At a time when the United States is convulsed by anti-Russian hysteria and demonization of Vladimir Putin, a trove of recently declassified Cold War documents reveals the astounding extent of the lies, duplicity and double-dealing engaged in by the western powers with the collapsing Soviet Union in 1990. I was covering Moscow in those days... Read More
Memories of the cruel Balkan Wars of 1992-1995 are already slipping away. But the sentence to life in prison for Serb general Ratko Mladic by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing last week shows that justice occasionally prevails. These crimes in the Balkans were of... Read More
Much of America, including yours truly, has been watching the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series, ‘Vietnam.’ Instead of clarifying that confusing conflict, the series has ignited fiery controversy and a lot of long-repressed anger by soft-soaping Washington’s motives. This march to folly in Vietnam is particularly painful for me since I enlisted in the US... Read More
There’s not a lot to be proud of in today’s America: the Punch and Judy show in Washington; brutal but inept colonial wars in the Mideast against poorly armed enemies; pollution of the climate, and culture of trash and violence. To see America as it once was, go back to the three days from 4... Read More
Seven decades after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor some truth is finally beginning to emerge from the miasma of propaganda that still clouds our vision of World War II. It seems clear by now that President Franklin Roosevelt’s White House knew from deciphered codes that Japan was planning an attack on America’s key naval... Read More
Sixty years ago, I was home after school, sitting in our living room on New York’s Central Park West, reading a history of Rome and listening to Dvorak’s splendid cello concerto when the announcer on WQXR broke in to announced, “Israeli armored forces are thrusting deep into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.” So began the 1956 Arab-Israeli... Read More
“We came, we saw…he died” boasted a beaming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, speaking of the 2011 western overthrow of Libya’s leader Muammar Khadaffi. She was, of course, shamelessly paraphrasing Caesar’s famous summary of his campaign around the Black Sea. Mrs. Clinton, who seems ordained to be America’s next president, should have been rather more... Read More
To my profound sorrow, that glorious empress of the skies, the Boeing 747, seems fated to go to the scrap yard of aviation history. Boeing Aircraft has announced it will cease production of the 747. I fell in love with the mighty 747 the very first time I flew in her in 1970 from New... Read More
For those, like this writer, who esteem the arts of modern fortification, Metz is the Florence of military architecture. I greet the spring each year in Metz. This imposing city combines the dazzling, art modern architecture of the France’s Maginot Line with the pre-World War I older forts of the great builder, Serré de Rivières.... Read More
VERDUN – One hundred years ago this week, German artillery launched a mighty barrage of one million shells at French defenses on the wooded hills and deep ravines above the ancient fortress city of Verdun. The thunderous explosions of the “trummelfeuer” were heard 160 km away. By the second year of World War I, static... Read More
“When I’ve finished occupying the Soviet Union,” quipped a relaxed Adolf Hitler at dinner one night in 1941, “I’ll put that man Stalin back in charge. He’s the only person who knows how to deal with Russians.” Stalin was the biggest murderer of modern history – and maybe in of all mankind’s past. His number... Read More
Last week’s massacre in Paris was not, as almost every writer mistakenly claimed, the worst atrocity in the City Of Light since World War II. As the renowned Mideast expert Robert Fisk quickly pointed out, an even worse atrocity occurred in Paris 54 years ago, on 17 October, 1961. Paris chief Maurice Papon, a former... Read More
The huge military parade held in Beijing this week was billed as a commemoration of China’s role in World War II. Over 15 million Chinese died in its eight-year resistance to Japanese invasion. China’s supreme leader, Xi Jinping, dressed in a finely tailored Mao suit, stood atop the Forbidden City’s Gate of Heavenly Peace to... Read More
All war is a crime. There is no such thing as a “good war.” As the great Benjamin Franklin said, “there is no good war; and no bad peace.” We are now in the midst of the annual debate over the atomic bombing of Japan by the United States. Seventy years ago this week, the... Read More
METZ, FRANCE - The dramatic seaborne rescue of 328,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk in June, 1940 is well known. But the tragic effort of almost 300,000 French troops to break out of encirclement in eastern France along the Maginot Line is almost totally unknown. On 10 May, 1940, Germany unleashed a new form of mobile... Read More
It was churlish for western leaders to boycott this week’s Victory Parade in Moscow that commemorated the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago. Historic events are facts that should not be manipulated according to the latest political fashions. Being angry at Moscow for mucking about in Ukraine does not in any way... Read More
It was 1967. The war in Vietnam was raging. I was 24 years old, just out of graduate school in New York City. Cambridge University had accepted me to do a doctorate history. But no. In a burst of youthful patriotism, I concluded it was every citizen’s duty to join the armed forces in wartime.... Read More
It’s good and right that we commemorate the mass killing in the Ottoman Empire during World War I of between 500,000 and 1.5 million Armenians. Many nations now call the slaughter of 1915-1916 as “genocide.” This week the 100th anniversary of the notorious event was observed. Pope Francis and the European parliament called on Turkey... Read More
One hundred years ago this month -April 1915 – the Allies and Germany were stalemated on the Western Front. Winston Churchill, the young, ambitious First Lord of the British Admiralty proposed a scheme first advanced by France’s prime minister, Aristide Briand. The best way for Britain and France to end the stalemate and link up... Read More
A full century after World War I we still cannot understand how generals sent so many soldiers to be slaughtered. Ten million soldiers died on all sides; millions more were left maimed or shell shocked. Seven million civilians died. 20 million horses died. The image we have of hapless soldiers being forced to climb out... Read More
