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Henry Kissinger rightly noted that it’s often more dangerous being an ally of the United States than its enemy. The latest victim of this sad truism is Pakistan, a loyal ally of the US since the dawn of our era.

President Donald Trump’s visceral hatred of Muslims (never mind what kind, or why, or where) erupted this week as he ordered some $900 million in US aid to Pakistan to be abruptly cut off. Trump accused Pakistan of lying and deceiving the US and providing a safe haven to Afghan resistance forces of Taliban (`terrorists’ in US speak) battling American occupation forces.

Frustrated and outwitted in Afghanistan, US imperial generals, Pentagon bureaucrats, and politicians have been trying to cast blame on anyone they can find, with Pakistan the primary whipping boy. Next in line is the notorious Haqqani network which is blamed for most US military failures in Afghanistan, though its active combat role is modest. I knew its founder, old man Haqqani. In the 1980’s, he was the golden boy of the CIA/Pakistani-led effort to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Why has Washington given billions in aid to Pakistan? In 2001, Washington decided to invade Afghanistan to uproot or destroy the Pashtun resistance movement, Taliban, which was wrongly blamed for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. The ethnic Pashtun warriors President Reagan had hailed as ‘Freedom Fighters’ became ‘terrorists’ once the west wanted to occupy Afghanistan.

But invading land-locked Afghanistan was an awesome undertaking. US troops there had to be supplied through Pakistan’s principal port, Karachi, then up twisting mountain roads and across the torturous Khyber Pass into Afghanistan. The huge amount of logistical supplies required by US troops could not be met by air supply. It cost $400 per barrel for one gallon of gasoline delivered to US troops in Afghanistan, and as much as $600,000 per sortie to keep a single US warplane over Afghanistan. Without 24/7 air cover, the US occupation force would have been quickly defeated.

Invading Afghanistan without Pakistani cooperation would have been impossible. Pakistan at first refused to let US armed forces cross its borders. But as Pakistan’s former military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf told me, ‘the US put a gun to my head and said let US troops enter and use Pakistan or ‘we will bomb you back to the Stone Age.’

That was the big stick. The carrot was some $33 billion in US cash to secure ‘Ground Lines of Communication’ (the Karachi-Bagram route) and ‘Air Lines of Communication.’ In fact, Pakistan briefly closed them in 2011 after US warplanes killed two dozen Pakistani Army soldiers. Pakistan could do it again unless Washington stops treating it like an enemy state.

Trump and his men just don’t understand that Pakistan has paramount national security interests in next-door Afghanistan. Thirty million Pakistanis are ethnic Pashtuns. They dominate Pakistan’s armed forces. Another 1.4 million Pashtun are refugees in northern Pakistan. Narrow-waisted Pakistan sees Afghanistan as its strategic hinterland in a next war with old enemy India.

The US-installed regime in Kabul routinely blames Pakistan for its glaring failures. Its powerful Communist-dominated intelligence agency routinely spreads untruths about Pakistan, claiming it supports ‘terrorism.’

In fact, the warlike Pashtun tribes along the Durand Line, the artificial border between Pakistan and Afghanistan imposed by the British colonialists, have been on the warpath since the 19th Century. Winston Churchill even approved the use of poison gas on the ‘unruly tribesmen.’ The wonderfully named Faqir of Ipi kept threatening to ride down from the Hindu Kush Mountains and put to the sack the British garrison at Peshwar.

Today, one hears threats in Pentagon circles that the US may begin bombing ‘Taliban sanctuaries’ (actually villages where these Pashtun locals live) and then send in air mobile US troops to attack them. This would make the longest war in US history even longer. Washington just can’t seem to accept that its military machine was defeated in Afghanistan, well-known as the Graveyard of Empires.

It’s also clear that the US has not given up its ambition to neutralize or destroy Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Attacking so-called terrorist enclaves in northern Pakistan would offer a perfect cover for a major us air and ground assault on Pakistan’s nuclear complexes and dispersed storage sites. India and Israel have long been pressing the US to attack Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure.

Any major US moves against Pakistan are very likely to push it closer to Beijing and expand Chinese influence in the region. China is unlikely to allow old ally Pakistan to be torn apart by US power. Unlike the US, China remembers its old friends.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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Listen to the state-‘guided’ US media this past week and you’d believe a series of spontaneous anti-government protests broke out across Iran. The protests, according to President Donald Trump and his Israeli allies, were caused by `anger over Iran’s spending billions on wars in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and helping the Palestinian movement Hamas.’ Trump tweeted that Iranians were finally rising up against what he called their hated, brutal regime.

Talk about manufactured news. Most Iranians were elated and proud of their nation’s role in thwarting US plans to occupy much of Syria and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. By contrast, the other side in this long proxy war – the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain – was smarting with defeat and seeking ways to exact revenge on the hateful trio, Syria, Iran and Russia.

Interestingly, the so-called news of protests over Iran’s military spending did not apparently originate in Iran but rather in Washington which spread it far and wide to our state-guided media. This was clumsy, but the US and Israel were so eager to get this piece of made-up good news out that they forget the basics of propaganda management: wait for the event before you proclaim it.

