September 14, 2012

The British used to call it the “cost of Empire:” occasional attacks on Her majesty’s troops and legations by enraged, sword and spear-wielding natives.

Imperial troops would be rushed in and quickly put down the uprisings. In the 1920’s, Winston Churchill authorized the use of poison gas against “unruly” tribesmen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fast forward to the British Raj’s heir. This week’s attacks on US embassies in the Arab world were a deeply disturbing sign of the violent, anti-American fury boiling across the Muslim world.

The trigger for the latest spasm of violence was the tragic murder of Christopher Stevens, the new US ambassador to Libya, an Arabic-speaking career diplomat. He was just the kind of educated, experienced diplomat America so badly needs. Having myself almost joined the US Foreign Service many years ago, I feel particular sorrow.

We don’t know yet who killed Stevens but two suspects come at once to mind: anti-western jihadists of al-Qaida in the Maghreb, or Ghadaffi loyalists seeking revenge for the US-assisted killing of their late leader, whose convoy was blasted by a US Predator drone.

Whatever the answer, more violence seems likely. The vile anti-Muslim film from California that sparked protests in Egypt, Yemen, and North Africa is only now beginning to be seen in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I watched 15 minutes of this crude piece of amateur propaganda. It slandered the Prophet of Islam and his faith in the most disgusting fashion. As of now, the real makers of this vile film are uncertain: a Coptic Egyptian convicted of bank fraud, a group of American pro-Israel businessmen, a fanatical Christian-fascist hate-monger and gun-lover.

Muslims everywhere blamed the US government for the film. In fact, Washington does not appear to have any link to the film; nor could it have prevented it under US laws.

But Republican candidate Mitt Romney lost not a moment to absurdly denounce President Barack Obama for “sympathizing” with the Benghazi attack. The stumbling Romney gave yet another example of why he may not be ready for the presidency.

The big question here is who set off this firestorm? If we were in the good old days of the Cold War, I’d say the film was made by KGB’s special disinformation department to enrage the Muslim world against the United States.

Today, the most likely culprit are far right Christian fundamentalists, who hate Islam with religious passion, and a group of neconservative businessmen trying to promote war between the US and Muslim world – and namely, Iran. A network of Evangelical broadcasters, publishers and schools churns out a steady stream of anti-Islamic fulminations.

The latest anti-US riots across the Mideast further convinced many Americans that all Muslims are violent extremists. The hate film reinforced the mistaken notion held by many Muslims that the United States is bent on eradicating their faith.

All this fits nicely with efforts by right wing ideologues to push the US into war against Iran. President Obama has so far stoutly refused to give in to war-mongering, no mean feat in an election year in which he is neck-a-neck with Romney.

This week, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, demand Obama openly define the conditions under which the US would attack Iran. Netanyahu’s American supporters accuse Obama of “throwing Israel under a bus.” At times, it appears there are three candidates for office in Washington: Obama, Romney and Netanyahu.

Netanyahu scolded and rebuked Obama for not sending American troops and spending American treasure to attack Iran because it is a potential rival or threat to Israel. Netanyahu is now openly backing Romney for president.
In Yiddish, such behavior is called “chutzpah,” a mixture of brazen nerve and outrageous presumption.

Add all this up and we have evil memories of the hysteria and military posturing of August, 1914, the lead-up to World War I, a totally unnecessary conflict that ran out of control and wrecked Europe.

Opinion in the Muslim world, America and Canada is being manipulated by those seeking war. A few more killings, a clash in the congested Gulf, a bombing in the west, and a wider Mideast war could erupt.

One in which PM Netanyahu thinks he will be the winner. Unfortunately, he may well be right.

copyright Eric S, Margolis 2012

For German translation of above column please go to:

This post is in: Iran, Israel, Mideast, Uncategorized


  1. George Rizk says:

    On c-span, I watched nuclear scientists who are familiar with Iranian nuclear program. They said that by the NPT, all nations are entitled to have a nuclear program as long as their refinement does not go beyond 5%! Iran enrichment was 3.5%!

