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 TeasersEric Margolis Blogview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother Nature’s revenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, we remain fixated on some of its worst crimes. But only some. The incessant use of Holocaust remembrance has been cynically used by some on the hard right to justify Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people and the expansion of the Jewish state.

For example, Israel’s rightist government waited until the 75th anniversary celebrations of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp by the Red Army to announce it planned to annex 30% more of the Palestinian West Bank. Few outside the Mideast took notice.

We rightfully remember the horrors of the Nazi system. But what about a far larger, more murderous system that has faded from our memory, the Soviet Gulag? Who remembers Kolyma, Magadan, the White Sea Canal, the frigid winter steppes of Kazakhstan, the BAM railroad, and Vorkuta? Or the Soviet arctic mines where prisoners had to dig lethal uranium with their bare hands.

An estimated 10 million political prisoners were murdered in the Soviet Gulag during Trotsky and Stalin’s regimes. Some leading Russians historians say up to 20 million died in the Gulag. That’s well double the number claimed to have died or been killed in Nazi camps.

This campaign of mass murder and deportation began in the 1920’s and peaked in the 1930’s, though it continued until Stalin’s death in 1953. Entire peoples like Chechen and Ingush were massacred. An estimated four million Soviet Muslim citizens died. The Baltic States were decimated. Prisoners in the Gulag were worked to death and starved. An estimated 6 million Ukrainian farmers were starved to death by Stalin’s NKVD secret police and gangs of Red thugs.

The arch criminal who directed genocide in Ukraine, Lazar Kaganovich, was presented a Soviet medal for heroism. Stalin, speaking to Roosevelt, even called him ‘my Eichmann’ after the notorious Nazi killer of Jews. At that time, according to the late KGB general Pavel Sudoplatov, whose wife was Jewish and related to Kaganovich, Soviet Jews made up a large percentage of the Secret police and the officials who ran the Gulag.

None of the major Russian criminals who ran the security services ever faced legal charges for their role in the Cheka’s terrible crimes. Some, like Yagoda, Yezhov, Abakumov and Beria, were executed, but for reasons of murderous internal politics. Kaganovich, the murderer of six million Ukrainian farmers, lived into ripe old age in Moscow.

The Gulag camps were gradually shut down after Stalin’s death. But the draconian Soviet prison system remains down to our day. An important Russian organization, Memorial, still tries to keep alive the frightful history of the Gulag, as have many Russian writers, notably the great Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

But few in today’s Russia look back. Unlike westerners who see nightly programs about Nazi atrocities, Russians don’t see much of their past except for heroic programs on World War II. At least Russians know that their nation defeated Nazi Germany. Westerners still are falsely told that the Allies won the war at Normandy.

Equally important, the war propaganda keeps on flowing. At war’s end, British propagandists began a major campaign to emphasize the horrors of the German camps in order to divert attention from the horrors of the Gulag. Now, 75 years later, very few remember the Gulag, but everyone knows what Hitler had for breakfast.

The Allies were ashamed of having been allied to a regime far more murderous and cruel than the Third Reich. So Stalin’s crimes were played down while Hitler’s were accentuated and endlessly repeated.

In fact, we still have much to learn about the 1930’s and 1940’s as they are still obscured by veils of propaganda and half-truths. Franklin Roosevelt was fond of calling Stalin ‘Uncle Joe. What a fool.

Unlike Roosevelt, Stalin was no fool but a sharp-eyed realist. He rightly noted that the death of a single person is called a tragedy while that of millions is merely a statistic. This is precisely what the Gulag and Stalinism remain: statistics.

How about a moment of silence to remember the victims of Vorkuta and Magadan or Chechnya?

An inmate, or ‘zek’ sentenced to the Gulag for ten years, was asked what his crime was. ‘Nothing,’ he replied. ‘That’s a lie’ replied another zek. ‘The sentence for nothing is twenty years.’

 
• Category: History • Tags: Iosif Stalin, Russia, Soviet Union, Ukraine, World War II 
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In 1916, as World War I raged on, a British diplomat, Mark Sykes, met with his French counterpart from the Quai d’Orsay, Monsieur Picot, and signed an agreement to partition the Ottoman Empire once victory was achieved.

The heart of the Mideast – Palestine, Syria and Iraq – was divided between Britain and France. Italy and Russia were offered other Ottoman lands: southern Turkey was promised to Italy and Constantinople to Russia. All this was top secret but was later revealed by the Bolsheviks after their 1917 revolution.

We have not seen such an example of breathtaking cynicism and perfidy until this week when President Donald Trump unveiled his so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ as his final solution to the fate of the long-suffering Palestinians.

