');
The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



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

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
🔊 Listen RSS

Time was when flying to Hong Kong was a really big thrill – or maybe scare would be a better term. Its old airport, Kai Tak, was right in the middle of bustling downtown Hong Kong. Flying into Kai Tak used up 11 of one’s 12 lives.

The wide-bodied jumbo aircraft would drop down into a long fjord that was usually shrouded in fog or mist. The nervous passenger would see nothing but cloud. Suddenly, the aircraft would break out of the thick cloud cover right over the airport.

To the left and right were apartment buildings festooned with drying laundry at the same height as one’s plane. The big 747 airliner landed with a huge thud and screaming tires right in front of another bunch of apartment buildings.

Even for veteran air travelers like myself, this was a heart-stopping experience. Amazingly, I recall only one crash at Kai Tak, which we used to call ‘Suicide Airport.’ Still, it was like landing a jumbo-jet on New York’s Park Avenue. Not for the faint of heart.

In 1998, Kai Tak was closed and replaced by the modern, spacious Chek Lap Kok, better known as Hong Kong International. It quickly became one of Asia’s principal aviation hubs.

This week, Hong Kong airport was besieged and shut down by thousands of young local demonstrators protesting China’s attempt to impose a new extradition law on Hong Kong that would allow Beijing to arrest Hong Kong residents for ‘anti-state’ activities. The deal that Hong Kong’s former colonial Britain signed with China calls for ‘two-states, one nation,’ with considerable independence for the former island colony.

But anyone who thinks China’s iron-fisted rulers will allow a scrap of paper to limit their influence over Hong Kong is dead wrong. For them, Hong Kong is as much a part of China as Shanghai. So, too, is Taiwan.

The massive rioting in Hong Kong earlier this week set off alarm bells in Beijing, which runs an Orwellian police state on the mainland. China’s hardline leaders rightly fear that the fracas in Hong Kong could incite other uprisings across China. Everyone remembers the long, bloody Cultural Revolution of the 1970’s with its rampaging Red Guards.

Perhaps more important, Chinese leaders study their nation’s history and draw lessons from it, unlike America’s history-free politicians. For the Americans, history is what was on Fox TV the week before.

What Beijing really fears is another Taiping Rebellion. A nobody named Hong Xiuqan proclaimed himself the brother of Jesus and raised a vast peasant army to overthrow the ruling Manchu dynasty in Beijing. Brutal civil war raged from 1850-1864 in which up to 100 million are believed to have been killed or died of famine.

If this sounds completely crazy, think of all the Republican sycophants that call President Trump the reincarnation of the ancient Hebrew Queen Esther or a ‘Christian warrior.’ Bizarre behavior and beliefs are universal.

China has warned the rioting Hong Kong students to cease their protests or face intervention by Beijing’s tough paramilitary police, which backs up the regular People’s Army. Chinese armed police and soldiers are massing just across the border in Shenzhen, a mere taxi ride from downtown Hong Kong.

If the Hong Kong students are not wise, they risk winding up in China’s penal camps, the ‘laogai.’ Large numbers of Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang have been locked away in China’s western laogai.

The airport riots now appear over but continue in Hong Kong’s streets. If the People’s Police or Liberation Army do intervene in Hong Kong to impose China’s iron hand, they could spark another Tiananmen Square bloodbath. But once Beijing’s forces impose martial law on Hong Kong its days of autonomy will be over.

The type of repression China imposed on Tibet and Muslim regions could be repeated in Hong Kong. There is absolutely nothing any of the world’s powers can do about it. China will then turn its attention to ‘renegade province’ Taiwan. Western politicians can huff and puff all they like but they are powerless to change the tide of events in Hong Kong.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Hong Kong 
🔊 Listen RSS

Two of the world’s most important powers, India and Pakistan, are locked into an extremely dangerous confrontation over the bitterly disputed Himalayan mountain state of Kashmir. Both are nuclear armed.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since Imperial Britain divided India in 1947. India and Pakistan have fought numerous wars and conflicts over majority Muslim Kashmir. China controls a big chunk of northern Kashmir known as Aksai Chin.

In 1949, the UN mandated a referendum to determine if Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan or India. Not surprisingly, India refused to hold the vote. But there are some Kashmiris who want an independent state, though a majority seek to join Pakistan.

India claims that most of northern Pakistan is actually part of Kashmir, which it claims in full. India rules the largest part of Kashmir, formerly a princely state. Pakistan holds a smaller portion, known as Azad Kashmir. In my book on Kashmir, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ I called it ‘the globe’s most dangerous conflict.’ It remains so today.

