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Most billionaires spend their money on mansions, yachts, airplanes and much younger wives. But not so casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who died in Las Vegas on January 11th, aged 87.

Adelson rose from humble origins. He used his $33 billion plus gambling fortune to buy governments in order to fulfill his passion for Zionism. He became one of the single most important private political influences in both the United States and Israel.

Through his political action committees and charities, Adelson focused the huge power of his money on expanding Israel’s borders, squeezing Palestinians into ever smaller ghettos, and ensuring that the Jewish state received almost unlimited American military, financial and political support.

Over recent years, Adelson gave at least $150 million to Donald Trump and the Republican Party. That’s a lot of money for nickel and dime politicians. Adelson also financed a host of political action committees, mostly with tax deductible funds. Some sources even spoke of $11 billion worth of political donations. Those few legislators who did not kowtow to Adelson or the idea of a greater Israel were quickly subjects of his wrath and sharp political attacks. US senators Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio became major recipient of donations from kingmaker Adelson. However, the most important recipient was Donald Trump.

An important part of Trump’s political funding came from Adelson’s casinos and a coterie of ardently pro-Israel billionaires. Many were linked to Israel’s rightwing Likud Party. In fact, one of Trump’s prime political goals was aiding Israel’s hard expansionist government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Critics accused Trump of being a Trojan Horse for Israel’s far right. The US State Department was gutted by Trump and his hatchet-man Mike Pompeo, allegedly for harboring too many ‘old Mideast’ hands who were insufficiently submissive to Israel’s demands. Other government agencies were similarly purged, including CIA and Voice of America. Media commentators who did not toe the pro-Likud line were consigned to obscurity.

In Israel, Adelson was even more direct. He created a free newspaper, ‘Israel Today,’ to support policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party. Adelson played an important role in crushing Israel’s peace parties that opposed Netanyahu.

After years of lavish spending, Adelson ended up giving marching orders to both Trump and Netanyahu. As a Parthian shaft, the departing Trump muscled the Arab states of the United Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco to come out of the closet to recognize Israel and ditch the Palestinians. Orders from Washington could not be ignored by these monarchies and autocracies.

Trump’s other pillar of support was America’s Christian fundamentalists. As author Upton Sinclair wrote before WWII, ‘when fascism comes to America, it will be under the sign of the cross.’ The mob of pro-Trump thugs that stormed the US Congress was seen waving ‘Jesus saves’ banners – but these were quickly deleted from later TV news reports. Still, extreme Christian rightists remain a powerful force in American life and seemingly limitless support for Israel. They are also the key power bloc in the Republican party.

As I wrote three years ago, the Republican Party has become a religious cult. It has nothing at all in common with the old, moderate party of Lincoln or Eisenhower. The new Republicans are found it the southern and Midwest Bible Belt that brought the US Prohibition and racial politics. This reborn Bible belt was anti-intellectual, xenophobic, anti-education and steeped in primitive theology.

Donald Trump was clever enough to gain control of America’s hillbilly right by setting himself up as a quasi-religious Biblical figure. Many of his apparently bizarre actions were political theater designed to play to religious fundamentalists or to the type of primitives who stormed the US Capitol.

In spite of this monstrous political crime, the Republicans remain firmly under Trump’s thumb and almost in power. The next mid-term elections might well bring them back to power. Trump and his rightwing Israeli allies are counting the days.

 

‘Worse than a crime; a mistake’
Talleyrand

The mob of yahoos and cretins that broke into the United States capitol this week was not a spontaneous act of violence. Quite the contrary, it was a carefully planned criminal uprising designed to terrorize congress and prevent the election of president-elect Joe Biden.

It was clear orders had been given to the local security forces to largely disarm but accommodate the rioters, and allow them into the capitol buildings. By whom? Clearly by President Trump or his minions. There will probably be no written record. Trump, who grew up rubbing shoulders with gangsters and union thugs, certainly had learned the lesson taught by the late criminal lawyer Roy Cohen to always skirt the law and never leave a clear trail.

It’s also very likely that Trump tried to organize a military coup against his own government, what Latin Americans call an ‘autogolpe.’ That’s why ten former US defense secretaries, including the far-right Dick Cheney, felt compelled to issue a joint letter warning Trump not to involve the military in domestic politics. Draft-dodger Trump fancies himself a potential military genius. His effort at Bonapartism quickly failed.

