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Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008 at 4:26 PM
"From Tbilisi to Teheran" Heightens Suspicions of Motive in Georgian Crisis
Since the attacks by Georgia which sparked the fighting (which, alone, suggests Georgia had been promised the support of a larger power) took place on the day that the last two US carrier groups started for the Strait of Hormuz, it would appear that one motive (besides the pipelines from the Caspian which rival the new ones the US built in Afghanistan) appears to be tying up and/or demonizing Russia, in order to minimize its response to US/Israeli Aggression towards Iran.
The following article from the Jerusalem Post appears to support this, as does the US/Israeli line seen today, as well as the willingness of the bulk of the Western press to so horribly misrepresent this conflict.
How anti-Iran policy contributed to war in the Caucasus
by Muhammad Sahimi
Much has been written about the war between Russia and Georgia. Neoconservatives, as Justin Raimondo pointed out, have suddenly discovered the "democratic" republic of Georgia, which has been a historical "victim" of the Russian "empire." Never mind that not only was Georgia not a democracy before it was devoured by the Soviet Union in 1921, but also that the war, started by Georgia's forces, was a strategic blunder by Georgia's president, the confrontational, demagogic, American-trained lawyer Mikheil Saakashvili, who dared foolishly to take on his giant neighbor, thinking naively that NATO would rush to help him.
William Kristol, the "little Lenin" of the neoconservatives, who now has another outlet in the op-ed page of the New York Times, opines that the U.S. must not only give aid to Georgia, but must also help it become a member of the "League of Democracies" that John McCain has proposed. Never mind that in the Georgian "democracy" Saakashvili used police brutality to stop huge demonstrations after hotly disputed elections and shut down opposition publications, and never mind that when democratic elections in Palestine and Lebanon yielded results deemed undesirable by the U.S. (and people like Kristol), they were not only dismissed, but the voters were also punished by U.S. sanctions.
And, as Robert Parry noted, the same neoconservatives who backed the illegal invasion of Iraq, and are now threatening to attack Iran over its nonexistent nuclear threat, are suddenly discovering respect for the rule of law and international agreements. Even Bill Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, who supported the Iraq invasion, got into the act, writing in the Washington Post that "Whatever mistakes Tbilisi has made, they cannot justify Russia's actions."
Where was Holbrooke when the U.S. invaded Panama, helped the Contra thugs in Nicaragua, encouraged – and later supported – Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, and was silent when the Saudi-Pakistani-created Taliban overthrew the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan?
In reality, the Russia-Georgia war involves three important elements:
The desire to encircle Russia with pro-U.S. clients in the former Soviet republics, from Ukraine to Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, and by setting up missile "defense" systems in Poland and the Czech Republic that are intended for the Russians, but are justified by the bogus threats posed by Iran's missiles and its nonexistent nuclear weapons program.
Recognition, over strong and angry objection by Russia, of Kosovo as an independent state. I suppose so long as such unstable mini-states as Kosovo are clients of the U.S., their Islamic identity poses no problem to the neoconservatives. Most other Muslims, such as those in Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq are considered dangerous.
But perhaps the most important element has to do with the control of the routes for transporting oil and gas from Central Asia and the Caucasus region to international markets and, in particular, to Western Europe. If the U.S., pressured by the Israel lobby, had not pushed for bypassing Iran, we would have perhaps been in a different situation than what we have now between Georgia and Russia, with all of its geopolitical implications.
While many have written about the causes and consequences of the war, little emphasis has been put on the role that the U.S. government's failed policy toward Iran has played in this rapidly developing situation.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and the three independent countries that emerged on the shores of the Caspian Sea, namely, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, declared that they would respect all the old international and bilateral treaties that the Soviet Union had signed. Crucial among them were two friendship treaties that had been signed by Iran and the Soviet Union in 1921 and 1940. An article in both treaties stated, "No country can take unilateral action regarding the Caspian Sea." Therefore, the five countries of the Caspian area, particularly Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, could not unilaterally decide what to do about the resources of the Caspian Sea without the consent of the other countries.
