The Question of Character 463

Every now and then, I feel myself compelled to write something I know that the majority of my readers will not agree with. That is because I do not go along with left wing groupthink any more than I go along with the line of the Establishment. I do not subscribe to a set of opinions. but attempt to consider every question afresh.

Wikileaks is much criticised for having published the leaked Hillary and Podesta emails, thus having “caused” Trump. At its extreme, this involves the entire evidence free “Russiagate” paranoia. I find myself criticised for my association with Julian Assange on these same grounds.

The major answer to this is that it would have been morally wrong to conceal the evidence of Hillary’s wrongdoing, her associations with the Saudis and the Bankers, and particularly the rigging of the primary elections against Bernie Sanders by Hillary and the DNC. If I was accused of association with concealing all that, I would not be able to defend Wikileaks. Another part of the answer is that I am not sure any of this much affected the actual votes cast. But the most important bit of the answer is that I am not sorry that Clinton lost and Trump won.

I say that with apologies to all my American friends who are suffering from Trump’s harsh domestic policies and his version of the “hostile climate for immigrants” which we have long suffered in the UK. I do not underestimate the harm done by Trump’s penchant for trade wars, or his blindly pro-Israel policies and gestures, nor the continuation of the Saudi anti-Shia alliance.

But the vital fact for the rest of the world is that Trump remains the only US President since Jimmy Carter not to have launched a major war. In this, he is true to what he said consistently during his election campaign. I do not think you have to look any further than that for the explanation of why he pulled out of the attack on Iran following the destruction of the US drone. The mechanics of the decision taking are not its cause, contrary to all the speculation.

I should take the time to congratulate Iran on shooting down the drone. The Americans have killed tens of thousands of people, all over the Middle East and Central Asia, using such drones. That they should holler so much when somebody knocks one down is ludicrous.

I am absolutely convinced that, were Hillary President, the Middle East would now be devastated by the biggest of all the recent wars, and America would have invaded both Syria and Iran by now. Hillary was an enthusiast for the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and she was personally involved in starting the obliteration of the advanced Libyan state on the flimsiest of pretexts. The potential devastation she would have inflicted and the millions who would now be dead, maimed or orphaned outweighs in my view all the harm perpetrated by Trump. So my conclusion is this: I would far rather not have President Trump nor President Clinton, but forced into a straight binary choice I will take Trump. He has a better character; for all his faults he is the only one of the two who is not a psychopathic killer.

How the Trump administration plays out, given the warmongering advisors from the political Establishment with whom Trump has surrounded himself, is a fascinating question. John Bolton is as near evil as any human being can be. Which brings me back to the faux left and their views. In 2013, I spoke in a ceremony at the Oxford Union to give the Sam Adams Award for Integrity, of which previous winners include Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, John Kyriakou, Thomas Drake and myself. Hundreds of students from the “left” at Oxford University were engaged in a rowdy picket against the Sam Adams award aimed to stop the event because of the ridiculous allegations in Sweden against Assange.

Now get this. Exactly the day before, the Oxford Union had hosted an evening with John Bolton. Not a single member of the “left”, who tried to prevent Ray McGovern and I from speaking, had demonstrated against the egregious war criminal, responsible for the death of millions. There could not be a more stark example of the spectacular success of the Establishment in using the false trail of identify politics to split and divert the left, particularly among young people.

The following day I was again back in the Oxford Union, this time to take part in a debate on the American Dream. I genuinely was quite spectacularly drunk when I gave this speech. I always enjoy posting it, and am happy to do so again.

My cheerful admission to being drunk is relevant to the point of my imperfect character, and I now will annoy my readers again by saying I don’t think Boris Johnson’s domestic row is important – provided it did not involve violence – or tells us anything we did not know. I confess personally to having once been involved in a domestic shouting match so noisy that the police were called. It was entirely uncharacteristic of both my life and that relationship. Nor for once did I deserve to be shouted at. But these things happen. The evidence is that they happen much more often to Boris than to other people, and if his current partner expected him to be faithful she is plainly very foolish. When it comes to his personal relationships, the man is a serial rat. But did anybody not know that already?

The neighbours were quite right to intervene as they did, including calling the police. It is what should be done where there is real reason to fear domestic violence. Recording the events as potential evidence of a crime was also sensible. But I do not believe that giving the tape to the Guardian was justified. As it appears no violence was in the event involved and no crime had taken place, I do not believe further public prurience is in order. Nor do I believe Boris Johnson is obliged to reveal the detail of his private life to us. Doubtless his partner will sell the story to the tabloids when he eventually casts her off, be that days, months or years away.

Personally I shall welcome Boris Johnson’s elevation to be Prime Minister, which will not last long. It will be a catalyst for Scottish Independence. The political disintegration of the UK will hopefully jolt England out of the cul-de-sac of right wing politics in which it has been stranded for years. Johnson is an awful person. But his brand of uncaring and elitist conservatism is an infinitely greater problem than his domestic arrangements, and where the genuine public concern should lie.

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463 thoughts on “The Question of Character

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  • eddie-g

    “I would far rather not have President Trump nor President Clinton, but forced into a straight binary choice I will take Trump. He has a better character; for all his faults he is the only one of the two who is not a psychopathic killer.”

    He has an utter indifference to suffering, especially if those suffering are non-white. There’s something psychopathic about that.

    As for having not launched a “major war”, I’m pretty sure Bill Clinton didn’t either, not by any sensible definition of “major”. But more to the point, the idea one can trust Trump on anything requires a willing suspension of disbelief. The idea that he won’t start a war by accident or design seems awfully wishful thinking.

    • SA

      Unless you think the war against Serbia was not a ‘major war’.
      Hilary despite not being president had a major role in the war on Libya.

      • eddie-g

        No, I don’t.

        And I wouldn’t regard Libya as a major war either, though as a reckless and illegal attempt at “regime change”, certainly it was that.