A mob of low-IQ thugs waving Confederate flags was not enough to take over the US government. For this, military or paramilitary forces would have been needed to seize the Pentagon and major military bases, the major media, airports, telecommunications, the Treasury, and police HQ.

And yet there had been open talk for weeks of some sort of coup attempt by Trump supporters. Americans were so absorbed by the game of politics that they almost ignored the looming threat of a coup attempt by denizens of the far right, driven to a frenzy by Trump’s crass falsehoods about the election being stolen.

It’s interesting to compare Trump’s coup attempt with events in the Soviet Union in 1991. A cabal of die-hard communists, including Defense Minister Marshal Yazov, sought to overthrow the reformist government of Mikhail Gorbachev. They mounted a poorly-organized coup to seize state organs in Moscow and isolated Gorbachev at his retreat in Crimea.

The two Soviet mechanized divisions tasked with seizing Moscow went to the city center, then remained inactive due to lack of orders. Marshal Shaposhnikov refused to order his transport aircraft to bring more troops to Moscow to aid the coup. Special KGB ‘Alpha’ units refused to fire on insurgent leader Boris Yeltsin. In all, the highly patriotic Red Army refused to engage in the coup.

The coup failed and its leaders, most of them drunk on vodka, were rounded up and arrested. But this event, and the anti-Yeltsin coup two year later, marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.

The coup leaders were initially jailed, then released. Stalin would have had them shot. The Soviet Union and its successor, Russia, never recovered.

Trump’s encouragement, and then refusal, to halt the storming of the capitol, will likely mark the end of his political career. He could be censored, or even jailed for his act of insurrection. His plans to run again for president in four years look highly unlikely to succeeded after his act of political arson. His supporters, who are large in numbers, should be deterred from advocating violence, Christian political extremism, extreme Zionism and environmental backwardness. The Republican Party needs a huge enema.

Americans deserve to be deeply embarrassed by this week’s events. Scenes of rioters inside the capitol waving Confederate flags conjure fears of a second American civil war: many of the states that voted for Trump were also part of the old civil war Confederacy.

As a New Yorker and life-long Eisenhower Republican, I was horrified by events in Washington. Trump was flying B-52 bombers over Iran while hooligans were trashing the capitol.

 

All hail America’s voters. After an excruciating election, they appear to have edged out of power the man who wanted to be king, Donald Trump, and put into the White House an amiable, old pol who appears likely to soon be replaced by his vice-presidential running mate, half-Jamaican, half-Indian Kamala Harris.

This week’s election should have produced a landslide for Joe Biden and the democrats. Trump had so much against him – his shocking denial of the deadly Covid epidemic; overt hatred for Islam and total subservience to Israel’s far right; overt anti-black and Hispanic racism; a financial mess created by his ill-considered tax cut; boorish behavior; medical quackery worthy of 19th century snake oil salesmen; threats to use nuclear weapons – the list goes on an on.

But many Americans ignored all this bad mogambo in the hope Trump would keep the stock market on fire. Religion also played a key role: some 90% of so-called born-again Christian fundamentalists, misled by Fox News and powerful Protestant churches, promoted bad boy Trump as some sort of Christian savior or a reincarnation of rulers of Biblical Israel.

Trump’s fulminations against Iran led his chief paymaster, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, to fork over another $75 million to Trump on top of a hefty, $100 million donation, plus millions more from hedge fund moguls tied to Israel’s rightwing Likud Party while the media screamed about alleged Russian interference.

In spite of all this, ‘Sleepy Joe Biden,’ as Trump disparaged him, won the national vote. The US Postal Service, heavily sabotaged by the Trump minions, still managed to function and deliver the winning votes. Interfering with the mail is a federal crime. Those guilty should be prosecuted.

The United States emerged from this long, ugly electoral battle shaken, wounded and much diminished. Its standing as the world champion of democracy has been debased by an election characterized by yahoos in pickup trucks, welfare recipients and looters.

Trump’s lies and false accusations at the end of the vote confirmed his unfitness for the presidency. Let us hope the world does not conflate the United States with Trump’s boorish, unethical behavior.

States of little or no importance stole the limelight from big, significant states like my own New York and California. The election showed without a doubt that the antique system of the electoral college must be replaced or even better, junked.

