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President Donald Trump claimed last week that the US and Britain had won World War II. This was a shameless lie and distortion of the facts.

Many Americans and Canadians like to believe their nations won the war in Europe and give insufficient recognition to the decisive Soviet role. Most Europeans would rather not think about the matter. By contrast, Russians know that it was their soldiers who really won the war. They remain angry that their military achievements are ignored by American triumphalists and myth-makers.

Not only did Stalin’s Soviet Union play the key role in crushing Nazi Germany, its huge sacrifices saved the lives of countless American, British and Canadian soldiers. Were it not for the USSR’s victory, Nazi Germany might be alive and well today.

Let’s do the numbers. The Soviet armed forces destroyed 507 German divisions and 100 allied Axis divisions (according to Soviet figures). These latter included the pan-European Waffen SS whose largest numbers came from Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Finland and a division from Spain.

Soviet military historians claim their forces destroyed 77,000 enemy planes, 48,000 enemy tanks and armored vehicles. The Red Army accounted for 75-80% of Axis casualties in World War II.

In the process, 1,710 Russian cities, 70,000 towns and villages, 31,850 factories and 1,974 collective farms were destroyed. Add 84,000 schools, 43,000 libraries and 65,000 km of railway.

The leading Russian military historian Dmitri Volkogonov revealed during the Gorbachev years that Russia’s total losses from 1941-1945 were 26.6 to 27 million dead. Ten million of them were Soviet soldiers dead or missing. Compare this to the total US dead in the European theater of 139,000.

No one likes to admit it was Stalin who defeated Nazi Germany. Stalin killed far more people than Adolf Hitler, including 6 million Ukrainians liquidated in the early 1930’s and four million Muslims during the war. The Soviet gulag was grinding up victims well into the 1950’s.

Today, seven decades later, we are barraged with films and reports about Germany’s concentration camps while Stalin’s far more extensive and lethal gulag is ignored. Roosevelt spoke warmly of Stalin as “Uncle Joe.” Churchill kept silent.

When American, British and Canadian troops landed at Normandy in June, 1944, they met Germany forces that had been shattered on the Eastern Front and bled white. Under strength German units had almost no gasoline and were low on ammunition, tanks and artillery.

Equally important, the Allies had absolute air superiority over the Western European battlefields. Under strength German units could only move at night – when they could find fuel. By 1944, both Germany and Japan were crippled by a calamitous lack of fuel. Planes could not fly, tanks and trucks could not move, and warships were forced to stay in port.

The reason Germany had no air cover at Normandy was because most of the once potent Luftwaffe had been destroyed on the Eastern Front, its best pilots killed, and aviation fuel scarce. Germany’s advanced ME262 jet fighter that should have swept the skies was grounded because of fuel shortages.

Had Germany’s Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe not been largely destroyed in Russia, the Normandy D-Day invasion would likely have been pushed into the Channel. Britain may have been invaded well before June, 1944. Hitler’s foolish notion that Germany and the British Empire should be allies saved the beaten British Army in France in 1940, allowing it to escape across the Channel while leaving its French allies in the lurch.

By the time the Allies established themselves in France, they outnumbered degraded German forces by 2:1. At least 67,000 German soldiers died in the Normandy operation. In a heartbreaking but little-known statistic of war, 6.7 million German horses were killed on both fronts.

Soviet Ukraine bore the brunt of the war, losing some 5 million soldiers and 6 million civilians – roughly half of total Soviet losses.

By April, 1944, Germany still maintained 214 divisions on the Eastern Front facing the advancing Soviet and just 60 divisions (mostly under strength, many only brigades in reality) on the Western Front.

At that time, both Roosevelt and Churchill lavished praise and thanks on the Soviet Union, admitting its “gigantic effort” in defeating Hitler’s Germany. Today, however, we have chosen to forget who really won the war in Europe.

Just as much, we have totally ignored the huge Soviet contribution to the war in the Pacific Theater. The US Navy swept the seas of the Imperial Japanese Navy in a series of brilliant actions that rate among the greatest feats in naval history, but Japan still held large parts of China and Manchuria.

On 9 Aug, 1945, the Soviets unleashed one of the war’s largest campaigns. Some 1.57 million Red Army troops in 89 divisions, backed by 27,000 guns, 5,500 tanks, and 3721 warplanes stormed south in a giant, 2,500-km long arc from Outer Mongolia to Korea. Soviet tank armies raced across desert, mountain ranges and forests in a giant pincer movement that enveloped Japan’s Manchurian-based 600,000-man, 25 division Kwantung Army.

