President Trump in Europe

As I have previously mentioned, I hold no brief for any American president, and have not liked a single one I have seen during my lifetime. Kennedy was an unfaithful womaniser, and a liar. Johnson was also a liar, and Nixon topped them both by taking blatant lying to a new level. Ford was unimpressive, Reagan seemed mad, (and lied) both of the Bush family are best forgotten, and Bill Clinton was a womaniser and a liar. (That again) Obama knew how to play the game, but kept few promises, and didn’t achieve much for people of colour, the poor, or women, all of which was expected from him.

So, that covers my life from the age of 9, until the year 2016. But one thing about all those former presidents is worth mentioning. They all knew how to behave in public. They understood the ‘game’, and how to play it on the international stage. Some may have been caught out with their sexual indiscretions, or behind the scenes deals and interference in other countries. But they spoke well, and (most of the time) appeared to be dignified, and statesman-like. They represented their country as we had come to expect them to, with concern for their allies, and suitable expression of the power behind their office, at least on the surface.

The along comes Donald Trump. He throws away the rule book. He has no class or style, treating his job as if he is the CEO of The World. He is a womaniser, and he lies, so no change there, but he doesn’t really hide either fact, preferring to boast about his conquests and bad behaviour like men drinking in a bar. He doesn’t know how to speak in public, let alone how to behave. By appealing to the lowest common denominator, he attracts a lot of support in his own country, whilst alienating almost every other country on Earth. Using his daughter as The First Lady is just too creepy for words. She always looks under control, never happy to be doing what she is doing. He goes to NATO and talks to other leaders as if they work for him, and are not being productive enough. Then he comes to Britain and upsets just about everyone you can think of, even those who want to be his friend.

In 2016, I thought he might learn. He was inexperienced as a politician, but obviously no fool, nor the buffoon he was painted in the press. He made clever use of social media, and could have used his business skills to learn from those around him, perhaps really making ‘America Great Again’. But he got rid of everyone who knew what they were doing, and replaced them with a succession of yes men and women who follow his lead. I have rarely seen such displays of arrogance from the leader of a powerful western nation, at least not since newsreels of Mussolini, or the overwhelming self-confidence and condescension displayed by Margaret Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister in the UK. He lives in a world he reinvents day by day, in his own head.

A note to America. You really should try to stop him leaving your country on these visits.

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The Brexit Betrayal

Ever since this country voted to leave the EU in 2016, the issue has consumed the news media, as well as being a source of heated debate among the population, with the great division caused by the vote. Even though I voted to leave, I never had much confidence in any government actually taking us out, in the spirit of the referendum. Sadly, it seems that I have been proved right.

The people who wanted to remain, so lost the vote, have waged a relentless campaign ever since. This has taken the form of court actions, public protests, outright insults against those who voted to leave, and the non-stop pressure for a second referendum, hoping to get the result they wanted in 2016. Despite her famous cry, “Brexit means Brexit” it has been obvious to anyone with half a brain that Theresa May never really intended to leave the EU, in anything but ‘name only’. The failed discussions, the intransigence of the EU negotiators, and behind the scenes deals with the German leader Merkel were all visible signs that she would return with a suggestion of a revised Brexit, that was much the same as remaining in the EU.

Foreign companies are queuing up to announce that they will pull the plug on their UK operations, if we leave without the deals offered by the French and Germans. Many of those industrial giants (including car companies, and drug companies) are run and owned by Germans. Fishing quotas are also in dispute, and many of the EU fisherman demanding access to UK waters after Brexit just happen to be French. Like anything in this world, all we have to do is to ‘follow the money’. The EU is run by Germany and France for their own ends, and everyone else either falls into line, or faces threats and financial sanctions.

Today, the minister responsible for negotiating Brexit from the start has resigned. A meeting of the government last weekend resulted in a decision to carry on with talks for a totally watered-down Brexit that would still leave this country inextricably tied to Europe. Theresa May told the German leader of that decision before announcing it to Parliament, or the British people. The referendum has therefore been proved to be meaningless. The voters who thought they had succeeded in their desire to leave the EU completely have been betrayed, and with them the whole idea of any fair and free elections in this country. If they don’t like the result, they won’t implement it, simple as that.

Before all those who see this as a ‘victory’ of sorts start to celebrate, they might want to think about what it means in the wider scheme of things. No election or referendum will ever really mean anything anymore. Democracy in Britain, such as it was, is now just a memory.

North Korea: Eating My Hat

I never thought the ‘summit’ between Mr Trump and the leader of North Korea would go ahead. I have said that before, and I am now admitting my error. Apologies to those I argued with. I had long considered this to be a ‘blind’ by the Americans, something they pretended to want to happen, but hoped never would.

I am man enough to accept that I was wrong. Some basic ‘agreements’ have been signed, and will hopefully be put into action. Let’s hope that the region will be free of the threat of nuclear war, and that the people of the DPRK can look forward to a slightly easier life. We may never know what was on the table, to get Kim Jong-Un to sign away all the things he had said he never would. But it doesn’t matter what has been given away, if it brings some peace to that troubled country, and its southern neighbour.