        • SA

          And for the serbs and Libyans still suffering it is nothing. Of course it caused us no great hardship, typical imperialist type point of view would you say?

          • eddie-g

            Your comment has nothing to do with anything.

            Hillary is bad and I wish she had never been the Democratic nominee. Attacking her is fine… attacking her with a “But Donald Trump in contrast is ok…” is asinine. (For what it’s worth, Trump is still miles behind George Bush as America’s worst president)

            I don’t see a moral distinction between a full-scale Iraq-type invasion and Libya-type airstrikes. They are both deadly and evil and the cause of suffering for millions. Is it even necessary to say that? For goodness sake. If you are reading anywhere that I am defending either type action maybe recheck your own comprehension skills.

          • pretzelattack

            you just minimized the suffering caused by the clintons, to me that’s absurd. hilary was highly aggressive (and is highly aggressive, toward russia. i think another world war would qualify as a major war, and i think h clinton represented a higher risk of that happening. not that trump may not get there in his own way eventually. it was a wretched choice.

          • eddie-g

            “you just minimized the suffering caused by the clintons”


            Not every Western military intervention = launching a major war.

            This is a matter of semantics, it really doesn’t matter whether anyone agrees. On the ethical side, bombing countries is bad. Full stop. Why is it even necessary to have to point this out?

      • pretzelattack

        oh it’s not major eh? and how about 500k iraqi kids dying due to sanctions? not major. not your kids. righto.

        • eddie-g

          That was caused by sanctions, not war.

          This splitting of hairs is ridiculous. There’s been a litany of appalling Western foreign policy for years, pick your worst, Angola is the one that gets me especially wound up.

          The point is not to defend Trump, a truly awful human being, while attacking Clinton. They are both bad, but only one is in a position where he can inflict harm, however you choose to define “major war”.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “That was caused by sanctions, not war.”

            Sanctions are technically an act of war, unless authorised by the UNSC.

    • Goose

      Interesting comment. as I do think were it not Iran or North Korea, but some white European country, Presidential talk of “obliterating its people, or ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ in the case of North korea, wouldn’t be acceptable to anyone. There is definitely a smack of racism in his foreign policy, the impression brown skinned people being seen as lesser human beings, inferior and expendable.

      • Goose

        To add.

        Other evidence of this ‘lesser people’ view in the form of ‘summary execution’ drone strikes on ‘suspected’ terrorists in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and across Africa. Does anyone think that’d be remotely acceptable on the streets of white, western countries?

    • Carnyx

      A vote for Hillary was a guaranteed vote for more regime change wars (usually killing mostly non-white people), she was positively broadcasting a “No fly zone” in Syria and quitely signaling she would use the Iran deal to claim non-compliance and then use that to justify war.

      A vote for Trump was a wild card, he might, he might not start a war, he at least said he was against more such wars. So, you can trust Clinton to start a war, but you can’t trust Trump not to, but that still makes him better than Clinton.

        • Carnyx

          When I say you “can’t trust Trump not to start a war” how is that taking his word for it? Fact is that presented with a choice between someone who says they are against more wars, even if you can’t trust them, and someone who openly supports such wars, the option that at least says they are against them is better.

          • eddie-g

            I share all your reservations about Hillary Clinton – heck, THE reason she wasn’t the Democratic nominee in 2008 was because she wouldn’t apologize for her support for the Iraq War. Well before Libya I needed no further convincing that she is bad on foreign policy.

            You seem however to rule out that Trump could be worse based on “he at least said he was against more such wars”. And then he hires, of all people, John Bolton? He’s working hand in glove with Erik Prince? How do you make sense of that?

            Trump lies about everything. If your argument is maybe it’ll be better because he said X, you’ve got nothing to offer.

          • Carnyx


            During the election, once Sanders was out, I decided Trump was a better option than Hillary, I realised that nothing Trump said could be trusted, but verbally opposing wars is still better than knowingly voting to get foreigners killed. So far, nothing has happened to change that opinion, Trump hasn’t started a new war yet, so far I’ve been right.

            The danger isn’t over because I do think Iran is attacking the gulf tankers to push up oil prices and thus cause Trump trouble in his re-election, forcing him to choose war or roll back on sanctions, but then the Iranians would only do that if they thought Trump won’t launch all out war (and war with Iran would be a global disaster). Trump’s stupidity in abandoning the Iran deal (and appointing Bolton), has put him in a fix, he only has himself to blame, but no war yet. If he starts one with Iran I’ll rethink.

            Whereas with Hillary I think the US would be fighting full time in Syria within a year of her taking office, leading to massacres of Syrian minorities and the country turning into Afghanistan on Europe’s doorstep, feeding terrorism, instability and refugees throughout the middle east and Europe for decades to come, just like Iraq and Libya. And that’s the optimistic angle, the worst outcome of greater US intervention in Syria would be WW III and we’d all be dead, but at least she doesn’t post offensive tweets!

        • Jo1

          It’s not bad logic! Hillary Clinton was a proven war hungry mad woman!

          Carnyx is spot on. She announced during her campaign that she would impose a no-fly zone over Syria…. exactly what was done in Libya. So her intentions were clear…to continue with illegal regime change, to sideline the UN and to ensure the ME continued to burn. She carried a risk factor that was off the scale.

          • eddie-g

            Are you suggesting Donald Trump’s past suggested an acceptable risk?


          • wonky

            What is it, that you are suggesting, eddie? Anything at all? Anything interesting even?

