John Chuckman

    Mass murder, as that which just occurred in Paris, is always distressing, but that does not mean we should stop thinking.

    Isn’t it rather remarkable that President Hollande, immediately after the event, declared ISIS responsible? How did he know that? And if he was aware of a serious threat from ISIS, why did he not take serious measures in advance?

    Within days of Friday 13, French forces assaulted an apartment with literally thousands of bullets being fired, killing a so-called mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Just how are you instantly elevated to the rank of “mastermind”? And if security people were previously aware of his exalted status, why did they wait until after a disaster to go after him?

    Well, the ugly underlying truth is that, willy-nilly, France for years has been a supporter of ISIS, even while claiming to be fighting it. How do I know that? Because France’s foreign policy has virtually no independence from America’s. It could be described as a subset of American foreign policy. Hollande marches around with his head held stiffly up after getting off the phone at the Élysée Palace, having received the day’s expectations from Washington. He has been a rather pathetic figure.

    So long as it is doing work the United States wishes done, ISIS remains an American protectorate, and regardless of Hollande’s past rhetoric, he has acted according to that reality. But something may just have changed now.

    It is important to note the disproportionate attention in the West to events in Paris. I say disproportionate because there are equally ugly things going on in a number of places in the Middle East, but we do not see the coverage given to Paris. We have bombs in Lebanon and Iraq. We have daily bombings and shootings in Syria. We have cluster bombs and other horrors being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And of course, there are the ongoing horrors of Israel against Palestinians.

    We have endless interviews with ordinary people in Paris, people who know nothing factual to help our understanding, about their reaction to the terror, but when was the last time you saw personal reactions broadcast from Gaza City or Damascus? It just does not happen, and it does raise the suspicion that the press’s concern with Paris is deliberately out of proportion. After all, Israel killed about twenty times as many people in Gaza not very long ago, and the toll was heavily weighted with children, many hundreds of them. Events in Paris clearly are being exploited for highly emotional leverage.

    Leverage against what? Arabs in general and Muslims in particular, just part of the continuing saga of deliberately-channeled hate we have experienced since a group of what proved (after their arrest) to be Israeli spies were reported on top of a truck, snapping pictures and high-fiving each other as the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001. What those spies were doing has never been explained to the public. I’m not saying Israel is responsible for 9/11, but clearly some Israeli government interests were extremely happy about events, and we have been bombarded ever since with hate propaganda about Muslims, serving as a kind of constant noise covering the crimes Israel does commit against Palestinians and other neighbors.

    It is impossible to know whether the attack in Paris was actually the work of ISIS or a covert operation by the secret service of an ISIS supporter. The point is a bit like arguing over angels on a pinhead. When you are dealing with this kind of warfare – thugs and lunatics of every description lured into service and given deadly toys and lots of encouragement to use them – things can and do go wrong. But even when nothing goes wrong in the eyes of sponsors for an outfit like ISIS, terrible things are still happening. It’s just that they’re happening where the sponsors want them to happen and in places from which our press carefully excludes itself. Terrible things, for example, have been happening in the beautiful land of Syria for four or five years, violence equivalent to about two hundred Paris attacks, causing immense damage, the entire point of which is to topple a popularly-supported president and turn Syria into the kind of rump states we see now in Iraq.

    A covert operation in the name of ISIS is at least as likely as an attack by ISIS. The United States, Israel, Turkey, and France are none of them strangers to violent covert activities, and, yes, there have been instances before when a country’s own citizens were murdered by its secret services to achieve a goal. The CIA pushed Italian secret services into undertaking a series of murderous attacks on their own people during the 1960s in order to shake up Italy’s “threatening” left-wing politics. It was part of something called Operation Gladio. Operation Northwoods, in the early 1960s, was a CIA-planned series of terrorist acts on American civilians to be blamed on Cuba, providing an excuse for another invasion. It was not carried out, but that was not owing to any qualms in the CIA about murdering their own, otherwise no plan would have ever existed. The CIA was involved in many other operations inside the United States, from experiments with drugs to ones with disease, using innocent people as its subject-victims.

