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Eric Margolis

Mission Creep in Darkest Africa

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The British Empire, which at the end of the 19th century ruled one quarter of the earth’s land surface, is long gone. But its robust successor and heir, the United States, has set about enlarging it.

As I sought to explain in my last book "American Raj – How the US Rules the Muslim World," the US imperium exerts its power by controlling tame, compliant regimes around the world and their economies. They are called "allies" but, in fact, should be more accurately termed satrapies or vassal states. Many states are happy to be prosperous US vassals, others less so.

The US power system has successfully dominated much of the world, except of course for great powers China, Russia and India. Germany and much of Western Europe remains in thrall to post WWII US power. The same applies to Canada, Latin America, Australia, and parts of SE Asia.

There is one part of the globe that has remained free from heavy US influence since 1945, sub-Saharan Africa. But this fact is clearly changing as the US military expands its operations the width and breadth of the Dark Continent.

We are seeing a rerun of the fine old 1930’s film, "Beau Geste" which was taken from a cracking good 1924 Victorian novel by C. Percival Wren. Set in French North Africa, Wren’s dashing French Legionnaires end up defending a remote fort against masses of hostile Arab and Berber tribesman.
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Vietnam Déjà Vu

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Much of America, including yours truly, has been watching the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series, ‘Vietnam.’  Instead of clarifying that confusing conflict, the series has ignited fiery controversy and a lot of long-repressed anger by soft-soaping Washington’s motives. This march to folly in Vietnam is particularly painful for me since I enlisted in the US army at the height of the war.  Gripped by youthful patriotism, I strongly supported the war.  In fact, the TV series even showed a pro-war march down New York’s Fifth Avenue that I had joined.  Talk about déjà vu.
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Escape from Aleppo

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AMMAN JORDAN – I haven’t seen many miracles in my decades of travel around the globe, particularly not in the strife-torn Mideast.

But last week I participated in a real miracle in Jordan as the splendid Four Paws International group staged a daring rescue of 13 wild animals trapped in the wartime hellhole of Aleppo, Syria.  It appeared to be a mission impossible.

Syria has been torn apart for the past six years by a bloody civil war that has killed over 400,000 people and reduced many parts of this beautiful country to ruins.  Half the population has become refugees.  The ancient northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, was laid waste.

Just outside Aleppo lies a wrecked 40-acre amusement park cum zoo that once held hundreds of imprisoned wild animals to entertain children.  The animals were abandoned in their cages in the midst of constant gunfire and shelling.  Many were killed; the rest were left to starve to death or die of thirst.  Some starving Syrians shared their meager rations with the animals.

No one else cared about these abandoned creatures that included five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas and two Husky dogs.
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