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 TeasersEric Margolis Blogview

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Forty-seven years ago, Egypt and Syria launched a massive surprise attack on Israeli forces dug into fortifications along the Suez Canal and Golan Heights. The ‘limited’ Arab objective was to recapture both strategic areas that had been seized from the two Arab states in Israel’s victorious 1967 War.

Re-armed with modern – but by no means top drawer – Soviet weapons, Egypt and Syria sought to drive the Israelis back, then wait for the great powers to impose a truce. It was a badly flawed strategy, which assured the heavily armed Israelis would control the military initiative with their superiority in air power and armor.

At first, the Arab surprise attack caught Israel flat-footed. Israeli reserve armored forces were still in storage when Egyptian and Syrian armor and infantry stormed across the 1967 cease-fire lines.

Warnings of the impending assault from the most important Israeli spy, Ashraf Marwan – amazingly the son-in law of the late Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser – were ignored or shrugged off in Israel which was still filled with hubris over its lopsided, US-assisted victory in the 1967 War.

This was the first big mystery of the 1973 War. Was Marwan really a Mossad spy or a double agent, as Egypt later claimed, disinforming Israel on the time of the Arab offensive? Marwan later fell to his death – or was pushed – from a London apartment.

Syria’s armor drove into the Golan Heights from their starting positions on the plains east of Golan and the Mount Hermon massif.

The opening Arab assault was a remarkable success. I walked much of the Suez Canal soon after the war and was awed that Egypt’s military engineers had managed to get so many tanks and men across the wide canal under enemy fire.

Equally amazing was Egyptian infantry using highly effective new Soviet Sagger anti-tank missiles and air defense units employing SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles to blunt Israeli counter attacks. Hundreds of Israeli US-supplied M40 and M60 tanks and 20% of Israel’s formidable air force were destroyed.

Most of Israel’s 15 Bar Lev forts built to defend the Suez Canal were stormed. As a connoisseur of modern fortification, I was fascinated to explore the fallen Israeli forts. Syria inflicted heavy casualties on Israeli armor defending the Golan Heights and on its forts.

The second big mystery of the war concerns the savage fight for Golan. Syrian armor and mechanized divisions had managed to claw their way to the top of the Golan Heights, from where they looked down on Galilee and most of northern Israel. We don’t know whether Syria intended to drive into Galilee, formerly a heavily Arab area, or try to defend the Golan ridgeline. But orders went out from Syrian HQ to halt the Syrian offensive when the downhill road to Galilee and Jordan River bridges were wide open. Why did the Syrians halt their advance when victory was in their grasp?

The answer remains a mystery. But the best assumption is that Soviet spy satellites saw Israel move 13 Jericho missiles out of caves at two airbases and affix their 20-kiloton nuclear warheads. Moscow immediately warned Washington and its Arab allies, both of whom feared an imminent Israeli nuclear strike against targets that included Damascus and Cairo.

So, both Egypt and Syria halted their advances. Israeli forces, bolstered by the arrival of powerful reserve armored divisions, seized the initiative and went on to achieve a brilliant victory that included crossing the Canal and encircling Egypt’s III Corps. The fighting ended after Israel failed to seize Suez and towns on the way to Damascus. Threats of Soviet intervention and America’s resupply of almost all of Israel’s lost weapons brought the 1973 War to a close.

Egypt regained Sinai – Syria and the Palestinians got nothing. The US sank ever deeper into the turbulent affairs of the Arab world. After a bad scare, Israel triumphed as the Mideast’s premier military power.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Arabs, Israel, Israel/Palestine 
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‘Hubris’ is an ancient Greek term for pride and ego supplanting common sense. Covid-19 denier Donald J. Trump is a classic example.

He and wife Melania are now isolated, suffering from what are described as ‘mild symptoms’ of the Covid-19 virus. At 73 years old and 60 lbs. overweight, Trump’s Covid symptoms may be serious rather than minor. What’s more, the Covid virus often scars the body, causing long-term damage to the lungs, heart, eyes and brain.