What in fact was going on in Iran where more than 21 demonstrators have died violent deaths? As a very long-time Iran watcher allow me to explain.

Restive minority groups in Iran’s Kurdish, Azeri and Sunni Arab regions, most far from the big cities, have been demonstrating and protesting severe economic problems. Iran is a big, resource-rich nation of 80 million people that should be booming. But it has been under economic siege warfare by the US and its allies ever since a popular uprising in 1979 overthrew the US-British backed monarchy that was raping the nation and keeping it a vassal of the western powers.

Iran’s new Islamic Republic was deemed a dire threat to Western and Israeli strategic and military interests (think Saudi Arabia). The very idea that the Islamic Republic would follow the tenets of Islam and share oil wealth with the needy was anathema to London and Washington. Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, ran Iran’s dreaded, brutal secret police, Savak. The crooked royal family looted the nation and stored their swag in California.

The West’s first act was to induce Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran, in Sept 1980. The West (including the Gulf Arabs) armed, financed and supplied Iraq. As I discovered in Baghdad, Britain and the US supplied Iraq with poison gas and germ warfare toxins. After eight years, 250,000 Iraqis were killed and nearly one million Iranians died.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution, the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs have been trying to overthrow the Tehran government and mount a counter-revolution. CIA and Britain’s MI6 has ample practice: in 1953, the CIA and MI6 mounted an elaborate operation to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh who sought to nationalize Iran’s British-owned oil company. Mobs of specially trained anti-Mossadegh plotters poured into Tehran’s streets. Bombs went off. Army commanders were suborned, lavish bribes handed out.

The 1953 coup went perfectly. Mossadegh was ousted with backing from the Army and Savak. Iran’s oil remained safe in western hands. The successful Iran uprising became the template for future ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia, Poland, and Romania.

But in 2009 a US-engineered ‘color revolution’ in Iran went badly wrong even though it used all the latest arts of social media to whip up protestors and deploy them in the streets. Something similar happened in Iran this past weekend where mobs of 20-somethings, agitated by US and British covert social media, poured into the streets of dingy provincial towns.

As of now, this medium-sized uprising in Iran looks to be over, though it could re-ignite at any time. Young Iranians, at least 40% of the population, suffer due to 50% unemployment. Iran’s $1 trillion economy is extremely fragile and in some cases barely functioning after decades of US-engineered economic warfare and boycotts. High unemployment is a result of US economic warfare and bullying other nations not to do business with Iran, producing 13% overall unemployment and a 40% inflation rate. The latter and wide-scale corruption were the spark that ignited the latest riots.

In two more weeks, President Trump, who makes no secret of his hatred and contempt for Muslims, must decide whether to reaffirm the multilateral nuclear energy deal with Iran or heed Israel’s demands and refuse to certify it. His cutoff this week of US military aid to Muslim Pakistan bodes ill for Iran.

Many Iranians observing the current US-North Korea nuclear standoff will wonder if their nation was not better off continuing its nuclear program and holding the Saudi oil fields at risk to deter a US attack. Trump’s wild, inconsistent and often infantile responses on this issue are making matters murkier…and ever more dangerous.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Iran 
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There is much President Trump does not understand about the outside world. High up on the list is the crucial importance of US trade policy in creating and sustaining the American Empire.

The key to the post-World War II US imperium was granting other nations commercial access to the huge, vibrant American domestic market. This, as much as the highly successful Marshall Plan in Europe, was responsible for stabilizing the world economy and extending US geopolitical power across much of the globe.

I vividly recall when war-ravaged Japan produced only junk and cheap toys. A small town in Japan called ‘Usa’ produced fake Zippo cigarette lighters stamped ‘made in USA.’ Five years later, I was amazed to discover the quality and capability of new transistor radios from an electric company later known as ‘Toshiba.’

Japan’s hard work and determination played a key role in rebuilding that war-ravaged nation, half of whose cities and industries had been fire-bombed into ruins.

But industrial Japan would not have risen from the ashes without access to the American market which consumed an ever-larger share of Japan’s high quality exports.

South Korea and then China followed the same growth curve, responding to America’s insatiable demand for lower cost products. In both cases, the boom in exports sparked rising economic activity in domestic industries and commerce.

Today, large parts of the world economy depend on access to the US market, its primary engine of growth. Canada and Mexico are prime examples. Almost 80% of Canada’s exports go to the US. As a result, Washington treats Canada like a dependency, though most Canadians don’t seem to care.

A major trade war between the US and Canada looms, centered on efforts by Washington to break into Canada’s heavily protected dairy, poultry and swine markets. Amid all the heated exchanges between Ottawa and Washington, there is hardly any mention of improving the cruel treatment and lessening the terrible suffering of farm animals.

What President Trump and his advisors don’t seem to get is that China’s access to Wal-Mart shelves deeply affects its behavior. Profits from China’s exports have been plowed into $1.2 trillion of US treasury instruments, making the Communist People’s Republic America’s leading creditor.

