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.


463 thoughts on “The Question of Character

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  • Martyn Wood-Bevan

    Very helpful observations on Mr. Johnson who is unlikely to succeed as a PM if he gets that far. He is well known by most people and may have a colourful character but is simply an Eccentric Introvert of no great consequence.

    • Jo Dominich

      MWB – of on importance? Nearly starting WWIII over the lies he told about the Skripal case, making seriously abusive comments about the EU Negotiators, completely unwarranted, being involved in the Leave Campaign’s fraudulent misuse of £70m worth of electoral funding which the Electoral Reform Society indicated their report identified there was a clear criminal case to answer which, they duly referred to the Police, who then declined to investigate it on the basis that it “would not be in the national interest”.

      Think again.

  • DaveX

    Here’s a scenario…. B. Johnson becomes PM. He calls an election on a no-deal ticket. Farage supports him & only fields Brexit Party candidates in Labour seats, Labour have been forced by then to go for a no no-deal/referendum policy. Result: Tories have a majority in HoC with Brexit Party & DUP MPs (if necessary). We leave with no deal, the country lurches further to the right, the rich continue to get richer the poor continue to get poorer. You’ll be lucky in Scotland – you can go for independence.

    • Stygg

      > You’ll be lucky in Scotland – you can go for independence.

      Yeah, I’m sure that’ll be a slam dunk.

    • Jo Dominich

      Dave X, I am only saying this and I am probably horribly wrong or at least my perception is, that the Brexit Party logo appears to be founded on a swastika and arrows.

  • Chris

    Funny that you recognise how identity politics acts as a cover for neoliberalism and neoconservarism, except when the SNP does it.

    Do you honestly think a separate Scotland would be any different from the UK? It’ll still be the same ruling class in power.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Chris, you are working on an assumption that Craig excuses any accusation that the SNP pedals identify politics to further a corporatist agenda. I wouldn’t be so sure.
      And yes, the SNP has become a home for careerists, never done a proper job in their life politicos that ARE pushing identity politics to further their ascent up the ladder.
      And no, I don’t imagine an independent Scotland will be a socialist paradise, but it is likely to be an improvement on a Westmonster run UK.

      • Chris

        OK, every other country in Europe is a neoliberal lackey of the US, but I’m sure Scotland wouldn’t be…

        I’m also sure it wouldn’t adopt the tax haven, beggar-my-neighbour economic strategy that Ireland has…

    • Carnyx

      Scottish nationalism is about the form and choice of administration in Scotland, it’s not about gaining specific favours or priorities for Scots within the UK. Identity politics in the US or Canada isn’t about say LGBT people or any of the minorities within the US gaining separate govts with separate territories is it?

      Nationality is an identity, but then again taste in music can be an identity too, but that doesn’t mean that the term “identity politics” denotes nationalism. Identity politics is a form of Communalism (in it’s Indian meaning) similar to the millet system in the Ottoman empire, which nationalism in fact brought an end too.

    • John Monro

      Scotland will be significantly different from the UK is now. Firstly you have a proportional representation system and Parliament is set up in a more collaborative and less oppositional manner. Secondly, following the referendum Scotland is more politically aware and I believe less seriously riven politically. Thirdly socialism is not a dirty word for Scots. Fourthly Independence could be an effective catalyst for serious change. (Global warming, environmental depletion, land ownership, economic and social justice etc) If Scotland fails, then at least the citizens can’t then blame the English. Fifthly you have a relatively low population with sufficient land to feed yourselves, and a huge everlasting energy resource from wind. There are vast areas of Scotland that could be come more productive whilst at the same time improving its natural ecology.

      The problem with oil depletion is not a problem at all. No country dependent on oil or fossil fuels is going to find them of any value at all in the future. So better to abandon them now and develop an economy that does not depend on such ephemeral and dangerous resources. It would have been nice to have had an independent Scotland which had got very rich on North Sea Oil, but would those resources have been as carefully managed for long term benefit like Norway? I very much doubt it.