What might Trump do? A new TV series of course. The political figure closest to Trump was Italy’s bombastic fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Copying the Duce, Trump might launch a mass march on Washington to seize power. Given Trump’s potent showing in the election, an attempted coup is not unthinkable.

This election also leaves key Trump allies cast adrift. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his most important supporter after casino king Adelson. Brazil’s fool of a president, Jair Bolsonaro, looks orphaned by Trump’s defeat. India’s Narendra Modi will miss Trump’s backing of ever-increasing Indian immigration to the US and ignoring of rising repression in Kashmir. Biden may be forced to face China’s brutal treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. The beastly Saudi regime will lose its most influential patron when Trump goes.

One hopes new president Biden will quickly rejoin the sensible Paris climate accords and the important nuclear control deal with Iran. Four years ago, candidate Trump promised to end America’s festering little colonial wars in Afghanistan, Africa and the Mideast. He never did. Now Biden has the chance to end these ill-starred, trillion-dollar misadventures with the stroke of a pen, recalling Founding Father Ben Franklin’s golden dictum, ‘no good war; no bad peace.’

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, Donald Trump, Israel Lobby, Joe Biden 

Forty-seven years ago, Egypt and Syria launched a massive surprise attack on Israeli forces dug into fortifications along the Suez Canal and Golan Heights. The ‘limited’ Arab objective was to recapture both strategic areas that had been seized from the two Arab states in Israel’s victorious 1967 War.

Re-armed with modern – but by no means top drawer – Soviet weapons, Egypt and Syria sought to drive the Israelis back, then wait for the great powers to impose a truce. It was a badly flawed strategy, which assured the heavily armed Israelis would control the military initiative with their superiority in air power and armor.

At first, the Arab surprise attack caught Israel flat-footed. Israeli reserve armored forces were still in storage when Egyptian and Syrian armor and infantry stormed across the 1967 cease-fire lines.

Warnings of the impending assault from the most important Israeli spy, Ashraf Marwan – amazingly the son-in law of the late Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser – were ignored or shrugged off in Israel which was still filled with hubris over its lopsided, US-assisted victory in the 1967 War.

This was the first big mystery of the 1973 War. Was Marwan really a Mossad spy or a double agent, as Egypt later claimed, disinforming Israel on the time of the Arab offensive? Marwan later fell to his death – or was pushed – from a London apartment.

Syria’s armor drove into the Golan Heights from their starting positions on the plains east of Golan and the Mount Hermon massif.

The opening Arab assault was a remarkable success. I walked much of the Suez Canal soon after the war and was awed that Egypt’s military engineers had managed to get so many tanks and men across the wide canal under enemy fire.

Equally amazing was Egyptian infantry using highly effective new Soviet Sagger anti-tank missiles and air defense units employing SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles to blunt Israeli counter attacks. Hundreds of Israeli US-supplied M40 and M60 tanks and 20% of Israel’s formidable air force were destroyed.

Most of Israel’s 15 Bar Lev forts built to defend the Suez Canal were stormed. As a connoisseur of modern fortification, I was fascinated to explore the fallen Israeli forts. Syria inflicted heavy casualties on Israeli armor defending the Golan Heights and on its forts.

The second big mystery of the war concerns the savage fight for Golan. Syrian armor and mechanized divisions had managed to claw their way to the top of the Golan Heights, from where they looked down on Galilee and most of northern Israel. We don’t know whether Syria intended to drive into Galilee, formerly a heavily Arab area, or try to defend the Golan ridgeline. But orders went out from Syrian HQ to halt the Syrian offensive when the downhill road to Galilee and Jordan River bridges were wide open. Why did the Syrians halt their advance when victory was in their grasp?

The answer remains a mystery. But the best assumption is that Soviet spy satellites saw Israel move 13 Jericho missiles out of caves at two airbases and affix their 20-kiloton nuclear warheads. Moscow immediately warned Washington and its Arab allies, both of whom feared an imminent Israeli nuclear strike against targets that included Damascus and Cairo.

So, both Egypt and Syria halted their advances. Israeli forces, bolstered by the arrival of powerful reserve armored divisions, seized the initiative and went on to achieve a brilliant victory that included crossing the Canal and encircling Egypt’s III Corps. The fighting ended after Israel failed to seize Suez and towns on the way to Damascus. Threats of Soviet intervention and America’s resupply of almost all of Israel’s lost weapons brought the 1973 War to a close.

