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Eric Margolis

War in Syria Set to Intensify

Syrian Rebels 2

As Syria lies dying, western media cries, “we must save Syria’s suffering children.” Indeed so, among Syria’s nine million internal and external refugees, some 450,000 are children.

All civil wars are bloody and cruel, but Syria’s strife has reached new extremes of violence and mass civilian suffering as the US and Saudi Arabia use this once beautiful, bountiful nation as a proxy battleground against Iran.

I extensively covered Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war; its ghastly memory still makes me shudder. In the 14 wars I’ve reported on, Lebanon holds top ranking for barbarity and sadism. One friend of mine, the owner of women’s boutiques, became a paramilitary Rambo and went from selling perfume to cutting off and collecting the ears of Muslims.

A similar madness has descendent on Syria as its many ethnic and religious groups tear one another’s throats. Syria’s 630,000 Palestinian refugees have suffered frightfully, caught between the warring parties.


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'Vlad the Bad' Moves His Chess Pieces

Putinobama

Soviet leader Josef Stalin used to shrug off critics by his favorite Central Asian saying:  “The dogs bark; the caravan moves on.”

Russia’s hard-eyed president, Vladimir Putin, is following the same strategy over Ukraine and Crimea.

Putin swiftly moved his knight into the empty chess square of Crimea, thereby regaining full control of one of Russia’s four strategic port regions: Sevastopol, Murmansk, St Petersburg and Vladivostok.

Sevastopol, now firmly in Moscow’s hands, is Russia’s sole gateway to the Black Sea, Mediterranean, and Mideast.  The vast,  co-shared Russian-Ukrainian Sevastopol naval base was a shaky, awkward arrangement doomed to eventual failure.
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Stalin's Crimes Haunt Sochi Games

Sochi

Sochi seems a strange place to hold the Olympic games. First, it’s almost subtropical. To find snow, one must travel up to the Caucasus mountains.

The Black Sea resort is charming and exotic. But Sochi is a beach resort. No one knows if there will be enough snow for the skiing and snowboarding events being held on the low mountains behind.

Let me stop here and say that I consider all Olympic games a titanic waste of money that leave behind white elephant buildings and debts that never get paid off. Bread and circuses. Russia is blowing over $3 billion on this extravaganza. The games are just a huge commercial jamboree with faux patriotic overtones.

Second, there is the big security scare facing Russia from violent militants in the North Caucasus. The US government, trying to rain on Vlad Putin’s parade, actually warned American visitors to take extreme caution or just not go to Sochi because of the dangers of “terrorism.”
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Al-Qaeda is Everywhere!

Osama

How did al-Qaeda, a tiny anti-Communist group in Afghanistan that had no more than 200 active members in 2001 become a supposed worldwide threat?

How can al-Qaida be all over the Mideast, North Africa, and now much of black Africa? This after the US spent over $1 trillion trying to stamp out al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The answer is simple. As an organization and threat, al-Qaeda barely exists. But as a name, al-Qaeda and “terrorism” have become the west’s handy universal term for armed groups fighting western influence, corruption or repression in Asia and Africa. Al-Qaeda is nowhere  but everywhere.

If you’re a rebel group seeking publicity, the fastest way is by pledging allegiance to the shadowy, nowhere al-Qaeda.

Take Iraq, where fighting currently rages between the Shia government and Sunni militias in Anbar Province. Interestingly, the Sunni uprising is centered on Fallujah, which was almost flattened by US Marines and blasted apart by depleted uranium shells and illegal white phosphorus as a dire warning to Iraqis who resisted.
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World Danger Spots for 2014

Kiev Nov

Where are the world’s most dangerous places in 2014?

*Mostly forgotten, but the highly dangerous, Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir. Rebellion against Indian rule by Kashmir’s majority Muslims is again boiling. Over 1.6 million Indian and Pakistani troops, backed by nuclear weapons, are in confrontation. Skirmishing along Kashmir’s Line of Control is frequent. The nuclear strike forces of both India and Pakistan are on a perilous hair-trigger alert, with about three minutes warning of an enemy attack.

