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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  • Jeremy Stocks

    Craig – nice to properly follow your blog having read your book “Samarkand”. I somehow didn’t feel qualified to discuss with you issues until I had read that book, and read it I did deep in central France on holiday last month. To say I love the book would be unjust in a sense, and do an injustice to the human rights violations and deep injustices you bravely portray. Deeply moved at your writings may be better. For like you I do not subscribe to the “state approved” ways. I hated Thatcherism (however the one thing she was correct on was keeping the pound) yet the great thing at least was that we all knew our enemy back then. What I think is more evil is Bliarism as it is still here today worldwide. Its long slow march through the institutions continues as analogous to HG Wells’ “Red Weed” on the earth. Its ideology of “peaceful humanitarian bombing” and neoliberalism is wrecking lives and the people do not understand what it is.

    My Damascene moment occurred in 1998. I was a mapping specialist in Saudi Arabia mapping marine biotopes as a technician. My nickname back then (can anyone believe this today?) was “Tony Blair” to my Asian colleagues – that young fresh face in the UK who they saw oust Thatcher. Then in 1998 Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of Somalia and Iraq using Saudi airbases I saw the Tornadoes flying over my apartment) in spite of media assurance that Saudis were not involved. Until then I was liked and respected as a Brit of the “old school” decent, tolerant, polite – like your good self. Then after that attack my Arab colleagues one morning would no longer shake my hand at my offered “Aleykwm Salaam”. One of them looked at me and said “Shall I shake your hand? Your people are murderers.

    It was then I realized that the path I’d follow after that would be a lonely one. Seeing his awful wife attempt to be president “because it was her turn” offended me. And while the US politics ought to be an internal American affair, it directly affects the world what happens there. If “she” had won and the NSA hadn’t unrigged five voting machines in critical states, we’d be at war with Syria and Iran – for “humanitarian” reasons”. Europe would have become a quagmire of unorganised immigration – the people who came and settled are now integrating okay. I have an Eritrean check my tyres here in Germany and he is lovely. Perhaps some of them will make lives here and raise families. I hope so, however I was as against millions coming in just as I’d be against thousands of English soccer fans in 2006 when the World Cup was on. So we are lucky Trump won. No I do not like his stance on certain things but we really dodged a bullet. Hell the US might have elected a telephone box or a traffic bollard – anything but her.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Jeremy Stocks June 27, 2019 at 08:24
      ‘…If “she” had won and the NSA hadn’t unrigged five voting machines in critical states…’
      Do you have any links or further info on that?

  • M.J.

    I don’t see Hillary Clinton’s position on Iran as much different from Trump’s except that he appears more unstable and dangerous. I don’t see her as a scoundrel lacking compassion, as I see him. She did advocate bombing Syrias airfields to prevent her dropping chemical bombs on its own subjects, too bad that she didn’t have authority to do it and so many Syrian civilians did perish.
    Given that she doesn’t want to run again, hopefully someone like Elizabeth Warren might be elected next time. Bernie Sandetrs might be too socialist for the Americna voters, and Buttigieg might appeal to younger voters but not older ones, especially evangelicals.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ M.J. June 27, 2019 at 11:08
      She would have been better adbvocating bombing the White Helmets, who were setting off the CW attacks and hoaxes.
      ‘..I don’t see her as a scoundrel lacking compassion..’
      Then you must know very little about her. I could refer you to a string of books, but my post would probably be deleted.

  • M.J.

    W.F. Jackson Knight in his translator’s preface to Virgil’s Aeneid has something to say that relates to the question of the importance of moral character in political leaders:
    ” When in the middle of the Aeneid Aeneas is allowed, like Dante in the Divine Comedy, to visit the Spiritual World beyond death, he has to find, pick, and take with him as his passport a ‘golden bough’. Certainly, a great number of facts contributed to suggest the idea of this ‘bough’ to Virgil, but there is little doubt which was the most important. It was in a passage in a Greek poem abnout the different Greek writers, composed not long before Virgil’s time, in which the work of Plato is called a ‘golden bough, sparkling all round with every virtue.’ Virgi;l characteristically chose this way of saying that moral goodness is necessary for the spiritual discernment which is in its turn necessary for wise and progressive statemanship.”

  • Sharp Ears

    A puff piece for Jeremy in the local rag, the Farnham Herald, which is printed in his constituency, SW Surrey, about a mediafest held at a Surrey golf club. Of course.

    ‘Asked how being educated at Charterhouse had helped prepare him for ‘the big job’, Mr Hunt said he had many happy days at school but he had “always felt troubled” that many people had not had the same opportunities. He said one of his biggest priorities as PM would be to improve the standard of state schools. His aim is for the Conservative Government to abolish illiteracy within a generation.’

    Q What have the Tories been doing to ‘abolish illiteracy’ during the last 9 years?

    The Farnham Herald used to be printed in letterpress and is owned by Sir Ray Tindle, who supported the I’m Backing Britain brigade back in the 60s.

