U.S. Gambles On Syria With Empty Hand by Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
September 6, 2013

Protestors

Image by Xizi (Cecilia) Hua @ Neon Tommy via Flickr

Poker seems to be an apt metaphor as international tensions mount over Washington’s plan to launch military strikes against Russia’s ally Syria.

There’s other players at the table too. The players are holding cards close to their chest, eyes are flitting to see who’s bluffing, and the stakes seem to be getting higher and higher. The latter is certainly not an empty bluff, given the powder-keg state of the Middle East and the danger for not just an all-out regional war, but a global conflagration involving nuclear weapons.

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Russia Says it’s Compiled 100-Page Report Blaming Syrian Rebels for a Chemical Weapons Attack by Matthew Schofield

Dandelion Salad

Protesters

Image by Xizi (Cecilia) Hua @ Neon Tommy via Flickr

by Matthew Schofield
www.mcclatchydc.com
September 5, 2013

Russia says it has compiled a 100-page report detailing what it says is evidence that Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, were behind a deadly sarin gas attack in an Aleppo suburb earlier this year.

In a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website late Wednesday. Russian officials said the report had been delivered to the United Nations in July and includes detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians collected at the site of the alleged attack, Khan al Asal.

Russia said its investigation of the March 19 incident was conducted under strict protocols established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that governs adherence to treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. It said samples that Russian technicians had collected had been sent to OPCW-certified laboratories in Europe.

[…]

via http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/09/05/201268/russia-releases-100-page-report.html#storylink=cpy

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Criminal Insanity of the U.S. Regime by Finian Cunningham

Syria: Stop the War march, London, 31 August 2013

Image by chrisjohnbeckett via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
September 2, 2013

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. That adage applies more than ever to the president of the United States, his administration and the Wall Street flunkeys that sit in Congress.

But the corruption extends beyond the usual meaning of a dysfunctional moral compass to include the incapacity for intelligent reasoning and self-reflection. Continue reading

Saudi Rulers Pour Money Into Arming Militants in Region by Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
August 10, 2013

If Saudi rulers had more brains, they might be formidably dangerous. Even with lackluster intelligence assets, they are already causing enough havoc and bloodshed across the Middle East and North Africa regions, pouring millions-of-dollars-worth of weaponry into Al Qaeda and other Takfiri networks that are destroying once proud civilizations in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Libya through nihilistic sectarianism.

And if the Saudi paymasters of terrorism could have it all their way, they would salivate at the chance of extending this destruction to Iran – the Shia power that they fear as their nemesis.

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Obama Tantrum and US Global Terror Alert Belie Washington’s Inner Panic over Russia and Snowden by Finian Cunningham

20130704-P7040093

Image by ekvidi via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from www.strategic-culture.org
August 9, 2013

It’s the diplomatic equivalent of the proverbial spoiled child picking up the ball and walking off in a huff – because the others “won’t play by my rules”.

After weeks of threatening to cancel the G20 one-to-one meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the White House has finally gone into full temper tantrum mode. The day after US President Barack Obama appeared on a TV chat show earlier this week complaining about Putin “slipping into Cold War mentality”, the White House announced that the planned bilateral meeting between the two leaders will not now be taking place.

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Cameron Insults Our Intelligence Over Syria… And Gets A Slap From Putin + Saudi Slip Signals Iran Obsession in Syria by Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from Strategic Culture Foundation
June 19, 2013

PM welcomes President Putin

Image by G8 UK Presidency via Flickr

They say a picture paints a thousand words. The photograph of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin in London recently certainly does. When the two leaders gave a press conference at the weekend in Downing Street ahead to the G8 summit, Cameron had the excruciating look of a desperate man. Putin, by contrast, appeared in control. The latter spoke in measured tones and with discernible contempt in his voice.

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Putin Stands Up to G8 Warmongers on Syria, Reaffirming Support for Assad Govt. by Finian Cunningham

G8 session on counter-terrorism

Image by G8 UK Presidency via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
June 19, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin can take credit for standing up to the G8 warmongers on Syria. Thanks to the feisty Russian leader’s political courage, an all-out war in Syria may have been averted – at least for now.

