Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

Liquidating the Empire

October 14, 2008
by Patrick J. Buchanan | Antiwar, Oct 14, 2008

“Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers.”

So Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon advised Herbert Hoover in the Great Crash of ’29.

Hoover did. And the nation liquidated him – and the Republicans.

In the Crash of 2008, 40 percent of stock value has vanished, almost $9 trillion. Some $5 trillion in real estate value has disappeared. A recession looms with sweeping layoffs, unemployment compensation surging, and social welfare benefits soaring.

America’s first trillion-dollar deficit is at hand.

In fiscal year 2008 the deficit was $438 billion.

With tax revenue sinking, we will add to this year’s deficit the $200 to $300 billion needed to wipe the rotten paper off the books of Fannie and Freddie, the $700 billion (plus the $100 billion in add-ons and pork) for the Wall Street bailout, the $85 billion to bail out AIG, and $37 billion more now needed, the $25 billion for GM, Chrysler, and Ford, and the hundreds of billions Hank Paulson will need to buy corporate paper and bail out banks to stop the panic.

As Americans save nothing, where are the Feds going to get the money? Is the Fed going to print it and destroy the dollar and credit rating of the United States? Because the nations whose vaults are full of dollars and U.S. debt – China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arabs – are reluctant to lend us more. Sovereign wealth funds that plunged billions into U.S. banks have already been burned.

Uncle Sam’s Visa card is about to be stamped “Canceled.”

The budget is going to have to go under the knife. But what gets cut?

Social Security and Medicare are surely exempt. Seniors have already taken a huge hit in their 401(k)s. And as the Democrats are crafting another $150 billion stimulus package for the working poor and middle class, Medicaid and food stamps are untouchable. Interest on the debt cannot be cut. It is going up. Will a Democratic Congress slash unemployment benefits, welfare, education, student loans, veterans benefits – in a recession?

No way. Yet, that is almost the entire U.S. budget – except for defense, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and foreign aid. And this is where the ax will eventually fall.

It is the American Empire that is going to be liquidated.

Retrenchment has begun with Bush’s backing away from confrontations with Axis-of-Evil charter members Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, and will likely continue with a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus and Secretary Gates are already talking “reconciliation” with the Taliban.

We no longer live in Eisenhower or Reagan’s America. Even the post-Cold War world of George H. W. Bush, where America was a global hegemon, is history. In both relative and real terms, the U.S.A. is a diminished power.

Where Ike spent 9 percent of GDP on defense, Reagan 6 percent, we spend 4 percent. Yet we have two wars bleeding us and many more nations to defend, with commitments in the Baltic, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans we did not have in the Cold War. As U.S. weapons systems are many times more expensive today, we have fewer strategic aircraft and Navy ships than Ike or Reagan commanded. Our active-duty Army and Marine Corps consist of 700,000 troops, 15 percent women, and a far higher percentage of them support rather than combat troops.

With so few legions, we cannot police the world, and we cannot afford more. Yet, we have a host of newly hostile nations we did not have in 1989.

U.S. interests in Latin America are being challenged not only by Cuba, but Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Brazil, Argentina, and Chile go their own way. Russia is reasserting hegemony in the Caucasus, testing new ICBMs, running bomber probes up to U.S. air space. China, growing at 10 percent as we head into recession, is bristling over U.S. military sales to Taiwan. Iran remains defiant. Pakistan is rife with anti-Americanism and al-Qaeda sentiment.

The American Empire has become a vast extravagance.

With U.S. markets crashing and wealth vanishing, what are we doing with 750 bases and troops in over 100 countries?

With a recession of unknown depth and duration looming, why keep borrowing billions from rich Arabs to defend rich Europeans, or billions from China and Japan to hand out in Millennium Challenge Grants to Tanzania and Burkina Faso?

America needs a bottom-up review of all strategic commitments dating to a Cold War now over for 20 years.

Is it essential to keep 30,000 troops in a South Korea with twice the population and 40 times the wealth of the North? Why are McCain and Obama offering NATO memberships, i.e., war guarantees against Russia, to a Georgia run by a hothead like Mikheil Saakashvili, and a Ukraine, millions of whose people prefer their kinship to Russia to an alliance with us?

We must put “country first,” says John McCain.

Right you are, Senator. Time to look out for America first.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Violations of Sovereignty

September 27, 2008

U.S. Raids on Pakistan

By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | Counterpunch, Sep 26, 2008

Henry Kissinger was no amateur when it came to illegally bombing and invading countries that he and the evil President Nixon considered did not meet American requirements of unconditional servility, but even he must be intrigued about the latest antics of Washington’s finest. The vice president of the United States, a charmless and despotic bully, and his president, he of the close-set eyeballs and pretensions to dignity, recently excelled themselves in self-delusion concerning their unlawful invasion of Iraq and their fury with nations whose governments fail to toe the Washington line.

