Washington�s bloody fingerprints are all over the invasion
of South Ossetia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili would never dream of
launching a massive military attack unless he got explicit orders from his
bosses at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
After all, Saakashvili owes his entire political career to
American power brokers and US intelligence agencies. If he disobeyed them, he�d
be gone in a fortnight. Besides an operation like this takes months of planning
and logistical support, especially if it�s perfectly timed to coincide with the
beginning of the Olympic games (another petty neocon touch). That means
Pentagon planners must have been working hand in hand with Georgian generals
for months in advance. Nothing was left to chance.
Another telltale sign of US complicity is the way President
Bush has avoided ordering Georgian troops to withdraw from a province that has
been under the protection of international peacekeepers. Remember how quickly
Bush ordered Sharon to withdraw from his rampage in Jenin? Apparently, it�s
different when the aggression serves US interests.
Saakashvili has been working closely with the Bush
administration ever since he replaced Eduard Shevardnadze as president in 2003.
That�s when US-backed NGOs and Western intelligence agencies toppled the
Shevardnadze regime in the so-called color-coded �Rose Revolution.� Since then,
Saakashvili has done everything that�s been asked of him; he�s built up the
military and internal security apparatus, he�s allowed US and Israeli advisers
to train and arm Georgian troops, he�s applied for membership in NATO, and he�s
been a general nuisance to his Russian neighbors. Now, he has sent his army
into battle ostensibly on Washington�s orders. At least, that is how the
Kremlin sees it. Vladimir Vasilyev, the chairman of Russia�s State Duma
Security Committee, summed up the feelings of many Russians like this: �The
further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia
would never be able to do all this without America. In essence, the Americans
have prepared the force, which destroys everything in South Ossetia, attacks
civilians and hospitals.�
True. That�s why Bush is flying Georgian troops back home
from Iraq to join the fighting rather than pursuing peaceful alternatives. An
Israeli newspaper is also reporting that the US is shipping weaponry to the war
zone. Bush still believes that political solutions only arise through the use
But that still doesn�t answer the larger question: Why would
Saakashvili embark on such a pointless military adventure when he had no chance
of winning? After all, Russia has 20 times the firepower and has been
conducting military maneuvers anticipating this very scenario for months. Does
Bush really want another war that bad or is the fighting in South Ossetia just a
ruse for a larger war that is brewing in the Strait of Hormuz?
Mikheil Saakashvili is a Western educated lawyer and a
favorite of the neocons. He rose to power on a platform of anti-corruption and
economic reform which emphasized free market solutions and privatization.
Instead of raising the standard of living for the Georgian people, Saakashvili
has been running up massive deficits to expand the over-bloated military.
Saakashvili has made huge purchases of Israeli and US-made (offensive) weapon
systems and has devoted more than 4.2 percent of GDP (more than a quarter of
all Georgian public income) to military hardware.
The chairman of Russia�s State Duma Security Committee,
Vladimir Vasiliyev, summed it up like this: �Georgia could have used the years
of Saakashvili�s presidency in different ways - to build up the economy, to
develop the infrastructure, to solve social issues both in South Ossetia,
Abkhazia and the whole state. Instead, the Georgian leadership with President Saakashvili
undertook consistent steps to increase its military budget from US$30 million
to $1 billion -- Georgia was preparing for a military action.� Naturally,
Russia is worried about these developments and has brought the matter up
repeatedly at the United Nations but to no avail.
Israeli arms manufacturers have also been supplying
Saakashvili with state-of-the-art weaponry.
According to the Israeli newspaper Ha�aretz, �In addition to
the spy drones, Israel has also been supplying Georgia with infantry weapons
and electronics for artillery systems, and has helped upgrade Soviet-designed
Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia, according to Koba Liklikadze, an
independent military expert in Tbilisi. Former Israeli generals also serve as
advisers to the Georgian military.� (�Following Russian pressure, Israel
freezes defense sales to Georgia,� Associated Press)
The Israeli news source DebkaFile elaborates on the
geopolitical implications of Israeli involvement in the Georgia�s politics: �The
conflict has been sparked by the race for control over the pipelines carrying
oil and gas out of the Caspian region. . . . The Russians may just bear with
the pro-US Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili�s ambition to bring his
country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of
Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from
Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through
Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines.
�Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas
pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian
network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia,
Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to
Israel�s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From
there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the
Indian Ocean.� (Paul Joseph Watson, �US Attacks Russia Through Client State
The United States and Israel are both neck-deep in the �Great
Game,� the ongoing war for vital petroleum and natural gas supplies in Central
Asia and the Caspian Basin. So far, Putin appears to have the upper hand
because of his alliances with his regional allies -- under the Commonwealth of
Independent States -- and because most of the natural gas from Eurasia is
pumped through Russian pipelines.