Only days ago, Western media were touting that Putin would be given a political drubbing at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland this week by the US, Britain and France – the three main NATO powers pushing for regime change in Syria.

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Rick Rozoff: Time for Russia and the world to draw a line with U.S. and NATO

by Rick Rozoff
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Stop NATO
Stop NATO-Opposition to global militarism
March 5, 2012

Voice of Russia
March 1, 2012

Time to draw a line
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to http://www.globalresearch.ca

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has written is a white paper regarding Russian security and the upgrading of Russian military forces in response to NATO’s expansion. Can you give us some insights into this?

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The Stench of US Economic Decay: Russia and China Dump the US Dollar by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research
November 29, 2010

On Thanksgiving eve the English language China Daily and People’s Daily Online reported that Russia and China have concluded an agreement to abandon the use of the US dollar in their bilateral trade and to use their own currencies in its place.  The Russians and Chinese said that they had taken this step in order to insulate their economies from the risks that have undermined their confidence in the US dollar as a world reserve currency.

This is big news, especially for the news dead Thanksgiving holiday period, but I did not see it reported on Bloomberg, CNN, New York Times or anywhere in the US print or TV media. The ostrich’s head remains in the sand.

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Paul Craig Roberts: US should listen to Putin + Putin’s Speech

Dandelion Salad

RussiaToday

Washington should listen to anti-crisis measures proposed by Vladimir Putin, according to Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the U.S Treasury during the Reagan Administration.

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The Bush Administration Falters in a Geopolitical Chess Match

Dandelion Salad

By Michael T. Klare
ICH
09/02/08 “TomDispatch

Many Western analysts have chosen to interpret the recent fighting in the Caucasus as the onset of a new Cold War, with a small pro-Western democracy bravely resisting a brutal reincarnation of Stalin’s jack-booted Soviet Union. Others have viewed it a throwback to the age-old ethnic politics of southeastern Europe, with assorted minorities using contemporary border disputes to settle ancient scores.

Neither of these explanations is accurate. To fully grasp the recent upheavals in the Caucasus, it is necessary to view the conflict as but a minor skirmish in a far more significant geopolitical struggle between Moscow and Washington over the energy riches of the Caspian Sea basin — with former Russian President (now Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin emerging as the reigning Grand Master of geostrategic chess and the Bush team turning out to be middling amateurs, at best.

The ultimate prize in this contest is control over the flow of oil and natural gas from the energy-rich Caspian basin to eager markets in Europe and Asia. According to the most recent tally by oil giant BP, the Caspian’s leading energy producers, all former “socialist republics” of the Soviet Union — notably Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — together possess approximately 48 billion barrels in proven oil reserves (roughly equivalent to those left in the U.S. and Canada) and 268 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (essentially equivalent to what Saudi Arabia possesses).

During the Soviet era, the oil and gas output of these nations was, of course, controlled by officials in Moscow and largely allocated to Russia and other Soviet republics. After the breakup of the USSR in 1991, however, Western oil companies began to participate in the hydrocarbon equivalent of a gold rush to exploit Caspian energy reservoirs, while plans were being made to channel the region’s oil and gas to markets across the world.

Rush to the Caspian

In the 1990s, the Caspian Sea basin was viewed as the world’s most promising new source of oil and gas, and so the major Western energy firms — Chevron, BP, Shell, and Exxon Mobil, among others — rushed into the region to take advantage of what seemed a golden opportunity. For these firms, persuading the governments of the newly independent Caspian states to sign deals proved to be no great hassle. They were eager to attract Western investment — and the bribes that often came with it — and to free themselves from Moscow’s economic domination.

But there turned out to be a major catch: It was neither obvious nor easy to figure out how to move all the new oil and gas to markets in the West. After all, the Caspian is landlocked, so tankers cannot get near it, while all existing pipelines passed through Russia and were hooked into Soviet-era supply systems. While many in Washington were eager to assist U.S. firms in their drive to gain access to Caspian energy, they did not want to see the resulting oil and gas flow through Russia — until recently, the country’s leading adversary — before reaching Western markets.

