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The Big Snub in Paris
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Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin were ships passing in the night while in Paris for the G-7 meeting. The American president reportedly refused to dine with Putin, who was being hosted by France’s president Francois Hollande as part of the D-Day commemoration.

So Hollande, who is on a diet after being called a “little fat man” by former president Nicholas Sarkozy, was forced to host two back-to-back dinners, the first for Obama and the second, delicately described in French as a “souper,” or smaller supper, for Vlad Putin, who is not anyway a big eater or drinker.

How remarkably childish and silly all this was. Obama and America’s European allies are cold-shouldering Putin for re-absorbing Crimea into Russia, to which it had belonged for 300 years, and for stirring the pot in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, US military forces are in action or based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Djibouti, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Central African Republic, Colombia, Kenya, Europe, South Korea, Japan – in fact, around the globe.

In Paris, the leading European NATO members met separately with President Putin while Washington continued its big snub. The EU’s economy is too involved with Russia to indulge in political theatrics.

Canada, run by a far-right evangelical government, played to its large ethnic Ukrainian population by huffing and puffing at Russia. Ukraine must be free, thundered Ottawa – while at the same time playing to Canada’s Jewish urban vote by scolding Palestinians they had no right to their own independent state.

What makes this schoolyard tiff in Paris even more churlish, D-Day, hailed by westerners as the decisive battle that defeated National Socialist Germany, would never have succeeded were it not for Stalin’s Soviet Red Army.

Some 75% of the once mighty German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe were destroyed by the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front: 607 German and Axis divisions, 48,000 German tanks, 77,000 German warplanes.

The shattered German forces met by the Americans, British and Canadians at Normandy were reduced to 40% of effective strength. They were immobilized by lack of fuel and had no air cover to protect them from 24-hour Allied carpet bombing and strafing. It was amazing the battered Germans could fight at all, or so hard. Had the Allied landing met the Germans of 1940, they would have been pushed into the Channel.

So big thanks are still owed to the Russians/Soviets who, however brutal and murderous, really won the war in Europe and went on to destroyed 450,000 Japanese troops. At least 12 million Soviet soldiers died so sparing the lives of Allies soldiers.

Intelligent grownups talk to their rivals and enemies. For example, if the US and Britain had agreed to talk peace terms with the German generals in 1944, or at least backed their coup again Hitler, the war might well have ended a year earlier.

ORDER IT NOW

Which brings me to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the US Army prisoner of war in Afghanistan freed by Taliban. As a former US Regular Army soldier, I say President Obama did the right thing by exchanging Bergdahl for five senior-level Taliban prisoners of war held in the US Guantanamo gulag in violation of international law and the Geneva Convention.

President Obama is now the target of furious denunciations by pro-war Republicans and Democrats, few of whose children ever served in the military. “We’ll never negotiate with terrorists” went their mindless mantra.

They ludicrously claim the five released Taliban commanders released into Qatar’s custody are somehow a threat to the mighty United States.

What was really happening was that President Obama was finally winding down the foolish , 12-year Afghan War begun by President George W. Bush who needed a target for America’s anger after the humiliating 9/11 attacks that caught the White House sleeping on guard duty.

Afghanistan joins Iraq as America’s second lost war: 22,000 US dead and wounded, emotionally damaged soldiers, hundreds of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and \$1 trillion down the drain. Both wars were waged on money borrowed from China and Japan, leaving the US with a mammoth foreign debt.

Contrary to all the pro-war propaganda we have heard, Taliban was founded as an anti-Communist religious movement dedicated to ending mass rape of Afghan women, lawlessness, and runaway drug production. I know this because I was there. Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with “terrorism” It was funded by Pakistan’s intelligence agency and Interior Ministry.

Taliban offered to turn inconvenient guest Osama bin Laden to another Muslim nation for trial once the US presented a proper extradition request. Washington never did, preferring war. The men who attacked New York and Washington were mostly Saudis. The plot was hatched in Hamburg and Madrid. We still don’t know really how much bin Laden was involved.

We have developed the pernicious habit of branding anyone who tried to oppose our world domination as a “terrorist.” This has boxed us into a propaganda corner: by so demonizing our enemies we deny ourselves the ability to negotiate with them. The “we’ll never deal with terrorists” uproar among some of the lower IQ members of the US Congress and their media allies is a doleful example of such illogical behavior.

The truly guilty parties for the bloodbath and lost war in Afghanistan are former President George W. Bush, the Congress and media, all of whom rushed America into an unnecessary war in a part of the world unknown to US policy makers. Few predicted that the world’s greatest power would break its teeth on the mountains of Afghanistan.