      But your point isn’t totally unreasonable. Scotland will develop its own political compromises and self-justifications. Power does corrupt. It would also be likely to suffer the small nation syndrome of everyone knowing everyone else, and the incompetence coming from not wishing to rock the boat, the difficulties of getting expertise without compromising connections – croneyism in other words. (Though seeing what happens in Westminster that doesn’t seem much different, it’s just in a bigger country it’s not always as easy to spot). I live in New Zealand, a tolerably well run country, but no socialist paradise, indeed was a cheer leader for serious neoliberalism for many years, and still is. Croneyism in NZ in business, politics (both local and national) and in the media is deep seated. We have a nominal Labour alliance in power, with a decent person as PM (but very much a political animal) but she faces huge opposition from business, the National party and its supporters (who got more votes than she did in the last election), from her NZ First minor coalition party, and not least of all from many of her own Labour MPs (mirroring Corbyn’s problems, and indeed socialistically inclined leaders everywhere). NZ long ago lost its egalitarian principles, which were deeply seated until the 1980s, and if it happened here, it could just as easily happen in Scotland. But as I say, what would Independence mean if the citizens didn’t grasp the nettle of serious change? Can Independence supporters guarantee that would happen? Can they produce the revolutionary programme of ideas, principles and actions founded in logic, reason, science and ethics, a New Ecological Enlightenment, that Scotland, its citizens, needs for the next 100 years? Scotland had a wonderful first enlightenment, it’s essential the country creates another.

      • Jimmeh

        Something I have long admired about the Scots is that, on the whole, they appreciate the importance of education. ,Free University tuition is just one mark of that..The Englsih, on the other hand (I am actually referrring to white, traditional, working class English) are a bunch of philistines. Parents regularly assault teachers at parents’ evenings, they drag their kids out of school during term-time so they can get cheaper flights and hotel rooms, they make no effort to help their kids with homework (in fact on the whole they object to the whole idea of home work).

        It’s hardly surprising that children from Indian, Chinese,,African,families outperform white working class kids at school. And it’s hardly surprising, given the boorish way that their parents treat teachers, that these kids are the most disruptive in class and the most dangerous in the playground.,

        Really – ask any teacher from an English state school with a significant white working-class intake.

        • Northern

          Leave off with your class assumptions, tosser. Swap the words ‘white working class’ for ‘black’ or ‘jew’ – sounds a bit iffy, doesn’t it?

          Minus your anti English working class generalisations, your post amounts to 2 sentences that contribute very little. The idea that an independent Scotland could be a socialist paradise if only for those plebs south of the border is a fiction, and a simple one at that. The main obstacle to that would be the SNP that you all keep voting for…

          • Jimmeh

            I said” ask any teacher”. Ask a black teacher if you like. The only constraint is that you choose one from an English state school with a significant white working-class intake – ideally, a school in inner-city London, Liverpool, or Manchester.

            I said nothing about “socialist paradise”, nor about plebs. Attacking strawmen doesn’t make your “argument” stronger. It just highlights the fact that your post amounts to nothing more than an abusive tirade.

            I didn’t make it up; it’s not assumptions, it’s based on two of my family and several of my friends being inner-city state-school teachers (these are the toughest jobs in teaching|); and I resent your insult and your implication that I suffer from class prejudice. Hell, no doubt I do suffer from prejudice – don’t we all? Prejudice is when you form an opinion about a person based on incomplete knowledge.It’s a thing humans do.

            By the way – no member of the SNP has ever stood in a constituency in which I was entitled to vote. Did you start by accusing me of making assumptions? – Oh yes, so you did. Tosser.

          • Northern

            @Jimmeh
            June 25, 2019 at 16:23

            See, not nice when people make assumptions about what you think or believe, is it?

          • Jimmeh

            @Northern

            Just read the thread. I made no assumptions about anyone. You made false assumptions about me, based on nothing at all, and threw in an insulting epithet, presumably because something in what I said caused you offence. But you never bothered to say how I offended you, and you never said what assumptions you thought I had made.

            Oh-by the way – I knew another inner-city state-school teacher quite well; my great aunt lived and worked all her life in Glasgow. But she didn’t have to teach the children of English philistines.

            I’m going to avoid interacting with you in future, because you don’t seem to be able to construct a coherent argument, and because you are an abusive twerp.

      • Carnyx

        On small nation syndrome take a look at Iceland the only country that imprisoned it’s bankers after 2008. Meanwhile things like patronage are more a matter of culture, of the role of extended family in society, than size, there are much larger countries than Scotland that suffer from patronage. Large countries can develop cronyism too since the ruling elite (and those with access to it) become it’s own constituancy often utterly out of touch with those they are supposed to represent. I say this as someone who has lived in a number of European countries.

        Scottish independence gives both Scotland and England a chance to evolve differently from the trajectory of the British state which has an inherently top-down institutional culture brought about by it’s imperial heritage which drives it to seek global prestige often at the expense of it’s citizens. It’s this institutional culture that drives those who take themselves as it’s dominant majority to tend towards a nostalgic conservative mindset always seeking to reject post colonial decline return to a past glory that never existed. Brexit claims to “take back control” and assert “sovereignty” except the British people have never been a sovereign people, sovereignty in the UK is invested in “Crown in Parliament”. So we waste money on nukes, fighting America’s foreign wars and dropping everything to favour financial services, and everyone else can go rot.