Egypt regained Sinai – Syria and the Palestinians got nothing. The US sank ever deeper into the turbulent affairs of the Arab world. After a bad scare, Israel triumphed as the Mideast’s premier military power.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Arabs, Israel, Israel/Palestine 

‘Hubris’ is an ancient Greek term for pride and ego supplanting common sense. Covid-19 denier Donald J. Trump is a classic example.

He and wife Melania are now isolated, suffering from what are described as ‘mild symptoms’ of the Covid-19 virus. At 73 years old and 60 lbs. overweight, Trump’s Covid symptoms may be serious rather than minor. What’s more, the Covid virus often scars the body, causing long-term damage to the lungs, heart, eyes and brain.

‘Hubris’ means scorning the dangers of Covid and trying to blame it all on China, refusing to wear a mask or sanitize hands, and encouraging one’s not so bright followers to congregate and ignore the deadly virus. No need to create a panic that would dampen the pumped-up stock market, a key Trump main claim to success.

Now, one wonders what Trump’s religious followers will say about this turn of events. In certain rural circles, Trump is venerated as a demi-saint or the reincarnation of Biblical Queen Esther of Israel, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an ardent fundamentalist and aspirant to future Republican Party leadership.

One big reason that Trump kept telling his devotees not to wear protective masks was that Jesus would protect them from the plague. ‘Real men and women don’t need to wear masks. That’s for lefty Democrat sissies.’

Trump assured his minions there was no danger in congregating. Nor in not wearing masks and drinking beer with the boys. Doing so became a badge of Republican machismo. Similar beliefs were held in Congo where I saw stone-age Simba warriors bedecked with ju-ju amulets that allegedly protected the wearers from the white-man’s bullets. They did not.

The realization that other Republican Party bigwigs became infected with Covid at a White House garden party is either comical or just plain dumb. Trump apparently knew he was getting ill yet still circuited among his garden party guests.

Who else one wonders will be the next to come down with the virus that Trump calls ‘the China flu.’ One might better call it the Make America Great again flu. Such hubris, recklessness and irresponsibility are staggering.

Watching Trump ‘debate’ Joe Biden last week made me deeply worried about his health, both physical and mental. He was behaving like what the French call an `enrage´.

But showman Trump just managed the feat of making the growing scandal over this tiny federal tax payments and his untruths about his net worth simply vanish. All eyes are fixed on Walter Reed Hospital – where I was sent while in the Army- and will be on his triumphant home coming scheduled shortly.

Trump is now blustering that Covid, which has killed over 210,000 Americans alone – is inconsequential and not to be feared. His drive-by appearance in front of the hospital was designed to lift the spirits of his followers. Among them, an unmasked jamboree of his evangelical followers just outside the White House and Walter Reed Hospital as more of Trump’s staff come down with the virus.

I’ve taken some of the drugs that Trump is being given while covering bush wars in Africa. The steroids alone make you irrational and paranoid. The man with his finger on the nuclear button is now full of them.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, Coronavirus, Donald Trump 

The Trump administration, desperate for some good news, just manufactured its own news by confecting a ‘peace’ deal between Israel and a bunch of pipsqueak Arab monarchies – just in time for November US elections.

The Gulf monarchies – the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – that signed this agreement are so frightened of neighboring Iran that they would happily have opted for Israeli rule rather than welcome the angry, unforgiving Iranians, who call the Gulf Arabs ‘traitors, cowards and backstabbers,’ a sentiment shared by much of the Arab world.

Few Americans could find these little sheikdoms on a map. But many evangelical voters, who have a comic-book view of the Mideast, will think the Trump administration has achieved a major feat by supposedly bringing peace to the Holy Land. Cynics, among them many Israelis, will likely scoff at such falafel in the sky thinking. Oman is expected to sign the new accord.

Israel remains intent on expanding its borders to gobble up all of what was historic Palestine and its water resources. Five million Palestinians will remain stateless. Israel also has its eye on fertile parts of Syria and Lebanon.

As I suggested in my book on Mideast strategy, ‘American Raj,’ the key beneficiaries of any Arab-Israeli peace deal would be Israel’s bankers, businessmen and arms makers. If a decent peace deal can be made with the Palestinians, the doors of the entire Muslim world (a fifth of humanity) will be opened to Israel’s commerce and finance. This will be a huge bonanza worth orders of magnitude more than the West Bank’s scrubby slopes.