What, then, to do? Looking at the Caspian chessboard in the mid-1990s, President Bill Clinton conceived the striking notion of converting the newly independent, energy-poor Republic of Georgia into an “energy corridor” for the export of Caspian basin oil and gas to the West, thereby bypassing Russia altogether. An initial, “early-oil” pipeline was built to carry petroleum from newly-developed fields in Azerbaijan’s sector of the Caspian Sea to Supsa on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, where it was loaded onto tankers for delivery to international markets. This would be followed by a far more audacious scheme: the construction of the 1,000-mile BTC pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then on to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Again, the idea was to exclude Russia — which had, in the intervening years, been transformed into a struggling, increasingly impoverished former superpower — from the Caspian Sea energy rush.

Clinton presided over every stage of the BTC line’s initial development, from its early conception to the formal arrangements imposed by Washington on the three nations involved in its corporate structuring. (Final work on the pipeline was not completed until 2006, two years into George W. Bush’s second term.) For Clinton and his advisors, this was geopolitics, pure and simple — a calculated effort to enhance Western energy security while diminishing Moscow’s control over the global flow of oil and gas. The administration’s efforts to promote the construction of new pipelines through Azerbaijan and Georgia were intended “to break Russia’s monopoly of control over the transportation of oil from the region,” Sheila Heslin of the National Security Council bluntly told a Senate investigating committee in 1997.

Clinton understood that this strategy entailed significant risks, particularly because Washington’s favored “energy corridor” passed through or near several major conflict zones — including the Russian-backed breakaway enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. With this in mind, Clinton made a secondary decision — to convert the new Georgian army into a military proxy of the United States, quipped and trained by the Department of Defense. From 1998 to 2000 alone, Georgia was awarded $302 million in U.S. military and economic aid — more than any other Caspian country — and top U.S. military officials started making regular trips to its capital, Tbilisi, to demonstrate support for then-president Eduard Shevardnadze.

In those years, Clinton was the top chess player in the Caspian region, while his Russian presidential counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, was far too preoccupied with domestic troubles and a bitter, costly, ongoing guerrilla war in Chechnya to match his moves. It was clear, however, that senior Russian officials were deeply concerned by the growing U.S. presence in their southern backyard — what they called their “near abroad” — and had already had begun planning for an eventual comeback. “It hasn’t been left unnoticed in Russia that certain outside interests are trying to weaken our position in the Caspian basin,” Andrei Y. Urnov of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared in May 2000. “No one should be perplexed that Russia is determined to resist the attempts to encroach on her interests.”

Russia Resurgent

At this critical moment, a far more capable player took over on Russia’s side of the geopolitical chessboard. On December 31, 1999, Vladimir V. Putin was appointed president by Yeltsin and then, on March 26, 2000, elected to a full four-year term in office. Politics in the Caucasus and the Caspian region have never been the same.

Even before assuming the presidency, Putin indicated that he believed state control over energy resources should be the basis for Russia’s return to great-power status. In his doctoral dissertation, a summary of which was published in 1999, he had written that “[t]he state has the right to regulate the process of the acquisition and the use of natural resources, and particularly mineral resources [including oil and natural gas], independent of on whose property they are located.” On this basis, Putin presided over the re-nationalization of many of the energy companies that had been privatized by Yeltsin and the virtual confiscation of Yukos — once Russia’s richest private energy firm — by Russian state authorities. He also brought Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas supplier, back under state control and placed a protégé, Dmitri Medvedev — now president of Russia — at its helm.

Once he had restored state control over the lion’s share of Russia’s oil and gas resources, Putin turned his attention to the next obvious place — the Caspian Sea basin. Here, his intent was not so much to gain ownership of its energy resources — although Russian firms have in recent years acquired an equity share in some Caspian oil and gas fields — but rather to dominate the export conduits used to transport its energy to Europe and Asia.

Russia already enjoyed a considerable advantage since much of Kazakhstan’s oil already flowed to the West via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which passes through Russia before terminating on the Black Sea; moreover, much of Central Asia’s natural gas continued to flow to Russia through pipelines built during the Soviet era. But Putin’s gambit in the Caspian region evidently was meant to capture a far more ambitious prize. He wanted to ensure that most oil and gas from newly developed fields in the Caspian basin would travel west via Russia.