Even aside from the old Iran-Soviet treaties that Russia accepted legal responsibility for after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fact is that, according to all the international treaties, so long as a territory is in dispute, no country can take unilateral action regarding its resources and riches. A good example is the dispute between Iran and Kuwait over the Dorra gas fields in the northern Persian Gulf. Both countries have avoided any action toward developing the fields, waiting for their final status to be negotiated. But, supported by the U.S., Azerbaijan and later Kazakhstan took unilateral actions and contracted out disputed oil and gas fields. Compare this with a similar situation, the dispute between Iran and Qatar in the Persian Gulf over the giant South Pars gas field (the largest in the world). Iran, the "pariah" nation, did no work on the gas field until negotiations between the two countries resulted in a framework for the field's development. Each country is now developing its own sector.
But that was not the end of the U.S. meddling in the affairs of that region, particularly its wrong-headed policy toward Iran. Equally important is how to transport the oil and gas from that region to the international markets. The issue has remained politically charged, contributing much to the war between Russia and Georgia.
There are several foreign-operated oil fields in the Caucasus region and Central Asia. The oil from the ChevronTexaco-operated field of Tengiz in Kazakhstan is transported through a pipeline north into Russia and by rail west to the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi. A second line was built by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium to Novorossiisk in Russia on the Black Sea.
The Kashagan oil field in northeast Caspian is the largest of them all, but it is still being developed. In the southern Caspian, oil from the British Petroleum-operated field of Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli in the Caspian Sea has been producing several hundred thousand barrels of oil per day.
The most economical way of transporting all that oil is by pipelines through Iran. For example, the Kazakh government drafted a framework agreement for construction of an oil pipeline from the Tengiz field to Belek on the eastern coast of the Caspian and from there to the Iranian port of Khark, on the Persian Gulf. The pipeline was supposed to pass through Tehran, Qom, and Esfahan. The estimated cost for the 900-mile pipeline was only .2 billion. But, the U.S. strongly opposed this, and, as a result, the Tengiz oil is transported through routes that cost much more.
The French oil firm TotalFinaElf, with support from the National Iranian Oil Company, studied a pipeline that would take crude oil from Kashagan across the Caspian to the Iranian border. From there another pipeline was supposed to be built to transport the Kazakh oil across Iran to its Persian Gulf export terminals. The Russian pipeline operator, Transneft, and its Kazakh counterpart, KazTransOil, also carried out a feasibility study for developing a pipeline to Iran in order to link Omsk, in Siberia, with Iran's port Neka on the Caspian Sea. That pipeline would have allowed Russian, Turkmen, and Kazakh crude oil to be swapped for Iranian oil in its terminals on the Persian Gulf. Although some oil-swapping does take place between Iran and the Central Asian countries, U.S. opposition and pressure have prevented the pipeline from becoming a reality.
But the most contentious issue was about transporting Azerbaijan's oil to international market. All that had to be done was the construction of a pipeline from Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, to the Iranian border, a short distance away. From there, an Iranian pipeline, when upgraded, could have taken the oil to the Persian Gulf terminals. But the U.S., pressured by the Israel lobby, opposed this pipeline. Israel wanted to reward Turkey for having established close diplomatic and military relationships with it. Therefore, its lobby went to work in Washington to advocate an alternative route through Turkey.
The result is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline that connects the Sangachal Terminal in Baku to the Marine Terminal in the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, a 1,100-mile pipeline, 155 miles of which passes through Georgia. It was built at a cost of billion and was officially inaugurated on May 25, 2005.
