The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Topics/Categories Filter?
2008 Election 2012 Election 2016 Election 9/11 Afghanistan American Debt American Media American Military Britain China Cuba Donald Trump Economics Egypt Financial Crisis Foreign Policy France Gaza Government Surveillance Greece History Ideology India Iran Iraq Iraq War ISIS Israel Israel Lobby Israel/Palestine Italy Japan Lebanon Libya Middle East NATO Neocons North Korea Nuclear War Nuclear Weapons Osama Bin Laden Pakistan Palestinians Republicans Russia Saudi Arabia Syria Terrorism Turkey Ukraine Wikileaks World War I World War II 2006 Election 2010 Election Africa Aircraft Carriers Al-Qaeda Algeria Arab Spring Assassinations Australia Balka Banking System Berlin Wall Bosnia Brexit Burma Bush Administration Campaign Finance Canada Catalonia Central Asia Charlie Hebdo Chechnya Chuck Hagel CIA Colombia Communism Conservative Movement Cyprus Death Penalty Dominique Strauss-Kahn Donald Rumsfeld Eastern Europe Edward Snowden Emmanuel Macron England Environment Erdogan Ethiopia EU Europe European Right European Union Eurozone Fascism Financial Debt Food Free Trade Fukushima Gallipoli Genocide George W. Bush Georgia Germany Government Debt Guantanamo Gun Control Haiti Hillary Clinton Hong Kong Hunting Immigration Imperial Presidency Indonesia Irish Islam Islamofascism John McCain Kazakhstan KGL-9268 Kosovo Kurds Litvinenko Mali Marine Le Pen Massacre In Nice Mercenaries Military Spending Mohammed Bin Salman Muammar Gaddafi Muslim Ban Muslims Myanmar Nelson Mandela Neoliberalism Nicholas Sarkozy Nigeria Obama Oil Paris Attacks Pat Buchanan Pearl Harbor Poland Putin Qatar Race/Ethnicity Rohingya Ron Paul Sarah Palin saudi Scotland Shias And Sunnis Somalia South Africa South China Sea Soviet Union Spain Sudan Susan Rice Switzerland Tibet Tony Blair Torture Tunisia Unions USS Liberty Venezuela Vietnam War Vladimir Putin Wall Street Winston Churchill Xi Jinping Yasser Arafat Yemen
Nothing found
 TeasersEric Margolis Blogview

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

Butcher of Damascus. Gasser of children. Baby Killer of Syria. Tool of Moscow. Cruel despot. Monster.

These are all names the western media and politicians routinely heap on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. He has now become the top Mideast villain, the man we love to hate.

As a veteran Mideast watcher, I find all this hard to swallow. Compared to other brutal Mideast leaders, Assad is pretty weak tea. The US/British propaganda effort to paint Assad in blackest colors is having a difficult time.

Mideast leaders who toe the US line and make nice to Israel are invariably called ‘statesmen’ or ‘president’ by the American government and its increasingly tame media. There’s good old President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, the military dictator who crushed that nation’s only democracy and imposed an iron-fisted rule. But we will never hear from the US media of Egypt’s political murders, disappearances, secret prisons and torture. Or that Egypt has been one of the world’s most draconian police states since the era of Anwar Sadat and successor Hosni Mubarak.

Saudi rulers are reverently treated by the US media and government in spite of leading the world in executions. Last year, 44 people were publicly beheaded. In some years, around 150 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, often a quarter of them Pakistani guest workers. Having been arrested by the Saudi religious police, I can tell you that the kingdom is a police state with sand dunes and camels. Saudi vassal states Bahrain and the Emirates are better, but not much.

Morocco, a key US ally, is notorious for its ghastly prisons and brutal torture. Iraq and Afghanistan, now under US control, are even worse. Israel, the largest recipient of US aid, holds close to 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them 400 children, and is gunning down Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border.

Syria has always been a repressive police state. I recall watching ‘spies’ being hanged in front of my hotel. Its various police forces are notorious for brutality and torture. In fact, until recently, the US actually sent captive suspects to Syria to be tortured and jailed.

That was before Washington made the decision to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government (‘regime’ in DC talk) as the first step in attacking Iran.

But Damascus was no worse a human rights abuser than Cairo, Amman, Rabat and Riyadh, all US vassals.

While looking at the current western hate campaigns against Syria and Iran, keep in mind the history of the modern Mideast. We are again seeing the 1914 era lies from London about Belgian babies speared on German bayonets.

Any Arab or Iranian leader who sought an independent policy or refused the tutelage of London and then Washington was delegitimized, excoriated, and demonized. Remember the Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh overthrown in a CIA coup? The renowned Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom the British branded ‘Hitler on the Nile?’ Or the late, murdered Libyan Muammar Khadaffi, called ‘Mad Dog of the Mideast’ by President Ronald Reagan? Imam Khomeini of Iran and President Ahmadinejad, both favored targets of western media invective, and both compared to the much overused Hitler. Saddam Hussein, the ‘Butcher of Baghdad,’ and that modern Dr Fu Manchu, Osama bin Laden, the all-time favorite Muslim arch villain.