        Independence is a means to evolve in a different way, it lets a left leaning Scottish electorate determine how to evolve as a country, which doesn’t mean we’ll always get it right, but that at least we have the chance.

  • fwl

    You sounded and looked like you were being well received: So – did you win the debate?

  • Yonatan

    Trump has not launched a major war (yet), but he did initiate a cruise missile strike against Syria, based on false evidence that Assad was responsible for a CW attack (orchestrated by the UK’s White Helmets). Several missiles went astray killing ~10 innocent Syrian civilians, so he has conducted his act of aggression, the ultimate crime against humanity. Interestingly, all the anti-Trump rhetoric (from both sides) ceased for a while at this time, as though his opponents were waiting (or hoping) for Trump to initiate the Big One.

  • Gary

    I find myself agreeing with you, again. WikiLeaks rightly released information that was pertinent to the public’s knowledge of a potential President of their country. She has sought, and mostly succeeded, to bury her wrongdoing in accusations (false) of ‘Russian Interference’ and of Trump somehow being involved in the publication of her e-mails. It’s the duty of a publisher like WikiLeaks to release the information, it’s NOT their duty to do the voting public’s thinking for them, they have seen the information (well, a FEW of them have) and they have made their choice. A choice between a racist buffoon and a war mongering liar, they went for the racist. But again, I agree, had Hillary won there would be tens of thousands of people dead by now, with many more to come.

    On the subject of Boris I can only disagree on one small point “As it appears no violence was in the event involved” No one can say for sure what happens behind closed doors. The police attended and were content with assurances from both parties. Basically, she said he HADN’T assaulted her. In cases of domestic violence very often the victim will refuse help, refuse to acknowledge there is anything wrong and hide it from friends, family and even the police. But, as the politicians themselves are wont to say ‘there is no evidence of wrongdoing’

    Regardless of that, Boris, barring another idiotic outburst, WILL be our next PM, people are rightly interested in what kind of man he really is. Of COURSE giving the tapes to ‘The Guardian’ was politically motivated but he can’t complain given the amount of smears that have been laid upon Corbyn from within and without his own party these past few years, at least THIS is true. But I can understand it, there I often a feeling, and not without foundation, that politicians get away with everything. The police were initially going to deny any such call to Johnson’s flat was made, until of course, the journalist supplied them with the Crime Reference Number and the registrations marks of all of the vehicles in attendance at the incident. Only THEN did they suddenly remember that is HAD happened after all and that they had assurances from both potential victim and potential perpetrator that no crime had taken place. If you want to take it on blind faith that it was a mere tiff then feel free, I have had ‘tiffs’ and they NEVER involved my partner shouting “get off me, you’re hurting me!” They never involved the sounds of crockery or other household objects being broken either. But then, I’m NOT prone to giving out anything that could even remotely be described as Domestic Violence…

    • Goose

      Boris’ current media treatment bears remarkable similarities to that dished out to Corbyn.

      When the UK media pile into someone, they really pile in. It’s reminiscent of the baseless antisemitism story that dominated the news last summer that seemed grow and grow out of all proportion after another clandestine ‘recording’; a recording that didn’t actually contain any antisemitism. These media feeding frenzies aren’t unique to the UK, I was reading a post elsewhere made by someone in Germany and he was commenting how all the media seem to be driven as if by the same mysterious ‘cosmic order’ with the ‘the journos all sitting on the same rotten branch’, as he put it.

      • Anthony

        The only similarity I see in the media treatment of Johnson and Corbyn is that fake news is being constantly repeated in order to portray them as being the complete opposite of what they really are.
        But whereas in Corbyn’s case it is being done to gravely undermine him (tarring him a racist, misogynist, traitor, etc), with Johnson it is being done with the opposite intenti. They have been trying to boost his appeal by insisting he is a ‘social liberal’ who was a vigorous, high achieving London mayor;. A totally confected image that flies in the face of overwhelming evidence he is a lazy, self absorbed bigot.
        https://mobile.twitter.com/OwenJones84/status/1137800246216601603

        So while there is definitely a similarity in things being cynically made up about both men, in one case it is to destroy the chances of a good man, in the other to build consent for a wretched one.

        • Goose

          Fair point.

          I just meant more in terms of the wall-to-wall coverage and what is basically media froth. The ‘row’ with his partner simply isn’t worth the column inches and TV broadcasting time it’s getting. Nick Ferrari this morning (Tues) giving him the third degree over that photo, when we’ve got all those other pressing issues as an example of how silly things are becoming.

