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Citizens of France. To arms! Man the ramparts. The American barbarians are coming. They shall not pass!

Le Trump’s threat to France’s splendid wines and Roquefort cheese are the gravest menace France has faced since the Germans invaded this fair land in 1914. Burgundy wines and France’s 300 fromages form the very soul of la Belle France.

Trump does not know or care that France saved America from British mis-rule. He wants revenge because France – which taxes nearly everything – seeks to tax US IT firms like Google and Amazon. Trump considers this a personal affront. Besides, he dislikes wine and lives on desiccated burgers made with petrochemical cheese, washed down by acidic Diet Cokes.

On top of this outrage comes the squabble over NATO. Trump used to scoff at the Alliance, saying it was ‘obsolete’ as well as under-armed and short of money. The president and his backers really dislike France and all it stands for, including wine and cheese.

Even more important, Trump and his Bible Belt supporters want to keep ‘ungodly’ Europe under Washington’s thumb. NATO is the instrument of America’s domination over Europe. Confused president Trump fails to understand that the NATO members are supposed to devote up to 2% of their budgets to building their own military forces, not to paying off Washington for protection.

Most European nations have sharply reduced their military budgets since the end of the Cold War. In spite of warlike talk from some NATO leaders, most Europeans, aside from the Poles and Baltic states, see no threat from the old foe, Russia. Modern Russia’s armed forces have seriously shrunken. While impressive on paper, they must defend a vast territory from Poland to the Bering Strait. Worse, the drop in world oil prices has cut Russia’s military budgets.

Unlike 1980, Europeans have little fear that 40,000 Soviet tanks are about to crush all before them and race for the Channel ports. The most important European power, Germany, has grown militarily feeble. German tax-payers, like most other Europeans, see no need to spend billions of hard-earned euros against a non-existent threat from the East. The Poles are arming against Russia, and the Greeks against Turkey, but these local squabbles should not be NATO’s primary concern.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron called today’s NATO brain dead, invoking the ire of Trump. What Macron meant was that the alliance has no coherent strategy or world view. The US wants to use NATO as a Europe-based police force to support its imperial operations in the Mideast, Africa and, most lately, against China. Most Europeans say that these far-flung regions have nothing to do with European security and want no part of a growing conflict with China. It was bad enough the US forced NATO to get militarily involved in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq. Trump wants his European Foreign Legion; Europeans say no.

Aside from France, which is deeply involved in a nasty, neo-colonial misadventure in West Africa, most Europeans have no interest in such ‘little wars.’ Their military industrial complexes do not drive government policies, as in the United States. Though, an interesting exception is Britain. It was just revealed that commandos of Britain’s Special Boat Service have been actively involved in Yemen’s bloody civil war to assist Saudi-backed forces.

As President Macron has been rightly saying, the European Union, a greater economic power than the United States, should have its own unified military forces. It’s absurd that the so-called European Union has neither armed forces nor centralized command. The United States is happy to fulfill this role because it preserves American domination of Europe that dates back to the 1940’s and assures a large market for US arms makers.

And, yes, many Europeans don’t want to pay the price for real military power. Who cares about squalid little wars in the Mideast, Africa and West Asia? There’s no way Europe will get into a military confrontation with China over two-by-nothing islets no one has ever even heard of.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, France, NATO 
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Two tragedies just happened in Romania and Australia that have left this hardened war correspondent shaken and horrified.

An old tub of a cargo ship named the Queen Hind (likely Indian-owned but convenience flagged), packed with 14,600 live sheep, capsized at its dock on Romania’s Black Sea coast due to overcrowding and improper load balancing. At least 14,000 of the terrified sheep drowned in the icy waters and darkness of the overturned death ship. Imagine their plight.

Maybe the dead were the lucky ones: the sheep were consigned for Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading importers of live animals. The Saudis like their lamb freshly killed. So instead of importing frozen lamb from Australia and New Zealand, where it is supposed to be humanely slaughtered, the wretched animals endure weeks at sea in ship’s holds, in searing heat and terror, often with no food or water.

When the animals arrive in Arabia, they are herded into pens, have their necks cut or sawed and bleed to death. Other Mideastern animal importers are no less cruel. Israel is a bit better. I am helping a sanctuary there for discarded, worn out donkeys and horses.

Some time ago, a cargo ship filled with sheep from Australia was marooned off Saudi Arabia when its importer went bankrupt. Thousands of animals slowly died from intense heat and lack of water or food.