I’ve been under fire twice on the Indo-Pak border in Kashmir, known as the ‘Line of Control,’ and once at 15,000 feet atop the Siachen Glacier on China’s border. India has over 500,000 soldiers and paramilitary police garrisoning its portion of Kashmir, whose 12 million people bitterly oppose often corrupt and brutal Indian rule – except for local minority Hindus and Sikhs who support it. A bloody, bitter uprising has flared on against Indian rule since 1989 in which some 42,000 people, mostly civilians, have died.

About 250,000 Pakistani troops are dug in on the other side of the ceasefire line.

What makes this confrontation so dangerous is that both sides have important tactical and nuclear forces arrayed against one another. These are mostly short/medium-ranged nuclear tipped missiles, and air-delivered nuclear bombs. Strategic nuclear weapons back up these tactical forces. A nuclear exchange, even a limited one, could kill millions, pollute much of Asia’s ground water, and spread radioactive dust around the globe – including to North America.

India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is a Hindu hardliner who is willing to confront Pakistan and India’s 200 million Muslims, who make up over 14% of the population. In February, Modi sent warplanes to attack Pakistan after Kashmir insurgents ambushed Indian forces. Pakistan shot down an Indian MiG-21 fighter. China, Pakistan’s closest ally, warned India to back off.

Modi is very close to President Donald Trump and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, both noted for anti-Muslim sentiments. Modi just revoked article 370 of India’s constitution that bars non-Kashmiris from buying land in the mountain state, and shut down its phone and internet systems.

The revocation means that non-Kashmiris can now buy land there. Modi is clearly copying Israel’s Netanyahu by encouraging non-Muslims to buy up land and squeeze the local Muslim population. Welcome to the Mideast conflict East. China is also doing similar ethnic inundation in its far western, largely Muslim, Xinjiang (Sinkiang) region.

In an ominous sign, Delhi says it will separate the high altitude Ladakh region (aka ‘Little Tibet’) from its portion of Kashmir. This move suggests India plans to chop up Indian Kashmir into two or three states, a move sure to further enrage Pakistan and thwart any future peace settlement.

There’s little Pakistan can do to block India’s actions.

India’s huge armed forces outnumber those of Pakistan by 4 or 5 to one. Without nuclear weapons, Pakistan would be quickly overrun by Indian forces. Only massive Chinese intervention would save Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Kashmir, the world’s longest-running major dispute, continues, threatening a terrible nuclear conflict. Making matters worse, both India and Pakistan’s nuclear forces are on a hair-trigger alert, with a warning time of only minutes. This is a region where electronics often become scrambled. A false alert or a flock of birds could trigger a massive nuclear war in South Asia.

India and Pakistan, where people starve in the streets, waste billions on military spending because of the Kashmir dispute. Now some of India’s extreme Hindu nationalists warn they want to reabsorb Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even Sri Lanka into Mother India.

Previous Indian leaders have been cautious. But not PM Modi. He is showing signs of power intoxication.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: India, Kashmir, Pakistan 
🔊 Listen RSS

I was very interested to see Senator Bernie Sanders take a group of American diabetics from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario to buy insulin. I used to own a pharmaceutical company in Windsor.

In Canada, the life-saving medication insulin, which was invented in Toronto by Drs. Banting and Best, costs a tenth of what it does in the USA.

Many Americans, who can’t afford the ever-rising costs of their must-have drugs, are flocking to Canada to buy them. Drug prices in Canada (and Europe) are strictly controlled by governments. Unfortunately, Canadian companies are allowed to pirate American and international medical patents and products. That’s a big reason why they are so inexpensive.

Consumers don’t give a hoot about the profits of big pharma or who pays the vast sums for research and development. They clamor for more, low-cost alternatives. The Democrats are making a major issue out of drug pricing, calling low-priced drugs a human right. But then why isn’t food also a human right?

Americans are angry at high drug prices, particularly oldsters who vote for President Trump. Frightened by this prospect, Trump just proclaimed he would henceforth allow Americans to import prescription drugs from Canada. Actually, this has been going on by mail order for a long time. But now we see the prospects of endless busloads of elderly Americans trekking up to Montreal, Toronto, Windsor and Vancouver to buy up Canadian supplies of drugs.

Canadian pharmacists are worried that their always thin supplies will be exhausted by the US, which has ten times more consumers than Canada. The potent US pharma industry is already fighting back, insinuating that the quality control of Canadian drugs is not reliable and that Canadian-made products could be dangerous.

Nonsense. In my firm, we would routinely sample US-made products, particularly nutritionals. Our QC reported that over 70% of the US-made products we tested failed our strict in-house quality control standards for label claims, content, potency, shelf-life and purity. Personally, I avoided many US-made products where a Canadian alternative was available. If I had to take a made-in-USA product, I would stick to those made by big pharma, avoiding ones from small firms and some store private label brands.

