Friday, August 15, 2008

Russia-Georgia Conflict Bulletin: US Hidden Hand Pushes Ossetia War; Statement From Georgia Peace Committee; Role of Caspian Oil

U.S. hidden hand pushes Ossetia war

By Sara Flounders
Published Aug 13, 2008 11:25 PM

Long before Aug. 8, when the leaders of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus Mountains south of Russia, attacked a small autonomous region known as South Ossetia, the U.S. military was deeply involved in Georgia. Washington is no innocent bystander in this bloody struggle, which provoked a response by Russia that now dominates the news.

Georgia’s well-organized and massive military assault set the city of Tskhinvali, South Ossetia’s capital, aflame within hours, destroying the parliament building, the university and the main hospital. According to AP interviews with survivors, there was hardly a single building left undamaged. Eduard Kokoity, the South Ossetian leader, estimated that more than 1,400 civilians were killed in the assault. (Reuters, Aug. 8)

Russian military forces then struck back at Georgia’s military bases, airfields and the main Black Sea port of Poti. Most news coverage in the West, however, is slanted to give the impression that Russia initiated the conflict with Georgia.

Many of the hundreds of recent articles detail the significance of Georgia as a strategic transit point for oil and gas from the Caspian Sea. But what connection this conflict may have to other U.S. maneuvers in this strategic region is barely mentioned.

Even as Russia is preoccupied with a war on its border and world attention is focused on South Ossetia, the Bush administration has sent two additional U.S. Navy carrier groups to the seas around Iran.

U.S. armed, trained Georgia’s army

Washington does not claim credit for the invasion of South Ossetia ordered by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, especially now that his forces have been routed. The roads back to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi are littered with tanks and other military vehicles abandoned by Georgian soldiers in their mad scramble to return home. (BBC News, Aug. 12)

But at the time of the invasion, the White House made clear its political support for Saakashvili and Georgia has been closely allied with the U.S. military in its war in Iraq.

The U.S. and NATO have heavily armed and trained the Georgian military. There are U.S. military “advisers” in Georgia today. A thousand U.S. Marines from the Third Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment just finished three weeks of joint maneuvers there called “Operation Immediate Response.”

In the period leading up to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, the Pentagon had supplied Georgia with hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery weapons, rocket launchers and dozens of combat helicopters and anti-aircraft missile systems. Hundreds of other weapons systems have poured in from other NATO members and from Israel. (Interfax, Aug. 7)

In exchange Georgia had provided the third-largest military force in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. But on Aug. 10 the U.S. began ferrying the 2,000 Georgian troops out of Iraq to the war zone in Georgia.

Along with the “advisers” and U.S. troops sent for maneuvers, U.S.-origin mercenaries and privatized military trainers function in Georgia. Tens of thousands of “civil society” operatives, international consultants, policy experts and technical assistants operate in Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet Republics.

NATO divided over Georgia

NATO, a U.S.-dominated alliance of imperialist military powers, has been divided over Washington’s demands for expansion. The April 2-4 NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, nearly broke up over Washington’s provocative proposals.

The U.S. demanded further expansion of NATO eastward to include Ukraine and Georgia, two countries that were once part of the Soviet Union and that both border Russia. Despite deep popular opposition in Poland and the Czech Republic, the U.S. military also pushed ahead with a plan to place a U.S. anti-missile system in each of these two countries, raising another threat to Russia.

At the Bucharest meeting, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg strongly and openly opposed Bush’s demands to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. Some of these governments said they felt apprehensive about U.S. recognition of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. This secession was in direct violation of United Nations agreements and even the conditions the U.S. imposed on Serbia in the cease-fire agreement in 1999, which ended NATO’s terror bombing of Yugoslavia.

NATO postponed its decision on the status of Georgia and Ukraine until December. But Washington has refused to wait until the December NATO meeting. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Georgia on July 10 and strongly reiterated U.S. support for Georgia’s membership in NATO.

NATO expansion

For 40 years the NATO military alliance was comprised of wealthy, industrialized imperialist countries that had prospered from generations of colonial plunder. It was essentially an anti-Soviet alliance to halt the spread of socialist revolutions in Europe. NATO used military might, nuclear blackmail, economic sabotage, espionage and terror to protect and expand the private corporate wealth of its members.

Using the 1992-1999 war against Yugoslavia to justify its expansion and intervention, NATO has now grown from 16 members before that war to 26 members and 38 nations in four different “partnership” arrangements, as Canadian Gen. Ray Henault of the NATO Military Committee boasted in his Chairman’s Report in April. NATO has spread its field of intervention far beyond its original North Atlantic area to Eastern Europe, Africa and Afghanistan.

Many of the new members and “partners” of this military bloc are former socialist countries from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that have become captured ministates—economic colonies of European and U.S. imperialism.

