вторник, 30 сентября 2008 г.

Bloom Off the Rose

Georgian “democracy” owes more to Josef Stalin than Thomas Jefferson.

It was when we lifted up the filthy bedcovers that we saw the full extent of the gangrene. Half the man’s leg was eaten away, and he screamed in agony. The women around him wailed too. There was no heating except for a puny electric cooking ring, which glowed dimly in the half-light. There was also no hope: neither this man nor any of his fellow refugees who were housed (if that is the right word) in a derelict building somewhere in the Georgian countryside had seen a doctor for months. Their food deliveries were sporadic. He would die within a matter of weeks.

This was Georgia in 1999, the year the country joined the Council of Europe, the continent’s main human-rights body. To become a member, countries have to demonstrate that they have democratic governments and the rule of law. Georgia has plenty of these things on paper, but the trappings of Western progress are almost entirely absent. Ordinary Georgians live without electricity or heating for most of the day, in conditions of unimaginable poverty. Yet the country counts as pro-Western because it has been the focus for Western expansionism ever since the end of the Soviet Union, supported to the hilt by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The wretches who were dying for lack of medical treatment were Georgians who had fled the separatist region of Abkhazia during the first war fought there in 1992. Because of its geopolitical importance as a Black Sea state on Russia’s border and because it is a transit country for the pipeline bringing Caspian crude to the West, Georgia had by then received countless millions in aid for these refugees and for democracy-building and civil-society projects. But the aid had been stolen and the refugees were left to rot.

Welcome to the country that the West holds up as a beacon of freedom, especially after the recent conflict between the Russian and Georgian armies over the other separatist region of South Ossetia. After the First World War, the Russian empire having collapsed into civil war, the great British geopolitician and strategist Sir Halford Mackinder traveled to Georgia as British High Commissioner to Southern Russia on behalf of the foreign secretary, Lord Curzon. He forced the White Russian commander, General Denikin, to promise Georgia and its neighbors independence because the British wanted to control the Baku-Batumi railway bringing oil from the Caspian to the Black Sea. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West reacted in exactly the same way toward the Caucasus, and for the same reasons: Mackinder’s American disciples have been focused on Georgia for years as a strategic forward point against Russia and because it is the main transit country for the Western-built Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

Yet Georgia is not only the country that gave the world Stalin and his most violent henchmen, notably Lavrenti Beria and Grigory Ordzhonokidze. It is a country whose current first lady proclaimed that her husband was a worthy inheritor of those brutes. In 2004, Sandra Roeloffs, the Dutch wife of pro-American president Mikheil Saakashvili, told a newspaper in her home country, “Georgia has produced strong leaders: Stalin, Beria, Gamsakhurdia [the post-Soviet leader], even Shevardnadze before he became addicted to power. They looked further than Georgia alone. My husband does the same. He fits in the tradition. This country needs a strong hand. It is extremely important that respect for authority returns. I think my husband is the right person to frighten people.”

Georgia certainly has a reputation for brutality. Following Russia’s descent into anarchy under Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s, Russian mafia godfathers typically used thugs from the Caucasus for their protection rackets and as business partners. “Georgian” and “Caucasian” now have the same resonance for people in Russia as “Sicilian” used to have for Europeans and Americans—the very epitome of violent clannishness and ruthless gangsterism. Indeed, the West’s cultivation of mafia states like Georgia and Kosovo recalls the alliance the Americans concluded during the Second World War with organized crime in Sicily in order to fight Mussolini. The look cultivated by most Georgian men—five o’clock shadow and a black leather jacket—does little to correct the caricature.

The country’s political history in the 17 years since the collapse of the USSR has been almost exclusively violent. The Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia was overthrown in 1992 after a civil war with the two separatist regions. He was replaced by James Baker’s old friend Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister and long-time Communist Party boss in Georgia, who returned to his native land after the collapse of the USSR to take up his old job. Shevardnadze was showered with praise by Western leaders, Left and Right alike, up until the moment when he was overthrown in the Western-orchestrated “Rose Revolution” at the end of 2003, after which he was denounced as a corrupt dictator.

More Western praise was immediately lavished on the new tough man in Tbilisi when he was confirmed in office after winning over 95 percent of the vote in the presidential election, a tally of which Saddam Hussein would have been proud. This applause came in spite of the fact that Saakashvili obviously had a penchant for violence. On Jan. 12, 2004, shortly after the Rose Revolution but before he officially became president, Saakashvili said that he had given orders to the police to open fire on any prisoners who started disturbances. He also said, “We shall liquidate all bandits, as a class.” Later that year, in August, he announced that he had given orders to his navy to shoot at all ships that violated Georgia’s territorial waters, including cruise ships carrying tourists to Abkhazia. (The Black Sea is a popular holiday destination for Russians.)

As soon as he seized power, Saakashvili’s regime unleashed an orgy of arrests of officials. In the name of that old Communist chestnut, an “anti-corruption campaign,” hundreds were rounded up. For months, Georgians were treated daily to live broadcasts of ministers, officials, and judges being bundled into police cars in the middle of the night. No doubt some Georgians relished the sight of the mighty falling, but many probably feared that one day they might get the 3 a.m. knock on the door themselves.

This was all lapped up by Saakashvili’s cheerleaders in the Western media. The Georgian president has indeed achieved extraordinary success in presenting his fiefdom as a Jeffersonian paradise. This is partly due to Georgia’s use of operatives in Washington, such as John McCain’s foreign-policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, and a PR firm in Brussels. But more importantly, it is the result of a virulent form of Western self-delusion. Faced with seemingly intractable domestic problems, in which different political actors have to be balanced, Western states like to indulge in occasional but dangerous flights of foreign-policy escapism. We imagine that we can free subject peoples with our bombs. The image of a victim nation has now become an easy psychological trigger that can be applied indiscriminately to Bosnian Muslims, Iraqis, and now Georgians. These unknown peoples and nations are but a blank screen on which we project our fantasies. Our image of them says much more about us that it does about reality.

One prominent BBC reporter, for example, lauded the Georgian officials in leather jackets as “the most photogenic government in the world” and gasped at the dynamism of the new chief prosecutor, Irakli Okruashvili, and at the way ordinary citizens were invited to register denunciations on the “corruption hotline.” This was true “people power” in action, he enthused—evidently unaware of the Stalinist resonance of what he was describing.

Silence, not enthusiasm, was the reaction, however, when the wheel of fortune turned three years later and Okruashvili fell out with Saakashvili and started up his own opposition party. On Sept. 25, 2007, Okruashvili told a press conference, “The style of Saakashvili’s governance, which has gone beyond the limits, has made dishonesty, injustice and oppression a way of life. Everyday repression, demolition of houses and churches, robbery, ‘kulakization,’ and murders, I would stress, murders, have become common practice for the authorities.”

Okruashvili specifically alleged that Saakashvili had told him to get rid of Badri Patarkatsishvili, a Georgian-Jewish millionaire tycoon living in England, “the way it happened to Rafik Hariri.” Patarkatsishvili was a media baron who initially supported Saakashvili’s regime—notably through his TV channel, which he ran in joint venture with Rupert Murdoch—but who later became disillusioned following the death in suspicious circumstances of the prime minister, Zurab Zhvania in 2005. Okruashvili also suggested that Zhvania had been the victim of a politically motivated murder.

The government’s response to Okruashvili’s press conference and bid for political power was to throw him into the central prison in Tbilisi. By Oct. 8, he had recanted. A videotape of his interrogation was broadcast on TV. Okruashvili, visibly distressed and sinking into long pauses, accused himself of the crimes of extortion and racketeering that had been used to arrest him, exactly as the defendants at the Moscow show trials in the 1930s did. He denied each of the original accusations he had made on Sept. 25 and claimed that he had made them purely for personal political gain. He had evidently been tortured.

It did not take long for the political situation in the country to spiral out of control. Okruashvili’s arrest caused large demonstrations against the Saakashvili government in early November. Vast numbers of heavily armed police were deployed to crush the revolt, and the demonstrators were severely beaten. Even though TV shots of this were broadcast on CNN, Saakashvili continued to be lauded as a democrat. The regime proclaimed a state of emergency, the government was reshuffled, and new presidential and parliamentary elections were held in January and May, in the latter case on the basis of a hastily rejiggered electoral law. Even the normally supine Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose support for Georgian brutality since 1992 has been wicked, had to admit that both campaigns were marred by widespread intimidation, violence, and ballot-stuffing. Saakashvili was re-elected by 53.5 percent, just enough to ensure that there was no second round. And Badri Patarkatsishvili did indeed die of sudden heart failure on Feb. 12, aged 52, as Okruashvili had predicted, after leaving a meeting with a prominent Russian oligarch living in London and his lawyer, Tony Blair’s former attorney general. (The police initially treated his death as suspicious, but in the end no prosecutions were brought.)