But to do so, Israel’s hard right and religious extremists will have to lessen their demands for Arab land and water – that is, what they term, Greater Israel. Just as difficult and obdurate will be Trump’s evangelical core voters who want to see a mythical Biblical Israel recreated, paving the way for the return of the Messiah and earth’s fiery destruction.

The United Arab Emirates, population just under 10 million, is only 10% Arab. The rest of its people are mainly Indians and Pakistani coolies, giving rise to the old bon mot that Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the world’s best Indian-run cities.

Non-Arab members of the UAE are treated like slaves. They are paid a pittance, poorly fed, and live in squalor. Non-Arabs have no rights. Arab citizens don’t have any rights either, just a better standard of living.

I remember these tiny city states from the early 1970’s when I worked for a leading US firm that smuggled high-end cosmetics and perfumes into India, Pakistan and the USSR via Dubai’s busy port.

Back in the day, Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6, controlled Oman and its royal rulers. Similarly, the CIA today exercises great influence over Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, not to mention Egypt and Morocco. Tiny Qatar maintains a degree of independence in the face of Saudi threats and efforts by the Trump people to crush it.

The big Mideast deal ballyhooed by Trump and Co. is in reality a phony peace between secretly allied Gulf States and Israel. They have been playing footsie for over a decade. It is not primarily about peace but about Iran and arms sales to the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia that they have no idea how to use. Weapons sales are a protection payoff to Washington, which has important bases in Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

What next? Will Trump declare a trans-Pacific alliance between Tonga and the US to ‘contain’ China?

As for peace in the Mideast, recall the biting words of Roman historian Tacitus, ‘where they make a desert they call it peace.’ That is what awaits over five million Palestinian refugees, not a new dawn promised by the Trump administration.

 

resident Donald Trump is not always in control of his runaway tongue or his impetuous nature. So it’s entirely possible he could have dismissed fallen American soldiers as ‘losers,’ as the media and political opponents now claim.

But I strongly doubt that Trump knew anything about the bloody 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood at which the US Marine Corps distinguished itself and helped blunt the final German offensive against Paris. Trump was supposed to have paid tribute to fallen American marines there but declined, we are told, because of rain.

Trump likes to add military props and lots of flags to his orations and speak of ‘his generals,’ but, beyond that, military affairs are of no evident interest to our tough-talking president who likes to style himself a ‘war president.’

In fact, I am always outraged when I see Trump saluting his aircrews and grandstanding before the stars and stripes. Our commander-in-chief Trump reportedly dodged the Vietnam era draft six times, at least once because of a little bone spur in one of his dainty feet that were more used to the floors of New York discos than far-flung battlefields.

While Trump was evading military duty, far better men were dying or being wounded in combat in Vietnam – nearly 60,000.

I enlisted in the wartime US Army to go fight in Vietnam. I didn’t have to. I had been accepted to do advanced degrees at Britain’s Oxford University and London’s War College. Instead, I chose to sign my life away to the Army.

During the rigors of basic training, I broke a small bone in my left foot, described by medics as a ‘march injury’ from too much stress on the foot. It was very painful and forced me to hobble and limp while drill sergeants roared abuse at me. Somehow, I graduated from basic and advanced infantry training and still managed dawn bayonet practice against straw-stuffed dummies while yelling, ‘Kill the Kong! Kill the Kong!’

As a student of Roman history I strongly believed it was each male citizen’s duty to perform military service. The Roman Republic fell to ruin once its citizens shirked army service and resorted to hiring armies of unruly mercenaries, paving the way for dictators and generals.

My thinking about the need for military service has not changed since then, even though the Vietnam War was revealed to be a gigantic, bloody disaster and quite unnecessary.

All presidents should be military veterans. The idea of two draft dodgers, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, serving as commanders-in-chief is appalling and an insult to the memory of those who served the nation.

The idea of the increasingly deranged Trump with his sweaty finger on the nuclear button is terrifying. No one person should have the power to unleash a nuclear war that could destroy the globe.

One might agree with Trump that those American soldiers who died in France during World War I were ‘suckers.’ They were thrown into an imperialist bloodbath in which America had no interest or business.