Rescue teams, including the splendid Four Paws of Vienna, Austria, are now trying to extract the dead and dying sheep from the Queen Hind. There is even debate now over whether to send the few score survivors to be killed in Saudi Arabia or put to pasture on a government farm in Romania to live out their lives.

Off in faraway eastern Australia, fierce bush fires have burned their way through vast areas inhabited by kangaroos, wombats, koala bears and many other animal and avian species. We rarely see the victims of these fast-moving fires, either in Australia, North or South America where baby animals and little birds can’t escape the onrushing infernos.

As a raging bush fire burned up the landscape, a lovely lady named Toni Doherty was driving when she heard screams and cries. She saw a little koala bear trapped in a burning field, its fur on fire. She jumped from her car, ran into the fire, grabbed the crying little koala, wrapped it in her shirt and escaped to her car.

The 14-year old koala was taken to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and treated for severe burns all over his body. After a hard struggle to save the little fellow, the medical staff there decided he could not be spared further agony and ended his life. Another 350 little koalas are estimated to have died. There is no estimate yet of wombat, kangaroo, anteater, or bird deaths.

Koalas are a national symbol of Australia. These adorable little animals are friendly, gentle vegetarians who like to live in trees and munch eucalyptus leaves. There may only be some 250,000 left. A few more annual bush fires and they risk becoming extinct. We need to protect our koalas, wombats and kangaroos. They are part of our earth and our humanity.

What we learn from this week of fire horror is that Australia must set up fire-proof shelters with ponds of water for their endangered animals. Getting stubborn koalas to use them is another story, but it’s still better than leaving these national treasures to the flames.

The UN and civilized nations must ban transport of all live animals for eventual slaughter. It’s a crime, no question, our modern version of slave ships. The same applies to trucking live animals to death factories.

I was involved last year in the case of an honorable woman who was arrested in Canada for giving water to thirsty, terrified pigs being trucked to slaughter in Toronto. Animals being sent to their deaths are given no food, water or, in the depth of winter, heat.

It’s time to end this barbarous behavior on land and sea. Animals have the same senses of fear, pain, family bonds and hunger or thirst as we do. The huge animal industry insists, contrary to all evidence, that animals are insensate objects. It’s time for us to set the animals free and accord them their natural rights.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Animal Rights 
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Victor Hugo said of the devastated Balkans in the 19th century: ‘The Turks have passed by here. All is in ruins or mourning.’

Welcome to modern Iraq.

The British were always masters of efficient imperialism. In the 19th century, they managed to rule a quarter of the Earth’s surface with only a relatively small army supported by a great fleet.

Many of their imperial subjects were so overawed by the pomp and circumstance of British rule that they often willingly cooperated, or at least bent the knee.

Call it colonialism 101. Ardent students of Roman history, the British early on adopted the Roman strategy of ‘divide et impera’, divide and conquer. The application of this strategy allowed the British Empire to rule over vast numbers of people with minimal force.

In my last book, `American Raj,’ I sought to show how the American Empire was using techniques of the British Imperial Raj (raj = rule in Hindi) employed in India to control the Mideast. Now, we are seeing the same strategy in forgotten Iraq.

Few talk or think about Iraq these days; the media ignores this important but demolished nation. Iraq, let’s recall, was the target of a major western aggression concocted by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Britain’s Tony Blair, financed and encouraged by the Gulf oil sheikdoms and Saudi Arabia.

Most people don’t understand that Iraq remains a US-occupied nation. We hear nothing about the billions of dollars of Iraqi oil extracted by big US oil firms since 2003. For the US, Iraq was a treasure house of oil with 12% of world reserves. It was OPEC’s 2nd largest producer.

Recall one of the leading neocons who engineered the invasion of Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, claimed the US could finance its entire invasion of Iraq (he estimated the cost at about $70 billion) by plundering Iraq’s oil. Today, the cost of the occupation has reached over $1 trillion. Wolfie is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, President Trump says the US will grab Syria’s oil fields. Wherever it may be, oil is as American as apple pie.

So where did all the money go? A large amount for corrupt Iraqi politicians and more for the ten plus US bases in Iraq. Perhaps a modest payoff for neighboring Iran, and Iraq’s Shia clergy, or helping finance Iraq and Syria’s ISIS. But that still leaves a huge amount of unaccounted cash from oil plundered by the US. One day we may find out.

