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Eric Margolis

Cautious Outrage Over Alleged Foley Execution

Foley

The alleged beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the shadowy ISIS (or Islamic State) has sparked outrage and horror around the globe.

I say “alleged” because we are not sure if the decapitation was real or faked.

After three decades of covering wars in the Mideast, Africa, Latin America, and Afghanistan, my reaction as a journalist was also outrage – but cautious outrage.

We westerners have a charming and quaint belief that killing people from the air by using bombs, rockets, shells, napalm and cluster munitions – or even nuclear weapons – is somehow not really as bad as ramming a bayonet into an enemy, blowing him to pieces with heavy artillery, or slashing his throat the way sheep are killed

Air warfare is clean. Air warfare is the American way of war.


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What if There's a Real War in Ukraine?

East Ukraine Shelling

Russia and the West are at war – over fruits, veggies, pork, and bank loans. The cause is Ukraine, a vast emptiness formerly unknown to the western world,  but now deemed a vital national security interest worthy of a risking a very scary war.

Economic embargos such as those launched by the US against Russia may seem relatively harmless. They are not. Trade sanctions are a form of strategic warfare that is sometimes followed by bullets and shells.

Think, for good example, of the 1940 US embargo against Japan that led Tokyo’s fateful decision to go to war rather than face slow, economic strangulation. How many Americans know that President Roosevelt closed the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping to enforce demands that Tokyo get out of Manchuria and China?

Frighteningly, today, there are senior officials in Washington and Moscow who are actually considering a head on clash in Ukraine between Russian forces and NATO – which is an extension of US military power.
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Israel's 155mm Cure For ‘Terrorism’

Kerry Netanyahu

In 1956, Britain and France were convinced that Egypt’s charismatic nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was threatening what was left of their Mideast and African colonial empires. London branded Nasser, “Hitler on the Nile.”

So the British and French governments secretly enlisted Israel to invade and annex Egypt’s Sinai. British and French troops were to seize the Canal Zone in a supposed “peacekeeping mission,” march on Cairo, and install a puppet government there. Israel would keep the entire Sinai Peninsula.

The infamous Suez invasion turned into a humiliating debacle for the bungling British and French; Nasser became a hero to the entire Third World. But Israel tenaciously hung on to Sinai, claiming it needed the peninsula "for security."

When US President Dwight Eisenhower learned of the UK-French-Israeli plan to grab the Suez Canal and march on Cairo, he was furious. Ike ordered the British and French out of Egypt under threat of collapsing their weak currencies. Eisenhower told Israel to get out of Sinai – or else. Israel got out.
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David Versus Goliath in Gaza

Gaza Gas

Israel is clearly winning the David v. Goliath struggle with Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, seized on the murder in June of three Jewish teenagers from a West Bank settlement to launch Israel’s third war against Gaza in six years.

So far, some 230 Palestinians have been killed, 70% women and children, and one Israeli has died. Israeli bombing and shelling has made the rubble in Gaza bounce.

As in the two previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, it’s unclear who began the reciprocal rounds of shelling. Palestinians claim Israel broke what had been a successful, 18-month cease-fire; Israel claims Hamas fired first.

In fact, the latest conflict was likely begun by rockets launched against Israel by the militant Islamic Jihad movement to avenge an air attack by Israel on its members. Israel knows just how to provoke the Palestinians to violence.
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In Washington's View, It's Still 1945 in Europe

Obama Merkel

Just how independent is the European Union? Given recent events involving the United States and its European allies, one really must wonder.

First, there was the US National Security Agency brazenly tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private cellphone and, very likely, many more vip’s in Germany, a key US ally and Europe’s most important nation.

Washington and the NSA shrugged off this horribly embarrassing incident with the usual “well, everyone does it.”

Not true. Imagine the stink if Germany bugged President Barack Obama’s Blackberry. Chancellor Merkel was humiliated but she downplayed the scandal, unable or unwilling to chastise the US by taking any real punitive action – like closing one of the 69-year old US military bases in Germany.

Next, Britain’s Mutual Defense Agreement with the US is up for renewal. This 1958 pact is the foundation of the much ballyhooed US-British “Special Relationship.”

This writer has reported for years that Britain cannot fire its nuclear-armed missiles without Washington turning the key via special codes. Now, we learn that Britain’s nukes also contain components that only the US can provide. France, at least, has an independent nuclear force.
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Payback Time For Sarko In France’s Dirty Politics?

Thanks France Libya

Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s dramatic criminal interrogation last week shows once again that the politics of the French Republic remain waist-deep in sewage. It was also an affront and humiliation of a former – and would be future – French president.