But, unlike Trump, those farm boys didn’t have rich fathers to buy them out of military service. Vietnam, Afghanistan and the Mideast conflicts were similarly phony wars, based on lies, propaganda and poor intelligence. Trump promised to end the wars in Afghanistan and the Mideast. He has not so far.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, American Military, Donald Trump 

Last week, the world’s most populous nations, India and China, both nuclear armed, clashed in the high Himalayan region of Ladakh.

At least 20 Indian troops died and 12 were reportedly taken prisoner before a cease-fire went into effect. So far, there were no reports of Chinese casualties.

Ladakh is one of the world’s most remote, obscure and inhospitable places, a plateau averaging 4,200 meters altitude (about 14,000 feet) with frigid temperatures, scant oxygen, little rainfall, and howling winds. This bleak moonscape has long been called ‘Little Tibet’ because of its semi-nomadic ethnic Tibetan yak-herders. China has pretty much crushed the life out of Tibet’s ancient culture while India has helped preserve the Tibetan way of life.

China and India’s confrontation in airless Ladakh reminds me of the ‘bon mot’ about Ethiopia and Eritrea’s battle over the barren Ogaden desert region between them: ‘two bald men fighting over a comb.’

I’ve been over much of Ladakh by jeep, foot and even yak, and atop the world’s highest glacier, Siachen, that overlooks Ladakh. India and Pakistan have been fighting over Siachen for decades, making it the highest war in history and another crazy conflict. As a Pakistani officer told me, ‘we hate one another so much we will fight to prevent them from occupying our part of Hell.’

My book ‘War at the Top of the World’ (available through Amazon) is all about the conflict in the Himalayas and Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China.

So why are China and India at daggers drawn over the Galwan River Valley in Ladakh? Both are busy dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. Delhi and Beijing have conducted off and on diplomacy to ease Himalayan border tensions.

The clash in Ladakh was no accident but clearly a planned offensive act by China – and the biggest military operation since the two Asian giants went to war in the Himalayas in 1962, producing a serious defeat for India. China then said the war was a ‘serious message’ to India to restrain its ambitions in the region.

This time, it appears that the Chinese sent another ‘message’ to India. Part of this problem was due to the British Empire which never properly demarcated its Himalayan borders between the British Indian Raj and then independent Tibet. Some borders were never surveyed; others drawn with thick pens, leaving whole regions with unclear borders. But in those days no one cared about the vast emptiness at 14-17,000 feet. That is, until China moved in an occupied Tibet in 1950-1951, putting it on India’s northern border.

Since then, India and China have been uneasy rivals with both sides laying claims to parts of the Himalayas, Karakorams and the great rivers that course down from the Tibetan Plateau, providing water for much of Southeast Asia’s peoples.

Two recent issues have sparked the latest round of fighting – with threats of a much bigger war between Asia’s two giants. First, India’s new Hindu nationalist government under PM Narendra Modi has made no secret of its growing hostility to both China and its close ally, Pakistan, India’s longtime rival.

Modi’s revoking of Kashmir’s autonomous status and its division into two states has created major new tensions in the region. So have Modi’s plans to fashion a purely Hindu state in India, and China’s growing influence over Burma.

But a more important source of China’s anger has been growing efforts of the Trump administration to build a close military alliance with India to counter-balance China’s increasing military power.

Though seeming counter-intuitive to Trumps’ efforts to secure re-election by getting Beijing to buy more produce from American farmers, the Pentagon is preparing for a future war with China. Trump came close to facing a military coup in recent weeks and is trying to avoid angering the Pentagon and Washington’s active and retired military establishment.

Meanwhile, the fiercely anti-Muslim White House has quietly allowed four million Hindu Indians to emigrate to the United States as a way of countering the growing number of Muslims in our nation. Trump even offered to mediate the intractable Kashmir dispute, a proposal scorned by all sides.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, China, India, Kashmir 

President Donald Trump claimed last week that the US and Britain had won World War II. This was a shameless lie and distortion of the facts.

Many Americans and Canadians like to believe their nations 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.

Let’s do the numbers. The Soviet armed forces destroyed 507 German divisions and 100 allied Axis divisions (according to Soviet figures). These latter included the pan-European Waffen SS whose largest numbers came from Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Finland and a division from Spain.