In only eleven days of blitzkrieg, the once-feared Kwantung Army – Japan’s largest – was crushed. Soviet forces reached Port Arthur in northern China, much of Manchuria and right up to Korea’s 38th parallel. Five years later, a proxy war between the US and Soviet Union would begin over divided Korea.

The shattering of the Kwantung army is believed by some historians to have contributed to Japan’s surrender. Other historians suggest that America’s use of two nuclear weapons against Japan was a hasty effort to make it surrender before the Red Army landed in Japan.

While making it plain that the western democracies have no kudos for Soviet leader Stalin, and disapprove of Vladimir Putin’s machination in Ukraine and Crimea, it should still have been possible to acknowledge the mighty Soviet contribution to our victory in World War II. At the very least, Russia’s valiant soldiers deserve a sharp salute from us. They defeated Nazi Germany and saved many of our men from death.

 
• Category: History • Tags: American Media, Nazi Germany, Russia, World War II 
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Eric with Gen.Jonas Savimbi and Chief of Staff at UNITA HQ during battles of Mavinga and Cuanavale
Eric with Gen.Jonas Savimbi and Chief of Staff at UNITA HQ during battles of Mavinga and Cuanavale

Thirty years ago this week began the largest and longest series of battles in southern Africa and a key event in the Cold War.

I was there with both mechanized and artillery units of the South African Defense Forces (SADF) and guerrillas of their Angolan ally, the UNITA forces of Gen. Jonas Savimbi.

Much of the action took place in the vast scrublands and dense bush of eastern Angola, a region so remote and uncharted that its former Portuguese colonial rulers rightly called it, ‘the land at the end of the earth.’ Great herds of majestic elephants roamed the area.

Savimbi was the most interesting African leader I had met. A brawny, charismatic man sporting a Che Guevara style black beret, he had graduated from Moscow’s Lumumba University, and then founded UNITA, the Movement for the Total Union of Angola. He was southern Africa’s most able leader. Closely aided by small contingents of tough South African troops, their black Buffalo Battalion allies, and a lot of discreet aid flown in from the top secret CIA base at Kamina, the Congo.

Opposing Savimbi was the Communist-led MPLA movement which was armed, financed and led by Angolan Communists taking orders from Moscow and East Berlin. Fidel Castro sent 50,000 well-trained Cuban troops to spearhead MPLA’s advance onto UNITA’s bush HQ at Jamba. I spent days at Jamba with Savimbi who was highly intelligent and a self-professed democrat.

We endured hair-raising, bone-jarring rides across the bush in Toyota Land Cruisers to attack Communist positions. Locals called it, ‘bundu (bush) bashing.’ We were choked by thick dust and lashed by wicked thorns.

Heavily armed Angolan and Cuban units, with modern T-54/55 and T-62 tanks tried to fight their way across the Lomba River to attack Jamba. There, Moscow’s forces were stopped by UNITA and teams of South African commandos using new anti-tank missiles and US Stinger missiles.

I remember being in a South African light armored car, known as a Ratel, in a terrifying point blank battle with a Cuban tank. Fortunately, the trees were so dense it could not traverse its turret gun.

Overhead, Cuban and East German piloted MiGs tangled in dogfights with small numbers of South African French-built Mirage fighters. I drank Cape wine at Pietermaritzburg Air Base with the SADF pilots who had just scored MiG kills.

The Cuito Cuanavale/Mavinga battles lasted for over thirteen months. South Africa’s nimble forces managed to thwart Soviet plans to occupy Southwest Africa (today Namibia) then move into South Africa and seize its vast riches of metals and rare earths. The Soviet-backed forces halted their offensive and retreated north.

But the United States and Britain also had a change of heart about Africa after a great public clamor over apartheid and slowly ended their support of the white–run republic. Angola remained in Communist hands, as did the new state of Namibia. Moscow and Washington called a truce over southern Africa, though Fidel Castro hailed himself as its ‘liberator.’

South Africa’s white National Party allowed Nelson Mandela’s ANC to assume power, ending the long era of white rule. South Africa, which once produced 25% of Africa’s economic output, including even nuclear weapons, went into a long, irreversible slide into endemic corruption, growing crime, tribalism and repressive government – a truly sad legacy for the great liberator, Nelson Mandela.

My old friend Gen Savimbi continued to lead his Ovimbundu people and UNITA against the ruling Marxist regime in Luanda until the US government determined that Angola’s growing oil resources were worth more than old ally Savimbi.

I have on impeccable source that in 2002 the US hired a top-notch Israeli hit team to ambush and kill Savimbi. UNITA disbanded and the US got Angola’s oil. As the British say, there are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent interests.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Angola 
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Take an injection of a strong disinfectant like Dettol or Listerine and call me in the morning.”