          • Jo Dominich

            Jo1 might be so but Trump is infinitely millions time worse than Hilary Clinton. He has walked away from international treaties the JCOPA in particular, the latter designed specifically to grant Israhell’s wish for a war with Iran or the destabilisation of Iran as a Nation via sanctions. It was a deliberate decision on Trumps part. What I am finding particularly difficult to stomach here is whatever the case and whatever people’s views on Hilary Clinton are, it is all pure speculation. Trump is a dangerous, narcissitic, Megalomaniac surrounded by very dangerous warmongers he appointed. The only thing all these trade wars he has launched are that it has had a deep impact on USA economy in a negative way. Hilary Clinton, unlike Trump, is a career politician, she was in the top 100 of USA lawyers she is the wife of one of the better Presidents the USA has had. What she said in an election campaign is redundant. Trump was elected on an anti-war ticket. My backside. He has done nothing but be in wars and invoke wars since his election. Just because those wars have not involved an outright invasion of a Sovereign State yet is Immaterial wars waged by sanctions, trade wars and hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths are no different. In fact, if you look at the 500,000 children who died in Iraq as a result of sanctions, that’s a greater casualty rate than many wars based on invasion.

          • Carnyx

            Jo Dominich

            “In fact, if you look at the 500,000 children who died in Iraq as a result of sanctions, that’s a greater casualty rate than many wars based on invasion.”

            I think you’ll find the administration which was imposing those sanctions longest was “one of the better Presidents the USA has had” according to yourself and indeed it was his Secretary of State who termed these deaths “worth it”. Yet you argue Hillary must be the better choice because she is associated with the regime whose horrifying policies you use as an example how bad Trump’s sanctions hypothetically could be! Except so far not even Trump’s stupid and evil sanctions have equalled the deaths rates of Bill Clinton’s. Bill also staged several new military interventions in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Bill Clinton also attempted to offset the losses incurred by the military industrial complex as a result of the end of the cold war by lifting limits on arms trading and encouraging arms races and local conflicts in regional powers, like for example, between Turkey and Greece and between Turkey and it’s own Kurds and Saudi and Iran and Iraq.

      • eddie-g

        Actually Toni Morrison called him that.

        Also, Mandela liked Clinton a lot. Seems kinda relevant.

        • Greg Park

          Mandela wasn’t on the sharp end of his welfare and criminal justice “reforms” like so many African Americans have been.

          • eddie-g

            That bill was part of a grand bargain with the Republican majority in Congress. It was a bad bill, and in isolation would be unforgivable. I’m pleased to see Biden taking flak for his support for it.

  • Athanasius

    Agree with most of this with the usual proviso – they’re NOT “false” left.

    • pretzelattack

      and, as usual, wrong. right wingers are not the left, no matter if they identify themselves as democrats (the clintons) or the labor party (blair)>

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Athanasius June 24, 2019 at 13:18
      Assuming you are talking about the Oxford protesters, they were obviously brainwashed ‘pseudo-Left’.
      We have the same in copious quantities in Stop the War (especially the Hierarchy – given they sprang from the Socialist Workers party, an extremely infiltrated organisation, hardly surprising).
      The States, and Europe, have the same ”pseudo-Left’ problem:
      ‘SYRIA: French Academic Exposes Left-Wing Charlatans as Harbingers of Terrorism’:
      I severed links with a very good Left-Wing Women’s Organisation, not because they hosted a Syrian who belonged to a pro-Opposition group, but because they got upset when I tried to question it. I’m pretty sure they were not infiltrated, but they had ‘imbibed the Cool-Aid’ of brainwashing.
      One good Left Wing site in the US is ‘Black Agenda Report’.

  • Tony

    Interesting arguments here with which I do have some sympathy. It is difficult though to compare what has happened with what might have happened.

    I think it is easy to forget also just how truly gruesome is the record of President Carter. His administration cynically exploited the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan after helping to bring it about in the first place.

    And let us not forget Barack Obama:

    • pretzelattack

      oh please every single american president of the last 120 years, or more, have cynically exploited foreign policy. carter didn’t start this, and he was far better than say lbj or kennedy, as well as his successors, on the foreign policy front.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ SA June 24, 2019 at 13:39
      I don’t read it like that. Trump thought Iran would meekly accept Trump’s ‘deal’ for him to save face, having been the mischief-maker all along, and Iran told him where to get off. That does not equate with ‘provoking’ Trump in my book.

  • RBH

    Most of what I read about the world is written through a Marxist lens so it’s interesting to read someone who clearly takes a different but nevertheless principled approach. The question of the faux, I prefer the term fake left and its identity politics is best understood from the perspective of their class. Seen like this, these privileged, upper middle class people and the relatively few they manage to drag behind them from the lower orders, have, down the years, always been part of the establishment. Oxford University?

    They and their impressionistic reactionary politics are nurtured and amplified by the establishment because their divisive distractions and self-serving logic also serve the establishment. It is no loss, then, to upset them, in my view. The fake left are not the friends of the socialist left and if there are any among them to be won over, it will be through a fight on principles that are not abstract morals but the generalised lessons of history.

    The fake left promotes Clinton the psychopath as a viable alternative to Trump, #metoo as a solution to due process and presumption of innocence while it makes reparations for the upper middle class descendants of chattel slaves the rallying cry against working class unity. But will it not only take Trump’s provocation or launch of another war, to completely undo the analysis of Trump as the lesser of two evils? Is this not to play the same game as the fake left but from the other side of the coin? What then? Will a reassessment be in order? It will be too late and the writing has been on the wall, in the abominable words of Dr Phibes, “for some considerable time.”

    On the question of character and writing on walls, here is a lesson from history.

    “The controversy over Hitler’s personality becomes the sharper the more the secret of his success is sought in himself. In the meantime, another political figure would be difficult to find that is in the same measure the focus of anonymous historic forces.”
    What Is National Socialism? Leon Trotsky, October 1933

    While the likes of Winston Churchill would make excuses for everything vile in Nazi Germany until it became an existential threat to British capital, Trotsky, by starting from the ambitions of German capital in the world economy was able to determine in a postscript written the next month, that the next war would erupt in the time it took for Germany to rearm. Hitler articulated the exasperation of the distressed middle classes and translated it, both domestically and abroad, into a weapon for German capital. This ability is all that was unique to Hitler. His revanchist and expansionist aims were common currency in establishment German politics and the objections of Social Democracy had, in 1914, proved illusory.