But there is worse news about USA-made products. Many of the raw materials used by US pharma originate from China or India. Both nations are known for poor quality control, adulteration, contamination and mislabeling in drugs and food. I sent our QC people to both India and China to evaluate raw materials. They came back with hair-raising stories of filthy conditions, poor records, and contamination. Machines were too often not cleaned between different product batches. Raw materials are sometimes stored outdoors and infested by insects or rats.

Indian and Chinese manufacturing practices are slowly improving. Yet at the same time, western suppliers of raw materials are relentlessly being driven out of business by ruthless price cutting by Asian suppliers. This is how, for example, China came to dominate the vitamin C market, undercutting reputable suppliers from Europe and the United States. US drug chains have cooperated in this process by always selecting the lowest-cost products to make higher margins.

For example, the important anti-diabetic drug, metformin, is now primarily sourced in India, no matter that it is labeled ‘made in USA.’ So we end up with USA prices but Indian quality control. India remains the world’s biggest adulterator of food products. Small wonder Indian and Chinese consumers prefer foreign made products. Back in the day, Greek consumers would not buy pharma products made in Greece for the same reason.

One major source of this problem is so-called ‘de-regulation.’ Getting rid of tiresome government regulation always sounds like a good idea. It’s a Republican mantra. I used to believe in it too. But de-regulation has led the US to make important cuts in pharma quality control, notably in raw materials. Companies are left to police themselves.

The result has been the steady decline of raw material quality and an explosion of exaggerated or just plain fake label claims. Health supplements are a notorious example of wide scale fraud. Canadian-made drugs and supplements are often better quality than products from the US, but they too often suffer from substandard ingredients and lack of policing.

The answer to this problem may be for the US to join the rest of the civilized world by imposing price controls on drugs. Doing so is distasteful and will hurt research and development. But there seems no better answer.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Deregulation, Prescription Drugs 
🔊 Listen RSS

Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, is being called by many ‘the British Trump.’ It’s an easy comparison, given their quirky, confrontational styles, prominent blond hair, tribal politics and xenophobic policies.

But they are not alike. Johnson is a literate, witty product of Britain’s finest educational institutions, Eton and Oxford, who down-plays his erudition and upper class roots. Trump is just the opposite. But both are consummate entertainers, which is essential in today’s TV-driven politics.

Trump and Johnson are allowed political license to act outrageously and say taboo things that would get other politicians kicked out of office. Last week, in a threat barely noticed by US media, Trump boasted to Pakistan’s leader, Imran Khan, that he could kill ten million people in Afghanistan if he really wanted to and end the 18- year old war there. The lapdog US media barely noticed this genocidal threat by a leader whose grip on reality appears to be weakening.

Boris Johnson’s claim to fame is his ardent support of getting Britain out of the European Union – aka Brexit.

He vows to crash out of the union even without an orderly exit deal to ease the blow to Britain’s economy, which does about half of its export business with the EU.

After Brexit, most British exports to the continent will fall under new EU taxes, duties or tariffs. British businesses are, to no surprise, in a panic. Chaos is expected at British ports. Supplies of agricultural products and auto manufacturing face chaos. All in all, Brexit threatens to throw Britain into a gigantic muddle. But Brits are famous for muddling through the toughest of times. For many pro-Brexit Brits, trade chaos is a price worth paying to escape the EU’s rules on free movement of people, the European Court of Justice, and the `bloody bureaucrats’ in Brussels.

Britons will never be slaves, neither to the French or the EU bureaucrats!

All very jolly. Except that Brexit will transform Britain from a mid-level European power into a lonely, isolated appendage of the United States that takes orders from Donald Trump, a far less stable monarch than occasionally mad king George III.

Brexit will compel Britain to join a lopsided trade pact with the US that will see the further gutting of British industry and farming. Ever weaker British military forces, still one of Europe’s more potent, will become auxiliaries to US forces in America’s endless imperial wars – rather the way Nepal’s Gurkhas have so long served the British Crown.

The unruly Irish are having their revenge on the Brits for centuries of exploitation and violence. No one seems to have an answer to what to do about Ireland’s ‘soft border’ with the UK or the desire of most Irish – and now add the Scotts – to remain part of the European Union. Trump-style chanting ‘wall them off’ won’t resolve this thorny problem. Making matters worse, the feeble Conservative hold on Parliament rests on ten Northern Irish members of parliament of the pipsqueak Democratic Unionist Party. If they get their Irish up, the government will fall.

If Britain really abandons the EU, the English language will begin to fade away on the continent, replaced by French and German. Similarly, Britain struggled for three centuries to prevent the French, then the Germans, from dominating Europe. After Brexit – which is due to happen in October – the French and Germans will finally become Europe’s paramount powers. The EU will become a joint Franco-German condominium – unless, of course, Russia joins. Britons will gnash their teeth. Jolly bad show, chaps!

