This is a day of odds and ends with no news that really stands out.
As I first watched the American leadership debates, I was struck by the lack of any sense of economic policy, social policy, or even of social concern. All the things an election should be about were ignored. It was entirely about fears and hatreds, feelings that had been encouraged by the government and the press. With the sole exception of Democrat Bernie Sanders, the candidates are talking only about which of them hates more and is willing to kill more.
The U.S., itself, does not exist in these speeches. The startling rise in poverty in the U.S. is rarely even mentioned. Nor is defence spending, though it is now the highest in the world by far, so high that is makes social spending almost impossible. The U.S. is also the world's largest exporter of weapons – with no way of controlling who gets them in the end. No-one (but Sanders) has said much about racism in the U.S., or about domestic crime with an extremely high murder rate. Your chances of getting killed in a mass shooting in the U.S. carried out by Muslims are very small. But your chances of getting killed in a mass shooting carried out by American citizens are over four hundred times higher. And your chances of being killed by U.S. police are far, far higher than that.
But, no, the big issues are hate and fear and killing.
What makes that possible is private news media (which means most of them) treat foreign affairs as a very simple matter. When Bush invaded Iraq, and killed over a million people, he said it was because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. None of the private news media even bothered to ask what a weapon of mass destruction is. (Nor did they ask anything about U.S. stocks of weapons of mass destruction.)
And when we learned that there were no such weapons in Iraq, it was still okay that Britain and the U.S. killed over a million people. After all, Saddam was a bad man, said our news media. Then it emerged that Blair and Bush had lied in the first place. But the private news media scarcely mentioned it. Nor did it have the wit or the integrity to ask WHY Bush and Blair had lied. Why did we kill over a million people? Was it just to get one, bad man?
Almost 5,000 Americans, British and others died to get that 'bad man'. There were also the thousands who would suffer battle damage for life, and those who have committed suicide – and are still committing suicide at record rates.
But Tony Blair became a multi-millionaire as a result of that war. And George Bush routinely collects tens of thousands of dollars (and often much more) for giving a short and brainless speech.
Then there was the invasion of Afghanistan. That was, we were told, because Afghanistan was sheltering Bin Laden and the people who had planned 9/11. But, actually, it wasn't.
9/11 was not planned by or even in Afghanistan. It was planned by Saudis living in Europe. And when the U.S. demanded that Afghanistan hand over Bin Laden, Afghanistan took the reasonable position that this should go to an international court – as international law requires. But American Exceptionalism meant that the U.S. could do whatever it liked (under God). So the U.S. invaded.
So far, the number of dead for the U.S. Canada, Britain, France and Spain are well over 4,000. Those for the other side (soldiers and civilians) about 100,000 plus the uncounted number tortured and the unkown number still in prisons around the world, and still being tortured.
And they didn't get Bin Laden because he wasn't in Pakistan, anyway. Does it make sense that over a hundred thousand people should die to catch one bad man?
Our news media seem to think so because none of them has ever questioned what this war was really about. And the war is still going after fifteen years of fighting – and after bin Laden is dead.
Wars usually have very complex reasons. Commonly, they are fought for the benefit of whoever makes up the dominant class in a society. For centuries, wars were for the benefit of kings and aristocrats. Now, they are commonly fought for the very wealthy. But the news media never say that. In their view, the U.S. has had to fight wars almost every year since 1775 because other countries – like Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti,The Phillipines, almost all of the countries of Central America, Libya. Iraq….those bullies are always picking on the U.S.
That's the way American history books tell it. That's the way the press tells it. And that's what the American public, for the most part, believes. In short, the press in the U.S. deliberately keeps Americans ignorant of what is going on, and why. That is why we are watching a parade of clowns looking for the presidency.
And Canada is not nearly so different as we might think.
In fairness, it can be very difficult to figure out the reasons for each war – because the reasons can be very complex, indeed, chock full of secret meetings, deals, pay-offs, pretending to fight one country (as in the case of ISIS) while actually using that other group to fight for you (as using ISIS against Assad).
Here's the site that started me on this rant. It was sent to me by a reader. And its complexity as an article reflects the complexity of figuring out what the war is all about.
But there is a lesson to be drawn from this. American democracy has collapsed. I don't know where the U.S. goes from here; but it's not likely to be good. Look at those candidates. They all want to lead a country. It's obvious none (except Bernie Sanders) has ever given any thought to what a democracy is, and what a democratic country should be like. And they can get away with it because the whole country has been kept in that state of ignorance that many people like to call 'patriotism'.
Our press usually overlooks another result of our constant interference with societies shattered by that interference.
Afghanistan, for example, is a young country, not yet two hundred years old. It was a region inhabited by tribal and family groups. The work of knitting these groups into a nation and modernizing that nation has been a difficult job and still very incomplete – thanks to Britain, Russia and now the U.S. who invaded and destroyed all the progress made many, many times. Over the years, these countries have blackmailed Afghanistan, invaded, and abused it. That's why it has advanced so little in some two hundred years of trying. It's still a place in which family and tribe count for more than state.
Afghanistan is what it is because of us. The Taliban who have been fighting the U.S. were trained and equipped by the CIA to fight a proxy war for the U.S. against a Russian invasion. The CIA also formed al Quaeda for the same reason. Everything the Americans and British and French are fighting against are creations of Americans and British and French over the past century. Today, in much of the world, groups are fighting not because they're evil, but because their hatreds were created by us.
67 years ago, there was a Palestine in which Jews and Muslims and Christians had lived together for centuries as neighbours and friends. Then we decided to kick out most of the Muslims, and create an Israel. We didn't even do it as a favour to the European Jews. We did it so the European Jews wouldn't come here – and so we could have a country in the region that would be our foothold for oil barons.
And forget the bilge about the homeland. In the first place, Israel wasn't the homeland of the Jews. When Moses arrived, it was already populated as a region of very small, tribal states. The Jews conquered them, and took it. (I know, God gave it to them. But there are lots of Muslims who aren't convinced about that. Go figure.)
I don't know where the Jews lived before the years of slavery. But I know where they originally came from. Like every human on this earth, their original homeland was Africa. (Yes. You, too.)
Planting European Jews there destroyed the religious harmony between Jews, Christians and Muslims that had been the rule for centuries. And it destroyed the social structures that had kept the region in peace. It even angered the Sephardic Jews (those who had lived there for centuries. To this day, they quite often dislike the European Jews.)
Then there are the African Jews, not many but they have existed as Jews for a very long time. But the Israeli government is reluctant to accept them as Jews because of their colour. In short, the Israeli government seems determined to define Jews as a race, and not just a religion.
Capitalism isn't the only cause of war. But it is probably the commonest. It can work. But it has to be controlled – or it destroys us. Capitalists, today, are pulling out all the stops to make 2016 the year almost all the regulations are pushed aside. Democracy will become, as it is in the U.S., unworkable.
That is a reality that our news media give no hint of.
But there may be some good news. I can't quite believe this story. But there's a new poll…
Who knows? This could be the year that JDIrving will lead a protest marching across the province to demand action on climate change.