    There have been no differences worth mentioning between Hollande’s France and America concerning the Middle East. Whatever America wants, America gets, unlike the days when Jacques Chirac opposed the invasion of Iraq, or earlier, when de Gaulle removed France’s armed forces from integration within NATO or bravely faced immense hostility, including a coup attempt undertaken by French military with CIA cooperation, when he abandoned colonialism in Algeria.

    If anything, Hollande has been as cloyingly obsequious towards America’s chief interest in the Middle East, Israel, as a group of Republican Party hopefuls at a Texas barbecue fund-raiser sniffing out campaign contributions. After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Hollande honored four Jewish victims of the thugs who attacked a neighborhood grocery store with France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor. I don’t recall the mere fact of being murdered by thugs ever before being regarded as a heroic distinction. After all, in the United States more than twenty thousand a year suffer that fate without recognition.

    Israel’s Netanyahu at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack actually outdid himself in manic behavior. He barged into France against a specific request that he stay home and pushed himself, uninvited, to the front row of the big parade down the Champs-Élysées which was supposed to honor free speech. He wanted those cameras to be on him for voters back home watching.

    Free speech, you might ask, from the leaders of Egypt, Turkey, the UAE, and Israel, who all marched in front? Well, after the free-speech parody parade, the Madman of Tel Aviv raced around someone else’s country making calls and speeches for Jewish Frenchmen to leave “dangerous” France and migrate “home” to Israel. It would in fact be illegal in Israel for someone to speak that way in Israel to Israelis, but illegality has never bothered Netanyahu. Was he in any way corrected for this world-class asinine behavior? No, Hollande just kept marching around with his head stiffly up. I guess he was trying to prove just how free “free speech” is in France.

    But speech really isn’t all that free in France, and the marching about free speech was a fraud. Not only is Charlie Hebdo, the publication in whose honor all the tramping around was done, not an outlet for free speech, being highly selective in choosing targets for its obscene attacks, but many of the people marching at the head of the parade were hardly representatives of the general principle.

    France itself has outlawed many kinds of free speech. Speech and peaceful demonstrations which advocate a boycott of Israel are illegal in France. So a French citizen today cannot advocate peacefully against a repressive state which regularly abuses, arrests, and kills some of the millions it holds in a form of bondage. And Hollande’s France enforces this repressive law with at least as much vigor as Israel does with its own version, in a kind of “Look, me too,” spirit. France also has a law which is the exactly the equivalent of a law against anyone’s saying the earth is flat: a law against denying or questioning the Holocaust. France also is a country, quite disgracefully, which has banned the niqab.

    Now, America’s policy in the Mideast is pretty straightforward: subsidize and protect its colony Israel and never criticize it even on the many occasions when it has committed genuine atrocities. American campaign finance laws being what they, politics back home simply permits no other policy. The invasion of Iraq, which largely was intended to benefit Israel through the elimination of a major and implacable opponent, has like so many dark operations backfired. I call the invasion a dark operation because although the war was as public as could be, all of America’s, and Britain’s, supposed intelligence about Iraq was crudely manufactured and the reasons for undertaking an act which would kill a million people and cripple an entire country were complete lies.

    America’s stupid invasion created new room for Iran to exert its influence in the region – hence, the endless noise in Israel and Saudi Arabia about Iran – and it led directly to the growth of armed rabble groups like ISIS. There were no terrorists of any description in Saddam’s Iraq, just as there were no terrorists in Gadhafi’s Libya, a place now so infested with them that even an American ambassador is not safe.

    Some Americans assert that ISIS happened almost accidentally, popping out of the dessert when no one was looking, a bit like Athena from the head of Zeus, arising from the bitterness and discontents of a splintered society, but that view is fatuous. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by accident in this part of the world. Israel’s spies keep informed of every shadowy movement, and America always listens closely to what they say.

    It is silly to believe ISIS just crept up on America, suddenly a huge and powerful force, because ISIS was easy for any military to stop at its early stages, as when it was a couple of thousand men waving AK-47s from the backs of Japanese pick-up trucks tearing around Iraq. Those pick-up trucks and those AK-47s and the gasoline and the ammunition and the food and the pay required for a bunch of goons came from somewhere, and it wasn’t from Allah.

