally burned pallet-load shipments of cash on bad programs such as the failed F-35 fighter, a new super-aircraft carrier that doesn’t work, a new type of littoral combat ship that doesn’t work, and a new Zumwalt-class destroyer that has proven an embarrassment. And there are the hugely expensive and highly intrusive NSA Supercomputer Data Centers. This is not a record of which to be proud, and it is about as far from liberal or progressive as you can go.
And, of course, this “liberal,” as so many insist still on calling him, ended by killing more people than any dictator or demagogue of this generation on earth you care to name, several hundred thousand of them in his eight years. And he found new ways to kill, too, as by creating the world’s first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation. Here he signs off on “kill lists,” placed in his Oval Office in-box, to murder people he has never seen, people who enjoy no legal rights or protections. His signed orders are carried out by uniformed thugs working at computer screens in secure basements where they proceed to play computer games with real live humans as their targets, again killing or maiming people they have never seen.
If you ever have wondered where all the enabling workers came from in places like Stalin’s Gulag or Hitler’s concentration camps, well, here is your answer. American itself produces platoons of such people. You could find them working at Guantanamo and in the far-flung string of secret torture facilities the CIA ran for years, and you could find them in places like Fallujah or Samarra or Abu Ghraib, at the CIA’s basement game arcade killing centers, and even all over the streets of America dressed as police who shoot unarmed people every day, sometimes in the back.
Obama has told more lies than anyone could possibly count while conducting so much killing and destruction, and he has done so unblinkingly. If you have ever noticed, government officials doing shameful and illegal things do tend to lie about what it is they are doing. And when Obama wasn’t telling lies, he made secrecy and lack of transparency hallmarks of his administration. He is said to feel very harshly towards whistle-blowers and leakers. He ends his grubby term of office with baseless, self-serving public accusations comparable in every way to those of Senator Joe McCarthy of the early 1950s.
McCarthy, a Republican, was also someone the establishment quietly supported for a time. He served their purposes, until he started weaving dangerously on the road, much like a drunken driver. He departed from the accepted script and began hurling accusations everywhere, and not just accusations about “commies” in the State Department, a place the establishment of the time hated. He came to relish accusing some targets of being sexual perverts, and he attacked new target after new target, threatening the ability of government even to function. For those who don’t know, J. Edgar Hoover, perpetual director of the FBI and an early supporter of McCarthy, was gay and a cross-dresser in private.
Of course, the establishment doesn’t have to worry about the embarrassing excesses of Obama and pompous appointees like James Clapper, as they finally did about those of McCarthy, because this pair of vicious clowns faithfully did just as they were supposed to do, and they are now headed for the exit doors. But they do have to worry about Trump, a man who already has expressed intelligent skepticism over the offerings of Big Intelligence as well as intelligent skepticism about the shameful and immense waste of the Pentagon. Importantly, he has asked why the entire Mideast is on fire and why Russia should be viewed as an enemy. And that is why the likes of Obama and Clapper have taken on a last-minute, rearguard destructive operation on behalf of those fearful of change.
It is certain that Joseph McCarthy’s rise to power could not have happened without important silent support, and his fall, after pretty much disgracing himself, allowed members of the establishment to congratulate themselves in public over protecting America from such demagoguery. All of this, from beginning to end, was complete hypocrisy, the very kind of hypocrisy we have screaming at us today from Washington. A similar claque of powerful people today congratulates themselves on efforts to interfere with the proper and peaceful transition of power to a man they’ve arbitrarily labelled a demagogue.
America’s mainline press has supported the claque by painting Trump as a dangerous demagogue, and I think it is largely over their resentment for his literally hi-jacking a very tired, almost worn-out, Republican Party - which resembled a becalmed antique sailing ship going nowhere - and promising to power it off in new directions. Of course, those loyal to the Clinton-Obama War Party greedily join in the accusations against Trump, seemingly completely innocent or even unaware of behavior ranging from insider plots to steal Hillary’s nomination from a contender to killing a third of a million people in Syria and who knows how many in Libya.
Also, they literally hate the prospect that the War Party, which they have faithfully supported for years, may be crumbling. And, who knows, even the possible further prospect of its demise after recent events revealed it to the public as a mafia-like operation with little respect for democratic process or principles of any kind? Stranger things in politics have happened, and political parties are no more guaranteed eternal life than the crowds at American revival meetings who raise their arms in child-like fantasy towards some huckster-preacher banging the Bible at the podium.