It was against this background of rising political instability and plummeting political fortunes that Mikheil Saakashvili launched his midnight onslaught on South Ossetia on Aug. 7. He evidently thought, like the Argentine generals who invaded the Falkland Islands in 1983, that a short war of national liberation would boost his flagging support. He miscalculated. Dick Cheney may have flown to Tbilisi to promise again that Georgia will soon join NATO in spite of the defeat and to commit forces to restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity, but Cheney will be out of a job by next January and so his promises are not worth much. And judging by the swiftness with which political justice is executed in Georgia, Saakashvili—who has probably now caused Georgia to lose her two secessionist regions forever—may soon follow him into early retirement, or worse.


John Laughland is director of studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris. His latest book is A History of Political Trials From Charles I to Saddam Hussein.


Wrong friends,wrong enemies

The United States would be in a state of war with Russia had Georgia been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) when President Mikheil Saakashvili attacked South Ossetia.

Russia responded by ordering its military to defend South Ossetia and Georgia's NATO membership would have not restrained Moscow from protecting Russia's most important interests in the Caucasus. These interests include supporting Russian citizens in South Ossetia and preventing military buildup on Russia's southern border.

Few people in the American political class have contributed more to provoking possible military escalation with Russia than Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain.

A prominent member of the American establishment, McCain has been an extremely partisan advocate of US ties with the small Georgia at the expense of relations with Russia. McCain advisors are also known to have worked as paid lobbyists for Georgia. In the words of the New York University law professor Stephen Gillers, the latter "poses valid questions about McCain's judgment" in choosing those who "are paid to promote the interests of other nations".

To Russia, the American senator's actions have been nothing short of provocative, and the Kremlin made it clear that it holds the McCain-advocated expansion of NATO responsible for the violence in the Caucasus. In the aftermath of the alliance summit in April 2008, then-president Putin stated, "We view the appearance of a powerful military bloc on our borders ... as a direct threat to the security of our country."

More recently, an anonymous senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs predicted a "full-scale crisis of existence" in the United States and a further cooling of relations between the US and Russia. If McCain is elected president, it is likely that Russia will be treated as an enemy, rather than a potential partner, and US-Russia relations will escalate into a military confrontation.

Since 1997 when he first met Saakashvili, McCain's relationship with the future president of Georgia has became a close friendship. He stood behind Saakashvili during Georgia's Rose Revolution in 2003; indeed McCain worked to make that revolution happen. In February 2003, six months before the Rose revolution, McCain was among those welcoming Saakashvili in Washington when the latter was received by senior officials, such as Vice President Dick Cheney.

The McCain-led International Republican Institute (IRI), an international wing of the National Endowment for Democracy, was involved in training and financing the revolutionary opposition to Saakashvili's political rival Eduard Shevardnadze. Along with other organizations, such as the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House and the George Soros foundation, McCain's IRI presented its activities as a support of elections and the democratic process, but in reality it was biased in favor of the pre-selected candidate Saakashvili. On October 2003, immediately before the revolution, McCain traveled to Georgia to convince then-president Shevardnadze to relinquish power after conducting "badly flawed elections".

After helping to bring Saakashvili to power, McCain became a leading voice in advocating for Georgia's membership in NATO - against Russia's objections. Along with other anti-Russian lobbyists and sympathetic politicians, McCain saw the alliance's purpose as to contain Russia and promote American domination in the Eurasian region with its vast resources and geopolitical importance.

Saakashvili had his own objectives in mind in pushing his nation to NATO. In August 2004, Georgia first used force against South Ossetia, attempting to win control over the strategic Djava district. In the fall of the same year, Saakashvili also turned down Russia's offer of a good neighbor treaty and aimed at solving territorial disputes with Abkhazia and South Ossetia by relying on political support from the United States.

In early 2005, Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton "rewarded" Saakashvili for his strategic choice by nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize for "leading freedom movements in their respective countries" and winning "popular support for the universal values of democracy, individual liberty, and civil rights". This emboldened Georgia's leader to the point that balanced American observers, like Dmitri Simes, asked: "Why do we allow and sometimes even encourage Georgia to continue provoking Moscow at our expense?"

In August 2006, Senator McCain again traveled to Georgia as a part of a US Senate delegation. In evaluating the situation in the region, he found "a tremendous progress" in Georgia, but decried Russia's role, urging for the replacement of its peacekeepers in the region. Although his objective was to assess the state of Georgia's frozen conflicts and NATO membership effort, McCain had come to the region with his conclusions already formed.

Speaking in Brussels before his trip to the Caucasus during the same year, he insisted that "We should be crystal clear: these conflicts endure because of Russian policy and Russian support for illegal separatists." He further condemned "Russia's predatory use of energy supplies and its reversal of democracy at home."

In the meantime, McCain's advisors lobbied on behalf of Georgia's NATO membership in Washington and Europe. According to records at the Justice Department's foreign agents registration office, in recent years McCain's advisor Randy Scheunemann and his partner, Mike Mitchell, were paid more $830,000 by Georgia for advocating its membership to NATO.

Holding neo-conservative political beliefs, these American lobbyists did not see a principal conflict with US national interests: they were providing Georgia and others with highly questionable security guarantees against Russia in exchange for obtaining Tbilisi's full support of even more doubtful American policies, such as the invasion of Iraq, all at the cost of angering Moscow. Instead of repairing its relations with Russia, tiny Georgia reciprocated by sending the third largest military contingent to Iraq and paying handsomely to anti-Russian lobbyists in Washington.

When in November 2007 Saakashvili used force against his opponents at home, McCain's voice wasn't heard among the critics of Georgia. However, when Russia recently intervened to stop the Georgian military attack on South Ossetia, the American Senator was again accusing the Kremlin - this time of "a de facto annexation of part of Georgia" - and urging Western governments not to allow Russia to "undermine Georgian sovereignty."

So extensive was McCain's involvement with Saakashvili during the crisis that the two talked over the phone several times a day. As Saakashvili said, referring to his American friend, "he spends less time on his presidential campaign these days and lots of time on Georgia." In his turn, the McCain said presumptuously, "I told him that I know I speak for every American when I said to him, today, we are all Georgians."

Russia has always been presented by McCain in an extremely negative light, and as deserving of only a hard-line response. Assisted by the American media, the Republican Senator never missed an opportunity to blame Russia for everything that was going wrong in the former Soviet region and outside. It was following McCain's statement warning of "a creeping coup against the forces of democracy and market capitalism" in Russia, delivered in the Senate on November 6, 2003, that many on Capitol Hill, including senators Joseph Lieberman, Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar, were soon calling on the administration to get tough with the Kremlin.

In 2004, McCain prominently supported the pro-Khodorkovsky campaign, along with such known advocates of American hegemony as Richard Perle. He subsequently made a number of anti-Russian statements and co-signed a number of anti-Russian letters, such as An Open Letter to the Heads of State and Government Of the European Union and NATO, organized by the right-wing group the Project for New American Century and released in September 2004.

During the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, McCain was again on the frontline. In addition to traveling to the country, the American Senator publicly promoted breaking Russia's Ukraine connection, and insisted on "tying" Ukraine "to the West". Along with others in the American political class, he overwhelmingly supported the color revolutionaries' drive to join NATO and circumvent Russia's energy pipelines, claiming that doing otherwise would amount to appeasing the Kremlin. In early 2005, McCain was among the first to call for expelling Russia from the G8.

In the Caucasus or outside, McCain believed that Russia was doing everything in its power to restore the old imperial control. Whatever actions were pursued by the Kremlin - reluctance to dismantle its military bases in Georgia, the exercise of force in Chechnya, promises to preventively use military force outside its own territory to respond to terrorist threats - was construed by McCain and his supporters as an imperialism incompatible with Western objectives and Russia's own international treaty obligations. Whatever instability persisted in the former Soviet region was linked to the Kremlin's failures or deliberate manipulations.

