I’ve been reading Margolis, on and off, for years. Canada’s Sun chain, with its infamous page 3 girls, conservative politics and tabloid style is where I first found him, back in the 90s.

Margolis, see, has this problem. He’s been everywhere, he knows everyone and he gets most things right. When he doesn’t, you can understand his reasoning, because he lays it out, including the facts he’s operating from. He certainly called Iraq right, he called the outlines of the Afghan war right and he’s just generally been kicking ass and taking names for years now.

So, of course, since he gets things right, we rarely get to read him and while he’s on networks, it’s intermittent (though he was, at least, on the networks during the Iraq run-up.)

Two recent columns, which can be read at his home site, show him in fine form. On Iran:

First, missiles. Iran announced its Shahab-III missile is ready to retaliate against any Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. This missile is not long-ranged, as media wrongly claims, but a medium-ranged. Iran says it can deliver a two ton warhead over 2,000 km. But Israeli and US sources say Shahab’s maximum range is around 1,200 km, which puts much of Israel out of its range.

This obsolescent missile is highly inaccurate, particularly at maximum range. It is liquid fueled, meaning it is very vulnerable to air and missile strikes while being prepared to fire. Israel has developed tactics using aircraft, missiles and drones to attack enemy missiles in pre-launch phase. Iran has an estimated 24 Shabab-III’s.

The other missiles Iran fired this week were short ranged models of no strategic value. …

…Israel, by contrast, has around 50 Jericho-II nuclear-armed missiles with a range from 900-2,700 miles, putting every Mideast capital and parts of Russia, Pakistan, and Europe within range. Each Jericho-II carries a warhead that can destroy a major city.

Medium-ranged missiles are almost useless without nuclear warheads. Iran has no nuclear weapons, and even if it did manage to develop them, it would be many years before a compact warhead could be developed that could be carried atop missiles and withstand heavy G-forces. Until Iran has nuclear warheads, Iran’s Shabab’s will be more for show than military utility.

Margolis goes on to point out that of Israel and Iran, one is capable of destroying the other, and it ain’t Iran who can destroy Israel.

Then there’s Margolis on Russia and America’s fantasies of missile defense on its border. He brings in something that is strictly forbidden in normal American newspapers. History!

Bush and Rasputin Dick Cheney have broken a 1991 pledge made President Bush Senior to Soviet chairman Michael Gorbachev. In exchange for Gorby’s not using the Red Army to crush spreading revolts in East Germany and across the dying Soviet Union, Washington agreed not to advance NATO eastward toward Russia or into the old USSR. Gorbachev’s courageous, humane concession averted a crisis that could have led to a nuclear war.

Gorbachev kept his side of the bargain, allowing the Soviet Union to implode. But the US, sneering at Boris Yeltsin’s bankrupt, demoralized post-imperial Russia, quickly reneged and began advancing NATO ever closer to Russia’s borders. Washington is currently mucking around in Georgia and Ukraine, both parts of Russia’s back yard and considered seriously off limits to the western powers.

Small wonder Bush’s foolish ABM system so outrages the Ruskis who have every right to moral outrage and being angry as hornets. Bush’s paranoia and obsession with Iran is causing him to risk provoking a military clash with Russia. He is fast pushing Russia’s new President Dimitri Medvedev and PM Vlad Putin to the wall.

That’s calling it like it is. Russia has been spitting mad for years about American influence in their near neighbours. The colors revolutions in particular made them angry, very very angry. And Putin is perhaps the single scariest world leader in power in the last decade. Putin plays geopolitics like a cardsharp amongst marks. Even the Chinese know better than to mess with him, but Bush thinks he can play these games and there won’t be a price? It’s a bad idea to buy countries you can’t afford, and it works out even worse for those countries.

Meanwhile, you could do worse than to bookmark Margolis. He’s an old style conservative, and he’s not always right, but he’s right more than he’s wrong and he actually knows what he’s talking about. He kicked around the Afghan mountains for years, he knew Saddam personally and he has contacts almost everwhere.

And somehow he still seems to be a journalist.

Which is why, along with the fact that he had the bad taste to say the Iraq was really, really stupid, you’ve probably never read him in a major newspaper.

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in Pogge.ca and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at http://www.ianwelsh.net/