It’s an old canard that nations that trade don’t go to war. Untrue. Just look at Britain and Germany in 1914 or Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941. War, as the bellicose Trump threatens, is quite possible even between major trading partners like the US and China.

Risks of a Sino-US military confrontation over the disputed South China Sea or North Korea remain dangerously elevated. The dangers of war to major industrial powers Japan and China also remain elevated, posing another systemic risk to the world economy.

Trump’s campaign to return manufacturing to America and repatriate profits held overseas makes good business sense. The ravaging of America’s once mighty industrial base to boost corporate profits was a crime against the nation by unscrupulous Wall Street bankers and short-sighted, greedy CEO’s.

The basis of industrial power is the ability to make products people use. Shockingly, US manufacturing has shrunk to only 14% of GDP. Today, America’s primary business has become finance, the largely non-productive act of paper-passing that only benefits a tiny big city parasitic elite.

Trumpism is a natural reaction to the self-destruction of America’s industrial base. But the president’s mania to wreck international trade agreements and impose tariff barriers will result in diminishing America’s economic and political influence around the globe.

Access to America’s markets is in certain ways a more powerful political tool than deployment of US forces around the globe. Lessening access to the US markets will inevitably have negative repercussions on US exports.

Trump has been on a rampage to undo almost every positive initiative undertaken by the Obama administration, even though many earned the US applause and respect around the civilized world. The president has made trade agreements a prime target. He has targeted trade pacts involving Mexico, Canada, the EU, Japan, China and a host of other nations by claiming they are unfair to American workers. However, a degree of wage unfairness is the price Washington must pay for bringing lower-cost nations into America’s economic orbit.

This month, the Trump administration threatened new restrictions against 120 US trade partners who may now face much higher tariffs on their exports to the US.

Trump is in a hurry because he fears he may not be re-elected. He is trying to eradicate all vestiges of the Obama presidency with the ruthlessness and ferocity of Stalinist officials eradicating every trace of liquidated commissars, even from official photos. America now faces its own era of purges as an uneasy world watches.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Donald Trump, Free Trade 
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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 and met some of the key players in this sordid drama. Ever since, I’ve been writing that the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, were shamelessly lied to and deceived by the United States, Britain, and their appendage, NATO.

All the western powers promised Gorbachev and Shevardnadze that NATO would not expand eastward by ‘one inch’ if Moscow would pull the Red Army out of East Germany and allow it to peacefully reunify with West Germany. This was a titanic concession by Gorbachev: it led to a failed coup against him in 1991 by Communist hardliners.

The documents released by George Washington University in Washington DC, which I attended for a semester, make sickening reading (see them online). All western powers and statesmen assured the Russians that NATO would not take advantage of the Soviet retreat and that a new era of amity and cooperation would dawn in post-Cold War Europe. US Secretary of State Jim Baker offered ‘ironclad guarantees’ there would be no NATO expansion. Lies, all lies.

Gorbachev was a humanist, a very decent, intelligent man who believed he could end the Cold War and nuclear arms race. He ordered the Red Army back from Eastern Europe. I was in Wunsdorf, East Germany, HQ of the Group of Soviet Forces, Germany, and at Stasi secret police HQ in East Berlin right after the pullout order was given. The Soviets withdrew their 338,000 troops and 4,200 tanks and sent them home at lightening speed.

Western promises made to Soviet leaders by President George W. H. Bush and Jim Baker quickly proved to be empty. They were honorable men but their successors were not. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush quickly began moving NATO into Eastern Europe, violating all the pledges made to Moscow.

The Poles, Hungarians and Czechs were brought into NATO, then Romania and Bulgaria, the Baltic States, Albania, and Montenegro. Washington tried to get the former Soviet Republics of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. The Moscow-aligned government of Ukraine was overthrown in a US-engineered coup. The road to Moscow was open.

All the bankrupt, confused Russians could do was denounce these eastward moves by the US and NATO. The best response NATO and Washington could come up with was, ‘well, there was no official written promise.’ This is worthy of a street peddler selling counterfeit watches. The leaders of the US, Britain, France, Belgium and Italy all lied. Germany was caught between its honor and imminent reunification. So even its Chancellor Helmut Kohl had to go along with the West’s prevarications.

At the time, I wrote that the best solution would be for the demilitarization of formerly Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe. NATO had no need or business to expand eastward. Doing so would be a constant provocation to Russia, which regarded Eastern Europe as an essential defensive glacis against invasions from the West.

Now, with NATO forces on its western borders, Russia’s deepest fears have been realized.

Today, US military aircraft based on the coasts of Romania and Bulgaria, former Warsaw Pact members, probe Russian airspace over the Black Sea and the vital strategic port of Sevastopol. Washington talks about arming chaotic Ukraine. US and NATO troops are in the Baltic, on Russia’s northwestern borders. Polish right-wingers are beating the war drums against Russia.