In October, 2001, I wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the US would never win a war against the Afghan Pashtun warriors, and that the US should negotiate with Taliban. The wrong war against the wrong people, I warned, in a little country rightly known as the “Graveyard of Empires.”

(Republished from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Afghanistan, France, Putin 
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  1. Thank you for simply stating the plain truth.

  2. At last someone with the knowledge and the courage to tell the truth: Stalin won WWII, not FDR and not Churchill. No one is responsible for the Soviet takeover of half of Europe, no one except Hitler. As deplorable as Soviet hegemony was it was the result of victory in war. Nothing short of another war could have reversed it. The Cold War was the result, a war the West eventually won no thanks to its own efforts. Stalinism could win a great war but could not suvive the growing needs of the populations of central and eastern Europe and the USSR itself.

    While opposition to Unconditional Surrender is understandable, given the mistakes make in 1918 in allowing the Germans to pretend they had not been defeated, an attempt to end the war through negotiating with some German leaders, mildly or really hostile to Naziism, would have encouraged Stalin and the Germans again to turn the tables on the West as they did in 1939.

    FDR, Churchill, and Stalin did what they could get away with and accepted what they had no choice about. We cannot redo the past, much as our politicians would like to.

  3. conatus says:

    I agree, great column, even to the point of US not wanting to talk to the Germans in ’44, we wanted unconditional surrender only. How many more people died because of that?

    I think the vast expansiveness of our military expenditures is better understood on a world wide basis. We spend a lot, 36.6% of the total world spending on war or defense or policing or whatever you want to call it. The Chinese spend 10.8% and the Russians spend 5%.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

    I find it strange that our middle class now finds itself highly unemployed, because goods can be transported safely from China and other globalized manufacturing centers, via safe sea lanes, patrolled by our Navy, in a safely policed world, maintained by our Army, that this very same middle class is taxed to maintain, and thus keep themselves ungainfully unemployed.
    What’s with that?

    Somehow this does not seem to be in their interest.

  4. Don Nash says:

    Well said Mr. Margolis. It is moderately scary that there is not one rational adult in all of US government. The feckless freaks have access to nukes. Yup, that’s scary alright.

  5. KA says: • Website

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/11/01/how-bush-was-offered-bin-laden-and-blew-it/print
    Taliban offered Leden in 1999 and kept on trying to resolve his presence – related problem. Mohabat , a Texan resident , Afghanistan by birth liased between the two governments, was on the payroll of US, testified to 911 commission ( was told by 911 not to repeat what he divulged to them, ) ,was offered even the big role in post Taliban post 911 government ,was almost killed by Al Quida twice, and repeatedly delayed,frustrated ,denied,and eventually ignored by neocon run Bush government and eventually made to disappear from US media. He met US representatives with Taliban in Europe, Pakistan before and after 911. He travelled to Kabul to coordinate between Taloban and US gov.
    It was lost opportunity but his succeess knowingly was not desired by some core neocon group within ambush administration.

  6. I say it’s all nabuki theater. Obama pretends to dislike his best bud Vlad, when we all know they wear the same brand of red underbriefs.

    On the other hand, who would expect otherwise than a petulant poutfest by Barry who studied the method school of acting and follows the script he’s handed by his neocon puppetmasters. Of course you bow to kings and potentates but stick your tongue at those who actually have nukes.

  7. clouds says:

    @Joe

    US war spending is actually said to be 41 % of world total as of 2013, or more than next 13 countries combined..

    (ref. American journal of public health)
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/90-deaths-war-civilians.html

    And it is considered the biggest threat to world peace..for some reason.

    “Gallup International’s poll of 68 countries for 2014 found the US as the greatest threat to peace in the world, voted three times more dangerous to world peace than the next country.”

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Like the new 9/11 museum, Margolis is tasked with affirming the official 9/11 narrative that “President George W. Bush who needed a target for America’s anger after the humiliating 9/11 attacks that caught the White House sleeping on guard duty”.

    “Racketeering” and RICO statutes must be brought to bear against those who perpetrated 9/11 IN THE WHITE HOUSE and those, like Margolis who cover it up.

  9. colm says:

    Norman sounds like ike’s aide. Wwii would have ended by dec 44 if ike did not stop the usarmy more than once.

  10. Rich says:

    If Canada is run by a “far right evangelical government” than I guess the US is run by a far left atheistic government. Ridiculous statement.

  11. Rod1963 says:

    The U.S. policy makers view towards Russia hasn’t changed since the Cold War, Russia is the enemy. Why else would we after the collapse of the Soviets decide to turn the former Soviet satellites into NATO members and put missile bases in those countries?

    We poured over a billion into re-arming the tiny Georgian state, installed a tie eating puppet who then went to war against Russia assets in the region and was promptly defeated.

