Below: John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards it as a badge of honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something like three million Vietnamese in their own land because they embraced the wrong economic loyalties. He lives in Canada. John’s writing appears regularly on many Internet sites. He has been translated into at least ten languages and has been regularly translated into Italian and Spanish. Several of his essays have been published in book collections, including two college texts. We received the following submission Tuesday afternoon.
LIVING WITH INSANITY
Harper, Abbott, and Cameron at the Brisbane G-20
By John Chuckman
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is reported by a spokesman, to have had the following exchange with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during the Brisbane G-20 summit: “Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.” Putin is said to have replied, “Impossible. Since we are not there.”
A graceless bit of diplomatic crudity from a truly graceless man, Stephen Harper, someone Canadians know has a history of underhanded practices at home, from introducing ugly personal-attack campaign advertising, using secretive and bullying tactics in parliament, failing to deal with corrupt practices by subordinates especially an American-style election scandal of robo-calls which sent some voters to the wrong polls, to having appointed several unbelievably incompetent and corrupt ministers. He is known for a ferocious temper in private, a very controlling man who grants his political associates absolutely no freedom of expression, and is reported by insiders as having on at least one occasion thrown a chair in a meeting. His silencing of Canadian government scientists from offering their opinions on issues in areas of expertise has been a simmering international scandal, as has his complete suppression of environmental issues.
Before Harper, Canada enjoyed for many decades a reputation for fairness and decency and intelligence in international affair with statesmanship and openness exhibited by figures like Lester Pearson or Jean Chretien or Paul Martin. Harper has destroyed a great deal of that as he pursues a single-minded role as American junior partner in almost all things.
He completely abandoned Canada’s traditional policies of fairness and balance in the Middle East, literally shocking many Canadians at times with fervent outbursts about Israel, including suggestions that Canadian critics of Israel are anti-Semitic. He does this, as any astute political observer recognizes, to solicit increased campaign funds from Canada’s financially successful Jewish community, taking his cue from Republicans in the United States such as Newt Gingrich who alone received $18 million dollars from one wealthy supporter of Israel for his last nomination campaign in exchange for inserting into his speeches that there was no such thing as a Palestinian, an utterly insincere and ridiculous statement. Since Israel is no admirer of President Putin’s, he being too independent-minded and opposed to the American exceptionalism Israel tightly embraces and by which it prospers, this activity of Harper’s puts him in an anti-Russian frame of mind from the start.
Harper has made an annual photo-op journey to Canada’s North, always trying to appear to voters as the man most concerned with a future there of melting ice creating free access through the Northwest Passage. Ironically, he periodically mentions Russia as the nation he is most concerned about, but Canada’s recent history couldn’t make it clearer that it is the United States which represents the great threat to our Northern waters and shore. Everything from unauthorized American atomic submarine prowling to a giant American oil tanker passing to published American charts showing this future open water as international tells a pretty harsh story. But in every detail, Harper only pretends America is a great and non-threatening friend.
Harper is the single most obsessed leader in Canada’s history with pleasing, almost fawning over, the United States. Had the history of Canada, which included a great deal of disagreement and contention with the United States over its many imperialistic behaviors, included many leaders of Harper’s character, there quite likely would not be a county called Canada today.
So here are the demonstrated qualities of the man performing as Canada’s diplomatic ass at the G-20 in Brisbane. He demonstrates a genuinely anal-retentive temperament, is intolerant of differences of opinion, and embraces a wilful blindness to the world’s greatest threat to peace, the United States in its self-appointed role as imperial arbiter among nations.
In case you wonder why a man like Harper even holds office in Canada, it is because the effective opposition was split with internal battles and because the last leader they selected in desperation following those battles was a man of no political intelligence or even experience and a totally unattractive personality to the public, Michael Ignatieff, someone who managed to do almost everything wrong. It also reflects a democratic deficit in our parliamentary structure where a party with just over 39% of the vote can be a parliamentary majority. So despite Canadians consistently being about 60% or higher inclined to somewhat progressive parties, Harper has had a free run at pole-axing the country’s traditional international reputation. Every day we come to be seen as a bit more like the deceptive and brutal American colony in the Middle East he embraces so closely.