Soviet military historians claim their forces destroyed 77,000 enemy planes, 48,000 enemy tanks and armored vehicles. The Red Army accounted for 75-80% of Axis casualties in World War II.

In the process, 1,710 Russian cities, 70,000 towns and villages, 31,850 factories and 1,974 collective farms were destroyed. Add 84,000 schools, 43,000 libraries and 65,000 km of railway.

The leading Russian military historian Dmitri Volkogonov revealed during the Gorbachev years that Russia’s total losses from 1941-1945 were 26.6 to 27 million dead. Ten million of them were Soviet soldiers dead or missing. Compare this to the total US dead in the European theater of 139,000.

No one likes to admit it was Stalin who defeated Nazi Germany. Stalin killed far more people than Adolf Hitler, including 6 million Ukrainians liquidated in the early 1930’s and four million Muslims during the war. The Soviet gulag was grinding up victims well into the 1950’s.

Today, seven decades later, we are barraged with films and reports about Germany’s concentration camps while Stalin’s far more extensive and lethal gulag is ignored. Roosevelt spoke warmly of Stalin as “Uncle Joe.” Churchill kept silent.

When American, British and Canadian troops landed at Normandy in June, 1944, they met Germany forces that had been shattered on the Eastern Front and bled white. Under strength German units had almost no gasoline and were low on ammunition, tanks and artillery.

Equally important, the Allies had absolute air superiority over the Western European battlefields. Under strength German units could only move at night – when they could find fuel. By 1944, both Germany and Japan were crippled by a calamitous lack of fuel. Planes could not fly, tanks and trucks could not move, and warships were forced to stay in port.

The reason Germany had no air cover at Normandy was because most of the once potent Luftwaffe had been destroyed on the Eastern Front, its best pilots killed, and aviation fuel scarce. Germany’s advanced ME262 jet fighter that should have swept the skies was grounded because of fuel shortages.

Had Germany’s Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe not been largely destroyed in Russia, the Normandy D-Day invasion would likely have been pushed into the Channel. Britain may have been invaded well before June, 1944. Hitler’s foolish notion that Germany and the British Empire should be allies saved the beaten British Army in France in 1940, allowing it to escape across the Channel while leaving its French allies in the lurch.

By the time the Allies established themselves in France, they outnumbered degraded German forces by 2:1. At least 67,000 German soldiers died in the Normandy operation. In a heartbreaking but little-known statistic of war, 6.7 million German horses were killed on both fronts.

Soviet Ukraine bore the brunt of the war, losing some 5 million soldiers and 6 million civilians – roughly half of total Soviet losses.

By April, 1944, Germany still maintained 214 divisions on the Eastern Front facing the advancing Soviet and just 60 divisions (mostly under strength, many only brigades in reality) on the Western Front.

At that time, both Roosevelt and Churchill lavished praise and thanks on the Soviet Union, admitting its “gigantic effort” in defeating Hitler’s Germany. Today, however, we have chosen to forget who really won the war in Europe.

Just as much, we have totally ignored the huge Soviet contribution to the war in the Pacific Theater. The US Navy swept the seas of the Imperial Japanese Navy in a series of brilliant actions that rate among the greatest feats in naval history, but Japan still held large parts of China and Manchuria.

On 9 Aug, 1945, the Soviets unleashed one of the war’s largest campaigns. Some 1.57 million Red Army troops in 89 divisions, backed by 27,000 guns, 5,500 tanks, and 3721 warplanes stormed south in a giant, 2,500-km long arc from Outer Mongolia to Korea. Soviet tank armies raced across desert, mountain ranges and forests in a giant pincer movement that enveloped Japan’s Manchurian-based 600,000-man, 25 division Kwantung Army.

In only eleven days of blitzkrieg, the once-feared Kwantung Army – Japan’s largest – was crushed. Soviet forces reached Port Arthur in northern China, much of Manchuria and right up to Korea’s 38th parallel. Five years later, a proxy war between the US and Soviet Union would begin over divided Korea.

The shattering of the Kwantung army is believed by some historians to have contributed to Japan’s surrender. Other historians suggest that America’s use of two nuclear weapons against Japan was a hasty effort to make it surrender before the Red Army landed in Japan.