President Donald Trump has clearly gone off the rails with his crazy suggestion that the public might try injecting potent disinfectants to combat COVID-19. He sounds increasingly like the late Rev. Jim Jones of toxic Kool-Aid fame and former TV evangelist Jim Baker who is now hawking his own miracle cure for COVID-19.

The difference is that Jim Baker’s nostrum is not lethal while Rev. Trump’s certainly is.

Where did the world’s most powerful elected official – who now threatens war against Iran and Venezuela – get this loopy notion? Likely via Fox News and from some of his circle of louche business cronies.

These cronies were also the likely source of Trump’s infatuation with the potent anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19. He has been urging Americans to take this drug despite evidence that it does not work against the disease and may cause serious damage.

Senior French doctors have been warning of chloroquine’s dangers for the past month. They say it can provoke dangerous heart arrhythmias. It’s not even that effective against malaria.

Furthermore, this drug can induce seizures and psychotic episodes. I took chloroquine while in the bush country in southern Africa covering fighting between the South African military (SADF) and African National Congress fighters. After a few days I started to hallucinate and go paranoid. I avoided it thereafter.

Chloroquine was developed by German chemists as a direct descendant of quinine, which is derived from the bark of the Amazonian cinchona tree. Spanish conquistadors learned from native people to use cinchona bark to combat malaria. Mixed with gin, favored by the British, it became a West Indian afternoon staple – gin and tonic.

During World War II, American soldiers and marines were fed another cinchona offspring, atabrine, which made them sick from liver damage and turned some GI’S blue.

Vanity Fair magazine claims in its current issue that some of Trump’s business cronies had a plan to flood the greater New York City area with the two chloroquines after the president promoted its anti-COVID properties. This would not be surprising, given Trump’s use of his hotel and golf clubs for ‘official’ business.

On a curious sidebar, Trump’s biggest fan, Brazil’s loopy new right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, is in hot water at home for dismissing COVID-19 as a ‘cold’, promoting quack remedies and opposing social distancing. His most respected minister was just fired for contradicting Bolsonaro’s health schemes. The same thing just happened in Washington, where the senior administration official in charge of vaccines, Dr. Rick Bright, was just fired for opposing Trump’s quack cures.

The only thing of possible merit being said by Trump is his claim that strong light may help fight COVID-19. In South Africa, Boer farmers told me they would get local farm workers who fell ill to go lie in the sun for hours to cure their ailments. It worked surprisingly well – or the workers were feigning illness. But injecting light into the body, as Trump suggested, is fantasy.

Trump’s wacky health panaceas won’t fool most educated Americans, but they are a danger to his many credulous supporters who see Queens New York property developer Trump as some sort of Christian holy prophet and follow his medical quackery.

Trump is a gifted politician and entertainer but he’s no saintly Albert Schweitzer. Alarmingly, this man’s finger is on the nuclear button. Now that’s a real worry.

 
• Category: Ideology, Science • Tags: Coronavirus, Disease, Donald Trump 
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Washington-based military think tanks constantly warn of possible attacks by the wicked North Koreans who have a large arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver to North America.

So do Britain, France, Russia, India, Pakistan, China, India and Israel. The US still has a very large, lethal arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. I recently wrote of how the Bush administration supplied Iraq with feeder stocks to make anthrax, Q Fever and other biowarfare materials for use against Iranians.

And yet we have just seen from the COVID-19 scare how woefully unprepared we were for a chemical/biological attack despite being world leader in germ and chemical warfare.

As the bodies of COVID-19 victims pile up from New York to New Zealand, politicians are waging a furious blame game over the pandemic.

At first, President Donald Trump dismissed COVID-19 as a simple cold or flu and, in the best dictatorial tradition, scared into silence scientists and politicians who disagreed with him for over a month.

China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping, or high-level Communist Party officials, may have suppressed information about the Wuhan virus for six days before news of the killer virus was revealed and a common Party response agreed upon.

Covering up bad news is standard procedure in Communist and autocratic regimes. That’s a major reason why the slow motion collapse of the Soviet Union’s economy went unknown to the Kremlin until too late.

In Trumpistan, none of the sycophants and yes-men around the president, except for the admirable Dr. Fauci, dared contradict the Great White Father cum Physician cum Mussolini in the White House. Anyone who does quickly gets a ‘you’re fired.’

