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Eric Margolis

Putin Heads Off a US-Russia War

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Has Russia’s Vladimir Putin pulled Barack Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire for a second time?

Will the shaky cease-fire in Ukraine that began this weekend hold up and end a conflict that was threatening a nuclear war between the United States and Russia?

The answer to the first question is yes. Remember back in 2013 when the Obama White House was threatening to attack Syria over allegations it was using poison gas?

As it turned out, the UN found it was the US-backed Syrian rebels who were likely to have used chemical weapons rather than the Damascus regime.

Noble Peace Prize Winner Obama and his lady strategists almost got the US into a war in Syria that could have led to direct clashes with Russia, which was backing the Damascus government.

Along came that unlikely man of peace, Russia’s Vlad Putin, who charted a diplomatic course out of the Syria mess for the bumbling White House which had talked itself into corner.
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Were the Saudis Behind 9/11?

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Claims that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks on America have been circulating since 2001. The Saudis have denied all such claims even though 15 of the 19 aircraft hijackers were Saudi citizens.

This week, allegations of Saudi involvement reignited as one of the men convicted in the 9/11 plot, Zacarias Moussaoui, reasserted the allegations. Moussaoui, who is in US maximum security prison, charges senior Saudi princes and officials bankrolled the 9/11 attacks and other al-Qaida operations. He may have been tortured and has mental problems.

Among the Saudis Moussaoui named are Prince Turki Faisal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, two of the kingdom’s most powerful and influential men. Turki was head of Saudi intelligence; Bandar ambassador to Washington during the Bush administration.

These accusations come at a time when there is a furious struggle in Washington over releasing secret pages of the Congressional Intelligence Committee report on the 9/11 attacks that reportedly implicated Saudi Arabia. The White House claims the report would be embarrassing and damage US-Saudi relations.
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March to Folly in Ukraine

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The United States has just made an exceptionally dangerous, even reckless decision over Ukraine. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who ended the Cold War, warns it may lead to a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

Rule number one of geopolitics: nuclear-armed powers must never, ever fight.

Yet Washington just announced that by spring, it will deploy unspecified numbers of military “trainers” to Ukraine to help build Kiev’s ramshackle national guard. Also being sent are significant numbers of US special heavy, mine resistant armored vehicles that have been widely used in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US and Poland are currently covertly supplying Ukraine with some weapons.

The US soldiers will just be for training, and the number of GI’s will be modest, claim US military sources. Of course. Just like those small numbers of American “advisors” and “trainers” in Vietnam that eventually grew to 550,000. Just as there are now US special forces in over 100 countries. We call it “mission creep.”
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Adios Cuba!

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It’s taken over half a century for the US to finally figure out how to neutralize pesky Communist Cuba. Invasions, air raids, crushing sanctions, attempts to murder the Castro leadership by exploding cigars and poisons, diplomatic isolation, poisoning crops – all failed.

Now, the lame duck Obama administration has finally figured out how to put an end to Cuba’s Communist system: human wave attacks by hordes of American tourists in loud golf wear yelling “USA, USA!” and waving Visa cards.

The flood gates open in March. Once this happens, the charming, lovely island of gracious people that I’ve known since my youth will go the way of Nineveh, Tyre and Atlantis. They’ll probably even rename eastern Cuba as Sandals III and Hedonism IV, while beautiful old Havana becomes Disney Pirate’s World.

My heart weeps at this prospect. What made Castro’s Cuba uniquely charming was its glorious dilapidation, quaint prudery, and freedom from consumer vulgarity.
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Nuclear Chicken in the Mideast

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To no surprise, nuclear talks between Iran and major world powers have become stalemated.

Iran will not sink “to its knees” to win a nuclear deal with the great powers, said its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after the failure of six months of talks in Vienna.

However, the talks will continue until at least next March. Pity the poor negotiators: besides being excruciatingly boring, dealing with the tough, savvy Iranians is like pulling teeth. The only nationality I ever saw get the better of Iranians in negotiations were Armenians.

The United States has been waging economic and political warfare on the Islamic Republic since 1979. Only Cuba has been pounded longer. Both have suffered hugely.

Of late, Iranian nuclear scientists and technicians have been murdered in broad daylight. Nuclear installations have been sabotaged. The Stuxnet virus allegedly unleashed by the US and Israel against Iran’s centrifuges risked a catastrophic explosion or the release of nuclear contamination. In neighboring, Iraq, some 300 of its former nuclear technicians and scientists have been mysteriously murdered during the US occupation.

