The New Cold War Turns Hot
encirclement of Russia threatens us all
By Antony Black
Dimension" --- Fairytales are wonderful
things – except when they are employed by adults to supplant a
complex reality. Or, indeed, to turn that reality on its head.
Nevertheless, it is precisely the word ‘fairytale’ that best
describes the West’s reaction to the outbreak of hostilities in
Georgia as even a cursory look at these events, and at the
recent historical and political context of Eurasia, make
To begin with, then, the attack by Georgia on its breakaway
republic of South Ossetia in the early morning hours of August 8
was a brutal, gratuitous, undiscriminating assault that targeted
virtually every public and civilian building in Tskhinvali.
Upwards of 2,000 Ossetians were killed and some 34,000 (out of a
population of some 73,000) were driven out of the country.
Moreover, both the intensity and the character of the invasion
were patently designed, not simply to take over the de facto
independent republic, but to ethnically cleanse it of its
Yet, despite the clear sequence of events which demonstrate
beyond any shadow of a doubt that Georgia’s Saakashvili was the
instigator of an illegal and barbaric act of war, the West
chose, instead, to come down on the side of ‘plucky little
Georgia’ as though it was the aggrieved party. To comprehend
this apparent paradox one need only, as they say, ‘follow the
Thus, not only has Georgia received hundreds of millions of
dollars of American and Israeli military equipment over the past
15 years, it’s armed forces have also been the recipient of
intense US and Israeli military training. Indeed, only one week
prior to the invasion of South Ossetia, the United States staged
a combat/assault training exercise in Georgia involving over
1000 US troops.
The paradox is further clarified when one considers that
Saakashvili, who was brought to power in early 2004 following
the US financed ‘Rose Revolution’, is an American protege who
barely blinks without Washington’s prior approval. The assault
of Georgia upon South Ossetia should, in this sense, been seen
as a US proxy assault on Russia itself.
This brings into consideration the broader strategic aims of
both Washington and Moscow with respect to the Eurasian
Following the demise of the Soviet Union and dissolution of the
Warsaw Pact in 1991, rather than seek to disband NATO,
Washington elected, instead, to engage in an aggressive
geopolitical and military expansionism that directly targeted
the security of Russia. Not only did NATO then absorb virtually
all of the former Warsaw Pact members into its own alliance
(Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999; Bulgaria,
Latvia, Lithuanian, Estonia, Slovakia and Romania in 2004;
Georgia and Ukraine are awaiting acceptance in December of
2008), it also began a decade-long destabilization campaign
against Yugoslavia (which resisted absorption) and that ended in
an unprovoked 78 day air assault on Serbia in 1999.
In every case the US followed up these new alliances with
hundreds of weapons and interoperability agreements, and by the
installation of new military bases directly abutting Russian
The projection of American imperial power did not, of course,
await the bloated expansion of NATO. Released from its own
containment by the fall of the Soviets, the US immediately
embarked on a series of unprovoked invasions / attacks that
included Panama in 1989, Iraq in 1990-91, Somalia in 1992,
Yugoslavia in 1999 and, finally, in the new millennium,
Afghanistan and Iraq.
One need only look at a world map to see how these new allies
and invaded countries – and their associated US military bases
and facilities – encircle the western and southern borders of
Russia. Additional bases in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the
Philippines in conjunction with a brand-new nuclear and military
alliance with India, nicely round out the circumscription of all
The United States has also instigated a new global arms race by
developing small, tactical nuclear weapons for employment in
otherwise ‘conventional’ warfare situations (this in violation
of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).
It has, in addition, continued its development of its so-called
missile defense system; a system that is, in fact, designed to
defend itself against a residual nuclear attack following a
nuclear first-strike against either Russia or China. The latter
potential follows from the Pentagon’s long articulated policy
(from Bush Sr. through Clinton to Bush Jr.) of ‘nuclear
primacy’, which is to say, unilateral global nuclear hegemony.
Moscow, of course, is only too well aware of these machinations
and has repeatedly denounced Washington for choosing to
establish its missile ‘defense’ system in countries abutting or
close to Russia’s borders (giving it virtually no time to
respond to either a real or a perceived attack, and, thus,
making the danger of an accidental global nuclear holocaust
greater than it’s ever been). In particular, both Poland and the
Czech Republic have just recently signed on to harbouring these
vehicles of global mass destruction.
Meanwhile, the Western press, in a grotesque display of fanciful
storytelling has chosen to invert this transparent political
reality and paint the Great Russian Bear as the global
aggressor. Orwell would have been impressed.
But then how does Georgia fit into this geostrategic picture?
The answer is that the Caucasus has long been of strategic
interest to the West ever since Great Britain and Russia fought
their ‘Great Game’ for it in the 19th century. Today, Georgia is
a critical conduit joining the Caspian energy reserves with the
Mediterranean. It is already host to the one million barrel /
day Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, and is set to host a
number of proposed oil and gas pipelines all of which seek,
crucially, to bypass Russian territory. The latter point is of
profound strategic significance for Europe as it seeks to lessen
its already heavy dependence on Russian gas supplies.
Now despite Washington’s support of Georgia, its moral case for
negating South Ossetia’s claim to independence is singularly
threadbare given that the US unilaterally recognized, in
February, Kosovo’s independence from Serbia (against both
Serbian and Russian objections). Indeed, Moscow warned
Washington at the time that supporting Kosovo’s independence set
a dangerous global precedent. As the French say, ‘touche’.
Finally, Russia’s reaction to Georgia’s assault on South Ossetia
is, by any moral and strategic accounting, entirely justified.
Thus, in moral terms, Georgia has a long history of violence
towards both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and both of these
regions have not only been independent of Georgia for over 15
years, but have overwhelmingly sought affiliation with Russia.
In strategic terms, Russia had little choice but to respond
especially in light of the extensive context of US imperial
expansionism and more recent missile ‘defense’ brinkmanship. If
it had not responded, Russia might just as well have folded shop
and begun the long retreat from Moscow.
For the United States the loss of an undivided Georgia is, of
course, a major strategic setback, for not only is the BTC
pipeline now threatened, but Europe will almost certainly no
longer be so eager to support Washington’s dangerous provocation
of, and encroachment upon, Russia.
For the rest of us, the flare-up of hostilities in the Caucasus
should bring to mind a similar case of the ‘guns of August’
almost a century ago. Then, a similar flashpoint (in Serbia)
signalled the start of WW1. Fortunately, the nightmare
conflagration of a WW3 has (hopefully) yet to be similarly
ignited - though, truth to tell, it is not for the want of fuel
heaped on the geo-political pyre by the global mafia don and its
uncritical, cheerleading mass media.
Antony Black firstname.lastname@example.org
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