‘Hubris’ means scorning the dangers of Covid and trying to blame it all on China, refusing to wear a mask or sanitize hands, and encouraging one’s not so bright followers to congregate and ignore the deadly virus. No need to create a panic that would dampen the pumped-up stock market, a key Trump main claim to success.

Now, one wonders what Trump’s religious followers will say about this turn of events. In certain rural circles, Trump is venerated as a demi-saint or the reincarnation of Biblical Queen Esther of Israel, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an ardent fundamentalist and aspirant to future Republican Party leadership.

One big reason that Trump kept telling his devotees not to wear protective masks was that Jesus would protect them from the plague. ‘Real men and women don’t need to wear masks. That’s for lefty Democrat sissies.’

Trump assured his minions there was no danger in congregating. Nor in not wearing masks and drinking beer with the boys. Doing so became a badge of Republican machismo. Similar beliefs were held in Congo where I saw stone-age Simba warriors bedecked with ju-ju amulets that allegedly protected the wearers from the white-man’s bullets. They did not.

The realization that other Republican Party bigwigs became infected with Covid at a White House garden party is either comical or just plain dumb. Trump apparently knew he was getting ill yet still circuited among his garden party guests.

Who else one wonders will be the next to come down with the virus that Trump calls ‘the China flu.’ One might better call it the Make America Great again flu. Such hubris, recklessness and irresponsibility are staggering.

Watching Trump ‘debate’ Joe Biden last week made me deeply worried about his health, both physical and mental. He was behaving like what the French call an `enrage´.

But showman Trump just managed the feat of making the growing scandal over this tiny federal tax payments and his untruths about his net worth simply vanish. All eyes are fixed on Walter Reed Hospital – where I was sent while in the Army- and will be on his triumphant home coming scheduled shortly.

Trump is now blustering that Covid, which has killed over 210,000 Americans alone – is inconsequential and not to be feared. His drive-by appearance in front of the hospital was designed to lift the spirits of his followers. Among them, an unmasked jamboree of his evangelical followers just outside the White House and Walter Reed Hospital as more of Trump’s staff come down with the virus.

I’ve taken some of the drugs that Trump is being given while covering bush wars in Africa. The steroids alone make you irrational and paranoid. The man with his finger on the nuclear button is now full of them.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, Coronavirus, Donald Trump 
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The Trump administration, desperate for some good news, just manufactured its own news by confecting a ‘peace’ deal between Israel and a bunch of pipsqueak Arab monarchies – just in time for November US elections.

The Gulf monarchies – the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – that signed this agreement are so frightened of neighboring Iran that they would happily have opted for Israeli rule rather than welcome the angry, unforgiving Iranians, who call the Gulf Arabs ‘traitors, cowards and backstabbers,’ a sentiment shared by much of the Arab world.

Few Americans could find these little sheikdoms on a map. But many evangelical voters, who have a comic-book view of the Mideast, will think the Trump administration has achieved a major feat by supposedly bringing peace to the Holy Land. Cynics, among them many Israelis, will likely scoff at such falafel in the sky thinking. Oman is expected to sign the new accord.

Israel remains intent on expanding its borders to gobble up all of what was historic Palestine and its water resources. Five million Palestinians will remain stateless. Israel also has its eye on fertile parts of Syria and Lebanon.

As I suggested in my book on Mideast strategy, ‘American Raj,’ the key beneficiaries of any Arab-Israeli peace deal would be Israel’s bankers, businessmen and arms makers. If a decent peace deal can be made with the Palestinians, the doors of the entire Muslim world (a fifth of humanity) will be opened to Israel’s commerce and finance. This will be a huge bonanza worth orders of magnitude more than the West Bank’s scrubby slopes.

But to do so, Israel’s hard right and religious extremists will have to lessen their demands for Arab land and water – that is, what they term, Greater Israel. Just as difficult and obdurate will be Trump’s evangelical core voters who want to see a mythical Biblical Israel recreated, paving the way for the return of the Messiah and earth’s fiery destruction.