In their latest spasm of bizarre fantasy both Bush and Cheney condemned Russia for its military reply to Georgia’s merciless rocketing of South Ossetia and the killing of scores of its citizens. There is no doubt that Russia had been waiting for an opportunity to teach Georgia a lesson for its treatment of Russian-origin inhabitants of the enclave, and when the US-educated, US-supported Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, was so stupid as to send in troops following his slaughter of civilians, the Russians gave them a hiding. In spite of all the training they received over the past five years from US instructors, and the generous amounts of equipment they acquired, they fled the Russian advance. But Washington intends to have Georgia continue as a US-supporting military base area along Russia’s border, and in order to emphasize its anti-Russian stance Washington arranged for NATO to hold a high level meeting in Georgia last week (which, it was claimed, was planned “a long time ago.”).

As usual, rather than trying to engage Russia through diplomacy, Washington chose confrontation. And this is where the funny bit is, because Cheney declared that “We believe in the right of men and women to live without the threat of tyranny, economic blackmail or military invasion or intimidation.”

It is difficult to believe that the man was being serious, but there was no shade of irony in his delivery. He believed what he was saying, while ignoring the fact that the US has manipulated the UN to impose savage sanctions (economic blackmail) on countries that don’t toe the US line. Of even more importance he ignored the fact that only a few days before his pronouncement there had been gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US when its troop s crossed Pakistan’s border and killed civilians. The people of North West Frontier Province – the people of Pakistan – suffered “military invasion and intimidation.”

Last month Bush declared that “We insist that Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected” which might have been a fairly good point to make were it not for the fact that he has no respect for the sovereignty or territorial integrity of any country when criminal violation suits his purpose. The illegal cowboy foray into Pakistan was not denied by Washington; it was merely ignored with that degree of would-be-majestic superiority that is the hallmark of colossal colonial arrogance. Associated Press reported that “a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan said it had “no information to give” about the alleged operation, while a spokesman for NATO troops denied any involvement. The US embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.” No surprises there.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Americans that the blitz conducted by their troops resulted in the deaths of six women and two children, citizens of Pakistan. There has been no indication of regret or sympathy ; not a shred of remorse for killing children. For how long can the non-American world tolerate this sort of barbaric malevolence? In America it doesn’t matter, because ‘Support Our Troops!’ is the American mantra, especially in election year, and if a US citizen doesn’t wave the flag and say that American troops are wonderful, even when killing kids in Pakistan, then they are regarded as unpatriotic, which is a dreadful crime.

To justify the slaughter the usual highly-placed anonymous US official told the New York Times that “The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable. We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued.”

You can hear the Hitlerian resonance in this, straight from Cheney and Bush. It has hideous echoes of “My patience is exhausted,” before Fascist Germany invaded its neighbors – and of the justification that “Befehl ist Befehl” : “an order is an order,” as the Gestapo herded terrified women and children into concentration camps and then to gas chambers. (In fact some of the victims in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp would welcome death by gassing, it being preferable to the vicious torture they are undergoing.) The American attitude, under Bush, is one of intolerance and macho contempt for any who dare to display independence. “We have to be more assertive” is a chilling declaration of what motivates the Washington administration. It is unlikely to change, irrespective of who is the next president.

President Zardari of Pakistan showed considerable courage last week when he said that “We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism,” if only because we have learned what happens to presidents and countries who offend the mighty empire. Pakistan has been dumped before by America. It appears that it is important for the moment, but neither sovereignty not diplomacy are of concern to Washington. Pakistan’s government had better be very careful.

Brian Cloughley lives in France. His website is www.briancloughley.com

A version of the above appeared in The Daily Times (Pakistan).

The New World Geopolitical Order: End of Act I

September 16, 2008

Immanuel Wallerstein, Commentary No. 241, Sept. 15, 2008

It would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of the agreement on September 9 between Nicolas Sarkozy of France in his capacity as current president of the European Union (EU) and Dmitri Medvedev, President of Russia. It marks the definitive end of Act I of the new world geopolitical order.

What was decided? The Russians agreed to withdraw all their troops from what are called “central Georgian areas” or “Georgia proper,” that is, those parts of Georgia the Russians recognize as Georgia. These troops are being replaced by 200 monitors from the EU. This is done on guarantees by the EU that there will be no use of force against South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The issue of Russian recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been left entirely open. Sarkozy and the EU’s Foreign Minister, Javier Solana, “hope” that Russia will agree in the future to allow EU monitors into these two areas. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said they had made no such promise and that “all future monitoring arrangements would require ratification by the Abhaz and South Ossetian governments.” Lavrov said that Russian troops would remain in the two areas “for the foreseeable future.” And the secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, Alexander Lomaia, while applauding the clear deadlines for Russian withdrawal from Georgia proper, did note that “the bad news is that [the agreement] doesn’t refer to [Georgian] territorial integrity.”

This accord was reached between Europe and Russia, and the United States played no diplomatic role whatsoever. Medvedev charged the United States with having given its blessing to the original Georgian action of entering South Ossetia. He said that, by contrast, the Europeans are “our natural partners, our key partners.” Georgia’s president received the strong encouragement of John McCain, and Vice-President Cheney flew there to say that the United States was giving $1 billion in aid for Georgian reconstruction. But Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, explaining why this aid would not include military aid and why there would be no economic sanctions against Russia, said that “if we act too precipitously, we could be the ones who are isolated.”