The Baku-Tehran-Khark (BTK) pipeline could have been constructed at a fraction of the cost of the BTC pipeline. Another great advantage of the BTK pipeline would have been the fact that it would have passed through the politically stable Iran, whereas the BTC pipeline passes not only through Georgia, but also through the restive Kurdish areas of Turkey. The entire pipeline requires constant guarding in order to prevent sabotage. On Aug. 6, 2008, the pipeline was shut off by a major explosion and fire in the eastern Turkish province of Erzincan. The Kurdistan Workers Party took responsibility for the attack. The vulnerability of the Georgian portion of the BTC pipeline was also manifestly demonstrated when Russia bombed the areas around the pipeline's route in Georgia, just to send the "proper" message to the West.
One bogus justification for the construction of the costly BTC pipeline was that it would transport oil from several large Azeri oil fields to international markets, totaling 1 million barrels/day, without involving Iran or Russia. That has not happened. The Kurdashi field did not live up to the Italian oil firm Agip's expectations. TotalFinaElf failed to find any significant oil in the Lenkoran-Talysh field, and ExxonMobil could not find any oil in its Oguz and Zafar-Mashal concessions. Chevron's work yielded only lackluster results in its Absheron field. These failures would have made the BTK pipeline even more economical.
But all such advantages of the BTK pipeline were set aside. Instead a political pipeline was built, just to satisfy the Israel lobby. Its construction was also accompanied by numerous violations of human rights by both the Azeri and Turkish governments, which have been documented in the Czech documentary film Zdroj ("Source") and by Kurdish human rights activists.
But the U.S., following Israel's lead, was not yet done with its blind opposition to Iran's participation in the oil and natural gas market of the Caucasus and Central Asian regions, which would have made negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program more susceptible to success. The U.S. even pressured Kazakhstan to build a trans-Caspian pipeline from the Kazakh port of Aktau to Baku, in order to connect the Kashagan's oil to the BTC pipeline, which would have been a gigantic environmental disaster waiting to happen. But Russian and Iranian opposition killed that project.
Thus, had the U.S. not decided that, in order to isolate Iran to appease the Israel lobby, it would make a minor nation like Georgia the cornerstone of its policy in the Caucasus/Central Asia region; had the U.S. not demonized Iran, creating "threats" from its nonexistent nuclear weapon program to justify what it does in Europe against Russia; and had the U.S. agreed to economical oil pipelines through Iran, not a political one through unstable, war-torn regions in Georgia and Turkey, the Georgia-Russia war would not have seemed as significant, and the U.S. and NATO would not have looked so impotent. In fact, the war might not have happened at all.
But this is what happens when our foreign policy is held hostage by a foreign nation and its lobby.
Two Morons: Bush and Saakashvili
"President Bush, Will You Please Shut Up?"
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
The neoconned Bush Regime and the Israeli-occupied American media are heading the innocent world toward nuclear war.
Back in the Reagan years the National Endowment for Democracy was created as a cold war tool. Today the NED is a neocon-controlled agent for US world hegemony. Its main function is to pour US money and election-rigging into former constituent parts of the Soviet Union in order to ring Russia with American puppet states.
The neoconservative Bush Regime used the NED to intervene in Ukrainian and Georgian internal affairs in keeping with the neoconservative plan to establish US-friendly and Russia-hostile political regimes in these two former constituent parts of Russia and the Soviet Union.
The NED was also used to dismember the former Yugoslavia with its interventions in Slovakia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, told the Washington Post in 1991 that much of what the NED does “today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”
The Bush Regime, having established a puppet, Mikhail Saakashvili, as president of Georgia, tried to bring Georgia into NATO.
For readers too young to know, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a military alliance between the US and Western European countries to resist any Soviet move into Western Europe [and to ensure European countries lined up behind the US, and bought its weapons systems. Editors] . There has been no reason for NATO since the Soviet Union’s internal political collapse almost two decades ago. The neocons turned NATO into another tool, like the NED, for US world hegemony. Subsequent US administrations violated the understandings that President Reagan had reached with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, and have incorporated former parts of the Soviet empire into NATO. The neocon goal of ringing Russia with a hostile military alliance has been proclaimed many times.