Of course, there’s nothing new in this nasty name-calling. During the Victorian Era, Britain’s press demonized arch villains like ‘the Mad Mullah,’ the Mahdi, the Fakir of Ipi, and Nana Sahib of the 1857 Indian uprising against British imperial rule.

Bashar al-Assad was a mild-mannered ophthalmologist living in London with his British-born wife. When his rash elder brother Basil was killed in a car crash, Bashar was compelled to return to Syria and become the nominal political leader after the death of his very tough, ruthless father, Hafez al-Assad. Bashar’s main role was mediating between powerful factions in Damascus and trying to modernize his nation.

In 2011, the US, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia ignited an uprising in Syria using often fanatical jihadists. The shy, retiring Bashar was forced to become war leader in a bloody civil conflict as his nation disintegrated.

President Trump, whose B-52 bombers are ravaging the Mideast, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen calls al-Assad a ‘monster.’ Some of his relatives are indeed ruthless. But very many Syrians think of Assad as their nation’s only hope of returning to normalcy.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Media, Syria 
🔊 Listen RSS

Behind President Donald Trump’s bluster and threats over Syria, powerful forces are pushing the US towards war with Russia and Syria: the neocons and the military industrial complex.

For a candidate who once proposed a normal relationship with Russia, just peace in the Mideast, and an end to America’s foreign wars Donald Trump is now hurtling towards a full-scale war with Russia and a new disaster in the Mideast. Not since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis has the danger of nuclear war seemed to close.

While Trump fulminates about the alleged use of toxic gas in Syria, US B-1 and B-52 heavy bombers are flattening villages in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The bloodbath in Syria was ignited in 2011 by the US, Saudi Arabia and their allies in an effort to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who was failing to accept US tutelage and too friendly with Iran. By my count, this was the third attempt by Washington to overthrow a Syrian government since 1948.

Believe very little of what we are told about Syria. Trump threatens to again attack Syria because it is alleged to have used chlorine gas on anti-government defenders and civilians in the Ghouta enclave near Damascus. This may be true – or a fabrication.

Much of our information on Syria comes from ‘false flag’ outfits set up by western intelligence like the ‘White Helmets’ and ‘Syrian Observatory,’ Britain’s once independent BBC, now a major organ for government information warfare, and the majority of US government ‘guided’ mainstream media hankering for a Mideast war.

Interestingly, the reliable Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz just reported that Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, donated $1.1 million to a rabid American anti-Muslim group during the 2016 elections.

Lauder was joined by Robert Mercer, another leading far right Muslim-hater and Trump supporter. Such religious/racial hatred will likely blow up in their faces one day when the anti-Muslim far right turns on Jewish Americans.

Israel’s government plans to fragment Syria, just as was done with Iraq. This would eliminate the only remaining credible Arab state opposing Israel’s domination of the region and, equally important, allow Israel to begin expropriating chunks of Syria, notably water sources and pipeline routes.

Britain is trying to show the old lion still has some teeth. France used to be colonial ruler of today’s Syria and wants to reassert its influence there.

The timing for Israel is ideal. Trump may have been a Trojan Horse for US neocons. He has named ardently pro-Israel figures to senior posts: the loathsome Nikki Haley to the UN; the well-known ‘crazy’ from Bush days, John Bolton, as National Security Advisor; the notorious torturer madame, Gina Haspel, as new CIA chief and so on and nominated tea-party Mike Pompeo from darkest Kansas as Secretary of State of all people. The State Dept. has been quietly purged of ‘Arabist’ experts who understood the Mideast. The Christian fundamentalist machine that provided Trump his support base is running white hot promoting modern-day Crusader passions and hatred of Muslims. Nice bedfellows for Ron Lauder.

With this potent neocon amen chorus now singing at high volume, Trump, who evaded military service during the Vietnam War (when this writer was in US uniform), now thinks he can bully Russia into crying uncle and backing down in Syria, leaving it to the US and Israel.

He has misread President Vladimir Putin who is hard as steel but also very clever and deft. Trump is violating the most important rule of US diplomacy: never, ever get into a confrontation with a nuclear-armed power. Russia, which lost 30 million dead in World War II will not be lightly bullied into retreat. The Russians know if they back down over Syria, the US will then proceed to its ultimate objective, dismantling the Russian Federation and turning it into a client state. This almost happened under the drunken Yeltsin and is why Putin came to power.

