Friday, 13 April 2018

Mein Trumpf

The world could be entering the End of Days. As far as we know, humanity, here on this lonely blue planet may be the only intelligent life in the entire Universe; the only intelligent life there has ever been, or will ever be in the Universe. Donald Trump, backed by Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron, may be about to bring about its extinction. What an irony it would be that the only intelligent life in the Universe was destroyed by, and in the interests of, a specimen of the least intelligent life on the planet. 

But, such an irony would be one fitting of Donald J. Trump. For Trump, everything he does must be the biggest there has ever been, the best there has ever been. Only the most excessive superlatives for each and every action he can claim credit for will suffice to describe his uniqueness. What greater example of that could there be, in the mind of Trump, than to be the only human being to be able to claim credit, not only for destroying humanity, but also for destroying all intelligent life in the Universe?! 

And, there is nothing problematic in such a scenario for Trump. After all this is a man for whom a thought held in this moment, has gone and been replaced by a completely contradictory thought the next. Connecting what happens the moment after nuclear annihilation has wiped out all intelligent life in the Universe, to the moment before it, when Trump the Magnificent, writes his place in history, as the destroyer of worlds, poses no problems for him. After all, this is a man who has gone bankrupt four times, and yet still gets away with the claim of being a business genius, and for such a genius, why would he not believe that he alone could rise from the nuclear ashes, dust himself down, and begin to rebuild humanity once again, in his own image, starting with his own selected harem. Why would such a man not believe, like those of a similar psychological and emotional disposition in the past, that they could create a new world order that would survive for a thousand years?   Destroying the planet, and all intelligent life is a goal fully in keeping with the ego of Trump the Magnificent.

But, the question is why would the 7 billion other inhabitants of planet Earth allow such people to get away with that kind of madness? If they had a say in the matter, of course, they wouldn't. Part of the process of democracy is supposed to be that they do have a say. In the US, its Presidential system, provides the President, as head of the armed services, with semi-dictatorial powers. As with the French Presidential system, it is already part way to Bonapartism. On the other side of the nuclear firing line, Putin, already has such powers, and as any such war is likely to expand into a world war, with the US seeking to exercise its military dominance over the rising economic power of China, President Xi, also already has such power. In recent decades, the UK, has also moved closer to a Presidential system, with increasing power of the Prime Minister. Its notable that over the last year, that tendency has increased, with May, like Trump, attempting to quash all challenges to the power of the executive, in relation to Brexit, for example. Now, the convention established since the Iraq War, in 2003, that any decision to go to war has to first obtain the support of Parliament, is itself being challenged by May's government, as she rushes headlong to prostrate Britain, once more, at the feet of a war-mongering US President, in the hope of obtaining some reflected glory. 

And, it's no wonder that May does seek to go to war without parliamentary approval, because all of the surveys show that any such decision has no support amongst the public. On the contrary, there is huge opposition to it, and for good reason, because, it will not be the millions of us that find some temporary existence in nuclear bunkers. Although given, what appalling conditions would face those who crawl out of such bunkers, perhaps that is the more merciful option. The fact that May is looking to go to war without parliamentary approval, indicates again the inadequacy of the unwritten British Constitution, and in the immediate term, shows the need for a War Powers Act to be introduced, which would prevent any government undertaking military action, of any kind, without first having obtained parliamentary approval for it. 

What is even more insane about the situation, rather like the insanity that preceded the stumbling into the slaughter of World War I, is the pretexts upon which such military action is being proposed, and the real reasons that its various proponents have for supporting it. A classic example of that is that, if a parliamentary vote were to be held, its possible that the government might obtain a majority for it. They would do so because, although a number of the Tories more thoughtful backbenchers, like Julian Lewis, have pointed out not only the futility of such action, and the danger of it escalating into nuclear war, the government would be likely to get the backing of all those Labour MP's whose thoughtfulness over the last 2 years has stretched no further than how they could stab Jeremy Corbyn in the back, and who would vote with the government solely to undermine Corbyn. 