The first part of this drive entailed frenzied diplomacy by Putin and Medvedev (still in his role as board chairman of Gazprom) to persuade the presidents of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to ship their future output of gas through Russia. Success was achieved when, in December 2007, Putin signed an agreement with the leaders of these countries to supply 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year through a new conduit along the Caspian’s eastern shore to southern Russia — for ultimate delivery to Europe via Gazprom’s existing pipeline network.

Meanwhile, Putin moved to undermine international confidence in Georgia as a reliable future corridor for energy delivery. This became a strategic priority for Moscow because the European Union announced plans to build a $10 billion natural-gas pipeline from the Caspian, dubbed Nabucco” after the opera by Verdi. It would run from Turkey to Austria, while linking up to an expanded South Caucasus gas pipeline that now extends from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Erzurum in Turkey. The Nabucco pipeline was intended as a dramatic move to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas — and so has enjoyed strong support from the Bush administration.

It is against this backdrop that the recent events in Georgia unfolded.

Checkmate in Georgia

Obviously, the more oil and gas passing through Georgia on its way to the West, the greater that country’s geostrategic significance in the U.S.-Russian struggle over the distribution of Caspian energy. Certainly, the Bush administration recognized this and responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the Georgian military and helping to train specialized forces for protection of the new pipelines. But the administration’s partner in Tbilisi, President Mikheil Saakashvili, was not content to play the relatively modest role of pipeline protector. Instead, he sought to pursue a megalomaniacal fantasy of recapturing the breakaway regions of Abhkazia and South Ossetia with American help. As it happened, the Bush team — blindsided by their own neoconservative fantasies — saw in Saakashvili a useful pawn in their pursuit of a long smoldering anti-Russian agenda. Together, they walked into a trap cleverly set by Putin.

It is hard not to conclude that Russian prime minister goaded the rash Saakashvili into invading South Ossetia by encouraging Abkhazian and South Ossetian irregulars to attack Georgian outposts and villages on the peripheries of the two enclaves. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly told Saakashvili not to respond to such provocations when she met with him in July. Apparently her advice fell on deaf ears. Far more enticing, it seems, was her promise of strong U.S. backing for Georgia’s rapid entry into NATO. Other American leaders, including Senator John McCain, assured Saakashvili of unwavering U.S. support. Whatever was said in these private conversations, the Georgian president seems to have interpreted them as a green light for his adventuristic impulses. On August 7th, by all accounts, his forces invaded South Ossetia and attacked its capital city of Tskhinvali, giving Putin what he long craved — a seemingly legitimate excuse to invade Georgia and demonstrate the complete vulnerability of Clinton’s (and now Bush’s) vaunted energy corridor.

Today, the Georgian army is in shambles, the BTC and South Caucasus gas pipelines are within range of Russian firepower, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia have declared their independence, quickly receiving Russian recognition. In response to these developments, the Bush administration has, along with some friendly leaders in Europe, mounted a media and diplomatic counterattack, accusing Moscow of barbaric behavior and assorted violations of international law. Threats have also been made to exclude Russia from various international forums and institutions, such as the G-8 club of governments and the World Trade Organization. It is possible, then, that Moscow will suffer some isolation and inconvenience as a result of its incursion into Georgia.

None of this, so far as can be determined, will alter the picture in the Caucasus: Putin has moved his most powerful pieces onto this corner of the chessboard, America’s pawn has been decisively defeated, and there’s not much of a practical nature that Washington (or London or Paris or Berlin) can do to alter the outcome.

There will, of course, be more rounds to come, and it is impossible to predict how they will play out. Putin prevailed this time around because he focused on geopolitical objectives, while his opponents were blindly driven by fantasy and ideology; so long as this pattern persists, he or his successors are likely to come out on top. Only if American leaders assume a more realistic approach to Russia’s resurgent power or, alternatively, choose to collaborate with Moscow in the exploitation of Caspian energy, will the risk of further strategic setbacks in the region disappear.

Michael T. Klare is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Metropolitan Books).