In recent weeks, Shia and Sunni Iraqis have been rioting to protest continuing US proxy rule via a Washington-installed puppet regime in Baghdad that, curiously, also has some Iranian support. As of this writing, 120 Iraqis have been shot dead and some 6,000 wounded. This while scores of Palestinians are being killed by Israel in Gaza.

In the Cheney-Wolfowitz’s plan, Iraq was to serve as the principal US military base to control the entire Mideast, Iran and Afghanistan. This didn’t happen because of fierce Iraqi resistance to US-British rule. But the US has still kept some army, marine and, most important, air bases in Iraq. Supposedly ‘independent’ Iraq is not allowed modern air or armored forces and its air space remains under US control. The US troops that were recently sent to Syria came from the Iraq garrison – a small version of Dick Cheney’s imperial dream.

Ever since the 2003 invasion, Iraq has been ruled by a succession of US-appointed figureheads who have proven as corrupt as they are inept. During the war, the US destroyed most of Iraq’s water and sewage systems, causing some 500,000 children to die from water-borne diseases, wrecking much of its industry and commerce, leaving millions of men unemployed. Public services have broken down.

Before the US invasion, Iraq led the Arab world in industry, farming, medicine, education and women’s rights. All that was destroyed by the ‘liberation.’

I was in Iraq in 2001 and 2003 and saw how much it had developed in spite of the draconian rule of Saddam Hussein. I was one of only a few journalists trying to dispute the western lies about Iraq. The dim-witted Iraqi secret police threatened to hang me as a spy – after I revealed their germ warfare plant at Salman Pak had been set up and was secretly run by British technicians.

Today, Iraq is far worse off than during the days of Saddam Hussein. It is being plundered and exploited while its people suffer. So much for ‘liberation.’

 
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Where did all the time go? Thirty years ago this week the Berlin Wall fell. Then Soviet chairman Mikhail Gorbachev freed the Baltic states and allowed divided Germany to reunite. It was a geopolitical earthquake of historic proportions – and a major miracle of our times.

The once mighty Soviet Union had become exhausted by its long military/economic/political struggle to keep up with the much wealthier United States and its rich allies. Moscow had 40,000 tanks, but its economic infrastructure, crippled by Marxist ideology, was an empty shell.

A senior KGB general in Moscow told me that, a decade earlier, the renowned Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov had warned the Politburo that failure by Soviet industry to account for deprecation to modernize and replace outdated equipment would provoke a major crisis by 1990. This is exactly what happened.

By 1990, Soviet industry was broken down, outdated or rusted away. The Kremlin could no longer maintain the Soviet welfare state with its free medicine and education, long holidays, vacation spas, early pensions and unaffordable military spending. Arms alone may have accounted for over 40% of Moscow’s budget.

The Soviet Empire came crashing down after a revolt by East Germans, followed by Baltic peoples and central Europeans. Secretary Gorbachev, an idealistic leader of high ethics, refused to use the Red Army to crush the rebellion.

KGB, fed up with decrepit Communist misrule, abandoned the Party and moved to take control. East Germany broke free of Moscow and joyously reunited with West Germany, altering Europe’s balance of power to the displeasure of Britain and France, Germany’s historic rivals.

According to the Russians, Moscow made oral agreements with Washington, London and Paris that, in exchange for allowing Germany to reunite and then join NATO, the Western powers vowed NOT to extend the alliance into the former Communist states. They agreed to a neutral buffer zone across Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

The West lied. Precisely the opposite occurred. NATO, led by its sponsor, the US, moved relentlessly east, using its economic and political clout to dominate Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland (they were delighted), the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania and the wreckage of former Yugoslavia. New NATO bases in Romania and Bulgaria gave the US-run alliance much greater access to the Mideast.

The Georgian government, led by Gorbachev’s foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze, a key player in dismantling Communism, was ousted in a CIA-led ‘color revolution.’

Protests by bankrupt Russia over NATO’s intrusion into Eastern Europe were scornfully dismissed by the West with ‘well, you don’t have anything in writing to confirm your claims of a deal.’

True enough, in the confusion of ‘fin de regime’ Moscow and its Russian diplomats failed to get signed treaties. `We trusted the Western powers,’ came their pathetic reply. Meanwhile, US intelligence agencies were looting Moscow of its military technology and bribing the corrupt government. At times, Russia felt like an occupied nation.

The US poured vast sums of money into Russia to shore up its pro-US oligarchs and robber barons, corrupting everyone in their path. A bunch of drunken former Communist Party bigwigs attempted a clownish coup, only to be blocked by the KGB and military. Another serious drunk, Boris Yeltsin, was helped into power on a route paved with US $100 bills by the West. It was Russia’s darkest hour.