These policy beliefs partly explain McCain's dismissive, even contemptuous tone while speaking about Russia. For example, in his remarks to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, McCain proceeded from assumptions about the Kremlin's threatening intentions and spoke of "Russia's nuclear blackmail" - apparently referring to the nation's unwillingness to acquiesce to the US missile defense system (MDS) plans. McCain's disdain for Russia's view was clearly revealed during a Republican debate on MDS, when he said "I don't care what [Vladimir Putin's] objections are to it."

In his article published in the Financial Times, McCain appealed to the European audience, seeking to rally it behind the US on an anti-Russian platform. Repeating the nuclear blackmail thesis, the republican senator charged that Putin's "blend of cynicism and Napoleonic delusion presents a dangerous challenge to the Euro-Atlantic community," and he insisted on confronting Russia's "profoundly authoritarian regime, dominated by an intelligence service hostile to Western liberal values".

Some have suggested that, if he is elected president, McCain may be restrained in his further actions toward Russia. American institutions and the heavy burden of responsibility for maintaining peace and stability in the world may indeed encourage him to try diplomacy rather than belligerent rhetoric and hot-headed actions in Eurasia.

But there is also the possibility that McCain will do what he says, and chose steps leading to a military escalation with the second largest world nuclear power. The question is whether Americans would want to explore that possibility.

Andrei P Tsygankov is professor of international relations and political science at San Francisco State University and the author of Anti-Russian Lobby and American Foreign Policy (forthcoming).

(Copyright 2008 Andrei P Tsygankov.)



понедельник, 29 сентября 2008 г.

masterpieces of russian animation (with english subtitles)

"Hedgehog in the fog"

70th Anniversary of the infamous Munich agreement

Munich Agreement: Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, and Mussolini, 29 Sep 1938

The Munich Agreement (Münchner Abkommen) concluded at Munich, September 29, 1938, between Germany (Adolf Hitler), Great Britain (Neville Chamberlain), France (Edouard Daladier) and Italy (Benito Mussolini) has become one of the most controversial international treaties signed in the twentieth century. It raised endless debates and controversies among, in particular, international legal scholars on whether the Agreement has been validly concluded under international law. The main purpose of the Agreement was to cede parts of the Czechoslovak territory (commonly known as the Sudetenland - area along borders of Czechoslovakia, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans) to Germany. In fact, the conclusion of the Agreement opened the door to the annexation of western Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s forces. The major European powers, in line with the policy of “Appeasement”, only informed the Czech Government that it could either oppose Germany on its own or submit to the prescribed annexation of its territory. As it is commonly known, the Czechoslovak Government opted for the second option. The Chamberlain’s policy of “Appeasement” was subsequently discredited, when Hitler occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and invaded Poland in September 1939.

One of the most controversial features of the Agreement was the fact that it was signed without the presence of Czechoslovak political representatives. The powers assembled at Munich in September 1938 tried to avoid was at any cost and this is why the document has been commonly described as the Munich Dictate.

At the time of its conclusion, the Signatories were bound by several obligations deriving from either customary-based or treaty-based international law. Firstly to be mentioned is the customary obligation not to engage in military intervention. Treaty based international law also subjected the states to several obligations, in particular, to the obligation not to seek the settlement of disputes except by peaceful means (Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1929). Moreover, under the First Hague Convention of 1899 all parties concerned had a duty to use their best efforts to ensure pacific settlement of international differences and to have recourse as far as consequences allow to the good offices or mediation of one or more friendly Power. In addition, the League of Nations Covenant also demanded its Signatories (except for Germany) to ‘respect and preserve against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League’ (Art.10) and not to resort to war until the peaceful procedures of the Covenant had been exhausted (Art. 12).

Recalling the above-mentioned, it seems manifest that by signing Munich Agreement France and Great Britain breached the Covenant’s obligation to respect territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia against external aggression. They had given Hitler green light to the annexation of the western Czechoslovakia. Undoubtedly, the solution prescribed by the Munich Agreement was not a peaceful one. The Signatories of the Covenant agreed they would not enter into any engagements inconsistent with the terms thereof. It may be argued that by signing the Munich Agreement they were in breach of the Covenant. Moreover, Article 20 of the Covenant abrogates all obligations or understandings which are inconsistent with the terms thereof thus rendering the Munich Agreement invalid.

On a more general level, it must be said the Munich Agreement was in breach of the well established principle of sovereign equality of states. It aimed at cession of a territory whose territorial sovereign was not a signatory thereof. Its purpose was directly aimed at violating territorial integrity and political independence of Czechoslovakia. The doctrine of international law regards all agreements, which contravene general principles of international law, as null and void, in particular those agreements that aim at causing injustice. One of the major arguments speaking for nullity of the Agreement is the fact that it was imposed upon the Czechoslovak Government under duress reinforced by the threat of force. There was no freely given consent of the Czechoslovakian Government to be bound by the provisions of the Munich Agreement.

Given the political situation, the Government had no other option but to accept it. Nullity of the Agreement may also be inferred from that its imposition or consent with was in manifest breach of Czechoslovak constitutional law which required previous Parliamentary approval.

Of its four signatories, Great Britain, France and Italy declared the Munich Agreement as void already during the Second World War. Firstly, it was the British Government which announced on August 5, 1942 that ‘the final settlement of Czechoslovak frontiers would not be influenced by any changes effected `in and since’ 1938’ thus repudiating the Munich Agreement. Subsequently, General de Gaulle’s Government in exile declared (in September 1942) the nullity of Munich Agreement ab initio. Similarly, the new Italian Government (in September 1944) dissociated itself from the Munich Agreement.

Finally, in 1973 the Treaty of Prague between Czechoslovakia and the Federal Republic of Germany declared the Munich Agreement to be null and void. The Signatories also agreed that their borders were inviolable and that they would not use force against one another.



воскресенье, 28 сентября 2008 г.

US generals planning for resource wars

September 24, 2008

ANALYSIS: The US military sees the next 30 to 40 years as involving a state of continuous war against ideologically-motivated terrorists and competing with Russia and China for natural resources and markets, writes Tom Clonan

AS GENERAL Ray Odierno takes command of US forces in Baghdad from troop surge architect Gen David Petraeus, America has begun planning in earnest for its phased withdrawal.

The extra brigade combat teams - or battlegroups - deployed to Iraq by Petraeus have already withdrawn and a further 8,000 troops have been diverted to Afghanistan.

In January, the next president of the United States will conclude America's timetable for withdrawal in final negotiations with the Iraqi government.

Further evidence of America's future military intentions is contained in recently published strategy documents issued by the US military.

Under the auspices of the US department of defence and department of the army, the US military have just published a document entitled 2008 Army Modernization Strategy which makes for interesting reading against the current backdrop of deteriorating international fiscal, environmental, energy resource and security crises.

The 2008 modernisation strategy, written by Lieut Gen Stephen Speakes, deputy chief of staff of the US army, contains the first explicit and official acknowledgement that the US military is dangerously overstretched internationally. It states simply: "The army is engaged in the third-longest war in our nation's history and . . . the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has caused the army to become out of balance with the demand for forces exceeding the sustainable supply."

Against this backdrop, the 90 page document sets out the future of international conflict for the next 30 to 40 years - as the US military sees it - and outlines the manner in which the military will sustain its current operations and prepare and "transform" itself for future "persistent" warfare.

The document reveals a number of profoundly significant - and worrying - strategic positions that have been adopted as official doctrine by the US military. In its preamble, it predicts a post cold war future of "perpetual warfare".

According to its authors: "We have entered an era of persistent conflict . . . a security environment much more ambiguous and unpredictable than that faced during the cold war."

It then goes on to describe the key features of this dawning era of continuous warfare. Some of the characteristics are familiar enough to a world audience accustomed to the rhetoric of the global war on terror.

"A key current threat is a radical, ideology-based, long-term terrorist threat bent on using any means available - to include weapons of mass destruction - to achieve its political and ideological ends."

Relatively new, "emerging" features are also included in the document's rationale for future threats.

"We face a potential return to traditional security threats posed by emerging near-peers as we compete globally for depleting natural resources and overseas markets."

This thinly-veiled reference to Russia and China will, perhaps, come as little surprise given recent events in Ossetia and Abkhazia. The explicit reference in this context to future resource wars, however, will probably raise eyebrows among the international diplomatic community, who prefer to couch such conflicts as human rights-based or rooted in notions around freedom and democracy.

The document, however, contains no such lofty pretences. It goes on to list as a pre-eminent threat to the security of the US and its allies "population growth - especially in less-developed countries - [which] will expose a resulting 'youth bulge'."