The United Arab Emirates, population just under 10 million, is only 10% Arab. The rest of its people are mainly Indians and Pakistani coolies, giving rise to the old bon mot that Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the world’s best Indian-run cities.

Non-Arab members of the UAE are treated like slaves. They are paid a pittance, poorly fed, and live in squalor. Non-Arabs have no rights. Arab citizens don’t have any rights either, just a better standard of living.

I remember these tiny city states from the early 1970’s when I worked for a leading US firm that smuggled high-end cosmetics and perfumes into India, Pakistan and the USSR via Dubai’s busy port.

Back in the day, Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6, controlled Oman and its royal rulers. Similarly, the CIA today exercises great influence over Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, not to mention Egypt and Morocco. Tiny Qatar maintains a degree of independence in the face of Saudi threats and efforts by the Trump people to crush it.

The big Mideast deal ballyhooed by Trump and Co. is in reality a phony peace between secretly allied Gulf States and Israel. They have been playing footsie for over a decade. It is not primarily about peace but about Iran and arms sales to the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia that they have no idea how to use. Weapons sales are a protection payoff to Washington, which has important bases in Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

What next? Will Trump declare a trans-Pacific alliance between Tonga and the US to ‘contain’ China?

As for peace in the Mideast, recall the biting words of Roman historian Tacitus, ‘where they make a desert they call it peace.’ That is what awaits over five million Palestinian refugees, not a new dawn promised by the Trump administration.

 
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resident Donald Trump is not always in control of his runaway tongue or his impetuous nature. So it’s entirely possible he could have dismissed fallen American soldiers as ‘losers,’ as the media and political opponents now claim.

But I strongly doubt that Trump knew anything about the bloody 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood at which the US Marine Corps distinguished itself and helped blunt the final German offensive against Paris. Trump was supposed to have paid tribute to fallen American marines there but declined, we are told, because of rain.

Trump likes to add military props and lots of flags to his orations and speak of ‘his generals,’ but, beyond that, military affairs are of no evident interest to our tough-talking president who likes to style himself a ‘war president.’

In fact, I am always outraged when I see Trump saluting his aircrews and grandstanding before the stars and stripes. Our commander-in-chief Trump reportedly dodged the Vietnam era draft six times, at least once because of a little bone spur in one of his dainty feet that were more used to the floors of New York discos than far-flung battlefields.

While Trump was evading military duty, far better men were dying or being wounded in combat in Vietnam – nearly 60,000.

I enlisted in the wartime US Army to go fight in Vietnam. I didn’t have to. I had been accepted to do advanced degrees at Britain’s Oxford University and London’s War College. Instead, I chose to sign my life away to the Army.

During the rigors of basic training, I broke a small bone in my left foot, described by medics as a ‘march injury’ from too much stress on the foot. It was very painful and forced me to hobble and limp while drill sergeants roared abuse at me. Somehow, I graduated from basic and advanced infantry training and still managed dawn bayonet practice against straw-stuffed dummies while yelling, ‘Kill the Kong! Kill the Kong!’

As a student of Roman history I strongly believed it was each male citizen’s duty to perform military service. The Roman Republic fell to ruin once its citizens shirked army service and resorted to hiring armies of unruly mercenaries, paving the way for dictators and generals.

My thinking about the need for military service has not changed since then, even though the Vietnam War was revealed to be a gigantic, bloody disaster and quite unnecessary.

All presidents should be military veterans. The idea of two draft dodgers, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, serving as commanders-in-chief is appalling and an insult to the memory of those who served the nation.

The idea of the increasingly deranged Trump with his sweaty finger on the nuclear button is terrifying. No one person should have the power to unleash a nuclear war that could destroy the globe.

One might agree with Trump that those American soldiers who died in France during World War I were ‘suckers.’ They were thrown into an imperialist bloodbath in which America had no interest or business.