However, the reestablishment of capitalist private ownership over the resources and production of this vast region of the globe did not pacify U.S. imperialism, which sees competing capitalist development in Russia also as a threat. U.S. corporate power is determined to allow only dependent colonial subjects. Any country seeking to control its own development or resources, regardless of its social system, is targeted. This is as true for Russia as it is for Iran, China or Venezuela.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. corporate power has attempted to establish control over the vast energy resources of Central Asia and the nations of the Caucasus region, the Caspian Sea and Black Sea.

Through NATO’s military expansion, the Pentagon has sought to encircle Russia. Again and again U.S. corporations have used Washington’s intelligence agencies and U.S.-based, corporate-funded nongovernmental organizations to cynically manipulate national antagonisms, tensions and claims throughout Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the former Soviet Republics.

Ossetia’s status

For 70 years South Ossetia, though bordered on three sides by Georgia, held the status of an Autonomous Oblast (Region) within the Soviet Federation. Its population is 70,000. The neighboring Republic of North Ossetia-Alania has maintained its status as an autonomous republic within the present-day Russian Federation. The Ossetians have a distinct Persian-related language and culture. Schools, publishing houses and theaters helped preserve Ossetian nationality within the Soviet Union.

With the collapse of socialist planning in the Soviet Union, socialist solidarity among its constituent nations broke down. The capitalist market brought chaos and upheaval that hit hardest at the many small nationalities as the Soviet Union ended. Contending gangs of privatizers seeking to grab hold of nationally owned property fueled and manipulated nationalist sentiment.

The reactionary, pro-capitalist leadership in Georgia suddenly abolished South Ossetia’s autonomous status and rights and annexed the small nation, as they did with Abkhazia, another small, autonomous nation strategically located on the Black Sea and surrounded by Georgia. In the resulting struggle, South Ossetia and Abkhazia each declared their independence from Georgia in 1991.

This led to a 17-year standoff, with both Georgian and Russian “peacekeepers” stationed in South Ossetia. The latest Georgian attack ended the standoff with a de facto attempt at annexation.

Abkhazia has similarly declared its independence from Georgia. Georgia’s military onslaught against South Ossetia could well have spilled over into an attack on Abkhazia.

Given the scope of the operation and the active influence of U.S. forces in Georgia, it is hard to believe that Washington could have been uninformed of Saakashvili’s decision to launch an all-out war against South Ossetia.

Within the United Nations Security Council, U.S. and British representatives blocked a Russian-drafted resolution calling on Georgia and South Ossetia to immediately put down their weapons. The U.S. rejected the three-sentence statement that would have required both sides “to renounce the use of force.” It was a clear confirmation of U.S. support for Georgia’s continued “use of force” against the small Ossetian nationality.

However, Russia succeeded in repelling Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia. So as of Aug. 13, Georgia and Russia agreed to a “peace plan” brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Saakashvili is already criticizing the West generally, and the Bush administration in particular, for not coming to his aid—indicating that this puppet of Washington, who spent his time as a New York lawyer before being set up as a politician in post-Soviet Georgia, may believe he had the go-ahead from his imperialist masters to carry out a reckless attack on both Russians and Ossetians in the small autonomous region.
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Georgians denounce Saakashvili regime’s aggression

Published Aug 13, 2008 11:14 PM

Workers World received this statement from the Georgian Peace Committee, a member of the World Peace Council, through other committees associated with the council. We believe our readers should have the opportunity to read this point of view.

Declaration of the Georgian Peace Committee

Once more Georgia was launched into a situation of chaos and bloodshed. A new fratricidal war exploded with renewed strength on Georgian soil.

To our great disappointment, the alerts of the Georgian Peace Committee and of progressive personalities of Georgia on the pernicious character of the militarization of the country and on the danger of a pro-fascist and nationalist policy had no effect.

The authorities of Georgia once again organized a bloody war, feeling the support of some Western countries and of regional and international organizations. It will take decades to cleanse the shame poured by the current holders of the power over the Georgian people.

The Georgian army—armed and trained by U.S. instructors and using also U.S. armaments—subjected the city of Tskhinvali to a barbaric destruction. The bombings killed Ossetian civilians, our brothers and sisters, children, women and elderly people. Over 2,000 inhabitants of Tskhinvali and of its surroundings died.

Hundreds of civilians of Georgian nationality also died, both in the conflict zone as well as in the entire territory of Georgia.

The Georgian Peace Committee expresses its deep condolences to the relatives and friends of those who have perished.

The entire responsibility for this fratricidal war, for thousands of children, women and elderly dead people, for the inhabitants of South Ossetia and of Georgia falls exclusively on the current president, on the Parliament and on the government of Georgia. The irresponsibility and the adventurism of the Saakashvili regime have no limits. There is no doubt the president of Georgia and his team are criminals and must be held responsible.