Let’s hope Gen. Jim Mattis and the US military will deter Trump from more war-mongering. Trump is a child playing with nuclear matches. Putin may even help Trump find a way out of this game of nuclear chicken, as he did with President Obama. That is, provided the neocons clustered around him don’t manage to trigger a war with Russia.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2018

 
🔊 Listen RSS

There was something refreshing about watching former French president Nicholas Sarkozy being interrogated in a French jail. Particularly since he may soon be accused of conspiracy in the murder of my old friend, Col. Muammar Khadaffi of Libya.

Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Guéant, are being investigated for secretly accepting at least fifty million Euros from Khadaffi for his 2007 electoral campaign. Such a payment violated France’s maximum permissible limit for political donation, not to mention a ban on foreign financing of candidates and failure to report the payments. Sarko also faces investigation over secret payments from the Gulf oil states.

French political candidates often have to wade through the sewers to finance their campaigns because spending limits were set relatively low to prevent big money from buying the elections, as in the United States.

These charges against Khadaffi and Guéant have been percolating for years with only a muted response. Sarkozy also got into hot water after he was accused of bilking large sums of cash from a senile heiress to France’s L’Oréal cosmetics company.

But three years ago, a French-Lebanese businessman told the French investigative site Mediapart that he had given suitcases with 5 million Euros (US $6.2 million) to Guéant. The former chief of staff would later claim the cash was payment for a painting he had sold to the shady Lebanese. Of course it was!

In 2007, Sarkozy became president of France. At the time, he and Khadaffi appeared to be best of friends. The Libyan leader made a gala visit to Paris, pitched his Bedouin tent on the grounds of the presidential palace and received the lavish official welcome that the French do so well.

France was interested in Libya’s high quality oil and using Libya as a beachhead for expanding Paris’ former influence in North Africa. France and Libya secretly colluded to fight Islamist rebels in the region who were battling French-installed puppet rulers in West and Central Africa.

But then Sarkozy turned sharply against the Khadaffi regime and joined US and British efforts to overthrow it. This was not the first time. Former French president, François Mitterrand, ordered his intelligence chief, Count de Marenches, to destroy Khadaffi’s personal jet with an altitude-fused bomb. Marenches told me the bomb was secreted aboard the plane, then removed when relations with Tripoli improved.

British intelligence, MI6, also tried to assassinate Khadaffi by means of a car bomb in Benghazi, Libya, but failed, though many civilians were killed.

Sarkozy eventually heeded demands from Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State, to launch a war against ostensible ally, Khadaffi, and seize his oil riches.

Warplanes and special forces from the US, France and Britain joined in a sustained attack on Libya, which was cynically misrepresented as a humanitarian rescue mission. French aircraft strafed Khadaffi’s convoy. French special forces and Libyan mercenaries caught Khadaffi, tortured him with a knife, then shot him dead.

Khadaffi had made the fatal mistake of telling his eldest son, Saif al-Islam, and senior officials about his secret payment to Sarkozy. When word leaked out from Saif, Sarkozy quickly ordered the attack on Libya. Dead men tell no tales. French intelligence is very skilled at rubbing out foes and nuisances.

My surmise is that French justice will find some tenuous link between Sarkozy and Khadaffi’s murder, but no hard proof Sarko was directly involved. If George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could get away Scott free after killing over one million Iraqi civilians in a trumped-up war, why prosecute Sarko for this minor ‘contretemps?’

 
🔊 Listen RSS

What damned cheek to murder a Russian defector and his daughter in the sleepy town of Salisbury! Britain, the US, Germany and Canada are all blasting Russia for this dastardly act that was apparently committed using a new nerve agent allegedly made in Russia known to the media as ‘Novichok.’

The victims of the attack, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, are now under intensive care in the hospital and said to be in grave condition. Britain’s embattled Prime Minister, Theresa May, accused Russia of staging an act of war against Britain and vows revenge. Without yet producing any solid proof.

The Salisbury attack has sharply boosted May’s fortunes and her standing with voters. Before the incident, she was sinking in the post-Brexit storm and facing a Tory rebellion.

But moral outrage won’t buy you lunch. Serious observers must begin asking the obvious question, ‘if the wicked Vlad Putin ordered this crime, why?’ A week before Russia’s national elections? At a time when Russia is being badly hurt by US-imposed trade and financial sanctions?

The toxic substance used – if we are to believe the Brits – was reportedly only made in Russia for military use. Russia, by the way, is in the process of destroying its chemical weapons. Why would Russia use an easily-identified, signature weapon instead of bullets, an untraceable lethal spray (ask the CIA about these) or a seeming accident? Why a deadly toxin when a jab in the neck with a needle would do just as well?

To me, a veteran intelligence watcher and the only journalist shown the KGB’s collection of spycraft, I suspect the attack on the Skripals was more likely done by rogue Russian intelligence agents or by an old-boys network of revenge-seeking retired KGB agents. Maybe even to embarrass President Putin on election eve.