Many of Trump’s evangelical supporters in the Bible Belt view him as a semi-religious figure, a sort of holy man who can, in the best Old Testament Biblical tradition, stop or even cure plague and pestilence. That’s what Trump’s claim to be able to miraculously end the Coronavirus plague by Easter was all about.

Next, fearing American voters would blame him for ineptitude and quackery for downplaying the crisis, Trump sought to lay blame on China and the World Health Organization for the pandemic. Flat-earth Midwestern Republicans believe the UN and anything that sounds international is satanic. This includes the bumbling, overly bureaucratic WHO which has indeed been too easy on China as the right-wing Republicans claim.

But this is the same UN-directed outfit that played a key role in repressing or even eradicating malaria, smallpox, Ebola, river blindness, bilharzia and other dreadful plagues of Africa and Asia. WHO has also had some success in fighting dengue and tsetse flies.

After studying the timeline of recent events in Wuhan, it appears to me that there was some confusion among Chinese medical authorities because of the unknown nature of the new virus. It took them close to a week to evaluate the virus which was at first believed to be a virulent influenza.

Their confusion was minor compared to the muddled reaction of US political and medical authorities and Trump-supporting evangelical groups who each had their own beliefs (usually mistaken) about the new virus. Trump was very successful at laying blame on China – just as the lethal 1918 flu epidemic that began in US Army camps and killed millions of people was successfully marketed to the public as the ‘Spanish flu.’

In an effort to come up with a snake-oil cure, Trump told Americans to take the anti-malaria drugs Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine. French doctors warned these drugs could provoke serious, even lethal heart problems.

They were quite right. I took Chloroquine while in the jungle in southern Africa while covering the fighting between South African (SADF) forces and East-Bloc backed African Congress forces. I developed a mild but still very scary psychological problem and was sick as hell. Who wants to be psycho and paranoid in the deepest jungle?

One remarkable factor in this 21st century plague is how successful China appears to be so far in bottling up the COVID plague. It may be the Chinese are fudging the facts as Republicans, who never lie, claim.

However, I think the key to China’s success has been the ubiquity of special Communist Party committees who ruthlessly and successfully managed the epidemic. Every Chinese factory, apartment building, school and organization has its very own Party official whose job is to spy and report on every person in their group.

Each member is graded and guided. ‘Good’ Communists received better apartments, school slots, factory jobs and retirement care based on their grade book. The all-seeing party knows all, sees all, and can control just about everyone.

That’s how China has so far bested this plague – though of course Trump will try to take the credit.

 
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The world is getting sick from the spreading COVID-19 virus. North Americans and Europeans are now as horrified as Chinese by the invisible killer that has put their hospitals under siege.

They are also getting a grim foretaste of what biological warfare would be like. Those not cowering in terror in their homes would likely be amazed to learn that some of their governments are still churning out highly toxic chemical and biological agents in hidden factories.

But surely our lily white democracies don’t stoop to making poison gas and germs?

Back in 1990-91, I was based in Baghdad covering the first of the Gulf Wars. The US was threatening to attack Iraq for daring to invade oil-rich Kuwait, which used to be part of Iraq until ‘detached’ by the British Empire. At the same time, the eight-year Iran-Iraq War had just ended in a bloody stalemate. The US and Britain had pressed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran, seize its oil wealthy and overthrow the Islamic government in Tehran.

Facing a US-British invasion, Saddam Hussein ordered all foreigners in Iraq rounded up and confined to tourist hotels. Among the foreigners, I discovered four British scientific technicians who had been sent, or ‘seconded,’ to a newly built biowarfare chemical complex south of Baghdad at Salman Pak. They were then trucked to Baghdad as hostages against a US attack.

I managed to slip into the compound that held them and talked for hours over mugs of tea. The British tech team told me they had been secretly sent to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by Britain’s Ministry of Defense and Britain’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service to help Iraq’s military develop and deploy biological weapons for use against numerically superior Iranian forces on the Central Front, Al-Faw Peninsula, and again Kurdish rebels in the north.

The bio weapons included Anthrax, botulism, Q fever and tularemia that attacks the eyes, throat, skin and lymph nodes. Salman Pak also produced quantities of nerve and mustard gasses used against Iranian infantry formations.

Most raw materials for the germ and gas came from Europe. Feeder stocks for the germ/poison gas weapons came from the main UC chemical warfare plans at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.

A popular joke among western journalists in Baghdad went, ‘of course Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. We have the delivery receipts.’

The times Iraq deployed its chemical/bio weapons against Iran, the results were nightmarish: blinded soldiers choking to death, unable to unable to breathe; soldiers with their skin peeling off; dead mothers holding babies in their arms. Many of these attacks were targeted by US satellites positioned over Iraq. US Air Force officers worked closely with their military counterparts Iraq.