The EU is ardently backed by Europe’s – and Britain’s – youth who bitterly oppose Brexit’s old duffers, rustics and romantics who believe Britania still rules the waves. The same type of out of touch oldsters who back Trump in the US. Many of these obsolescent British may be content to become members of a new US colony and take orders from the Great White Father in Washington.

But not the more modern British. Except, of course, for political opportunists, like Johnson and his cabinet. Now is the time for Britain’s opposition Labour Party to go into battle. It has been kept on the defensive by false charges of anti-Semitism. Like US candidate Bernie Sanders, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been sabotaged by his own party’s big money potentates.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Boris Johnson, Brexit, Britain 
🔊 Listen RSS

NEW YORK – I’ve had many strange experiences in my decades of covering intelligence affairs. These run from being invited to KGB HQ in Moscow, Chinese intelligence in Beijing, US intelligence in Virginia, Libyan intelligence in Tripoli, South African intelligence, and even Albanian intelligence in Tirana.

But none was odder than the day I was invited to lunch in New York City with the by now notorious figure Jeffrey Epstein. The golden boy of Manhattan and Palm Beach society now sits in a grim jail cell accused of having sex with underage girls. He’s been doing this in plain view since the early 1990’s but, until recently, he seemed bullet-proof.

Soon after I walked into the entrance of Epstein’s mansion on E 71st Street, said to be the city’s largest private home, a butler asked me, ‘would you like an intimate massage, sir, by a pretty young girl?’ This offer seemed so out of place and weird to me that I swiftly declined.

More important than indelicacy, as an old observer of intelligence affairs, to me this offer reeked of ye old honey trap, a tactic to ensnare and blackmail people that was old when Babylon was young. A discreet room with massage table, lubricants and, no doubt, cameras stood ready off the main lobby.

I had arrived with Canada’s leading lady journalist who was then close to Epstein’s sometime girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell and, it was said, procuress – something Maxwell denies. Bizarrely, Maxwell believed that I could get KGB Moscow Center to release satellite photos that showed the murder on his yacht of her father, the press baron Robert Maxwell, who was a well-known double agent for Israel and KGB, and a major criminal.

Also present was the self-promoting lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who had saved the accused murderer Claus von Bulow, as well as a titan of the New York real estate industry (not Trump) and assorted bigwigs of the city’s elite Jewish society. All sang the praises of Israel.

Epstein reportedly had ties to Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and repeatedly flew them about in his private jet, aka ‘the Lolita Express.’ All guests deny any sexual activity. I turned down dinner with Prince Andrew.

Epstein’s residence in Manhattan and Palm Beach, both of which I visited, were stocked with young female ‘masseuses.’ All were working class girls making big money in their spare time. I did not see any interactions between these girls and the guests.

Epstein and Maxwell became too big for their britches. They flaunted their sexual adventures and laughed at New York society. Everyone wondered about the source of Epstein’s lavish income but no one knew its origins. He claimed to be an exclusive money manager for a group of secretive millionaires. But the only one identified was billionaire Leslie Wexner, the owner of L Brands and Victoria’s Secret. Wexner denied any knowledge of Epstein’s alleged crimes.

Besides sexual frolics, Epstein and Maxwell were up to many odd things. The FBI found diamonds, cash and a fake passport when raiding his mansion and documents showing his net worth at $559,120,954.00. The IRS tax people will be eager to review the sources of this income.

It seems likely that political influence was brought to bear on then US attorney Alexander Acosta (he just resigned under fire last week) to make a sweetheart deal with Epstein, who had been charged by Florida with child molestation. Epstein got off with a token, 13-month jail sentence that allowed him to work from his office much of the day.

Were Trump or Clinton involved? How much did they ‘party’ with Epstein and revel in his fleshmart? There was talk of some sort of ‘intelligence’ angle to the affaire Epstein that spared him a harsh sentence.

A respected former CIA official, Phil Giraldi has come right out and accused Epstein of being an Israeli agent of influence. Epstein was let off with a slap on the wrist on his first child abuse charge, says Giraldi, because of his powerful Israel connections. To Giraldi and this writer, the Epstein ‘massage’ operation was a classic intelligence operation designed to blackmail men of influence into doing Israel’s bidding. Clinton had reportedly already fallen into this trap years earlier while still president.

Now watch this stinking pile of corruption be hurriedly covered up. Talk about draining the swamp.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Jeffrey Epstein, Mossad 
🔊 Listen RSS

Turkey has just called Donald Trump’s bluff by going ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The outrage in Washington is volcanic. Trump is vowing to rain fire and brimstone sanctions down on the disobedient Turks.