Skripal was no innocent lamb. He had secretly worked for British intelligence MI6, betraying fellow Soviet agents, for years across Europe for money. He was given refuge in Britain after the Cold War. There is nothing lower in the intelligence game than an agent who betrays for money – a Judas with his 30 pieces of silver.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, according to the old saying. KGB’s predecessors used to field a special unit called ‘Death to Spies,’ better known as ‘Smersh’ to liquidate traitors and turncoats. Readers of James Bond books will recognize Smersh. Moscow supposedly disbanded this outfit and its poison laboratories at the end of the Cold War. But my information is that it still exists, either officially or under cover.

Former KGB men are in high positions in Moscow. It’s my belief that it was the KGB that overthrew Boris Yeltsin and installed one of its agents, Vladimir Putin, in power. In 1988, I was told this would happen by KGB’s two most senior officials at its Lubyanka headquarters in Moscow.

There are also large numbers of retired ‘hard men’ of the KGB, or ‘siloviki,’ playing chess and missing the good old Soviet days. I have little doubt that an informal group of them could have acquired toxic agents from the old KGB Moscow poison lab, the notorious ‘Kamera’, as may have occurred in the 2006 poisoning in London of Russian defector, FSB intelligence agent Alexander Livinenko. He was also working for British intelligence and a bitter foe of Vladimir Putin.

London has long been a center for foes of Russia’s government. At KGB HQ I saw possessions belonging to ‘Ace of Spies’ Sydney Reilly dating from the 1920’s when British agent Reilly tried to overthrow the new Soviet government. British intelligence and Russia/Soviet Union were the most bitter of enemies. Moscow called London ‘a nest of spies’ – which, of course, it is. But no longer a haven of security for Russian defectors.

Britain’s current moral outrage over the attempted murder should be tempered by its own sinister record of assassinations, extrajudicial killings and skullduggery.

British bombs bought by Saudi Arabia are now blasting Yemen, killing thousands. The full story of Secret Air Service (SAS) lethal operations in Yemen and Oman remain to be told. People who live in glass houses…

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Britain, Russia 
🔊 Listen RSS

Will China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping disprove Lord Acton’s famous maxim that all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

Are we entering an era where many of the world’s great nations are ruled by strongmen, despots or modern monarchs? Look at America’s would-be king, Donald Trump; Russia’s Vlad Putin; and India’s Narendra Modi.

China’s party congress appears about to change its established rules by removing the rule that party leaders may serve no more than two 5-year terms. This will open the way to life-long rule for General Secretary Xi. This would be the third time China has granted leadership for life after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Deng created the 5-year term limits in 1987 in an effort to prevent any future Chinese leader becoming another Mao, whose rule ended in civil war, famine and political chaos. Interestingly, China’s paramount ruler, Deng, whom this writer considers China’s greatest leader, held only one official title: Chairman of the Chinese Bridge Association. No need for titles. Everyone knew who the boss was.

Xi Jinping has made himself into the most powerful leader since Deng by relentlessly accumulating power during his last five years of rule by marginalizing or jailing opponents and democratic critics.

But who can argue with Xi’s success? China is at peace and militarily secure. Over the past five years, China’s economy has expanded 50% to $13.1 trillion, making it the world’s second biggest economy. While the US has spent over $2 trillion waging war in Afghanistan and the Mideast, China has been pouring the profits it has made into developing its worldwide trade and delivery systems.

In just over a generation, China went from third world status to joining the modern world – and may well soon lead it. Sixty-eight million people have been raised from abject poverty; whole new cities created from rice paddies.

When China’s ruler is strong, China is strong. Non-Chinese have a hard time understanding how humiliated China was in the 19th and early 20th centuries by the rapacious western colonial powers and Japan.

Xi Jinping has vowed to keep building China’s military and economic strength so that it can never again be dominated by foreign powers – namely the United States and Japan. In 5-7 years, China and the US will likely wage a sharp, violent air and naval war in the Pacific along China’s coasts. China and India may go to war over the Himalayas and Burma (see my book ‘War at the Top of the World’). Preparations are already underway for both conflicts. I bet my money on China.

Secretary Xi has also made clear he intends to dominate most of Asia through trade and soft power in much the same way that the US dominates Europe and Latin America. Uprisings and independence movements in Tibet and Xinjiang will be crushed whenever they appear. Taiwan will be kept on a very short leash; if it resists, invasion is the clear alternative.

Will Xi’s rule for life be good for China? The answer is very likely no. China has had over 400 emperors in its 5,000 years of usually turbulent history. Some, like western monarchs, have been successful, others disasters. As rulers age, they become paranoid, angry, vengeful and increasingly cruel. Stalin and Mao offer grim examples. Many go mad, as Shakespeare portrayed. But today, thanks to modern medicine, rulers and despots live much longer than in the past.

History teaches that Lord Acton’s maxim is correct.