So, what is the bottom line? Russia has gotten more or less what it wanted in Georgia. Its “irrevocable” recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could well be something it might trade in the future for a basic turn-around in Georgia’s relations with Russia. If not, not. The fact is that Europe believes it needs to come to terms with Russia, and has ruled out renewing what the Chinese call “the European civil war.”

The United States finds it has no real cards to play. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, it finds itself publicly rebuffed by its closest allies. In Iraq, Prime Minister al-Maliki is being a very tough negotiator about the continued presence of U.S. troops, and it is not impossible, barring further major U.S. concessions, that the current agreements that terminate on December 31 will simply run out.

In Afghanistan, President Karzai is so exasperated with the bombing missions of U.S. special troops that he has demanded “a review of the presence of U.S. and NATO troops in the country,” in what CBS News calls a “harshly worded statement.” The immediate provocation was an air raid in Azizabad that the U.S. army said had few casualties and attacked a Taliban group. The Afghans insisted there were no Taliban there and a large number of civilians were killed. When UN officials and others gave credence to the Afghan version, the senior U.S. general in Afghanistan, David McKiernan, back-tracked on the U.S. position and called for a further high-level U.S. investigation by a general who would come from the United States.

And in Pakistan, President Bush authorized U.S. hot pursuit of Taliban from Afghanistan into Pakistan against the advice of the National Intelligence Council who said it would carry “a high risk of further destabilizing the Pakistani military and government.” The incursion brought what the New York Times called “an unusually strong statement” by the chief of the Pakistani army, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who said his forces would defend Pakistan’s sovereignty “at all costs.” Since the U. S. government has been looking on Gen. Kayani as its strong supporter in Pakistan, this is not exactly what the United States has been hoping to hear.

So, ignored in Georgia and under attack by its closest allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the United States is somewhat unhappily entering the realities of the post-Cold War world, in which it has to play by new rules that it seems to find rather unpalatable.

Meanwhile, as an ironic but not unimportant footnote, on September 10, a major development in particle physics was celebrated in Geneva when the European laboratory called CERN achieved a scientific breakthrough after 14 years of work and $8 billion in expense. This was such a major moment in world science that their U.S. counterparts at the Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois opened the champagne bottles at 4:38 in the morning to celebrate. Nonetheless, Pier Oddone, the director of the Fermilab, admitted this was a “bittersweet moment.” Until 1993, the United States ruled particle physics. That year, the U.S. Congress, flush with the self-confidence of having “won” the cold war, believed it was too expensive – and no longer geopolitically necessary – to build the kind of supercollider needed for this new advance in particle physics. The Europeans made a different kind of decision, and the United States now finds itself in second place here too.

I call this the end of Act I because it has sealed the reality of a true multilateral geopolitical arena. Of course, there are still further acts to come. And any faithful playgoer know that Act I merely establishes who are the actors. It is in Act II that we see what really happens. And then there’s Act III, the denouement.

US military trained Georgian commandos

September 7, 2008

By Charles Clover in Moscow and Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington | Financial Times, September 5 2008

The US military provided combat training to 80 Georgian special forces commandos only months prior to Georgia’s army assault in South Ossetia in August.

The revelation, based on recruitment documents and interviews with US military trainers obtained by the Financial Times, could add fuel to accusations by Vlad­imir Putin, Russian prime minister, last month that the US had “orchestrated” the war in the Georgian enclave.

The training was provided by senior US soldiers and two military contractors. There is no evidence that the contractors or the Pentagon, which hired them, knew that the commandos they were training were likely be used in the assault on South Ossetia.

A US army spokesman said the goal of the programme was to train the commandos for duty in Afghanistan as part of Nato-led International Security Assist­ance Force. The programme, however, highlights the often unintended consequences of US “train and equip” programmes in foreign countries.

The contractors – MPRI and American Systems, both based in Virginia – recruited a 15-man team of former special forces soldiers to train the Georgians at the Vashlijvari special forces base on the outskirts of Tbilisi, part of a programme run by the US defence department.

MPRI was hired by the Pentagon in 1995 to train the Croatian military prior to their invasion of the ethnically-Serbian Krajina region, which led to the displacement of 200,000 refugees and was one of the worst incidents of ethnic cleansing in the Balkan wars. MPRI denies any wrongdoing.

US training of the Georgian army is a big flashpoint between Washington and Moscow. Mr Putin said on CNN on August 29: “It is not just that the American side could not restrain the Georgian leadership from this criminal act [of intervening in South Ossetia]. The American side in effect armed and trained the Georgian army.”

The first phase of the special forces training was held between January and April this year, concentrating on “basic special forces skills” said an American Systems employee interviewed by phone from the US army’s Fort Bragg.

The US military official familiar with the programme said the Pentagon hired the military contracting firms to help supplement its own trainers because of a lack of manpower.

The second 70-day phase was set to begin on August 11, a few days after war broke out in South Ossetia. The trainers arrived on August 3, four days before the conflict flared on August 7. “They would have only seen the inside of a hotel room,” quipped one former contractor. Neither MPRI nor American Systems would speak at length to the FT about the programme.