To this day, there remain tens of thousands of maimed, blinded, crippled Iraqi soldiers. It was Iraq’s version of World War I, cheerfully financed by the US, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq’s once thriving economy is mostly in ruins. US and British bombing even destroyed most of Iraq’s sewage systems, water reserves, hospitals and bridges. Contaminated water alone killed 500,000 Iraqi children, according to the UN, a price ‘worth paying’ said US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The moral of this terrible story, and the current worldwide epidemic, is to immediately ban all chemical and biological weapons everywhere. Destroy all chem/bio warfare plants everywhere, including the US, Russa, China, India and Israel.

The COVID-19 virus is merely a taste of what a real biological war would be like. Many around the world who bear us ill cannot help but take notice how the world’s richest, mightiest nation can be brought to its knees by some invisible bugs.

When President Trump fulminates against China over COVID-19, he should be advised that the anthrax and other germ weapons used against Iraq in 1990 originated at Fort Detrick, just 50 miles NW of the White House, a mere one hour drive if traffic is not too heavy.

 
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`He who seeks to defend everything, defends nothing.’
King Frederick the Great of Prussia.

This is one of the most important maxims of military history. Every young officer should have it drilled into his head.

Yet the confused administration of President Donald Trump has been doing just this as it fights an invisible foe no one expected. Trump, who dodged US military service using phony doctor certificated about his feet, now shamelessly styles himself ‘a war president.’

This new affectation mirrors Trump’s well-known love of ostentatious displays, military parades, and bombastic talk. When draft-dodgers grow old, they often become flaming warmongers and carriers of the big stick. Fox-TV watching older American men replaced their long faded sexual prowess with calls for martial action by…..the young, of course.

Now, as the coronavirus spreads, our self-proclaimed ‘War Leader’ has drawn his sword to defend endangered America. But Trump can’t decide if he is waging war against a vicious virus or fear itself. For the first two weeks of the epidemic he dismissed it as a ‘hoax’ spread by lefties. It was surprising the Clinton Democrats did not claim the plague was started by Moscow.

When the light of reality put an end to Trump’s Panglossian cheer, the president assumed the costume of doctor in chief and began warning that the ’Wuhan’ virus was very dangerous and likely introduced by foreigners (read Muslims, Chinese and Mexicans). If only his wall had been built.

That’s Trump’s happy story. The factual version shows Trump & Co was so busy provoking Iran into an air war, politicking in Washington and studying polls of Midwestern evangelical voters that they totally missed the advent of the coronavirus, even though they had plenty of time to see the onrush of this viral tsunami.

In the military, we used to call it ‘asleep on guard duty’ – just like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld on 9/11.

The mighty, all-powerful US had plenty of 500 lb and 1,000 lb bombs, fuses, fuel air explosives, napalm and 20mm shells for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, West Africa, and other unfortunate targets, and supplies to stock over 800 military bases around the globe, but not enough ventilators, respirators, face masks or even beds to accommodate the flood of sick Americans.

As the great Frederick said, one cannot defend against everything or every eventuality. But a strategic surge capability for such life-and-death materials is essential. So are emergency supplies of essential items.

The US is not Romania. We are spending $1 trillion on our military this year when all departments are included. Tell me they can’t afford backup face masks or ventilators? Supposed there was a chemical/biological attack on the US? What would we do? Use torn up pieces of the NY Daily News as gas masks? This is what people did in Europe for toilet paper in the threadbare 1950’s. Maybe we will do it again.

Trump treated this virus attack as a political problem, alternately dismissing it or claiming decisive action. Proper government action was delayed for weeks by Trump calling the virus a ‘hoax.’

A nation that could produce an entire Liberty ship during World War II in 24 hours was left telling frontline nurses to wear scarves around their mouths because there were no stocks left of N95 facemasks, respirators or gowns.

It was easier for the Italians. They have Europe’s oldest population. So they just let their elderly sick die off in favor of younger, more robust patients. The Pope has remained out of site with what are termed ‘sniffles’. He may well have the virus as do many who mixed with crowds. A penitent China is now shipping masks to Italy.

In his usual regal style, Trump has been taking responsibility for every aspect of the virus epidemic. That’s dangerous, because he could end up being blamed for some of this disaster’s health and economic damage. A much better example is California’s cool, competent governor, Gavin Newsom who has managed this crisis with skill and aplomb. He could very well run for president in the next election.

Some environmentalists will even suspect that the current plague is the planet’s payback against Trump and his flat earth Republicans for their devastation of our wildlife, forests and waters.