Fallible humans must not remain in power for too long. Lower-ranking officials must be allowed the chance to rise in the ranks and elderly ones replaced. For every splendid, sagacious, just ruler, there are at least three really bad ones.

China’s Communists have done a brilliant job – in good part by junking orthodox communism and adopting traditional Chinese ways. Our current democratic western leaders are hardly role models for successful or enlightened leadership. It will be hard to convince the Chinese to re-invent the wheel. Secretary Xi will have a lot of time to think about this.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China 
🔊 Listen RSS

In December, 2002, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would unilaterally pull out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had curtailed the development of nuclear missiles and anti-missile systems to defeat them.

The arrogant, dim-witted Bush believed that US space technology was advancing so rapidly that it would neutralize Russia’s force of ICBM missiles. Bush was just a puppet. The real power behind him was Vice President Dick Cheney, the leading neocon who sneered at Russia, dismissed it as a mere ‘gas-station,’ and was determined to see the US achieve global dominance.

In Cheney’s view, the ABM Treaty was holding the US back from this goal. Bankrupt Moscow would never be able to stand up to the mighty USA. Moscow warned that reneging on the ABM Treaty would re-ignite a ruinous arms race. A then little known politician, Vladimir Putin, vowed that Russia would never bend its knee to the US nuclear colossus.

This week, President Putin stunned the world by revealing a new arsenal of nuclear-armed weapons that have stolen a march on Washington and left the warlike President Donald Trump looking foolish.

Russia’s new arms include the RS-28 heavy ICBM, called ‘Satan 2’ by NATO. This big brute of a liquid fueled missile can carry up to ten nuclear warheads over 10,000 km (6,000 miles). What makes it very different from other ICBM’s is its ability (Russia claims) to carry nuclear-armed hypersonic vehicles through low earth orbit that can attack North America from multiple directions unseen by the radars of anti-missile systems.

President Putin also revealed a new nuclear-armed cruise missile propelled by a miniature nuclear engine that can stay aloft for very long periods and fly over Latin America and the South Pole to attack North America from the south. The US has been trying to develop such a nuclear engine since the late 1950’s, but with no success. During the corrupt Yeltsin era, the Kremlin accepted huge amounts of cash bribes to sell a miniaturized reactor to the Americans designed to power ocean surveillance satellites.

This miniature reactor will also power Russia’s new unmanned submarine which can carry a very large nuclear explosive – even up to 25 megatons – to the North American coasts or US aircraft carrier groups.

Putin also unveiled a new hypersonic glider deployed from space (the US and China have been working on one, so far unsuccessfully), and an aircraft launched Mach-10 missile called ‘Kinzhal’ after the deadly dagger carried by Caucasian mountaineers. And, on top of this, a combat laser system that is being deployed. The US has been working on one since the Vietnam War.

All this is a bombshell. Maybe Putin was boasting and exaggerating, but he usually tells the truth, unlike our politicians, and rarely embellishes. As he said in his speech, ‘nobody wanted to listen to us,’ referring to Moscow’s failed attempted to restore a strategic arms agreement, cut nuclear forces and lower tensions with the West. ‘Now,’ said Putin, ‘you listen.’

But will Washington listen? Trump has just announced a huge modernization of America’s nuclear forces and a big increase in the military budget from $634 billion to $716 billion, with an additional $69 billion to fund ‘foreign wars.’ The real US military budget is close to $1 trillion (that’s 1,000 billion), not including the US intelligence budget which is larger that Russia’s entire annual defense budget, a meager $42.3 billion.

Washington’s war party has convinced itself that Russia can be intimidated and once again spent into the ground. But Vladimir Putin is too smart and deft to allow this to happen. He has neatly trumped Trump’s arms buildup and shown up Trump’s empty bullying. So, for that mater, has North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

One hopes Washington’s deep government that has been promoting a run-up to war with Russia in the Mideast, Ukraine, Baltic and Black Sea will be sufficiently sobered by Putin’s show this week. They should be. The multiple warheads on one new RS-28 missile could destroy Texas or France. Russia’s new missiles and space gliders can outflank America’s anti-missile radars in Alaska and Romania, rendering them as useless as France’s Maginot Line.

War must never, ever be allowed to occur with Russia and China and the United States. Will we risk the life of the planet over a stupid quarrel over some one-tractor town in Ukraine or a Syrian village no one has ever heard of? Yes, if the neocons have their way.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Neocons, Russia 
🔊 Listen RSS

`We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great-power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of US national security.’ Henceforth Russia and China will be America’s main enemies, with Iran and North Korea thrown in for good measure.

So declared US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, last week in a statement of profound importance for the world.

For the past seventeen years, the US military has been laying waste to the Muslim world in the faux `war on terrorism.’ Afghanistan, Iraq, much of Syria, Somalia, Pakistan – all have been heavily bombed. US B-52’s and B-1 heavy bombers have tried to pound those resisting American ‘guidance’ into submission.

