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Eric Margolis

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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A Big Step for Greater Israel

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Hardly anyone noticed. The Trump administration quietly changed America’s long-held position on Syria’s strategic Golan Heights while attention was focused on the raucous political carnival in Washington. Though barely noticed, the policy change had enormous importance and will lead the United States into a lot of future Mideast misery.

The Golan Heights is a volcanic plateau that abuts Syria, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. The plateau rises abruptly from the plain of Galilee, providing dominance of the entire region. To the north, Mt Hermon rises to over 9,000 feet (2,814 meters); the plateau slopes down at its southern extremity.

Golan provides the headwaters of the Jordan River and 15-20% of Israel’s water from its snow-capped north. Israeli artillery atop Golan can hit Damascus and its airport. Electronic intelligence systems on Golan look down onto southern Syria, intercepting all communications and detecting troop movements.
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We Are Headed For Another Tragedy Like WWI

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We are now before the 100th anniversary of World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars. While honoring the 16 million who died in this conflict, we should also condemn the memory of the politicians, officials and incompetent generals who created this horrendous blood bath. I’ve walked most of the Western Front of the Great War, visited its battlefields and haunted forts, and seen the seas of crosses marking its innumerable cemeteries.
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Let Koreans Solve Their Own Problems

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Springtime in Korea. Peace and love have erupted all over the mountainous peninsula as the leaders of the two rival nations seek to end the nearly seven decades of hostility between them. One can’t underestimate the passionate longing felt by most Koreans on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for some form of reunification – or at least reattachment – of the two nations
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Trump's Reckless Hostility Unites China and Russia

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Good work Mr. President! You have now managed to lay the groundwork for a grand Chinese-Russian alliance. The objective of intelligent diplomacy is to divide one’s foes, not to unite them. This epic blunder comes at a time when the US appears to be getting ready for overt military action in Syria against Russian and Syrian forces operating there.
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Pakistan Needs a Strong New Leader

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The words "hope" and "Pakistan" do not often appear together. Pakistan, a sprawling nation of 205 million, is hard to govern, even harder to finance, and seething with tribal or religious violence and discord.

But Pakistan, which for me is one of the most interesting and important nations on earth, is by far the leading nation of the Muslim world and a redoubtable military power. Created in 1947 from former British India as a haven for oppressed Muslims, Pakistan has been ruled ever since by military juntas or by slippery and often corrupt civilian politicians.

 After decades of dynastic politics under the Bhutto and Sharif families, there is suddenly hope that newly elected cricket star Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI) may – just may – tackle Pakistan’s four biggest problems: endemic corruption, military interference, political tribalism, and a half-dead economy.

Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, appears to be headed for jail over a corruption scandal unless he is allowed to go into exile in London. The exiled former military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is hiding out in Dubai awaiting charges of treason.

I spent a good deal of time with Pakistan’s former leaders, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and his bitter foe, Benazir Bhutto, both of whom were later murdered. Neither Musharraf nor Nawaz measured up to these colorful personalities in political skills, vision, or personality.
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The Looming War Against Iran

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President Donald Trump and his neocon advisors have been trying to provoke a war with Iran and Syria for many months. The neocons are echoing Cato the Elder’s cry, "delenda est Carthago!" Iran must be destroyed.
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