Eric S. Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in globally recognized newspapers and He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC. As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow.

Halt This Crazy Rush to All-Out War

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The finest modern military thinker, Maj. Gen J.F.C. Fuller, wrote “the true objective of war is not military victory but the peace that follows it.’

Amen. Besotted by tribalism and propaganda, we often forget why we are fighting and what changes the current war will bring. We think killing fellow humans is a noble quest rather than the basest Stone Age behavior.

Case in point, the current war in Ukraine. There, ex-Russians now rebranded “Ukrainians” are battling Russia’s not so competent armies.

The United States and its vassals are pouring arms and money galore into the rebellious Ukraine – over $100 billion to date. This is an amazing amount of money considering hardly anyone in the US had ever heard of Ukraine and certainly couldn’t find it on a map, and that this flood of money comes from the US which is itself on the financial ropes and operating on borrowed money.

Getting America so deeply involved in the obscure Ukraine War was thanks to truly monumental propaganda produced by the six US government-controlled TV channels and court newspapers. Its 24-7 happy news about Ukraine and constant vilification of re-demonized Russia.

We are in fact involved in a war that dares not speak its name. Russia denies it’s a war at all and claims to be fighting a recrudescence of Euro fascism. The US and its subservient allies also deny a war is going on, while pouring arms and munition on an almost WWII scale into Ukraine – whose government the US spent $5 billion overthrowing.

Russia won’t call this war a war, still pretending it’s a `police action’ – rather like the past US invasions of Panama, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. But, as western arms and covert troops pour into Ukraine and Russia can’t manage to field adequate troops or weapons, holding on to the ‘police action’ fiction is preposterous.

What’s happening in Washington is that the Democrat neo-liberals smell Russian blood and are intoxicated by the prospect of first Russian defeat in Ukraine, then the collapse of the current Russian federation made up of 83 supposedly sovereign units. Russia is very fragile and vulnerable to foreign-engineered unrest. Russia’s Far East is dangerously exposed between US and Chinese ambitions.

The dramatic transformation of most of the formerly staunch communist republic of Ukraine into an arch-anti-communist Kyiv republic is a dire warning signal for Moscow. Russian leader Dimitry Medvedev just warned that Russia’s defeat in Ukraine would trigger a nuclear war. He could be right.

The leading American neocon, Victoria Nuland, boasted that it cost only $5 billion to overthrow Ukraine’s former inept communist regime and replace it by a TV actor, Volodymyr Zelensky. The Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine don’t even have a capable spokesman.

It’s by now clear that the so-called non-war in Ukraine is dangerously escalating towards a full-scale US-NATO-Russia war that might turn into World War III. The duty of great powers is to keep world affairs calm.

Instead, the US and its European satraps keep pouring fuel on the fire. Ukraine, once infamous as Europe’s most corrupt nation, is happily gulping down the billions from the US and Europe. Swiss banks are making a killing. So too arms manufacturers who had been facing flat or declining sales before this jolly little war.

Germany, the keystone of NATO power, is caught between its sensible goal of keeping good relations with Moscow and its subservience to Washington. If the Ukraine war intensifies, Germany will be caught in the middle – an obvious target for Russian tactical nuclear strikes.

Who in Washington has begun to add up the costs of keeping post-war Ukraine going. Without a steady inflow of billions from the US and its rich allies, Ukraine will likely collapse into warring fiefs. Worse, if Russia is somehow defeated, who will assume its financial upkeep and prevent this nuclear superpower from running amok? Will China sit back and allow its only major ally to be splintered? Would militants in China’s leadership not beat the war drums to re-occupy border regions lost in the 19th century to Imperial Russia?

Time for the Great American power to act to bring peace and stability, not more war.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis

Inflation is a Bigger Danger Than Red China

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A few billion here, a few billion there – and suddenly we are looking at real money.  Even more important, real inflation.

Governments all over have been spending like drunken sailors in a desperate attempt to counteract the ruinous effects of the Covid pandemic and resulting closures. 

We have seen panic spending accelerate as governments threw away all sensible financial guidelines after unemployment rose sharply and banks took fear.  Markets swooned and financial markets issued storm warnings. 

Everyone remembered 2009 when ATM’s began to run out of money. Panic was in the air.  And all this in a mid-term election year where the Democrats appear to be trailing significantly.  Lurking not so far off is a giant storm cloud belching fire and smoke named Donald Trump and his legions of hillbilly Republicans, Christian evangelists and suburban gun owners.