KGB finally seized power by outing Yeltsin and installing one of its brightest officers, Vladimir Putin. He quickly began rebuilding Russia and cleaning Moscow’s Augean Stables. Germany achieved another miracle by its successful reunification with former East Germany.

I walked through the deserted main building of East Germany’s Stasi secret police and the abandoned HQ of the quarter million-strong Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. Files were strewn on the floors; sheets of paper marked ‘Top Secret’ blew about. It was spooky and miraculous.

I was reminded of poet Shelley’s great poem Ozymandias:

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 
• Category: History • Tags: Berlin Wall, Soviet Union 
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n 1936, as Spain’s brutal civil war was raging, Republican-leftist forces were besieging Toledo’s fortress, the Alcazar. They took hostage the 16-year old son Luis of the citadel’s commander, Col. Moscardo.

`Surrender the Alcazar or we will shoot him,’ threatened the leftists. Moscardo replied, ‘put him on the phone.’ When his terrified son came on, Col. Moscardo told him, ‘son, stand to attention, cry out Viva Espana, and die like a man.’

Spain’s Valley of the Fallen is a grim spooky place. A gigantic mausoleum carved into a rocky hill outside Madrid, the monument houses the remains of tens of thousands killed in Spain’s brutal civil war, 1936-1939.

I visited this vast necropolis soon after it was opened as a national war monument. In 1975, General Francisco Franco, Spain’s post-war strongman, died and was entombed on this windswept plateau. After Spain’s cruel civil war, the Francoist fascist regime in Madrid gave way to a constitutional monarchy that had been planned by Gen. Franco.

Under the guidance of King Juan Carlos, Spain became a thriving democracy and economic success. It went from being Europe’s most reactionary society to one of its most liberal. The restrictive influences of both the Catholic Church and militant left were swept away. Spain became Europe’s party central and a truly free nation.

But ever since 1975, Spain’s left has been agitating to remove Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen. This year, Spain’s Socialist government finally gave the order to exhume Franco’s remains and have them re-buried in a Madrid cemetery next to Madame Franco.

Spain’s left is cock-a-hoop over this revenge on their nemesis. But many thoughtful Spaniards are concerned that the exhumation of Franco will open poorly-healed wounds from the long ago civil war, and cries for revenge. This is now happening.

We are also greeted by a rush of Franco-demonizing speeches and articles in Spain and in the world’s liberal-left media who have never forgiven the general for winning the civil war and crushing the Marxist regime in Madrid. Those who supported Franco are newly demonized while his opponents are again lauded as democrats and patriots.

An entire generation of idealistic western writers, notably Orwell and Hemingway, contributed to whitewashing Spain’s ‘republicans’ as noble warriors against fascism and dictatorship. The Spanish civil war became the holy grail of the liberal left, and so it remains today.

Forgotten or ignored was the vicious struggle in Spain between Stalin’s minions and those of Hitler and Mussolini. The so-called Spanish republicans were largely directed and armed by the Soviet Union which had just killed at least 30 million people.

In Spain, Stalin’s secret police murdered large numbers of ‘unreliable’ socialists, unmanageable Communists, and renegade Trotskyites. Spain’s Catholic clergy became a particular target of murder and torture by Spain’s Communists. This was the reason that the Vatican quietly favored Nazi Germany in the early 1940’s.

Today, Franco’s exhumation has become Spain’s political football. Everyone in this nation of passionate people seems to be arguing about Franco while they are facing the menacing problems of secession in Catalonia and a struggling economy. All the old arguments and debates over the Francoist era have little to do with today. But the Spanish Socialists cannot resist making hay out of old General Franco.

Unfortunately, much of the western liberal media will continue to perpetuate the myth of wicked Franco versus the saintly republicans. Few will ever tell us that Franco kept Spain out of World War II and paved the way to its vibrant democracy. Ironically, Spain’s noisy Socialists would not be in power today were it not for Franco.

Exhuming Franco’s body and rekindling all the Civil War bitterness and hatred was a very big mistake. The majority of Spaniards today were not even alive during the civil war. The conflict should have been consigned to the history books. As Americans are finding, demonizing statues of civil war generals only opens new, pointless arguments.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Political Correctness, Spain, World War II 
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What a mess. The imperial cooks in Washington have turned poor Syria into a poison pit of warring factions, with disastrous results for all.