Depleted uranium munitions as used by NATO results in
 horrific deformities for decades after their use.
As Julian Lewis pointed out, a few days ago, the use of chemical weapons is indeed abhorrent, but why choose to make an issue over it now, as opposed to twenty years ago, and more, when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons not against 50 people, but against 5,000? And, of course, Saddam used chemical weapons provided by the US to attack Iran, during the Iran-Iraq War, and was advised by the West of how best to utilise them. And, the outrage over the use of such chemical weapons is wholly hypocritical. What makes the use of such weapons more heinous than the use of conventional weapons that leave men, women and children grotesquely disabled and disfigured and left to live a miserable life? What is more heinous about the use of such weapons compared with the depleted uranium munitions used by NATO forces, or the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, both of which have led to gross deformities of babies born for decades after. What is more heinous in the use of chemical weapons than the use of napalm by the US in Vietnam that left children with burning skin peeling from their bodies, or the use of white phosphorous munitions by Israel against civilians in Gaza? 

The truth is that concern over chemical weapons, is really a concern only to limit their use against the west and its allies. It was after all Winston Churchill who wrote, 

Trump himself, only a week ago, was tweeting that he was going to get the US out of Syria. But, perhaps, as with the Tories search for a distraction from the failure of their Brexit negotiations, Macron's need to rally the Republic around the flag, Thatcher style, as he takes on the French transport workers, and the Blair-rights need to use any opportunity to attack Corbyn, the reason given for the volte-face is not the real reason. It is no doubt not a coincidence that Trump's sharp change of position has come at the moment that his own lawyers offices have been raided by the FBI, and when the Mueller investigation gets closer and closer to Trump's own door. Those investigations are looking closer and closer at Trump's finances, which unlike all previous Presidents, he has failed to make public. The question remains where the four times bankrupt Trump obtained the finances for his current business empire, and what role Russia and Russian oligarchs might have played in that regard. 

That Trump should seek a diversion from all that, by going overboard in his threats to Russia, where previously he has been conspicuously silent on Putin's activities, is nothing new. In 1982, Thatcher looked like she was about to be thrown out of office. The ridiculous Austerian economic policies she had introduced, advised by Frederick Hayek, had led to unemployment rising to around 6 million, the economy was going from crisis to crisis, with one big industrial dispute after another, deliberately provoked as part of the Ridley Plan, and heading for stagnation. Labour, under the leadership of Michael Foot, had risen to a level of over 50% support in the opinion polls, in the previous year. If Thatcher wasn't removed by her own backbenchers, then it looked certain that the Tories would be crushed at the next General Election. But, Thatcher also had a saviour. General Galtieri in Argentina, was also facing rising opposition from the Argentinian workers. He sought a national cause to rally the people around the flag, and found it in a ridiculous crusade to claim the Falkland Islands for Argentina. 

There was no real hostility between Britain and Argentina. After all, Thatcher was a very good friend of Galtieri's neighbouring dictator, Pinochet in Chile. Moreover, prior to the Falklands War, Britain had formed a consortium with Argentina, the US, and South Africa, to jointly exploit the oil and other mineral wealth in the oceans surrounding the Falklands. When Galtieri invaded the Falklands, he undoubtedly believed that these existing relations would not lead to war, just as Britain had been led to believe that the US would not oppose the invasion of Suez in 1956, and Saddam had been led to believe by the US, that they would not oppose his invasion of Kuwait in 1991. It would be just an opportunity for sabre-rattling, for public display. But, such sabre rattling time and again, whether in the outbreak of World War I, in the Falklands, and potentially again now, has a nasty habit of resulting in one of the participants getting injured by a sabre, and then responding in kind. War has a dynamic of its own that runs out of control of those that start the process that leads to conflict. 

