Note: This is a reply to a comment in The Guardian Weekly dealing with the recent “crisis in Georgia” (Russian troops attacking Georgian forces in the break-away province of South Ossetia)
Clark suggests that Russia has provoked the violence while creating the impression that Georgia´s assault was unprovoked. He goes on to say that “the impact of Russian policy has been uniquely destructive in generating instability and political division in the Caucasus; …it talks about defending the people of South Ossetia .. but the real aims are geopolitical rather than humanitarian…”
Mr.Clark seems to suffer from selective amnesia because he forgets to mention that the US-led militarization of Georgia (annual training exercises since 2002 – “Operation Immediate Response 08” was just completed on July 30 – , millions of US military aid, support from Israeli “advisers” and military equipment like UAVs) fuelled “the rising tension” and was yet another provocation for Russia:
With the demise of the “evil empire” in the 1990ies, NATO was facing an identity crisis. Staying in business meant reinventing itself as an instrument of noble aggression. The illegal “humanitarian intervention” against Serbia in 1999 was sold to the public as the great moral war when in fact it really prompted the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign it had initially used as a pretence for the bombing.
That the US supported a separatist movement (“liberation” of Kosovo) to increase its influence and military presence in the region (e.g. huge military base Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo) raised no eyebrows, – thanks to a docile media – but when Russia acts in the same way, almost in self-defense, because NATO (read: the US) is more and more encroaching upon her own backyard, there is a huge media campaign of moral outrage, especially in the US. How convenient for Bush , that the media portrayal of the Russian Bear as a kind of Godzilla persuaded Poland to finally accept US missile- interceptors on its territory. The ludicrous claim that the US is installing this faulty system to protect Europe from missile attacks by rogue states (a.k.a. Iran – which is even more absurd) is not worth commenting on….
NATO`s aggressive program of eastward enlargement was a flagrant breach of the assurances the US and the West had given to Gorbatchev and Yeltsin in the 1990ies. So in return for Russia`s peaceful withdrawal from Eastern Europe and the acceptance of a unified Germany she got the disdainful middle finger…. (Clark is right about Russia demanding to be treated with respect….)
Given the aggressive and criminal US “foreign policy” record, the sight of Mc Cain (who wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years….) , saying with a straight face that “in the 21st century nations do not attack other nations” and Bush, of all people, lecturing Putin about international law is more than one can bear. But of course, the US does not openly attack democratically elected governments with bombs, it destroys them by subtler means, as we all know…. (e.g. Allende was removed on Sept. 11…. and wasn`t Hamas democratically elected, too?)
Clark calls Saakashvili “something less than a model democrat” but certainly “no Milosevics…” and laments that …”..there is no place for an independent Georgia in this mental picture…; “when Russian leaders talk about the benefits of “sovereign democracy” they are talking exclusively about their own sovereignity and not about democracy;” (Washington`s definition of democracy?)
I don´t see any model democrats anywhere but Saakashvili has clearly adopted the US-style formal democracy where people can go to the ballots but have little say in the actual politics. His severe repression of widespread protests in November 2007, including the shut-down of the independent media and his apparent involvement in corruption have shown that his commitment to democratic values is not very strong but as we have seen many times before, the US has no problem with that. On the contrary, leaders like this can enjoy long and successful relationships with Washington – Shevardnaze was a perfect example.
….countries (on their borders) have no right to foreign policies of their own if they conflict with Russia´s interests……
The US (often with the approval and support of Britain) has toppled numerous governments, installed and supported the worst thugs in history who brought terror and misery to their impoverished population, for the same reasons. Though in most cases it is the economic policy that must comply with Washington´s interests, not primarily the foreign policy. Again, why is Russia being blamed for actions the US has practised for decades without being held accountable for the terrible consequences? Russia is defending her “own backyard” but the US has “interfered” thousands of miles from its own territory i.e. in Indonesia, South America, the Middle East, and now in the Caucasus / Kaspian region.
Installing a sophisticated antimissile radar system in the Czech Republic, interceptors in Poland and providing military training and equipment to former Soviet republics does not serve to strenghten democracy and security in these countries. It serves US interests to turn these countries into client states and it increases the profits for military contractors. Officially the US (with Israel) runs the military training programmes in Georgia following a “request for assistance to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities”. Which terrorists can they mean? The South Ossetians?
But of course, these “counter-insurgency” tactics are only used for the Islamic extremists in Iraq, a “true democrat” like Saakashvili would never direct them against separatist movements at home, wouldn´t he?
Russian´s allegations of “ethnic cleansing” in these provinces should be investigated not just dismissed as propaganda. The Israeli special forces can surely provide some assistance how to deal with insubordinate ethnic groups fighting for self-determination…..
Of course Putin is not supporting the South Ossetians because he is the good samaritian.
Of course he is asserting Russia´s authority in the region and teaching Saakashvili and similar US stooges a lesson (but this serves US interests too, see below).
Of course he wants to show the world that while Russia may not be as powerful as the USSR was, it is not longer lying prostrate and still a force to be reckoned with (I´m not going into the BTC pipeline and control of energy-matter here…). What the US really annoys is the fact, that Russia and powerful Asian states like China are beginning to co-operate.
The US apparently achieved three objectives though:
- Portray Russia as a big security threat and re-create to some extent a cold-war atmosphere (good for Republican election campaign, good for “defense”-business., good for NATO…)
- Scare hesitant ex-Soviet member or satelite states into obedience regarding plans for further US militarization of Eastern Europe
- Divide and conquer – with regard to the EU (division between Germany and Russia …a major goal?)
Finally, I found some interesting and heartfelt comments on the Rumanian Pravda Online Forum: Pravda.ru forum. “The place where truth hurts”
“President Bush, Why don’t you shut up? How do you account for the fact that among the Georgian soldiers fleeing the fighting yesterday you could clearly hear officers using American English giving orders to “Get back inside” and how do you account for the fact that there are reports of American soldiers among the Georgian casualties? Kinda odd, eh?”
“President Bush, Why don’t you shut up? Do you really think anyone gives any importance whatsoever to your words after 8 years of your criminal and murderous regime and policies? Do you really believe you have any moral ground whatsoever and do you really imagine there is a single human being anywhere on this planet who does not stick up his middle finger every time you appear on a TV screen? Kinda makes ya’ll think, eh?
Do you really believe you have the right to give any opinion or advice after Abu Ghraib? After Guantanamo? After the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens? After the torture by CIA operatives? Kinda difficult, eh?”
One is tempted to say: Mr. Clark, why don´t you just shut up, too?
 Mark Curtis: Web Of Deceit, Chapter 6; Noam Chomsky: Hegemony or Survival, p. 53-59) http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag/viewArticle/12963 http://www.fpif.org/pdf/vol4/13ifkoso.pdf