Henry Kissinger once quipped that it is more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy. A good example is how Washington used the Kurds in Syria to fight ISIS and then ditched them to face the wrath of the mighty Turkish military alone.

A great hue and cry has gone up from the US corporate media and Congress that the Kurds are being betrayed. The evangelical far right and Israel’s supporters are leading this charge. Israel has secretly been arming and aiding Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Syria since 1975 as a dandy way of splintering the fragile Arab Mideast.

But President Trump was right when he said that the Kurds had been richly paid by Washington for their services, adding ‘they are no angels.’ Some facts ignored by the US media:

– Kurds, a tribal, non-Semitic people of Persian origin are, like Palestinians, a stateless people who are sand in the eye of the Mideast. They inhabit the uplands of Syria, Iraq, Armenia, and Iran. Kurds are a handsome, warlike people renowned for their fighting abilities and courage. They have long battled neighboring Arab and Iranian tribes over pasture land and water resources.

– The Obama administration got talked into arming and financing the extremist Islamic State group by the deep state and Israel as a way of overthrowing Syria’s secular government, an ally of Iran. The US-equipped Iraqi Army sent to fight IS ran for their lives. When Islamic State threatened Baghdad, the US Air Force intervened and crushed it. Rogue elements of Islamic State ran amok, creating all sorts of atrocities. Some IS units still receive covert Israeli cross-border support.

The US found it expedient to pay Kurdish militias, known as YPG, to fight remnants of the rag-tag IS, an armed mob whose danger was wildly exaggerated by western media. IS was a perfect excuse to keep US military forces in the Mideast. Turkey helped arm IS.

– Turkey’s Kurdish minority is 15-20% of its 80 million people. The dangerous Marxist PKK movement has been calling for an independent Kurdish state since the 1980’s. I covered the war in Turkey’s southern Anatolia between the PKK and the Turkish Army, a bloody affair of bombings and massacres that left over 40,000 dead. Turks go ballistic at the very mention of an independent Kurdish state, calling Kurds ‘mountain Turks’ and Marxist `terrorists.’

Kurds were harshly repressed by various Turkish governments and their generals. But when the Ottoman Turks marched tens of thousands of Armenian prisoners to Syria during World War I, Kurdish tribes raped and massacred them in great numbers. In the 1920’s, the sainted Winston Churchill authorized use of poison gas against ‘unruly’ Kurdish and Afghan tribes.

– US attempts to overthrow Syria’s government created national chaos. The scrubby eastern third of Syria had a mixed tribal population, but the Kurdish YPG militia declared it independent from Syria, declaring a new Kurdish state called Rojava. To no surprise, a confusing melee developed between Syrian forces and Arab tribal fighters, US units, Kurdish militias, IS and tribes aligned to Damascus. Turkey, aghast at the prospects of an independent Kurdish state next door, decided to send in its army which had been demanding action against armed Kurdish groups.

Into this maelstrom strode Donald Trump, who knew nothing about Syria. There were only about 1,000 US troops in Syria, but they could call down the US Air Force based in nearby Qatar. These token troops are being withdrawn to neighboring Iraq, which remain a US-occupied nation with a puppet government, an American garrison of at least 5,000 troops, and oceans of oil.

In short, Syria is being ground up by wars for no good purpose. Turkey made a grave error by joining efforts to overthrow Syria’s Assad regime. The US, France, Britain and Israel have no business at all there. Only Russia has a legitimate geopolitical interest in Syria, which is close to its southern border. So far, Vlad Putin has played a very skillful game of big power chess in Syria while the US has blundered time and again.

 
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More war in wretched Syria. Half the population is now refugees; entire cities lie shattered by bombing; bands of crazed gunmen run rampant; US, French, Israeli and Russian warplanes bomb widely.

Now, adding to the chaos, President Donald Trump has finally given Turkey, NATO’s second military power, the green light to invade parts of northeastern Syria after he apparently ordered a token force of US troops there to withdraw.

This, of course, puts the Turks in a growing confrontation with the region’s Kurds, who have occupied large swaths of the area during Syria’s civil war. The Kurdish militia, known as YPG (confusingly part of the so-called Free Syrian Army), is armed, lavishly financed and directed by the CIA and Pentagon.

Most Kurdish forces are deployed along the line of the former Berlin-Baghdad railway, a major source of warlike tensions before World War I. Interestingly, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was making a state visit to blood enemy Serbia when the Turkish offensive kicked off.