    We almost started a new regional if not a world war over Russia’s ally Syria because we just wanted to wreck another country for fun.

    Then we repeatedly interfered with Ukrainian politics ever since it became a sovereign state. Now we have a puppet regime in place and the IMF running the economy and now we are planning on sending in military advisers and eventually putting in military bases.

    That isn’t the behavior of a friend but a mortal enemy.

  12. fnn says:

    Canada, run by a far-right evangelical government

    I guess that means the govt is pandering to the organized Ukrainian and Jewish communities on
    foreign policy issues. I doubt if abortion rights or LGBTQ rights or Muslim rights are in any danger in Canada.

  13. @Norman R —
    “At last someone with the knowledge and the courage to tell the truth: Stalin won WWII, not FDR and not Churchill. No one is responsible for the Soviet takeover of half of Europe, no one except Hitler. ”


    Whatever would the West do without the conveniently suicided Hitler to punch around.

    While we’re lauding truth-tellers, let’s get to the truth of who wanted and needed war against Germany. Herbert Hoover provides some clues in “Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and its Aftermath.” After meeting w/ Hitler & Goering in 1938, Hoover, Chamberlain, and a host of European diplomats agreed: Hitler did not have intentions against Western Europe.

    Pat Buchanan provides more clues: England’s support for Poland was toothless & feckless and had the result of intensifying Polish intransigence against the Germany’s repeated attempts to negotiate the Danzig conflict.

    Toss in the Jewish boycott of Germany (see Adam Tooze, “The Wages of Destruction”) which tossed one more bucket of water on the weak German economy; give serious credence to A J P Taylor’s argument that the war was a battle for dominance between the British empire and Germany; take note of Paul Craig Robert’s recent op-ed that no US interest was at stake in World War II in Europe — Germany was no threat to USA; factor in that FDR was desperate to jump-start the US economy, and WWII mobilized the hitherto under-employed US populace like never before, and spent \$4 trillion to “win” a war that devastated England’s chief rival, the industrial challenger Germany.

    Do the tally.
    FDR needed war.
    Churchill needed to protect and expand the British empire.
    Hitler did not want war.

    Who got destroyed; who rolled out the more effective propaganda campaign and who was its target (hint: is there a German Hollywood?); who emerged from WWII with unprecedented wealth and power?

    Dr. Kendrick wants 9/11 traced to the White House, and I agree, but the USA is still not telling itself the truth about its involvement in wars in Europe 1917-1945 + .

    • Replies: @JohnHaskins
  14. Kiza says:

    Finally a decent text by Margolis, is he back from regime PR writer to journalism? Margolis here exploits the basic power of contrast to show that a pot burnt to char (US) is calling a little singed pan (Russia) black.

    I would not accept that Margolis was one of the few who expected the US to be defeated in Afghanistan, but he was probably quite clear on this. To win against the most skillful guerilla fighters in the world when you could not defeat even small and powerless nations was a pipe dream in the first place. Advice to US: declare victory and bail the hell out of Afghanistan.

  15. Norman Ravitch

    “No one is responsible for the Soviet takeover of half of Europe, no one except Hitler.”

    The Soviet takeover of half of Europe started when the USSR was an ally of Hitler. The 1939 invasion of Poland was a JOINT Nazi-Soviet invasion. At the war’s end, the USSR got to keep all the territory it annexed from Poland under Nazi-Soviet pact. Poland had to be compensated with German territory. This involved ethnically cleansing over 12 million people from their homes.

    During the Battle of Britain, the German pilots bombing London had Soviet food in their bellies and Soviet fuel in their engines.

    “As deplorable as Soviet hegemony was it was the result of victory in war.”

    It was made possible by victory. Victory was a necessary but not sufficient condition for it. It happened because Soviet leaders took the decision to impose their writ upon those countries in the manner they did. It is fair, right and reasonable to criticise the Soviet leaders for their post 1945 behaviour in those countries, for the murders, executions and show trials they directly, personally ordered.

    In 1814, after the Russian victory against Napoleon, Tsar Alexander marched his troops through the streets of Paris. But he didn’t annex territory or push Russia’s sphere of influence westwards. Soviet domination of eastern Europe at the war’s end was a policy choice Soviet leaders made.

    “The Cold War was the result, a war the West eventually won no thanks to its own efforts.”

    1) The USSR was demoralised by defeat in Afghanistan. The USA did a lot to enable that defeat.
    2) The USSR went bankrupt trying to keep up with US military programs like Star Wars. Trying to keep up also squeezed production of consumer goods for the domestic population.
    3) The USA and Saudi Arabia agreed to flood the world with cheap oil, to make sure the USSR’s most valuable export was worth as little as possible.