    A corollary to America’s first principle about protecting Israel is that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in Israel’s neighborhood that is not approved, at least tacitly, by the United States. So whether,

    in any given instance of supply and support for ISIS, it was Israel or Saudi Arabia or Turkey or America – all involved in this ugly business - is almost immaterial. It all had to happen with American approval. Quite simply, there would be hell to pay otherwise.

    As usual in the region, Saudi Arabia’s role was to supply money, buying weapons from America and others and transshipping them to ISIS. Ever since 9/11, Saudi Arabia has been an almost pathetically loyal supporter of America, even to the extent now of often cooperating with Israel. That couldn’t happen before an event in which the majority of perpetrators proved to be Saudi citizens and which led to the discovery that large amounts of Saudi “go away” money had been paid to Osama bin Laden for years. But after 9/11, the Saudis feared for the continuation of their regime and now do what they are told. They are assisted in performing the banking function by Qatar, another wealthy, absolute state aligned with the United States and opposing the rise of any possibly threatening new forces in its region.

    Of course, it wasn’t just the discoveries of 9/11 that motivated Saudi Arabia. It intensely dislikes the growing influence of Iran, and Iran’s Shia Muslim identity is regarded by Sunni sects in Saudi Arabia in much the way 17th century Protestantism was viewed by an ultramontane Catholic state like Spain. The mass of genuine jihadists fighting in Syria – those who are not just mercenaries and adventurers or agents of Israel or Turkey or the Saudis - are mentally-unbalanced Sunni who believe they are fighting godlessness. The fact that Assad keeps a secular state with religious freedom for all just adds to their motivation.

    ISIS first achievement was toppling an Iraqi government which had been excessively friendly to Iran in the view of Israel, and thereby the United States. Iraq’s army could have stopped them easily early on but was bribed to run away, leaving weapons such as tanks behind. Just two heavy tanks could have crushed all the loons in pick-up trucks. That’s why there was all the grotesque propaganda about beheadings and extreme cruelty to cover the fact of modern soldiers running from a mob. ISIS gathered weapons, territory, and a fierce reputation in an operation which saw President al-Maliki – a man disliked by the United States for his associations with Iran and his criticism of American atrocities – hurriedly leave office.

    From that base, ISIS was able to gain sufficient foothold to begin financing itself through, for example, stolen crude sold at a discount or stolen antiquities. The effective splitting up of Iraq meant that its Kurdish population in the north could sell, as it does today, large volumes of oil to Israel, an unheard of arrangement in Iraq’s past. ISIS then crossed into Syria in some force to go after Assad. The reasons for this attack were several: Assad runs a secular state and defends religious minorities but mainly because the paymasters of ISIS wanted Assad destroyed and Syria reduced in the fashion of Iraq.

    Few people in the press seem to have noted that ISIS never attacks Israel or Israeli interests. Neither does it attack the wheezingly-corrupt rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic equivalent of ancient Rome’s Emperor Nero. Yet those are the very targets a group of genuine, independent warrior-fundamentalists would attack. But ISIS is not genuine, being supplied and bankrolled by people who do not want to see attacks on Israel or Saudi Arabia, including, notably, Israel and Saudi Arabia. ISIS also is assisted, and in some cases led, by foreign covert operators and special forces.

    There does seem to be a good deal of news around the idea of France becoming serious in fighting ISIS, but I think we must be cautious about accepting it at face value. Putin is reported as telling ship commanders in the Mediterranean to cooperate and help cover the French aircraft carrier approaching. Hollande keeps calling for American cooperation too, as Putin has done for a very long time, but America’s position remains deliberately ambiguous. A new American announcement of cooperation with Turkey in creating a “safe zone” across the border with northern Syria is a development with unclear intentions. Is this to stop the Kurds Erdogan so despises fighting in the north of Syria from establishing themselves and controlling the border or is it a method for continued support of ISIS along the that border? Only time will tell.

    I do think it at least possible Hollande may have come around to Putin’s view of ISIS, but America has not, and the situation only grows more fraught with dangerous possibilities. I’ve long believed that likely America, in its typically cynical fashion, planned to destroy ISIS, along with others like al-Nusra, once they had finished the dirty work of destroying Syria’s government and Balkanizing the country. In any event, Israel – and therefore, automatically, America – wants Assad destroyed, so it would be surprising to see America at this point join honestly with Putin and Hollande.