The Georgian Peace Committee, together with all the progressive parties and social movements of Georgia, will struggle to assure that the organizers of this monstrous genocide have a severe and legitimate punishment.

The Georgian Peace Committee declares and asks broad public opinion not to identify the current Georgian leadership with the people of Georgia, with the Georgian nation, and appeals to all to support the Georgian people in the struggle against the criminal regime of Saakashvili.

We appeal to all the political forces of Georgia, the social movements and the people of Georgia to unite in order to free the country from the Russian-phobic and pro-fascist anti-popular regime of Saakashvili!

The Georgian Peace Committee
Tbilisi, Aug. 11, 2008

Unofficial translation by the Portuguese Peace Council, which was then edited by WW.

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EDITORIAL

U.S. imperialism & Caspian oil

Published Aug 13, 2008 11:21 PM

The U.S. media’s war reporting on Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia has echoed the kind of lies and misinformation that characterized the reporting on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The war reports are little more than Pentagon propaganda pieces.

To understand what is happening and why, there’s no chance if your only source is the U.S. big-business-controlled media. Yet Georgia is at the center of U.S. imperialism’s moves to control the oil-rich Caspian Sea region. Georgia is the energy highway for Europe, with at least two major pipelines passing though it. These pipelines are emerging to rival the Russian oil pipelines that have been Europe’s primary source for natural gas and oil.

Until 2005, the only pipeline from the Caspian oil center of Baku in Azerbaijan was through Russia. In 2005, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline opened. Owned by British Petroleum and Unocal, this pipeline goes through Georgia to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan. The BP consortium also owns the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipline, which opened in 2007. Another pipeline, named Western Early, goes through Georgia passing the border of South Ossetia to the Georgia port city of Supsa.

Thus the oil that was once the most valuable resource of the former Soviet Union is now going to market through facilities controlled by U.S. imperialism and its allies.

With Iraq’s oil resources conquered, and Iran’s under threat of blockade or bombardment, the U.S. is determined to also control the Caspian oil fields.

By removing Russian control over these oil fields, the U.S. would deliver a major blow to the possible emergence of Russia as a capitalist power.

For all its flowery words of democracy and freedom, the U.S. ruling class has no intention of allowing Russia to become an imperialist rival, like Europe and Japan. The U.S. has been working covertly and overtly to break up Russia and the states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, concentrating on the states around the Caspian oil fields.

The Caspian Sea has two huge oil fields. One is east of Baku. The other is the Tengiz oilfield, on the Caspian’s northwest shore in Kazakhstan.

In addition there are massive reserves of natural gas throughout the Caspian region. It is the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe.

The known reserves of Caspian oil are larger than the oil fields of Nigeria or Libya, putting the Caspian oil fields in the same league as the fields of Iran or Kuwait.

Following the victory of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the oil-producing countries of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan became republics within the Soviet Union. Their oil was a key resource for the creation of the world’s first socialist economy.

With the overthrow of socialism, U.S. imperialism went into high gear targeting this oil-rich region.

A consortium of 11 major oil corporations set up outposts on the Caspian. Atlantic Richfield, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Pennzoil, Philips Petroleum, Texaco and BP Amoco spent billions of dollars buying up Soviet-era oil interests and drilling rights.

But the Caspian Sea is landlocked. The oil must be transported out of the region by pipeline. Whoever controls the pipelines will ultimately control the oil. South Ossetia and Abkhazian, both targets of the U.S.-trained and directed Georgian military’s invasion, are very much in this target zone. The people there are suffering at the hands of U.S. imperialism’s proxy army. All of humanity must demand: U.S. imperialism get out.
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Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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2 comments:

FairofShame said...

Thanks for bringing a more critical counterpoint to mainstream media coverage of the Osettia war. Ali Abunimah, has also written on another important aspect of the conflict in "Tel Aviv to Tbilisi: Israel's role in the Russia-Georgia war," published on The Electronic Intifada.

Anonymous said...

Hi.

This is Axel e-mailing you from the BBC World Service in London. I am working for the programme "World Have Your Say", our daily discussion programme, where we always like to include international voices and bloggers.

Our todays question is "Is it time for the rest of the world to freeze out Russia?" concerning the discussion whether Russia is isolating himself in the current Georgia crisis. I read your blog entry on the matter and wondered whether you would like to participate in it. Our show runs tonightbetween 6 and 8 pm London time, which is in roughly 3 hours. If you find the time to join us live at any time between these two hours, we would greatly appreciate it.

Kind regards,

Axel

Axel Rahmlow
BBC World Service
World Have Your Say
http://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/
Bush House, Strand
WC2B 4PH London UK
Tel.: 00 (44) 207 557 0293
axel.rahmlow@bbc.co.uk