American Systems di­rected questions to the US army’s Security Assistance Training Management Organisation (Satmo) at Fort Bragg, part of the US Army’s Special Warfare Center School. Satmo sends trainers, mainly special forces but also contractors, to countries such as Yemen, Colombia and the Philippines. Satmo trainers generally work with forces involved in counter-insurgencies, counter-terrorism or civil wars. A Satmo spokesman declined to comment.

One US military official familiar with the programme said it emerged from a Georgian offer to the US in December 2006 to send commandos to Afghanistan to work alongside American special operations forces.

According to this person, the US told Georgia that the offer should be made through Nato, which welcomed the offer but informed Georgia that its forces would need additional training to meet the military alliance’s standards.

While the programme is not classified, there is a lack of transparency surrounding it, though US military officials said the lack of publicity was not part of an effort to keep the programme secret. Other US military training programmes in Georgia have their own websites and photo galleries.

A US European Command spokesman confirmed the existence of the programme only after reviewing an e-mail sent by MPRI recruiters that was obtained by the FT. According to the e-mail, which did not mention Nato operations, former US special operations forces would receive $2,000 ($1,150, €1,400) a week plus costs as trainers. “We can confirm the pro­gramme exists, but due to its nature and training ob­jectives we do not discuss specifics to ensure the integrity of the programme and force protection of the trainers and participants,” he said.

James Appathurai, Nato’s spokesman in Brussels, said: “Georgia has made an offer to provide forces to Isaf in the last two years. But until now these Georgian forces have not joined the Isaf mission.” An official at a senior Nato member state said it was understood that the forces had been trained by the US, but that the forces had not passed a certification process under which all potential members of the Isaf mission are vetted.

Additional reporting James Blitz in London

Conflict in the Caucasus

The conflict between Russia and Georgia began on the night of August 7, when Georgian forces, including commando units, tanks and artillery, assaulted the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.

Russia says that at least 133 civilians died in the attack, as well as 59 of its own peacekeepers, according to figures released this week.

In response Russia launched a mass invasion and aerial bombardment of Georgia, in which 215 Georgians have died, including 146 soldiers and 69 civilians.

Georgia admits dropping cluster bombs, says rights group

September 2, 2008

Human Rights Watch says it has letter acknowledging use of cluster bombs near Russian border tunnel

A Russian armoured vehicle enters the Roki tunnel in South Ossetia

A Russian armoured vehicle enters the Roki tunnel in South Ossetia. Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Georgia has admitted dropping cluster bombs during its attempt to regain control of its breakaway province of South Ossetia, a human rights group said today.

Human Rights Watch said it had received a letter from the Georgian defence ministry acknowledging the use of M85 cluster bombs near the Roki tunnel that connects South Ossetia with Russia.

Georgia launched its ill-fated campaign to retake South Ossetia last month, prompting Russia to invade Georgia and occupy Georgian territory. Human Rights Watch has accused Russia of using cluster bombs in populated areas in Georgia, killing at least 11 civilians and injuring dozens.

The New York-based group last month called on Russia to immediately stop using cluster bombs, which 100 countries recently agreed to ban.

“Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw. Russia’s use of this weapon is not only deadly to civilians, but also an insult to international efforts to avoid a global humanitarian disaster of the kind caused by landmines,” Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, said recently.

The South Ossetia conflict was the first time cluster bombs were deployed since the Lebanon war in 2006, when M85s were used extensively by Israel against Hizbullah.

Cluster munitions, which contain dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions or bomblets, have been condemned because of their capacity to kill and maim civilians. Many do not immediately explode, causing civilian casualties for months or years to come.

In May, 107 nations agreed to a total ban on cluster munitions, but Russia did not take part in the talks. Russia was not part of the Oslo process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions.

The convention on cluster munitions agreed in May comprehensively bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of the weapon. It will be open for signature in Oslo on December 3.

Putin: US orchestrated conflict in Georgia

August 29, 2008

Putin: US orchestrated Georgia conflict, suggests motive was to affect US president election

STEVE GUTTERMAN | AP News Aug 28, 2008 19:36 EST

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Thursday of instigating the fighting in Georgia and said he suspects a connection to the U.S. presidential campaign — a contention the White House dismissed as “patently false.”

In a decision he said was unrelated to unraveling Russia-U.S. ties, Putin also ordered that 19 American poultry producers be barred from selling their products to Russia. He said the unnamed companies ignored demands that they correct alleged deficiencies.

Putin, the former president and architect of an assertive foreign policy that has stoked East-West tension, suggested in an interview with CNN that there was an American presence amid the combat with a potential domestic U.S. political motive.

“We have serious grounds to think that there were U.S. citizens right in the combat zone” during Russia’s war with the U.S.-allied ex-Soviet republic, he said the interview broadcast on state-run Russian television. “And if that’s so, if that is confirmed, it’s very bad. It’s very dangerous.”

Putin’s acid attack on the United States came as Moscow’s bid to redraw Georgia’s borders hit an obstacle among its Asian allies who refused to recognize the two Russian-backed breakaway regions of Georgia. France, meanwhile, said the European Union is considering sanctions against Russia for its conduct in the Caucasus.