    America has until now refused Russia any real support, including such basic stuff as sharing intelligence. It cooperates only in the most essential matters such avoiding attacks on each other’s planes. It also has made some very belligerent statements about what Russia has been doing, some from the America’s Secretary of Defense sounding a lot like threats. Just the American establishment’s bully-boy attitude about doing anything which resembles joining a Russian initiative does not bode well.

    After all, Putin has been portrayed as a kind of Slavic Satan by American propaganda cranking stuff out overtime in support of Ukraine’s incompetent coup-government and with the aim of terrifying Eastern Europe into accepting more American weapons and troops near Russia’s border, this last having nothing to do with any Russian threat and everything to do with America’s aggressive desire to shift the balance of power. How do you turn on a dime and admit Putin is right about Syria and follow his lead?

    And there are still the daily unpleasant telephone calls from Israel about Assad. How do you manoeuvre around that when most independent observers today recognize Assad as the best alternative to any other possible government. He has the army’s trust, and in the end it is the Syrian army which is going to destroy ISIS and the other psychopaths. Air strikes alone can never do that. The same great difficulty for Hollande leaves much ambiguity around what he truly means by “going to war against ISIS.”

    It is an extremely complicated world in which we live with great powers putting vast resources towards destroying the lives of others, almost killing thousands on a whim, while pretending not to be doing so. We live in an era shaped by former CIA Director Allen Dulles, a quiet psychopath who never saw an opportunity for chaos he did not embrace.

    The only way to end terror is to stop playing with the lives of tens of millions in the Middle East, as America has done for so long, and stop supporting the behaviors of a repressive state which has killed far greater numbers than the madmen of ISIS could dream of doing, demanding instead that that state make peace and live within its borders. But, at least at this stage, that is all the stuff of dreams.



    Why does The Guardian quote a man like Ash Carter saying absolutely nothing?

    This is puke tossed from high places, so much so that it is almost comic but for the deadly serious underlying facts.

    All thinking people who keep informed on world affairs know it is America putting the world increasingly at risk.

    Good God, America has killed millions in the last half century in many pointless wars and interventions.

    And the entire, insane war on terror is largely its responsibility, a result of its arrogant and terribly unjust policies in the Middle East for decades.

    Russia is a civilized and relatively peaceful country by comparison.

    And all of today's disasters - Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Palestine - are either America's direct doing or benefit from America's cooperation and support.

    And virtually every tyrant we see - Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey - has America's blessings.

    This is propaganda so completely twisted from truth, it resembles a bad dream.

    Response to a reader referring to MH-17:

    Yes, one of America’s "keyhole" satellites was overhead at the time of MH-17 being shot down.

    These satellites have cameras comparable to the Hubble Space Telescope plus many other technologies of observation.

    The Russians knew this of course, and they said so very early.

    But not one scrap of data was ever submitted to investigators by America.

    Clearly, there was a cover-up of MH-17’s downing to protect America's infant coup-government in Ukraine.

    And the pathetic Dutch, under America's thumb, worked a year to produce a report containing nothing but the bits we already knew.

    And in this case in Egypt, after days we have idiots asserting what happened with no evidence.

    If it was a bomb - and it is very premature to say it was - a strong suspect would be Israel's secret service.

    ISIS has no capacity for doing this on its own. Since ISIS and al-Nusra are very much doing Israel's (and America's) work in Syria, Israel's displeasure with Putin is important.

    Israel, as we know from many past events including in Iran, has often used timed explosive devices.

    Response to a comment from another reader:

    Your words reveal you as one of the pathetic boys who diligently search internet sites for discussions in which Israel is mentioned, and then post crap like this, being paid so much a line for the work.

    I know perfectly well "ISIS” claimed credit. So what?

    Indeed, ISIS is in part an Israeli creation.

    Ever note how ISIS never attacks Israel in any way, which is exactly what such a wild-eyed bunch would do, were they authentic. They are frauds, mercenaries supplied and paid by America, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to destroy Syria.