  • Paul Barbara

    ‘… 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…’
    New reports cast a different light on Trump’s pulling back at the last minute – it looks like he thought Iran would ‘play ball’ and allow a ‘fake’ attack to take place:
    The plot thickens: ‘Magnier: Iran Rejected US Offer of Face-Saving Strikes’:
    https://www.checkpointasia.net/magnier-iran-rejected-us-offer-of-face-saving-strikes/?
    ‘…According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence – made via a third party – 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.
    Iran is not inclined to help Trump come down from the tree he has climbed and would rather keep him confused and cornered. Furthermore, Iran would love to see Trump fail to win a second term, and will do everything to help oust him from the White House at the end of his mandate in 2020….’
    Makes a lot more sense than Trump being worried about killing 150-odd Iranians…
    He certainly doesn’t seem bothered by the thousands of deaths in Yemen, and the potential genocide both there and in Iran.

    • Goose

      Even the MSM are reporting the fact Trump thanked the Iranians for not taking out the 38 air crew out by downing the Boeing P-8 Poseidon that was accompanying the drone. I’d imagine that crew of that P-8 are quite happy too tonight too , if a little unnerved. But it all begs the question: were they used as bait? Or was US intelligence lacking or inaccurate on Iran’s natively produced surface-to-air missile systems?

      • Ken Kenn

        That is a possibility in my opinion.

        One thing about Iran – as opposed to other so called ‘ Failed States ‘ -is that they have not been dis-armed meaning that any aircraft flying around Iran’s airspace will be open to being shot down.

        Recent US ‘ Wars ‘ are generally conducted from ships and the odd foray over a country and they are fearful of their own body count.

        That’s probably the risk to Trump.

        Bolton and Pompeo are not running for the next Presidency.

        If Trump fails they can always get a job with the Military Industrial Complex.

        Also if they are not careful they may be going to Heaven in a Chariot with Bannon but not of the time of their choosing.

        • Goose

          Ken Kenn

          In 2003 I had a motorised satellite dish and I could get all the channels from the Middle East – lots of garbage mainly. I could get Iraqi TV and watched the invasion from their perspective. Now,for some reason Arab TV is or was very uncensored when it came to war & gore There were lots of US dead bodies, young US men and women that’d been killed driving supply vehicles and put in rows in buildings as if trophies by their killers,I remember thinking what a bloody waste of young life, gruesome stuff indeed. Stuff that if ever it were shown on western TV no one would ever support war again.

          • Goose

            And before anyone asks, no I don’t have any footage, I watched more in amazement and sadness. Because the contrast with the heavily censored reports from the embedded journalists of the MSM was staggering.

          • Ash

            > Stuff that if ever it were shown on western TV no one would ever support war again.

            Indeed, that is why they don’t show that stuff anymore. Lesson learned during Vietnam.

          • Goose

            Ash

            It’s where ‘Baghdad Bob’ first appeared the ill-fated Iraqi information minister.

            In Europe they were shown on one of the Hotbird satellites and it was on there broadcast in the clear free-to-air(FTA), alongside it at that time Fox News from the US, again (FTA). I was really into satellite TV I had a big prime-focus dish with a very low-noise block downconverter(LNB) and got all sorts weird channels, Libyan TV for instance used to show endless repeats of Muammar Al Gathafi long rants, and pages from his Green book.

            Afaik(?) all the channels are still broadcasting in the clear including Iranian, Syrian TV etc. But my dish doesn’t move anymore, as I haven’t serviced it.

  • Deb O'Nair

    Trump may not have ordered an all out military assault on another nation but the asymmetrical warfare has shifted up a gear or two since his time office, the latest being a cyber attack which was conducted by the Pentagon against Iran last week.

    • Goose

      Reports of attacks on the Russian power grid too over alleged 2016 election interference.

      Escalating cyber-warfare seems like madness to me as the west has far more to lose if the Russians and Chinese really take the gloves off. Even previously tech expertise lagging nations like Iran have vastly increased their tech prowess as a result of Stuxnet. Where does it leave the world if everyone and is dog are conducting tit-for-tat network and systems sabotage?

    • Jo Dominich

      Deb O’Nair, also sanctions are an act of war when applied with nothing more than cutting competition with the USA. They are designed, when imposed by the USA, to bring a country’s economies to its knees who will then either seek desperate help from the USA or will lead their citizens into a revolution against their Government.

      What the USA did in Venezuela is an act of war as far as I am concerned, trying to oust a democratically elected President with a candidate that didn’t even stand in the election on USA advice. Thank God the Vemezuelan Army stayed loyal to Maduro.