This youth bulge, the document goes on to state, will present the US with further "resource competition" in that these expanding populations in the developing world "will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy".

The document goes on to describe in broad-strokes the manner in which its downsized military might ensure survival of the fittest for the US and its allies in future resource wars for water, food and energy.

As a consequence of identifying growing populations in the developed world as a threat in itself, the strategy document highlights a number of paradigm shifts in the way future wars are to be conducted.

It predicts that "21st Century operations will require soldiers to engage among populations and diverse cultures instead of avoiding them".

The document reveals that new US tactical doctrine provides a template by which air, naval and field commanders will no longer just secure traditional strategic targets such as airspace, seaports and bridgeheads, but will, of necessity, also deploy and fight amongst and against the target population itself to win wars.

The document refers to this euphemistically as "commanders employing offensive, defensive and stability or civil support operations simultaneously".

The remainder of the document is devoted to describing in detail how a downsized all volunteer US military - numbering approximately one million soldiers, aircrew and sailors - could maintain an ever-present, international, offensive posture in many countries across many time-zones.

It describes how information communication technologies and digital technologies will create a new "networked" human soldier - the 'Future Force Warrior' - who will deploy among the target population and will operate simultaneously several remote, unmanned ground and air weapons systems.

To this end, the US military is rapidly expanding its inventory of computerised, robotic ground weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles .

According to the strategy document, by supplementing relatively small forces of US troops - brigade combat teams - with ever-larger fleets of remotely controlled, unmanned weapons systems, America will be able to successfully deploy its downsized military to maximum effect among the emerging international youth bulge.

Supplementing these future global offensive operations, according to the strategy document, is the US military's planned domination of inner space or the earth's exo-atmospheric zone.

The document states: "Space is a significant area of joint development that supports battle space awareness and is the backbone for the national and military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architecture, as well as being the domain of choice for commercial broad-area sensing enterprises with military utility."

Together with the US Missile Defence Agency, the US military is currently developing "space-based assets continuously monitoring the globe".

The report elaborates on this by stating that "army space forces are deployed worldwide supporting US efforts to fight and win [the global war on terror]."

The report adds that US military "space control operations ensure freedom of action in space for the United States and its allies and when necessary, deny an adversary freedom of action in space".

The document refers to operations in Iraq in the past tense. It implies that operations in Afghanistan may be expanded.

It states explicitly that the US military is preparing to fight continuous resource wars "for the long haul".

The document also describes explicitly the manner in which the earth's orbit is now deemed a legitimate zone for offensive military activity. This extraordinary document describes US strategic doctrine in terms worthy of 20th century science fiction.

The mix of 20th century science fiction and Orwellian perspectives unwittingly contained in the document appear rapidly to be materialising as fact.

Dr Tom Clonan is the Irish Times Security Analyst. He lectures in the School of Media, DIT. tclonan@irish-times.ie

© 2008 The Irish Times

russian churches (Yaroslavl' with photos)

Yaroslavl established about 1010 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise at the bank of Volga River. In the 17th century Yaroslavl was the biggest trade and industrial town of Russia. Those were the times, when many new buildings were built there, the town had its own, peculiar school of architectural styles and construction. The Yaroslavl churches of the 17th century differ by great dimensions, multiple domes, picturesque asymmetry created by side-chapels, vestibules and porches. The churches are strongly decorated by tiles and figured carving. On the whole, this is the style called "the Russian style", unique and inimitable. A.N.Benua, a prominent art historian, called this style "the true Russian style of disappearing magnificent Russian culture".
The inner walls of Yaroslavl churches display multiple wall-paintings, very picturesque, symmetric and musical, having nice, cheerful and bright combination of clean, and open shades: blue, red and golden. The wall-paintings of the church of Ilya the Prophet are the best, as well as those of the Church of John the Baptist in village Tolchkovo. These churches are extremely interesting from the point of view of their architectural styles.
Moreover, there are some other interesting monuments related to the 17th century, these are the architectural ensemble in Korovniki, the Church of Nikola Mokry, the Palace of Metropolitan and the Church of Saviour in Town. The embankment of Volga River is very beautiful, this place is admired by local citizens. The former Saviour Ressurection Convent (Cathedral and walls built in the 16th century) is located in place, where river Kotorosl flows into Volga. That was here, when in the 18th century, Ioil, the last Archimandrite of the convent, found the manuscript of "The Lay of Igor's Host" in the library of convent. This is the most significant literature monument of the ancient Russian culture. These days the walls of ancient convent preserve the collection of icons, embroidery, church plates and ancient church books. There is also the Art Museum in town located on Volga embankment. The museum collection includes icons, including the icon of Saviour dated by the 12th century, the pictorial image of Yaroslavl the Wise, the Tolgskaya Icon of the Virgin, the finest collection of Icons of the 17th century, which all belong to the Yaroslavl school of icon painting. The display shows provincial portraits and Russian paintings of the 18-19th centuries.
There is no any other Russian city which possesses so many beautiful masterpieces of medieval wall painting. The Yaroslavl masters enriched the traditional Chistian themes with the elements of folk art and features derived from the life around them thus reflecting a new understanding of ideals close to craftsmen and merchants. They were closely connected with the life of their people they came from and painted in frescoes the scenes of everyday life : harvest time, ploughing, hunting, construction of a church, feasting, made illustrations of the popular literature subjects and thus depicted a varied life of Russia.

Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках

Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках
the church of Ilya the Prophet

Церковь Иоанна Предтечи
«Церковь Иоанна Предтечи» на Яндекс.Фотках
Church of John the Baptist


useful links for studying chinese

on-line english-chinese chinese-english dictionary


DAVIS: Double-talk with Russia

U.S. should reverse diplomatic course

Daniel L. Davis

Thursday, September 25, 2008

According to the consensus of Western media, the Russian government seeks to weaken the West, desires to resurrect a new version of the Soviet Union, and tramples on the freedoms of its own people. By contrast, the United States stands for freedom, peace and prosperity for all nations. Regarding the situation in Georgia, the Russians are the aggressors — much like Hitler when he took Czechoslovakia in 1938 — and we simply seek to defend the weak. The only problem with this view of things is that it grossly misrepresents the complicated truth. If this distortion is not quickly rectified, our own actions could unwittingly contribute to a grave crisis — if not war — between the United States and Russia.

By perpetuating the myth that every action taken by the Russian Federation is driven by an irrational lust for power and antagonism toward the United States, while all our actions are right, just, and reasonable, we work against our own self interest. The unpleasant fact of the matter is that American foreign policy and diplomacy over the past two decades has contributed to the trouble we find ourselves in today, and if not reversed quickly — and I mean reversed, not simply altered — the United States may one day find itself facing the possibility of being involved in a major war; a war that should never be fought.

Since the West's condemnation of Russian actions in Georgia, Moscow has threatened Poland over the latter's decision to host missile interceptors on their soil, has threatened Ukraine against joining NATO, has promised to give sophisticated anti-air missile defense capabilities to Iran, has agreed to military cooperation and sales to Venezuela, and openly discussed the possibility of using Cuba as a refueling stop for its long range bombers. No American would dispute that these things run counter to American national interests. But when we protest to Moscow our complaints fall on deaf ears. We have lost the ability to influence Russian policies, partially as a result of our own double standards.

We argue that Russia ought not sell weapons abroad, but we are the world's leader of such sales; we tell Russia they should not do business with Iran while we provide military advisors to Georgia; we tell Russia under no circumstances can they have any military presence in Cuba, but we dismissively tell Russia they have nothing to say about our expanding a military alliance to their very borders. Any rational person, who was neither Russian nor American, would view this situation as a farcical double standard. And yet the bulk of American foreign affairs pundits and former governmental officials defend these positions as being perfectly reasonable.

The tragedy of the situation is that such actions are viewed as imperialistic by much of the rest of the world, and after decades of this behavior, has resulted in the loss of American influence abroad, even among our friends and allies, as our word is no longer trusted. It is of critical importance to the future health and benefit of the United States that we reverse this situation immediately.

Associated Press Russian soldiers crowd atop an armored vehicle as they leave their positions heading toward Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia. Hundreds of Russian forces withdrew from positions across western Georgia on Saturday.

