Once the Atlantic
Alliance is shattered, America's lifeline to the world is kaput
By Mike Whitney
There are no military installations in the city of Tskhinvali.
In fact, there are no military targets at all. It is an
industrial center consisting of lumber mills, manufacturing
plants and residential areas. It is also the home to 30,000
South Ossetians. When Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
ordered the city to be bombed by warplanes and shelled by heavy
artillery last Thursday, he knew that he would be killing
hundreds of civilians in their homes and neighborhoods. But he
ordered the bombing anyway.
There was no "Battle of Tskhinvali"; that's another fiction. A
battle implies that there is an opposing force that is resisting
or fighting back. That's not the case here. The Georgian army
entered the city unopposed; after all, how can unarmed civilians
stop armed units. Most of the townspeople had already fled
across the border into Russia or hid in their basements while
the tanks and armored vehicles rumbled bye firing at anything
What took place in South Ossetia last Thursday, was not an
invasion or a siege; it was a massacre. The people had no way to
defend themselves against a fully-equiped modern army. It was a
In less than 24 hours, the Russian army was deployed to the war
zone where it chased the Georgian army away without a fight.
Journalist Michael Binyon put it like this, "The attack was
short, sharp and deadly---enough to send the Georgians fleeing
in humiliating panic." Indeed, the Georgians left in such haste
that many of their weapons were left behind. It was a complete
rout; another black-eye for the US and Israeli advisers who
trained the clatter of thugs they call the Georgian army. Soon
vendors on the streets of Tskhinvali will be hawking weapons
that were left behind with a mocking sign: "Georgia Army M-16;
Never used, dropped once."
By the time the army was driven out, the downtown area was in
engulfed in flames and the bodies of those who had been killed
by sniper-fire were strewn along the streets and sidewalks. Many
of people who stayed behind were simply too old or infirm to
leave. Instead, they huddled in their basements waiting for the
shelling to stop. It was a bloodbath. The city's only hospital
was deliberately targeted and destroyed; another war crime. By
day's end, over 2,000 people were killed in an operation that
was clearly engineered with the assistance of the Bush White
House. Bush regards Saakashvilli as his main client in the
region; they are friends. He is America's cat's paw in the
Caucasus. Saakashvilli's assignment is to try to get Putin to
overreact militarily and demonstrate to European allies that
Russia still poses a threat to their national security.
Fortunately, many Europeans see through the ruse and know that
the trouble originates in Washington.
For the most part, Americans are still in the dark about what
really happened last weekend. There's a great video circulating
on the Internet by a Russian citizen that has been living in USA
for the last 10 years. He sums up the role of the US media with
great precision. He says, "The western media--especially CNN--is
feeding you complete horseshit. Russia did not invade Georgia
first." The youtube can be seen here:
The coverage of the western media has been abysmal. Nearly every
article and TV news segment begins with accusations of Russian
aggression concealing the fact that the Georgian Army bombarded
and invaded the capital of South Ossetia one full day before the
first Russian even tank crossed the border. By the time the
Russians arrived, the city was already in a shambles and
thousands were dead.
These facts are not in dispute by those who followed the
developments as they took place. Now the media is revising the
facts to manage public perceptions, just as they did with the
fictional WMD in Iraq. Many people think that the media learned
its lesson after they were exposed for using bogus information
in the lead up to the war in Iraq. But that is not true. The
corporate media--especially FOX News, CNN and PBS (the smug,
liberal-sounding channel)---continue to operate like the
propaganda arm of the Pentagon. Its disgraceful.
In a 2006 referendum, 99% of South Ossetians said they supported
independence from Georgia. The voter turnout was 95% and the
balloting was monitored by 34 international observers from the
west. No one has challenged the results. The province has been
under the protection of Russian and Georgian peacekeepers since
1992 and has been a de facto independent state ever since. If
Putin applied the same standard as Bush did in Kosovo, he would
unilaterally declare South Ossetia independent from Georgia and
then thumb his nose at the UN. (Sauce for the goose, is sauce
for the gander) But Putin and newly-elected Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev have taken a conciliatory attitude towards the
international community and tried to resolve the issue through
diplomatic channels. So far, they have conducted themselves with
restraint and avoided any confrontation.
Still, Russia's operation in South Ossetia has ignited a
firestorm in the US political establishment and Democrats and
Republicans alike are demanding that Russia be "taught a
lesson". Condoleeza Rice flew to Tbilisi on Friday and ordered
Russian combat troops to withdraw from Georgia immediately.
Saakashvili topped off Rice's comments by saying that the
Russian troops were "cold-blooded killers" and "barbarians". So
much for reconciliation.