  • Darren

    I think Boris’ rise to fame can be pinned on Have I Got News For You. It gave him a huge amount of coverage and public sympathy for his bumbling comedy act. His beliefs (or lack of them) are not so funny. He could have been destroyed by satire but I think we were encouraged to like or sympathise with him by showing things like him being stuck on the zip wire rather than exposing his incredibly dirty side. Now Tories that don’t even like him are voting for him because they sense public support. For folk that don’t follow politics but like to watch a comedy show like my mam this is a serious vote winner. A similar thing has occurred with Jacob RM. There doesn’t seem to be the same right to reply/balance issue with HIGNFY.

  • Alyson

    I haven’t heard any thing about the new cyber approach, but the old one was covered by pbs. In 2010. Some background info is here. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/10/waging-cyberwar-on-irans-nuclear-program.html

    “The attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program by industrial accidents and through cyberwarfare also has an extensive history. First, there was Operation Merlin during the Clinton administration, even before the Natanz uranium enrichment facility was known to exist. According to James Risen, the intelligence correspondent for the New York Times, in February 2000 the CIA assigned a Russian nuclear scientist who had defected the task of providing deliberately flawed blueprints for nuclear warheads to Iran. As Risen explains in his book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, Operation Merlin backfired because the terrified Russian defector recognized the flaws and, hoping to protect himself as well as enhancing his credibility with Iran, pointed them out to his Iranian counterpart. According to the book, Operation Merlin may even have helped accelerate Iran’s nuclear program.

    A former CIA official told the Guardian that, in addition to Operation Merlin, there had been other attempts to set back Iran’s “suspected nuclear weapons program.” According to him, “There were a number of occasions when Iran was found to be acquiring equipment for nuclear weapons and rather than stop it, they fiddled with the equipment, particularly computer equipment, before it got to Iran,” although the IAEA has never uncovered any evidence of a nuclear weapon program.

    As for the Stuxnet worm, it has been known for some time that Israel has been trying to use cyberwarfare in order to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program, perhaps in the belief that military attacks are too costly an alternative.

    At the same time, even before the news about Stuxnet began to spread, there had been other tantalizing evidence of cyberwarfare efforts by the United States and/or Israel. For example, it has been known for over a year that the Natanz facility has been experiencing severe problems and roughly half of the close to 8,000 centrifuges installed there have not been working. The problem could at least partly be due to the computer problems caused by the Stuxnet worm. In fact, Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET, said, “It appears that it is possible that Stuxnet may have been responsible for problems in Iran’s nuclear program over the past year — however that is speculation and it is unlikely that the Iranian government is going to say if that was the case. It is even possible that it was the case and they don’t know it.”

    Although the worm was discovered this past July, it is now known that its first version appeared in early 2009.

    In addition, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited with President Barack Obama in Washington recently, it was reported that the issue of Iran was not at the top of their agenda. Why? Perhaps because both leaders knew about the damage that Stuxnet was causing to Iran’s nuclear program.

    Iran has confirmed that Stuxnet has infected close to 30,000 computers in Iran, including several at Bushehr.”

    • mark golding

      The new self-replicating version of Stuxnet enjoyed zero-day MS Windows exploits and stolen digital certificates and thus was easily identified as malicious software. So why change from the sophisticated original ‘over-pressure’ ‘man-in-the-middle’ type attack that would have been very difficult to detect?

      From what is known Israhell was miffed at slow attack progress, subsequent exposure of the collaborative effort between US and the Israeli intelligence agencies, lack of propagation (to possible clandestine Iranian enrichment) and a German government dead-line for configuration changes not identified within Siemens Israel. So the original Stuxnet team was dropped and Israel assumed control.

  • John Monro

    I enjoyed listening to your speech. Ancient history already. Re Trump and war. Hard one that, if he really wanted to avoid war, why did he appoint John Bolton, the personification of evil as you rightly say, or any of the other hawks in his administration. Why indeed did he stand for the Republican Party?

    Boris Johnson – a lovers tiff is one thing, but an abusive relationship is another. The simple fact is that we don’t know, so you’re right, in a sense, it shouldn’t really be our concern. And handing a recording to the press was very sneaky and underhand. Not exactly that neighbourly; the couple involved only did so they say because they were under some sort of attack, I don’t know. . But it’s there, so can’t completely be ignored. But like it or not, it does add another concern as to his character, because Boris is trying to ignore it, and that in itself speaks volumes. He could have easily commented and taken the higher ground and said, look, we had a blazing row, which I regret, I don’t have to say what it was about, and some china got into the argument somehow. We’re both under quite a lot of stress at the moment, but we’ve made up and that’s all there is to it. That would appear to be honest and open (even if it weren’t), instead he’s behaved cravenly and secretively. Not a good look.

