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Eric Margolis

Rebuild America and Fight China?

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In an age of TV politicians, President Joe Biden is a figure from another age. He is deeply unexciting and suffering from advanced age – a time in life which the great Charles de Gaulle compared to a “shipwreck.”

No mobs of baseball hat-wearing yahoos are about to storm the Capitol for Biden’s sake. However unexciting he may be, President Biden has acted with courage and foresight to enact what America so badly needed: moving away from a wartime to a peacetime economy.

America’s economy has been on a full wartime footing since the Vietnam War. The US Navy alone operates 11 big deck attack carriers, and twice that number of small carriers. A French admiral told me ruefully over a very nice dinner one night that the US Navy’s budget alone was larger than his nation’s entire military budget. US annual military spending amounts to nearly half the world’s total military outlays.

When invited to the Pentagon to consult on the Mideast and Afghanistan, I have always been amazed by the beehive of activity there. America’s vast military-industrial complex was in overdrive. It looked to me like America’s number one activity was war. Not big ones, like WWII, Korea or Vietnam but many small conflicts all over the globe – what British imperialists used to call “little wars.”
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Saving for a Rainy Day

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The really wealthy, vexed by tax collectors, pesky relatives, ex-wives and just plain thieves, long ago learned the wisdom of hiding their money and property. This is twice true for politicians.
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Afghanistan: Where's The Cash?

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Afghanistan’s US-run government was the world’s largest producer and exporter of opium, morphine, and the end-product, heroin.

As it did after first seizing power in the mid-1990’s, Taliban, the Islamic anti-drug and anti-communist movement, is shutting down the Afghan drug trade. Billions worth of heroin, opium and morphine that had been flowing into Central Asia, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Southeast Asia will be sharply reduced. Afghanistan’s drug-based economy is now in dire jeopardy.

But you would not know this if you follow the biased western press, notably the big US TV networks, social media and the BBC which thinks it’s Britain’s old colonial office. Western media has focused almost exclusively on the supposed plight of well-off westernized Afghan women in Kabul. That’s all you see on TV.

That these pampered ladies can’t easily get their nails done is not Afghanistan’s biggest problem. Nor is the closing of dance studios or fashion boutiques.
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Iraq Needs as Independent Government, not ‘Training’

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Will US occupation troops really leave Iraq? That’s the question that Washington is so far unable to answer. The White House says the official date of the long goodbye is this month, August 2021.

Donald Trump announced a pullout of US troops while still in office but his deadline was simply ignored by the new Biden administration which has also been under mounting pressure to end the two-decade US occupation of Mesopotamia. Left wing Democrats wanted a full end to the war the US has waged since 2003. Right-wing Republicans, blissfully unaware of Mideast realities, urged more troops be sent to Iraq.

After losing some 4,431 troops and 8,000 mercenaries (aka ‘contractors’) and 1,145 troops from allied nations dragooned into the Iraq conflict, and 31,994 wounded – many with serious head wounds from roadside bombs – Washington switched gears in Iraq and adopted the old British Imperial system of colonial rule.

The Britain Empire created Iraq in the 1920’s from the wreckage of the dying Ottoman Empire to secure possession of Mesopotamia’s abundant oil. At the time, the mighty Royal Navy was converting from coal to oil. Iraq became Britain’s vast fuel depot.

A new figurehead king from the Hashemite tribes was put into power by London, backed by a local constabulary, British garrison troops and, most effectively, the Royal Air Force.
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Graveyard of Empires

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The US-led war in Afghanistan looks to be ending, and not a day too soon. America’s father, Benjamin Franklin, wisely wrote: ‘No good war; no bad peace.’

Yet for 20 years, the United States waged all-out war against this small, remote, impoverished state whose only weapons were old AK47 rifles and the boundless courage of its fierce people.

In my first book about Afghanistan, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ written after being in the field with the anti-Soviet ‘mujahidin’ warriors, I called them ‘the bravest men on earth.’ Now, some 21 years later, I repeat this title.