I don’t wear a hat, so you will just have to imagine I have eaten it.

Iran: All about one thing

The last few months (years, let’s face it) have seen a lot of antagonism focused on Iran. That country can’t seem to do anything right, in the eyes of others. Ever since the hostage crisis that ended in 1981, it has been vilified as the cause of so many problems, not only in that region, but the world over. If they couldn’t actually pin anything on the Iranians directly, they complained about the use of ‘Iranian-supplied weapons’, or ‘Iranian-backed troops’.

They didn’t mention all the Western-supplied weapons, or Western-backed troops. Oh no.

Remember the long war Iran fought against Iraq? It was from 1980-1988, to jog your memory. During that war, we all thought the Iraqis should win, and wanted the Ayatollahs in Iran to be defeated. Our governments did, anyway, and told us that was the preferred outcome. So we supported Iraq with weapons, advisers, and probably money too. Anything to see the end of Iran, or the regime that wasn’t on our side, as the former Shah had been. This despite the fact that it was conveniently forgotten that Iraq was the aggressor, as they sought to capture the rich oilfields of Khuzestan. At the end, nobody won, and over 1,000,000 troops and civilians were dead. But we don’t ever think about that, as we fill up our cars with fuel.

So once again, it was about oil. It was about oil then, and it is still about oil now.

What are those naughty Iranians up to now?

The US has withdrawn from a Nuclear deal that everyone else accepts was working, claiming Iran is not keeping its promises.
The US is now laughably blaming Iran for the 9/11 attacks, despite proof-positive that they were backed and organised by Saudi Arabia.
Iran is supplying arms to militant Palestinians in Israel.
Iran is supplying rockets that are being fired into Israel.
Iranian banks are ‘funding world terror’.
Iran has imprisoned a British woman on spurious charges.

There is more, but I cannot be bothered to list all the accusations.
Behind all of it, there is just one thing. Oil
It has always been about one thing, Ayatollahs or not. Oil
The Nuclear deal rejection is a smokescreen for? Oil.

The west wants Iran’s oil, and will stop at nothing to get it. That’s what all of this is about.
If you want to believe all the rest, then that’s up to you.

The Labour Party, and the Jewish question

Lots of news about antisemitism in the Labour Party lately. From historical comments made when some politicians were young and impulsive, to personal attacks on Twitter. Some of the concerns seem to be very real, but others perhaps inflated in their importance, and their meaning slightly skewed.

I was a member of the Labour Party for a long time. During that time, I never heard one antisemitic statement, or a single word against anyone Jewish, based on their religion. I also didn’t hear anything bad said about or against people who were black or Asian, religious or atheist. In many ways, it was a party where political correctness found an early voice, and women were as active in the party (and as welcome) as men too.

There were people we didn’t like of course. Far Right supporters, old-school Tories, (any Tories in fact) wishy-washy Liberals, and even some of the Labour stalwarts of the day, including Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. Most of us were opposed to the House of Lords, many of us were in favour of a republic, with no Royal Family, and we didn’t have much time for people like Margaret Thatcher later on, that’s for sure. But I never heard a word mentioned about Jews, or someone even being called ‘Jewish’, in an insulting sense.

Very few of us approved of Israel. That country was dominated by right-wing politicians, interfering in other countries like Lebanon, and being tough on its own Palestinian population. Bullish, belligerent, unacceptable, fascist, Zionist, controlling, uncompromising. I did hear those words used to describe Israel, and I used some of them myself. (And still do) But it was never about the main religion of that country, Judaism. It was about the politics of a small nation, propped up by America, supported by international financiers, and constantly citing The Holocaust as a ‘reasonable excuse’ to behave in a fashion that was unacceptable to many of us on the Left of politics.

Even then, valid criticism of Israel was attacked as antisemitic. It was, and still is, a very easy ‘get out’. If somebody criticises that country, they are immediately labelled as an anti-semite, or a racist, and face censure and disgrace, in some circles. It would appear that Israel is supposed to have a ‘get out of jail free’ card for life, and no matter what they do, or how their armed forces behave, woe betide anyone who protests those actions, for you must also be against their religion, obviously.

But that accusation could not be further from the truth. No different to someone being critical of Irish or Italian politics, with no mention of the main religion of Catholicism in those countries. If I write or say something against Saudi Arabia, does that mean I am an anti-Muslim racist? Of course not. Jewish people really do have to get over this idea of equating attacks against Israel with antisemitism. It just isn’t true, and it doesn’t convince anyone. (Anyone sensible, anyway)

For clarity, I should add that it is a long time since I was in the Labour Party, and hold no brief for that party, or any of its politicians or party members.

Syria: The countdown begins

After another apparent ‘chemical attack’ by the Syrian government, it might seem that the world is on the brink of the worst international crisis since the Cuban missile affair in 1962. The US President is threatening to use cruise missiles to attack Syrian military bases, and the British Prime Minister has also expressed a desire for this country to tag along on the American coat-tails. Despite claiming to have ‘proof’ that chemicals were used against civilians in Syria, the French President is adopting a ‘wait and see’ stance on whether or not France will also join in.

