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Eric Margolis

The Russians are Coming!

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The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” So echoed the cry this week from the Pentagon, the US media and Republican candidates for president.

How silly. It seems the Russians have sent six tanks to Syria, some medium artillery and a bunch of military technicians to two bases on Syria’s coast near Latakia. According to Republican warmongers, the wicked Soviets…ooops, sorry, Russians…are intervening militarily in the five-year old Syrian War and planning new bases in the strategic Mideast nation.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The United States has about 800 bases and military installations around the globe. Russia has only a handful of small bases near its borders.

The exception is in Syria where Russia has had a small naval supply/repair facility in Tartus and an electronic listening post for almost 50 years. Moscow has long been Syria’s principal foreign ally and arms supplier.
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How to End the Refugee Flood

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Remember when America erupted in fury over France’s refusal to support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003?  President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominque de Villepin warned that George Bush’s unprovoked aggression against Iraq would destabilize the Mideast and inflict untold dangers on Europe.

America’s response to the sage warning was to change the name of French fries to ‘Freedom fries’ and press ahead with the invasion of Iraq.  President Saddam Hussein of Iraq warned that an America invasion would ignite the “Mother of All Battles” and would “open the gates of Hell.”

The French leaders and Saddam were absolutely right as confirmed by the waves of desperate Mideast refugees flooding into Europe and the rampaging wildmen of Islamic State.
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Beijing Bingo

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My father, a New York financier, used to call dubious stocks or bonds, “Chinese paper.” Last week, we saw a blizzard of Chinese paper, both in China and around the world. 

As manager of a sizeable investment portfolio (an unwelcome second job from my main work, journalism), I watched last week’s near death experience on world markets with a mixture of cynicism and alarm. First of all, remember when Americans – and particularly Republicans – demonized Mao’s China and endlessly warned about the perils of Communism? 

Well, the Chinese seemed to have listened. China ditched Communism and embraced runaway capitalism – or at least a hybrid of 1900 raw capitalism and state socialism. But Chairman Mao was proven right. He warned his people against the evils of “casino capitalism” and money lending. 

The near collapse of China’s stock market in recent weeks scared the hell out of the entire world but, at least so far, really has not mattered very much. China’s markets are insulated from the rest of the world. They serve as a way of letting average people share some of China’s growth and as a form of national lottery – call it Beijing bingo.

Western stock markets are also semi-rigged casino games in which the big boys and their ultra high speed computer systems almost always win at the expense of small fry.
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Republicans Can't Face the Truth About Iraq

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Gov. Jeb Bush repeated one of the biggest falsehoods of our time during the recent presidential candidate debate: “we were misled (into the Iraq War) by faulty intelligence.”

US intelligence was not “misled.” It was ordered by the real, de facto president, Dick Cheney, to provide excuses for a war of aggression against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. 

PM Tony Blair, forced British intelligence services to “sex up” reports that Iraq had nuclear weapons; he purged the government and the venerable broadcaster BBC of journalists who failed to amplify Blair’s lies. Bush and Blair reportedly discussed painting a US Air Force plane in UN colors and getting it to buzz Iraqi anti-aircraft sites in hope the Iraqis would fire on it. Bush told Blair that after conquering Iraq, he intended to invade Iran, Syria, Libya and Pakistan.

In fact, Iraq had no “weapons of mass destruction,” save some rusty barrels of mustard and nerve gas that had been supplied by the US and Britain for use against Iran. I broke this story from Baghdad back in late 1990.
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Why Do We Lament A-Bombs But Not Firebombs?

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All war is a crime. There is no such thing as a “good war.” As the great Benjamin Franklin said, “there is no good war; and no bad peace.”

We are now in the midst of the annual debate over the atomic bombing of Japan by the United States. Seventy years ago this week, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing or injuring some 140,000 people. A few days later, a second atomic weapon was dropped on Nagasaki, causing 80,000 casualties.  Most of the dead in both cities were civilians.

Passionate debate has raged ever since between those who condemn the nuclear bombing of almost defenceless Japan as a war crime, and those who insist the attacks spared the US and its allies having to invade fight-to-the-death Japan.

I don’t know the answer to this question.
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Must We Really Know What Merkel is Having for Dinner?

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There’s been so much dramatic news these days – from Greece’s miseries to Iran, China from blowhard Donald Trump – that the shocking story of how America’s National Security Agency has been spying on German and French leadership has gone almost unnoticed.

Last year, it was revealed that the NSA had intercepted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. She is supposed to be one of Washington’s most important allies and the key power in Europe. There was quiet outrage in always subservient Germany, but no serious punitive action.

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, was also bugged by American intelligence. Her predecessor, Luiz Lula Da Silva, was also apparently bugged.

This year, came revelations that NSA and perhaps CIA had tapped the phones of France’s President, Francois Hollande and his two predecessors, Nicholas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. Hollande ate humble pie and could only summon some faint peeps of protest to Washington.
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Destroying Syria to Make it Safe for American Values

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“The Turks have passed by here; all is in ruins and mourning. “


So wrote France’s great writer, Victor Hugo, of the horrors he had witnessed during the Balkan liberation wars of the 1880’s. If Hugo were alive today, he might well have used the same haunting lines to describe the smoking wreckage of the Mideast. Except this time it was the United States, France, and Britain who wrought havoc in the Arab world, assisted by modern Turkey. 

The UN’s refugee czar, Antonio Guterres, just asserted that there are now 4,013,000 Syrian refugees outside their homeland, and another 7.6 million as internal refugees from the war raging there since 2011.

That total’s some 11.6 million refugees – a staggering 50 percent of Syria’s population. Over a quarter million are refugees in Europe; the rest spread across the Mideast with the largest numbers in Lebanon and Jordan. 
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The Real Victor of World War II in Europe

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It was churlish for western leaders to boycott this week’s Victory Parade in Moscow that commemorated the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago.

Historic events are facts that should not be manipulated according to the latest political fashions. Being angry at Moscow for mucking about in Ukraine does not in any way lessen the glory, admiration and thanks owed to the Russian people for their heroism during World War II.

Americans and Canadians like to believe they won the war in Europe and give insufficient recognition to the decisive Soviet role. Most Europeans would rather not think about the matter. By contrast, Russians know that it was their soldiers who really won the war. They remain angry that their military achievements are ignored by American triumphalists and myth-makers.  

Not only did Stalin’s Soviet Union play the key role in crushing Nazi Germany, its huge sacrifices saved the lives of countless American, British and Canadian soldiers. Were it not for the USSR’s victory, Nazi Germany might be alive and well today.
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The Ghosts of Vietnam Should Haunt Us – But Don’t

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It was 1967. The war in Vietnam was raging. 


I was 24 years old, just out of graduate school in New York City. Cambridge University had accepted me to do a doctorate history. 

But no. In a burst of youthful patriotism, I concluded it was every citizen’s duty to join the armed forces in wartime. So I enlisted as an infantry officer candidate in the US Army and was packed off to basic training.

Life can only be understood in retrospect. With the wisdom of hindsight, most people consider the 20-year long Vietnam War a terrible mistake, even a crime. But at the time, US military involvement in Indochina appeared to make sense.  It certainly did to me. I was proud to wear my nation’s uniform. 
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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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