    It is through analysis of the position of US capital in the world, specifically its relative decline next to competing Chinese and European capital, that, not only Trump is explained, but the choice between Trump and Clinton. Indeed, Obama was the only president this century able to fit a mask over his sociopathy. This was largely done for him, by the fake, identity politics left.

    Military confrontations with Russia and China are not the special preserve of either party or figure but policy alternatives for which the US state has been preparing and manoeuvring internationally for 20 years or more. That is what Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc are really about. They are policy objectives which persist through administrations, about which the electorate is uninformed and has no choice. Only the urgency of their fulfilment changes as US imperialism looses its grip on the world it once controlled. Pentagon policy papers suggest a window of just a few years before the US loses its military advantages over China.

    Such catastrophic confrontations cannot be entered into without domestic social preparations- meta spying, concentration camps, control of the media, glorification of the military, the destruction of democratic legal rights.

    To restrict ones vision to the choices presented by the establishment may seem sensible and realistic. We all know that at the next election, either the Democrats or Republicans will be elected. If there is another election, that is, and there is, both in Trump’s confrontations with the legislative branch, his cultivation of a para-military fascist base and his hints at extending his presidency, a question mark over that. Not that the Democrats will offer any opposition to dictatorial rule in the US. They share the same objective, if they prefer themselves in the saddle so as to pursue the bipartisan objectives by their own tactics. In reality, the longer we cling to the idea that the future of humanity hangs on the character of individuals and the choices we make between them, the more desperate our situation becomes. It is the classes represented by political parties and the needs that press upon them, that determines both their policies and the human material that sells them to the public. Pigs will fly before the US, or indeed, the world’s establishment parties chart a course for peace and equality. Look elsewhere.

    • Kempe

      Churchill made repeated warnings of the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazis from 1930 onwards. He was ignored and branded a warmonger for his trouble.

      • RBH

        Churchill’s warnings were apprehensions, not an historical prognosis.

        “history will pronounce Hitler either a monster or a hero. It is this which will determine whether he will rank in Valhalla with Pericles, with Augustus, and with Washington, or welter in the inferno of human scorn with Attila and Temerlane. It is enough to say that both possibilities are open at the moment.”

        “The Truth About Hitler” published in The Strand Magazine in November 1935.

        This formed the basis of his appraisal of Hitler in Great Contemporaries of 1937. This omitted several paragraphs blaming the German people for Hitler and was even more conciliatory in tone.

        There was only one possibility for Hitler,personal accidents aside, and Trotsky identified it.

        • lysias

          Yes, I too immediately thought of that piece on Hitler in “Great Contemporaries” of 1937. It is surprisingly balanced.

        • Kempe

          Whatever; he wasn’t making excuses for everything that was vile in Nazi Germany though.

          • RBH

            I disagree entirely. Clearly we look back on Hitler with the hindsight of WW2 and the Holocaust. All the same, even without this or the analytical advantage given Trotsky by historical materialism, there was sufficient empirical evidence to demonstrate what Hitler was and, generally, what he would need to do to accomplish his expressed aims.

            To suggest that Hitler, a third rate intellect, whose program was animated by the racism, anti-Marxism and mysticism expressed in Mein Kampf, could rank with Washington as a hero, is not only to make excuses for the brutal suppression of the German working class and its attendant antisemitism, but revealing of the perspective from which Churchill came to oppose Hitler. It was not from the defence of democratic rights, which for Churchill equated with defence of private property, overall, the private property rights of the British ruling elite, but from the defence of the British Empire and all the vicious reactionary filth required to maintain it.

            Contained in Mein Kampf, along with virulent anti-communism and white supremacism, with all of which Churchill was quite at one, you will find passages deriding the German revanchists who demanded rebuilding the navy and recovering the former German colonies. In Hitler, then, Churchill saw a leader who might rebuild and expand Germany as an ally of the British Empire against what he still believed to be a Bolshevik Russia. It was Churchill who in the aftermath of the European war suggested to Roosevelt that several hundred thousand Wehrmacht soldiers be rearmed and organised to join Britain and the US in an assault upon Russia. It was not the persecution of socialists, Jews, the disabled, even certain liberals and churchmen, then, that made up Churchill’s mind about Hitler, but the laying down of new hulls in the shipyards of Germany that signalled the birth of the Kriegsmarine.

            Clearly for Churchill, himself not shy of sending troops to suppress striking Welsh miners and as a veteran of the Boer War being no stranger to concentration camps, “Action against the Un-German Spirit” AKA book burning, had no defining significance either. When not in the service of a socialist revolution, any end does indeed justify the means!

      • Dungroanin

        The ‘Black Dog’ inflicted Churchill was as much a psychopath as his predecessor for the Pathocracy – Rhodes.

        There is direct line from there to Hillary.

        The only other potus not a member of the cfr was JFK.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      The secret of Hitler’s success was the money he recieved from Henry Ford and friends. His real mission was to take out the Soviet Union. When he was defeated at Stalingrad the West launched a second front in Normandy to grab as much territory as possible before the Soviets siezed it.

        • pretzelattack

          and while you’re reading, read about the west’s assaults on russia.

        • Deb O'Nair

          ‘Decent’ history books appear to be somewhat affected by the air-brush of history. Germany was the #1 recipient of US overseas investment throughout the 30s. Many industrial and financial players were closely allied with the Nazi regime right up until Pearl Harbor, even as German bombs were falling on London.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Deb O’Nair June 24, 2019 at 22:57
            Indeed, major Corporation chiefs and Banksters even planned to overthrow FDR in a military coup in 1933, but they chose the wrong guy to lead it, Major General Smedley Butler, who fortunately was faithful to his country and it’s Constitution.
            He played along for just long enough to find out who was behind it, then exposed it to Congress.
            The whole thing was swept under the rug, because of the importance of the plotters.
            He later died in strange circumstances whilst campaigning against US entry into WWII (I suspect he was killed).