The S-400 is Russia’s premier anti-air missile. It is believed highly effective against all forms of aircraft – including stealth planes – cruise missiles, medium range ballistic missiles, drones, and some other types of missiles. It offers the choice of a self-directing version with its own radar seeker, or a less expensive, ‘semi-active’ version that is guided by its launch-battery radar.

What makes this AA missile (SS-21 in NATO terminology) particularly deadly is its remarkable 400 km range. The S-400 is said by Russia to be able to unmask stealth aircraft. I’ve been told by Soviet security officials as far back as 1990 that their radars could detect US stealth aircraft.

The missile’s remarkable range and detection capability puts at risk some of the key elements of US war fighting capability, notably the E-3 AWACS airborne radar aircraft, US electronic warfare aircraft, tankers and, of course, fighters like the new stealth F-35, improved F-15’s, F-22’s and B-1, B-2 and venerable B-52 heavy bombers used to carry long-ranged cruise missiles.

The Russian AA system can ‘shoot and scoot’ – firing and then quickly moving. Even more important, the S-400 system costs about half the price of its leading competitor, the US Patriot PAC-2 system. The S-400 may also be more reliable and accurate. The Great White Father in Washington is not happy.

The Trump administration brought heavy pressure on Turkey not to buy the S-400, threatening to cancel Turkey’s order for 100 of the new, stealthy F-35’s. Few thought the Turks would defy the US on this issue, but they failed to understand the depths of Turkey’s anger at the US.

Most Turks believe that the US engineered the failed 2016 coup against the democratic government in Ankara working through a shadowy religious organization run by the spiritual-political leader, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States. Turkey’s elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been too independent-minded for Washington, clashing over US policy to Syria and the Gulf. He had also incurred the wrath of America’s Israel lobby for demanding justice for the Palestinians.

Turkey is now under economic attack by Washington. President Trump is threatening sanctions (read economic warfare) against Turkey, an old, loyal US ally. During the Korean War, Turkish troops saved American soldiers from Chinese encirclement. But Turks are mostly Muslim, and Muslims are hated by Trump and his allies.

S-400 missiles are now arriving in Turkey. What will Trump do? Cancel sale to Turkey of the F-35 and other military equipment or spare parts. Threaten to oust Turkey from NATO. Get Israel and Greece to menace Turkey.

Turkey can live without the F-35. It’s too expensive and may be more vulnerable than advertised. The Turks can get similar, less expensive warplanes from Russia. India and China are both buying the S-400. Even the Saudis may join them though Moscow is delaying the sale. S-400’s are also stationed in Syria with Russian forces and are slated to go to sea in a naval version.

If the US reacts with even more anger, Turkey could threaten to withdraw from NATO and kick the US out of its highly strategic air base in southeast Turkey at Incirlik. It’s worth recalling that Turkey provided NATO’s second largest army after the US. Someone has to remind the deeply unknowing Trump that NATO without Turkey will be declawed. Equally important, that a Turkey unconstrained by NATO membership, will seek sources of oil which it lacks and desperately needs, and new alliances.

Only a century ago, Iraq’s rich oil fields used to be part of the Ottoman Empire until taken away by the British and French imperial powers. The days of a subservient, tame Turkey may be ending.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

President Donald Trump’s attempt to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to the Palestinians – using Gulf Arab oil money – has so far been a resounding failure, as was widely predicted.

The so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ turned out to be a shabby swindle.

I watched Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, deliver the first part of his big deal to a bunch of tame Arab oil monarchs and assorted hangers-on. Kushner looked like a nervous sophomore taking a tough oral exam. There were no Palestinians or Israelis present. But Israel’s powerful American backers were watching from the sidelines as their ‘deal’ was enunciated.

Trump’s offer was pure New York City real estate hipper dipper. He would get the rich Gulf Arab states, all of them American protectorates, to offer some $60 billion in payments, credits, loans and other financial inducements to the Palestinian Authority – but nothing to the democratically elected Hamas government in the open-air prison of Gaza that holds two million Palestinian refugees.

The $60 million would be a payoff to the US-managed Palestinian leadership of Mohammed Abbas, another US pawn, to give up the PLO’s rights to most of the West Bank so Israel can annex it, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu just vowed. This follows Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights and growing US recognition of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem.

In other words, Israel hopes to gain most or all of the West Bank and Jerusalem by getting the rich but dim Gulf Arabs and Saudi Arabia to pay the proposed bribe money. The US and Israel will more or less divvy up the central Mideast. Just this week, the director of Israel’s Mossad said that his spy agency had played a key role in bringing the Arab oil monarchs into alliance with Israel.

Egypt, the leading Arab military power, has been bought off with Saudi money and US protection. The military dictatorship in Cairo is, in fact, acting as a co-jailer of the Palestinians of Gaza.

Turkey, long a supporter of Palestinian rights, has suffered US-backed coup attempts and intense economic warfare orchestrated from Washington that have left it destabilized and weakened.