Mother Nature’s revenge.

 
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After 19 years of war, over $1 trillion in spending, 2,400 dead and a torrent of lies, the US may now be facing an end to its longest war.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. There were three reasons: 1. to cover up the humiliation of the tough-talking Bush administration for being caught sleeping on guard duty by the 9/11 attacks; 2. To secure oil pipeline routes through Afghanistan from Central Asia down to Pakistan’s sea coast; and 3. To occupy a supposedly empty square on the Asian chessboard before China did.

Since 2001, hardly a word of truth about Afghanistan has come out of Washington. All wars are accompanied by a bodyguard of lies, as Churchill wrote, but the lies and
propaganda about Afghanistan were extraordinary and shameful.

Chief among the lies: Osama bin Laden was the architect of the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans and that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban movement. In fact, the plot was hatched in Germany and Spain by Saudi exiles, not Afghans, who claimed the US was occupying their nation and exploiting its riches.

Faked videos were shown on US TV to implicate bin Laden. He applauded the attacks after the fact, saying they were revenge for Israel’s destruction in large part of Beirut in 1982.

The so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ in Afghanistan cited as a reason for the US invasion were actually camps run by Pakistan’s intelligence service, an ally of the US, to train insurgent guerrillas for action against Indian rule in Kashmir. I know this because I toured some of the camps. General Hamid Gul, the head of ISI, Pakistan’s crack intelligence service, briefed me on this operation.

Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, told me the US had threatened to ‘bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age’ if it did not allow the US to wage war against Afghanistan from Pakistani territory.

Al-Qaeda’s founder, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, told me `after defeating the communists in Afghanistan, we will go on to liberate Saudi Arabia from American rule.’ He was assassinated soon after.

To this day, what’s left of al-Qaeda remains an anti-imperialist movement. In recent years, al-Qaeda and Taliban have become bitter enemies. Taliban agreed in recent talks never to shelter al-Qaeda or the more recent, Islamic State movement. It originally sheltered bin Laden only because he was a hero of the anti-Communist struggle and an honored guest. Taliban offered to hand bin Laden to an impartial court. The US refused and quickly invaded Afghanistan.

Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, was a serious enemy of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Yet the Bush administration lied that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11 to justify invading and grabbing its oil riches. Most Americans believed this falsehood promoted by Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney.

I was in Afghanistan and Pakistan when Taliban was formed. Far from being a ‘terrorist’ movement, as the Americans and their Afghan communist allies claimed, Taliban was created by a village preacher, Mullah Omar, to protect caravans from bandits during the Afghan civil war of the early 1990’s, and to protect women from mass rape. When Taliban took Kabul, it crushed the drug trade and restored order with an iron fist.

America’s main ally in Afghanistan, the Communist dominated Tajik Northern Alliance, was put into power in Kabul and quickly restored the opium trade. Today, US Afghan allies control almost all the drug trade which props up the puppet government in Kabul.

Three US presidents claim they tried to end the Afghan War – but failed. Why? Intense opposition from the war party, military industrial complex, and the neocons. $1 trillion is huge business. Many war suppliers grew rich on this conflict; imperial generals got promotions and new commands. Politicians loved to orate against so-called ‘terrorism’ and call for more war. The costs of the Afghan War were buried in the national debt, to be repaid by coming generations.

None of the presidents were able to stand up to the deep state. President Donald Trump claims he will shut down the Afghan War, which he properly termed, ‘stupid.’ But can he?

It will be so easy to sabotage the fragile cease-fire agreement just signed in Qatar. The Afghan drug lords have already started fire fights. US generals and conservatives quail at the prospect of being charged with losing this war.

The best way to end a war is to end it. Declare victory, bring the troops home, cut off the dollars and ammo and leave.

 
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President Donald Trump’s 36-hour whirlwind visit to India this past week was designed to show Americans just how adored abroad their president really is.

Unluckily for Trump, his campaign stop at this behemoth nation of 1.3 or 1.4 billion proved a fiasco.

First came the terrifying Chinese coronavirus that so far has killed less people than the weekly toll on China’s dangerous roads, but the whole world went into a panic. The US stock market, the underpinning of Trump’s popularity at home, took a crash dive even though the all-knowing president-physician assured Americans that the Wuhan virus was only a cold.

VP Mike Pence, who believes in Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark, was put in charge of combating the new virus.

Next, anti-Muslim riots led by Hindu fanatics in India left large numbers of mostly Muslims dead or injured. A not very well briefed Trump had just lauded India for its harmonious communal relations. The riots were sparked by a virulent anti-Muslim immigration bill enacted by hard-line Hindu Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has caused distress across the nation.