Economists assured TV viewers that the sharp inflation being experienced by Americans was due to various sorts of arcane mumbo jumbo, wicked Red Chinese, menacing Muscovites, and even labor or supply chain shortages.

But the real culprit – certainly in the case of the US – is the federal government in Washington sitting atop a monster $30.5 trillion national debt that keeps growing larger and larger.  Economists have previously assured us that our ability to print unlimited quantiles, and the world’s willingness to accept this fiat money, meant that our huge deficits and run amok borrowing did not really matter.

But they do. In my native New York City, I went for my usual breakfast of eggs, turkey bacon and a toasted bialy (a sort of Jewish English muffin). It cost $19.10.  The next morning, I had the identical breakfast – and then it cost $21.10.  That’s inflation – which Hermann Goering rightly observes can bring down governments faster than revolutions.

Governments create inflation and benefit from it.  Inflation is a form of taxation that increases their revenue and lowers their debts (they pay back borrowing in depreciated currency).  They get more from taxes.

Republicans used to keep the lid on inflation until Donald Trump came along. He blew the lid off and appeared heedless of the dangers of overspending.  Farmers, a party bedrock, got huge subsidies and grants.

The Democrats have always been the party of overspending.  Many Democratic voters don’t even pay taxes.  Many others receive subsidized food, rents, education and health care.

Forty percent of Americans pay no income tax, meaning that sixty percent must support them.  America has ended up, like France, with a permanent underclass that lives off the fat of the land.  France was crippled by having to support a large, non-productive class that always threatened to explode into violence.

In a similar sense, America’s big cities have also fallen prey to a permanent welfare class that holds the urban areas hostage.   I vividly recall the New York City power failure of 1977.  Soon after the lights went out all over town, mobs of looters poured into the dark streets, smashing, stealing or burning. It was the heart of darkness.

My father, a Manhattan liberal, told me, ‘if we don’t keep giving them money, they will come and burn down our part of town.’

Trump supporters claim the last presidential election was stolen.  This is not the case.  But their claim of theft is really code for the mobilization of black voters that propelled Biden into the presidency.  Without the big turnout of black urban voters in big cities, Trump would have won.  But neither he nor his supporters dare assert that they mean black voters. Any more than Democrats dare claim that extreme Christian right-wingers form Trump’s base.

Interestingly, all the banners seen during the mob attack on the US Congress hailing Trump and Jesus have been scrubbed from TV news reports. 

Recall the warning, ‘When fascism comes to America, it won’t be wearing jackboots. It will be wrapped in the stars and stripes and carrying a Bible.'” Attributed to author Sinclair Lewis. 

I went to school with the son of Charles Lindbergh, a leader of the US anti-war right. His memory still quietly inspires some Americans, particularly in the Midwest, South and Western states. History could be coming full circle.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis

Stop World War III – Now

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In 1799, Marshall Alexander Suvorov led a Russian army and all its cannons across the Alps in the dead of winter.  A plaque near Gotthard still commemorates this epic military feat.

In March 1814, Russia’s emperor Alexander I entered Paris at the head of his Imperial Guard, ending Napoleon’s rule.

In 1945, Russian forces under Marshalls Zhukov and Konev fought their way into Berlin. The Red Army destroyed 75% of all German and Axis forces.

Russians are great warriors.  They are courageous, often heedless of death, and masters of the art of war. 

So, what has happened to the Russian Army in Ukraine?  It has fought poorly, moved at the speed of ox carts, blundered around and suffered heavy casualties and heavy loss of armored and air forces.

Start with Russia’s military hierarchy. It’s led by a civilian, Sergei Shoigu, a crony of Putin and a man without any military training or experience. But he’s loyal to Putin.

He reminds me of poor, old Egyptian field marshal, Abdel Hakim Amer, Nasser’s buddy, who misled his nation’s armed forces into the 1967 catastrophe.  When Israeli warplanes attacked, using US satellite data, Amer was smoking dope in his airplane.

Putin was a KGB officer. He had no military background beyond ruthlessly crushing the second Chechen uprising – with US help.  Chechen chief Ramzan Kadyrov has blasted Shoigu and called for his head.  There has been far too much political interference with Russia’s military. 

Putin wanted a limited ‘military action,’ not a full-scale war against what was not so long ago an integral part of Russia.  Hence the once formidable Red Army was kept on a leash, deprived of Russia’s most modern weapons, and ordered to go easy on the rebellious Ukrainians.

