Eric Margolis


Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent and author of War at the Top of the World and American Raj, discusses the appalling lack of knowledge displayed by the U.S. occupation forces in Afghanistan, how Americans are too uneducated and impatient to rival the British Empire’s colonial skills, the problem with exporting democracy to Muslim countries whose people are more concerned with justice, economic advisers hard at work making Afghanistan’s banks as insolvent as America’s and how U.S.-engineered term extensions for key Pakistani military posts have effectively deposed the civilian government.

MP3 here. (20:24)

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles appear in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times and Dawn. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. 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. 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.

Margolis is the author of War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet and American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World.

22 thoughts on “Eric Margolis”

  1. India created the Bangladeshi independence movement? Phooey!! The East Bengalis were well fed up with rule from Islamabad seeing as they refused to recognize Bangla as a national language, the unequal distribution of moneys gained from national resources favoring West Pakistan, and the refusal to install the democratically elected Bengali Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Prime Minister of Pakistan. When things began to boil over, the West Pakistani security forces in East Pakistan began massacring East Bengalis, and that's when India stepped in… This was one of two military interventions that Chomsky considers altruistic, the other being Vietnam stepping in to oust the !Khmer Rouge.

  2. It doesn't matter if the invader knows history or not. That's beside the issue. The issue is that outsiders can never know enough to take over another country.

  3. But you must know history if you want to identify an invader. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was far too conciliatory with the Pakistani elements within the public institutions when he finally came to power with Bangladesh winning its independence. Instead of routing them from their positions of influence, he tried to make nice. They thanked him by undermining his administration in the eyes of the public, as well as blaming Indian influence for the country's ills. The result was Rahman was executed in his home in a coup de' tat, returning pro Pakistan forces to power and setting the stage for 40 years of political turmoil. India was not the invader. Pakistan was, and still is.

    Outsiders can never know enough to take over another country? Which fairyland version of history do you subscribe to? Tell that to Native Americans throughout the Americas. Tell that to the Tibetans. Tell that to the Maori and the Australian Aborigines, etc etc etc….

    1. Jay, you're not citing invasions. You're citing cases of mass settlement by outside peoples. If the US is willing to move 20 million people to Pakistan, I would bet they could take it over. That's what happened in Northa America, Tibet, Australia, and the other places you cite (and Palestine and South African, for example.) But we're not going to do anything like that in Asia; the idea is military rule at a distance. And that, as eCAHN says, is never possible in the long run.

  4. David, I was addressing 1. What Margolis said about India's involvement in East Pakistan, and 2.What eCAHN actually wrote, which was a general statement not specific to the US in Asia. As for my examples, if a group of foreign people enter a nation with the aim to occupy it by the use of force or otherwise, I would call it an invasion whether or not it is followed by the "mass settlement of outside peoples", which does legitimize or mitigate the initial invasion except in the eyes of the settled as the new rulers justify their presence by revising history.

  5. The mukti bahini was nurtured by India. And Chomsky is wrong about India intervening on humanitarian principles. India had clear and obivious political reasons for supporting the Bengal independance movement to eliminate the Pakistani presence on its eastern border. And now they are building a border fense to keep the suffering Bengalis from entering India. What happened to the humanitarian spirit?

  6. For a person of such eminent standing, it is appalling to hear Eric Margolis speak of the Bengali resistance to Pakistan military clamp-down as somehow inspired by the Indians. Nothing could be further from the truth. The first-ever general elections in Pakistan on the basis of universal adult franchise in 1970 had led to a landslide victory for the Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – on the strength of his support from the more populous half of the country that Mujib belonged to (i.e., East Pakistan, today's Bangladesh) . This should have seen Mujib installed as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. But the Pakistan military junta, which was overwhelmingly from the western half of the country (in what is Pakistan today) colluded with the runner-up from the electoral fray Z.A. Bhutto (who belonged to the the West Pakistan, and eventually became that country's Prime Minister) to unleash one of the worst atrocities in modern history.

  7. Anywhere between one and 3 million souls perished in the nine months between March and December 1971. With some 10 million refugees fleeing into India, it is hardly surprising that that country could not remain complacent. And, indeed, India did help to arm the Bengali Mukti Bahini (freedom fighters) in their struggle against the Pakistan army. But, the fact remains that Bengalis were overwhelmingly supportive of the Mukti Bahini in their 9-month guerilla war against the Pakistan army, and owe a debt of gratitude to India for intervening in the closing month of the war and securing the surrender of Pakistani forces in Bangladesh. Those are the facts: whatever way we may want to interpret them.

