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America's High Stakes Gamble with Russia

Politics / New Cold War Sep 02, 2008 - 03:55 AM GMT

By: Stephen_Lendman

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticlePrior to entering WW II, US strategists had a clear aim in mind at its conclusion - to hold unchallengeable power in a new post-war global system: military, economic and political in a "Grand Area" encompassing the West and Far East. Essentially most parts outside the communist bloc and exploiting it under disarming rhetoric like being "selfless advocates of freedom for colonial peoples (and an) enemy of imperialism." Championing "world peace (also) through multinational control."

Today, the facade is gone, and no pretense remains about much "grander" plans - over an "Area" comprising planet earth with "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any potential challengers with all weapons in our arsenal, including nuclear and others of mass destruction.

One nation above others is an obstacle - Russia. It's powerful and can't be intimidated like most others. It's also dominant where Washington wants control - the Eurasian vastness with its huge oil, gas and other resources. For years, American sought dominance over it. Saw an opening when the Soviet Union dissolved. And one way or other seeks to get it. Russia has other plans, so therein lies the root of the current conflict using Georgia as a US proxy to instigate it.

Beating up on Russia is now fair game. Moscow, for its part, won't back off, so clear lines are drawn for protracted confrontation in a very high risk gamble for both sides. Russia prefers diplomacy to conflict and seeks alliances with the West and its neighbors. America wants conquest, and look at the stakes. An area from roughly Germany in the West to the Pacific rim. Encompassing Russia, China, the Middle East, and Asian sub-continent. Including about three-fourths of the world's population and an equal amount of its energy resources. Most of its physical wealth overall and its GDP. No small prize, and America intends to secure it. Russia stands in the way. It controls its own part and influences much of the rest. Welcome to the new Cold War and new Great Game.

It's only round one, but its roots go back to earlier US efforts to ally with former Soviet Republics. Encircle Russia with military bases and station offensive missiles and advanced tracking radar on its borders. Then Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 7. Washington orchestrated the aggression. Russia counterattacked after artillery fire killed 15 or more of its peacekeepers, and partially destroyed their headquarters. The entire Tskhinvali capital as well, a civilian target of no military consequence. Border villages were burnt to the ground. Atrocities committed. Malicious attacks against non-combatants. Western media portrayed the aggressor as victim. The same game it always plays - so far with faint letup, save for the heavy Democrat and Republican conventions coverage getting top billing.

The Caucacus (hot) conflict has now ebbed. Russia controls things on the ground. In full compliance with the Sarkozy-brokered peace, according to Foreign Minister Lavrov. All six points of its original version. They include:

-- renouncing the use of force;

-- halting all military action;

-- providing free access for humanitarian aid;

-- the return of Georgian forces to their bases;

-- Russian forces to their pre-conflict positions; and

-- engaging in international discussions on South Ossetian and Abkhazian future status to ensure their security.

Afterwards, Georgian president Saakashvili reneged by unilaterally amending the original agreement. It bears no relation to what Moscow signed. A deliberately confrontational act. Surely directed from Washington. Sharp western criticism followed and ignited the old Cold War blame the Russians game that both surprised and angered the Kremlin.

Its leadership isn't about to roll over. On August 26, it backed South Ossetian and Abkazian independence and their protection from further Georgian aggression. The populations of both provinces overwhelmingly approve. On August 27, Georgia, in response, withdrew all but two lower level officials from Moscow. On August 29, its parliament supported a resolution to sever diplomatic relations and cancel agreements allowing Russian peacekeepers to remain in both provinces. Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Head, Konstantin Kosachev, called the action "regrettable" but said its impact on Russia won't be negative. Until August 29, Russia retained its full Tbilisi staff and said maintaining ties are vital.

According to The New York Times on August 29, that's now changed after Georgia made it official - breaking diplomatic ties with Russia and Moscow responding in kind. Both countries will retain their consular offices but further political relations will be handled by intermediaries. The move doesn't prevent both countries' officials from meeting in neutral territory.