But all was not lost. Trump signed a deal to sell $3 billion of US arms to India and got a visit to the Taj Mahal. He will very likely want a copy built in Washington. The parade-loving president also viewed a fine display in Delhi of Indian martial prowess.

The latest US military helicopters will be sold on credit to India. They could be particularly useful in the high mountain regions along India’s tense northern borders with Pakistan and China.

US President Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are both flaming populist leaders who play to two popular passions: hatred of Muslims and fear of China. Muslims make up roughly 14% of India’s billion-plus population, or some 172 million people.

Trump and American hawks dream of unleashing India against China. India and China have a long, disputed, ill-demarcated border across the high Himalayas and Karakoram mountains that divide them. They are rivals over Tibet, Ladakh and Burma, and Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars over Kashmir. But Indians are clever and cautious and will not allow the US to push them into a big war against China.

For more on this topic, my geopolitical analysis of the region, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ is available through Amazon and used by general staffs, intelligence agencies, and universities.

As I’ve long warned, this little-known but highly strategic Himalayan region, the source of India’s and Pakistan’s major rivers, could well spark nuclear war between them – possibly joined by China. Many Americans could not even find Kashmir on a map and care nothing about a war there that could ignite a nuclear conflict and contaminate the entire globe.

But none of this matters at election time. Trump wants to show he is beloved by the outside world.

He has now forged a very close alliance with the Muslim-hating PM Modi, who is the front man for India’s powerful Hindu fundamentalist organization, the RSS, which was modeled in the 1920’s after Mussolini’s Fascists. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is denounced as a ‘Jewish fascist’ by many on Israel’s left, has joined Trump and Modi in a de facto anti-Muslim rightist alliance.

At the same time, India has drawn very close to Israel, its principal supplier of arms and nuclear technology. Israel has opened doors for India across Washington. Interestingly, in a quid pro quo almost totally ignored by US media, the Trump White House has allowed massive Indian immigration to the US. There are now an estimated four million Indian immigrants in the US. Most are Hindus. They are designed to offset Muslim immigration and sway US politics in Trump’s favor.

There is nothing new in his immigration game. The Democrats encouraged large numbers of Latino and Irish immigrants who reliably voted for them. Many of the Indian immigrants are educated and fairly well-off. They cluster in IT, banking and journalism, bringing much value to both fields.

Instead of heightening tensions between India, Pakistan and China, the US should be helping calm India’s ethnic riots and promoting a fair settlement over the Kashmir dispute that has dragged on since 1947. Photo ops of the Taj Mahal are not going to help.

 
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Good work, Democrats! In the Las Vegas debate, you blasted every target but Donald Trump. Instead of quivering in his Gucci loafers, the man who would be king was left dancing on air.

The man who should have been king, newcomer Mike Bloomberg, was left looking like a beaten-up cigar store Indian. He had not prepped for the debate and failed to dodge the obvious incoming missile attacks on him launched by a hissing Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

Many veteran Republicans fear that TV promoter Trump will steamroll Warren, Buttigieg, Biden and Amy Klobuchar. They may be right. Trump had to be delighted by the no-prisoners Democratic debate that bloodied his opponents before he could even get to them. Bloomberg was totally unprepared for the savage attacks launched against him. He looked like a neophyte suffering from camera fright.

I got a good read on Bloomberg when I had an intimate dinner with him some years ago. Rather than the stiff, unsmiling man we saw on TV in Las Vegas, in real life Bloomberg is clearly brilliant yet understated, charming, and endowed with a sharp sense of humor and quick wit.

Bernie Sanders, who has three homes, blasted Bloomberg for being ‘rich.’ This is a big sin to the Democrats who, like Hillary Clinton, pocketed millions in political support from big banks, unions and businesses under the cover of night or via bogus speaking fees and her fake foundation – a scam emulated by Trump.

The deeply corrupt Democratic National Committee, controlled by Hillary Clinton, rigged the vote that blocked Bernie Sanders during the last election. When news of this scandal emerged, Hillary kicked off the anti-Russian hysteria to divert attention from her chicanery.

Yes, Bloomberg may be the 9th or 10th richest man in the world. But his net worth comes from ownership of one of our most successful and reliable financial news organizations that he built up from nothing, and that employs important numbers of men and women. The use of Bloomberg terminals saves forests of trees.