In 1990, KGB and CIA agreed to the principal of ‘not one inch’ eastward for NATO. Former US ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, confirms the same agreement. Gorbachev, who is denounced as a foolish idealist by many Russians, trusted the Western powers. He should have had a battalion of New York City garment district shyster lawyers to document his agreements in 1990. He thought he was dealing with honest, honorable men, like himself.

Is it any wonder after this bait and switch diplomacy that Russia has no trust in the Western powers? Moscow watches US-run NATO oozing ever eastwards. Today, Russia’s leaders firmly believe Washington’s ultimate plan is to tear apart Russia and reduce it to an impotent, pauper nation. Two former Western leaders, Napoleon and Hitler, had similar plans.

Instead of carrying on about Hitler’s duplicity after Munich, we should look at our own shameless behavior after 1990.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy, History • Tags: NATO, Russia, Soviet Union 
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The US has maintained the fiction for decades of being an even-handed mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. This week, President Donald Trump finally junked this tired, old canard by agreeing to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from its current headquarters in Tel Aviv.

There was huge symbolism in this move that met with universal condemnation. It means the US is abandoning any chance of a two-state solution, which was the original UN plan for Palestine. Henceforth, Palestinians will subsist in a Jewish unitary state as a powerless, restive underclass. Washington is violating international law, the 1993 Oslo Accords, and countless UN resolutions.

Crusader Trump’s decision strongly suggests there will be no Palestinian state, no Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and no political hope for the region’s 5.5 million Palestinians refugees living precariously in Israel, the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.

America’s president is a notorious Muslim-hater who has sought to bar people from the Islamic world from the United States. Trump knows very little about the Mideast – which I call the ‘American Raj’ in my last book of the same name because of its resemblance to Britain’s imperial rule over India.

Trump is surrounded by ardent Greater Israel supporters in Washington and New York that include his immediate family, and so-called ‘advisors’ from the extreme far right. Amazingly, his much ballyhooed speech last May in Saudi Arabia to assorted Arab potentates and vassals was actually written by a thirty-something ultra-Zionist right-winger from Santa Monica, California.

Adding to the black comedy, Trump has commanded his young Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to forge a Mideast peace deal. Kushner, a New York real estate executive, is a nice young man but he knows as much about the Mideast as I do about Papua New Guinea.

The ‘peace negotiations’ Kushner has launched are a cruel farce. He and Trump expect a deal of some sort between America’s Mideast vassals – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Jordan, the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, and the medieval king of Morocco.

These powerless satraps can make all the ‘peace deals’ they like. But the true parties who must be engaged are Israel, now governed by a very far right government, and the Palestinians, misrepresented by the corrupt Palestinian Authority (PLO) and nationalist Hamas, as well as splinter groups. The PLO is pretty much a puppet of the US and Israel, run by the doddering old Mahmoud Abbas. In the Mideast, only Turkey remains a truly independent Muslim nation that’s not under Washington’s thumb.

Even so, Abbas, other Palestinians and Arab leaders are all denouncing Trump and his bull in a China shop behavior. Who cares? Trump’s actions show just how divided and impotent the Arab world really is.

The Israelis know that their Arab neighbors can huff and puff all they like, but are powerless to do anything but riot in the streets and burn cars. If anti-Israel riots become too violent, Israel has no compunctions about gunning down the demonstrators or blowing up their family homes. Never has the Arab world shown itself so weak and timid.

Moreover, Israel’s new pals in Saudi Arabia have been stabbing Palestinians in the back for decades and secretly want to see them crushed. The feudal Saudis fear and distrust the modern, educated Palestinians. The same applies to Egypt’s brutish military dictatorship that now thrives on Saudi, Israeli and US money.

No one has bothered to consult with the Palestinians who have been marginalized, ignored or bombed for over half a century. There will be no real peace without them.

But President Trump cares nothing about these irksome details. He just wants a faux peace agreement adorned with his royal signature. What really counts to Trump is winning American Jewish support in the next election and satisfying his vital evangelical Christian voter base.

America’s Christian far right, which comprises half of Republican voters, earnestly believes in Biblical prophesy that the Messiah cannot come until ancient Israel is reconstituted, the world’s Jews are ingathered to Greater Israel, the Messiah returns and non-believers perish in the final destruction of earth.

These folk are ardent ‘Christian Zionists’ who applaud Trump’s policies. Most of their information about the outside comes from Christian evangelical publications and TV stations or, in the case of Trump, from Fox TV, another dedicated supporter of Greater Israel.

The Christian evangelists are the core of Trump’s support in rural and suburban America. In fact, as Kevin Phillips wrote in his brilliant book “American Theocracy,” the Republicans have mostly become a rightwing religious party representing the less enlightened parts of America. These fundamentalists must be very pleased that their good president Trump is speeding the arrival of the Messiah.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Israel/Palestine 
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Merry Christmas to one and all from North Korea. Glorious Leader Kim Jong-un unwrapped a wonderful new intercontinental missile, the Hwasong-15, which experts believe might be capable of reaching Los Angeles, New York and Washington, depending on the weight of its nuclear warhead.