Turkey calls the Kurdish militias ‘terrorists’ and links them to the original Kurdish resistance movement PKK which is on the US and Turkish black list. I covered the brutal conflict in eastern Anatolia (southern Turkey) between the Turkish Army and Kurdish militias known as ‘peshmerga.’ If the US can brand Syrian and Iraqi groups ‘terrorists,’ why can’t the Turks do their own terrorist branding? After all, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are in their backyard.

The US media is fiercely anti-Turkish because Ankara is seen as somewhat pro-Palestinian. Israel is a bitter foe of Turkey’s Erdogan. One rarely reads anything positive about Turkey or its leader. Not very many western readers even know that since the early 1500’s, Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey. So were Iraq, Palestine, today’s Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

Most important, Iraq’s vast oil fields used to belong to the Ottoman Empire until the British Empire grabbed them at the end of World War I. France seized Syria and Lebanon. Both former imperial powers are still mucking around today in the region and have the gall to criticize Turkey’s involvement in neighboring Syria.

The United States has zero historic interest in the region. US troops in Syria appear to have come from the US garrison in Iraq, which, as VP Dick Cheney hoped, would become a central US military base for the entire Mideast. The Washington war party is moaning that Trump has ‘betrayed’ the Kurds.

The Kurds have been used and betrayed since 1918. They always seem to get the short end of the stick. The old Kurdish saying, ‘no friends but the mountains,’ is painfully true. Washington does not want to get involved in a new Kurdish state carved out of Syria or Iraq even though Israel is pushing it hard to further splinter the Mideast. Iraq’s and Syria’s oil deposits are still a powerful lure for imperial-minded powers.

Trump rightly calls the fracas in Syria ‘a stupid war.’ But many pro-war forces play on this tired, confused president who has gotten himself deep into the Syrian morass, a problem of largely American but also Turkish making. Ironically, former president Barack Obama foolishly authorized America’s effort to overthrow Syria’s Assad government under the guise of a phony civil war. This was one of the few Obama policies that Trump chose to follow. The neophyte president was unwilling or unable to prevent the deep state in Washington from encouraging the war.

The region in question is hardly the beating heart of Syria. It looks large on the map but is mostly desert and scrub, dotted by miserable little villages with Arab or Kurdish populations. Turkey, which has over 2 million Syrian refugees, is eager to begin repatriation of this massive burden created by its policy errors and the western powers.

In the middle is the scattered debris of the short-lived ISIS caliphate. Russia, which is selling Turkey its very capable S-400 anti-aircraft system, is watching with delight as old allies Turkey and the US split.

Even Trump knows how important Turkey is to the NATO alliance. A rupture between Washington and Ankara could see the vital US bases at Incirlik and Adana thrown out of Turkey. That’s why Trump needs to tread carefully.

CORRECTION: The original version of this column stated that Sen. Lindsey Graham dodged military service in the Vietnam War by joining the National Guard as a lawyer. This statement was incorrect and we regret the error.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Kurds, Syria, Turkey 
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China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” Napoleon Bonaparte

France’s future emperor never saw China, but he was wise enough to understand its immense latent strength and future importance. Two centuries after making this prediction, China has proved the Corsican correct.

Last week, China feted the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of the mainland. It was a gala demonstration of the nation’s military and social power. I recall watching the 60th anniversary celebration in Hong Kong and wondering at how amazingly far China had come since I first went there in the early 1980’s.

At that time, China was a vastness filled with poverty, suffering and primitive conditions. Red Guards were on the rampage; everything was grim, dusty and backwards. Today, the ‘Great Leap Forward’ predicted by Chairman Mao Zedong and engineered by the equally great Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai has transformed China into the world’s second economic power and a first rate military force.

Over a decade ago, I wrote in my book, `War at the top of the World,’ that America’s greatest geopolitical challenge would be to negotiate a peaceful withdrawal from the mainland of North Asia. China, I predicted, would never allow the US to continue its total domination of the western Pacific. The Koreas, Japan and the chain of islands stretching south would become the key battlegrounds between the US and China. I also foresaw a major land conflict between India and China over parts of the Himalayas and Burma (today Myanmar).

China showed last week that it has serious offensive military power. Gone are the Korean War days of vast infantry armies launching human wave attacks with bugles and burp guns. Today, China’s ground forces look hi-tech and effective. More important, China’s military aviation looks deadly and very modern, though one can never really judge effectiveness until war is joined.