Iran’s economy has been very seriously damaged by the US-led boycott and commercial restrictions. Iranians are suffering mounting inflation, shortages of goods, and a collapsing currency. Iranians are fed up being the target of western sanctions.
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ISIS: Fighting the Modern Wahabis

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Sir John Baggot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, was one of the modern Mideast’s most colorful and romantic figures. He and ‘Chinese’ Gordon of Khartoum were the last of the great British imperial officers.

Seconded by Britain to its protectorate, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Glubb built up its small Bedouin army, the Arab Legion, into the Arab world’s finest military force.

Glubb’s Arab Legion would likely have defeated Israel’s forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had Britain and Jordan’s double-dealing king Abdullah not blocked the Legion’s advance, as Glubb Pasha bitterly recalled in his memoires.

When asked which of his many medals and honors he valued most, Glubb surprisingly replied , “Defender of the Shepherds of Iraq, ” This obscure award was conferred upon Glubb by the King of Iraq when Sir John commanded the Iraq Border Constabulary during the 1930’s.
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No Good War; No Bad Peace

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A full century after World War I we still cannot understand how generals sent so many soldiers to be slaughtered. Ten million soldiers died on all sides; millions more were left maimed or shell shocked. Seven million civilians died. 20 million horses died.

The image we have of hapless soldiers being forced to climb out of their sodden trenches and attack across a hellish no-man’s land pock-marked by water-filled shell holes, deep mud, thickets of barbed wire and rotten bodies is quite accurate for the Western Front. Waiting for them were quick-firing guns, heavy artillery, the greatest killer or all – machine guns – and, later, poison or burning gases, and flamethrowers.

How could the generals of that era have been stupid enough to send waves and waves of their soldiers to almost certain death? Trench warfare in the West quickly became siege warfare in which decisive victories became almost impossible.

Only in the East did the brilliant German generals Hindenburg and Max Hoffman achieve a war of movement in which they destroyed two Russian armies attacking East Prussia. Their triumphant battles at Tannenburg and Masurian Lakes were partly based on Hannibal’s battlefield tactics at Cannae in 216 BC.
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Afghanistan: None Dare Call it a Defeat

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The last British soldiers were airlifted out of Afghanistan last week, marking the sorry end of Britain’s fourth failed invasion of Afghanistan. With them went the last detachment of US Marines in Helmand.

Well has Afghanistan earned its title, “Graveyard of Empires.”

To be more precise, this honor belongs to Afghanistan’s Pashtun (or Pathan) mountain tribes, who bend their knees for no man and take pride in war.

In my book, “War at the Top of the World,” I called Pashtun “the bravest men on earth.” Later, I would add the fierce Chechen to that illustrious fraternity.

The old imperialists are gone, but the occupation of Afghanistan continues. The new regime in Kabul just installed by Washington to replace uncooperative former ally Hamid Karzai, rushed to sign an “agreement” allowing the United States to keep some 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for years. This garrison will be exempt from all Afghan laws.
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Don't Let Lunatics Make Our Policies

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Things seemed crazy in the US and Canada last week, with a shooting on normally tranquil Parliament Hill in Ottawa and a grisly hatchet attack on two New York City policemen.

Add in an American doctor who returned to the big city from Ebola-stricken West Africa and proceeded to run around all over town – from the Bronx to the west Village to a bowling alley in Brooklyn – just as he was coming down with the dreaded sickness. New Yorkers are a pretty tough bunch, so panic was mild, but in this crowded city, it was still a big scare.

Because of this alarm, imposing quarantine on arrivals from disease-ridden West Africa seemed to make more and more sense. The governors of New York and New Jersey just called for such a sensible safety procedure. The Obama administration has opposed quarantines, likely for fear of angering black voters.
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The Real Secret of Iraq's Germ Weapons

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Back in the 1990’s, journalists used to joke, “Of course we know Iraq has chemical weapons. We have the delivery receipts to prove it!”

The joke turned out to be the exact truth.

While covering Iraq in 1990 – just before the first massive US bombing campaign – I discovered the US and Britain had secretly built a germ weapons arsenal for Iraq to use against Iran in the eight year-Iran-Iraq War.

This while both the US and Britain were fulminating with breathtaking hypocrisy against the alleged dangers of Iraq’s supposed WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) that never existed. Some years later, the two leading apostles of attacking Iraq, George W. Bush and Tony Blair, delivered Philippics against Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs while never mentioning that high level of western support for Iraq’s late leader.

Last week the widely read “New York Times” ran a multi-page exposé entitled “Abandoned Chemical Weapons and Secret Casualties in Iraq.”


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