If the tragicomical ‘Deal of the Century’ were to actually come to pass, what will become of the Palestinians, sold down the river by their Arab oil brothers? The Trump administration has not yet specified the details. The unwritten hope is that the two million Palestinians in the Gaza hellhole will remain there, locked up by Israel and Egypt.

The three million plus Palestinians on the West Bank – which is slated for Israeli occupation – will be `encouraged’ to decamp to other inhospitable Arab countries or simply driven into neighboring Jordan, 60% of whose population are already of Palestinian origin. Israeli rightists are fond of claiming that Jordan is really the true Palestinian state.

But Israel’s Arab neighbors, notably Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as Jordan, already have large numbers of Palestinian refugees and don’t want any more. Kuwait expelled 400,000 Palestinian refugees during the wars of 2001/2003. Israel, which drove the original Palestinian refugees from their homes, insists it will never take back these Arabs.

Meanwhile, no one in Washington seems to have bothered talking to the Palestinians, aside from a few quislings and yes-men. Palestinians totally reject the Trump-Kushner proposal. They have always looked on the Saudis and Gulf Arabs as traitors and back-stabbers. Young Mr. Kushner has not begun to understand these complexities.

This whole ‘peace deal’ is a big smokescreen to cover Israeli land expansion and more ethnic cleansing. Many thoughtful Israelis are dismayed by their far right-wing government’s expansionist plans, seeing nothing but more troubles and violence ahead.

In Trump’s world, almost everything can be bought. What he can’t buy directly, his mentor casino billionaire Adelson can. Trump’s real Mideast mover and shaker is Mr. Greater Israel Adelson, not junior Kushner.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Gaza, Israel/Palestine 
🔊 Listen RSS

Morgarten, Switzerland – Here, in 1315, a force of Swiss mountaineers ambushed an invading force of Austrian feudal knights who had come to reassert Hapsburg feudal rule over the rebellious Swiss.

The burly Swiss farmers and woodsmen from the forest cantons Unterwalden, Uri and Schwytz fell upon the close-packed Austrian knights and men-at-arms, using long pikes or deadly pole axes known as halbards, and massacred them without quarter.

Two years later, a second Austrian expeditionary force was caught by the Swiss peasant infantry near Lucerne at Sempach and crushed.

These fierce battles were the first time in modern history that foot soldiers had withstood heavily armored mounted knights. These epochal encounters marked the beginning of the end of European feudalism and the rise of infantry armies. They also freed Switzerland’s forest cantons of Austrian rule, creating Europe’s first independent democratic state, the Swiss Confederation.

The always astute Machiavelli said of the Swiss warriors: ‘Most heavily armed, most free.’ Indeed, most free to this day.

Those who think of Switzerland as a quaint land of cuckoo clocks and chocolate are sorely mistaken. To paraphrase Voltaire’s bon mot about Prussia, Switzerland is a giant fortress, disguised as a country.

I attended school and university in Switzerland. Over the decades, I kept hearing about mountains opening up to disgorge warplanes, or cliffs studded with hidden artillery. But even my Swiss friends didn’t know much about these seemingly fantastic sightings.

Fifteen years ago, I was the guest of the Swiss Fortress Guard Corps, a top-secret military outfit that operates Switzerland’s mountain fortresses. I was one of the first non-Swiss to be shown the mountain forts that guard the heart of the nation’s ‘Alpine Redoubt.’ What I was shown astounded me – and continues to do so.

In the late 1930’s, as one European nation after another bowed down to Hitler’s demands, the Swiss military and its popular rifle clubs, banded together and decided their nation would not bend the knee as the Czechs, Dutch, Norwegians, Belgians, and then the French had done.

A feverish program of fortress construction was begun across the Alps. Some 900,000 troops were mobilized. Orders went out from Gen. Henri Guisan: ‘leave your families behind in the lowlands. Man our mountain forts. We have no place or food for civilians in them. Fight to your last cartridge; then use your bayonets. No surrender!’

Every road and bridge was mined; all mountain passes were rigged with explosives. Particularly so the rail lines and tunnels that linked Germany to its erstwhile ally, Italy.

Hitler was furious. He denounced the Swiss as ‘insolent herdsmen.’ Mussolini, Hitler’s ally, rightfully feared tangling with the tough Swiss mountaineers who had ravaged Italy during the Renaissance. The Pope’s Swiss Guards are a memento of the era of ‘Furia Helvetica.’

Working 24/7, Swiss engineers created a warren of tunnels and gun positions guarding the main entry points into Switzerland at St. Maurice, Gothard, Thun and Sargans. These forts were equipped with 75, 105 and 150mm cannons, machine guns and mortars emplaced in mountain sides and camouflaged so they are almost invisible.