An article in �Today�s Zaman� gives a good snapshot of
Russia�s position vis a vis natural resources in the region: �As far as natural
resources are concerned Russia�s hand is very strong: It holds 6.6 percent of
the worlds proven oil reserves and 26 percent of the world�s gas reserves. In
addition, it currently accounts for 12 percent of world oil and 21 of recent
world gas production. In May 2007, Russia was the world�s largest oil and gas
�As for national champions, Putin has strengthened and
prepared Gazprom (the state-controlled gas company), Transneft (oil pipeline
monopoly) and Rosneft (the state-owned oil giant). That is why in 2006 Gazprom
retained full ownership in the giant Shtokman gas field and took a controlling
stake in the Sakhalin-2 natural gas project. In June 2007, it took back BP�s
Kovytka gas field and now is behind Total�s Kharyaga oil and gas field.�
(�Vladimir Putin�s Energystan and the Caspian,� Today�s Zaman)
Putin, the black belt Judo master, has proved to be as adept
at geopolitics as he is at �deal-making.� He has collaborated with the Austrian
government on a huge natural gas depot in Austria which will facilitate the
transport of gas to southern Europe. He has joined forces with German industry
to build an underwater pipeline through the Baltic to Germany (which could
provide 80 percent of Germany�s gas requirements) He has selected France�s
Total to assist Gazprom in the development of the massive Shtokman gas field.
And he is setting up pipeline corridors to provide gas to Turkey and the
Balkans. Putin has very deliberately spread Russia�s influence evenly
throughout Europe with the intention of severing the Transatlantic Alliance
and, eventually, loosening America�s vice-like grip on the continent.
Putin�s overtures to Germany�s Merkel and France�s Sarkozy
are calculated to weaken the resolve of Bush�s neocon allies in the EU and put
them in Russia�s corner. Putin is also attracting considerable foreign
investment to Russian markets and has adopted �a �new model of cooperation� in
the energy sector that would �allow foreign partners to share in the economic
benefits of the project, share the management, and take on a share of the
industrial, commercial and financial risks.�� (M K Bhadrakumarm �Russia plays
the Shtokman card,� Asia Times) All of these are intended to strengthen ties
between Europe and Russia and make it harder for the Bush administration to
Putin has played his cards very wisely, which makes it look
like the fighting in South Ossetia may be Washington�s way of trying to win
through military force what they could not achieve via the free market.
Currently, news agencies are reporting that Russian
warplanes are pounding Georgia�s military bases, airfields, and the Black sea
port of Poti.
According to Bill Van Auken on the World Socialist Web Site,
�Much of the city (Tskhinvali) was reportedly in flames Friday. The regional
parliament building had burned down, the university was on fire, and the town�s
main hospital had been rendered inoperative by the bombardment.�
An estimated 1,500 people have died in the onslaught and
30,000 more fled across the Russian border. Large swaths of the city have been
reduced to rubble, including the one hospital that was pounded by Georgia
bombers. Georgia has cut off the water supply to the city.The Red Cross now
anticipates a �humanitarian catastrophe� as a result of the fighting.
�I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings,
in cars,� Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, told the Associated Press after fleeing the
city with her family to a village near the Russian border. �It�s impossible to
count them now. There is hardly a single building left undamaged.�
At least 15 Russia peacekeepers were killed in the initial
fighting and 70 more were sent to hospital. Georgia�s army stormed the South
Ossetia capital, Tskhinvali, killing more than 1,000 fleeing civilians.
According to South Ossetia�s president, Eduard Kokoyti,
Georgian troops had been taking part in NATO exercises in the region since the
beginning of August. Kokoyti claims that there is a connection between NATO�s
activities and the current violence.
Clearly, no one was expecting Russia to react as quickly or
as forcefully as it did. In a matter of hours Russian tanks and armored
vehicles were streaming over the border while warplanes bombed targets
throughout the south. The Bush-Saakashvili strategy unraveled in a matter of
hours. The Georgia president has called for a cease-fire. He�s had enough.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday, �The actions
of Georgia have led to deaths -- among them are Russian peacekeepers. The
situation reached the point that Georgian peacekeepers have been shooting at
Russian peacekeepers. Now women, children and old people are dying in South
Ossetia -- most of them are citizens of the Russian Federation. As the
President of the Russian Federation, I am obligated to protect lives and the
dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are. Those responsible for the deaths
of our citizens will be punished.�
Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.