Ignore Elizabeth Warren’s cheap shots about women being called names like ‘horse-faced lesbians’ or ‘fat’ at his firm. Many men speak this way to one-another in casual talk. Women often do the same regarding men. The answer to this is to totally segregate the sexes, as in Saudi Arabia. Trying to whip up a war of the sexes is not going to make angry Elizabeth Warren president. She should stick to her commendable work with banking and voting rights.

It’s pretty clear after the shootout in Vegas that Joe Biden has used up his last chance. Black voters and unions won’t save him. He looked old and very tired. But not as tired or off the mark as Mike Bloomberg. By contrast Bernie looked old, to be sure, but was full of beans.

As a foreign affairs specialist, what really dismayed me was that there was only one significant mention of international policy. That’s when the abrasive, loud-mouthed Sen. Amy Klobuchar could not remember the name of the president of Mexico. For God’s sake, she on a senate committee that deals with Mexico.

While our presidential debate focuses on overweight women and health care, the US and Russia have come terrifyingly close to open war in the Mideast.

But barely any mention of this in the debates. Trump and his big money men from New York and Las Vegas are trying to push Iran into an air war. The US is seeking to overthrow the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and Iran. Clashes between China and the US are a major danger. Former defense chief Sam Nunn warns the US and Russia are closer to a nuclear conflict than any time since the 1960’s Cuban missile crisis. No matter.

Americans want entertainers for their made-for-TV politicians. Poor, dignified Mr. Bloomberg didn’t know he would face professional actors, not legislators.

 
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The US Senate, long the lap dog of the man who would be king, President Donald Trump, appears to have finally remembered its proper constitutional role.

Last week, the Senate voted 55/45 for a new bipartisan War Powers Act to constrain military action against Iran. The Congress voted a similar act. Both are designed to start returning the right to make war to Congress, as the Constitution clearly intended. The president is not the Warlord-in-chief in spite of what he thinks.

The Senate has been supine until now, intimidated by an unholy alliance of pro-war Christian evangelists and the Israel lobby, and over $100 million given to the Republican Party by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Senators who dare oppose this powerful special interest risk their political futures. The lifting of limits on political contributions has given Adelson enormous power over Trump and his friend, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump has been very successful in intimidating and punishing those who deviate from his party line. All he lacks so far is a KGB-style secret police to enforce his demands. The current fracas over Trump’s efforts to undermine the prosecution of his ally, political low-life Roger Stone, is yet the latest example of the steady erosion of our democratic system.

Yet even Trump went too far with the murder of senior Iranian officer, Maj. Gen Qasem Soleimani, who had been invited to visit Iraq for peace talks by its US-installed regime. Americans, besotted by too many violent TV programs, saw this as a plus, but the rest of the world was horrified by the gangster act. It appears Trump & Co. were convinced to commit this murder by Israel, which had been stalking Soleimani for years.

Ironically, the US killed the most moderate senior Iranian leader who was in line to become the Islamic Republic’s leader. Israel has long had the policy of assassinating Palestinian moderates, leaving only the radicals alive. This allowed Israel to assert ‘we have no one to negotiate with.’

Soleimani’s murder was too much for eight Republican senators. This act of war was never approved by Congress, as the Constitution mandates. Better educated senators realized that Trump was pushing the US into a bloody war with Iran which, like the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, would have only one real winner, Israel.

These senators did the right thing. They arrested, at least temporarily, the decades-long shift to growing presidential dictatorship under the guise of war powers.

Think back to the 2003 Iraq War which was concocted by the Bush administration to justify a massive military intervention when, in fact, no real threat to the US existed. I know this because I was there and immune to all the official lies from Washington and London. A pack of lies, but the US still occupies Iraq.

The ‘imminent threat’ scenario used by Republicans to promote warlike acts, such as the murder of Maj. Gen. Soleimani, is bogus. Anyone can justify war by claiming ‘intelligence sources’ and internet chatter. Much of the intelligence the US gets from the Mideast is fake or twisted to promote other nation’s benefit. Washington was fed a farrago of intelligence lies and half-truths by its allies Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel to help promote the 2003 war against Iraq. Trump has used similar phony ‘intelligence’ to justify his Mideast militarism.

The founders of our United States intended Congress to be the premier arm of government. But our once powerful Congress has been bleeding power and authority – not to mention respect – since the Vietnam era. Serving in Congress was supposed to be a part-time job for educated landowners, not small-town lawyers from the rural Bible Belt.

But will this attempt by the Senate to restore some of its power and prestige work? Trump will almost certainly veto this war powers act and further intimidate Congress. Yet unless Congress makes a stand, our balanced system of government is truly at risk. Americans should at minimum draw the lesson never to vote power to a president and Congress of the same party.

 
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.


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