    • Dungroanin

      Excellent. Well put RBH.

      I’ll add if I may:

      The phrase ‘Controlled Opposition’; and

      That only in hindsight can any historical assessment be made if any ‘leader’, even if it is faulty and done by the ‘winners’; and

      Why t.f didn’t and doesn’t Bernie make a song and dance about the revelations of the leaks ???
      His supporters did – you can fool some of the people …

  • Je

    When they shout and scream so their neighbours are disturbed, think someone might be being murdered and have to call the police – then that’s not a private matter any more. *They’ve* made it a public one, disturbed their neighbours and wasted police time (them, not who called the police). The whole street shouldn’t have to put up with people’s domestics. Its not a big issue though…

    The biggest reason Johnson isn’t fit to be Prime Minister is he voted for the invasion of Iraq – all forgotten. Brown, Cameron, May… and now possibly him… just carry on regardless and become PM despite the horrible enormity of that. We live in a sick colonially-minded country where Iraqis and so on killed abroard by ‘our’ bombs don’t count.

    • Rod

      Indeed. The neighbours weren’t to know a more serious incident wasn’t taking place. If any other person not being of such high profile had disturbed the peace in the manner these two twerps had, the police would have had no compunction in charging them with that offence. They should have been ‘run in’ Mark Field style and the proceeds used to help the funding of the Met Police budget.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Je June 24, 2019 at 13:49
      And how many cases of people not calling the police to such events have resulted in murders or serious harm? I obviously don’t have figures, but I know I have hears of such cases.
      Better abide by the precautionary principal.

  • BabsP

    Interestingly I have been getting pelters from my son for my resolute insistance that I would never have voted Hillary albeit that Trump was the alternative. Trump is just as awful as could have been expected but he does have one saving grace. Obama bombed and droned and excused torture (” we tortured some folks”) while selling out to Wall Street, big pharma et al and did it all with such grace and erudition that he was judged by most an outstanding president. Trump however has torn the veil from US actions in the world and people can see just what an unlawful terrorist state the US is. Apparently Trump is sanctioning a billion people at the moment. The biggest bully in the playground. Trump’s behaviour is hastening the end of the empire – that might be an accomplishment worth voting for (provided he really does keep shying away from all-out war).

    • Node

      Apparently Trump is sanctioning a billion people at the moment.

      China and Russia alone total over 1.5 billion. Include the other 28 countries and the total is nearly 2 billion. The US is sanctioning over a quarter of the world.

      • Deb O'Nair

        China is not being sanctioned, the PLA are subject to US sanctions but that is not (quite) the entire population of China. Again the same with Russia, elements of the state are under sanctions but these are not the same sort of sanctions as against entire nations, e.g. as with Saddam’s Iraq or Iran today.

  • Jill Nicoll

    Brilliant as always Craig. I just wish EVERYONE had to read your reports.

  • Goose

    Look at the way ‘centrist’ candidates emerge from nowhere and are then promoted relentlessly by the MSM, seemingly for no discernible or meritable reason. We clearly have bigger problems in our democracies. Maybe the rational is it’s in that hazy concept of ‘the national interest’ , this leadership grooming process can be rationalised by taking a position of; yes we selected them, but hey, they still had to win a mandate – therefore, the public were happy with our selection. I won’t venture names , but the way politicians comes from nowhere it’s a deeply strange phenomena. Keep pinching yourself and repeat :The Adjustment Bureau isn’t real , is just a film, isn’t it?

    • Goose

      To add.

      I think this explains why US & UK voters are increasingly opting for outsiders (wrongly labeled populists) . People sense they are ‘being managed’ by hidden elites who control the message. And are thus selecting establishment outsiders people like : Corbyn; Trump , Sanders AOC and now Johnson – because he’s clearly not an establishment pick or favourite, even if he eventually becomes one.

        • Goose


          I base my assertion on the fact he’s not the establishment’s pick or favourite, this is becoming very clear in his MSM coverage, esp. to those who understand the clear signs. He may eventually become such a candidate.
          But he didn’t suddenly emerge on the scene as a new ‘centrist saviour’ as other Tory and Lab leaders have done.

          • iain

            He’s the pick of the right wing of the British establishment and of Conservative party members, the group with the hardest right attitudes in British society.

          • Goose


            Maybe , but the guy is highly unpredictable and he’s virtually certain to no-deal. For many in the establishment his approach is a devil-may-care approach that threatens the UK if it all results in a big mess. Hence why all the Scottish MPs and Lords are getting very nervous where the independence debate goes next. As Craig points out.

            He needs the EU to blink on or before the 31st Oct and offer us a temporary FTA in order to keep goods flowing. He may well get that(it’s likely because major EU countries run a surplus with the UK), but it does involve risks and Tories tend to instinctively hate such risks.

          • Deb O'Nair

            I think Hunt has said enough recently to explain the sudden swing by the MSM towards him; £40bn extra ‘defence’ spending, willing and waiting to order UK forces to attack Iran, 150% behind Trump’s criticising of British elected officials. All terribly nauseating.

  • Dungroanin

    Interesting tack.

    Daniel Greenfield opined on the Trump Doctrine a while back.

    Does it still hang together?

    ‘Trump is too much of a dealmaker to believe in the unlimited promise of diplomatic agreements. He knows that it takes leverage not just to make a deal, but to keep it in place. And he doesn’t believe that the United States can make a deal work when a key player really doesn’t want the deal to happen.