    Iran’s negotiators assured us that they will keep it under 5%, but they demanded that we sell them a nuclear source for an old GE machine for cancer treatment ? We refused, and they needed to enrich uranium to 20% in order that them may be able to create their own cancer treatment Radio isotope, which is needed for more than 800 thousand cancer patients.

    Now these are the realities, according the knowledgable non biased experts. Being too arrogant, and too hysterical is an Israeli problem, that they must deal with on their own without dragging us and the reat of the middle east into a major wars.

  2. solum temptare possumus says:

    CUO BONO – Who stands to benefit.
    This should be the first thought of any person reading/seeing a conflagration somewhere in the world; especially when the players are from the West and/or the East. Religion is the bishop coercing the pawns on this chessboard. The question is “Who are the Kings and Queens”, for it is they who wield the Power.
    On one side a Coptic Christian with an axe to grind? Or is he a pawn also? His video is so amaterish that it makes it hard to believe that some investors paid for it. The obvious dubbing done in editing could have been done by anyone though. Cuo Bono?
    On the other side we have outraged citizens caught on visual media, doing mob mentality outrage. Were they paid? Who began the instigation? Certain mullahs and imams are caught on tape denouncing the film and/or the USA. Cuo Bono?
    We see 1/10,000th of 1% at most, of the Muslim diaspora. The rest are mostly peaceful people who just want the outsiders to leave their homelands and familes alone.
    This I believe is needed for ISLAM. The Sunni, Shia, Ismaili, Druze, Sufi and all the smaller branches and sects, need to have an ecumenical conclave similar to the Christian Council of Nicea (325 AD). It lasted for months, but eventually the tenets were agreed upon and this united the many factions under one peaceful banner of shared beliefs.
    Until this happens the West will perceive each as a sect and perhaps a cult; especially if it cannot withstand a crackpots video, a political cartoonists drawing, an authors book, or a perceived slander by a Christian girl in a mostly Muslim country.
    Again Cuo Bono?
    A religion does not need to defend itself. The faith of its followers is strongest in their silence.
    Ad iudicium
    PS: Mr. Margolis mentioned that President Obama has so far steadfastly refused to give in to warmongering. Another reason why Romney must not be elected President.

  3. It isa pleasure reading Eric`s columns, but frustrating,when many times my comments are rejected, even though I agree with most of what Eric writes.
    Just this week I read somewhere, that the international bankers have acquired the right to have their own private Federal Reserve police force parallel with the government one in the US, to protect the interest of Wallstreet with all the weapons and gear of a regular police force.
    It does not take a genius, or a lot of imagination to see, what that can do, when the general public gets more restless, than it already is.
    Does this not prove, that the US government is not really run by its people through their elected representatives? An alternate thought could be, that those ‘elected’ representatives are all bought by the entity, that really calls the shots(no pun intended)?
    Netanyahu acts like he already is the big brother, Orwell wrote about.
    Of course it is easy to write everything off as a conspiracy theory, but a lot of those theories make more logical sense than the stories, that we are being fed as the official true story of an event. And when we ask for specifics, the excuse is always the same; the security of the state and the safety of its people could be jeopardized.
    Why are the official stories always so ambiguous?
    When you read the open admission that the Iraq war for instance, was based on blatant lies and disinformation, why then would anyone still believe any of the BS around it, that was being fed to the public? And once a country loses its credibility, it is forever lost. Just like virginity, one can only lose that once.

  4. George Rizk says:

    It is very difficult to defend Iran, since it discriminates against women, and other religions. Having said so, it is their RIGHT to have a nuclear program to generate electricity, and nuclear medicine.

    Israel, which has more nuclear bombs than China, is acting too disproportion to the Inept Iranians. America cannot be dragged into a war just because Israel is hysterical.

  5. The entire fiasco is a sickening and cynical attempt to herd Americans into another war that will kill plenty of innocent people on all sides and benefit only the wealthy oil barons who covet Iran’s assets. Why are Israelis continuing to support Netanyahu? Do they need a reason to draw down bombs onto their own heads? Ordering Obama to define terms of engagement is like my landlord demanding I define the terms under which I would default on the rent, even if I had never done so or expressed the least intent in doing so. Isn’t Netanyahu’s latest dictum just one more selfish example of “Lets you and him fight.”

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