A false warning of incoming missiles or aircraft, a border clash, or a massive offensive by India exasperated by guerilla attacks from Pakistan could set off a war that could kill millions and pollute the entire planet with radioactive dust. India and Pakistan aside, hardly anyone even thinks about beautiful, remote, perilous Kashmir.



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The Phony Pullout From Afghanistan

Soviet Afghanistan

Those wondering what lies in store for Afghanistan need only look at the way the British Empire ruled Iraq in the 1920’s. As Shakespeare wrote, “what is past is prologue.”

Imperial Britain created the state of Iraq after World War I to secure Mesopotamia’s vast oil deposits that had become vital for the Royal Navy. To control this artificial nation seething with unrest, Britain imposed a puppet king, Faisal, and created a native army commanded by British officers.

Britain’s colonial rule was formalized by the 1930 Anglo-Iraq Treaty, a deal between puppet and master.

But real power in Iraq was held by the Royal Air Force, which was “granted” two permanent bases at Habbaniyah and Basra. The RAF ruled supreme over the open wastes of Iraq.
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Iran Gets Short End Of The Nuclear Deal

Iran Surrounded

After all the gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts and tearing of hair coming from Israel and its American supporters, you’d think last week’s nuclear deal in Geneva has opened the way for Iran to become a mighty nuclear weapons power.

Nonsense. Coolly examined, Tehran came off with the short end of the stick at the so-called P5 + 1 big power talks in Geneva. Here’s why:

Bowing to intolerable sanctions and economic warfare from the US, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment to only 5% (over 80% is needed to make a nuclear weapon). This low level is sufficiently only for power generation. Iran is to stop enriching to 20%, the level needed for medical isotopes.

Iran further agreed to halt construction of its Arak heavy water reactor that could eventually produce plutonium, a key nuclear weapons fuel. Tehran agreed not to build any new nuclear facilities, including next generation centrifuges, and grant daily access to UN nuclear inspectors at its top-secret Nantaz and Fordow plants. It will provide design plans for its Arak reactor.
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America's Little Spy Helpers Down Under Create an Uproar

Five Eyes

Indonesians are usually an easy-going, amiable people. But this week, they are boiling with anger and a sense of betrayal after revelations that Australia’s Signals Directorate had been tapping the phones of senior Indonesian government officials, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and, worst of all, his wife, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono.

Aussie intelligence was also spying in the very same senior Indonesian cabinet officials who, like the president, are regarded as staunch allies of the US and Australia. This electronic spying was part of the by now notorious, top secret Five Eyes joint intelligence operation between the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – aka “the white man’s spy agency.”

Five Eyes is run by the US National Security Agency; its other Anglo-Saxon members act as loyal junior partners, spying on their neighborhoods and, often, their own people. How much of their local data is passed to Washington is unknown, but it is likely substantial. Disturbingly, it was recently revealed that the US NSA passes information on US citizens to another ally, Israel.
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Ben Franklin Was Right About the NSA

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In 1975, I was invited to join the US Senate’s Church Committee that was formed after the Watergate scandals. Its goal was to investigate massive illegalities committed by the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI.

As a then staunch Republican, and having worked on President Nixon’s reelection campaign developing Mideast policy, I declined.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I should have joined the investigation.

Senator Frank Church warned: “ If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. “
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Stasi Meets Steve Jobs


“Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen’s mail” sniffed US Secretary of State Henry Stimson in 1929 when told that American cryptographers had broken Japan’s naval and diplomatic codes.

Stimson, who later headed the War Department, ordered code-breaking shut down.

Alas, there are not any old-school gentlemen left in Washington these days. Revelations of US electronic spying by whistleblower Edward Snowden have ignited a furor across Latin America and now Europe.
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