Putin said that Russia had hoped the U.S. would restrain Georgia, which Moscow accuses of starting the war by attacking South Ossetia on Aug. 7. Instead, he suggested the U.S. encouraged the nation’s leadership to try to rein in the separatist region by force.

“The American side in fact armed and trained the Georgian army,” Putin said. “Why hold years of difficult talks and seek complex compromise solutions in interethnic conflicts? It’s easier to arm one side and push it into the murder of the other side, and it’s over.

“It seems like an easy solution. In reality it turns out that it’s not always so,” he said.

The United States has close ties with the Georgian government and has trained Georgian units. The Pentagon has said that the U.S. had about 130 trainers in Georgia when the fighting erupted earlier this month, including a few dozen civilians who were all working to prepare the Georgian forces for deployment to Iraq.

But Russian officials have made statements aimed to convey the idea that Americans may have directly supported Georgia’s offensive.

At a briefing Tuesday, the deputy chief of Russian military general staff, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, showed off a color copy of what he said was a U.S. passport found in a basement in a village in South Ossetia among items that belonged to Georgian forces.

 

“We found a passport for Michael Lee White,” Nogovitsyn said. “He’s a Texan.”

The U.S. Embassy in Georgia said it had no information on the matter.

In an interview with France 24 to be aired Friday, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said there were no American “commanders or even advisers” in the conflict zone. He said the conflict had nothing to do with the U.S., but “the aggression of the Russians.”

Putin appeared to link claims of an American presence amid the combat with a potential domestic U.S. political motive.

“If my guesses are confirmed, then that raises the suspicion that somebody in the United States purposefully created this conflict with the aim of aggravating the situation and creating an advantage … for one of the candidates in the battle for the post of U.S. president.”

Putin did not name a party or candidate. Some pro-Kremlin Russian politicians have claimed U.S. Republicans hoped the war would help keep Democrat Barack Obama out of the White House by fomenting concern among voters over security, which some of the Russians consider to be a strong-suit of Republican candidate John McCain, a strong Kremlin critic.

White House press secretary Dana Perino called Putin’s contentions “patently false.” She said “it also sounds like his defense officials who said they believe this to be true are giving him really bad advice.”

She added: “To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational.”

Perino said Russia is facing the consequences of a diminished global reputation and that “there will be other” consequences as well. She refused to say what they would be and said there is no timetable.

The Russian leader maintained that the poultry decision was unrelated to the Georgia issue. He said that the 19 producers ignored the demands to correct the problems following inspections. He said another 29 producers would receive warnings.

“We try and keep our industry out of politics and into marketing opportunities, but sometimes it’s very difficult to separate the two,” said Jim Sumner, president of the U.S.A. Poultry & Egg Export Council. He said Russia is a major market for American producers.

U.S. producers supply nearly 75 percent of the total poultry import quota set by Russia, which stands at 1.2 million tons. Russia represented the largest export market for chicken broilers made by U.S. producers in the first half of this year, Sumner said.

Sumner said he expected the alleged plant deficiencies to be corrected within weeks or a few months and said the stoppage would not have a major impact on U.S. producers.

 

Russia is an important market for many poultry producers, including the nation’s largest chicken producer, Pilgrim’s Pride Inc., as well as Sanderson Farms Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., the world’s largest meat company.

 

Shares of many meat producers, including top hog producer Smithfield Foods Inc., tumbled Thursday on worries about potential cuts by Russia.

“At this point if Russia were to walk back from certain agreements they have made, it would clearly delay any future aspirations they have of joining the World Trade Organization,” said Sean Spicer, spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

In Tajikistan, China and four Central Asian nations criticized the West, but wary of separatists at home, they stopped short of heeding Russia’s call to recognize the breakaway Georgia regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Moscow had appealed to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — whose members are Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — for unanimous support of Moscow’s response to Georgia’s “aggression.”

Alexei Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the summit highlighted Russia’s isolation.

“The Soviet Union was not so alone even in 1968,” he said on Ekho Moskvy radio, referring to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Western leaders have added condemnation of Russian recognition to their accusations that Moscow used disproportionate force in its Georgia offensive and has fallen far short of its withdrawal commitments under an EU cease-fire deal.

The EU is “trying to draw up a strong text signifying our unwillingness to accept” Russia’s stance, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Thursday. “Sanctions are being considered … and many other means as well,” Kouchner said.

 

The Foreign Ministry said later that France was not behind a sanctions proposal.

___

Associated Press Writers Peter Leonard and Olga Tutubalina in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Jim Heintz and Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia; and Catrina Stewart, Nataliya Vasilyeva, David Nowak, Doug Birch and Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow, Natasha Metzler in Washington and business writer Emily Fredrix in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

Why was Cheney’s guy in Georgia before the war?

August 29, 2008

By James Gerstenzang | Los Angeles  Times, August 27, 2008

Cheney aide was in Georgia before war began. What was a top national security aide to Vice President Dick Cheney doing in Georgia shortly before Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s troops engaged in what became a disastrous fight with South Ossetian rebels — and then Russian troops?

Not, according to the vice president’s office, what you might think — if your thinking takes you into the realm of Cheney giving his blessing to the Georgian’s military operation.