    Trump’s Art of the International Deal identifies the roadblocks to previous agreements, breaks them down, puts the local players in the driver’s seat and then makes fixing the problem into their problem. ‘

  • Xavi

    Uncaring elitism seems equally characteristic of his private behaviour according to what the girlfriend was overheard yelling. Incidentally that behaviour ceases to be private when it impinges on the private lives of neighbours. He is clearly trying to hide whatever he did that night and bluff his way past. Few would be taking your generous attitude towards it had the police been called to Corbyn’s house last week, certainly no Tory would be. But yet again the blonde manatee is held to a different standard.

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    Not entirely sure about this assertion: “….and America would have invaded both Syria and Iran by now”.
    The United States is a declining hegemon and empire. Everything we see now appropos Trumps policies is about slowing or arresting that decline.The US/ Trump has not managed to carry or cajole its western allies into some kind of support of its policies towards Iran something that would have been unthinkable in previous times.I suspect that the European countries are simply flabbergasted, incredulous, and dismayed by the Trumpian ineptitude.The UK is in an interesting position, as erstwhile, top dog to the master,it finds itself emulating the US in many respects, eg. in relation to International law but at the same time uncomfortable with the dilemmas it is being confronted by. Support for US foreign policy is ever more difficult to sustain as the US becomes desperate.
    As for the quote above, the US does not have the capacity invade Syria and Iran by conventional means.If it wanted to continue to dominate it would have no choice but to use nuclear weapons.This would elicit a powerful response from Russia an China. The US and its oily empire is running out of credibility, especially as the world is beginning to finally waken up to the deadly threat posed by climate change and ecocide.

    • RBH

      “As for the quote above, the US does not have the capacity invade Syria and Iran by conventional means.If it wanted to continue to dominate it would have no choice but to use nuclear weapons.”

      Currently, I agree. The Pentagon has just placed an order for 500 F-35s an unconcealable preparation for great power conflict. Watch for moves to reintroduce conscription. The contradiction between the needs of US capital in defending its global status and its ability to do so, both in industrial terms and public willingness to fight more wars, will quite possibly result in farce. The F-35 itself, is a product of corruption, graft and bureaucratic incompetence that could well make it unserviceable.

    • Dungroanin

      ‘Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.’

      ‘The SCO is widely regarded as the “alliance of the East”, due to its growing centrality in Asia-Pacific, and has been the primary security pillar of the region.[5][6] It is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population, covering three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population.’

      I recommend reading the whole of the following speech by Putin as Russia took over the presidency, it is worthy of JFK.

      He addresses Afghanistan, Syria and Iran along with the threats of terrorism and cyber security as well as the joint security of the SCO. He says :
      “We see a promising potential in integrating the Eurasian Economic Union with China’s Belt and Road project with a future aim of building a larger Eurasian partnership and an open and equal constructive cooperation space based on the principles and norms of international law without any political or economic bias, but with consideration of each other’s legitimate interests.”

      “Next year marks the 75th anniversary of Victory over Nazism in the Second World War. We in Russia attach great importance to preserving the memory and historical truth about this great and tragic event of the 20th century.”

      The message is that they have not forgotten the lessons of history of the anglo-imperialists designs on Eurasia and the wider world. They are prepared to deal with ANY threat to any SCO member – or indeed associate member.

      No amount of shitty hardware or sacrificial canon fodder will succeed in any further adventurism by the ‘west’.

      The lines are drawn, the western political and media ignore the SCO. Including many a blogger and commentator. Curious, no?!

    • Jo Dominich

      DeepGreen, Hunt is an outright warmonger who is trying to make UK look strong on the world stage by hanging onto the shirt tails of aggressive USA policy. Barnier was right when he said This Government’s complete mishandling on Brexit and the lack of willingness to negotiate had their roots in this Government believing they could restore the UK to dominating half the world again. It is true. Their whole Brexit strategy has been a mess, the language used by our negotiators being insulting, abusive, aggressive and quite frankly, the language of war not the language one would use when negotiating with allies.

      Hunt’s promise to increase Defence spending should be deeply concerning to anyone who has heard this. Those who criticise Blair for Iraq just wait to Hunt gets started. This is a Foreign Secretary after all who has made such gaffes as making public statements that the Venezuelan election was corrupt because there was evidence of ballot box stuffing. Ah, wait a minute now, the Carter Institute clearly state that the Venezuelan voting system is the safest in the world and cannot be tampered with. Also, there are no ballot boxes in Venezuela. Other things include the immediate blame on Iran for the two oil tankers. Shoots from the hip, doesn’t even bother to do research. Yet another habitual liar, someone who will be a dangerous PM and who is a fraudster. What a shocking state this Tory Government is not only in but has dragged the Nation into. Hunt has no reservations at all about USA foreign policy – he can’t wait to get started on all those wars.

  • Goose

    Hillary’s ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria represented an immediate threat of confrontation with the Syrian govt and Russia. That was my concern at the time. Of course fate has a way of upsetting things and when Bolton and Pompeo were appointed to Trump’s administration I’d imagine many who favour purely diplomatic solutions felt deeply uneasy, especially since he’d ripped up ‘Obama’s deal’ the JCPOA, in an act of sheer petulance.

    You have to hope calmer heads have prevailed and impressed upon the dangerous Mr. Bolton the sheer folly of strikes on Iran. Currently, under the JCPOA Iran’s nuclear ambitions are contained. Unless the US wants to become the biggest villain on earth by using absolutely disproportionate force against a non-nuclear country, possibly killing millions; or invading a country of 84m and losing 10,000s of US soldiers plus possibly radicalising western societies, societies with little appetite for war in the first place, the JCPOA for all its faults, remains the best guarantor of peace in the region.

  • Les Wilson

    watched your speech there craig, Got to say you know your stuff, and you know how to put it across.
    Power to you, but beware of men with black hats and black trench coats.