Copyright 2008 Michael T. Klare

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Russia takes a stand

The 2008 Crisis in the Caucasus: A Unified Timeline, August 7-16

Putin accuses US of staging Georgia conflict (Gareth Porter)

Eric Margolis: The US Created a Crisis in Georgia

Back to the future: “Chaos and instability Washington’s officlal policy line”

Ron Paul: Why are we provoking the Russians?

Georgia

Bush to Putin, “Get out now!” Putin to Bush, “Nyet!” By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
08/21/08 “ICH”

When Vladimir Putin heard President Bush demand that Russian troops “leave Georgia territory immediately”, he did what any sensible leader of a great nation would do; he yawned, scratched his belly and ambled over to the Kremlin frig to see if there were any left-overs from last night’s imperial banquet with the French dignitaries. He may have even smiled wistfully to himself as he peered over the Chicken Kiev and the Siberian cutlets, thinking, “Nyet, George; South Ossetia’s future is no longer negotiable”.

The illusion created by the western media, is that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are hanging on every word that emerges from the White House and gaging their strategy accordingly. Wrong. In fact, they’re not even listening; they can’t be bothered. Whatever Bush says is irrelevant. Who cares? Not Putin, that’s for sure. Moscow is working out the details of its so-called “withdrawal plans” with the United Nations, not Washington. Bush isn’t even a part of the process; he has no say-so at all. None. His fulminations might add a few toxins to the jet stream, but other than that, they make no difference at all. Putin is in the driver’s seat now.

American’s are convinced that their activities in the world still matter. That’s because Americans are marinated in a culture of narcissism. In truth, “American exceptionalism” is just a misunderstanding of one’s own basic insignificance. The dust-up in South Ossetia will help dispel some of those illusions and clarify what little influence the US really has. Bush demagoguery and foot-stomping won’t change a thing; he’s wasting his time. This is Russia’ backyard. They’ll decide the outcome. Bush should stop his jabbering and mind his own business.

And, no; there won’t be a war with Russia; that’s all just more handwringing speculation from liberal pundits. It’s pure rubbish. The Bush administration will do what US policymakers always do when faced with a well-armed adversary; thrust their sabers into the air and rattle them ferociously while beating a hasty retreat. “Cut and run” is not a neocon bullet-point; it’s a summary of 60 years of foreign policy. In fact, the US and its good friend, Israel, sing from the same hymnal; they love blasting-away at defenseless women and children in Gaza or Falluja, but stear-clear of the guys with guns and rocket-launchers. Israel lost a mere 118 men in its 34 Day war with Hezbollah before they decided to pack it in and go home. Putin knows that; that’s why he’s been sending anti-aircraft weaponry to Iran hoping it will dissuade Israel from doing something foolish, like blowing up what’s left of the Middle East. And, it’s a good plan, too. Bush and Olmert have already shown that moral considerations don’t make a bit of difference; what matters is weapons and men who know how to use them.

Now that the Russian army is in South Ossetia, Bush, Cheney, Rice have been getting madder and more frustrated by the day. “Get out now or face the consequences”, they growl. But, Putin, with obvious disdain, just shrugs his shoulders and says, “Make me”.

Everyone in the world knows what’s going on. They can see that Putin has drawn a line in the sand and is openly challenging American credibility. This is the perfect opportunity for Bush to prove that he’s really the War President he says he is and not just a cardboard-cutout fraudster. He can show those smug Ruskis who’s really the boss. After all, he has Putin’s address, doesn’t he? He can order his war machine to turn north and head for Georgia, guns blazing. What’s stopping him?

South Ossetia is a tipping point; the culmination of 8 years of persistent violence and aggression. It is the moment of truth. Now we’ll see what the real ‘governing principle’ of the administration’s foreign policy is: is it the Bush Doctrine or the Wimp Doctrine? Many of the pundits and analysts are convinced that Bush and his clatter of gangsters will lead us into WW3, but it won’t happen. It’s just more hot air. There are more chickens in the Bush White House than there are at a KFC Poultry Farm. They’re only too eager to send some other mother’s sons to fight their wars, but they’d never risk losing anything themselves. Go ahead George;  you’re the war president, President. Show the world those aren’t Lima beans hanging between your legs. Let’s see what you got?