Standing next to Trump was Israel’s beaming Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who just got more land than his far-right, expansionist coalition had even dreamed of. It was not a coincidence that Trump had recently been accused of high crimes by the US House, while his buddy ‘Bibi’ had just been indicted for low crimes by Israel’s attorney general.

However, the real godfather in this historic theft was sitting almost unnoticed by media next to the presidential podium, looking very much the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary. Billionaire gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife beamed as their ‘boys’, Trump and Bibi, proclaimed their newly configured Mideast.

Close by was Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a friend of the Netanyahu clan. Kushner’s father, Charles, served 14 months in federal prison for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. Such is the milieu from which real estate developer Trump emerged.

Under Trump’s ‘deal,’ Israel is to formally annex about 30% of the West Bank, the Arab area it conquered in the 1967 war. This will include all Jerusalem and an archipelago of Jewish settlements on the West Bank that were implanted to thwart any possible creation of a viable Palestinian state.

Israel will control all borders of the resulting Palestinian entity, a patchwork of feeble, isolated South-African apartheid Bantustans with no airports, no control over its airspace or maritime borders – and no interest in its increasingly important offshore energy resources. Israel gets most of the West Bank’s useful farmland and water resources. Palestinians are left with scrub, sand and some goats.

Palestinian’s claim of a right of return for their 5 million refugees scattered around Israel’s borders will be forever rejected. Israel’s right wing says there is no room for any Palestinians, though room was found in previous years for one million Russians, Jews and non-Jews. More are hoped for if Vladimir Putin gives the green light. All attempts by Palestine to seek remedies from the International Court of Justice will be quashed.

The rich oil Arabs of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia will be asked to buy off Palestinian refugees. They have stabbed the Palestinians in the back. Deeply fearful of Iran, these kleptomaniac Arab monarchies have thrown themselves at Trump’s feet and are kowtowing to Israel’s far right. Israel has achieved a brilliant victory by enlisting the oil Arabs on its side and presiding over the deep split in Palestinian ranks between the PLO and Hamas.

The Greater Israel crowd in the US has almost total control of America’s Senate. This is mainly thanks to Adelson’s donations of over $100 million to the Republicans and relentless support from pro-Israel media like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, NBC and Hollywood.

Add to this the unquestioning support of 80% of Evangelicals who make up a quarter of Republican voters. This cult believes that Christ will return once modern Israel attains its Biblical borders, and then Earth can be destroyed by fire and brimstone. Israel has cleverly exploited these credulous rustics who form Trump’s key electoral base. Trump is increasingly being compared to the Bible’s King David of Israel. That’s a long way from Queens, New York.

As they ask in my native New York City, “Is it good for the Jews?”, the answer is a resounding no! The Trump-Bibi theft of ancestral Arab lands condemns Arabs and Jews to another five decades of violence and hatred. The Promised Land was not supposed to be like this.

 
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Plagues from the east are nothing new. The Black Death and other epidemics arrived in Europe from China during the 1300’s, killing a large percentage of its population. Much of this pestilence came from rats that stowed away on merchant ships coming from the east.

At the end of World War I, another pandemic, wrongly called the Spanish flu, killed an estimated 18 to 50 million people in Europe and North America.

Seventeen years after the SARS virus killed some 800 people in China and Canada and terrified the entire world, a new plague threatens the West: the Wuhan Coronavirus.

Officially named 2019-nCoV, the new virus has so far infected over 800 people in China. This latest plague erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, population 11 million, which is located on the Yangtze River and is an important hub for national communications.

Like SARS, the Wuhan virus is believed to have come from a live animal market that specializes in exotic animals from the Himalayas or China’s remote mountain regions. Serving exotic animals at dinner parties is a big status symbol in China. Sometimes they are even served while still alive. Dog meat is a favorite in northern China.

SARS was believed to have come from civet cats. As a result, thousands of these creatures were brutally killed. But it was later determined the virus originated from bats, then spread to other captive animals. Bat soup is another Chinese delicacy.

Keeping large numbers of captive animals crammed together in cages with poor ventilation and no cleaning is an ideal vector for viral diseases. Each year, China consumes 730 million pigs. Fifty percent of China’s factory farmed pigs have so far contracted lethal swine flu. Rising living standards have boosted demand for pork.

I have seen how China raises and transports pigs. It’s a nightmare of brutality and inhuman behavior. No wonder so many of these intelligent sensitive animals fall ill and die. Swine fever could be payback for China’s terrible cruelty to pigs.

And it’s not just China. Pigs in North America are treated almost as badly. A lady where I live was actually jailed and prosecuted for having given water to a truckload of thirsty, starving, terrified pigs on the way to the slaughterhouse.