Inside the forts are barracks, engine rooms, headquarters, clinics, observation posts and magazines filled with shells. The hidden forts interlock their fire and support one another. Unlike the less heavily gunned Maginot Line, each fort was protected by a special infantry unit on the outside, linked by telephone to the underground garrison.

In addition, Switzerland built bomb shelters for most of its people.

The Swiss only began decommissioning their forts in the 1990’s – after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Switzerland was a prime target of the Soviet Red Army. Advancing from Czechoslovakia, the Soviets planned to race across lightly defended Austria into eastern Switzerland.

Then, into the Swiss lowlands on a Basel-Neuchatel-Lausanne axis to Geneva. From there, the Group of Soviet Forces powerful armored divisions would erupt into France’s Rhone Valley and drive north for the Channel ports, taking US and NATO forces in the rear and cutting their supply lines. It would have been a replay of Germany’s brilliant Ardennes offensive in 1940.

But Swiss forts and solid Swiss citizen troops stood in the way. The sons of the heroes of Sempach and Morgarten were on guard.

When Swiss mountaineers vote, they always carry rifles and swords as a symbol of how their freedom was attained and preserved.

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

Who is attacking oil tankers in the Gulf between Oman and Iran? So far, the answer is still a mystery. The US, of course, accuses Iran. Iran says it’s the US or its local allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Magnetic mines are blamed for the damage, though there have been claims of torpedo use. Last month, four moored tankers were slightly damaged, though none seriously. This time the attacks were more damaging but apparently not lethal.

A few cynics have even suggested Israel may be behind the tanker attack in order to provoke war between Iran and the United States – a key Israeli goal. Or maybe it’s the Saudis whose goal is similar. The Gulf is an ideal venue for false flag attacks.

One thing appears certain. President Donald and his coterie of neocon advisers have been pressing for a major conflict with Iran for months. The US is literally trying to strangle Iran economically and strategically. By now, Israel’s hard right wing dominates US Mideast policy and appears to often call the shots at the White House and Congress.

However, this latest Iran `crisis’ is totally contrived by the Trump administration to punish the Islamic Republic for refusing to follow American tutelage, supporting the Palestinians, and menacing Saudi Arabia. Most important, the Gulf fracas is diverting public attention from Trump’s war with the lynch mob of House Democrats and personal scandals.

Many Americans love small wars. They serve as an alternative to football. Mussolini’s popularity in Italy soared after he invaded primitive Ethiopia. Americans cheered the invasions of Grenada, Haiti and Panama. However, supposed ‘cake-walk’ Iraq was not such a popular success. Memories of the fake Gulf of Tonkin clash used to drive the US into the Vietnam War are strong; so too all the lies about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

Curiously, Trump’s undeclared war against Iran has had unanticipated effects. Japan, which relies on Iranian oil, is furious at Washington. Last week, Japan’s very popular prime minister, Shinzo Abe, flew to Tehran to try to head off a US-Iranian confrontation and assure his nation’s oil supply – the very same reason Japan attacked the US in 1941. Abe warned an accidental war may be close.

Canada used to have warm relations with China. They are now in shambles. Canada ‘kidnapped’ Chinese bigwig Meng Wanzhou, the crown princess of technology giant Huawei, at Vancouver airport while changing planes on a US arrest warrant for allegedly trading with…wait for it…Iran. Canada foolishly arrested Meng on a flimsy extradition warrant from the US.

This was an incredibly amateurish blunder by Ottawa’s foreign affairs leaders. If they had been smarter, they would have simply told Washington that Meng had already left Canada, or they could not find her. Now Canada’s relations with Beijing are rock bottom, Canada has suffered very heavy trade punishment and the world’s biggest nation is angry as a wet cat at Canada, a nation whose state religion is to be liked by everyone.

Now, Japan’s energy freedom is under serious threat. China mutters about executing the two Canadians it arrested for alleged espionage. Meanwhile, US-China relations have hit their nadir as Trump’s efforts to use tariffs to bully China into buying more US soya beans and to trim its non-trade commerce barriers have caused a trade war.

The US-China trade war is badly damaging the economies of both countries. President Trump still does not seem to understand that tariffs are paid by American consumers, not Chinese sellers. Trump’s nincompoop foreign policy advisers don’t understand how much damage they are doing to US interests. Putting gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson in charge of US foreign and trade policy is not such a good idea.

A good way to end this growing mess is to fire war-lover and Iran-hater John Bolton, send Mike Pompeo back to bible school, and tell Iran and Saudi Arabia to bury the hatchet now. Instead, the White House is talking about providing nuclear capability to Saudi Arabia, one of our world’s most backwards and unpleasant nations. Maybe Trump will make a hell of a ‘deal’ and have North Korea sell nukes to Saudis.