Saakashvili's hyperbolic rhetoric was followed by a surprise
announcement from Poland that they had approved Bush's plans for
deploying the Missile Defense Shield in Eastern Europe. The
system is supposed to defend Europe from the possibility of
attacks from so-called "rogue states" like Iran, but the Kremlin
knows that it is intended to neutralize their nuclear arsenal.
Political analyst William Engdahl explains the importance of the
proposed system in his recent article, "Missile Defense:
Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War":
"The signing now insures an escalation of tensions between
Russia and NATO and a new Cold War arms race in full force. It
is important for readers to understand...the ability of one of
two opposing sides to put anti-missile missiles to within 90
miles of the territory of the other in even a primitive
first-generation anti-missile missile array gives that side
virtual victory in a nuclear balance of power and forces the
other to consider unconditional surrender or to pre-emptively
react by launching its nuclear strike before 2012."
The new "shield" will be integrated into the larger US nuclear
weapons system placing the world's most lethal weapons just a
few hundred miles from Russia's capital. It is a clear threat to
Russia's national security and it must be opposed at all cost.
It is no different than nuclear weapons in Cuba. The timing of
the announcement is particularly troubling as it only adds to
the tensions between the two superpowers.
President Medvedev made this statement after hearing of Poland's
decision: "This decision clearly demonstrates everything we have
said recently. The deployment of new anti-missile forces in
Europe is aimed at the Russian Federation."
It was President Ronald Reagan, the darling of the
neoconservatives, who decided to remove short-range nuclear
weapons from the European theater. Now, ironically, it is his
ideological heir, George W. Bush, who is on track to restart the
Cold War by putting a high-tech nuclear system on Russia's
perimeter. The younger Bush has already broken his father's
commitment to Mikail Gorbachev to never expand NATO beyond
Germany. Presently, Bush is pushing to gain NATO membership for
two former-Soviet states; Ukraine and Georgia. If they are
approved, then any future dispute with Russia will pit the
United States and Europe against Moscow. It's no wonder Putin is
trying to derail the process.
The Bush administration has been planning for a confrontation
with Russia for more than a year. In fact, Raw Story reported on
operations that were conducted by the military on July 14, 2008
which were probably a dress rehearsal for the current conflict.
According to Raw Story:
"US troops on Monday (July 14) began military exercises near the
Russian border in ex-Soviet Ukraine and were poised to launch
them in Georgia, amid tense relations between Moscow and
Washington. A ceremony inaugurating the Sea Breeze-2008 NATO
exercise was held off Ukraine's Black Sea coast against
anti-NATO protests and a hostile reaction from officials in
Russia. Sea Breeze-2008...includes forces from Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Georgia,
Germany, Greece, Latvia, Macedonia and Turkey...'The US-Georgia
joint exercises will be held at the Vaziani military base' less
than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Russian border with a
total of 1,650 servicemen taking part."
So, it appears the Bush administration, working in conjunction
with the Pentagon, did have contingency plans for dealing with a
flare-up with Georgia. The real question is whether or not they
planned to initiate those hostilities to advance their own
regional agenda? No one knows for sure.
Now that Georgia's American-trained army has been humiliated in
front of the world, Bush is trying desperately to save face by
demanding that Russia allow the US Air force to deliver
humanitarian aid via C-17 military aircraft to the tens of
thousands of Georgians who were displaced in the fighting. It is
worth noting that, as yet, Bush has never delivered as much as a
bag of rice to the 2 million Iraqi refugees living in Jordan and
Syria due to his war in Iraq. Bush's magnanimity is not only
suspect, it also creates real problems for Putin who will have
to decide whether the offer is sincere or just a ploy to open up
the ports and airfields so that more weaponry and ordnance can
be delivered. As Barry Grey suggests in his article "Bush
Dispatches US Military forces to Georgia" the humanitarian
operation could be a scam:
"This is a formula for an injection of US military and naval
forces into Georgia of indeterminate scope and duration. It will
certainly involve the presence of hundreds if not thousands of
uniformed US military personnel on the ground, and a substantial
number of warships in the region. The US is introducing this
military force into a situation that remains highly unstable and
combustible, raising the possibility of a direct military clash
between the United States and Russia."
Grey is right, but what choice does Putin have? His task is to
avoid a military confrontation with the United States while
demonstrating to his Europeon partners that their future lies
with Russia not America. That's the real goal. To achieve that,
he needs to expose Bush as reckless, petulant, and incapable of
being a responsible steward of the global system. Maybe Putin
will have to back-down at some point and swallow his pride; it
makes no difference. What matters, is the endgame; showing that
Russia is strong and dependable and will provide its European
allies with oil and natural gas in a businesslike manner. That's
the winning hand. Meanwhile, the United States will be forced to
take a long-overdue look in the mirror and revisit its strategy
for perennial war. Unfortunately, once the Atlantic Alliance is
shattered; America's lifeline to the world is kaput.
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