And, the fact is that events over the last month raise many questions. A month ago, I assumed that the poisoning of the Schripal's was the work, of the Kremlin, but that we should not uncritically accept the government's assertion of that without evidence. The events of the last month have caused me to doubt that. The arguments put forward by the government were laughably inadequate, rather as they were in relation to WMD in Iraq. Then it was shown that the government had lied over the information that scientists had given to them, again as happened in relation to Iraq and WMD. The government only agreed to the OPCW intervening after it had been pressured to do so, and has still refused to involve Russia in that process, as the OPCW protocols require it to do. 

Even more odd, was that having led everyone to believe that the Schripal's were as good as dead for a month, a telephone message from Julia Schripal to her cousin in Russia, is aired on Russian TV, saying she is much better, and about to be released, and that her father was well on the mend too. The first response of British media was to question the validity of the phone call, not unreasonably, especially as Russian TV also said they could not guarantee its authenticity. But, a Sky reporter at the time, made a strange comment to the effect that the authenticity of the call could be checked because Julia would have had to have obtained a phone so as to make the call, and so someone in the hospital would be aware of her having done so. I thought at the time that sounded odd, given that most people nowadays have mobile phones, and in any case, hospitals still have pay phones. The description sounded more like someone who has being held incommunicado rather than who was simply a hospital patient. 

No sooner was it obvious that the phone call was genuine than the information in regard to the Schripal's was transformed. Yes, indeed, Julia was now near the stage of being discharged, and yes her father was now no longer near death, but was also making a rapid recovery. Then Britain refused a visa for Julia's cousin to come to Britain, and then we have had the strange press statement issued not directly from the mouth of Julia, but on her behalf by the police. Why? In most circumstances like this, the press would be demanding to see Julia, and to hear directly from her mouth, and indeed, in most cases like this, the British state would be anxious that she speaks out against her presumed attackers. Its for situations like this that the ancient principle of habeas corpus was introduced. Its not at all necessary to give any credence to the Kremlin, and its propaganda, but in a democracy, surely we have a right to also distrust what our own rulers are saying without evidence, and the fact that Julia is being hidden away from public view, creates far more questions than answers, as has the state's approach through the whole of this affair. 

And, of course, the meme of a chemical weapons attack, flows through perfectly into the government line, and the line of Trump, in relation to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It may, of course, be the case that Assad used chemical weapons, but as with the case in Salisbury, it seems an odd thing to do. Using chemical weapons in Salisbury gave perfect grounds to attack Russia with sanctions and so on, ahead of the World Cup. So, given that the Kremlin could have used other means to kill Schripal, or else could have waited until after the World Cup, the question why now, and cuo bono, arises. Similarly, in Syria, Assad and his Russian backers have won. Its all over bar the shouting, so why invite an attack by using chemical weapons? 

Libyan TNC.  Remember them?
But, even if all of that is taken on trust, the same questions exist. What makes the use of chemical weapons different to the use of even more deadly conventional weapons? What makes the use of chemical weapons now worthy of a response, when no such response was proposed when Saddam used western provided chemical weapons to kill 5,000 Iraqis, or used them extensively when he fought a proxy war against Iran on the US's behalf? If such action does justify a response, what gives the US, UK, and France the right to act as global policeman, judge, juror and executioner in deciding on and carrying out such a response? If a chemical weapons attack did occur, is any response to it worth risking creating an escalating conflict that could spiral into world war, nuclear annihilation, in which the lives of billions of people would be lost in response to the death of just 50? What would be the purpose of any such response? If it is to remove Assad, then who will replace him? As Julian Lewis has pointed out, the likely beneficiary of any such event will not be some friendly liberal democrat, but the jihadists whose own qualms about using chemical weapons or other WMD, are even less in doubt! If it is not, regime change then it is just a token response, with little point, and consequently is certainly not worth risking the end of humanity for! 

Ins short, we have just another example of short-term, unthought out policy-making, similar to Trump's other policies, and similar to the Tories Brexit strategy. It is all based upon hot air and hyperbole with little or no grounding in reality. It is geared solely to immediate distractions from other problems being faced by those governments. Risking humanity for the interests of politicians egos, and immediate political fortunes is not a gamble we should allow them to take. 

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