Christopher King – “US Role in the Georgian Crisis”

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/opinion/?id=27354

US Role in the Georgian Crisis

Christopher King | August 10, 2008

The European Union needs to re-evaluate its relationship to both the United States and NATO.

I’ve said recently (see “The USA, Russia and the spinoff from Iraq and Iran” and “Iran’s ‘provocative missile test’”) that US plans to instal a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic are designed to cause trouble between Europe and Russia as well as distracting Europe from US Middle Eastern outrages. These missiles, under US control, are supposed to protect Europe and if you believe that, you probably believe in the tooth fairy. US negotiations for these missiles don’t appear to be going very well since the Poles and Czechs don’t much like the idea of being targeted in response by Russian missiles and the Russians have been musing about installing their missiles in Cuba for a re-run of the Cuban missile crisis and near nuclear war of the 1960s. That would not be popular with US voters. What do do? Are there any trouble spots that can be stoked up to show Russia as an aggressor? What about Georgia and the South Ossetia separatists on Russia’s southern border?

So we’ve arrived at having a US/NATO-sponsored provocation with Georgia invading its breakaway semi-independent province. South Ossetia’s declaration of independence was supported by almost all its residents. The South Ossetian argument is that if the West and NATO supported Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, they should support its independence from Georgia. That sounds reasonable. No? Of course, no! The difference is that South Ossetia wants ties with Russia and the US has been pressing for Georgia to join NATO.

Condoleeza Rice predictably, was quick to call on the Russians to withdraw from South Ossetia. President Bush says sanctimoniously that Georgia is a sovereign nation and that its territorial integrity should be respected. That is pretty rich (hypocritical) as we say in the UK. Before Condoleeza or anyone else in the US takes that position they could prevail on President Bush to leave Iraq and Afghanistan where they are looting oil, killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, driving millions of refugees from their homes and creating general disaster half a world away from their own country.

While she is about it, Condoleeza could also call on the Israelis to leave Palestinian and Syrian territory outside their 1967 borders and allow the ethnically cleansed Palestinians and their descendants to return and re-claim their property that was stolen by the Israelis.

To return to South Ossetia and Georgia, we should note that NATO rejected South Ossetia’s referendum in favour of independence. “What’s this? What does a national referendum, particularly in a non-NATO country, have to do with NATO?” you might wonder; “Isn’t NATO our warrior arm, dedicated to defend us against armed aggression?” Not any more. It’s now a political organization as well. The EU countries should seriously consider whether it is a good idea to allow its military arm to make political decisions, particularly when it is driven by US rather than European interests.

NATO has also taken on a role in formulating conspiracy theories against Russia, for example Russia’s “Gas OPEC plans”, reported by the Financial Times. There seems to be no evidence for this whatever and even if it were true, (a) What does it have to do with NATO and (b) Would it matter more than our existing oil OPEC? Russia still wants to sell its gas and can do so on any terms it wishes whether NATO or the EU like them or not.

The new non-Communist free-market Russia, that the US and Europe wanted and got, is a disaster for NATO because it no longer has an enemy. The only way to save careers and maintain funding is for NATO officers to create enemies and new threats. Its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer popular so a prod at Russia through South Ossetia has doubtless been designed to produce a response that can be spun as Russian aggression.

The new Russia is also a disaster for the US. Russia is creating strong economic ties with Europe. There is serious talk of a free trade agreement between the EU and Russia and the possibility of Russia becoming an EU member is being talked about. Russia is, after all, historically a part of Europe. You can imagine how the idea of such an economic superpower is perceived in the US with its declining oil reserves and economy.

As matters stand, rather than having the purely defensive joint military force with the US that was its original purpose, Europe finds itself supporting, through NATO, the US’s aggressive foreign policies in the Middle East. Worse still, NATO is formenting trouble between Europe and Russia, which should be thought of as a valuable friend and future EU partner, rather than an enemy.

To be blunt, NATO has become a tool for the extension of US influence and foreign policy. This is argued cogently by F. William Engdahl whose article I have resisted plagiarising. One might consider why Finland rejects NATO membership. The main reason given by opponents of membership in a poll 18 months ago is that Finland could be drawn into conflicts that have no direct bearing on their country. This seems to be a polite refusal to fight wars for the US and Israel. Indeed, Israel has recently joined a NATO exercise and Italy’s defence minister has proposed that Israel should join NATO. Certainly it might, when it withdraws to its pre-1967 borders, abandons its settlements on stolen Palestinian land and gives right of return to the Palestinians. Alternatively, a single state with right of return and equal rights might do.

The evidence is clear. NATO has become not only counter-productive to European interests but an immediate danger to the EU as an arm of the US military-industrial complex. The South Ossetia conflict is an unmistakable warning. The US and NATO provocateurs have shown their hand and have gone too far. Russia has acted with commendable restraint in relation to the US’s outrageous attempts to bribe new EU countries to accept its missiles on Russia’s borders. There can be no doubt that the US and NATO are behind the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia but have misjudged Russian restraint for unwillingness to act. What they now have is called, I believe, “blowback”. The EU needs to reassess NATO from fundamental principles of its defensive needs. The current senior command of NATO has clearly been politicized by the US. This is unacceptable as also is NATO’s current role as tool of the US.

The EU should make some decisions about its links and future with Russia, its economically important and militarily powerful neighbour. The choice is simple: to have Russia as a friend in the short term and EU member eventually or make it an enemy. It is clear that the USA’s military-industrial complex needs Russia as an enemy, not only to stay in business but to prevent a European Union/Russian superstate developing. Europe needs to pursue its own peaceful interests, ideally keeping a good relationship with the US while working with Russia toward closer economic integration. If the US does not like that, it is too bad. The US has used up its global credibility and goodwill.

Russia has had a bad press in the West for the last 60 years, not always undeserved. We should recall, however, that the man who set Russia and the Soviet Union on its post-war course, created Churchill’s “iron curtain”, the nuclear arms race and the repressive character of the Soviet post-war state, was not Russian at all. Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, otherwise known as Stalin, was Georgian, born in Gori, just south of South Ossetia.

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Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 9:31 PM  Leave a Comment  

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