Had we not diplomatically bludgeoned Russia into submission on virtually every important issue over the nearly two decades since the dissolution of the USSR, Russia would almost certainly now be more willing to work with us internationally on matters of mutual national interest. If carried too far, this deteriorating relationship - where politicians from both countries condemn the actions of the other as immoral and unjust - could one day result in a miscalculation involving a red line; such miscalculations have resulted in unintended war many times throughout history. I can say without reservation that a war between the United States and Russia would have no winners; all would lose and potentially hundreds of thousands (or more) could be killed.

For the benefit of the United States, for our ability to influence the actions of our friends and competitors throughout the world on matters of real significance, and to give our people the best chance of living in a world of peace, American foreign policy and diplomacy must immediately change course and begin to treat others with genuine respect, recognize others have legitimate security interests and cease this counter productive penchant for double standards. Our children will forever condemn us if our hubris were to result in a war that should never have been fought, requiring them to spend the rest of their lives trying to rebuild what our foolish pride destroyed.

Army Maj. Daniel L. Davis, a cavalry officer, fought in Desert Storm and served in Afghanistan.

(from the Washington Times)

четверг, 25 сентября 2008 г.


During Word War II, London planned occupation of Transcaucasia and led separate negotiations with the Nazi

The joint activities of Germany, Turkey, and Great Britain in Transcaucasia in 1920s are described in detail in modern Russian school textbooks. It is less known that even in the period of the wartime alliance with the USSR, Anglo-Americans conducted separate negotiations with Germany over a possible division of the Black Sea-Caucasus-Caspian region in case of military defeat and political collapse of the USSR.

In July 1941, believing that the Red Army was soon going to be defeated, the British Government established a special bureau in the Middle East for coordination of intelligence operations against the USSR. This efforts involved coordination if Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi Armenians, Azerbaijanians, Turks and Kurds for subversive operations in Northern Iran (where the Russian military were staying since September 1941), in North Caucasus, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, in Eastern Ukraine (Donbass) and Crimea. The British were focused on training guerilla groups in the Middle East and British India for destabilization of Russian railroads and evacuated industrial facilities. At the same time, the British intelligence resumed cooperation with Dashnaktsutyun, the largest Armenian nationalistic organization. This work was entrusted to British intelligence officer R. Monks who arrived in the USSR illegally on July 13, 1941 – but the Soviet counterintelligence managed to promptly curb his activities. It is noteworthy that the Oct.1945 special report "On Wartime Subversive Operations of British Special Services against the USSR", prepared for Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov and Andrei Zhdanov, indicated that "British intelligence bodies, using broader possibilities in the framework of military alliance with the USSR, stepped up espionage on the Soviet territory. During the war, various regions of the USSR were visited by 200 officers of British intelligence, 110 of them being deployed to Moscow, 30 to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, 30 to the Caucasus, Transcausasia and Central Asia, and 20 among various delegations".

In 1941, Franz von Papen, ex-German Chancellor and Ambassador in Turkey, initiated separate negotiations with Germany and the United States, discussing the perspectives of USSR's disintegration in the context of probable surrender of the USSR.

In early May, 1942, a Soviet source reported about Turkey's efforts to serve as a mediator in the separate peace diplomacy between Britain and Germany. According to the report, the British Ambassador in Ankara "had a talk with the general secretary of the Turkish Foreign Minister. The latter provocatively claimed that the USSR was allegedly going to strike peace with Germany, "leaving Britain to its fate". He urged London to forestall the Russians and to strike peace with Germany earlier, leaving the Soviets to solve their problems alone".

On May 8, 1942, the same Turkish official, meeting with the British Navy attaché, claimed that Germany was going to cease the offensive at the eastern front, as Berlin and Moscow "are about to strike a deal that will be catastrophic for Britain and Turkey".

In summer-autumn 1942, when the German troops were close to Transcaucasia, and Hitler already appointed General Arno Schickedanz to the post of Commandant of Tbilisi, Winston Churchill proposed military assistance to Moscow. He asked for permission for the British-Canadian troops to enter Armenia and Azerbaijan, or replace the Soviet contingent in Iran and along the border of Turkey. However, Joseph Stalin rejected this "gift".

In his turn, Churchill acknowledged that the second front that the allies had promised to open in autumn 1942, could be opened only by summer 1943. Thus, the proposal to "assist" Moscow by getting access to the Caspian and the Black Sea ports, implied geopolitical blackmail. It is noteworthy that USSR's request to London to convince Ankara not to join the Nazi coalition had been earlier rejected: Churchill claimed that he did not have "the required forces and arguments" to succeed in these talks. Meanwhile, British diplomats hinted to the Soviet side that London actually could convince Turkey, but only under the condition that Moscow agree to concede Batumi, and desirably, the whole territory of Adjaria, to Ankara.

At the same time, Britain and its dominions rapidly boosted their military presence in the north-west of India (in today's Pakistan) and in the north of Iraq. Some Western, particularly Turkish historians later admitted that the Western allies were concentrating their forces to invade Soviet Central Asia via Afghanistan.

In February 1943, Nazi emissary count Hohenlohe met with Allen Dulles in Switzerland. These secret talks, as well as the negotiations of US and British diplomats with Germany's representatives in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Ireland, involved plans of joint mobilization of anti-Soviet émigré groups, headquartered in Germany, the United States and Britain and operating in the Caucasus, the Baltic area and the Volga region.

The talks on division of Transcaucasia lasted until 1944. "According to reliable sources, Germany's Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop had a secret meeting with some top London officials in order to discuss conditions of separate peace with Germany", reported Pravda's special correspondent in Cairo on January 17, 1944.

Thus, Britain's proposals of military assistance to the USSR during World War II did not contradict to deals with the Nazi on the division of the Soviet territory. The Western democracies have been thus using any opportunity of Moscow's weakness to pursue policies of disintegration and humiliation of Russia. The current policy of London during the crisis in Transcaucasia indicates that these goals have not changed during the past sixty years.


пятница, 19 сентября 2008 г.

Russia, Europe, USA and fundamental geopolitics

As details of the larger strategic picture emerge over what is at stake in the Georgia and larger Caucasus crisis it is becoming clearer that Moscow is determined to roll back not to the borders of Stalin and the Cold War of 1948. What Putin and now Medvedev have begun is a process of defusing the highly dangerous NATO expansion, led by the Washington warhawks since the end of the Cold War in 1990. Had events progressed as Washington had planned up until the surprise rejection of NATO membership from no less than ten European NATO member countries, including Germany and France at the April NATO Summit, Georgia would today have been in the admission process to NATO-ization along with Ukraine. That would have opened the door to full-scale encirclement of Russia militarily and economically. In a certain sense it is not interesting who fired the first shot in South Ossetia in the night of 8 August. Clear is that Russia had prepared well for such a shot. To understand events, we need to go back to the basics of geopolitical fundamentals and US or Anglo-American strategy since 1945. This is what Russia has challenged by its response to Georgia’s attack.

Fundamental axioms of geopolitics

What few people realize is that the architect of America’s post-1945 grand strategy was a British national, Sir Halford Mackinder. Mackinder, the grand strategist of British imperial power since his landmark 1904 paper, the Geographical Pivot of History, defined how the United States could dominate the post World War Two world in a contribution to the leading foreign policy organ of the United States, Foreign Affairs.

Sir Harold Mackinder

In his July 1943 Foreign Affairs article, written a few years before his death but when it was clear that the United States would replace the British Empire in the postwar world, Mackinder outlined the vital strategic importance for American global strategy of controlling what Mackinder called the ‘Heartland.’ He defined the Heartland as the northern part and the interior of Euro-Asia, essentially Russia-Ukraine-Byelorus—what was then the USSR. For Mackinder the strategic import of the Heartland was its special geography, with the widest lowland plain on earth, great navigable rivers and vast grassland zones.