    These are not the only reasons why the USSR collapsed, but they are definitely significant.

  16. eah says:

    No idea why Putin bothered to show up.

  17. Eric knows Canada well, having been a featured columnist for the Toronto Sun going back into the eighties. Canada’s current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is indeed a right-wing evangelical, and moreover the once-heir to corporatist Colin Brown’s astr-turf “National Citizens’ Coalition,” which was no more than a corporatist front for elite Bay Street interests.

  18. JJJJ says:

    “Canada, run by a far-right evangelical government”

    No, it is not. Harper is a standard neo-liberal, with some neo-con foreign policy thrown in. As a (wannabe) card carrying member of the far-right, I feel it necessary to make this distinction.

    Margolis’s articles are generally excellent. Like all liberal internationalists, he always frames slightly conservative political actors as “far right”.

    This loose use of political labels is especially frustrating w/r/t Russia and the West. Generally, in the West, the actual far right is quite sympathetic to Putin and hostile to Yankee actions in Ukraine.

  19. JohnHaskins says: • Website
    @SolontoCroesus

    P. Gottfried writes:

    (Jaffa) made good on a claim…divulged to boyhood friend…Francis Canavan… Jaffa told the…eminent theologian and Burke-scholar in a moment of candor: “Frank, I’m INVENTING A MYTH and I’LL MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE IT.” I learned of this story while Father Canavan and I were attending a Burke conference… The Jesuit scholar mentioned it not to disparage Jaffa but to express admiration for someone who achieved what he said he would do when they were both much younger.

    Whatever J. Campbell says about differences between “myths” and lies, I too am underwhelmed by theologian and Burke scholar Canavan’s apparent “condescending amusement” toward former matey Jaffa’s lifelong mission to bring a “strong delusion” to whatever number of the teeming larvae living off the carcass of the “West” would interrupt their mastication for a drink.

    More usefully, C. S. Lewis and his friend Tolkien helped parched modern imaginations see the unity of literal truth and true myths — myths which are symbolically true, the power of which is that of the Parable.

    Canavan, as a Burke scholar, might have encountered an obscure quote: “The only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” He might have read also the conviction of Dante that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for… those who do nothing…much. As a theologian, Canavan could have bumped into a (throwaway?) line by Jesus: “I would that you were hot or cold, for the lukewarm I will vomit from my mouth.”

    One can be entirely sure that the last hundred years of molestations and cover-ups were enabled by the “lukewarm” — “good men” who did nothing, but utter an occasional expression of “condescending amusement,” then back to reading Burke, Dante, Moses, St. Paul, Christ…

    My mention of “delusion” above, refers to multiple Old and New Testament passages warning that Divine accommodation is reluctantly made for such as take pleasure in falsehood. What kind of Burke scholar, priest and theologian could fail to go well beyond casual “condescending amusement” of Jaffa’s life-long mission to concoct a false myth and to be “a lying spirit in their ears”…?

    And here I get to my main point. Only in the extreme moral vacuum of what was not long ago the non-leftist majority could such perverse schemes as that of Jaffa, or Marx, or sodomy Stalinism, or gyno-Nazism, succeed. The vacuum has been the absence, across the political and religious sprectra, of anything like “virtue,” in the original sense. “virtus” being specifically masculine moral strength and valor, as “vir” in Latin is “man” but distinct from mere “homo” in that a slave is “homo,” but is not expected to have virtue.

    As vile as the left is, I find nothing very manly whatsoever in any strain of “conservatism,” and neither the racialist, nor the Jaffa-iste, nor any other formula can conceal the lack of manly “virtus” by recourse to pointing over at threats elsewhere.

    I doubt that any of us have observed any remotely useful role models in this regard, though it’s almost impossible for us to acknowledge that. The “men of ideas” in ivory towers and the men of “faith” have failed us grievously. However they might persevere in stoically re-articulating Jaffa, Jefferson, Locke, Burke, Moses, Paul or Christ, they lack valor, virtus. Cleric and Scribe alike are impotent and everyone knows it.

    We are left to pretend to one another that “if only” we were a more “conservative” society — either in the mold of leftist radicals like Locke, Paine, Jefferson and Jaffa who cynically mangled Christian concepts into the vocabulary of their false myth and “made people believe it,” OR alternately, “if only” we were far more racially homogenous population…

    The coming race war will not make a man, “vir,” of anyone. It will merely loose the animal instincts of the racialists and the Jaffa-istas alike. It takes rather more than a gun and an attitude to make a slave into a man, homo into vir.

    Muggeridge has been quoted as saying “We (slaves) don’t believe political lies because they are believable. We believe them because we want to. ”

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