Bush isn’t going to send American troops in South Ossetia. No way. This is a man who won’t peep his head out of the White House without 8,000 armed guards shadowing his every move and a small squadron of Apache Helicopters flying overhead. A guy like that isn’t about to take on the Russian army. Forget about it. Bush will do all his fighting from the safety of the Executive Media Center where he can duck behind the Presidential podium if a car backfires on Pennsylvania Ave. That’s his kind of fighting.

NOTES FROM LIBERATED SOUTH OSSETIA

Was the War in the Caucasus was the work of the Neocons?

Some people think so; and they could be right. Putin may have just been playing a role that was written in Washington. Does that sound crazy?

A few months ago, Putin rejected Bush’s unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence. Serbia is a traditional ally of Russia’s and Putin has no intention of allowing it to be split up by Washington. Bush’s proclamation was a violation of the UN Charter. No one has the right to simply ignore national sovereignty and carve up another country as they see fit. The UN never approved the initiative, but Bush went ahead anyway to satisfy the global ambitions of his neocon base.

So Putin did what any reasonable leader would do; he convened a meeting of his foreign policy team–many of them Soviet-era hardliners who warned him that the US could not be trusted–and decided on a plan to annex South Ossetia. (which he said he would do if Bush declared Kosovo independent) As it turns out, Israeli advisers in Georgia, wanted to strike a deal with Putin over the high-tech weapons systems that Russia had been selling to Iran. So (I believe) Putin made a deal with Israel to suspend arms-sales to Iran if Israel would trick the dim-witted Saakashvili into invading South Ossetia. That would set the stage for a Russian counter-attack and de facto annexation. Good plan, eh?

The question is; would friends of the neocons agree to pull the wool over Saakashvili’s eyes to stop Putin’s weapons shipments to Iran? No one knows for sure, but the degree of Russian preparedness before the counter-attack suggests that they had been tipped-off by people close to Saakashvili. Who would that be? Maybe someone who had something to gain, right?

Consider this excerpt from George Friedman’s article for Stratfor, “The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power”:

“The United States maintained about 130 military advisers in Georgia, along with civilian advisers, contractors involved in all aspects of the Georgian government and people doing business in Georgia. It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia’s mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian frontier. U.S. technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the posture of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that the Russians had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?”

For the United States, the Middle East is far more important than the Caucasus, and Iran is particularly important. The United States wants the Russians to participate in sanctions against Iran. Even more importantly, they do not want the Russians to sell weapons to Iran, particularly the highly effective S-300 air defense system. Georgia is a marginal issue to the United States; Iran is a central issue. The Russians are in a position to pose serious problems for the United States not only in Iran, but also with weapons sales to other countries, like Syria.” (George Friedman, “The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power”, Stratfor)

Friedman’s summary makes the “neocon theory” seem all the more plausible. A quid pro quo with Putin would have been the only way to guarantee that Iran would not get its hands on critical defensive weaponry. Certainly, the neocons must have taken that into consideration. All they had to do was hoodwink Saakashvili and Putin would do the rest. No problemo. The outcome, however, has created a few unintended consequences. The Bush administration’s chances of securing access to the oil-rich Caspian Basin or of gaining NATO membership for Georgia are now nil. America’s gambit in Central Asia just made an unexpected crash landing.

Of course, there’s no way to verify this theory without someone stepping forward and corroborating the details. But wherever there’s trouble, there’s bound to be a few neocon fingerprints somewhere.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Russian draft Security Council resolution on Georgia (full text) h/t: ICH

The Puppet Masters Behind Georgia President Saakashvili

A newer world order by Lee Sustar

OSCE observers knew about Georgia’s attack + Jewish Quarter targeted in Georgian offensive

Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess

Aprés la deluge — wracking up the fear quotient By William Bowles

Beat The Dead Horse Or Putin’s Revenge By Gaither Stewart

Margolis: Dems onside with Bush on Georgia

Evidence of Georgian tanks + Poland Signs Missile Defense Shield Deal + NATO warns Russia

Crisis in the Caucasus. What Were They Smoking in the White House?