Western European members of NATO balked at the admission of Georgia, as they understood it as a provocative affront to Russia, on whom Western Europe is dependent for natural gas. Western Europeans are also disturbed at the Bush Regime’s intentions to install ballistic missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic as the consequence will be Russian nuclear cruise missiles targeted on European capitals. Europeans don’t see the advantage of helping the US block Russian nuclear retaliation against the US at the expense of their own existence. Ballistic missile defenses are not useful against cruise missiles.
Every country is tired of war except for the US. War, including nuclear war, is the neoconservative strategy for world hegemony.
The entire world, except for Americans, knows that the outbreak of armed conflict between Russian and Georgian forces in South Ossetia was entirely due to the US and its Georgia puppet, Saakashvili. Americans, alone in the world, are unaware that the hostilities were initiated by Saakashvili, because Bush, Cheney and the Israeli-occupied American media have again lied to them.
Everyone else in the world knows that the unstable and corrupt Saakashvili, who proclaims democracy and runs a police state, would not have taken on Russia by attacking South Ossetia unless given the go-ahead by Washington.
The purpose of the Georgian attack on the Russian population of South Ossetia is twofold:
To convince Europeans that their action in delaying Georgia’s NATO membership is the cause of “the Russian aggression” and that to save Georgia from conquest Georgia must be given NATO membership.
To ethnically cleanse South Ossetia of its Russian population. Two thousand Russian civilians were targeted and killed by the US-equipped and trained Georgian Army, and tens of thousands fled into Russia. Having achieved this goal, Saakashvili and his puppet-masters in Washington quickly called for a cease fire and a halt to “the Russian invasion.” The hope is that the Russian population will be afraid to return or can be prevented from returning, thus removing the secessionist threat.
No doubt the Bush Regime can con the American population, just as it did with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iranian nukes, and 9/11 itself, but the rest of the world is not buying it, not even America’s bought-and-paid-for European allies.
Writing in the Asia Times, Ambassador M. K. Bhadrakumar, a former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, notes the disinformation that is being peddled by the Bush Regime and the US media and reports that “at the outbreak of violence, Russia had tried to have the United Nations Security Council issue a statement calling on Georgia and South Ossetia to immediately lay down weapons. However, Washington was disinterested.”
Amb. Bhadrakumar notes that the American and Georgian resort to violence and propaganda has brought an end to the Russian government’s belief that diplomacy and good will can bring about a settlement of the South Ossetia issue. If Russia wished, Russia could terminate Georgia’s existence as a separate country at will, and there is nothing the US could do about it.
It is certain that the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia was a Bush Regime orchestrated event. The American media and the neocon think tanks were ready with their propaganda blitzes. Neocons had ready a Wall Street Journal editorial page article for Saakashvili that declares “the war in Georgia is a war for the West.”
Faced with the collapse of his army when Russia sent in troops to protect South Ossetians from the Georgian troops, Saakashvili declared: “This is not about Georgia any more. It is about America, its values.”
The neocon Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., quickly called a conference hosted by warmonger Ariel Cohen, “Urgent! Event: Russian-Georgian War: A Challenge for the U.S. and the World.”
The Washington Post hosted neocon Robert Kagen’s war drums, “Putin Makes His Move.”
Only a fool like Kagen could think that if Putin intended to invade Georgia he would do so from Beijing, or that after sending the American-trained Georgian army in flight, he would not continue and conquer all of Georgia in order to put an end to American machinations on Russia’s most sensitive border, machinations that are likely to eventually end in nuclear war.
The New York Tiimes hosted Billy Kristol’s rant, “Will Russia Get Away With It?” Kristol thunders against “dictatorial and aggressive and fanatical regimes” that “seem happy to work together to weaken the influence of the United States and its democratic allies.” Kristol presents a new axis of evil--Russia, China, North Korea and Iran--and warns against “delay and irresolution” that “simply invite future threats and graver dangers.”
In other words, “attack Russia now.”