Russia’s artillery, the Queen of battle, ran out of ammunition.  The Red Air Force was ordered not to risk its expensive Sukhoi fighter-bombers.  Its space-based targeting was jammed or degraded by the US and NATO.

Equally important, the conflict in Ukraine has already turned into a mini-World War Three as the US and its key allies struggle to deliver the coup de grace to the Russian federation.

This war is not about freedom for Ukraine – as potent western propaganda incessantly tells us.  It’s about crushing the last remnants of former Soviet power and turning the fragments into docile mini states dominated by Washington and London.

Since CIA overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian regime in 2014 – which cost an estimated $50 billion – Moscow and Kiev have been at daggers drawn.  Putin’s Russia refuses to recognize Ukraine as an independent state.  Kiev, backed by tens of billions of dollars and a massive arsenal of arms from the west, rejects Russian hegemony.

The US wants to see the Balkanization of Mother Russia. The next targets may be Russia’s Far East or the Russian Urals.  The war party in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, appears determined to crush the life out of what’s left of Russia and achieve the strategic goal of America’s neocons of eradicating any potential military opponent of absolute worldwide US power.  Once Russia is laid low, China will be the next target – in fact, it likely already is.

The Biden administration has already poured close to $100 billion of aid and huge amounts of arms into Ukraine, a staggering and risky sum for a nation with a $31 trillion deficit. Add billions more from Canada and US allies in Europe who would prefer to see this war end.

The current wave of high inflation has been ignited in large part by Washington’s reckless spending over Ukraine. This is money the US Treasury does not have, and must borrow, fueling roaring inflation.

A decade ago, President Putin proclaimed that Russia would cut conventional military spending and increasingly rely on nuclear arms. 

Yet we are surprised now that the Kremlin is rattling its nuclear weapons. We should not forget that before the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held and produced substantial numbers of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. These were supposedly all junked, but Ukraine probably holds a few nukes in secret.

Meanwhile, western forces are openly operating in Ukraine against Russian forces.  The full panoply of US power is witnessed there:  space intelligence and air-born intelligence; naval operations blocking the Russian Black Sea Fleet; vast amounts of artillery, electronic warfare, conventional land warfare conducted by special units from Poland, the US, Britain and Germany. 

As this column has been saying for years, the prime duty of the United States, the world’s premier power, is to avert any possible nuclear confrontation in Eastern Europe.  Diplomacy, not more arms, is the answer.

The answer is clear: stop trying to draw Ukraine into NATO, stop trying to fragment Russia. Let the rebellious Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine join Russia if they so desire.  Pull western forces out of the region and resume quiet diplomacy.  Let France lead this sensible effort.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

Playing With Matches is Dangerous

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Truth is always the first casualty of war – and no less so than the current conflict in Ukraine. Russia insists it’s a localized police action to uproot a new Nazi uprising. Ukraine, which has become a US protectorate, insists it’s fighting to halt Russian aggression against a freedom-seeking nation. No mention that Ukrainians used to be called Russians.

For interesting contrast, go back to the first Chechen War from 1994 to 1996 and the second one from 1999 to 2009. The 1.4 million Chechen, a fierce Muslim people of the Caucasus Mountains, who had been battling Russian imperial expansion for 300 years, rose up and waged two David v. Goliath wars to regain their freedom from Russia.

In the first war, Chechen fighters routed Russian forces. Moscow agreed to independence for the Chechen Islamic Republic. But then hardliners, led by security chief Vladimir Putin, resumed the war after a staged fake bombing of Moscow apartments by the renamed KGB, the SVR that killed 200-300 people.

At that time, the US was actively supporting the Yeltsin regime in Moscow, particularly so with massive financial aid. Yeltsin had long-established links to CIA and Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6.

The US refused to help the Chechen resistance or recognize its fight for independence. I know this because I was closely following this tragic story and trying to raise some support for free Chechnya.

As fighting raged in Chechnya, the US called on the then Chechen leader, Gen, Dzhokhar Dudayev, to negotiate with Boris Yeltsin. Dudayev was given a special mobile phone supposedly connected to one held by Yeltsin for the ’peace talks.’

As so as Dudayev and Yeltsin were connected, a covert US aircraft launched a missile that homed in on Dudayev’s phone receiver. The Chechen leader was blown to bits. With further help from US intelligence, the Chechen resistance was relentlessly ground down and eliminated. Chechens were arrested and tortured en masse in so-called Russian ‘filtration camps.’ A Chechen warlord, Ramzan Kadyrov, was named ‘gauleiter’ of Chechnya. Chechen leaders were hunted down and assassinated by KGB or Kadyrov’s agents.