In Afghanistan, America’s longest war, President Donald Trump ordered a doubling of bombing against Taliban forces battling US occupation. Now, the US is running very low on bombs, guided munitions and even air-to-air missiles for some reason. Stores of munitions are being rushed from the US Pacific command to the Mideast.

At the same time, the US is fast running out of Muslim targets to bomb, now that the bogeyman ISIS has vanished into thin air and US air attacks in Syria are being minimized for fear of clashing with Russia. Iran still remains on the US potential hit list.

Which brings us back to General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis. He is quite right that so-called terrorists (that’s anyone who actively opposes the Lex Americana) pose no real life or death threat to the US mainland.

But if so, how then to maintain the $1 trillion US military budget? Well, of course, trot out those good old ‘Reds Under Our Beds.’ Actually, the Pentagon has been planning a new war with China for the past three years, a mainly air and naval conflict to dominate China’s coasts and seas. The Pentagon is loading up on new aircraft, missiles, satellites and naval craft for the next Pacific War, and trying to enlist India as an ally against China.

But what then about Russia? Not so easy. The likely theater for a US-Russia clash is on the Baltic coast, Ukraine, the Black Sea or Syria. In this case, the US would be confronted by the same problem that afflicted France in the fall of 1939.

Few people know that it was France that first attacked Germany, not the other way around. Responding to the German invasion of Poland, France and Britain declared war on Germany. French divisions began to invade Germany’s Rhineland. But after a few skirmishes the French high command, under the inept Gen. Maurice Gamelin, didn’t know what to do next. Germany was large, and the defensive-minded French did not anticipate occupying its entire country.

After a brief demonstration, the French Army withdrew behind the Maginot Line. Hitler did not counter-attack in hope he could forge a peace treaty with London and Paris. Winston Churchill and his fellow imperialists furiously sought to push Britain into war with Germany. But months of inactivity went by, known as the ‘Sitzkrieg’ or ‘drôle de guerre’ until Germany acted decisively.

This would also be America’s problem in a war against Russia. How deep into Russia to attack (assuming no use of nuclear weapons)? How to protect ever lengthening supply lines? Napoleon and Hitler faced the same challenges and failed.

Of course, this supposes the US is ready for war. In truth, neither the US and NATO nor Russia are in any way prepared to fight a real war on land, sea and air. Military forces on both sides have been so run down and depleted by little wars and budget cuts that there are serious shortages of war stocks and aging equipment.

Key NATO member Germany is in a shambles. Its feminized military, run by a nice but incompetent lady defense minister, could not fight its way out of a paper bag. France is not much better off. The US armed forces and Britain are critically short of spares, munitions, transport, and armor. Russia’s once mighty Red Army is short of everything. Both east and west are simply unready for a real war.

As if there is any reason for one. There is not. Those jackanapes in the US Congress and media trying to inflate online mischief by 20-something Russian hackers into a second Pearl Harbor are crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

A final respectful note to Gen. Mattis (my dad was a marine): A good general does not pick a fight with two, far–away major powers at once. The trick is to turn them against one another. Declaring a future war against China and Russia is a crazy idea. Only draft-dodgers and generals who lost the Vietnam War could come up with it.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, China, Russia 
🔊 Listen RSS

A gathering of rich oil Arabs pledged $30 billion this week at a meeting in Kuwait to start rebuilding war-shattered Iraq. Sounds nice but these kinds of conclaves are notorious for offering big but delivering little.

The event was billed as helping Iraq repair war damage caused by ISIS. In fact, most of the damage from that short-lived conflict was caused by US bombing and a few Russian air strikes. ISIS, as this column has long been crying in the wilderness, was largely a paper tiger confected by the US, Britain and France to justify their military re-entry into Syria.

Iraq’s government says it needs at least $88 billion to rebuild war damage. What the US-imposed client regime in Baghdad won’t or can’t say is that the damage to Iraq is far greater than $88 billion and was largely inflicted by US air power in 1990-1991 and 2003.

Iraq was ravaged, as I saw myself while covering the wars. This small nation of 23-25 million souls, a third of whom were in permanent revolt against the Baghdad government, was pounded into rubble by US air power and cruise missiles. First in 1990-1991, then in 2003, everything of value was blown to bits: hospitals, schools, food factories, chemical plants making insecticide, bridges, and communications. In short, all the attributes of a modern state.

Most shocking to me, was the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants by US air strikes.

Their destruction resulted in epidemics of cholera and other water-born diseases. Children were the primary victims. The UN asserted that over 550,000 Iraqi children died as a result of contaminated water. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later notoriously asserted that these deaths were ‘a price worth paying.’ I call them a war crime.