  • Reg

    Craig, just to say I agree.
    The DNC after all was not forced by anybody (other than the Cintons and their wall street backers) to fix the primaries and choose a candidate even worse than Trump. Yes on domestic issues Trump is possibly worse, such as in reducing food stamps, but I am not a US citizen so its forign policy as a nation with nuclear weapons is more of a concern. Even on domestic issues this is far from certain as Hilary Clinton is a racist having described young black men as superpreditators and said they all look the same on black appointees to the White House. It is also Bill Clinton who introduced mass incaceration of black people and welfare reform time limiting out of work benefits. Welfare reforms and mass incaceration that Obama made no effort to roll back. Obama didnt even try to reduce the mass shooting of unarmed black people and even children, I am sure Bobby Kenedy would of done somthing. Obama however was a waste of space that did little else than bail out the banks and insurance companies via Obamacare while persecuting whistleblowers.

    Hilary Clinton as secutary of state said “We came we saw he died”, and laughed after someone was S to death by a bayonet, indicating she is a psycopath, mentaly unstable and compleatly unfit for office. Although Trump is a narcissist, alot of it is all an act.
    I have no doubt that if Clinton was in office the US (and the UK) would now be at war with Syria, as the UK always says 3 bags full sir.
    The Islamic state would still exist, and still be funded by the US, it was after all Clinton pushing Obama into Libya and Syria. Obama after all described Syria as his greatest mistake.
    I have no doubt we would be closer to nuclear war in Eastern Europe under Clinton. Clinton after all restarted the cold war to cover up her electoral fraud in the primaries risking nuclear war, and this was outside office, just imagine if she had been in office?
    So I agree, Trump in office is the lesser of two evils in comparison to Hilary Clinton. The DNC has the choice to put up a real alternative to Trump and not back Biden who co-sponsored the crime bill causing the mass incaceration of black people.

    Slavoj Zizek saying similar.

    I do however not see how the SNP can be a radicalisating influence under the deep state supporting Sturgen (such as on the Russiagate nonsense), and in supporting the neoliberal EU under the absurd assumption that Scotland would fare any better than Italy or Greece. I have yet to encounter one remain supporter that understands the EUs structure and history, other than Varafacus who is arrogant enough to belive he can reform it after his failure to obtain reform as Greek finance minister.

  • Sharp Ears

    If looks could kill. Theresa and Vladimir in the photo.
    ‘Despicable act’: May confronts Putin over Salisbury poisoning
    PM addresses Russian leader at G20 over ‘wider pattern of unacceptable behaviour’

    Actually they did not make much eye contact. She berated him over Salisbury, again. What a nerve she has. Her behaviour throughout the last three years, almost to the day when she goes next month, as PM and previously as Home Secretary, has been completely unacceptable. Apparently, she intends to remain as MP for Maidenhead when she leaves Downing Street.

    Anyway, the visit to the G20 in Japan is the end of her globe trotting, with Philip in tow of course.

  • Sharp Ears

    The subject of Salisbury, the Skripals, and Novichok resurfaced today. Newsnight has just been transmitted, earlier than usual because of Glastonbury coverage. It featured Mark Urban, Jane Corbin, ex ambassador Toby Brenton and a representative from Bellingcat. All the same old stuff was regurgitated plus the inclusion of a third Russian who was in the UK at the time (his phone use was being tracked by Bellingcat!) and who had departed for Russia ahead of the Novichok being distributed. YCNMIU.

    The programme is on the iPlayer. Newsnight 28/06/2019
    ‘Kirsty Wark with new evidence on the Sergei Skripal poisoning, plus discussion of Putin’s assertion that liberalism and multiculturalism have outlived their purpose.’
    Duration 30 mins
    First shown 28 Jun 2019

    On BBC South Today, following the Six O’Clock News, a three day military festival featured in an outside broadcast. It is being held in Salisbury. 600 school children were admitted to the ground today and were allowed to interact with the displayed military vehicles and equipment. (Militarization of children yet again) We heard about the 4,000 military personnel being relocated from Germany to Larkhill and the massive housing estate being created for them. We then heard the leader of Wiltshire CC, Jane Scott, paying tribute to the Army and the RAF for dealing with the Novichok, the cleaning up of the city and for ‘making us safe’ as she put it. She also included the fact that ‘Dawn died’. The Commander Home Command, Army, Lt Gen Tyrone Urch CBE, also appeared and said his piece.

    The edition of that programme is not on the iPlayer.

    In other words a big push by the state broadcaster in combination with HMG to repeat all the lies. All planned and scripted.

  • Curious

    I would have hoped to hear widespread applause after Craig’s courageous description of the genocidal treatment of Gaza underwritten by the US. Was there fear in the profound silence that followed? Or the embarrassment of complicity? What a brilliant address about the “dream” that most take for granted is worth having.

  • John2o2o

    Craig, I often disagree with you. it would be a very boring world if everyone agreed with everyone else all of the time. I don’t see the problem with you writing something that I and others might disagree with.

    I am sure, if you ever read any of my contributions to your comment threads that you often disagree with me.

    I used to sit on the fence on the issue of Scottish independence, but I now support it, though I am also a royalist. Not, I hasten to add, a toady however.

    I dislike republicanism. It seems cold and empty. A rebellion against an enemy that does not really exist. Not in most countries. Maybe in Saudi Arabia monarchy is still oppressive but not in the Commonwealth.

    I look forward to the Disunited Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

  • Anne Abercrombie

    A lovely speech! I admire your courage so much to speak out like you do for justice.

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