This was the big, earth-shaking story until Gen. Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in Washington seemed an even bigger bombshell than North Korea’s nukes. As of now, the Flynn scandal looks like a tempest in a teapot – unless FBI Inquisitors can produce real evidence that the wicked Russians were doing anything more in cahoots with Trump & Co. than all major powers, including the US, routinely do.

As a former French prime minister so well put it, ‘all government is permanent conspiracy.’

The best thing to come out of ‘l’affaire Flynn’ is that this loopy, wildly anti-Muslim general is out of government. But many more cranks and crazies still infest the Trump administration.

After last week’s nasty exchange of tweets between British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump, and his posting of spurious anti-Muslim hate films made by Brit neo-Nazis, the depths of this administration’s hatred of Muslims was on view to the world. Previously, it had been kept somewhat below the surface.

Trump, a non-stop viewer of Fox TV `news’, has clearly become a zombie-like follower of Fox’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, who is a notorious hater of Islam and ardent supporter of Israel’s rightwing government. In the Fox view, any bad news about Muslims is good news for Israel – a very foolish way of thinking since the anti-Islamic prejudice now being spread throughout the US, Russia, and Europe is just one step away from 1930’s anti-Semitism.

Back to Glorious Leader Kim. It is astounding that his Hwasong-series missiles work so well. One recalls all those embarrassing US tests of the 1960’s, with missiles toppling over and blowing up or being destroyed right after launch.

Somehow, North Korea’s missiles have become so reliable that their launch is shown on TV, with you know who watching – from a safe distance of course.

A sure-fire way of gauging a missile’s efficiency is studying its tail’s exhaust pattern. The Hwasong-14 and now 15 appear strong, steady and totally effective. How did a threadbare nation of only 25 million people develop such a powerful weapon?

Of course, there were launch failures in the past, and even launch-pad explosions. But the new Hwasong series looks potent and reliable, and has caught Washington’s attention when it is not fussing about Donald Trump. South Korea’s 50 million citizens must have growing admiration for the North while their own government dances to Washington’s tune.

As a long-time military analyst, I suspect that North Korea has had a big helping hand from abroad in engine technology, electronics and systems integration. Who could have provided it? China, Russia, India or Israel.

The first two nations are the logical suspects. Either could have supplied the necessary technology as a very clever way of diverting Washington from its own imperial plans, which are now in disarray.

The Trump administration now has the choice of a total naval blockade of North Korea, mining its ports, and destroying the Yalu River bridges, over which flows oil, food and strategic materials. It sounds simple on paper but North Korea is quite capable of vigorous responses, like bombarding parts of Seoul or mining South Korean and Japanese ports.

It’s not the kind of spitting match in which any thoughtful American leaders ought to become engaged. Over 90% of Americans cannot name or locate the capital of North Korea or explain the reasons for a major war against this strategic but remote nation. But, of course, the US Imperium has been warring in remote Afghanistan for sixteen years for reasons few understand.

Afghanistan can’t shoot back. North Korea now can. Trump has put the US on a path to war in the Korean Peninsula that few want, neoconservatives and crazies aside, and that could poison the entire planet.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, North Korea 
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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 epic proportion, sadistic, and profoundly sickening, even to a hardened war correspondent like me.

Serbia’s banker-turned demagogue, Slobodan Milosevic, and Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, formulated a strategy to create an ethnically pure Greater Serbia, purged of Catholics and Muslims, that would recreate the glory of the medieval Serb kingdom. They rose to power on calls to ‘send the Turks (i.e. Muslims) back to Turkey.’ Ironically, Bosnia’s Muslims were mainly descendants of medieval Christian Bogomil heretics who had been savagely persecuted by Orthodox Christians and converted to Islam for protection.

Mladic led the Bosnian Serb army (along with units from Serbia’s Army) in a multi-year campaign to uproot, expel or kill the Catholic Croat and Muslim population of the ex-Yugoslav republic of Bosnia. The Serb Army then turned its murderous rage to the former Yugoslav region of Kosovo that was 95-98% ethnic Albanian. The world learned the term, ‘ethnic cleansing.’

Gen. Mladic was convicted of engineering the massacre of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, and the bloody siege of Bosnia’s capitol, Sarajevo. Srebrenica was the worst war crime in Europe since World War II. To these atrocities add ethnic massacres across Bosnia and Kosovo, rape camps where Muslim women were routinely violated, and concentration camps where Muslim and Croat prisoners were starved and tortured.

As sadistic Serb paramilitary thugs and the Serb Army rampaged through Bosnia and Kosovo, the world largely averted its eyes, blaming the massacres, rapes, and looting on ‘centuries of hatreds.’ Not true. Modern-day power-thirsty demagogues and the Orthodox Church played the key role.

In truth, the orgy of killing and ethnic uprooting was even quietly welcomed by certain governments, like Greece, France (traditional ally of Serbia), Britain’s Conservatives, Russia, Hungary and Romania.

Britain and France managed to thwart, then delay, multi-national efforts to end the massacres while shedding crocodile tears and secretly aiding Serbia.