To be sure, Cheney has been a leader of the hardliners in the administration when it comes to standing up to Russia — to the point that the man who ran the Pentagon as the Cold War came to an end during the administration of the first President Bush has been seen as ready to renew that face-off with Moscow.

It was Cheney who visited the Georgian embassy in Washington last week to sign a remembrance book as a demonstration of the administration’s support.

And yes, Joseph R. Wood, Cheney’s deputy assistant for national security affairs, was in Georgia shortly before the war began.

But, the vice president’s office says, he was there as part of a team setting up the vice president’s just-announced visit to Georgia. (It is common for the White House to send security, policy, communications and press aides to each site the president and vice president will visit ahead of the trip, to begin making arrangements and planning the agenda.)

The White House disclosed on Monday that Cheney would hurry over to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy next week, almost immediately after addressing the Republican National Convention on Labor Day.

And so it was that a team from the vice president’s office, U.S. security officials and others were in Georgia several days before the war began.

It had nothing to do, the vice president’s office said, with a military operation that some have said suggests a renewal of the Cold War.


This Time, the World Is Not Buying It

August 23, 2008

by Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research, August 22, 2008

Antiwar.com

The success of the Bush Regime’s propaganda, lies, and deception with gullible and inattentive Americans since 9/11 has made it difficult for intelligent, aware people to be optimistic about the future of the United States. For almost 8 years the US media has served as Ministry of Propaganda for a war criminal regime. Americans incapable of thinking for themselves, reading between the lines, or accessing foreign media on the Internet have been brainwashed.

As the Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, said, it is easy to deceive a people. You just tell them they have been attacked and wave the flag.

It certainly worked with Americans.

The gullibility and unconcern of the American people has had many victims. There are 1.25 million dead Iraqis. There are 4 million displaced Iraqis. No one knows how many are maimed and orphaned.

Iraq is in ruins, its infrastructure destroyed by American bombs, missiles, and helicopter gunships.

We do not know the death toll in Afghanistan, but even the American puppet regime protests the repeated killings of women and children by US and NATO troops.

We don’t know what the death toll would be in Iran if Darth Cheney and the neocons succeed in their plot with Israel to bomb Iran, perhaps with nuclear weapons.

What we do know is that all this murder and destruction has no justification and is evil. It is the work of evil men who have no qualms about lying and deceiving in order to kill innocent people to achieve their undeclared agenda.

That such evil people have control over the United States government and media damns the American public for eternity.

America will never recover from the shame and dishonor heaped upon her by the neoconned Bush Regime.

The success of the neocon propaganda has been so great that the opposition party has not lifted a finger to rein in the Bush Regime’s criminal actions. Even Obama, who promises “change” is too intimidated by the neocon’s success in brainwashing the American population to do what his supporters hoped he would do and lead us out of the shame in which the neoconned Bush Regime has imprisoned us.

This about sums up the pessimistic state in which I existed prior to the go-ahead given by the Bush Regime to its puppet in Georgia to ethnically cleanse South Ossetia of Russians in order to defuse the separatist movement. The American media, aka, the Ministry of Lies and Deceit, again accommodated the criminal Bush Regime and proclaimed “Russian invasion” to cover up the ethnic cleansing of Russians in South Ossetia by the Georgian military assault.

Only this time, the rest of the world didn’t buy it. The many years of lies – 9/11, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections, yellowcake, anthrax attack, Iranian nukes, “the United States doesn’t torture,” the bombings of weddings, funerals, and children’s soccer games, Abu Ghraib, renditions, Guantanamo, various fabricated “terrorist plots,” the determined assault on civil liberties – have taken their toll on American credibility. No one outside America any longer believes the US media or the US government.

The rest of the world reported the facts – an assault on Russian civilians by American- and Israeli-trained and -equipped Georgian troops.

The Bush Regime, overcome by hubris, expected Russia to accept this act of American hegemony. But the Russians did not, and the Georgian military was sent fleeing for its life.

The neoconned Republican response to the Russian failure to follow the script and to be intimidated by the “unipower” was so imbecilic that it shattered the brainwashing to which Americans had succumbed.

McCain declared: “In the 21st century nations don’t invade other nations.” Imagine the laughs Jon Stewart will get out of this on the Daily Show. In the early years of the 21st century the United States has already invaded two countries and has been beating the drums for attacking a third. President Bush, the chief invader of the 21st century, echoed McCain’s claim that nations don’t invade other nations.

This dissonant claim shocked even brainwashed Americans, as readers’ emails reveal. If in the 21st century countries don’t invade other countries, what is Bush doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what are the naval armadas and propaganda arrayed against Iran about?

Have two of the worst warmongers of modern times – Bush and McCain – called off the US/Israeli attack on Iran? If McCain is elected president, is he going to pull US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan as “nations don’t invade other nations,” or is President Bush going to beat him to it?

We all know the answer.

The two stooges are astonished that the Americans have taught hegemony to Russians, who were previously operating, naively perhaps, on the basis of good will.

Suddenly the Western Europeans have realized that being allied with the United States is like holding a tiger by the tail. No European country wants to be hurled into war with Russia. Germany, France, and Italy must be thanking God they blocked Georgia’s membership in NATO.