For the past two decades, the Afghan nationalist mujahidin have faced the full might of the US empire: waves of B-1 and B-52 heavy bombers; fleets of killer drones, constant air strikes from US airbases in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Gulf; 300,000 US-financed Afghan mercenary troops; up to 120,000 US and NATO troops and other US-paid mercenaries; the brutal Communist-run Afghan secret police, regular government police, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek militias, hit squads sent by the US and Britain, plus famine and disease. Use of torture by western forces was rampant.
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‘Rule Britannia, Britannia Rule the Waves…’

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Time was when Britain’s mighty fleets ruled a quarter of the earth’s surface. I’ve been savoring the names of its dreadnaughts and battle cruisers like George V, Prince of Wales, Hood, Princess Royal, Iron Duke and scores of other renowned warships.

Last week, the imperial British lion made a last, feeble roar by sending one of its new anti-aircraft destroyers, ‘Defender,’ to annoy the Russians by patrolling off the south-western coast of Crimea.

Russia and Ukraine both claim Crimea, which had been Russian since 1783. After a drunken dinner, the late Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, ‘gave’ the Crimean SSR to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

Russia reoccupied Crimea, one of Russia’s most important naval bases, after a US-led coup overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian government in 2014. The UK, US and rest of NATO insist Crimea belongs to Ukraine. Of course they do. They engineered it.
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Trump's Mideast Mirage

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The Trump administration, desperate for some good news, just manufactured its own news by confecting a ‘peace’ deal between Israel and a bunch of pipsqueak Arab monarchies – just in time for November US elections.

The Gulf monarchies – the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – that signed this agreement are so frightened of neighboring Iran that they would happily have opted for Israeli rule rather than welcome the angry, unforgiving Iranians, who call the Gulf Arabs ‘traitors, cowards and backstabbers,’ a sentiment shared by much of the Arab world.

Few Americans could find these little sheikdoms on a map. But many evangelical voters, who have a comic-book view of the Mideast, will think the Trump administration has achieved a major feat by supposedly bringing peace to the Holy Land. Cynics, among them many Israelis, will likely scoff at such falafel in the sky thinking. Oman is expected to sign the new accord.

Israel remains intent on expanding its borders to gobble up all of what was historic Palestine and its water resources. Five million Palestinians will remain stateless. Israel also has its eye on fertile parts of Syria and Lebanon.
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Grand Theft Property

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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.
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How the US Runs Iraq

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What ever happened to Iraq? Is it not an independent country with a democratic government thanks to the 2003 US invasion? So says Washington.

The murder of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani suddenly shone a strobe light on ‘independent’ Iraq, and what we saw was not pretty.

Welcome to the new Imperialism 101.

Iraq’s population is estimated around 39 million. The pre-war Iraq of 2003 was broken into three parts by the US-British invasion: the Shia majority; Kurds in the north; and Sunnis, with scatterings of other ethnicities. Iraq remains fragmented into hostile groups.

Its Shia are confusingly allied to the US and Iran. The killing of Maj. Gen. Soleimani by the Americans has thrown this alliance of convenience into confusion. Iraqi Kurds are close to the CIA and Israel’s Mossad intelligence. The Sunnis are left adrift, without any foreign patrons except for other feeble Arab states.
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The Mafia Would Have Been Proud

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The US drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iran’s top commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and a senior leader of Iraq’s Shia militia, has set the Mideast on fire. The Trump administration, which authorized the assassination, called it a ’pre-emptive’ strike. Iran branded it ‘outright murder.’

Soleimani was Iran’s second most powerful figure and a national icon. He headed up the Quds Force, the elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a key player in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf region. Soleimani was also the most capable, intelligent and effective military leader in a region of third rate generals.

The 62-year-old general distinguished himself in the long Iraq-Iran War, the dirty war in Lebanon, and operations in Iraq. He played a key role in defeating the ultra-radical Islamic State movement in Iraq, working in tandem with the US. Soleimani helped turn the tide of battle in Syria, saving the regime of Bashar Assad.

As a result of his battlefield and political successes, Soleimani earned the enmity of the US, Israel and the US media. So many assassination attempts were launched against him that Iran’s spiritual leader dubbed him a ‘living martyr.’
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