Dateline  Newcastle upon Tyne - Saturday 25th May, 2024 22:06


by Tim Jones, 9th August, 2017

A few years ago there were those, some with tin-foil hats, who told us to stock up with pot noodles before descending to underground refuges against approaching Armageddon,

Their fevered brains, no doubt rendered paranoid by cannabis or worse, saw the imminent meltdown of "The System". Grasping Capitalists were growing; taking over even the most established of Liberal corners of the world. Everything was being infiltrated by greed and selfishness.

This morning I was greeted by the news that the fearless leader of the free world was trumpeting from on high that any pin prick to his delicate ego by a crazy narcissist with a curious haircut would be countered with, "Fire and fury, like the world has never seen before."

On the other side of the world, a self-obsessed despot, who has impoverished his national economy to pay for rhetorical rockets and wonderland warheads shouts his imperious cry against the imperialist USA.

Denied the ability to rain terror bombs on Los Angeles and New York, he seeks targets closer to home. Guam, that little Pacific USA outpost, 2,125 miles (3,420 km) south east of Pyongyang, is today's target of choice.

No News is False News

Fake NewsCan we tell the difference?
There is a long history of fake news, or as some have called it, propaganda. On occasions it is a joke, pointing to some absurdity. "Ministers breathless as government taxes fresh air" would be one example. The more dangerous, deceptive items are intended to raise revenue or manipulate populations.

Fake news is not new. Around 1200 BC, Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II had his masons and painters portray the Battle of Kadesh on his monumental buildings and temples as a glorious victory over the Hittites. He is shown killing his foes almost single handedly during the battle. The peace treaty between the Egyptians and the Hittites, however, shows a stalemate with a humiliating compromise for both sides.[1]

During the Second World War, our parents or grandparents will tell us, the BBC, that bastion of truth and good taste, told us with authority dripping from every Alvar Lidell syllable, that, During a night raid our bombers destroyed vital German targets with no loss of aircraft. If it could, the BBC would have told us that of the 60 bombers that took off from "somewhere in England" 72 returned.

Andrew GilliganAndrew Gilligan
The BBC is still not above telling lies dressed up as news. In the run up to the Iraq war, in late 2003, staff reporter, Andrew Gilligan, went on the early news programme, Today, stating that the government's dossier, containing details of Saddam Hussein's stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction had been, in his words, "sexed up".[2] This claim was supported by expert in the field, Dr. Ian Kelly, who later was said to have committed suicide in questionable circumstances.

Gilligan's assertion that the WMD dossier was an exaggeration bordering on lies brought about his dismissal. Furthermore, the BBC Director General at the time, Greg Dyke, was forced to resign early the following year as the government could not allow the truth to eclipse its own falsehoods.

It later turned out that the widely reported "ready to fire within 45 minutes" claim was speculation spouted by a taxi driver in Jordan.[3]

During a more recent run up to war, the American and British governments were eager to foster public support for belligerence against Syria. The BBC again helped here with false reports of napalm and chemical weapon attacks by Syrian loyalists on their own people. It doctored an interview with a medic in a field hospital, whose mouth was covered by a surgical mask. The broadcast dialogue differed from the original recording in key facts, the mask conveniently prevented lip reading to reveal the fakery.

In the same campaign, poor acting by so called sufferers was revealed when the full recording was made public. Orchestrated moans and squirming filled in for real suffering. In a similar incident, dead soldiers mysteriously all got up when they thought the camera had finished.[4]

So, it is not in the least surprising that in the run up to and during Donald Trump's presidency much made up news had surfaced. Drivel coming from the mouth or tweet fingers of Trump is astounding. He claimed that Bernie Saunders was cut off during a TV interview for accusing the network of fake news. In fact, he was cut off because he started mocking Donald Trump.

"South Korea doesn't pay the United States for U.S. troops that protect their country." This was on the 1st April 2011. Do they have All Fools' Day in the USA? South Korea spends almost $700 million per year for USA protection.[5]

Is it real? No it's fake

Paris AccordUSA drops out of Paris Accord.
Trump and his cohort have now progressed to calling truth that is inconvenient fake.

"The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling)..." Twitter, 7th August, 2017. The Quinnipac poll to which he refers says that a growing majority of Americans are no longer fans of the president. 71% said that Trump was not level headed.[6]

He recently brushed aside the majority political and scientific policy for dealing with global climate change by saying that as China was allowed to stink the place out with coal fired power stations America could ignore the Paris accord. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said with isolationism that would put a Brexiteer to shame.

Trump has surrounded himself with family and sycophants so to be better buffered from the reality outside his head. They can all be swept along on a wave of circular, self congratulatory, hubris.

Just like any pompous dictator, Trump will neutralise and reject anyone remotely close to the centre who raises a dissenting word. He has yet to progress to murdering his uncle, or putting his brother in law through an industrial paper shredder, but I am sure he is watching the antics of Kim Jong Un with interest.