Chechnya was literally thrown to the wolves by the US. What a contrast this is to the current situation in Ukraine which has been flooded by $15-20 billion of modern US weapons in recent months and aided by a massive propaganda campaign directed by the US and Britain.

Unlike 1991, the US sees the war in Ukraine as a rare chance to tear a big chunk of Russia away or even go on to crush the Russian Federation into fragments. Many Ukrainians would be happy to see this outcome. The memory of how Stalin’s USSR starved or shot some six million Ukrainians in the 1920’s and 1930’s lingers among the older generation.

But younger Ukrainians must question what will happen if their war with Russia continues. Will Ukraine invade Russia and try to regain Crimea? Will the US or some European powers support an attack on Crimea? Poland and Britain are already deeply involved in the war. Who will be next?

The right wing of the US Democratic Party, now in power, is far more warlike and anti-Russian than most Americans realize. In fact, it’s the real `war party.’

If this half-baked war continues, the risks of a nuclear or chemical confrontation grow daily. So does an accidental clash in the Black Sea between Russia and the US. Off on the sidelines the Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Azeris, Egyptians. Iranians and Israelis may be spoiling for a fight.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

Farewell Gorbachev

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It was an unforgettable evening in Moscow.

I was taken by Russian friends to the city’s then largest cathedral which had been closed for decades by Stalin’s orders.

Amid clouds of incense and the glow of countless candles, a chorus sang the old Orthodox liturgy. Most of the worshippers openly wept. This was the first time that Russians had been allowed to celebrate Orthodox Christmas mass since the 1930’s. Though not myself religious, I was swept away by the deep emotions and beauty of the moment.

The new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, had allowed his nation’s churches to reopen. This historic act, and a host of other liberalizations, restored Russia to its cultural roots and brought a dawn to the benighted Soviet Union after the dark Communist times.

Mikhail Gorbachev, a soft-spoken bureaucrat from the rural Stavropol region, seemed unlikely to assume leadership of the mighty Soviet Union. But three previous chairmen of the Union had died from age-related infirmities. The Communist Party’s ruling circles decided that their nations needed youth, rejuvenation and a battle against corruption.

So Gorbachev was named the new party chairman. He wasted no time in unleashing a torrent of reforms known a ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika.’ Gorbachev was hugely aided in this revolution by the tough KGB chief of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze whose primary role in Gorbachev’s revolution was not understood by the west. We used to call him ‘Chevy Eddy.’ He enjoyed this sobriquet.

Gorbachev wanted a Europeanized, liberal Russia living in harmony with the western powers. He partly dismantled the fearsome KGB, guardian of the communist party. I interviewed the KGB’s two most senior officers at the notorious Lubyanka Prison and learned of their tentative support for Gorbachev’s reforms.

The most important action taken by Gorbachev was his refusal to use force against ethnic nationalists in the Baltic states, Ukraine, Central Asia and, increasingly, Eastern Europe. Force and fear had held the old Soviet Union together. Once removed, the union quickly began to disintegrate.

Gorbachev also sought to end the Cold War confrontation with the US and its allies, rightly understanding that the USSR could not sustain a ruinous military confrontation with the western powers. Russia at one time had 50,000 tanks and 5,000 nuclear warheads but no food in its miserable markets.

So Gorbachev bravely called an end to the Cold War and embarked on nuclear disarmament programs. He ended the hopeless war in Afghanistan and recalled the Red Army. As rebellions erupted in East Germany, the Baltics and Central Asia a bunch of drunken Communist Party bigwigs tried to overthrow Gorbachev in August 1991 while he was vacationing in Crimea. The coup was a comic fiasco, but it ended Gorbachev’s authority. Boris Yeltsin, secretly supported by the US and Britain, seized power.

The USSR collapsed, splintering into pieces. Gorbachev and his allies were unwilling to employ brute force to stop the process. Had they done so, nuclear war with the US and NATO would have been likely. While Gorbachev avoided war and allowed the historic reunification of Germany, the US invaded Iraq. Many Russians warned that the US was determined to destroy the Russian Union. Washington’s vows not to expand NATO east turned out to be untruths that delivered the final fatal blow to Gorbachev. He became the most reviled man in Russia, an outcast in his own country. His lovely, cultured wife Raisa was denounced as a snob, but she would form the model for modern Russian women, transformed from dumpy versions of Mrs. Khrushchev into stunning beauties.