In North America, animals destined for slaughter are packed together and then dosed with heavy antibiotics to combat communicable diseases from over-crowding and mistreatment.

When the SARS epidemic erupted in South China 17 years ago, the Chinese communist party tried to hush up the crisis, allowing infected people to travel to North America and Europe.

This time, China did the right thing by jumping hard on the epidemic: shutting down all air, sea and land communications with the greater Wuhan region and 14 smaller cities – right in the middle of China’s huge new year celebrations when over 400 million people return to their homes. The epidemic could not have come at a worse time.

Some Wuhan residents have already flown to other parts of Asia and North America. Simply checking incoming air travelers for fever will not prevent the virus from spreading or identify passengers who have contracted and are developing the illness.

A better solution would be to quarantine all people arriving from Central China and even bar airlines coming from there until we better understand the new virus. We stop so-called ‘terrorists’ and Muslims from flying to our shores. Why not potentially infective people?

China must also be pressed to cease its dangerous, inhumane trade in exotic wild animals and urged to treat all animals with humanity and care. China is a major cause of species loss. Aside from a few brave animal rights groups, there is very little consciousness of our animal neighbors in China nor understanding that animals are sentient beings with emotions similar to those of humans. The Chinese are one of the most intelligent people on earth. Yet when it comes to animals, all they see is walking food.

As I’ve seen on my travels across China, it has made great strides in public sanitation and cleanliness as well as planting trees. Now, it’s time to stop abusing animals or the plagues will keep coming.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: China, Coronavirus, Disease 
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“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.”

General Dwight D Eisenhower
Farewell address 1961

Congress just passed a near trillion dollar military budget at a time when the United States faces no evident state threats at home or abroad. Ike was right.

Illustrating Ike’s prescient warning, Brown University’s respected Watson Institute just released a major study which found that the so-called ‘wars on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan have cost US taxpayers $6.4 trillion since they began in 2001.

The extensive study found that over 800,000 people have died as a result of these military operations, a third of them civilians. An additional 21 million civilians have been displaced by US military operations. According to the Pentagon, these US wars have so far cost each American taxpayer $7,623 – and that’s a very conservative estimate.

Most of this money has been quietly added to the US national debt of over $23 trillion. Wars on credit hide the true cost and pain from the public.

As General Eisenhower warned, military spending has engulfed the nation. A trillion annual military budget represents just about half the world’s military expenditures. The Pentagon, which I’ve visited numerous times, is bustling with activity as if the nation was on a permanent war footing.

The combined US intelligence budget of some $80 billion is larger than Russia’s total military budget of $63 billion. US troops, warplanes and naval vessels are stationed around the globe, including, most lately, across Africa. And yet every day the media trumpets new ‘threats’ to the US. Trump is sending more troops to the Mideast while claiming he wants to reduce America’s powerful military footprint there. Our military is always in search of new missions. These operations generate promotions and pay raises, new equipment and a reason for being.

Back in the day, the Republican Party of General Eisenhower was a centrist conservative’s party with a broad world view, dedicated to lower taxes and somewhat smaller government. It was led by the Rockefellers and educated Easterners with a broad world view and respect for tradition.

Today’s Republican Party is a collection of rural interests from flyover country, handmaidens of the military industrial complex and, most important, militant evangelical Christians who see the world through the spectrum of the Old Testament. Israel’s far right has come to dominate American evangelists by selling them a bill of goods about the End of Days and the Messiah’s return. Many of these rubes see Trump as a quasi-religious figure.

Mix the religious cultists – about 25% of the US population – with the farm and Israel lobbies and the mighty military industrial complex and no wonder the United States has veered off into the deep waters of irrationality and crusading ardor. The US can still afford such bizarre behavior thanks to its riches, magic green dollar, endless supply of credit and a poorly educated, apathetic public too besotted by sports and TV sitcoms to understand what’s going on abroad.

All the war party needs is a steady supply of foreign villains (preferably Muslims) who can be occasionally bombed back to the early Islamic age. Americans have largely forgotten George W. Bush’s lurid claims that Iraqi drones of death were poised to shower poisons on the sleeping nation. Even the Soviets never ventured so deep into the sea of absurdity.

The military industrial complex does not care to endanger its gold-plated F-35 stealth aircraft and $13 billion apiece aircraft carriers in a real war against real powers. Instead, the war party likes little wars against weak opponents who can barely shoot back. State-run TV networks thrill to such minor scraps with fancy headlines and martial music. Think of the glorious little wars against Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. Iran looks next.

The more I listen to his words, the more I like Ike.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, History • Tags: American Military, Iran, Iraq War 
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.