The Ukraine, where a sick nationalism has taken hold funded by the neocon National Endowment for Democracy, will be the next conflict between American pretensions and Russia. Russia is being taught by the neocons that freeing the constituent parts of its empire has not resulted in their independence but in their absorption into the American Empire.

Unless enough Americans can overcome their brainwashed state and the rigged Diebold voting machines, turn out the imbecilic Republicans and hold the neoconservatives accountable for their crimes against humanity, a crazed neocon US government will provoke nuclear war with Russia.

The neoconservatives represent the greatest danger ever faced by the United States and the world. Humanity has no greater enemy.


Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Global Research Articles by Paul Craig Roberts

US, Poland Sign Missile Shield Deal

August 21, 2008

CommonDreams.org

WARSAWÂ – Poland and the United States on Wednesday signed a deal to deploy part of a US missile shield on Polish territory in the face of deep Russian anger.

“This will help us to deal with the new threats of the 21st century, of long-range missile threats from countries like Iran or from North Korea,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said before she signed the accord with Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

The signing comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and NATO, and Russia over the conflict with pro-Western Georgia.

But Rice again sought to fend off criticism.

“It is defensive and is not aimed at anyone,” she said.

“It is nonetheless a system that establishes firmly again, and reaffirms, our cooperation and relationship with Poland. It will deepen our defence cooperation and it will deepen our ability to deal with threats.”

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the deal “achieved the basic aims that mean Poland and the United States are more secure”.

Washington plans to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland plus a radar facility in the neighbouring Czech Republic between 2011 and 2013.

Both hosts are NATO members since 1999 and the missile shield will complete a system already in place in the United States, Greenland and Britain.

Russia has rejected the US argument that the shield, which was endorsed by all 26 NATO member states earlier this year, is meant to fend off potential missile attacks by what Washington calls “rogue states”.

Moscow claims the timing of the deal is further proof the system is aimed at Russia — a suggestion rejected by Washington.

Moscow had already dubbed the shield a security threat designed to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

“We will be forced to respond to this adequately. The EU and US have been warned,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last month as the missile talks moved to a close.

Last week, Russia’s General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Poland was making itself a target “100 percent”.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski hit back in a televised address Tuesday, saying his country would not give in to threats.

“No one can dictate to Poland what it should do. That’s in the past,” Kaczynski said.

“Our neighbours should now understand that our nation will never give in, nor allow itself to be intimidated,” he added.

Kaczynski did not name Russia directly, but his mention of the “past” was a clear reference to Poland’s post-World War II decades as a Soviet satellite.

“No one should be afraid of (the shield), if they have good intentions towards us or the rest of the West,” Kaczynski said.

Warsaw and Prague have had rocky relations with Moscow since they broke free from the Soviet bloc in 1989, and ties have worsened since they joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

To try to calm Moscow’s ire, Poland has repeatedly offered to allow Russian inspections of the missile facilities.

US and Polish negotiators signed a preliminary deal in Warsaw last Thursday, capping 15 months of negotiations.

Talks had ground on until the United States accepted Poland’s demands for extra security guarantees to offset the potential risks of hosting a base — not specifically from Russia — including a Patriot missile air-defence system and boosted military ties.

The missile plan foresees the deployment of several hundred US troops in Poland to service the shield facility as well as the Patriot missiles, which will gradually be turned over to the Poles once they have been trained to use them.

Washington and Prague sealed the radar deal in July.

Both accords must still be ratified by Polish and Czech parliaments.

© 2008 Agence France Presse

Are You Ready For Nuclear War?

August 20, 2008

By Dr Paul Craig Roberts |Information Clearing House, August 19, 2008

Pervez Musharraf, the puppet installed by the US to rule Pakistan in the interest of US hegemony, resigned August 18 to avoid impeachment. Karl Rove and the Diebold electronic voting machines were unable to control the result of the last election in Pakistan, the result of which gave Pakistanis a bigger voice in their government than America’s.

It was obvious to anyone with any sense–which excludes the entire Bush Regime and almost all of the “foreign policy community”–that the illegal and gratuitous US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon civilians with US blessing, would result in the overthrow of America’s Pakistani puppet.

The imbecilic Bush Regime ensured Musharraf’s overthrow by pressuring their puppet to conduct military operations against tribesmen in Pakistani border areas, whose loyalties were to fellow Muslims and not to American hegemony. When Musharraf’s military operations didn’t produce the desired result, the idiotic Americans began conducting their own military operations within Pakistan with bombs and missiles. This finished off Musharraf.

When the Bush Regime began its wars in the Middle East, I predicted, correctly, that Musharraf would be one victim. The American puppets in Egypt and Jordan may be the next to go.

Back during the Nixon years, my Ph.D. dissertation chairman, Warren Nutter, was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. One day in his Pentagon office I asked him how the US government got foreign governments to do what the US wanted. “Money,” he replied.

“You mean foreign aid?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, “we just buy the leaders with money.”

It wasn’t a policy he had implemented. He inherited it and, although the policy rankled with him, he could do nothing about it. Nutter believed in persuasion and that if you could not persuade people, you did not have a policy.