We unfortunately live in a time utterly lacking statesmen in the West. I don’t know the detailed backgrounds of those other aggressive fools at the G-20, Abbott of Australia and Cameron of Britain, but I know they are both men who have lied exceedingly and been intimately involved with such nasty business as favors for the unsavory Rupert Murdoch empire. I can think of nothing which recommends either of them as statesmen. Indeed, they both, quite literally, kowtow to America.
Putin is head and shoulders above these men in intellect and focus, readiness to communicate clear views to the world, someone demonstrating considerable patience, and, from all evidence, someone notably free of the blowhard ideology which virtually characterizes Harper, Abbott, and Cameron.
Putin’s moves in Ukraine seem to me appropriate for dealing with a deliberately-induced crisis in an important neighboring country, and one with a long history of connections and associations. He has not invaded Ukraine, something which he could easily do were he so inclined. I suspect he has supplied weapons to East Ukraine, but that is something the United States does all the time, including supplying weapons to some of the most brutal groups and governments on earth, as it is right now doing in Syria, with secret night cargo flights out of Turkey to terrorist cutthroats. Just ask yourself what America would do about a comparable situation in Mexico: patience simply would not exist, and Mexico City would be quickly overrun by tanks.
The people of East Ukraine, Russian in background and sympathies, deserve protection as much as they deserve the huge amounts of emergency supplies Russia has supplied in a conflict owing its origin entirely to the covert acts of America. Had the coup-established government of Ukraine originally offered protection of Eastern interests, including language rights they openly tried suppressing, the story might have been different, but they did precisely the opposite, passing unfair laws, making threat after threat, and attacking their own citizens. Who wouldn’t rebel in that environment, including any of the states of the United States? How easily people forget past rebellions in the United States, the greatest of which was the Civil War, still the bloodiest war Americans ever experienced.
It is quite clear that the United States is responsible for destabilizing Ukraine. Its CIA funds have been invested into many unsavoury projects, perhaps most disturbing is its paying support to a collection of neo-Nazi groups ranging from extremist parties to violent militia forces, some of the very groups who have committed atrocities such as murdering many hundreds of civilians and some of whom actually march under swastika-like flags. It does seem more than a bit strange that men like Harper, Abbott, and Cameron implicitly support that kind of filthy work while charging Putin with dark acts, dark acts which are stated ambiguously and certainly never proved.
It is also clear that the United States has pressured all authorities involved to delay and obscure the investigation into the destruction of Flight MH17, and the only explanation for that can be America’s preventing, for as long as possible while the new coup-created government of Ukraine consolidates its position, the highly embarrassing finding that Ukraine in fact shot it down. The United States has said over and over it has evidence about the crash, yet it has never produced a scrap of it. Just as it never produced evidence for so many past claims from what actually happened on 9/11 to the assassination of a President.
The great irony of the G-20 summit in Brisbane is that its only substantial agreement concerned doing everything possible to promote growth in a world whose economy is dangerously stagnating, yet it wasted time and energy on America’s fantasy stories about Russia and Ukraine, insulted Russia’s President, and threatened in some cases further growth-suppressing sanctions. Nothing could be more contradictory and unproductive or, frankly, just plain stupid.
Related: Contrasting levels of maturity. Putin says that there is a “good chance of resolution” in the Ukraine conflict, outlines how & Gorbachev despairs as Obama once again puts Russia on the list of the greatest threats to the world
Salt Spring News British Columbia Canada November 17, 2014
Three links. From one of those links:
Moscow will not allow the defeat of … rebels in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned, arguing that both sides need to make concessions for a floundering peace deal to succeed.
Putin’s statement in an interview with German ARD television came as European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss a response to the continuing fighting in Ukraine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the conflict was not just about Ukraine but about peace across Europe.