    1. Margolis has always been a flunkey for the generals in Islamabad. Read his books – they are filled with homoerotic descriptions of handsome Pakistani armymen who give Margolis personal briefings etc. Between 1 and 3 million people were killed by Pakistanis in Bangladesh and hundreds of thousands of women were raped – and not one Pakistani soldier or civilian was ever punished. But they are so good-looking with their ramrod posture and handlebar moustaches that Margolis melts in their arms.

  8. hey can I ask a question to libertarians out there: please forgive me as I know this is off topic. as an anti-authoritarian lefty who is anti-war I love this show and love learning more about libertarianism (even if I don't yet agree with all of it much less most of it)
    a few weeks ago Ron Paul was on the show and he mentioned that the current economic condition was proof of the failure of Keynesianism. Was he talking about the bailout or the collapse of our casino banking system as caused by Keynesianism.
    I can't see how Keynesian policy would have caused the downturn. I see that as a result of too LITTLE regulation of markets.
    I'd love to hear what the libertarian argument is though and would love if you could provide me any links etc.
    As I said I'm very interested in what you guys have to say and am very open to learning more. So please educate an anti-war lefty brother …
    thanks and keep up the great work y'all

    1. I'm a libertarian progressive. One thing most libertarians miss are the nature of utilities markets. These markets are supported by gov't through and through–this is not good or bad, it's inherent in these markets. Libertarians make the mistake of comparing these markets to free markets. But, they bear little resemblance–for instance in the free market both customer and provider say, and mean thank you, whereas when dealing with utilities you feel like you need KY, and if you're human you're likely enraged. This is because there's no competition, no alternatives, and unlimited pricing power.

      So, when we treat these as free markets, we get gouged which is another form of taxation–historically utilities were limited to 10% profits. Now, let's extend this model to war contractors. If you're making side arms, well there is ample competition. But when it comes to tanks, fighter jets and ships, there are only one or two manufacturers. They don't have salesmen, but lobbyist. This is the most pernicious form of socialism, privateering. Again, it is worthless to call them good or bad, but inherent.

      But, we must admit that a dysfunctional gov't spending money is money misdirected. I can't as a progressive answer that charge. But, we have different models of spending and gov't. Food stamps give money directly to the poor, this is efficient and preserves supply and demand. Whereas our "green policies" throw money to the best connected, (see the stupidity of corn ethanol, or our farm policy which creates monopolies in ag markets which should be competitive with alternatives.

      So, we're both half right. We both have to be much more wonky, and decide what programs work, make sense and preserve economic fundamentals. Here as in all things the broad sweeping generalizations are hasty and throw the baby out with the bath water.

    2. Here you go man. It's Peter Schiff's speech to the mortgage bankers association in 2006 telling them why they are screwed.

      Austrian business cycle theory says that when the banks/government create new credit out of nothing and loan it out into circulation, it generates bubbles of bad investments in unsustainable projects. Then, once they start to raise the interest rate and reduce the amount of new money coming in, the bubble pops and the recession kicks in. At that point they usually just start the game all over again. I would also highly recommend Tom Woods' book Meltdown. It's right on, and a very easy read.

    3. "I can't see how Keynesian policy would have caused the downturn. I see that as a result of too LITTLE regulation of markets"

      But the conclusion of "Too little regulation" assumes that regulation of the kind you want is possible at all. This is a deep point so dwell on it for a moment. "We need regulation" presumes that the political system can place into power people who can manage private economic activity to everyone's benefit.

      Economics provides an understanding why this ideal is not attainable. In the history of economics, the great academic debate of the early 1900s was "Socialist planning and the knowledge problem". This was won by the Austrian school of Economics, but simultaneously regulated societies were springing up across Europe. Looking back at them today, the immense human destruction and total economic failures of these systems provide today's historical (empirical) confirmation of the Austrian side of this crucially important economic debate.

  9. Margolis is one of the most knowledgeable authors on Asia. He demonstrates his first hand experience in his articles, books, and interviews such as this one. Great work Scott, please invite him as often as you can.

    Indians would love to silence him. They launch ad hominem attacks at him. That’s because truth is hard for them to swallow. But if you brought anti-Pakistan experts to speak on this or any other show, Indians would never question a word. So long as the content is anti-Pakistan, it has to be true. Indians are angles and can never do sinestet things to others. Give me a break.

  10. Eric said "These terrible people like the Taliban, HAMAS and Hezbollah that brought quick and honest justice to the pople".

    Hezbollah IS NOT to be lumped in with HAMAS and Taliban. Hezbollah does not even execute the spies and traitors but hands them over to Lebanese authorities. Lumping Hezbollah in with Taliban is just to further the zionist narrative

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