Equally contemptible was the reaction of the Muslim world, which averted its eyes while offering bromides and platitudes. The Saudis, self-styled ‘Defenders of Islam,’ were too busy in Europe’s casinos and brothels to care about tortured Bosnia. The Turks, with 600,000 soldiers, were too fearful of angering Europe to do anything. The only peoples to help the Balkan Muslims were some Afghan mujahidin and Iran, which supplied arms to the Bosnians with tacit CIA approval.

As a keynote speaker at a major Islamic Conference, I could not resist telling the delegates from around the globe: ‘if Jews were being persecuted in Bosnia they way Muslims are, I’m sure the Israeli defense forces would have landed and put Mladic and his Serbs in a cage.’ I was never again invited to speak at an Islamic conference.

In the end, the United States, which had no strategic interests in the Balkans, finally took military action to end the Balkan horrors. American Jewish groups, who knew genocide when they saw it, demanded the Clinton administration take action to end the massacres of the Balkan Muslims. Serbia’s crimes became too egregious to ignore. Clinton ordered military intervention in alliance with Croatia. Serbia finally sued for peace and ended ethnic cleansing. Large numbers of Serbs, Muslims and Croats were left refugees.

This was one of America’s proudest moments since WWII. America became a hero to the entire Muslim world – until the dimwitted George W. Bush decided to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. American critics who still decry the Balkan intervention simply don’t understand the region or the issues involved.

Today, little Bosnia remains a shattered country, its people still dazed with horror over the evils that have befallen them. Albanian Kosovo also remains walking wounded. Mladic and Karadzic are in prison; Milosevic died of a heart attack during his trial. Many Serbs insist on their innocence and still claim to be victims of plots by Germany and Muslim nations. They won’t accept guilt and move into the 21st Century. Forward-thinking Serbs have embraced Europe.

But just as the world lays to rest the ghosts of Bosnia and Kosovo, a new genocidal horror emerged in Asia as Myanmar (formerly Burma) used murder and rape to terrorize into flight over 600,000 brown-skinned Muslim Rohingyas. Once again, the world watched passively. While Rohingya children starved, the Saudis were busy building new palaces. And once again it may fall to the United States to end these crimes against humanity.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: History • Tags: balka, Bosnia, Kosovo 
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Amidst the rising clamor in the US over groping and goosing, America’s Congress is beginning to fret about President Donald Trump’s shaky finger being on the nation’s nuclear button.

The air force officer that dutifully trails the president carries the electronic launch codes in a black satchel that could ignite a world war that would largely destroy our planet. This is rather more serious than groping and pinching.

The inexperienced Trump has talked himself into a corner over North Korea. He thought bombastic threats and a side deal with China could force the stubborn North Koreans to junk their nuclear weapons. Anyone with knowledge of North Asia could have told him this plan would not work.

Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury’ – a clear allusion to the use of nuclear weapons. The North Koreans mooned the tough-talking president and went ahead with their nuclear programs. So Trump’s big bluff was called. A huge embarrassment for the amateur president who evaded military service in the 1960’s.

On top of that, the wicked North Koreans referred to Trump as ‘old.’ He riposted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was ‘short and fat.’ It is to this level of kindergarten invective that we have sunk – idiotic kids armed with nuclear weapons.

The problem for would-be warlord Trump is that he has few options left. His least bad are 1. attacking North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure with tactical nuclear weapons, or 2. laughing off the whole business, backing down and hoping that incoming Christmas and more groping furor will divert public attention.

Nuclear war is absolutely unthinkable. Totally crazy. Yet serious discussion is underway in military and neocon war circles about a nuclear war against North Korea and, even crazier, against Iran and Russia. Welcome home, Dr Strangelove.

Responsible people in government are increasingly worried that President Trump might ignite nuclear war to salvage his bruised ego and to show the Asians who is boss. Trump has already ringed North Korea with heavy bombers, strike aircraft, three heavy aircraft carriers and fleets of warplanes in Japan, South Korea and Guam.

A single incident – a naval clash, a mining, an air encounter – could set the stage for war. Senior US officers have been telling Trump the same message that this column has delivered for years: that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is unlikely to be destroyed by even a surprise nuclear attack.

The Pentagon admits that a ground invasion of North Korea would be far too costly. A decade-old Rand Corp study estimated US losses would be in the range of 250,000 men.

North Korea will probably retain enough nuclear-armed missiles in deep caves after a US nuclear attack to riposte against South Korea and Japan, where there are nearly 100,000 US troops and dependents. Japan, the world’s third most important economic power, is totally vulnerable to nuclear devastation.

Nuclear-armed China and Russia are right next door to North Korea. Trump’s threats to attack North Korea might force them to challenge the US in a major confrontation. The head of South Korea’s ruling party just insisted that the US must not attack North Korea without her nation’s prior consent – which will not likely be given.

Interestingly, few Americans know that in wartime, South Korea’s powerful armed forces fall under command of a US four-star general. Such is the imperial order in North Asia.

Washington is planning large, new provocative military exercises around North Korea – just the type of sabre rattling that provoked the current crisis. China urged Washington to call off its warlike actions and, in exchange, for North Korea to stop testing nuclear warheads and missiles.