Nutter did not mean merely third world potentates were bought. He meant the leaders of England, France, Germany, Italy, all the allies everywhere were bought and paid for.

They were allies because they were paid. Consider Tony Blair. Blair’s own head of British intelligence told him that the Americans were fabricating the evidence to justify their already planned attack on Iraq. This was fine with Blair, and you can see why with his multi- million dollar payoff once he was out of office.

The American-educated thug, Saakashkvili the War Criminal, who is president of Georgia, was installed by the US taxpayer funded National Endowment for Democracy, a neocon operation whose purpose is to ring Russia with US military bases, so that America can exert hegemony over Russia.

Every agreement that President Reagan made with Mikhail Gorbachev has been broken by Reagan’s successors. Reagan’s was the last American government whose foreign policy was not made by the Isreali-allied neoconservatives. During the Reagan years, the neocons made several runs at it, but each ended in disaster for Reagan, and he eventually drove the modern day French Jacobins from his government.

Even the anti-Soviet Committee on the Present Danger regarded the neocons as dangerous lunatics. I remember the meeting when a member tried to bring the neocons into the committee, and old line American establishment representatives, such as former Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, hit the roof.

The Committee on the Present Danger regarded the neocons as crazy people who would get America into a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The neocons hated President Reagan, because he ended the cold war with diplomacy, when they desired a military victory over the Soviet Union.

Deprived of this, the neocons now want victory over Russia.

Today, Reagan is gone. The Republican Establishment is gone. There are no conservative power centers, only neoconservative power centers closely allied with Israel, which uses the billions of dollars funneled into Israeli coffers by US taxpayers to influence US elections and foreign policy.

The Republican candidate for president is a warmonger. There are no checks remaining in the Republican Party on the neocons’ proclivity for war. What Republican constituencies oppose war? Can anyone name one?

The Democrats are not much better, but they have some constituencies that are not enamored of war in order to establish US world hegemony. The Rapture Evangelicals, who fervently desire Armageddon, are not Democrats; nor are the brainwashed Brownshirts desperate to vent their frustrations by striking at someone, somewhere, anywhere.

I get emails from these Brownshirts and attest that their hate-filled ignorance is extraordinary. They are all Republicans, and yet they think they are conservatives. They have no idea who I am, but since I criticize the Bush Regime and America’s belligerent foreign policy, they think I am a “liberal commie pinko.”

The only literate sentence this legion of imbeciles has ever managed is: “If you hate America so much, why don’t you move to Cuba!”

Such is the current state of a Reagan political appointee in today’s Republican Party. He is a “liberal commie pinko” who should move to Cuba.

The Republicans will get us into more wars. Indeed, they live for war. McCain is preaching war for 100 years. For these warmongers, it is like cheering for your home team. Win at all costs. They get a vicarious pleasure out of war. If the US has to tell lies in order to attack countries, what’s wrong with that? “If we don’t kill them over there, they will kill us over here.”

The mindlessness is total.

Nothing real issues from the American media. The media is about demonizing Russia and Iran, about the vice presidential choices as if it matters, about whether Obama being on vacation let McCain score too many points.

The mindlessness of the news reflects the mindlessness of the government, for which it is a spokesperson.

The American media does not serve American democracy or American interests. It serves the few people who exercise power.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the US and Israel made a run at controlling Russia and the former constituent parts of its empire. For awhile the US and Israel succeeded, but Putin put a stop to it.

Recognizing that the US had no intention of keeping any of the agreements it had made with Gorbachev, Putin directed the Russian military budget to upgrading the Russian nuclear deterrent. Consequently, the Russian army and air force lack the smart weapons and electronics of the US military.

When the Russian army went into Georgia to rescue the Russians in South Ossetia from the destruction being inflicted upon them by the American puppet Saakashvili, the Russians made it clear that if they were opposed by American troops with smart weapons, they would deal with the threat with tactical nuclear weapons.

The Americans were the first to announce preemptive nuclear attack as their permissible war doctrine. Now the Russians have announced the tactical use of nuclear weapons as their response to American smart weapons.

It is obvious that American foreign policy, with is goal of ringing Russia with US military bases, is leading directly to nuclear war. Every American needs to realize this fact. The US government’s insane hegemonic foreign policy is a direct threat to life on the planet.

Russia has made no threats against America. The post-Soviet Russian government has sought to cooperate with the US and Europe. Russia has made it clear over and over that it is prepared to obey international law and treaties. It is the Americans who have thrown international law and treaties into the trash can, not the Russians.

In order to keep the billions of dollars in profits flowing to its contributors in the US military-security complex, the Bush Regime has rekindled the cold war. As American living standards decline and the prospects for university graduates deteriorate, “our” leaders in Washington commit us to a hundred years of war.

If you desire to be poor, oppressed, and eventually vaporized in a nuclear war, vote Republican.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is a former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, a 16-year columnist for Business Week, and a columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service and Creator’s Syndicate in Los Angeles. He has held numerous university professorships, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of France and the US Treasury’s Silver Medal for “outstanding contributions to the formulation of US economic policy.”


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