You must always remember, America’s press, which loves to congratulate itself regularly on its journalistic principles, is a mature and in some ways declining industry which is owned, through consolidations, by a very small number of corporate interests who completely support the Neocon Wars and a highly aggressive American foreign policy which puts American corporate interests first, everywhere, and reduces foreign governments, such as those in Europe or Japan, to American satrapies. The dominant views of America’s establishment are not enlightened, not democratic, not open-minded. They are “me-first” and keep competitors abroad under your thumb.
The subject of the Neocon Wars raises the related issue of the Israel Lobby’s influence in American politics. These destructive wars and an associated hyper-aggressive American foreign policy reflect this influence. The term “Neocon” refers to a coterie of influential people in Washington over the last fifteen years or so, people who have openly advocated for a highly aggressive policy of asserting American global dominance, always including a subsidiary aim, expressed with the euphemism, “the birth of a new Middle East.” Eliminating any independent-mindedness in the countries of the Mideast and assuring Israel’s complete imperialistic dominance over the region are the primary goals of the wars and interventions which have cost about two million lives and immense destruction over the Bush-Obama era. The extent of much of this holocaust is allowed to remain hidden from the public by our obliging corporate press, and efforts at explaining the causes has been a great throbbing engine for the production of lies.
But what is the long-term sense of assuring total dominance by eight million people, many of them immigrants, over hundreds of millions of others with centuries of history in the region? Eight million people who have no relationship or common history or culture and views with the great masses over which they are to dominate? An essentially European, urban people who share only a religion – and many of them not even that since Israel has a high proportion of non-believers - with the ancient Hebrews who once lived there? Even that number of eight million is deceptive since it includes over a million Arabs who are accidentally, and not with full equality, technical citizens of Israel.
These terrible Neocon Wars are, in addition, largely responsible for two devastating developments in our time. The first is huge movements of terrified refugees into Europe, millions of them, causing immense difficulties and putting great stress on the very foundations of the EU.
The second is the phenomenon we call international terror, which in fact is a side effect of the Neocon Wars. A huge amount of weaponry has been scattered around in the region by supporters of the American policy. Then, large numbers of mercenaries and rootless, violent people have been deliberately recruited, paid, and supplied to assist in carrying out America’s policy, as in Libya and Syria. Finally, there are large numbers of angry young men now who seek revenge for what has been done to their homes and families. It is a witches’ brew our press deliberately confuses by calling it international terror while constantly promoting the idea of Arabs and Muslims being undependable, unstable, and backward people, a concept welcomed and supported by the residents of the American crusader fortress we call Israel. The entire effort has been a guaranteed formula for instability and human misery.
In reality, what we call international terror is largely the “blowback” of American policies which themselves amount to state terror. Israel, of course, finds comfort in headlines in the West about “international terror” since the fear of that notion helps Americans and Europeans feel a bit more bonded to the fears Israel has always felt in its position as a colony planted by violence in an alien region. Many Israelis undoubtedly feel about their millions of neighbors much the way the Old South’s planters used to feel about the large number of inhabitants in the slave quarters as they went to bed each night with pistols and daggers kept under their pillows. Fear of rebellion was constant and worked like a poisonous substance in the Old South society, even though there was only one rebellion, a small one too, that ever happened. That endless unease explains why Old South society was well known for its inclination to violence, as in the infamous “code of the Old South.” Doesn’t Israel have much the same reputation?
America’s assistance and policies keep a garrison state not only going but growing, growing through the regular seizure of their neighbors’ property, a terrible practice which successive American governments fear addressing. Why? I think the Israel Lobby’s extremely well-organized efforts in American politics explain that. Support Israel, almost unconditionally, and you will receive large campaign donations and positive press coverage (remembering, it is a much-consolidated American press owned by quite a small number of companies). Criticize Israel and your opponents will get the donations and you will get negative press coverage. This has been an on-going pattern since the days when Harry Truman first agreed to recognize Israel, against his private best judgment, at a time when he felt vulnerable because his own re-election was quite uncertain.
While in the short term this massive bloodshed and destruction may be reassuring for Israel, having pretty much everything around it flattened, over the long term I do not see how this can be anything but destabilizing.
Destabilizing just as is the $38 billion, ten-year military-assistance agreement Obama just extended to Israel, a country perfectly able to pay for its own defense. This amount vastly exceeds what the United States gives any other country, even far larger ones in far greater economic need. The amount represents an increase of more than a quarter over the previous decade’s assistance agreement. And Obama gave it without a single condition imposed on Israel at a time when Israel’s government is constantly violating laws, rights, and international norms and agreements. I can’t think of any other place on earth where it is regarded as just fine suddenly to march out and seize someone else’s farms or homes. You cannot not build a sound future society for yourself that way, quite apart from the injustice and misery inflicted on others.