Let's face it, Trump and Mr. Kim have more in common with each other than with the rest of us.

The Road to War Starts With a Small Step

The Road to WarDespair this way lies.
So, Kim Jong Un has set his sights on little Guam, a idyllic Pacific island, as the tail he wishes to tweak on the sleeping dog.

Trump has responded by promising, "Fire and fury like the world has never seen" in a blatant disregard of his nation's 1945 destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Chairman Kim knows he is in a stalemate with South Korea. If he attacks, his country would be devastated in immediate retaliation. The conventional weapons are lined up against each other in close order.

America, on the other hand, won't want to nuke North Korea for fear of angering China and Russia, so he thinks. He assumes he has a winning hand. But then so do all deluded despots.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this new diversion is just what the boss wants. There is a stampede heading for the homestead, threatening to overrun with charges of corruption, as well as collusion with the hated, evil empire, Russia.

If Trump can stoke the fires of fury in sham jingoistic grandstanding, then so can Kim Jong Un, he calculates.

Let's not bother with the personal jibes and insults, let's go main line with the warlike alpha male posturing. Let's see who backs down first in the pissing contest.

Both men seem to be infused with the will to defend their country or die in the attempt.

Diplomacy? Negotiation? Never!

No DiplomacySphere of influence. Can we negotiate?
Winston Churchill said, "Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions." I doubt if either protagonist will be engaging in such delirious double talk any time soon.

Will Trump pull back from full scale destruction if Kim bombs Guam? Will Kim gamble the existence of his country on a boast concocted to boost his ego?

Will China stand by if the two unequal combatants come to blows? Will Vladimir Putin wade in to boost his forthcoming election chances?

Nearby Japan has recently vowed never to declare war on any other nation, calling for all other countries to put away their nuclear bombs. It can see itself being caught in the cross fire here.

Not only does the White House need a diversion just now, but also the CIA would value a new bogey man to top the polls to distract attention from its destructive, lacklustre attempt at regime change in oil rich Venezuela.

Those with long memories or an attention to history will recall that Russia and China invaded Korea in 1950 in the power vacuum following the surrender of Japan. The United Nations sent forces to the peninsular which resolved into a majority of American troops fighting for the then southern leader, Syngman Rhee.

Rhee was one of the most corrupt leaders of his day, heading an equally corrupt regime. America turned a blind eye to this, wanting a quick and decisive victory against the forces of Stalin in Russia, and Zhou Enlai for China. This was not to be.

After three years of disaster for both sides an uneasy truce was declared, with a demilitarised buffer that exists to this day. Technically a state of war still exists.

Whilst South Korea has attained a more equitable spread of wealth, scandals of corruption on high still abound. Last year President Park Geun-hye was impeached then removed from office.

So, although South Korea enjoys a more wealthy status with favourable international relations, North Korean leader Kim can point to the instability of western capitalism on his doorstep. Maybe he fancies Trump will be as easily toppled.

Are there Secret Weapons?

Secret WeaponWhat's behind the smiles?.
Is there a Jack-in-the-box ready to surprise us all and defuse the tension, or should we prepare for bombs and nukes to fly?

So what, you may say. It's half a word away, it won't affect us in supreme, comfortable, isolated Britain.

Since when in modern times has Britain not been sucked into American conflicts? We were clever enough to sidestep direct involvement in Viet-Naam, but our current crop of politicians are not that clever. If America says jump, Britain asks, "How high?"

We will be shielded by propaganda until it's too late.

In World War Two we invented RADAR, the jet engine, the bouncing bomb, and nuclear explosions. What can we come up with this time?

How about special death rays from space that only target bad hair. Oh no, that won't work, it'll get both sides. I know; odourless gas that attacks double barreled politicians. Bad luck for Jacob Rees-Mogg; collateral damage.

In the mean time it might just be a good idea to invest in some pot noodles and a camping stove.

[1] History's Greatest Lies, Fair Winds Press. pp. 28-41. ISBN 978-1-59233-336-3, William Weir, 2009.
[2] The Guardian, Full Transcript of Gilligan's 'sexed up' Broadcast, 9th July, 2003.
[3] The Guardian 45-minute WMD claim 'may have come from an Iraqi taxi driver' Andrew Sparrow, 8th December, 2009.
[4] Russia Today The Truth Seeker Daniel Bushell March, 2014.
[5] Politifact All False Statements involving Donald Trump last accessed, 9th August, 2017.
[6] USA Today President Trump's job approval sinks to 33% Jessica Estepa, 2nd August, 2017.

Timothy Pickford-Jones

Timothy is a mature northerner with a background in electronics and public transport, who lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.

As well as having a keen eye on the political scene, he is a photographer, with an interest in architecture and history. Timothy has been active on the web since the mid 1990s, having curated the Timmonet site from its inception.

Since retiring from full time work, Timothy has found time for travel, creativity, and maintaining his lifelong interest in the arts.

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