Dick Cheney, the insane American Vice President telephoned Saakashvili to express US solidarity with Georgia in the conflict with Russia and declared: “Russian aggression must not go unanswered. Only an idiot would tell Saakashvili anything other than “to cease immediately.”
What must be the effect on US Intelligence services and the US military of Cheney’s propagandistic and irresponsible statement of US support for Georgia’s war crimes? Does anyone really believe that the CIA or any US intelligence service told the vice president that Russia opened the conflict with an invasion? Russian troops arrived in South Ossetia after thousands of Ossetians had been killed by the Georgian attack and after tens of thousands of Ossetians had fled into Russia to escape the Georgian attack. According to news reports, Russian forces have captured Americans who were with the Georgian troops directing their attack on civilians.
The US military certainly has no resources for a war against Russia on top of lost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a planned war with Iran.
With its Georgian venture, the Bush Regime is guilty of a new round of war crimes. What will be the consequence?
Many will reply that having got away with 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, and with its preparations for attacking Iran, the Bush Regime will get away with its Georgian venture as well.
Possibly, however, this time the Bush Regime has overreached.
Certainly Russia now recognizes that the US is determined to exert hegemony over Russia and is Russia’s worst enemy.
China realizes the US threat to its own energy supply and, thereby, economy.
Even America’s European allies, chafing under their role of supplying troops for America’s Empire, must now realize that being an American ally is dangerous and has no benefits. If Georgia becomes a NATO member and renews its attack on South Ossetia, it must drag Europe into a war with Russia, a main supplier of energy to Europe.
Moreover, if Russian troops are sent across European frontiers, there is nothing to stop them.
What does America offer Europe, aside from the millions of dollars it pays to buy off Europe’s political leaders to insure that they betray their own peoples? Nothing whatsoever.
The only military threat that Europe faces comes from being dragged into America’s wars for American hegemony.
The US is financially bankrupt, with budget and trade deficits that exceed the combined deficits of the rest of the world together. The dollar has wilted. The American consumer market is dying from the offshoring of American jobs and, thereby, incomes, and from the wealth effect of the real estate and derivatives collapses. The US has nothing to offer Europe. Indeed, American economic decline is killing European exports by driving up the value of the euro.
America long ago lost the moral high ground. Hypocrisy has become America’s best known hallmark. Bush, the invader of Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis of lies and deception, thunders at Russia for coming to the defense of its peacekeepers and Russian citizens in South Ossetia. Bush who ripped Kosovo out of Serbia’s heart and handed it to the Muslims, has taken an adamant stand against other separatist movements, especially the South Ossetians who wish to be part of the Russian Federation.
The neoconned Bush Regime is furious that the Russian bear was not intimidated by the US supported aggression of the American puppet state, Georgia. Instead of accepting the act of American hegemony that the neocon script called for, Russia sent the Americanized Georgian army fleeing in fear.
Having failed with weapons, the Bush Regime now unleashes the rhetoric. The White House is warning Russia that failure to acquiesce to US hegemony could have a “significant, long-term impact on relations between Washington and Moscow.”
Do the morons who comprise the Bush Regime really not understand that short of a surprise nuclear attack on Russia there is nothing whatsoever the US can do to Moscow?
The Bush Regime owns no Russian currency that it can dump. The Russians own US dollars.
The Bush Regime owns no Russian bonds that it can dump. The Russians own US bonds.
The US can cut Russia off from no energy supplies. Russia can cut America’s European allies off from energy.
President Reagan negotiated the end of the cold war with Soviet President Gorbachev.,The neoconservatives, whom Reagan fired and drove from his administration, were furious. The neocons had hoped to win the cold war, thereby establishing American hegemony.
The Republican Establishment reestablished its hegemony under Bush 1st that it had lost to Ronald Reagan. With this feat, intelligence was driven from the Republican Party.
The neocons engineered their comeback with the First Gulf War and their propaganda, pure lies, that Iraqi troops bayoneted Kuwait babies in hospitals.