Georgia

Crisis in the Caucasus. What Were They Smoking in the White House?

Dandelion Salad

By Eric Margolis
ICH
08/19/08 “Lew Rockwell

The Bush administration appears to have pulled off its latest military fiasco in the Caucasus. What was supposed to have been a swift and painless takeover of rebellious South Ossetia by America’s favorite new ally, Georgia, has turned into a disaster that left Georgia battered, Russia enraged, and NATO badly demoralized. Not bad for two days work.

Equally important, Russia’s Vladimir Putin swiftly and decisively checkmated the Bush administration’s clumsy attempt last week to expand US influence into the Caucasus, and made the Americans and their Georgian satraps look like fools.

We are not facing a return to the Cold War – yet. But the current US-Russian crisis over Georgia, a tiny nation of only 4.6 million, and its linkage to a US anti-ballistic missile system in Eastern Europe, is deeply worrying and increasingly dangerous.

On 7 August, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, ordered his US and Israeli-advised and equipped army to invade the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which has been struggling for independence from Georgia since 1992. Most of its people were Russian citizens who wanted union with Russian North Ossetia.

If not directly behind Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, Washington had to have been at least fully aware of Saakashvili’s plans. The Georgian Army was trained and equipped by US and Israeli military advisors stationed with its troops down to battalion level. CIA and Israel’s Mossad operated important intelligence stations in Tbilisi and coordinated plans with the Saakashvili, whose political opponents have long accused him of being very close to CIA and the Pentagon.

Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was launched while the world was absorbed by the Beijing Olympics, and Prime Minister Putin was in the Chinese capital. The attack was clearly planned to be a lightening strike that would occupy all of South Ossetia and then Abkhazia before Moscow could react, presenting the Kremlin with a fait accompli.

Who in Bush’s or Cheney’s office approved this stupid adventure? Why did the very smart Israelis get sucked into this imbroglio?

Saakashvili’s stealth “coup de main” quickly turned into a disaster. Russia’s 58th Army responded by routing Georgian forces and delivering a humiliating strategic and psychological blow to the Bush administration. Saakashvili fell right into Moscow’s trap.

Georgia and Russia have been feuding since 1992 over two Georgian ethnic enclaves, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, whose people differ in ethnicity and language from Georgians and who wanted to rejoin Russia.

The young, US-educated Saakashvili became Georgia’s president in 2003 after an uprising, believed organized by CIA and financed by US money, overthrew the former leader, Eduard Shevardnadze. I came to know and respect Shevardnadze in Moscow when he was Mikhail Gorbachev’s principal ally and architect of Soviet reform.

Had the able, clever Shevardnadze still been in power, this misadventure would never have happened.

Saakashvili quickly became the golden boy of US rightwing neoconservatives and their Israeli allies, who held him a model of how to turn former Russian-dominated states into “democratic” US allies. Georgian critics claim Saakashvili kept power by intimidation, bribery, and vote rigging. The youthful Georgian leader, his head swelled by promises of US support and NATO membership, launched a war of words against Moscow.

Amazingly, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a supposed Russian expert, even publicly assured Saakashvili that the US would “fight” for Georgia. Washington’s latest fiasco falls squarely into her lap.

US money, military trainers, advisers, and intelligence agents poured into the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Israeli arms dealers, businessmen and intelligence agents quickly followed, reportedly selling some $200 million or more of military equipment to the Georgian government.

By expanding its influence into Georgia, the Bush administration brazenly flouted agreements with Moscow made by president George H.W. Bush not to expand NATO into the former USSR. President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both violated this pact. Under the feeble Yeltsin regime, bankrupt Russia could do nothing. But under Putin, newly wealthy Russia finally pushed back after a long series of provocations fromWashington.

Russia’s tough deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, sneeringly observed that Georgia had become a “US satellite.” He was absolutely right. And Ivanov, a former KGB colleague of Vlad Putin, knows a satellite when he sees one. Georgia provided the US oil and gas pipeline routes from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan that bypassed Russian territory. Russia was furious its Caspian Basin energy export monopoly had been broken, vowing revenge.