Mackinder compared the strategic importance of Russia in 1943 to that of France in 1914-18: ‘Russia repeats in essentials the pattern of France, but on a greater scale with her open frontier turned westward instead of northeastward. In the present war the Russian army is aligned across that open frontier. In its rear is the vast plain of the Heartland, available for defense in depth and for strategic retreat.’ Mackinder noted to his American policy readers, ‘…if the Soviet Union emerges from this war as the conqueror of Germany, she must rank as the greatest land power on the globe…the power in the strategically strongest defensive position. The Heartland is the greatest natural fortress on earth.’ i

What Mackinder went on to suggest in that little-known essay was that Western Europe, above all the German industrial challenge to the Anglo-American hegemony, would be best contained by a hostile Heartland USSR power to the east and a militarily strong American power on the Atlantic. In a certain sense it did not matter whether that USSR power was still friendly to Washington or a Cold War foe. The effect would still be to contain Western Europe and make it a US sphere of influence after 1945

US war plans in 1945 against Moscow

As I detail in my book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, dealing with present US military policy in the wake of the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact seventeen some years ago, US President Harry Truman and Churchill both considered an immediate war against the Heartland the moment Germany had surrendered.ii

Only a US veto of Churchill’s geopolitical plan delayed the Cold War by three years. Difficult to understand for many is that the Cold War was in large part a US geopolitical strategy to dominate the post-war global order by using a hostile Russia and a hostile China in Asia after the Korean War, to make United States military protection via NATO and via various Asian defense arrangements, the essential fact of postwar life.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s suddenly confronted Washington policymakers with a devastating strategic dilemma. Their “enemy image”—the Soviet Bear, was gone. China was an economic partner. There was no need for NATO to continue beyond a period of careful disarmament on both sides.

That lack of an enemy image Russia, for strategists like US adviser to Barack Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a strategic threat to continued American Sole Superpower domination. In his 1997 essay in the same Foreign Affairs magazine as his mentor, Mackinder, Brzezinski, who like Henry Kissinger, has implicitly and even explicitly deployed Mackinder geopolitical ideas to shape US foreign policy, outlined the goal of US foreign policy, post-Cold War:

America's emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative.

Eurasia is home to most of the world's politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world's most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy…Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world's population, 60 percent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's.

Eurasia is the world's axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world's three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa… What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and historical legacy.

… In the short run, the United States should consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism on the map of Eurasia. This strategy will put a premium on political maneuvering and diplomatic manipulation, preventing the emergence of a hostile coalition that could challenge America's primacy, not to mention the remote possibility of any one state seeking to do so…iii

Mackinder and the Bush Doctrine

Briefly restated, US foreign policy, whether under George H.W. Bush, guided by Kissinger, or under Clinton or under George W. Bush, has followed the Mackinder outline suggested in the Brzezinski statement—divide and rule, balance of power politics. Preventing any ‘rival power’ or groups of power on Eurasia from ‘challenging’ American sole Superpower dominance was codified in the official National Security Strategy of the United States, published in September, 2002, a year after September 11. iv

That Bush Doctrine policy went so far as to justify for the first time ‘pre-emptive’ war, such as the attack on Iraq in 2003, to depose foreign regimes that represented a threat to the security of the United States, even if that threat was not immediate. That doctrine ended definitively for much of the civilized world the American legitimacy in foreign affairs.

Since 2002 Washington has pushed relentlessly with an agenda of covert regime change, most exemplified by its covert organizing of pro-NATO regime changes in Georgia and Ukraine in 2003-2004. Washington has organized, in violation of the agreement it had pledged when James Baker III met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, namely that the US would not extend the borders of NATO eastwards in return for Moscow allowing a united Germany be as well a member of NATO.v

Washington conveniently suffered a case of diplomatic amnesia as people like John McCain’s foreign policy guru, Randy Scheunemann , a leading neo-conservative hawk, led the campaign after 1991 to bring Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic and other former Warsaw Pact states into NATO. Moscow, not surprisingly, became alarmed at the pattern. Understandably so.

Finally when Washington announced in early 2007 that it planned to station its missile ‘defense’ array in Poland, including US missiles, and in the Czech Republic, then-President Putin reactzed loudly. His remarks were largely censored by the ever-watchful US media, and only the comments of US officials expressing ‘shock’ at the hostile reaction of Russia to the US missile defense plans, were reported.

Washington made the ludicrous argument that the Polish and Czech installations were necessary to defend US security interests in event of a potential nuclear missile attack by Iran. When Putin exposed the fraud of the Bush Administration’s Iran defense argument by proposing an alternative site for US interceptor radar far closer to Teheran in Azerbaijan, a surprised Bush was left speechless. Washington simply ignored the Azeri option and rammed ahead with Poland and the Czech sites.vi

What few people outside military strategy circles know, is that missile defense, even primitive, is as one leading American missile defense strategist put it, “the missing link to a nuclear first strike capability.” vii If the United States is able to deploy missile defense on Russia’s borders and Russia has none, the US has won World War III and is in a position to dictate terms of unconditional surrender to Russia, its dismemberment as a viable nation, its entire dismantlement. Little wonder that Putin reacted. Moscow strategists know full well what US military adventures have been since the 1940’s.

Eurasian geopolitics post 8-8-8

This all leads us back to the consequences of the Russian response in Georgia after 8.8.08. What Russia has done by swiftly responding with military force, followed by the announcement by President Medvedev of Russia’s Five Points of Russian foreign policy which some western commentators have dubbed the Medvedev Doctrine. The five points include, in addition to Russia’s reaffirmation of its commitment to the principles of international law, a simple statement that ‘the world should be multipolar.’

Medvedev notes, ‘A single-pole world is unacceptable. Domination is something we cannot allow. We cannot accept a world order in which one country makes all the decisions, even as serious and influential a country as the United States of America. Such a world is unstable and threatened by conflict.’ Then after stating its wish to have peaceful friendly relations with Europe the USA and others, and its intent to protect its citizens ‘wherever they may be,’ Medvedev comes to the decisive fifth point: ‘as is the case of other countries, there are regions in which Russia has privileged interests. These regions are home to countries with which we share special historical relations and are bound together as friends and good neighbors. We will pay particular attention to our work in these regions and build friendly ties with these countries, our close neighbors.’viii

If we follow the latest Russian foreign policy moves with the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign independent states, Russia’s August 29 agreement with Tajikistan that allows Russia to expand its presence at Tajikstan’s Gissar Airport. The fact of that agreement was a potentially devastating blow to Washington’s Eurasia geopolitical strategy. Tajikistan, a remote central Asian country with dependence on Russia for export of its uranium and dependent on heroin for much of its income, was drawing closer to a strategic link with Washington after 2005. In the wake of the Russian reaction in Georgia, Tajikistan’s dictator President, Emomali Rakhmon clearly decided his best security guarantee lay in closer ties with Moscow not Washington.

The government of pro-NATO ‘Orange Revolution’ President Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine collapsed on September 3 when Yushchenko pulled out of the ruling coalition over the refusal of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to back the president in his support for Georgia and condemnation of Russia in the recent conflict over South Ossetia. Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko of ‘treason and political corruption,’ over her failure to back a pro-US stand. He also withdrew over new laws passed by Tymoshenko’s party in de facto coalition, stripping the President of his veto on prime ministerial candidates, and facilitating a procedure for impeaching the president. According to Russia’s RAI Novosti, Ukraine's pro-Russian former prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich, who heads the Party of Regions, has said that he does not rule out the possibility of forming a parliamentary majority with the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc. Such a move would likely remove from the discussion the entire issue of a Ukrainian application to join NATO.

American global strategy is in crisis, and this is clearly what Moscow has sensed. The United States has insufficient power to cope with the war in Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan. Both were to have been an essential part of a US policy to militarily control Eurasian rivals, especially Russia and China. However, to act militarily beyond sabre rattling against Russia in Georgia has now been exposed for all Georgia’s neighbor states as essentially a US bluff.

Continuing the current US strategy means dealing with the war on Islam rather than the Russian one. The confluence of US Presidential political posturing, a devastating US economic and financial crisis that is worsening by the day and the loss of credibility for US foreign policy around the world since the Bush Administration came to Washington in 2001, have created the opening for other powers to begin to act on what would be Halford Mackinder’s worst nightmare: A Russian Heartland that is vital and that is able to forge strategic relationships, primarily not through guns as during the Cold War, but through economic and trade cooperation, with China, Kazakhstan and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Washington has made devastating strategic miscalculations, but not merely in Georgia. They began back in 1990 when there had been a beautiful opportunity to build bridges of peaceful economic cooperation between the OECD and Russia. Instead, George Bush senior and the US sent NATO and the IMF east to create economic chaos, looting and instability, evidently thinking that a better option. The next President will bear the consequences of having lost that opportunity.

* F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press), and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (www.globalresearch.ca) and his new book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is due out in late October. He may be reached at www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.


среда, 17 сентября 2008 г.

The Euraisin Corridor:Pipeleine geopolitics and the new Cold War

The ongoing crisis in the Caucasus is intimately related to the strategic control over energy pipeline and transportation corridors.