Sensible, of course, but Chief Crusader Trump rejects such plans and keeps sending mixed messages to the world. If he really wanted peace with North Korea all he would have to do is fly to Pyongyang, bury the hatchet, and shoot some rounds of golf with Kim Jong-un who would be thrilled to pieces.

This is unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, senior military officers and some in Congress who actually mastered high school are trying to figure out how to keep the volatile Trump away from the nuclear trigger.

According to the US Constitution, Congress has the power to declare war. But the president has a residual right to initiate military action in the event of a sudden threat. The fate of the globe cannot be left in the hands of one man. Even Russia and China require some checks and balances before nuclear war is unleashed. The US apparently does not.

Some senior officers say they would refuse to obey an illegal order. But none refused when it came to the unjustified attack on Iraq and war against Syria. In fact, the US nuclear attack system is designed to thwart interference with any orders to unleash war.

A no-first use pledge would be a positive step, to be sure. A better way would be for Congress to mandate a collegial decision to use nuclear weapons that would involve the president, vice president, secretary of state, chief of staff and chief justice. This, of course, would not apply if the US was under nuclear attack. But even certainty of attack can be uncertain, as numerous nuclear crises during the cold war showed.

The urgent message of the day is: President Trump. Step away from that nuclear button and calm down.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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What’s going on in Saudi Arabia? Over 200 bigwigs detained and ‘illegal profits’ of some $800 billion confiscated.

The kingdom is in an uproar. The Saudi regime of King Salman and his ambitious 32-year old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, claim it was all part of an ‘anti-corruption’ drive that has Washington’s full backing.

Utter nonsense. I’ve done business in Saudi Arabia since 1976 and can attest that the entire kingdom, with its thousands of pampered princes and princesses, is one vast swamp of corruption. In Saudi, the entire nation and its vast oil revenues are considered property of the extended Saudi royal family and its hangers-on. A giant piggy bank.

The late Libyan leader Muammar Khadaffi told me the Saudis are ‘an incredibly rich bunch of Bedouins living behind high walls and scared to death of their poorer neighbors.’

We have just witnessed a palace coup in Riyadh caused by the violation of the traditional desert ruling system which was based on compromise and sharing the nation’s riches.

Young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s appointment as heir apparent by his ailing father, King Salman, who is reportedly suffering from cognitive issues, upset the time-proven Saudi collegial system and provoked the current crisis. Among the people arrested so far were 11 princes and 38 senior officials and businessmen, including the nation’s best-known and richest businessman, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns important chunks of Apple, Citigroup and Twitter. He’s being detained at Riyadh’s swanky Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Also arrested was Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the largest Saudi construction firm, The Binladen Group, and former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a bitter rival to the new Crown Prince Mohammed.

Interestingly, there are no reports of senior Saudi military figures being arrested. The Saudi military has always been kept weak and marginalized for fear it could one day stage a military coup like the one led by Colonel Khadaffi who overthrew Libya’s old British stooge ruler, King Idris. For decades the Saudi army was denied ammunition. Mercenary troops from Pakistan were hired to protect the Saudi royals.

The Saudis still shudder at the memory of British puppets King Feisal of Iraq and his strongman, Nuri as-Said, who were overthrown and murdered by mobs after an Iraqi army colonel, Abd al-Karim Qasim, staged a coup in 1958. Nuri ended up hanging from a Baghdad lamppost, leading Egypt’s fiery strongmen, Abdel Nasser, to aptly call the new Iraqi military junta, ‘the wild men of Baghdad.’

More mysteries arose this tumultuous week. One of Saudi’s most influential princes, Mansour bin Muqrin, died in a mysterious crash of his helicopter, an ‘accident’ that has the smell of sabotage. Another key prince, Miteb, was ousted. He was commander of the famed ‘White Guard,’ the Saudi Bedouin tribal army designed to protect the monarchy and a former contender for the throne. Meanwhile, three or four other Saudi princes were reportedly kidnapped from Europe and sent home, leading to rumors that Saudi’s new ally, Israel, was involved.

It appears that Prince Mohammed and his men have so far grabbed at least $800 billion from those arrested to refill the war-depleted Saudi coffers. Call this a traditional Arab tribal raid – except that no women or horses were seized.

But behind all this lies the stalemated Saudi war against wretched Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest, most backwards nation. Saudi Arabia has been heavily bombing Yemen for over two years, using US-supplied warplanes, munitions, including cluster bombs and white phosphorus, and US Air Force management. A Saudi blockade of Yemen, aided by the US, has caused mass starvation and epidemics such as cholera.

When I first explored Yemen, in the mid 1970’s, it was just creeping out of the 12th century AD. Today, it’s been bombed back into the 6th Century.

In spite of spending over $200 million daily (not including payoffs to `coalition’ members like Egypt) the Saudis are stuck in a stalemated conflict against Yemen’s Shia Houthi people. The US and Britain are cheerfully selling bombs and weapons to the Saudis. President Donald Trump has been lauding the destruction of Yemen because he mistakenly believes Iran is the mainstay of the anti-Saudi resistance.