    • Carnyx

      Yes really, an estimated 1.5 million have died as a result of the Iraq invasion which Bolton was instrumental in bringing about. Bolton ought to be hung for the Supreme Crime of aggressive war, like the Nuremberg criminals.He is a man who has dedicated his entire life to getting the maximum number of foreigners killed. Like Hillary, Bolton started out his political career as a Goldwater supporter before becoming a protege of Jesse Helms, as a student he supported the Vietnam war although that didn’t stop him draft dodging by joining the National Guard.

  • James Cook

    What’s not to agree with?????

    Seem like reasonable points/observations to me.

    At the start, of course, you had me fooled for moment – I thought you were going to do a “Trump” and say something completely ridiculous or hypocritical (which most people have been now trained to love)……..but these days there is no such thing as too ridiculous or hyocritical.

    Keep up the good work and next time you will have to do better to say something truly disagreeable!

  • Greg.Kousourou

    Brilliant! Enjoyed and agree with every word.
    For me the best thing about the Trump presidency is that due to the left’s righteous hatred for Trump the belligerent warmongering US foreign policy of previous presidents, including the “darling of the left” Obama has become much more open to criticism.

  • Morag Branson

    I find that I agree with every single point you make. Not that I’m too surprised at that!

  • Coldish

    Thanks, Craig, for the comparison between the Hillary and the Donald. I’m English, so don’t have a US vote, but if I had, 2016 would have been the first presidential election since 1972 (Nixon-McGovern) in which I would have voted for the candidate of either major party. I stayed up all night on the night of 8 to 9 November 2016 and it was with great relief that I finally went to sleep knowing that Clinton had lost and that the likelihood of another major war starting in the near future was greatly reduced.
    Trump has made a lot of mistakes, particularly in the weird appointments he has made to senior positions. He has made a lot of domestic enemies, which may partly explain why he has gone to such lengths to keep on the right side of the Israeli government, whose support he might want to help him stay in office.

    • Goose

      I’m not a US citizen either. If I had had a vote I’d a voted for Jill Stein in 2016, given the choices and based on everything I know. Protest vote, but if enough think alike, it sends a powerful message.

      I would say now I’m absolutely perplexed watching Joe Biden’s rise – guess it must be purely a name recognition thing?

      Surely, well, I’d hope, imagine, if Sanders and Warren are given as clean run at the nomination, i.e., unlike the dirty tricks last time; if either gets the nomination they are likely to become President after besting Trump in the debates. I believe so.

      • lysias

        A lot of it is name recognition, but many blacks support Biden because he was Obama’s vice president.

      • pretzelattack

        plus the party and the media are promoting joe 24/7, that’s the main factor.

        • Goose

          Surest sign that he represents no change at all.

          The media try to pick the winners they want here in the UK too. It’s an absolutely atrocious situation given we all know the big media corps are owned by well-connected billionaires. I can’t think of a solution either other than tight state control which nobody wants. But let’s be in no doubt the present situation isn’t politics fairly presented via a ‘free press’ , there is nothing free or fair about current media ownership & control.

          The televised hustings debates should allow other candidates to shine maybe?

      • Coldish

        Goose: yes, Jill Stein was a good candidate. I think my hero Jesse Ventura voted for her. But I felt that Clinton was too dangerous.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Goose June 24, 2019 at 16:23
        ‘Biden is the least electable candidate — here’s why’:
        ‘…Both Clinton and Biden don’t understand this problem because they spend all of their time with the donor class. Wages have barely increased in the past 40 years. And here is Biden promising the richest people in the country that nothing will change. In other words, your wealth will continue to go up, and wages for everyone else will stagnate indefinitely. This is what happens when you’re hooked on donor money. In fact, Biden went on to tell the well-to-do donors, “I need you very badly. I hope if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you.”
        That doesn’t sound like the most electable person in the race. It sounds like the least electable. Why on God’s green earth would we make the same mistake we made last time? Just about the only way you can lose to Trump is if you run a campaign geared toward the rich and the establishment — just like last time!…’
        Not everyone’s enamoured with the jerk.

  • Laguerre

    “Personally I shall welcome Boris Johnson’s elevation to be Prime Minister, which will not last long. It will be a catalyst for Scottish Independence. The political disintegration of the UK will hopefully jolt England out of the cul-de-sac of right wing politics in which it has been stranded for years.”

    Although I admire your thinking, this argument I don’t agree with. I’ve heard this style of argument put up frequently: x is so awful that he will will bring y long-term political problem to a head, so I’ll be glad if he’s appointed. In fact it just leads into more intense suffering. The Palestinians said it when Ariel Sharon was made PM in Israel. In fact it just led to worse suffering for them (though it is yet worse now under Netanyahu). I can’t agree with propositions that are going to make things worse for people.

  • Alyson

    Yeah well……

    JUNE 22, 2019
    @ “President Donald Trump reportedly ordered a retaliatory military strike on Iran but called it off, according to Trump’s own tweets on Friday morning, because a general told him that “150 people” might die in the strike.”

    So say The White House stenographers. Elsewhere, we are told: “According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party [Oman] – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.”

    Trump and the U.S. are poised for full-scale retreat. On May 13, Russia and China issued a guarantee to Iran that they would not permit the U.S. to accomplish regime change in Iran, an event not reported in western mainstream media. The Iranian government was immediately informed. The next day, Mr. Pompeo was informed. The same day, Iran launched its long planned for War on Oil. Violence erupted across the Mideast aimed at oil production and transportation infrastructure, mostly waged by Iran’s proxy forces. The U.S. has responded, again mostly through proxy forces.

    The asymmetric Iranian response to debilitating American economic warfare is to exercise its undeniable power to cut off the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to world markets, slowly bringing that flow to a halt, thereby driving gasoline prices to a level that will cost Trump re-election. J.P. Morgan estimates that oil may go as high as $1,000 bbl, causing an enormous crash in the derivatives market and bringing the West’s economy to its knees. See Pepe Escobar, Iran Goes for “Maximum Counter-Pressure” for more on projected impacts.