Twenty-five years ago this week, the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe was collapsing. The Berlin Wall had been breached. The Communist East German government was literally swept away by the storm tide of history. It was also the most dangerous moment the world had faced since the 1963 Cuban missile crisis. What would the Soviet... Read More
The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I is upon us. Well we should mourn this cataclysmic event and continue to draw lessons from it. As a former soldier and military historian, I’ve always felt that WWI was the most tragic conflict in modern history: a totally avoidable madness that wrecked Europe’s glittering... Read More
As we near the grim anniversary of World War I, let us remember the first great war of the blood-soaked 20th Century. Shortly before midnight on 8 February, 1904, Japanese destroyers and torpedo boats launched a surprise attack on the great Russian Pacific naval base at Port Arthur. Located at the tip of Manchuria’s strategic... Read More
PARIS – Of the many bridges that span the Seine River, none is more beautiful nor majestic than the Pont Alexandre III. Just south of the splendid Grand Palais, this bridge was named in honor of Russia’s Czar, Alexander III. Completed in 1892, the bridge is a monument to France’s Bel Epoque and represents the... Read More
Forty years ago–6 October 1973 – Egyptian forces stormed the supposedly “impregnable” Israeli Bar Lev fortifications along the Suez Canal. Syrian forces advanced onto the Israel-occupied Golan Heights. In spite of scores of warnings, Israel was taken by surprise. Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan sneered at the Arabs as incompetent bunglers... Read More
SOSPEL, FRANCE – The wild Maritime Alps are the most remote and least known part of this country, a chain of vertiginous, snow-capped peaks and narrow defiles running due south along the Franco-Italian border from Switzerland down to the Mediterranean on the Riviera. As a military historian, I’ve come here to remember the heroic... Read More
Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago this month was a “day that will live in infamy” according to US President Franklin Roosevelt. Seven decades later, it increasingly appears that the president’s surprise and outrage may have been synthetic. Roosevelt had been maneuvering for more than a year to bring the United States... Read More
HAVANA - The black, sinister-looking Soviet SS-4 intermediate-ranged missile on display at Havana’s La Cabana fortress looks old, roughly finished, and rather primitive. But this missile, and 41 others (including some longer-ranged SS-5’s) terrified the United States during the October 1962 missile crisis – 13 days that shook the world. Each of them could have... Read More
Writing about films is not something I often do, but as an old Cold Warrior who has covered intelligence matters for decades, the subject matter of the thrilling book “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is right up my dark alley. John Le Carré’s Cold War espionage trilogy, which also includes, “The Honorable Schoolboy” and “Smiley’s People,”... Read More
METZ, FRANCE — In this ancient fortress city on the Mosel River that stand guard on the traditional invasion route into France, one is surrounded by the ghosts of great wars past — and the often cruel myths that still linger. As a former instructor of military history and specialist in France's 20th century wars,... Read More
YALTA – As Russian imperial residences go, Livadia is a rather small palace, even modest. Czar Nicholas II had this pretty palace of white limestone built as a family vacation residence in the sunny Crimea. Livadia overlooks one of the Crimea’s amazingly lush sub-tropical forests and the shimmering Black Sea. The last Soviet leader, Mikhail... Read More
METZ, France — President Barack Obama's visit to Normandy to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day makes us think about the entire course of World War II, and the lingering propaganda or myths that still becloud it. As a former instructor of military history and lover of history, let me address four of these myths... Read More
Much of the Western world just honored the millions of soldiers fallen in the two world wars. But we also need to look beyond postwar myths and understand the tragic political mistakes that sent these soldiers to die in wars that might have been avoided. In his powerful new book, Hitler, Churchill and the Unnecessary... Read More
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died this week aged 89, will rank with literary immortals Tolstoy and Dostoevsky as a great chronicler of Russia's soul and its profound suffering. Solzhenitsyn's epic works Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago are literary monuments for all mankind. After years as a political prisoner in the Soviet gulag, Solzhenitsyn declared, "a... Read More
Toronto — Canada will soon make an important contribution to the cause of historical accuracy, human rights, and justice. To coincide with last week's visit to Ottawa of Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, the Canadian government announced it planned to recognize the mostly forgotten 1932—1933 genocide in Ukraine. Ottawa's decision was motivated as much by ethnic... Read More
BANFF — This seems to be a month of historic guilt. Germany just opened a new memorial to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. Armenians demand Turkey admit Ottoman-era massacres were genocide. Japan is being blasted anew for denying wartime atrocities. Spain is again racked by memories of crimes committee during its bloody civil war. Yet... Read More
World War I, which came to an end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, is today but a faint, sinister memory, recalled only by red poppies and barely noticed Remembrance Day and Veteran's Day ceremonies. Lest we forget... The Western Front, December, 1916 After twelve months of... Read More
Five years ago, I wrote a column about the unknown Holocaust in Ukraine. I was shocked to receive a flood of mail from young Americans and Canadians of Ukrainian descent telling me that until they read my article, they knew nothing of the 1932—33 genocide in which Stalin's regime murdered 7 million Ukrainians and sent... Read More
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia.
He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Lew Rockwell. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC.
His internet column www.ericmargolis.com reaches global readers on a daily basis.
As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow.
A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq.
A native New Yorker, he maintains residences in Toronto and New York, with frequent visits to Paris.