Sarkozy was picked up from his Paris home before eight AM and whisked off to a police and judicial center in the outskirts of the capitol. He was subjected to 15 hours of intensive questioning, then taken at two AM to be arraigned (‘mis en examen’) for possible corruption and perversion of justice.

“Grotesque” claimed Sarkozy the next day, insisting he was being humiliated and persecuted by leftwing political enemies in the judiciary. He may have been right. Such Stasi-like treatment of a former president was unprecedented and unnecessary. It was revealed that Sarkozy’s cell phone had been tapped by magistrates for over a year. What was going on?
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Iraq Blows Wide Open

Bush

The late Saddam Hussein was certainly right when he predicted that America’s invasion of Iraq would become “the Mother of All Battles.” Eleven years later, it continues.

This week saw the collapse of two divisions of Iraq’s government army, a full 30,000 men running like chickens before the relentless advance of the fighters of ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Shams(Syria). The same puppet army trained and equipped for a decade by the US at a cost of $14 billion. An evil portent of what awaits Afghanistan’s US-led  army and police.

Remember when President George W. Bush boasted, “mission accomplished?” Was not the wicked Saddam Hussein lynched by US Shia allies? Wasn’t the dreaded al-Qaida defeated and its leader, Osama bin Laden, assassinated? Remember all that crowing from Washington about “draining the swamp” in Iraq?

As soon as the US knocks down one challenger to its domination of the Mideast – which I call the American Raj -  another rises up. The latest: ISIS, a fierce jihadist force that now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS is a combination of Sunni jihadist groups fighting the Shia-backed Damascus government of Bashar Assad (a US enemy backed by Shia Iran), and resurgent units of Saddam’s old Ba’athist army, led by Izzat Ibrahin al-Douri, the last surviving member of Saddam’s inner circle, and a handful of al-Qaida in Iraq.
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The Big Snub in Paris

Obama Putin

Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin were ships passing in the night while in Paris for the G-7 meeting.

The American president reportedly refused to dine with Putin, who was being hosted by France’s president Francois Hollande as part of the D-Day commemoration.

So Hollande, who is on a diet after being called a “little fat man” by former president Nicholas Sarkozy, was forced to host two back-to-back dinners, the first for Obama and the second, delicately described in French as a “souper,” or smaller supper, for Vlad Putin, who is not anyway a big eater or drinker.

How remarkably childish and silly all this was. Obama and America’s European allies are cold-shouldering Putin for re-absorbing Crimea into Russia, to which it had belonged for 300 years, and for stirring the pot in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, US military forces are in action or based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Djibouti, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Central African Republic, Colombia,  Kenya, Europe, South Korea, Japan – in fact, around the globe. 

In Paris, the leading  European NATO members met separately with President Putin while Washington continued its big snub. The EU’s economy is too involved with Russia to indulge in political theatrics.
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The Great Western Gas Fiasco

Putin Chin

Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin usually wears a perfect poker face. But last week in Shangahi, the icy-cold Russian president came awfully close to bursting into a big grin.

And why not? Putin had just stolen a march on his western rivals. The US-British attempt to wound Russia’s economy and punish Putin for disobedience had just blown up in their red faces.

After 20 years of difficult talks, Russia and China had just signed a huge deal that called for Russia to export 38 billion cubic meters of gas worth some $400 billion to China. The agreement begins in 2018 and will involve one of the globe’s largest engineering projects that links Russia’s remote gas fields to China’s pipeline system.

In addition, China will invest at least $20 billion in Russian industry and boost imports of Russian products, notably military systems. China will become Russia’s largest trade partner.

This was not the much ballyhooed “pivot to Asia” that President Barack Obama expected. It is, however, the long-dreaded embrace between the Chinese dragon and Russian bear that has given western strategists the willies.
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Why Deal When Israel Holds All The Cards

Kerry Israel

Did anyone really think that John Kerry’s nine-month effort to produce a Palestinian mini-state would ever work? If so, they were either ignorant of the Mideast, naïve, or deeply cynical.

The best one could say about Kerry’s fiasco was that it was a charade designed to show America’s Arab allies that Washington was really making an effort to resolve the nearly seven-decade suffering of the 5 million homeless Palestinians.

In 2002, I wrote that the latest Arab-Israel peace initiative – called “the roadmap to peace” – would be a dead end in the desert. So it was, and so was each ensuing peace spasm as Washington beseeched, begged , implored, cajoled and pleaded with Israel to allow creation of a small, semi-independent Palestinian state on the Israel-occupied West Bank.
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