Yet, the press often gives the impression that Obama is no friend to Israel. It is well-known that Obama and Netanyahu personally dislike each other intensely, and Netanyahu has gone out of his way to demean or embarrass Obama several times. So, does the immense size of this military-assistance agreement reflect the influence of the Israel Lobby? I think it does, and it all points again to Obama’s total inability in office to fight for anything worth fighting for, such as conditions at least placed on a criminal government being handed a vast fortune, something approaching $500 each year for each citizen of Israel, almost a national basic personal income, if you will, supplied by America.
It is often asserted that the term “Israel Lobby” indicates prejudice, but saying that is just a form of reverse-prejudice, another version of the worn-threadbare accusation that if you criticize Israel, you are, ipso-facto, anti-Semitic. Indeed, this false idea has become as common as rain, and Israel has made considerable diplomatic efforts through the years, with some success, in Europe and in North America to have criticism of Israel criminalized in one fashion or another.
Two distinguished American scholars - John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government - wrote a serious book on the subject of the Israel Lobby, establishing the fact and of its existence beyond question. Others, too, have contributed to understanding the phenomenon.
And we also see, from time to time, events which bring the reality forcefully home. Israeli diplomats in London were just caught on video discussing bringing down British MPs regarded as unfriendly to Israel. Well, talk about direct interference in the internal affairs and elections of others! Newt Gingrich, when last running for his party’s presidential nomination, went around making speeches about how there really was no such thing as a Palestinian after receiving the best part of $20 million dollars in campaign donations from a very wealthy and avid supporter of Israel. Freshmen American Congressmen after an election are routinely “offered” – I put that in quotes because it is not an offer to be declined without political consequences - paid holidays to Israel for indoctrination. Recently, the New York Times confirmed the discovery that all of its stories concerning Israel are routinely passed by the official Israeli Censor before being published. Hillary’s most massive contributors over the years are members in good standing of the Lobby.
One of the most predictable and bordering-on-absurd regular happenings in Washington around this subject is Senator Lindsey Graham suddenly leaping to his feet at any mention of Israel which has even a hint of less-than-fulsome praise or at any proposal to give a less-than-lordly hand-out and going into paroxysms. I’ve asked myself why that would be. Why should Senator Graham, who represents Baptists in South Carolina, choose the role of political pit bull on guard for Israel? Why should he care so intensely and constantly about Israel? Well, I spent a short time reading about him and looking at photos, and I couldn’t help being struck by the distinct possibility of Senator Graham’s being gay.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, unless you happen to represent South Carolina, surely one of the more backward and least tolerant states in the Union. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Senator Graham was caught, years ago, in a “honey trap” by Mossad, and he has been given to understand that compromising photos exist. Today, he is a tireless defender of all things Israeli. It is hard to explain such sustained motivation otherwise. Exactly the same kind of thing happened to the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover early in his career. The Mafia is said to have had compromising photos of him and a male lover, and that old bull dog-faced lawman eventually became notorious for not pursuing the Mafia, allowing it decades of comfortable growth after the repeal of Prohibition.
He always chased instead almost non-existent Communists, keeping the Communist party of America’s ranks packed with undercover FBI Agents and its coffers filled with their expensed donations so that it kept the appearance of something formidable when it wasn’t and served to justify constant FBI budget increases. It might be called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” approach to spying, much like the CIA’s approach to its annual Soviet estimates during the Cold War. The estimates were always wildly inflated, and the CIA always got the budget increases it sought. Security service empires have a way of growing exponentially regardless of the threat level. They share with the military the almost magical ability to be always discovering dire new needs for their services.
The whole set of matters concerning Israel forms a huge indigestible mass at the very center of American politics. Clearly, it is better in every way to halt the Neocon wars. Clearly, also, it is better to force Israel to make peace and define its still undefined borders by accepting the status quo of 1967. Clearly, it is better to have a stable, peaceful region with good long-term relations with the United states. But, these things are easier said than done, and precisely because of the Israel Lobby which always defends Israel, even when it pursues destructive policies and goals, as it so frequently does.
A lot of people hope Trump will halt the stupid wars, and a lot of people, recognizing his political history of being an upstart without a lifetime’s obligations to the usual political crowd, think he may be in a good position to do something important in the Mideast. There is ambiguity here though, owing to some references about moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a non-starter for peace, if ever there was one, but the references are also quite possibly a deal-maker lure, for there can be little doubt that Jerusalem will be the capital of both Israel and Palestine in the end.