This is particularly true of China’s rapidly expanding blue-water navy which will one day challenge the mighty and highly proficient US Navy. In naval warfare, experience and tradition are of paramount importance. Even the courageous, well-trained Imperial Japanese Navy was totally defeated by the US Navy in titanic battles across the Pacific. China’s naval forces have not waged a war since 1894 when they were trounced by Japan.

But in a US-China war, the Chinese would be fighting almost at home. The US would have to sustain a major conflict many thousands of miles from its home ports. America is the world’s genius when it comes to logistics and mass operations, but even so great distances are punishing. It would prove a bridge too far.

Most alarming in China’s 70th anniversary display was its new DF-41 ICBM heavy missile. Solid-fueled, road mobile, and with multiple warheads, this big beast of a missile is said to be able to reach anywhere in North America within 30 minutes from launch. This means the DF-41 now puts all of the United States at risk.

China’s recently deployed DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile may be able to hit a moving carrier if targeted by satellites, drones or submarines. Add to this threat numerous new Chinese high-speed anti-ship missiles fired from air, land and submarines that now pose a significant threat to US aircraft carriers. They might prove as deadly to capitol ships as Gen. Billy Mitchell’s bombs did to battleships in 1921.

China is a world leader in electronics. The US should be very concerned that it will develop systems that can interrupt or even block the satellite data that it increasingly uses to target its missiles and detect enemy forces. Remember how the US Stinger missile put the Soviets on the back foot in Afghanistan. Today, the US Air Force, Marines and Naval aviation run on electronics. Jam them and offensive US power would be crippled.

US strategic planning increasingly deals with a Sino-American conflict. But not sufficiently. The Pentagon is still too embroiled in petty Mideast and African conflicts to face the Asian music. The Chinese are coming. They are the only people to make communism (or a version of it) work. China has indeed awakened. Beijing’s next targets will be the US Navy, Taiwan, Japan, Burma and part of India.

While Washington fiddles and burns, Chairman Xi Jinping, the new Chinese emperor, is fast making China great again.

 
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A crime worthy of impeachment? Not really, just another unethical, improper, crass act by President Donald Trump.

Many Democrats are cock-a-hoop over the idea of impeaching Trump. They would bed down with the Devil just to get rid of the boor in the White House. But unless really damning information emerges regarding Trump’s efforts to dig up dirt on his presumptive presidential rival, Joe Biden, it looks so far as if Trump may survive this latest scandal. Unless, of course, the mounting pressure on him seriously affects his health. He is showing clear signs of stress.

In a recorded 25 July phone call, Trump, a former reality TV star, asked Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a former TV comedy star, to dig up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump’s request came after a fawning Zelensky, who called Trump ‘teacher’, asked for more US anti-tank missiles.

Trump and Zelensky deny there is any quid pro quo. But of course, there was. It just went unstated. This is how statecraft is exercised. Washington rules its empire – that I call the ‘American Raj’ (title of my second book) – using a well-tested combination of trade concessions, velvet gloved threats, special favors, military pressure and good old quid pro quos.

When word of this sleazy business got out, thanks to a CIA whistleblower, Trump claimed he ordered his minions to suspend almost US $400 million in aid from Washington to Ukraine because of that nation’s ‘corruption.’

What a joke. The Trump administration has provided billions of military loans or grants to utterly corrupt Nigeria, Mexico, Kenya, India and Iraq, to name some of the most unethical recipients. Arms are lavished on Trump’s head-chopping Saudi pals. Israel gets carte blanche, no matter what it does.

Ukraine is a frontrunner in the world’s most corrupt marathon. I recall Soviet officials tearing their hair out at the stunning chicanery, malfeasance and gangsterism going on in Ukraine. One called it ‘the Soviet Sicily.’

I’m a long-time admirer and friend of Ukraine and its colorful, zesty people. But how dismaying it is to witness Ukraine’s political mud fight, its ubiquitous corruption, rampant oligarchs, neo-Nazi gangs and bitter squabbles with its Russian-speaking minority. Ukrainians deserve much better.

Ukraine is a tar baby of corruption. So what was Joe Biden’s son Hunter doing there on the board of an oil and gas business? Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was thrown into jail because of her dealings in this murky, crime-fraught business. The son of a vice president of the US had no business mixed up in this energy snake pit. Papa Joe should have ordered him home.

Detaching Ukraine from Russia has been a key US strategic goal since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Ukraine was a key component of the Soviet industrial and commercial system, not to mention Moscow’s geopolitical Achilles Heel. Detaching Ukraine would be like removing Texas and California from the United States.