Former President Mikhail Gorbachev died last week aged 91 after a long illness. Like the late US president Jimmy Carter, he struggled to spare the world from the threat of nuclear war. He made many mistakes, but Gorby was a great man, a great statesman and a great human being.

Rest in peace, Mikhail Sergeyevich. I salute you.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

The Great Million-Man Swim

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They used to call it `the million-man swim.’  That was the US Navy’s sneering dismissal of any Chinese attempt to seize the island of Taiwan by a massive amphibious invasion.

The US Navy’s strike carriers, submarines and surface combatants, backed by the Marines and Army in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and Guam, would tear to shreds any Chinese invasion force.  That, at least, was a decade ago. 

Today things look very differently.  US naval and air power in the western Pacific have declined by about 20%.  America is tired after waging its decade-long war in Afghanistan, which cost $1 trillion and achieved none of the US imperial goals.  While the US was blowing up Afghan villages and paying off Afghan mercenaries, the Chinese were diligently building up their amphibious and air forces.  Their goal was conquering next door Taiwan.

I’ve been over some of Taiwan’s fixed defenses.  Many of the island’s beaches are amenable to amphibious operations.  Rugged mountains with many caves further inland.  In short, excellent defensive topography.  Taiwan’s armed forces are well trained and motivated. Most Taiwanese appear to prefer independence from Red China and their current democratic system.  Taiwan is also the world’s leading producer of high-tech computer chips.  The world electronic industry would grind to a halt without Taiwan’s chips.

China makes a huge noise over Taiwan as it tries to whip up nationalism.  In fact, not so many Chinese care about Taiwan aside from a few slogans and drumbeating.  But it has become the Pacific’s version of Alsace Lorraine, a permanent ‘casus belli’ that provides the politicians with grist for their mills.  Interestingly, whether Taiwan has ever really been a part of China – or maybe of Japan – is uncertain. 

However, the rugged island appears fated to become of Greater China.  Those other non-Han Chinese regions, Tibet, Mongolia, and Eastern Turkestan have been absorbed into China.  This leaves northern Manchuria as the last remaining region of the former Chinese Empire.  It is ruled by Russia – at least for now.  Interestingly, I once asked a senior Chinese intelligence general how long it would take for China to capture the Russian port of Vladivostok, Russia’s principal Far East port.

‘Two days,’ he replied.

Confrontation over Taiwan has simmered between the US and China since the 1950’s when anti-communist Chinese forces fled from the mainland to Taiwan, or Formosa as it used to be called.  War almost erupted in the 1950’s over the small, Nationalist Chinese offshore islands of Matsu and Quemoy.  This could happen again.

To understand just how angry US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whistlestop visit made the prickly Chinese, imagine if a delegation of Chinese Communist officials went to the US state of Hawaii and proclaimed its ‘independence’ from Washington.  The US has a less than noble record in Hawaii.  American planters staged a coup that overthrew its legitimate Hawaiian government and annexed the territory – rather as the US recently did in Ukraine.

What will Chinese do next?  Probably huff and puff and impose a limited naval blockade on the independent island.  Taiwan relies on maritime and air trade so any punitive Chinese action would be highly painful.  A full blockade cutting off oil, food, medicine and spare parts would be catastrophic.

In the recent past, China would not have managed to effectively blockade the island.  Its ‘brown water’ coastal navy could not confront the mighty US Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait.  Hence the ‘million-man swim.’  By wasting billions on useless colonial wars, the US has seriously weakened its naval and air forces.  Washington’s Asian allies are not anxious to go to war with China over Taiwan.

As Soviet Brezhnev used to say, ‘quantity has its own quality.’  The US Navy is a superb, deadly military instrument.  But China now has more warships, subs and coastal aircraft.  Even so, its military forces would be decimated.  But they could also impose severe damage on US Naval forces, notably with their new DF-21 anti-ship missile – if it really works as well as advertised.  In this case, US aircraft carriers could be in jeopardy.  The same applies to Chinese submarines firing volleys of anti-ship missiles.

Having said that, I’ve been at sea on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and nuclear attack submarine Minneapolis St. Paul and can attest to their crew’s impressive skills and professionalism.  Those skills began at the battle of Midway and Guadalcanal in WWII.  The Chinese are still in day one of naval school. 

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022