Yemen is a horrible human rights disaster and scene of widespread war crimes. It reminds me of the savagery inflicted on Afghanistan by the Soviets in the 1970’s.

The Saudis were fools to become involved in Yemen. Prince Mohammed was going to show the tough Yemeni tribes who was boss. Now he knows, and it’s not the Saudis.

The Saudis appear to be planning military provocations against bad neighbour Iran. These may include attacks in Lebanon against Hezbollah – which might open the way for US attacks on Iran and its allies. The Saudis are enraged over their defeat in Syria and want revenge.

Is this the beginning of the collapse of the House of Saud? Or a Saudi renaissance led by Prince Mohammed as he claims? Stay tuned.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia 
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`Take up the white man’s burden’

Rudyard Kipling, poet laureate of British imperialism

The British Empire, which at the end of the 19th century ruled one quarter of the earth’s land surface, is long gone. But its robust successor and heir, the United States, has set about enlarging it.

As I sought to explain in my last book ‘American Raj – How the US Rules the Muslim World,’ the US imperium exerts its power by controlling tame, compliant regimes around the world and their economies. They are called ‘allies’ but, in fact, should be more accurately termed satrapies or vassal states. Many states are happy to be prosperous US vassals, others less so.

The US power system has successfully dominated much of the world, except of course for great powers China, Russia and India. Germany and much of Western Europe remains in thrall to post WWII US power. The same applies to Canada, Latin America, Australia, and parts of SE Asia.

There is one part of the globe that has remained free from heavy US influence since 1945, sub-Saharan Africa. But this fact is clearly changing as the US military expands its operations the width and breadth of the Dark Continent.

We are seeing a rerun of the fine old 1930’s film, ‘Beau Geste’ which was taken from a cracking good 1924 Victorian novel by C. Percival Wren. Set in French North Africa, Wren’s dashing French Legionnaires end up defending a remote fort against masses of hostile Arab and Berber tribesman.

The novel and film negatively shaped western attitudes to the Arab world and its peoples but glorified the French Foreign Legion. Wren claimed to have been a member of the Legion which was the primary enforcement arm of France’s African colonial empire.

The famed Legion, which fought from Mexico to Indochina, has now shrunken to a pitiful 8,000 men. France’s thread-bare finances proved a deadlier enemy than Saharan horsemen.

Even so, the Legion is still used by Paris for sudden shock interventions across West Africa to support client French regimes and punish those who challenge the status quo. I’ve lifted many a glass with Legionnaires. They are an amazingly tough bunch: you never know whether they are going to kill you or buy you drinks.

US troops have now stepped into the boots of ‘La Legion.’ Almost unnoticed, US Special Forces – our version of the Legion – have been slipping into Africa, the newest and most exciting market for the Pentagon.

Creation of the new US Africa Command in 2007, with headquarters in Germany, was discreet but it signaled active US military and geopolitical interest in resource-rich Africa, a key target of Chinese interest. No one in Washington seems to know how many US troops operate in Africa, but it’s at least 12,000 not counting mercenary contractors and CIA units. There was consternation in Congress when these facts emerged last week.

The key US base in Africa is at Djibouti, a poxy, fly-blown French colony on the Red Sea that is also shared by the Legion and, curiously, a Chinese naval station. US forces in Djibouti operate into Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Central Africa. US forces in West Africa operate in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda, and anywhere that pro-US regimes are under pressure. Mali and Chad, where nomadic tribes battle the central government, are key operating regions. Both are under nasty dictatorial regimes backed by Washington.

As in the British Empire, the ‘natives’ are kept under control by small numbers of skilled Western troops. There’s no need for big battalions of regulars. The key is western air power and intelligence. Particularly so in often barren sub-Saharan West Africa where French and US warplanes patrol the skies. `We have the Maxim gun (machine gun) and they have not’ wrote a Victorian poet. Nothing much has changed.

France’s previous president, Francois Hollande, charged into a local tribal squabble in Mali, a key uranium supplier, between black town dwellers and nomadic Tuareg and assorted Islamists. Unable to afford the spreading war, France asked for US help and got it. The bitterly anti-Muslim Trump administration could not miss a chance to attack Muslims in West Africa under the banner of ‘anti-terrorism.’

A ‘terrorist’ in this case is anyone who challenges the western-dominated political order, from Malian nomads to Central African Republic rebels. In the brutal dictatorial regimes of former French West Africa the only effective opposition comes from groups calling themselves Islamic. This pulls the chain of the Trump administration and its Christian fundamentalist allies at home who seek to uproot fast-spreading Islam from Africa.

So off the US military charges into Africa, with little understanding of the region and even less strategic planning. It’s Vietnam-style ‘mission creep’ all over again. Washington is still trying to figure out what happened to Herzegovina in the Balkans while it plunges into darkest West Africa. That’s why Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron are so chummy these days.

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Africa, American Military 
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 Palestine, which inevitably invites terrorist attacks against US citizens and property.”
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.