    Iran is wisely bringing the kettle to a boil slowly, enabling Trump and the U.S. to back off before the temperature becomes unbearable. But anyone who doubts Iran’s ability to bring that pot to full boil is not a student of Iran’s actual military power, in both conventional and proxy forces. Iran’s threat has been crystal clear: if Iran cannot ship its 2 million bbls. of oil daily, then no one will be able to ship oil from the Mideast and the Mideast (including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel) will be set ablaze.

    Trump is flailing, trying to persuade Iran to negotiate, beginning to realize that Bolton and Pompeo walked him into what is perhaps the most catastrophic war in U.S. history, but is being told that the only way Iran will negotiate is for him to completely remove the economic sanctions first. Trump’s offer to suspend the sanctions *only* during negotiations was rejected.

    Trump has wisely told all talking heads in his Administration to cease all belligerent talk about Iran; a U.S. military response is not on the table as it would be the most foolish move imaginable.

    Where will Trump retreat to? Removal of the sanctions and rejoining the JCPOA are probably too much to expect Trump to swallow. But restoring waivers to the sanctions to the eventual point that the waivers completely swallow the sanctions seems one likely path of retreat.”

    • Courtenay Barnett


      ” Elsewhere, we are told: “According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party [Oman] – that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against US objectives in the Gulf.”

      Actually – the above ( if it accurate) makes sense. Why engage in an unwinnable war? Save face and move on.

      Problem is that Trump sits on the horns of a dilemma. He can ( but he won’t ) attack; so – by not attacking he appears weak without any options but more ‘peaceful’ sanctions.

      We shall see how this all plays out.

    • Jo Dominich

      Alyson, very interesting post and a good analysis. If I am not mistaken didn’t Pompeo make a statement saying that the USA’s aims in imposing sanctions on Iran was to reduce it’s international oil sales to zero thus causing dramatic harm to the Iranian economy? I also remember Bibi stating it would be his pleasure to blow Iranian oil tankers out of the water if they were delivering international oil exports? I think at the time these statements were made they were true. However, Pompeo and Bolton have pushed to far with Iraq now and I believe Trump is under enormous international and UN pressure to back off completely with Iran not least because history will dictate that the last skirmish in 1987 between USA and Iranian ships resulted in the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange and the forerunner to Black Monday. The Dow Jones is very jittery at the moment given Trump’s Trade War with China too.

  • SA

    What is so interesting is that Trump is criticised to high heaven by the faux left and even some ‘centrists’ until he starts bombing then they start cheering him.

  • jake

    “Doubtless his partner will sell the story to the tabloids when he eventually casts her off, be that days, months or years away.”
    That’s an interesting speculation. Would not such a bidie-in at No.10 pose a security risk?

    • N_

      Johnson would be a huge security risk.

      It’s pretty obvious that a massive heist is being prepared in Britain. Uncertainty is being ramped up and the push to a crashout Brexit continues. That doesn’t require a prime minister Johnson, but a prime minister Johnson will certainly help. The greater the resources that are invested to that end – for instance, silencing critics, controlling the press, and keeping senior figures in MI6 from bringing him down – the bigger the payout that the crooks who are doing it will grab.

      “Casting her off”? I thought it was women who dumped Johnson rather than him dumping them.

  • N_

    Max Hastings is continuing to rough Boris Johnson up: “I was Boris Johnson’s boss: he is utterly unfit to be prime minister“. He identifies the “head of a media organisation” whom Johnson threatened as Christopher Bland while he was chairman of the BBC. He also says “in my own files I have handwritten notes from our possible next prime minister, threatening dire consequences in print if I continued to criticise him.”

    That’s a threat .

  • Alan Knight

    Well said Craig. The fixation on Trump hides the fact that Clinton is even worse. She’s a homicidal maniac and gladly she didn’t gain power. I can’t stand Trump either but he’s the lesser of two evils in my mind. What a world we live in.

  • Barbara Ann

    Agree re lesser of 2 evils point and re BJ’s privacy, no annoyed reader here.

    Your speech was interesting. Good laugh at Jehovah’s Witnesses’ expense, but silence when you compared Israel’s slow extermination of the Palestinians to the fate of Native Americans. To me those (mostly) young people’s silence at that point spoke volumes of another stark example of the spectacular success of the Establishment, or perhaps even more insidiously, to 21st century disinterest in anything outside of the carefully filtered information on small screens. I can also scarcely believe that John Bolton was able to get within a mile of the Oxford Union without being milkshaked to death.

    Keep up the good work Craig, what you do is vitally important.

  • George K

    I had not seen that speech before. Thank you! Have you been invited there since?

  • Republicofscotland

    “But the vital fact for the rest of the world is that Trump remains the only US President since Jimmy Carter not to have launched a major war.”

    With Trump about to hit the campaign trail for re-election, history has shown us that a head turning war can be an effective way of galvanising support. Acorrding to one media reportTrump had browbeaten the head of the US Central bank into reversing a planned rise in interest rates.

    A war with Iran, would please many huge US corporations mote so the Military Industrial Complex. I’m sure Saudi Arabia would be financially greatful, and the poweful lobby gropus that represent Israeli interests in Washington, would be too.

    • lysias

      A war would not necessarily help Trump politically. A lot of Trump’s base, on whom his prospects of re-election depend, is antiwar.

      • Republicofscotland

        Well being at war throughout his two tenures as POTUS didn’t stop Obama from re-election. One might say its expected of a POTUS to create a casus belli one way or another, Mad Dog Bolton met with Russian officials very recently was he seeking an accord that Russia will not physically intervene when Trump strikes Iran?

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