There is evidence that the Georgian attack on South Ossetia on August 7 was carefully planned. High level consultations were held with US and NATO officials in the months preceding the attacks.

The attacks on South Ossetia were carried out one week after the completion of extensive US - Georgia war games (July 15-31st, 2008). They were also preceded by high level Summit meetings held under the auspices GUAM, a US-NATO sponsored regional military alliance.

War in Georgia Time Line

July 1-2, 2008 GUAM Summit in Batumi, Georgia.

July 1, "US-GUAM Summit" on the sideline of the official GUAM venue.

July 5 -12, Russian Defense Ministry hold War Games in the North Caucasus region under the codename "Caucasus Frontier 2008".

July 9, 2008 China and Kazakhstan announce the commencement of construction of the Kazakhstan-China natural gas pipeline (KCP)

July 15-31, The US and Georgia hold War Games under the codename Operation "Immediate Response". One thousand US servicemen participate in the military exercise.

August 7, Georgian Ground Forces and Air Force Attack South Ossetia

August 8, Russian Forces Intervene in South Ossetia.

August 14, 2008 Signing of US-Polish Agreement on the stationing of "US Interceptor Missiles" on Polish Territory

Introduction: The GUAM Summit Venue

In early July 2008, a regional summit was held in the Georgian city of Batumi under the auspices of GUAM

GUAM is a military agreement between Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, first established in 1997. Since 2006, following the withdrawal of Uzbekistan, GUAM was renamed: The Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM.

GUAM has little to do with "Democracy and Economic Development". It is a de facto appendage of NATO. It has been used by the US and the Atlantic Alliance to extend their zone of influence into the heartland of the former Soviet Union.

The main thrust of GUAM as a military alliance is to "protect" the energy and transportation corridors, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants. GUAM countries are also the recipients of US-NATO military aid and training.

The militarization of these corridors is a central feature of US-NATO planning. Georgia and Ukraine membership in NATO is part of the agenda of controlling the energy and transport corridors from the Caspian Sea basin to Western Europe.

The July 1-2, 2008 GUAM Summit Batumi meetings, under the chairmanship of President Saakashvili, focused on the central issue of pipeline and transportation corridors. The theme of the Summit was a "GUAM – Integrating Europe’s East”, from an economic and strategic-military standpoint, essentially with a view to isolating Russia.

The presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Ukraine (respectively Ilham Aliyev, Mikheil Saakashvili and Viktor Yushchenko) were in attendance together with the presidents of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, and Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. Moldova's head of State flatly refused to attend this summit.
Map No 1: Georgia

Undermining Russia

The GUAM Summit agenda focused on undermining Moscow's influence in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. The Polish President was in attendance.

US-NATO installations in Eastern Europe including the Missile Defense Shield are directly related to the evolving geopolitical situation in the Caucasus. Barely a week after the bombing of South Ossetia by Georgian forces, the US and Poland signed an agreement (August 14) which would allow the US Air Force to deploy US "interceptor missiles" on Polish soil:

"... As military strategists have pointed out, the US missiles in Poland pose a total existential threat to the future existence of the Russian nation. The Russian Government has repeatedly warned of this since US plans were first unveiled in early 2007. Now, despite repeated diplomatic attempts by Russia to come to an agreement with Washington, the Bush Administration, in the wake of a humiliating US defeat in Georgia, has pressured the Government of Poland to finally sign the pact. The consequences could be unthinkable for Europe and the planet. " (William Engdahl, Missile Defense: Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War, Global Research, August 15, 2008)

The "US-GUAM Summit"

Barely acknowledged by the media, a so-called "US-GUAM Summit" meeting was also held on July 1st on the sidelines of the official GUAM summit venue.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Merkel met both GUAM and non-GUAM delegations behind closed doors. Several bilateral meetings were held including a Poland GUAM meeting (during which the issue of the US missile defense shield on Polish territory was most probably addressed). Private meetings were also held on July 1st and 2nd at the residence of the Georgian President.

US-Georgia War Games

Barely two weeks following the GUAM Summit of July 1-2, 2008, US-Georgian military exercises were launched at the Vaziani military base, outside Tbilisi,

One thousand U.S and six hundred Georgian troops began a military training exercise under Operation "Immediate Response". US troops included the participation of the US Air Force, Army, Marines and National Guard. While an Iraq war scenario had been envisaged, the military exercises were a dress rehearsal for an upcoming military operation. The war games were completed on July 31st, a week before the onset of the August 7th Georgian attacks on South Ossetia.

Troops from Ukraine and Azerbaijan, which are members of GUAM also participated in Operation "Immediate Response" Unexpectedly, Armenia which is an ally of Russia and a staunch opponent of Azerbaijan also took part in these games, which also served to create and "train and work together" environment between Azeri and Armenian forces (ultimately directed against Russia).

Russia's War Games in the North Caucasus

Russia began large-scale military exercises involving some 8,000 military personnel, some 700 armored units and over 30 aircraft ( in the North Caucasus republics of the Russian Federation on July 5th. (Georgian Times, July 28, 2008)

The Russian war games were explicitly carried out in response to the evolving security situation in Abhkazia and South Ossetia. The exercise, dubbed "Caucasus Frontier 2008", involved units of the 58th Army and the 4th Air Force Army, stationed in the North Caucasus Military District.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman acknowledged that the military exercises conducted in the Southern Federal District were being carried out in response to "an escalation in tension in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflict zones,...[and] that Russia’s North Caucasian Military District was ready to provide assistance to Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia if needed.” (Georgian Times, July 28, 2008, RIA-Novosti, July 5, 2008)

These units of the North Caucasian Military District (Army and Air Force) were subsequently used to lead the Russian counterattack directed against Georgian Forces in South Ossetia on August 8th.

Pipeline Geopolitics

A central issue on the GUAM-NATO drawing board at the July GUAM Summit in Batumi, was the Odessa-Brody-Plotsk (Plock on the Vistula) pipeline route (OBP) (see Maps 3 and 4), which brings Central Asian oil via Odessa, to Northern Europe, bypassing Russian territory. An extension of OBP to Poland's port of Gdansk on the Baltic sea is also envisaged.

It should be noted that the OBP also links up with Russia's Friendship Pipeline (Druzhba pipeline) in an agreement with Russia.

Washington's objective is ultimately to weaken and destabilize Russia's pipeline network --including the Friendship Pipeline and the Baltic Pipeline System (BPS)-- and its various corridor links into the Western Europe energy market.

It should be noted that Russia has established as part of the Druzhba pipeline network, a pipeline corridor which transits through Belarus, thereby bypassing the Ukraine. (See Maps 2 and 3 below)

The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) also operated by Russia's Transneft links Samara to Russia's oil tanker terminal at Primorsk in the Gulf of Finland. (See map below) It carries crude oil from Russia's Western Siberian region to both North and Western European markets.

Another strategic pipeline system, largely controlled by Russia, is the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). The CPC is a joint venture arrangement between Russia and Kazakhstan, with shareholder participation from a number of Middle East oil companies.

The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) is tied into the Atyrau-Samara (AS) pipeline, which is a joint venture between Russia's Transneft and Kazakhstan's national pipeline operator, KazTransOil. The AS pipeline in turn links up with the Russia-Kazakhstan Caspian Petroleum Consortium (CPC), which pumps Tengiz crude oil from Atyrau (Western Kazakhstan) to the CPC’s Russian tanker terminal near Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.

On July 10, 2008, barely a week following the GUAM Summit, Transneft and KazTransOil announced that they were in talks to expand the capacity of the Atyrau-Samara pipeline from 16 to 26 million tons of oil per year. (RBC Daily, July 10, 2008).

The GUAM Transportation Corridor

The GUAM governments represented at the Batumi GUAM Summit also approved the further development of The GUAM Transportation Corridor (GTC), which complements the controversial Baku Tblisi Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The latter links the Caspian Sea basin to the Eastern Mediterranean, via Georgia and Turkey, totally bypassing Russian territory. The BTC pipeline is controlled by a oil consortium led by British Petroleum.

Both the GTC and the BTC corridors are protected militarily by GUAM and NATO.

The GTC corridor would connect the Azeri capital of Baku on the Caspian sea to the Georgian ports of Poti/ Batumi on the Black Sea, which would then link up with the Ukrainian Black sea port of Odessa. (And From Odessa, through maritime and land routes to Western and Northern Europe).