    And in any case, we’re getting testimony after testimony as to the character of Boris Johnson, the latest being Max Hasting’s excoriating article in the Guardian: that confirms what many might have suspected, he’s entirely unsuitable to any responsible position in political life, never mind PM. Boris likes to portray himself as a highly intelligent and competent man, who conceals all this under an aura of affable buffoonery. But the problem with Boris is WYSIWYG. But this isn’t going to stop his fan club voting him as leader with a large majority, just as Trump’s obvious defects didn’t stop him. The parallels are frightening. One has to wonder now if the idea of “democratising” the leadership of any party by having the membership voting is actually working. In the old days Boris would likely have never have become PM as too many Tories would refuse to have him as leader, and a compromise candidate would have emerged. It’s a bit sad too that you see an advantage to having Boris Johnson as PM in advancing the disintegration of the UK. Are negative reasons for leaving the Union going to turn out as politically, economically and socially advantageous as having positive reasons for doing the same?

    • Thorvid

      Completely agree John, problem is Hunt is no better, he 150% agrees with the sentiment of tweet’s that Trump gets slammed for ‘being racisit and far right’. It gets virtually no coverage.
      He’s intransigent and unable to negotiate, just ask the Junior Dr’s. He’s been working to privatize the NHS, IBU’s, co-authoring papers, working with Simon Stevens, an advocator of the NHS being included in TTIP when that was a thing. He happy to join the war if/when it comes with Iran.

      It seems there is an orchestrated campaign to ‘Stop Boris’, but the alternative is just as bad if not worse and his inadequaties are being covered up by the MSM, just as Johnson’s are being highlighted.

  • Steve Lawless

    Not sure I agree with you about Johnson becoming PM but what you say about Trump and Clinton is spot on. Of course the US is still illegally waring in multiple countries in the middle East.

  • Ian

    You have a very weird and very biased perception of who is English if that is what you think you see. Same old brexit party codswallop.

  • John Monro

    There’s a wall already, which could be refurbished – only its role will be reversed, stopping the barbarians from the south invading the civilisation in the north.

  • J R Tomlin

    As an American, Craig, I 100% agree with you. I may be in a minority but there are people who do understand exactly what you are saying. And I sincerely hope you are right about Scottish independence. It is my opinion, but I thought they would win last time.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I would have thought that Boris being prepared to get stroppy with Tusk, Verhofstadt and Barnier, even amounting to throwing plates (as long as smashing the plates rather than injuring those you are being stroppy with was the aim and outcome), would be a positive reason to vote for him.

    Being able to be firm and robust with feminist harpie wimmin is also a big vote winner in my book, so long as the criticism was justified and not abusive. Plenty of admirable women out there, but men-hating shysters are also present and it is time they were faced off.

    As for your OU speech, I think you got it profoundly wrong on climate change. America has the right instincts to reject Paris and Kyoto as that is simply outsourcing carbon emissions and jobs from the US and Europe to China, Russia and India, not to mention proposed solutions being insanely expensive and absolutely ineffectual in reducing global temperature.

    North America is having the coolest spring and early summer for decades and the munificent snowpack melting now will restore healthy water levels in all major reservoirs in SE USA. Most of the Midwest has seen delayed corn planting with prospects for somewhat- to greatly reduced harvests this autumn. The delays were due to late snow, incessant rain and generally waterlogged fields. Not a likely outcome from global warming…

    The crux to the argument on the American Dream is the prevention of non-US citizens having equal opportunities, the most profoundly racist reality imaginable. Racism has been central to the Us psyche for over 200 years: they are currently being racists to Russians and Chinese, and have been to Africans and South/Central Americans for decades.

    To dream that racist attitudes are admirable really is less than acceptable….and make no mistake, if we asserted true independence from Washington, their racism would target us as sure as night follows day. Because our politicians are supine groupies, they can just fleece us effortlessly.

  • Tony M

    I have not and will not read the article ‘Craig Murray’ has written, but I’m sure it’s just marvellous.

  • Felix

    Spot on as always Craig. I too would take Trump any day over Clinton. She is the lesser of two evils by a considerable distance.

    • Jo Dominich

      Felix you have no way of knowing that do you as she is not President of the USA is she? It’s pure speculation.

  • Jm

    Maybe Boris has been done up like a kipper.

    Maybe his girlfriend and those neighbours are long-term Team Hunt players?

  • Hatuey

    In politics today we seem to wish for the things that will do us most harm, so that people will wake up and realise there are alternatives.

    This isn’t an optimal situation.