The neocons made a further comeback with President Clinton, whom they convinced to bomb Serbia in order to permit separatist movements to become independent states dependent on America.
With Bush 2nd, the neocons took over. Their agenda, American world hegemony, includes Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.
So far the schemes of these ignorant and dangerous ideologues have come a cropper. Iraq, formerly in the hands of secular Sunnis who were a check on Iran, is, after the American invasion and occupation, in the hands of religious Shi’ites allied with Iran.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are resurgent, and a large NATO/US army there is unable to control the situation.
One consequence of the neocons’ Afghan war has been the loss of power of the American puppet president of Pakistan, a Muslim country armed with nuclear weapons. The puppet president now faces impeachment, and the Pakistani military has informed the Americans to stop conducting military operations in Pakistani territory.
The American puppets in Egypt and Jordan might be next to fall.
In Iraq, the Shi’ites, having completed their ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from neighborhoods, have declared a cease fire in order to contradict the US propaganda that American withdrawal would lead to a blood bath. Negotiations on withdrawal dates are now underway between the Americans and the Iraqi government, which is no longer behaving like a puppet.
Last year Hugo Chavez ridiculed Bush before the UN. Russia’s Putin ridiculed Bush as Comrade Wolf.
On August 12, 2008, Pravda ridiculed Bush, “Bush: Why don’t you shut up.”
Americans may think they are a superpower before whose presence the world trembles. But not the Russians.
Those Americans stupid enough to think that America’s “superpower” insures its citizens from danger need to read the total contempt shown for President Bush in Pravda:
Why don’t you shut up? In your statement on Monday regarding the legitimate actions of the Russian Federation in Georgia, you failed to mention the war crimes perpetrated by Georgian military forces, which American advisors support, against Russian and Ossetian civilians
Why don’t you shut up? Your faithful ally, Mikhail Saakashvili, was announcing a ceasefire deal while his troops, with your advisors, were massing on Ossetia’s border, which they crossed under cover of night and destroyed Tskhinvali, targeting civilian structures just like your forces did in Iraq.
Why don’t you shut up? Your American transport aircraft gave a ride home to thousands of Georgian soldiers from Iraq directly into the combat zone.
Why don’t you shut up? How do you account for the fact that among the Georgian soldiers fleeing the fighting yesterday you could clearly hear officers using American English giving orders to “Get back inside” and how do you account for the fact that there are reports of American soldiers among the Georgian casualties?
Why don’t you shut up? Do you really think anyone gives any importance whatsoever to your words after 8 years of your criminal and murderous regime and policies? Do you really believe you have any moral ground whatsoever and do you really imagine there is a single human being anywhere on this planet who does not stick up his middle finger every time you appear on a TV screen?
Do you really believe you have the right to give any opinion or advice after Abu Ghraib? After Guantanamo? After the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens? After the torture by CIA operatives?
Do you really believe you have any right to make a statement on any point of international law after your trumped-up charges against Iraq and the subsequent criminal invasion?
Why don’t you shut up? Suppose Russia for instance declares that Georgia has weapons of mass destruction? And that Russia knows where these WMD are, namely in Tblisi and Poti and north, south, east and west of there? And that it must be true because there is ‘magnificent foreign intelligenc’ such as satellite photos of milk powder factories and baby cereals producing chemical weapons and which are currently being ‘driven around the country in vehicles’? Suppose Russia declares for instance that ‘Saakashvili stiffed the world’ and it is ‘time for regime change’?
Nice and simple, isn’t it, President Bush?
“So, why don’t you shut up? Oh and by the way, send some more of your military advisors to Georgia, they are doing a sterling job. And they look all funny down the night sight, all green.”
The US is not a superpower. It is a bankrupt farce run by imbeciles who were installed by stolen elections arranged by Karl Rove and Diebold. It is a laughing stock, that ignorantly affronts and attempts to bully an enormous country equipped with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com
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