At least, ending the wars is the sine qua non of anything to be called progress. It is also part of a needed de-escalation in America’s current hyper-aggressive global posture. If you want a better domestic economy, there are few better places to start than paring back the unbelievable waste of great masses of ships and planes and tanks rumbling around everywhere and creating nothing of economic value. Nothing is more wasteful and destructive than maintaining such a military establishment. No one better knows how to waste money than the military with its every movement of a truck or plane costing immensely more than the same act in the civilian economy and none of the movements producing any worthwhile good or service. And the nonsense of keeping Europe and Russia as near-enemies rather than flourishing economic partners only impoverishes everyone.
But it is not sound economic thinking or a sensible approach to world affairs which has governed America’s use of its military for years. It is indulgent, uncaring pride, the arrogance of a wealthy establishment which does what it does simply because it can. It is a formidable barrier against progress which is not going to just fade away. And Trump’s political base, while clearly excluding Neocons, does include the belly-over-the-belt types who, perhaps unthinkingly, like to see Old Glory waving everywhere. So, there is a big set of difficulties for him to work through, and it is not at all clear how he can do so.
The establishment’s waste and arrogance and paying-no-attention to ordinary people really are what motivated a lot of Americans to vote for Trump, especially when the other choice was the very embodiment of those arrogant qualities, annoyingly and patronizingly taking a moment, here and there, to nibble a piece of fried chicken with the folks in some obscure diner. Good photo-op. Americans very much feel they have a national government which behaves more as an occupying power than as a legitimate institution to serve them. And the fact that it spends so much time and money and credibility on trying to control the planet does have a tendency to influence its resources and its very attitudes at home. After all, they are occupied with earth-shattering matters abroad, and you, well, you just don’t count in the scheme of things.
But politics never provides complete change, as some naïve political thinkers like to believe. America remains a huge imperial power essentially run by wealthy people for the interests of wealthy people, and that is not going to change any time soon, but that does not preclude some changes in the way things have been conducted because not all wealthy people see their interests as being identical, and wealthy people making decisions do sometimes make very bad ones. Never mind how the Pentagon and CIA, under Obama and Bush, have stomped their heels into the necks of countless thousands of innocents and wrecked whole societies, just look on the home front at the shabby way corporate giants can behave.
We have Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post and turning it into a more complete propaganda factory than ever, publishing, for example, a scurrilous, libelous list of Internet sites said to be under Russian influence, a list obtained from an “anonymous source” which almost certainly just happen to reside in Langley, Virginia. We have Facebook’s shuffling, t-shirted multi-billionaire appointing himself American Guru of Truth and Fakery in the News. This from the founder of one of the most fake-filled sites on the Internet, notorious previously for fake reader “likes” which affect advertising rates, but, more importantly, an outfit which ceaselessly censors and spies on its users, sucking information from them like a Dyson whirlwind vacuum cleaner to sell to marketers and send along to the security services. Recently, when I use my Google bookmark link for Russia’s Sputnik (formerly, RIA Novosti, The Voice of Russia), an informative and entertaining site I have checked for years, Google frequently inserts a warning page telling me that it is dangerous to proceed, a page which includes a button marked “Back to Safety,” as though I were approaching a phishing or pornographic site. This from the company that started years ago with a motto, “Do no harm,” but, of course, today Google is a vest-pocket affiliate of CIA, an outfit which does almost nothing but harm. And look at the way Microsoft introduced Windows 10, including violations of fundamental conventions on the Internet such as a pop-up “install” box whose “dismiss command” did precisely the opposite when the “x” was selected, or the way another giant, Apple, has treated some of its customers, including things like “bricking” their costly phones if any effort is made to change or repair anything.
It is simply about the arrogance of power, a phrase the late Senator Fulbright wrote years ago to describe America’s murderous and pointless crusade in Vietnam.
Politics can shake-up a few institutions which need shaking-up, expose a few rotten actors and send them packing, turn around a few dangerous policy paths, and it can grant the people at large a sense of some new possibilities. Sometimes, and this may be one of those times. But the fanatical wing of Trump supporters, especially those on the “alt-right” are almost certain to be disappointed when he does not re-create America the way “accepting Christ” is supposed to re-create a sinner.
Trump seems a man of enough independent-mindedness and independent wealth and seasoned toughness of personality to withstand the assaults he will face from the establishment in Washington. Actually, I shouldn’t say “will” because he is facing waves of them before he even takes the oath, and he is doing admirably well at handling them. There is a claque of very rich and influential people who are not going to disappear into the woodwork despite losing control now. However, he is himself a rich man with a rich man’s interests, and he is not likely to lose his sense of direction in a wave of patriotic fervor which some Americans confuse with religion. He will have done as much as any candidate could if he ends the killing and the mindless interference in the affairs of others and creates some programs which bring jobs to large numbers of now-hopeless Americans. He actually does have a chance at genuine political greatness, but I would not bet the farm on it.
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