Russia Strikes Back

After a long time being used as a leverage to extract greater concessions from Russia, finally on August 14, 2008 with great fanfare and at a much higher price, Poland conceded to letting the U.S. use part of its territory for establishing a sizeable military base in northern Poland run by American military personnel and armed with 10 U.S. global interceptor rockets. Among the most crucial factors that spurned the binding of the agreement at this moment in time were the extremely tense relations between Russia and the U.S. over the crisis in Georgia, which in turn motivated Washington to upgrade the terms of the deal with Poland. Apparently the White House was in such a hurry in the early days of the Georgian crisis to wrest the Polish accord that it was ready to pay practically any price to entice the pro-imperialist Polish ruling elite.

In addition to agreeing to pay a considerable amount of hard cash annually and equip and train the Polish armed forces, Washington made a commitment to provide Warsaw with the costly patriot missiles as well. Hopefully, no one with a rational mind will deny, except perhaps the warlords of the Pentagon, that the deal would give rise, once again, to a new round of an arms race and a renewed and long period of cold war.

For so many years, consecutive U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and their allies in NATO have hypocritically, mainly for the sake of public relations, tried to lull the world community, including former President Vladimir Putin and current President Dimitri Medvedov, that placing some elements of a U.S. missile shield system close to Russia’s border is to intercept hypothetical missile attacks by Iran or other so-called “rogue” nations against the European continent. Events in Georgia have made clearer who the real target is.

NATO without Borders

In the last 17 years, after the collapse of the Soviet system, the U.S. and its allies in the NATO alliance have shown their intent to weaken Russia, have easy access to the former republics of the bygone Soviet Union and the region’s vast oil and gas resources. First the U.S. has proven, through its plans of placing missile shields on every border of Russia, that it will not accept a buffer (demilitarized) zone between Russia’s border and the boundary lines of the NATO countries. Two decades ago, one of the crucial conditions for the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact was that NATO would not attempt to move eastward and recruit the eastern European countries that had been part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) into NATO. Both the United States and the European Union reneged on their promises, and have persistently, through interferences in the national and regional elections of those countries, transfer of weapons and weapons systems, military trainings of their armed forces, and their military involvement in assisting the U.S. to carry out the Iraq war, have de-facto integrated the region up to the borders of Russia into the NATO alliance.

The Georgian major offensive against the people of Ossetia was planned long before the day of its execution. The active involvement of American, French, Israeli and German military instructors (advisors) in Georgia’s war preparation was admitted by President Saakashvili when lately he tried to prove that the involvement of foreign military trainers was not limited to Israeli advisors. In response to Israel’s foreign policy of military alignment with NATO, Russia’s Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn condemned Israel for its role in supplying Georgian military forces with sophisticated weapons and elite training.

Therefore, it is quite understandable why the Russian people and its leadership are concerned about the security of their country and have strongly responded to Georgia’s attack on Ossetia and the Russian Peacekeepers located there. As long as the U.S. and NATO have not given up their plans for dismembering Russia, and undermining its political system, as they did to Yugoslavia, they should not expect Russia to lay down its arms and ignore the plans of the U.S, a country located 1,000’s of miles from Eurasia.

U.S.: Partner or Adversary?

Having gone through the bitter experience of the results of the U.S. policies towards post cold- war Russia, the Kremlin knew well that the true target of those missiles would always be Russia, and perhaps China in the not-so-distant future, along with all those countries that the U.S. has threatened with sanctions and war around the world.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet system, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantlement of the Warsaw Pact, the U.S. in countless ways has supported the separatist movement in Chechnya, channeled financial and political backings to groups of oligarchs who had taken over the immense industrial, mining and financial sectors of Russia at fire-sale prices, and were also in the fraudulent business of draining Russia’s financial wealth through transferring it to U.S. and European banks and lately the U.S.-U.K. design of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceylon oil pipeline that unalterably made sure it by-passed Russia by passing through Georgia, even at a higher cost of construction and maintenance, with the intention of bringing Georgia into NATO’s fold. It is important to note that just a few years ago, the U.S. and its European allies were funding 24000 groups of domestic and foreign NGO’s whose main tasks were to undermine the authority of the Russian government and promote U.S. foreign policies. Obviously, it is not the security or welfare of these nations that the U.S. is concerned about. For the West, Ukraine is important because of its size and its strategic location at the Black Sea with its ample accessibility to the Russian mainland, and Georgia is vital, again, because of its location connecting Azerbaijan and the Caspian Basin’s oil and gas reserves to Turkey, Israel, and Europe.