    Now, Israel has used time bombs countless times, so involvement in the Russian airline downing would be nothing new. It used MEK members in Iran to murder a number of scientists with timed car bombs.

    These ugly practices of Israel's go all the way back to the Lavon Affair in 1954, when it was caught red-handed planting bombs in in Egypt. Even before, in 1946, there was the King David Hotel atrocity killing about a hundred people, the work of a Jewish terror group headed by Menachem Begin, a future prime minister. And need I remind readers yet again of Israel’s deliberate attack on an American surveillance ship, the USS Liberty, to cover up illegal activities in the Sinai during the 1967 War?

    Yet another well-known example of deception involved President Reagan's bombing of Gadhafi. That was the direct result of fake transmissions originating in Israel which succeeded in fooling the U.S. into attacking Gadhafi over his presumed guilt for an attack in Europe against American soldiers, something never proved, by the way, although innocents like Gadhafi’s young son died for it.

    Israel also tried this dirty trick around the time of the sarin poison gas use in Syria. There were fake transmissions trying to make the Syrian Army look responsible for the attack in the hope America would bomb Assad, but in this case the truth became known in a timely fashion. It was the very terrorist forces Israel is known to support who used poison gas in Syria, gas perhaps supplied by Israel.

    No one who criticizes such dirty work is guilty of hating anyone or anything except a government which behaves very much like that of the old Soviet Union.

    People like you have pretty close to succeeded in making the term "anti-Semite" meaningless by using it dozens of times a day against people you don't even know. For all you know, this writer could be Jewish.

    How appallingly ignorant you are, and that is a pure fact and not name-calling.

    People such as you are succeeding also in speeding the day when Israel collapses, again much like the Soviet Union, by trying to maintain a state built on endless injustice thickly coated with lies.



    It is completely inappropriate for a senior military man to be making comments about a politician.

    Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton's words are shameful.

    Politics and the military only successfully mix where there are coups and juntas.

    What is most shameful here though is the implicit permission the general has from David Cameron to butt into politics.

    With each passing day, Cameron proves a greater and greater incompetent and a danger to genuine democracy.



    Charlie Hebdo always was, and remains, something of a free-speech fraud.

    It viciously attacks Muslims and Catholics and others, but it has not been an equal opportunity publication.

    Things Jewish and Israeli are not attacked. And if they were in today's France, the staff would face prosecution.

    Readers may enjoy this, written after the Charlie Hebdo Affair in Paris:



    Kerry says the United States is sending fifty (special forces) troops to fight ISIS?

    Fifty stinking troops? That surely is a joke.

    But fifty troops to assist and advise ISIS and sister terror organizations such as al-Nusra, that makes some sense.

    And since special forces use sabotage and covert operations, it is likely they would be involved in attacking Syrian infrastructure to help make the lives of Syrians still more miserable. After all, America’s jets, supposedly fighting ISIS, have in fact bombed targets such as Syrian power plants. The troops can serve as target spotters. That too makes some sense if you have the kind of twisted goals America has.

    Or the fifty troops could form a human shield around some of America’s hardworking terrorist-mercenaries against Russian bombing, that too makes sense.

    Of course, there is the overlooked fact that Russia works in cooperation with, and at the invitation of, the government of Syria. The United States does not, conveniently having declared with the wave of the imperial hand that longstanding government, known to be supported by a majority of its people, to be illegitimate.

    How convenient, but its troops remain, no matter how small the number, simply invaders, and the United States violates international law putting them there. But international law has never hindered the United States or its Middle East colony (aka, Israel) when either of them wanted to do something.

    What is it exactly that these invaders would advise and assist in?

    Bringing down the legitimate government of Syria. It can’t be anything else because that is the mission of the very people they are assisting and shielding.

    Now, if that isn't being involved in "the civil war", what is?

    Kerry just keeps going in circles, but that is precisely the path of American foreign policy.

    Just using that term, "civil war," is ridiculous because it is not a civil war.

    It is an invasion by terrorists, secretly assisted by Kerry's government and some of its allies to remove a leader they do not like and reduce yet another peaceful country to what America produced in Libya and Iraq.