In 2003, 900,000 US-directed troops massed in Kuwait, invaded Iraq to finish off, it was claimed, the ‘work that the first president Bush failed to achieve,’ the overthrow and lynching of Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. If Saddam had any nuclear or broad-area biological weapons, the invader’s buildup in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would have been a dream target.

But Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons, contrary to US and British claims. I discovered in Baghdad a group of British scientific technicians who had been sent by the UK Ministry of Defense to build outlawed biological weapons at Salman Pak. These included deadly anthrax and Q-fever – but only for use against Iran if a second Iraq-Iran War erupted.

It is now widely accepted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction pointed at the West, as George Bush and Tony Blair incessantly claimed. But this was the excuse for going to war against Iraq and destroying it. When no such weapons were found, the story from Washington and London was changed to ‘oops, it was an intelligence failure. Sorry about that.’

Journalists like myself who asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were fired or marginalized. I was blacklisted at CNN after the White House told the network to fire me at once. All the ‘presstitutes’, who acted as government boosters for the war, were promoted and lauded. Welcome to the new Soviet media.

Since Iraq, one if the Arab world’s most developed countries, was laid waste by US bombing, and since the war was deemed a big mistake, who is responsible for trying to repair Iraq to its pre-war condition? The money offered last week in Baghdad by the Gulf Arabs was a drop in the bucket and designed to bring Iraq into the forming anti-Iran alliance.

If this war crime was being properly litigated, Washington would likely end up being assessed something like $100 billion in damages just to replace physical infrastructure destroyed in the two wars, never mind the deaths of so many Iraqi civilians. Iran would also have a claim against Iraq’s western and Arab backers for Baghdad’s 1980-1988 war of aggression against Iran that caused an estimated one million Iranian casualties.

‘Oops, I’m sorry we destroyed your country and children’ is not a sufficient mea culpa. The western leaders who engineered this criminal war against Iraq deserve to be brought to book. So far, they have gotten off scot free. In fact, the same terrible fate has since befallen Syria, Yemen and parts of Somalia. Were these disasters also mistakes due to faulty intelligence?

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, Iraq War 
🔊 Listen RSS

Considering that a nuclear conflict over North Korea appeared imminent in recent weeks, the winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea, is a most welcome distraction – and might even deter a major war on the peninsula.

The highlight of the games was the arrival of Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un. This was the first time a member of North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty had come to South Korea. Her handshake with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in was a historic and welcome moment.

So too the planned joint marches by North and South Korean athletes under a new reunification flag. For all Koreans, this was a deeply emotional and inspiring ceremony.

But not for US Vice President Mike Pence, who was sent by Trump to give the Olympics the evil eye. He even refused to stand for the joint marchers in a surly act that spoke volumes about his role. Whether he meets President Moon or Kim Yo-jong remains to be seen. Even a cup of tea between Pence and Kim could end all the crazy talk about nuclear war. Does anyone in Washington know that North Korea lies between China and Russia?

All this drama is happening as the Trump White House is advocating giving North Korea a `bloody nose.’ Meaning a massive bombing campaign that could very likely include nuclear weapons. Trump, who received a reported five exemptions from military service because of a little bone spur in his foot, revels in military affairs and thinks a ‘bloody nose’ will warn Kim Jong-un to be good. Trump is planning a big military parade at which he will take the salute.

This writer went through US Army basic and advanced infantry training with a broken bone in my foot, and has no sympathy with the president’s militaristic pretensions.

South Korea’s able president Moon is moving heaven and earth to prevent a war in which his nation would be the main victim. Some 2-3 million Korean civilians died in the 1950-53 Korean War. All North Korea and much of South Korea were bombed flat by US air power. Now, as tensions surge, US heavy bombers and nuclear weapons ring North Korea, ready to flatten the north and make the rubble bounce.

North Korea’s thousands of heavy guns dug into mountains just north of the DMZ (I’ve seen them) could flatten all of South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, north of the Han River, killing millions, not counting nukes and poison gas. South Korea, the world’s eleventh industrial power, would again pay the terrible price for a new war on the peninsula.

One of VP Pence’s main missions is to whip up support among rightwing South Koreans who bitterly oppose any peace deal between the two Koreas and support attacking the north. Many on South Korea’s hard right are evangelical Christians. It’s no coincidence that Mike Pence, an ardent fundamentalist protestant, was sent to show the flag and rally opposition to any détente with North Korea. Whatever happened to ‘turn the other cheek?’

Washington does not want a lessening of tensions between the two Koreas. And much less, talk of potential reunification. If the two Koreas came to peace, what justification would the US have for keeping powerful air, land and naval forces in strategic South Korea, often called ‘America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier.’ Japan is no more favorable to a united Korea.

South Korean President Moon has been calling for a new, positive era in north-south relations. He has been adamant in opposing any chance of war on the peninsula. But Washington has simply ignored Moon or brushed aside his objections to threats of war against North Korea. The North Koreans routinely accused the south of being ‘American puppets.’ Pyongyang is the only ‘legitimate, truly independent Korean government,’ charges the north.