By their actions in South Ossetia, the U.S. and Georgia have made clear that their long-range objective is to expand NATO’s military influence and turn the buffer zone into a hostile camp against both Russia and Iran. Without a slightest doubt, the U.S. and E.U.’s plan to redraw the boundary lines of NATO and take it to the doorstep of Russia, are meeting fierce resistance.

It was in reference to the hostile U.S. behavior that after the American-Polish conclusion of the missile contract, Dimitri Rogozin, Russia’s NATO envoy pointedly said “The fact that this was signed in a period of very difficult crisis in relations between Russia and the United States over the situation in Georgia shows that, of course, the missile defense system will be deployed not against Iran but against the strategic potential of Russia.”

The contemporary history, particularly the events in the last two decades, shows that Russia has been abused by the U.S. and Western powers in general. It has been only since the year 2000 that Russia, under the leadership of former President Putin, has been able to reassert control of its destiny, improve its socio-economic conditions and devise its independent foreign policies. From that year on, the governments of the developed capitalist countries along with an army of corporate media began characterizing the Russian leadership as “autocratic” and “a violator of human rights”, and finally, of being a supporter of ‘rogue states’ in the Third World countries, such as Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Zimbabwe and especially the national liberation movement of Palestine, led by Hamas. At the behest of the U.S. administration, the U.S. corporate media began to liken Putin to the Tsar and painted the Kremlin as the new headquarters of the old KGB. Yet all of this has not been able to stymie the vibrant Russian economy that attracts the attention and capital investment of countless industrial enterprises and Western mutual funds.

Split in Nato

During the 26-nation NATO summit in April 2008 in Bucharest, a split between the governments of the European Union (EU) and their American friend emerged. In that meeting the U.S. pressed the Europeans to admit Georgia and Ukraine as full members of the alliance. But the members of the military pact decided to table the issue for the time being and thereby avoid provoking Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, was in attendance.

By advocating Georgia’s membership into NATO, while no doubt cognizant of the Georgian plan of attack on South Ossetia (whose population is partly Russian) four months later, Washington intended to make it difficult for Moscow to hinder the Georgian invasion and assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of Ossetia. In the Bucharest summit the European leaders were rather mindful of doing all sorts of business with Russia and enjoying the supply of much more reliable sources of energy, including oil and gas, than being dragged into an endless war of the U.S. empire. Obviously Europe does not wish to approve membership of those countries into NATO when their intent of joining the alliance is to drag Europe or the US. into wars with Russia. Washington, still trapped in the grips of retardation and indolence, knows only one way and that is falling back on the neo-conservative ideological rhetoric and the “bad days” of the cold war. The U.S. is unhappy about the situation where the European Union acts independently and Washington makes very effort to pressure the “old Europe” to be militarily more assertive, by showing greater military participation in the war in Afghanistan and being less pro-dialogue and more hawkish towards Iran and China. The U.S. was not pleased that the European Union, represented by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, took the first initiative in drafting a 4-point cease-fire agreement without consultation with the head of the empire in Washington, and presenting it to the Russian President Dimitri Medvedov for negotiation, out of which came a 6-point negotiated settlement that forgot to mention the principle of Georgian sovereignty.

The divide in NATO with regards to a cease-fire and the status of the Russian troops in northern Georgia became more transparent when the draft presented to an emergency UN Security Council meeting on August 19, 2008, differed from the original 6-point document which was agreed upon in the talks between Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy a few days earlier. The new proposal did not make provision for the “additional security measures” stated in the original document, said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN Ambassador.