Obama remains high-handed—and wrong—about Ukraine
William Pfaff Truthdig USA November 19, 2014
For a man who had taken a stunning electoral blow two weeks earlier, Barack Obama completed his Asian trip with an air of unperturbed leadership of the world—whatever the Republicans at home thought about who was in charge of what now will happen in the United States
The nation and its politicians have since the Cold War been so confident of American supremacy over the whole of Western civilization that not only allies have ceased to count but enemies. Americans are the leaders who make the decisions on how the world should work, even when this clearly is not what experience teaches, as one might think had been learned in recent years in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The president signed a carbon emissions agreement with China. He went to Myanmar hoping to bestow a gold star for merit on Aung San Suu Kyi but found it necessary to chide the generals in power in the country that they must do better in matters of human rights—at a moment when a scandalous forced expulsion of a Burmese Muslim minority was taking place. Another time for Madame Aung San Suu Kyi.
In Brisbane for the G20 discussions, the president oversaw David Cameron of Britain (who has become the new Tony Blair) reiterating the State Department script, and issuing a lordly warning to Vladimir Putin that he must do as he is told concerning Ukraine or there will be still more sanctions.
Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, presented to the Russian president, insulted him by saying: “I guess I’ll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you. You need to get out of Ukraine.” The other members of what in espionage circles are known as the Five Ears (not a new band, but the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia) gave a version of the same speech. Mr. Obama was pleased. Stars for all!
President Obama’s final words to Mr. Putin set the pattern for hypocrisy: “(We are) very firm on the need to uphold core international principles, and one of those principles is you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies … to break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.”
Is it possible that no one in his own government has yet worked up the courage to tell Mr. Obama that it was his own United States State Department that arranged a public uprising in Kiev last February, against a democratically elected (if corrupt) president of Ukraine, and sponsored the coup d’etat that made Arseniy Yatsenyuk (known as “Yats” in the department) prime minister? The Washington-sponsored coup occurred before there were any Russian troops in Ukraine, and before either government had as yet dreamed that Mr. Putin would annex Crimea in retaliation.
Obama, had he wished, could have read the whole story of the affair in a recent issue of the journal Foreign Affairs, written by the noted historian John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, or by Princeton’s Russia expert Stephen Cohen in other current publications.
Or he could have read an interview, published on the website TheRealNews.com Nov. 9, with Ray McGovern, a retired 27-year CIA veteran, who was the agency’s presidential daily briefer during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. McGovern explained how the affair was initiated at the NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008, which resolved to make Ukraine and Georgia NATO members (despite assurances to the contrary given by two American presidents; the Georgia attempt was made but failed in 2008). The president could even have read the inside story in this column, but I am certain did not.
As the West European members of NATO surely gave their agreement to this secret effort to overthrow and replace the Ukrainian government, it strikes me as not only hypocritical but dishonorable for them to have continued at Brisbane to berate Vladimir Putin for Russia’s supposed aggression against Ukraine.
Fortunately, many of the other Europeans, led by Angela Merkel, seemed aware of the story behind the Ukraine affair, and dealt with Vladimir Putin as if they preferred peace with Russia rather than war.
The host himself, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, greeted the Russian president with the accusation that he was attempting “to recreate the lost glories of czarism or of the Soviet Union.” On his departure, Mr. Putin replied that Prime Minister Abbott had been “an excellent moderator and professional partner,” and thanked the people of Brisbane for “having welcomed him with such hospitality.”
Unfortunately, too many NATO members in Brisbane seemed to share what Dimitri K. Simes of the Center for the National Interest in Washington and Robert Blackwill of the Council on Foreign Relations say is the mood in Washington: to treat the Russian leader as if he were Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Moammar Gadhafi. Writing in the issue of The National Interest just out, the authors recognize that the crisis in Ukraine must be resolved in a manner that respects the dignity and national concerns and interests of both sides. Hasn’t anyone told Barack Obama?