Meanwhile, the Russians, currently allied with President Assad in Syria, have stated that they will intercept any missiles fired at Syrian bases by the US, UK, or France. In response, Mr Trump has been bullish in the extreme, telling the Russians and Syrians that they can expect to be attacked very soon.
As far as the UK is concerned, our Prime Minister has decided that the people do not need to be consulted about military intervention that could lead to direct conflict with Russia. She is having a series of meetings with colleagues, to explain the reasons why she feels it necessary to embark on what is basically an undeclared war.

Those of us blessed with a reasonable memory will recall Tony Blair telling us that we had to attack Iraq, because they had chemical weapons that had been used against civilians, as well as the much-quoted ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that were never actually found there.

I think it is time to ask some hard questions.
Do we actually want the Syrian rebels to win?
Will the world be a safer or better place if Assad is removed?
Will any intervention not just stir up the hornet’s nest of anti-western feeling that already exists almost everywhere?
Is NATO actually capable of defeating Russia in a conventional conflict, albeit one fought by proxy in another country?

My own answers to these are No, No, Yes, and No.

Syria is a sovereign country, engaged in a civil war against various groups, including some of the same Muslim fundamentalist organisations that we have supposedly tried so hard to eradicate elsewhere. Their war is not our business, other than for the fact that western leaders would like to see Assad removed from power. If they succeed in doing this, the chances are that they will be back fighting whoever takes over from him, as they will surely be no friend of NATO and its allies.

So what is the point of this escalation, something that might drag us into a global conflict? As always, follow the money. More arms, more money for arms companies, more money for the companies that supply the logistical needs of armies, and more money for the companies that supposedly ‘re-build’ after the conflict has stopped. Add to that some school playground-style chest-thumping from inexperienced ‘world leaders’, and we are in danger of seeing a powder keg ignited, becoming a war that will surely not stop at the Syrian border.

Senseless, in my opinion.

Tony Blair. Just go away

Tony Blair was arguably the worst thing that happened to the Labour Party in Britain. Admittedly, we had Neil Kinnock and Michel Foot, and they were never going to win anything. But victory at any cost has never been something I supported, and the arrival of the smarmy Blair in 1997 was the kiss of death to moderate left-wing politics in this country.

Little more than a closet Tory, sucking up to the Royal Family and America, he even changed the whole idea of the party, going so far as to change the name to New Labour, whilst disassociating himself from the trade unions and working classes who created and supported it. At the earliest opportunity, he plunged the country into pointless and deceitful wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, so that he could have ‘his war’, just as Thatcher had The Falklands.

Facing criticism and possible investigation, he resigned as Prime Minister and as a Labour M.P. in 2007. That should have been the end of him as a political figure. But no. He was immediately appointed as Special Envoy to the Middle East (Who by? I don’t know either) on a huge salary, and began the usual round of incredibly profitable public speaking, and selling his memoirs. This a man shamed for lying to his own government, and the British Public, to take them into a war he knew to be based on falsehoods and big business corruption.

He now runs this outfit, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Supposedly a non-profit organisation (whenever I see non-profit, I always know there’s a lot of profit there somewhere) that was funded to the tune of almost $10 million. I have no idea who put up this money, but I have my suspicions. The first thing that Blair did with this new institute was to become active in the Remain campaign, urging people to vote to stay in the EU. He was interviewed as if he was some kind of revered expert, and allowed to offer his opinions unchallenged. Once the vote went against his ideas, he returned to agitate for a second referendum, and keeps popping up with his ‘I told you so’ soundbites and comments.

Then yesterday, he appeared again, this time pontificating on the nerve agent issue in Salisbury. Warning us about Russia, Putin, and a new Cold War, as if he was the only one to be counted on to have drawn the right conclusions. This man has personal wealth in excess of £60 million. He is completely out of touch with any ordinary person in Great Britain, and owns no less than ten houses and some 25 apartments around the world. And his family is just one wife, and three children, so they have plenty of space to spread out in. And in case you think this is a personal attack, here is part of a newspaper report, from The Guardian.

“How much money will it take to make Tony Blair happy? Given the opportunity, most people would surely rest after a decade of running the country. Blair, on the contrary, appears to have spent every waking hour focused on amassing as much wealth as possible, seemingly intent on increasing his worth to match that of a small country. It should come as no surprise that the Blairs have thrown themselves into the property market, since no dollar is too dirty for them. Blair did, after all, give paid public relations advice to a Kazakh dictator after the police shot 15 protestors dead.
Tony and Cherie Blair’s property empire worth estimated £27m
So of course the Blairs have jumped on the property gravy train, snapping up more than two dozen flats in Manchester through a company Cherie and one of their sons, Euan, own; passing on properties from Cherie to her children as gifts, thus avoiding stamp duty, and ultimately amassing £27m worth of property, much of which is let out and has all already risen in value.”

This was a man who supposedly represented the working classes of this country and was the head of the only socialist party left in Britain. A man with no shame. A profiteer. A man who used his position and influence for personal gain, and family fortune. Why is anybody interested in what he says?

He needs to go away. he really does.