  • Hieroglyph

    I was reading Thomas Sowell recently. He too expressed scepticism around protectionism, and laid out a good argument against tariffs, which cause higher prices at home, among other concerns. Thomas Sowell is much cleverer than me, and certainly knows vastly more about economics (not hard). I believe Craig too has a background in economics. However, in all the discussions about tariffs, and trade wars, the discussion seems to assume that the other side is playing fair. Fair enough, I accept tariffs and trade wars are counter-productive, but the context is important. And the MSM does not do context, not where Trump is involved. China and the EU already had import tariffs, long before Trump was elected. And both are hugely corrupt. So it’s not just a ‘Trump trade war’, albeit he is making a significant contribution.

    Also, it should be observed, Trump made a national-security exemption argument. Sowell does the same in the book, quite explicitly too. Steel is vital for military production, after all. Now, one may argue Trump is just flanneling here, and that’s fine. But again this is just extra context, which the MSM simply refuses to provide. I’m no economist, but the nat-sec exemption isn’t terribly hard to understand, and I didn’t read any of that in the MSM, had to go direct to an economist. Interesting, I think.

    As to BoJo, he’s going to win. And the reason isn’t his personal charm, of which he has none. It’s because the Tory party knows they will be destroyed by Nigel Farage at the next election. I’m astonished at this scenario too, but it’s a fact. No Brexit = Dead Tory party. Quite serious. Brexit is not this hugely unpopular ‘far right’ hobby-horse, and the sooner the Tories understand this, the better. Better for them. I could give a shit what happens to them.

  • Baalbek

    Trump is a not as trigger happy as HRC and many of his Democrat detractors but his economic sanctions against Iran and Venezuela are also a form of warfare and have real consequences for people in those countries. Remember Albright and her 500k dead Iraqi children being “worth it”? Sanctions are siege warfare without guns but often no less deadly. And how many American wars already underway (e.g. in Yemen) has Trump stopped? Has he changed his hardcore pro-Israel stance and willingness to sell weapons to the KSA and other repressive regimes?

    Trump’s economic policies are extremely “neoliberal” and harm American low-income earners and benefits recipients…and his demonizing illegal immigrants for the ills of “free trade” deals, globalization and destructive corporate policies is vile demagoguery that blames those with the least power in society for the crimes of the most powerful. It’s like blaming refugees from Syira, Afghanistan etc. and neoliberal African wastelands for the wars and polices of western governments and corporations that make life unbearable in those places.

    I do wish people who ought to know better would stop and consider the wider issues that influence the world before giving a politician or a leader far more credit than they deserve simply because they are marginally less terrible than their competition in ONE aspect.

    • Andyoldlabour

      Baalbek

      You are quite correct, the American people choosing between Clinton and Trump, were in fact given “Hobson’s choice”. Since Trump came in, the Yemeni death toll increased beyond belief – the forgotten war as far as our press are concerned. Syria has been ruined, the Iranian people are suffering greater hardship than before, Venezuela is in total chaos.
      I see nothing good about Trump, nothing at all to cheer, he is an evil, narcissistic despot.

    • nevermind

      Excellent speech brilliantly delivered. I had to smile at some of the smirking faces when you told them that you are drunk, hilarious.

      This blog has started its Trump re election campaign just after he announced it, only 17 month to go folks, with a rising crescendo at the end and in tune with its US readers here.
      I don’t like misogynists who pretend that they are the only humane turkey amongst a gang of Hawks. The US under his guidance has dropped more bombs in half a year, than Obama dropped in a year, he has surrounded himself with cowards screaming for war, as long as they are safe in bunkers to do it all over again.

      https://www.newsweek.com/trump-era-record-number-bombs-dropped-middle-east-667505

      The prospect of Johnson becoming PM would be a winner for Independence, hence we have to make do with landlord Jeremy, investment entrepreneur with special access to the nations assets. His character was well known about before he started his leadership race, with a Tory party helplessly looking on as his poor bicycle got crushed under the weight of his ego.
      The UK is as acceptable to dynasty politics as its model nation to the west and after our hard exit from the EU, in itself now massively open for reform, grab it while you can, we will learn what it means to trade under a now chaotic WTO.

      Increasing attacks on Eastern Europeans, including ex allies who fought for this country makes it cauldron for right wing excesses and I cxan’t see that any Tory leader can solve this regressive drive. Immigration is not a crime, just ask Paddington.

    • Xavi

      They insist “that type of thing is just priced in with Boris.” Keep saying it often enough and they know people will eventually accept different standards must always be applied to him. Because, you know, he’s such an incredibly entertaining guy and all that.

  • writeon

    Dear Craig,

    Of all your posts, over the years, I think this is the one I agree with 100%. Which is unusual for me and probably means… something.

    • glenn_nl

      Might mean something worrying, given you were drooling about how wonderful fascism would be, and your wishes for a nice, young, strong fascist movement. Jesus H Christ. Have you actually read any history at all?

