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Eric Margolis

Turkey Calls Trump's Bluff

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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.
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Bomb Iran Half Way Back to the Stone Age

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Is it just a coincidence that TV networks are re-running old “Dirty Harry” films just as a powerful US Naval armada and Air Force B-52 bombers are headed for what could be a clash with Iran? Here we go again with the “good guys” versus the “bad guys,” and “make my day.”
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Another 'Jolly Little War'?

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Sure. Let’s invade Venezuela. Another jolly little war. It’s full of commies and has a sea of oil. The only thing those Cuban-loving Venezuelans lack are weapons of mass destruction.

This week, leading US neocons openly threatened that if the CIA’s latest attempts to stage a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s Maduro government failed, Washington might send in the Marines.

Well, the coup was a big fiasco and the Venezuelan army didn’t overthrow President Maduro. The CIA also failed to overthrow governments in Moscow, Tehran and Damascus. Its only "success" to date has been in overthrowing Ukraine’s pro-Moscow government and putting a bunch of corrupt clowns in its place at a cost near $10 billion.

The US has not waged a major successful war since World War II – unless you count invading Grenada, Panama and Haiti, or bombing the hell out of Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Libya. That’s a sobering thought given the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it is cutting back on little colonial wars (aka ‘the war on terror’) to get ready for real big wars against Russia and China, or even North Korea.
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Trump's Crusaders March To War

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The world is still reeling in horror from the deadly Sri Lanka bombings that may have been the work of Islamic State madmen. Poor Sri Lanka has suffered so much after three decades of civil war and communal strife. We weep for this beautiful and once gentle nation.
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The Russians Are Not Coming!

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Not since the witchcraft hysteria of the Middle Ages have we seen such a display of human idiocy, credulity and absurdist behavior. I refer, of course, to the two-year witch hunt directed against President Donald Trump which hopefully just concluded last week – provided that the Hillaryites, Democratic dopes and secret staters who fueled this mania don’t manage to keep the pot boiling.

This column has said from Day 1 that claims Trump was somehow a Russian agent were absurd in the extreme. So too charges that Moscow had somehow rigged US elections. Nonsense. We know it’s the US that helps rig elections around the globe, not those bumbling Russians who can’t afford the big bribes such nefarious activity requires.

What Muller found after he turned over the big rock was a bevy of slithering, slimy creatures, shyster lawyers, and sleazes that are normally part of New York’s land development industry. No surprise at all that they surrounded developer Trump. Son-in-law Jared Kushner hails from this same milieu. The Kushners are pajama-party buddies with Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Breaking Our Biggest Taboo

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Saying anything negative about Israel has long been the third rail of US politics and media. Israel is our nation’s most sacred cow. Any questioning of its behavior brings furious charges of anti-Semitism and professional oblivion.

I keep in my bookcase a cautionary book, "They Dared Speak Out" written by US senators and congressmen who all lost their positions after rebuking Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians or daring to suggest that Israel had far too much influence in the US.

Journalists learn this first commandment very early. Criticize, or even question, Israel at your own peril. Until recently, we journalists were not even allowed to write there was an "Israel lobby." It was widely considered Washington’s most powerful lobby group but, until lately, mentioning its name was seriously verboten.

Now, young Democratic stars Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a feisty congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, have suddenly broken the taboo and said what dared not be said: there is too much rightwing Israeli influence and there must be justice for Palestine.
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A Long Way to go For Dinner

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President Donald Trump’s air trip to Vietnam cost taxpayers $5,695,000 just for the president’s flying Taj Mahal. Plus millions more for his retainers, the presidential limo, hotel rooms, meals, security details and only Ho Chi Minh knows what else.

For what? A nice photo op and a cheery dinner for the two leaders in Hanoi. Just about everyone who follows Asian affairs knew in advance that North Korean dynastic strongman (aka king) had no interest or good reason for giving up his nuclear program. The director of US national intelligence, Dan Coates, told Trump as much last week.

Many moons ago, I worked in Jamaica on land and port development projects. The boss of my firm, a self-important, bigwig, used to brush off each new problem by saying in his melodious English-Jamaican accent, ‘don’t worry, I will neeeegotiate it!’ But more often than not, the chief negotiator made a mess of things.

America’s self-proclaimed chief negotiator just did the same in Vietnam. Either he was so anxious to get out of Washington to avoid the rising storm of scandals he faces or he thought he could flatter the North Korean leader into giving up his nuclear weapons, the only thing that prevents a US invasion of North Korea or a regime change operation.
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Hate-Fest in Warsaw

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Warsaw, Poland is not a fun place to visit in darkest February, but that is where the US just staged an anti-Iranian jamboree of 60 client states that brought derision and scorn from Europeans and much of the Mideast.

The point of this cynical exercise was to lay the diplomatic groundwork for an anti-Iranian coalition to act as a fig-leaf for an upcoming attack on Iran planned by President Donald Trump and his close ally, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

The real question is who is calling the shots in bleak Warsaw, Trump or Bibi Netanyahu?  It seems to many that the Israeli tail is again wagging the American dog.

This is thanks to the power of America’s born-again evangelicals, hoodwinked into believing that a Greater Israel is somehow a key part of the Second Coming of Christ.

A Fox News poll this week finds that a quarter of these credulous folks believe that God actually summoned Donald Trump to become president.  This may even be more than the number of Americans who believe that Elvis is still alive.  More proof that the Republicans have pretty much become a theological party.
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America's Shameful War

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The United States, champion of freedom and self-determination, is now in its 18th year of colonial war in Afghanistan. This miserable, stalemated conflict is America’s longest and most shameful war. So far it has cost over $1 trillion and killed no one knows how many Afghans.
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Some Confucian Calm, Please!

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The United States and China look like two punch-drunk prizefighters squaring off for a major championship fight. They have no good reason to fight and every reason to cooperate now that both their stock markets have been in turmoil.
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