Map No 2: Strategic Pipeline Routes. BTC, Friendship Pipeline, Baltic Pipeline System (BPS), CPC, AS


Map No. 3. Russia's Druzhba pipeline system

Map No 4 Eastern Europe. Plock on the Vistula

The Baku Tblisi Ceyan (BTC) Pipeline

The BTC pipeline dominated by British Petroleum and inaugurated in 2006 at the height of the war on Lebanon, has dramatically changed the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean, which is now linked, through an energy corridor, to the Caspian sea basin:

"[The BTC pipeline] considerably changes the status of the region's countries and cements a new pro-West alliance. Having taken the pipeline to the Mediterranean, Washington has practically set up a new bloc with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, " (Komerzant, Moscow, 14 July 2006)

Map No 5. The Baku, Tblisi Ceyan pipeline (BTC)

Pipeline Geopolitics and the Role of Israel

Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, Israel has military cooperation agreements with Georgia and Azerbaijan.

While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will "channel oil to Western markets", what is rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from there through Israel's main pipeline system, to the Red Sea.

The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for its own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian sea oil are farreaching.

What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel's Tipline, from Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, 26 July 2006)

Map No 6. Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline

America's Silk Road Strategy: The Trans-Eurasian Security System

The Silk Road Strategy (SRS) constitutes an essential building block of US foreign policy in the post-Cold War era.

The SRS was formulated as a bill presented to the US Congress in 1999. It called for the creation of an energy and transport corridor network linking Western Europe to Central Asia and eventually to the Far East.

The Silk Road Strategy is defined as a "trans-Eurasian security system". The SRS calls for the "militarization of the Eurasian corridor" as an integral part of the "Great Game". The stated objective, as formulated under the proposed March 1999 Silk Road Strategy Act, is to develop America's business empire along an extensive geographical corridor.

While the 1999 SRS legislation (HR 3196) was adopted by the House of Representatives, it never became law. Under the Bush administration, the Silk Road Strategy became the basis of US-NATO interventionism, largely with a view to integrating the former Soviet republics of the South Caucasus and Central Asia into the US sphere of influence.

The successful implementation of the SRS required the concurrent "militarization" of the entire Eurasian corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean to China's Western frontier bordering onto Afghanistan, as a means to securing control over extensive oil and gas reserves, as well as "protecting" pipeline routes and trading corridors. The invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 supported American strategic objectives in Central Asia including the control of pipeline corridors. Afghanistan is also a strategic landbridge linking the extensive oil wealth of the Caspian Sea basin to the Arabian Sea.

The militarization process under the SRS is largely directed against China, Russia and Iran. The SRS, called for:

"The development of strong political, economic, and security ties among countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia and the West [which] will foster stability in this region, which is vulnerable to political and economic pressures from the south, north, and east. [meaning Russia to the North, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East to the South and China to the East] (106th Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999)The adoption of a neoliberal policy agenda under advice from the IMF and the World Bank is an integral part of the SRS, which seeks to foster "open market economies... [which] will provide positive incentives for international private investment, increased trade, and other forms of commercial interactions". (Ibid).

Strategic access to South Caucasus and Central Asian oil and gas is a central feature of the Silk Road Strategy:

"The region of the South Caucasus and Central Asia could produce oil and gas in sufficient quantities to reduce the dependence of the United States on energy from the volatile Persian Gulf region." (Ibid)

The SRS is also intent upon preventing the former Soviet republics from developing their own economic, political and military cooperation ties as well as establishing broad ties up with China, Russia and Iran. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's "War on Terrorism", Global Research, Montreal, 2005).

In this regard, the formation of GUAM, which was launched in 1997, was intended to integrate the former Soviet republics into military cooperation arrangements with the US and NATO, which would prevent them from reestablishing their ties with the Russian Federation.

Under the 1999 SRS Act, the term "countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia" means Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (106th Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999).

The US strategy has, in this regard, not met its stated objective: Whereas Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia have become de facto US protectorates, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Belarus are, from a geopolitical standpoint, aligned with Moscow.

This extensive Eurasian network of transport and energy corridors has been defined by Washington as part of an American sphere of influence:

"In the Caspian-Black Sea Region, the European Union and the United States have concentrated on setting up a reliable logistics chain to connect Central Asia with the European Union via the Central Caucasus and Turkey/Ukraine. The routes form the centerpiece of INOGATE (an integrated communication system along the routes taking hydrocarbon resources to Europe) and TRACECA (the multi-channel Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor) projects.

The TRACECA transportation and communication routes grew out of the idea of the Great Silk Road (the traditional Eurasian communication channel of antiquity). It included Georgian and Turkish Black Sea ports (Poti, Batumi, and Ceyhan), railways of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, ferry lines that connect Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan with Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea/Lake (Turkmenbashi-Baku; Aktau-Baku), railways and highways now being built in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China, as well as Chinese Pacific terminals as strategically and systemically important parts of the mega-corridor." (See GUAM and the Trans-Caspian Gas Transportation Corridor: Is it about Politics or Economics?),

The Kazakhstan-China Natural Gas Pipeline (KCP)

Barely a few days following the GUAM Summit in Batumi, China and Kazakhstan announced (July 9, 2008) the commencement of construction work of a 1,300-kilometer natural gas pipeline. The inaugural ceremony was held near Kazakhstan's capital Almaty.

The pipeline which is to be constructed in several stages is expected to start pumping gas in 2010. (See silkroadintelligencer.com, July 9, 2008)

"The new transit route is part of a larger project to build two parallel pipelines connecting China with Central Asia’s vast natural gas reserves. The pipes will stretch more than 7,000 kilometers from Turkmenistan, cross Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and enter China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. Uzbekistan started construction of its part this month while Turkmenistan launched its segment last year." (Ibid)

Map No 7. Kazakhstan-China natural gas pipeline (KCP)

China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) which is the leading operator of the consortium, "has signed deals with state oil and gas firms of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan giving them 50 percent stakes in their respective parts of the pipeline."

The KPC pipeline project encroaches upon US strategic interests in Eurasia. It undermines the logic of America's Silk Road Strategy. The KPC is part of a competing Eurasian based transportation and energy strategy, largely dominated by Russia, Iran and China.

Competing Eurasian Strategy protected by the SCO-CSTO Military Alliance

The competing Eurasian based corridors are protected (against US-NATO encroachment) by two regional military alliances: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

The SCO is a military alliance between Russia and China and several Central Asian former Soviet republics including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran has observer status in the SCO.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which plays a key geopolitical role in relation to transport and energy corridors, operates in close liaison with the SCO. The CSTO regroups the following member states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Of significance, since 2006, the SCO and the CSTO member countries have conducted joint war games and are actively collaborating with Iran.

In October 2007, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, laying the foundations for military cooperation between the two organizations. This SCO-CSTO agreement, barely mentioned by the Western media, involves the creation of a full-fledged military alliance between China, Russia and the member states of SCO/CSTO. It is worth noting that the SCTO and the SCO held joint military exercises in 2006, which coincided with those conducted by Iran. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Russia and Central Asian Allies Conduct War Games in Response to US Threats, Global Research, August 2006)

While remaining distinct from an organizational standpoint, in practice, these two regional military alliances (SCO and SSTO) constitute a single military block, which confronts US-NATO expansionism in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Full Circle

The US-NATO protected SRS Eurasian transport and energy corridors, are slated to link Central Asia to the Far East, as outlined in the Silk Road Strategy. At present, the Eastward corridors linking Central Asia to China are protected militarily by the SCO-CSTO.

In terms of Washington's global military and strategic agenda, the Eurasian corridors contemplated under the SRS would inevitably encroach upon China's territorial sovereignty.The proposed US-NATO-GUAM pipeline and transportation corridors are intended to connect, at some future date, with the proposed transport and energy corridors in the Western hemisphere, including those envisaged under the North American Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

The Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP) is to North America what the Silk Road Strategy (SRS) is to the Caucasus and Central Asia. They are strategic regional constructs of America's business empire. They are the building blocks of the New World Order.

The SPP is the result of a similar process of strategic planning, militarization and free market economic integration, largely based on the control of strategic resources including energy and water, as well as the " protection" of energy and transportation corridors (land and maritime routes ) from Alaska and Canada's Arctic to Central America and the Caribbean basin.

Author's Note: This article has focused selectively on key pipeline corridors with a view to analyzing broad geopolitical and strategic issues.
An examination of the overall network of Eurasian pipeline corridors would require a far more detailed and comprehensive presentation.

Source: by Michel Chossudovsky


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