Many Ukrainians were happy to be out of Moscow’s control and, hopefully, headed for union with Europe. The US and EU have funded Ukraine with $16 billion in aid that will never be repaid. Much of the money has vanished into Swiss banks.

But Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine’s industrial heartland in the east were violently opposed to rule by Kiev. So a low-grade war simmers between the two in which the US and Canada (with its large ethnic Ukrainian population) have gotten involved raising risks of an accidental war between NATO and Russia.

Trump, the master ethnic politician, was trying to capture the ethnic Ukrainian vote in the Midwest as he has successfully done with voters of Polish and Jewish origins. He has done the same with Evangelical voters by backing a Greater Israel and portraying himself as a later-day Biblical prophet.

It’s hard to believe the Democratic Party leadership – the people who rigged the last primary against the popular Bernie Sanders – believe they can unseat Trump. The math is totally against them. One supposes their hope is to whip up political chaos against Trump right up to next year’s election. That’s a feeble strategy and may help rather than hurt him.

 
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The Mideast has its own variety of crazy humor. The Saudis have been blasting and bombing wretched Yemen, one of this world’s poorest nations, since 2015.

These US-supported attacks and a naval blockade of Yemen imposed by Saudi Arabia and its sidekick ally, the United Arab Emirates, have caused mass starvation. No one knows how many Yemenis have died or are currently starving. Estimates run from 250,000 to one million.

The black humor? The Saudis just claimed they were victims of Iranian `aggression’ this past week after the kingdom’s leading oil treatment facility at Abqaiq was hit by a flight of armed drones or cruise missiles. The usual American militarists, now led by State Secretary Mike Pompeo after the demented warmonger, John Bolton, was finally fired, are calling for military retaliation against Iran even though the attack was claimed by Yemen’s Shia Houthi movement.

This drama came at roughly the same time that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of US president Donald Trump, vowed to annex Palestine’s entire Jordan Valley if elected. Not a peep of protest came from the US, which recently blessed Netanyahu’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights while scourging Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, for annexing Crimea – a Russian possession for over 300 years.

I studied US photos of the damaged Saudi oil installations. Its oil tanks appear to be precisely hit at the same place. After the attack, the Saudis claimed half of their oil production was knocked out; but a day later, they vowed production would be resumed within a week. Parts of so-called drones were shown that appeared way beyond the technological capabilities of Yemen or even Iran. The missiles may have been supplied by Ukraine.

The Saudis, like their patron in Washington, have a poor record for truthfulness. Remember the Saudi denials about the murder of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi? More important, we have been waiting for more false flag attacks in the Gulf designed to justify a US attack on Iran.

The pattern of so-called drone attacks against the Saudi oil installations is just too neat and symmetrical. The Israelis have a strong interest in promoting a US-Saudi War. The attacks in Saudi came ironically right after the anniversary of 9/11 that plunged the US into war against large parts of the Muslim world.

As a long-time military observer, I find it very hard to believe that drones could be guided over such long distances and so accurately without aircraft or satellites to guide them. In Yemen, which is just creeping into the 12th century, changing a flat tire is a major technological achievement. To date, Iran’s missile arsenal has poor reliability and major guidance problems.

Adding to the questions, the Saudis have spent billions on US-made air defense systems. They failed to protect the oil installations. The Saudis would have been better off buying air defenses from the Russians, at a quarter of the US selling price.

Trump at least showed some wisdom by so far rejecting demands from the neocons that surround him to launch major attacks on Iran. Blasting Iran would not serve much purpose and would expose US forces in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, and Syria to Iranian guerrilla attacks. Saudi oil installations – after what we saw last week – are vulnerable.

Attacking Iran, even if just from the air, risks a much wider Mideast war just as the Trump administration – which originally campaigned against ‘stupid’ Mideast wars – faces next year’s elections. But the administration is under intense pressure from its pro-Israel base to go after Iran.

Bombing Iran’s oil infrastructure would be relatively easy and has been intensively planned since early 2002. But what next? So-called ‘regime change’ (Washington’s favorite euphemism for overthrowing disobedient foreign governments) rarely works as planned and can get the US into horribly messy situations. The CIA overthrew Iran’s democratic government in 1953 and look where we are today.

Perhaps the attacks on Abqaiq may cause the reckless Saudi leaders to stop devastating Yemen and throttle back on their proxy war against Iran which has gone on since 1979. But don’t count on it.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Saudi Arabia 
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.