Interestingly, in the event of war, South Korea’s 655,000-man active armed forces and 4 million-man reserves come under the command of a four-star US general. US nuclear weapons can be moved through South Korean bases. The so-called joint US-South Korea joint command is mere window dressing.

It’s hard to say how close the US was to attacking North Korea. Trump certainly backed himself into a corner by all his foolish threats to unleash ‘fire and fury’ on North Korea. The Olympics delayed the rush to war against North Korea. But once they are over, the war drums will resume beating. President Trump is probably thinking about a dandy parade after a short, devastating attack on North Korea – provided, of course, that the troublesome northerners don’t manage to retaliate by landing a few nuclear warheads on Japan and Washington.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

Last summer, I was positioned just across the border from the Syrian town of Afrin around which Turkish and Kurdish and, possibly, American forces, are now poised for a head-on clash. It seems crazy to me that anyone would want to fight over this one-donkey farm town. We were there on a mission to rescue wild animals trapped in a zoo in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.

Why on earth are at least 2,000 US troops mixed up in this fracas in darkest Syria? Because the pro-Israel neocons in Washington, who pretty much run US foreign policy these days, are determined to have revenge for the defeat of US-backed rebel forces in Syria. So it’s once more into the breach near Afrin and the town Manbij though America has zero national interests in Syria. The US first tried to overthrow Syria’s governments in Damascus in 1948 because it was too independent and flirting with the Soviets. Today’s intervention is part of Israel’s plan to fragment Syria and gobble up its water and fertile land resources.

Worse, the Pentagon decided to enlist and arm rebellious Kurds in southern Turkey and Syria, and use them as ‘native troops’ to fight first the rag-tag bands of ISIS, then the Turkish armed forces. This was a terrible idea – compounded by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s incredibly foolish recent announcement that the US would mobilize, arm and finance a ‘border force’ of 30,000 Kurds that was closely tied to the Kurdish PKK rebel group. Washington has only a child’s understanding of events in Turkey and the dangers involved. Washington bills the PKK ‘terrorists.’ Clearly, it can’t even keep its ‘terrorists’ straight. The neocons under Trump have gutted the State Department.

The Turks rightly fear that events in war-torn Syria may enflame demands by Turkey’s restive Kurdish minority for an independent state. The very likely involvement of the US in the 2016 failed coup attempt to overthrow Turkey’s president, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have deepened Turkish fears of another US-backed plot to divide Turkey.

Turks recall post World War I efforts by Britain, France, Greece and Italy in 1918-19 to divide up post-Ottoman Turkey between them.

The Turks are in a rage. Turkey has been battling a wide-scale Kurdish insurgency since the 1980’s. I was with the Turkish Army in eastern Anatolia (just north of Syria), witnessing the brutal, bloody guerilla war between the Turks and Kurds that left 40,000 dead, mostly civilians.

Turkey’s democratic leader, President Erdoğan, had almost forged a peace with the rebellious Kurds and their PKK leadership when the western intervention in Syria rekindled the war. As often in the past, foreign powers used the warlike Kurds for their own aims, then abandoned them. Israel has been particularly active in arming and organizing Kurdish rebels since the 1970’s as part of its grand strategy to fragment the Arab world and Turkey, and degrade them into feeble mini-states.

Intervention by Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah into Syrian ‘civil-war’ caused the defeat of US-Saudi-British-Israeli backed rebel Syrian forces. This, as noted, led the frustrated US war party to directly base US troops in Syria, an act that flagrantly violated international law. As US troops prepared to confront the forces from Damascus and their Russian air support, the Kurds declared all-out war. Involved were not only Syrian Kurds but large numbers of ethnic Kurds in Turkey, who make up about 17% of the total population. Iran’s Kurds are next to be stirred up.

All this is a huge, dangerous mess. US and Russian forces are now at rifle’s shot from one another while their warplanes buzz the skies overhead. Iranian and US forces are nearing a confrontation, something that would delight the Trump White House. US and Turkish forces are nearing confrontation.

Were it not for the steady hand of Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, a US-Russian clash might have already occurred. While this dangerous game of chicken goes on, US and NATO forces are busy probing Russia’s border in the Baltic, Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. The hunger for war grows.

Wretched, largely devastated Syria now faces more fighting. The captive wild animals we rescued from Aleppo, Syria (see www.ericmargolis.com), are still in large part in shock from being trapped in the middle of a war zone. One of the hyenas we saved just died of organ failure. Think of the suffering of Syria’s people as the great powers and their mercenaries turn this once lovely land into a giant cemetery.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Kurds, Syria, Turkey 
Eric Margolis
About Eric Margolis

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.


Personal Classics
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.