      • writeon

        I do believe that something resembling ‘fascism’ is more or less inevitable in the United States. Given its history and culture. I think that Trump is a symbol or symtom of this unpleasant historical shift.

  • writeon

    I feel sorry for Donald Trump. His instincts and insights are those of a businessman who wants to make an awful lot of money, because that’s what sucessful billionaires are supposed to do under capitalism. Casinos and luxury hotel complexes in the Crimea? You bet I dream of building them! Bombing the shit out of the place… not so much. There’s great potential in Iran too for terrorism, sorry, I meant… tourism. Why can’t we all just try to get along and earn some serious money? Make money, not war?

    Only he’s in a difficult position. He ran, really, as a third party candidate. Defeating the Republican establishment first, capturing the party and then took on the Democratic establishment and won the election. That’s no small feat for a non-politician and shows just how rotten and degenerate the US political system has become. Rotten beyond repair.

    Though he defeated the twin political establishments, he didn’t totally destroy them, unfortunately; because he didn’t have an alternative ‘establishment’ to put in their place, which is why he’s so isolated and has such difficulty finding people of quality to fill government posts. Trump doesn’t really have a party or a movement behind him. This is before one examines the role of the anti-Trump coalition isnide the US security services and the massed ranks of the truly ghastly and truly partisan US media, who seem to love war and mass-destruction to a degree that would make Attila the Hun, blush in comparison.

    In a way I wish that Trump was a real fascist leader with a strong, young and militant movement behind him. A ‘revolutionary’ movement dedicated to ‘reforming’ and ‘saving’ what’s left of the empire before it’s too late. That’s what’s required at this stage of the empire’s decline. I think we’ll have to wait a few years for the ‘real thing’ to emerge in the US.

    • frankywiggles

      Never going to be long before the Trump defenders felt secure enough to start openly expressing their yearning for fascism. You will meet with no pushback on here.

      • Andyoldlabour

        frankywiggles

        I agree Franky, to hear someone feeling sorry for Trump is startling and very concerning. Trump only cares about himself, what is in it for him, regardless of the pain and misery he inflicts on others.

    • Jimmeh

      Are you seriously calling for neo-fascism in the USA? Perhaps you don’t really understand the consequences of a massively powerful military/police state led by a deranged, illiterate narcissist.

      • writeon

        I’m not calling for a neo-fascist state in the US. I think that it could be the likely outcome though. The emergence of a social/national movement that would challenge the twin-party dictatorship that’s been in power for a couple of centuries, as the empire exapanded across the North American continent and further still, verutally swallowing Latin America whole in the process.

        Seen from the perspective of the continents origional inbabitants, they were subjected to a massive land grab, genocide, by a fascist military state that ruthlessly attacked them and almost succeeded in exterminating them as a people and culture.

        Since WW2, the US has been, I’d argue, a completely militarised state, where the vast military apparatus, functions as an authoritarian, state within a state. A bit like a fabulously wealthy, Third World country, like Pakistan. It really is extraordinary how the US military just keeps on growing and spending more and more of the national budget, when, arguably, the United States has never been more powerful and has never been less threatened, in reality, by any overseas adeversary.

        In many ways, I think the United States is already a kind of fascist state, or at least parts of it are, like the military. I’m not sure one should call it a ‘police state.’ It’s worse than that. It’s a ‘military state.’

      • writeon

        What’s fantastic about Americans is how incredibly partisan they’ve become and how much emotional energy they invest in their ‘favourite swine.’ If one doesn’t agree that Trump is the Devil made flesh, then this must mean one ‘supports’ him. If one thinks the Democrats are just as ghastly as the Republicans, only their rhetoric is slightly different, then one step over a line. That these ‘parties’ are really two factions, both dedicated to controlliing democracy and protecting property above all things, doesn’t seem to matter.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ writeon June 25, 2019 at 07:04
      When you consider what he has done since being ‘selected’, it was obviously not just the Koch Brothers who backed him.
      He put the US Embassy in Jerusalem, stopped funding Palestinian UN Assistance, reneged on the Iran Nuclear Deal, recognised Israel’s totally illegal Golan Heights as Israeli Territory, carried on arming Saudi Arabia despite their genocidal war against Yemen, and bellicosity re Iran – in short, sold out America’s (fake) International Respectability to Foreign Interests – the picture becomes more understandable.
      Then throw in Pizzagate (just a shot across the bows – Intelligence Agencies around the world will know that there is a whole massive cesspit behind that, and so did the Hildabeast) and the ‘Selection’ makes sense.
      The US Intel itself would be unable to even make the threat, as they were up to their neck in it themselves, but a ‘Friendly’ Intel Agency would have no qualms in using the veiled threat.

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