But, unlike Trump, those farm boys didn’t have rich fathers to buy them out of military service. Vietnam, Afghanistan and the Mideast conflicts were similarly phony wars, based on lies, propaganda and poor intelligence. Trump promised to end the wars in Afghanistan and the Mideast. He has not so far.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, American Military, Donald Trump 
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Last week, the world’s most populous nations, India and China, both nuclear armed, clashed in the high Himalayan region of Ladakh.

At least 20 Indian troops died and 12 were reportedly taken prisoner before a cease-fire went into effect. So far, there were no reports of Chinese casualties.

Ladakh is one of the world’s most remote, obscure and inhospitable places, a plateau averaging 4,200 meters altitude (about 14,000 feet) with frigid temperatures, scant oxygen, little rainfall, and howling winds. This bleak moonscape has long been called ‘Little Tibet’ because of its semi-nomadic ethnic Tibetan yak-herders. China has pretty much crushed the life out of Tibet’s ancient culture while India has helped preserve the Tibetan way of life.

China and India’s confrontation in airless Ladakh reminds me of the ‘bon mot’ about Ethiopia and Eritrea’s battle over the barren Ogaden desert region between them: ‘two bald men fighting over a comb.’

I’ve been over much of Ladakh by jeep, foot and even yak, and atop the world’s highest glacier, Siachen, that overlooks Ladakh. India and Pakistan have been fighting over Siachen for decades, making it the highest war in history and another crazy conflict. As a Pakistani officer told me, ‘we hate one another so much we will fight to prevent them from occupying our part of Hell.’

My book ‘War at the Top of the World’ (available through Amazon) is all about the conflict in the Himalayas and Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China.

So why are China and India at daggers drawn over the Galwan River Valley in Ladakh? Both are busy dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. Delhi and Beijing have conducted off and on diplomacy to ease Himalayan border tensions.

The clash in Ladakh was no accident but clearly a planned offensive act by China – and the biggest military operation since the two Asian giants went to war in the Himalayas in 1962, producing a serious defeat for India. China then said the war was a ‘serious message’ to India to restrain its ambitions in the region.

This time, it appears that the Chinese sent another ‘message’ to India. Part of this problem was due to the British Empire which never properly demarcated its Himalayan borders between the British Indian Raj and then independent Tibet. Some borders were never surveyed; others drawn with thick pens, leaving whole regions with unclear borders. But in those days no one cared about the vast emptiness at 14-17,000 feet. That is, until China moved in an occupied Tibet in 1950-1951, putting it on India’s northern border.

Since then, India and China have been uneasy rivals with both sides laying claims to parts of the Himalayas, Karakorams and the great rivers that course down from the Tibetan Plateau, providing water for much of Southeast Asia’s peoples.

Two recent issues have sparked the latest round of fighting – with threats of a much bigger war between Asia’s two giants. First, India’s new Hindu nationalist government under PM Narendra Modi has made no secret of its growing hostility to both China and its close ally, Pakistan, India’s longtime rival.

Modi’s revoking of Kashmir’s autonomous status and its division into two states has created major new tensions in the region. So have Modi’s plans to fashion a purely Hindu state in India, and China’s growing influence over Burma.

But a more important source of China’s anger has been growing efforts of the Trump administration to build a close military alliance with India to counter-balance China’s increasing military power.

Though seeming counter-intuitive to Trumps’ efforts to secure re-election by getting Beijing to buy more produce from American farmers, the Pentagon is preparing for a future war with China. Trump came close to facing a military coup in recent weeks and is trying to avoid angering the Pentagon and Washington’s active and retired military establishment.

Meanwhile, the fiercely anti-Muslim White House has quietly allowed four million Hindu Indians to emigrate to the United States as a way of countering the growing number of Muslims in our nation. Trump even offered to mediate the intractable Kashmir dispute, a proposal scorned by all sides.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, China, India, Kashmir 
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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.

 
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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