While making it plain that the western democracies have no kudos for Soviet leader Stalin, and disapprove of Vladimir Putin’s machination in Ukraine and Crimea, it should still have been possible to acknowledge the mighty Soviet contribution to our victory in World War II. At the very least, Russia’s valiant soldiers deserve a sharp salute from us. They defeated Nazi Germany and saved many of our men from death.

 
• Category: History • Tags: American Media, Nazi Germany, Russia, World War II 
Eric with Gen.Jonas Savimbi and Chief of Staff at UNITA HQ during battles of Mavinga and Cuanavale
Eric with Gen.Jonas Savimbi and Chief of Staff at UNITA HQ during battles of Mavinga and Cuanavale

Thirty years ago this week began the largest and longest series of battles in southern Africa and a key event in the Cold War.

I was there with both mechanized and artillery units of the South African Defense Forces (SADF) and guerrillas of their Angolan ally, the UNITA forces of Gen. Jonas Savimbi.

Much of the action took place in the vast scrublands and dense bush of eastern Angola, a region so remote and uncharted that its former Portuguese colonial rulers rightly called it, ‘the land at the end of the earth.’ Great herds of majestic elephants roamed the area.

Savimbi was the most interesting African leader I had met. A brawny, charismatic man sporting a Che Guevara style black beret, he had graduated from Moscow’s Lumumba University, and then founded UNITA, the Movement for the Total Union of Angola. He was southern Africa’s most able leader. Closely aided by small contingents of tough South African troops, their black Buffalo Battalion allies, and a lot of discreet aid flown in from the top secret CIA base at Kamina, the Congo.

Opposing Savimbi was the Communist-led MPLA movement which was armed, financed and led by Angolan Communists taking orders from Moscow and East Berlin. Fidel Castro sent 50,000 well-trained Cuban troops to spearhead MPLA’s advance onto UNITA’s bush HQ at Jamba. I spent days at Jamba with Savimbi who was highly intelligent and a self-professed democrat.

We endured hair-raising, bone-jarring rides across the bush in Toyota Land Cruisers to attack Communist positions. Locals called it, ‘bundu (bush) bashing.’ We were choked by thick dust and lashed by wicked thorns.

Heavily armed Angolan and Cuban units, with modern T-54/55 and T-62 tanks tried to fight their way across the Lomba River to attack Jamba. There, Moscow’s forces were stopped by UNITA and teams of South African commandos using new anti-tank missiles and US Stinger missiles.

I remember being in a South African light armored car, known as a Ratel, in a terrifying point blank battle with a Cuban tank. Fortunately, the trees were so dense it could not traverse its turret gun.

Overhead, Cuban and East German piloted MiGs tangled in dogfights with small numbers of South African French-built Mirage fighters. I drank Cape wine at Pietermaritzburg Air Base with the SADF pilots who had just scored MiG kills.

The Cuito Cuanavale/Mavinga battles lasted for over thirteen months. South Africa’s nimble forces managed to thwart Soviet plans to occupy Southwest Africa (today Namibia) then move into South Africa and seize its vast riches of metals and rare earths. The Soviet-backed forces halted their offensive and retreated north.

But the United States and Britain also had a change of heart about Africa after a great public clamor over apartheid and slowly ended their support of the white–run republic. Angola remained in Communist hands, as did the new state of Namibia. Moscow and Washington called a truce over southern Africa, though Fidel Castro hailed himself as its ‘liberator.’

South Africa’s white National Party allowed Nelson Mandela’s ANC to assume power, ending the long era of white rule. South Africa, which once produced 25% of Africa’s economic output, including even nuclear weapons, went into a long, irreversible slide into endemic corruption, growing crime, tribalism and repressive government – a truly sad legacy for the great liberator, Nelson Mandela.

My old friend Gen Savimbi continued to lead his Ovimbundu people and UNITA against the ruling Marxist regime in Luanda until the US government determined that Angola’s growing oil resources were worth more than old ally Savimbi.

I have on impeccable source that in 2002 the US hired a top-notch Israeli hit team to ambush and kill Savimbi. UNITA disbanded and the US got Angola’s oil. As the British say, there are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent interests.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Angola 
Eric Margolis
About Eric Margolis

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia.

He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Lew Rockwell. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC.

His internet column www.ericmargolis.com reaches global readers on a daily basis.

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.

A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq.

A native New Yorker, he maintains residences in Toronto and New York, with frequent visits to Paris.


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