And now we wait the all-time bad joke, the so-called ‘Deal of the Century,’ which Trump and his boys hope will get rich Arabs to buy off poor Palestinians in exchange for giving up lots more land to Israel. It’s hard to think of a bigger or more shameful betrayal by Arabs of fellow Arabs, or a more stupid policy by the US. But, of course, it’s not a made-in-the-USA policy at all.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

How fleeting is glory! Back in 1998, the South Asian Journalists Association proclaimed me ‘Journalist of the Year’ for a newspaper article I had written about India.

But the next year the award was angrily rescinded after I wrote that India should compromise with Pakistan over the festering Kashmir conflict. Prickly Indians didn’t like being criticized, even by an old friend like myself.

This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition won a landslide electoral victory, gaining 302 of the 542 seats in parliament. The venerable Congress opposition party, that long led India, was crushed.

We should pay attention. India is more or less the world’s largest democracy and is expected to be the third largest economic power by 2020. It’s also an important nuclear state with land and sea-launched ICBM’s that can strike the United States and Canada, Europe, and its rival, China.

I’ve been writing for decades about the threat of accidental or planned nuclear war with Pakistan over Kashmir. My first book, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ deals with the potential of future war between India and China over the high Himalayas and Burma, as well as India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

India, energized by growing economic power and nuclear Viagra is feeling its national oats. Prime Minister Modi is a hard-line religious nationalist determined to press his concept of ‘Hindutva,’ or religious power. He has vowed to confront India’s largest minority, some 200 million Muslims, 15% of its estimated 1.3 billion people, and make India a great Hindu power again.

Modi has sometimes been called ‘India’s Trump.’ He was governor of India’s most business-oriented state, Gujarat. Modi is openly antagonistic to Muslims and Sikhs, and failed to halt the massacre of thousands of Muslims during his tenure. He commands wide public support for his Muslim-bashing and anti-Pakistan invective. Modi likes to wave the scimitar and vaunt his military muscle.

Last February, he sent Indian warplanes to attack Pakistan after Kashmir nationalists (‘terrorists’ to Indians) attacked an Indian military convoy. India humiliatingly lost one of its MiG’s to Pakistan’s crack air force. Worse, Modi ran a very dangerous and totally unnecessary risk by attacking nuclear-armed Pakistan. But Hindu nationalist mobs loved it. Just as many ill-informed Americans love Trump’s war threats against Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and, of course, Russia.

Like Trump, Modi keeps invoking India’s past without really addressing its current problems like entrenched cast problems, growing crime, terrible national sanitation, rampant corruption, lethal air pollution and endemic communal tensions. Interestingly, in the recent elections, a majority of low cast ‘untouchables’ (now called ‘Dalits’ but still as untouchable) voted for the BJP. So did India’s always restive eastern hills states. These are positive signs for Modi’s BJP.

By contrast, the Congress Party that brought India to independence from British colonial rule in 1947 and gave it the elite Gandhi ruling dynasty, was crushed in the vote. Dynastic politics is always bad medicine, be it Gandhis, Kennedys, Bhuttos or Romanovs. The youthful but disappointing heir to the Gandhi’s Congress political machine, Rahul Gandhi, had no heart in the fight and even lost one of his two ‘safe’ seats.

That’s too bad. Congress has a fairly moderate policy towards Muslims and Pakistan. Not so the BJP which remains based on an extreme Hindu movement founded in 1925 that promotes grassroots Hinduisation of the nation, or even expulsion of Muslims, as just occurred in Buddhist Burma (Myanmar). Many on the Hindu hard right also call for the ‘reabsorption’ of Pakistan into Mother India, though, confusingly, that would add 213 million angry Muslims.

Meanwhile, India’s formerly stagnant economy is bustling, thanks in good part to lifting of punitive tax and absurd government restrictions known as the ‘license Raj.’ Foreign investment is pouring into India, and highly educated Indian immigrants into the United States. Back in the early 1990’s, I was given a early look at India’s just formed version of Silicon Valley, the city of Bangalore, (home of the ‘bangalore torpedo’ for breaching barbed wire.) This complex grew into today’s IT powerhouse, the pride of India.

India is on a roll. Now, even more so thanks to a strong central government that favors commerce and big business. But it’s not all sitar music and incense. India is a modern nation of 600 million atop an ancient rural nation of 700 million. Modern India will struggle to escape ancient Mother India. The Indian colossus still has political and financial feet of clay.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: India, Narendra Modi 
Eric Margolis
About Eric Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia.

He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Lew Rockwell. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC.

His internet column www.ericmargolis.com reaches global readers on a daily basis.

As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow.

A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq.

A native New Yorker, he maintains residences in Toronto and New York, with frequent visits to Paris.

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