On August 30, RIA Novesti reported two other developments as well. According to Georgia's reintegration minister, Temur Yakobashvili, that Tbilisi "was formally pulling out of a (May 14) 1994 UN-approved (Abkhazia and Georgia) agreement....on a ceasefire and separation of forces." It followed Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. Earlier on August 12, Georgian president Saakashvili announced that his country was withdrawing from the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of former Soviet republics.

RIA Novesti's other report was a slap in the face to Georgia. That the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has evidence about "numerous wrong decisions" Georgian leaders made leading up to the Caucasus crisis - according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. It cited "detailed (Georgian) planning to move into South Ossetia" and backed Russian claims that "the Georgian offensive was already in full swing by the time Russian troops and armored vehicles entered the Roksky Tunnel (bordering Russia and South Ossetia) to protect its peacekeepers and the civilian population." OSCE's report went further as well citing "suspected war crimes committed by Georgians, who ordered attacks on sleeping South Ossetian civilians."

On August 29, Russia Today reported that South Ossetia's acting parliament chairman, Tarzan Kokoity, announced a deal to host Russian military bases as early as September 2. In addition, two others may be reactivated on their former Abkhazian sites. However, on the same date, the online service also said that Russian Foreign Ministry officials denied such a deal. Only that Russia is "currently working on a cooperation (arrangement) with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but it's too early to assess where this may lead." An agreement is expected to be signed on September 2.

Diplomatic jousting continues as EU leaders weigh further responses and their relations with Russia going forward. For its part, Russia is in no mood to stand idle and is surely mindful of Barak Obama's convention speech threat to "curb Russian aggression."

Heated Rhetoric Instead of Hot Conflict

A war of words replaced hot conflict on the ground. Unfair condemnation and heated rhetoric. Western nations on board with Washington. Some like the UK more than others. The corporate media trumpeting approval. Spewing venom and agitprop. Their specialty and what they're good at. Keeping their audiences uninformed. Their accustomed role. No longer even pretending to report legitimately.

For his part, President Medvedev stood firm and said: "We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War, but we don't want one, and in this situation everything depends on the positions of our partners."

In New York Times and UK Financial Times August 26 op-eds, he explained his decision to sign Decrees to recognize South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence and "call(ed) on other states to follow (his) example." Seeing early warning signs, he tried to dissuade Georgia from using force. He called Georgian president Saakashvili a "madman" for "tak(ing) such a gamble." He explained that Russia had no other option than to respond. To save lives "not in a war of our choice. We have no designs on Georgian territory."

Russia struck bases from which attacks were "launched and then left. We restored the peace but could not calm the fears and aspirations of the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples." To aid them and the requests of their presidents, "I signed a decree" to recognize their independence." He also referred to Russia's "historic friendship and sympathy" for Georgians and said he hopes "one day (they will) have leaders they deserve, who care about their country and who develop mutually respectful relations with all the peoples in the Caucasus. Russia is ready to support the achievement of such a goal."

On August 31, Itar Tass reported that Medvedev "spell(ed) out five principles of Russian foreign policy in a televised interview:

-- the supremacy of international legal fundamentals that define relations between civilized nations;

-- the importance of a multi-polar world - not one in which one nation decides for all others;

-- confrontation with no other country, and Russia will work toward "friendly relations with Europe, the United States and other countries of the world;"

-- an "absolute priority" of protecting life and dignity of Russian citizens "no matter where they live....aggression will be deterred; and

-- like other countries, "Russia has areas of privileged interests....countries to which we are linked with friendly ties," and not only with neighboring states.

Medvedev added that diplomatic relations going forward would depend not just on Russia but also "on our friends, partners and the international community at large. They have a choice."

On August 28, Prime Minister Putin had his say. Was outspoken in a CNN interview, and accused the Bush administration of failing to keep Georgia from attacking South Ossetia. This, he said, damaged bilateral relations. He suggested a possible darker motive as well: "....that someone in the United States created this conflict on purpose to stir up the situation and create an advantage for one of the (presidential) candidates. They needed a small victorious war" - a clear reference to John McCain although he didn't say.

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