    Thank you for this moving account of your treatment by Egypt’s el-Sisi government, but such horrors cause David Cameron, now welcoming el-Sisi to Britain, no loss of sleep.

    The truth is that Israel could not tolerate the previous, elected government of Egypt a week longer, and that is why it was toppled. Cameron invariably extends his friendship towards anyone doing Israel’s bidding. Rupert Murdoch, his patron, undoubtedly insists.

    We all know how Israel loves jabbering about democracy in public relations speeches, but, when it comes to any neighboring countries or people, the jabbering falls strangely silent. Democracy for any of Israel’s neighbors is viewed as toxic.

    And just so, Hamas in Gaza, not a terrorist organization but a party representing Palestinian interests (one Israel even secretly assisted in its early days in order to sabotage Fatah), a party which was freely and fairly elected in Gaza and relentlessly attacked by Israel ever since.

    With whom does Israel insist on dealing in all matters concerning Palestine, at least on the very few occasions it deigns to talk? Abbas, a man who is not elected.

    Some democratic values. Some democracy.

    I'm sorry, but Egypt will never have a democracy of any meaningful description so long as Israel remains what it is.



    A very wise man has spoken here, likely the finest diplomat for a major country of our time.

    American policy in the Middle East and Europe and Asia has become impossibly convoluted and dangerous.

    The Russians are in fact doing the job no one else honestly wanted to do, ruining the chances for terrorist bands to takeover Syria.

    And Americans didn't want to do it precisely because the terrorist bands are doing their dirty work for them.

    Any insertion of American troops, even a small number of special forces, adds only to extreme ambiguity and danger. Clearly some could be struck by Russian jets, and then what?

    God, we all need to expect America to start behaving rationally in it foreign policy. The stakes are immense since Russia is competent to literally obliterate America and vice versa.

    It is not a situation in which to play games and frat-boy pranks, but that is exactly what America is doing.

    Response to a comment about the EU speaking out against America’s decision:

    Yes they should, but, in case anyone hasn't noticed, the EU has been supine towards American policy recently. There simply are no strong leaders at this time.

    If only on the firm basis of international law, Cameron, Hollande, and Merkel should speak out against the move, but it is virtually certain they will not.



    As a Canadian with a strong bias towards international relations, I have little good to say about any of Stephen Harper's cabinet.

    But I do think it important to point out something about how that awful government worked.

    Harper had the precise temperament of a tyrant.

    He allowed no minister of senior government bureaucrat to speak out on any matter whatsoever.

    If they were interviewed by the press, an event fairly rare during the Harper years, they had "canned talking points" from which they dared not depart.

    You never learned anything of substance from such interviews. Harper himself rarely, rarely subjected himself to interviews.

    Harper kept this kind of discipline over senior officials because he had in private a terrible temper, and he was a highly vindictive mam.

    All that is to say, you really cannot say in most cases what his ministers believed or didn't believe.

    I have heard Chris Alexander giving the official line, but I have also heard people who know him that he is a fairly decent man who doesn't agree completely with the bleak views of Stephen Harper. I don’t know.

    This was said by people who knew him during the shameful treatment by Harper of Syrian refugees. Harper accepted virtually none - in complete contradiction to Canada’s historic humanitarian role.

    Later, it was revealed that the small number even being accepted were being held up by having applications slowly and inappropriately securitized for religious identity. The secret order went out – we know from a brave civil servant who leaked the fact – to not admit any Muslims. Imagine, no Muslims from Syria – that’s the kind of filthy man Harper was.

    Harper’s motives can only be speculated about, but I think they involved his bizarre relationship with Israel. He was absolutely servile towards Israel, a posture which earned his party handsome campaign-finance contributions from Israel’s lobby.

    That same motivation is likely behind Harper’s ugliness towards Russia. Fans of Israel do not like any country which opposes American interests or challenges American hegemony, America being the country’s chief source of financial subsidy and unquestioning support.

    At any rate, Russians should never believe that Harper's views were the views of most Canadians. He held office with 39% of the vote.



    Martin Amos virtually never has been right.

    Unless of course you mean in the sense of “on the Right,” the far Right.

    Amos is both a boring writer and a boring talker, but in the Cameron-Murdoch set that does not matter.

    None of them reads or listens.



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