Now that the Russians have checkmated the US and client Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia will likely move into Russia’s orbit. The west rightly backed independence of Kosovo from Serbia. The peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, who are ethnically and linguistically different from Georgians, should have as much right to secede from Georgia.

Besides thwarting Bush’s clumsy attempt to further advance US influence into Russia’s Caucasian underbelly, Putin delivered a stark warning to Ukraine and the Central Asian states: don’t get too close to Washington. Putin put the US on the strategic defensive and showed that NATO’s new eastern reaches – the Baltic, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Caucasus – are largely indefensible.

It’s a good thing Georgia was not admitted to NATO, as the White House had reportedly promised Saakashvili. Had Georgia been admitted before this crisis, the US and its NATO allies would have been in a state of war with Russia. Disturbingly, Germany’s conservative prime minister, Angelika Merkel, rushed to Tbilisi to assure Saakashvili that her nation still backed NATO membership for Georgia.

Is the west really ready to be dragged into a potential nuclear war for the sake of South Ossetia? Are American and German troops ready to fight in the Caucasus? Georgia is a bridge too far for NATO.

President George Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain all resorted to table pounding and Cold War rhetoric against Russia. McCain, whose senior foreign policy advisor is a neoconservative and was a registered lobbyist for Georgia, demanded that the US and NATO “punish” Russia and put it into diplomatic isolation.

Unfortunately, the indignant John McCain’s could not even properly pronounce “Abkhazia.”

America’s neocon amen chorus demanded a confrontation with Russia, chanting their usual mantras about Munich, appeasement and the myths of World War II. One certainly wondered if the Caucasian fracas was not staged by the Republicans to provide Sen. McCain with the “three a.m. phone call” he has been longing for and a chance to sound tough. This he did, even though his rhetoric was empty and his solutions vapid. Barack Obama ducked the issue or issued a few tepid bromides about halting “Russian aggression.”

Meanwhile, hypocrisy flew thicker than shellfire. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and is threatening war against Iran, accused Russia of “bullying” and “aggression.” Putin, who crushed the life out of Chechnya’s independence movement, piously claimed his army was saving Ossetians from Georgian ethnic cleansing and protecting their quest for independence.

Bush and McCain demand Russia be punished and isolated. The humiliated Bush is sending some US troops to Georgia to deliver “humanitarian” aid. Equally worrisome, the US rushed to sign a pact with Warsaw to station anti-missile missiles and anti-aircraft batteries, manned by US troops, in Poland. This response is dangerous, highly provocative, and immature. The next president will have to deal with the Bush administrations reckless and foolish acts in the Mideast, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and now, the Caucasus

The west must accept Russia has vital national interests in the Caucasus and the former USSR. Russia is a great power and must be afforded respect. The days of treating Russia like a banana republic are over. Have we learned nothing from World War I or II, both of which began with flare-ups in obscure Sarajevo and the Danzig Corridor?

The US’s most important foreign policy concern is keeping correct relations with Russia, which has thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at North America. Georgia is a petty sideshow. US missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic are a dangerous, unnecessary provocation that is sowing dragon’s teeth for future confrontation.

Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis

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see

The Force Be With Us But Not With You by Bruce Gagnon

Alexander Cockburn on Russia Today: McCain uses Ossetian bloodshed to score points

Why Not Simply Abolish NATO? by Rodrigue Tremblay

Why are we pretending we would fight for Georgia?

Margolis: It’s like August, 1914 – US missile deal enrages Russia

Russian General threatens Poland over missile deal

RNN: Margolis: Russians checkmate US in Georgia

Row escalates over US media bias + New Cold War is an option

Georgia

Margolis-Eric

Mosaic News – 8/15/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

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“Ahmadinejad Looks for Energy Deals in Turkey,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Olmert’s Proposal Rejected,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Israeli Soldiers Cleared of Killing Journalist,” IBA TV, Israel
“There Will Be More Assassinations,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Israeli Settlers Increase by 4% in the West Bank in 2007,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“Israeli Companies Operate in Iraq,” New TV, Lebanon
“Independence Day in Pakistan,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“More than 50 Taliban Fighters Killed,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“What Did Bush Really See in Putin’s Eyes?,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.