No doubt the Europeans did not want to jump into the fray initiated by the U.S. and its puppet regime of Saakashvili. The U.S. expects to act not through the means of diplomacy and peace-keeping plans, but by roaring missiles and jet fighters, if not yet by mushroom clouds. “If Europeans are not willing to engage through NATO,” writes John R. Bolton, infamous former U.S. representative to the United Nations, “that tells us everything we need to know about the true state of health of what is, after all, supposedly a ‘North Atlantic’ alliance.”

Hired Guns

The United States, like all self-appointed empires in history, habitually tends to over-reach its actual or even potential capabilities, and consequently finds itself in need of other nation’s resources and manpower to fight its continual wars of conquest. In return, these imperialist powers dole out blood money and promises of protection, which usually does not materialize.

Georgia under the autocratic and corrupt rule of Mikheil Saakashvili, is a case in point. In December 2003, the CIA joined with endless networks of semi-private foundations and the so-called NGO’s financed also by the American billionaire George Soros, carried out a mob coup and pushed out the Georgian President Edward Shevardnadze, installed the Western-exported government of Saakashvili and named the “regime change” the “Rose Revolution.” Soon the rulers in Tbilisi, drunk with their newly found power and wealth readily gave into the demand of President George W. Bush and rushed thousands of Georgian troops, their third largest military force after the U.S. and Britain, to Iraq to join the occupation armies in their business of slaughter, torture and rape of the people and nation of Iraq.

It is astonishing to know that the territory of Georgia covers less than 27,000 square miles, which is less than one-half of the area of New York State. Furthermore, Georgia’s population does not exceed 4.4 million, which is about one-fourth of the New York State’s population. The question must be posed that why such a tiny state should deploy its youth to fight Iraqis who have done no harm to the Georgian people, thousands of miles away? The only answer could be that President Saakashvili was paying back Washington for his seat of the presidency and also in exchange for the windfall wealth and the military hardware and training that his armed forces received from the American and Israeli troops based in Tbilisi. So much for the sovereignty and independence of Georgia that George Bush is so fond of reminding the international community.

Obstacles to Russia’s WTO Accession

Russia, the only major economy outside the World Trade Organization (WTO), has been seeking membership in the organization since 1993, i.e., 15 years ago. The structural form of the organization is such that sixty-two countries belong to what is called the Working Party on Russia’s WTO accession. Each of the 62 has the right to sign individual, bilateral agreements with Russia before granting their approval for providing membership. Once all of them have done so, the 149 countries that belong to the WTO can collectively decide whether to accept a new member into its ranks. By June 2008, Moscow had concluded bilateral talks with over 60 states, but still needed to complete discussions with two WTO members: Georgia and Ukraine.

On June 14, 2006, Yury Isakov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special G8 representative, said, “We are on the eve of entering that entity (the WTO). And if my memory and information is correct, the only country with uncompleted process of bilateral negotiations is the United States.”

On the other hand Georgia with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $20.5 billion purchasing power parity in June 2008, two months prior to the recent Tbilisi-Ossetia crisis, was threatening to block Russia, with $2.088 trillion GDP, i.e., 101 times greater than Georgia’s from entering the WTO, unless Moscow halts support for its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Ossetia. As it could be easily discerned the background of the Georgian military attack on August 7, 2008, against the population of the province of Ossetia and consequently the Russian military intervention for stopping the aggression and further bloodshed was deeply rooted in the U.S.-EU’s ambitions of expanding the 26-nation NATO far into the front yard of Russia, the U.S. plan of planting dozens of missiles at the doorstep of Moscow and the U.S.-Georgian authoritarian rules of blocking Russia from access to the World Trade Organization.

As recently as June 13, 2008, U.S. Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, said that Russian membership in the World Trade Organization is “not near.” He added that “We’ve worked with Russia in terms of the WTO accession and they still have a way to go…They still have some work to do before they get to it.”

Despite all the posturing and finger pointing by President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the U.S. has little leverage over Russia, except for the purpose of backing Senator John McCain and influencing the U.S. presidential election, what else could the U.S. or NATO do to reverse the Russian resistance that has exposed the weakness of U.S. imperialism, its European allies, and the NATO Alliance?

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