Thursday, August 21, 2008

Georgia, the Conflict and the Rest of the Story

As patriotic Americans we assume when Russia "invades" Georgia, they are blameworthy and should be punished somehow. As John McCain said recently -- it is not appropriate for a nation to invade another sovereign state in this 21st Century.

I'm a little confused didn't we invade Iraq in the 21st Century.? OK, right, we had good reasons for doing it and good intentions --- so this makes it acceptable. We have played this card a number of times in our history.

Georgia has been an independent state seldom in history -- for a short time in the 12th-13th centuries. Russia under the Tsars absorbed them into their empire in 1810. Briefly from 1918-1921 they were independent. Then they were taken over by the Soviet Union. In 1991 they broke away from the Soviets, but there was a great deal of chaos until 2002 when the present democratic government established itself.

When forming their independent state they included South Ossetia -- a province in which Georgians were a distinct minority. South Ossetia wanted to be independent with close relations with Russia. Patches of civil war between Georgia and South Ossetia erupted and finally, Georgia reluctantly granted South Ossetia virtual autonomy. The present President of Georgia when elected vowed to bring South Ossetia completely back into the same relationship with the central government as the other Georgian provinces.

In its quest for nailing down all the oil supplies possible, the U.S.A. has made a concerted effort to ingratiate itself through one means or the other with the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia along Russia's southern border: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and
Uzbekistan. America covets for our own use the natural resources of this region, especially, at present, the wealth of natural gas and oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region. Because of this we have built a pipeline to deliver the oil which avoids going through Russia and reaches the Black Sea by running through Georgia.

We have been selling huge quantities of military supplies and equipment to Georgia, which we see as a strong American ally, also as playing vital role in protecting the pipeline and its oil.
(The U.S. at present receives more oil from Canada than any other country. I wonder what our response would be if Russia would find itself needing oil and would work out an agreement with Canada for its oil, and, in addition finance a Canadian pipeline to take the oil to, let's say Vancouver where it would be loaded aboard Russian oil tankers???)

The recent Georgian-Russian conflict was not caused by a Russian invasion of George, but by a Georgian invasion of South Ossetia ordered by the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili who was attempting to fulfill his election promise of bringing South Ossetia competely under Georgia rule. Russia is looked upon by South Ossetia as a friend and guarantor of their autonomy. Russia invaded to defend South Ossetia not to take over Georgia -- but to protect its citizens from the Georgian ambitions.

Russia and Putin are very concerned with America's aggressive moves in their part of the world. Russians have a pride in their nation's history, stature and culture -- for which the U.S. has, apparently, little respect. We are pushing Russia hard. Too hard could be dangerous. They have their goals and ambitions.

Why would a small country like Georgia knowingly antagonize the giant Russian bear just to fulfill a campaign promise? Why did they think they could get away with it?

Answer: They had been receiving encouragment from influential people within the United States, mostly neo-cons. One of these neo-cons, Randy Scheunemann, was for four years a paid lobbyist for Georgia working for favors from the United States. He quit his job last March to be the key foreign policy advisor for John McCain. In fact, he brought John McCain with him in 2006 to meet Scheunemann's good friend the Georgian President. Both he and McCain supported Saakashvili's bellicose attitude towards President Putin of Russia. Earlier, McCain with Scheunemann's help drafted a resolution supporting Georgia's admission to NATO.

America has been building up and training Georgia's military. Israel has played a part also.
Georgia simply thought they could get away with it, i.e. a coup d'etat. Big brother, America, would step in -- if things went awry.

To Putin's eyes, it may appear that our country is surrounding Russia: cultivating the countries just below its border; building a pipeline for oil to America, oil that because of its proximity may seem more appropriately Russian than American, and then add U.S.'s support of NATO membership for both the Ukraine and Georgia --- putting a military coalition right on Russia's border.

Question: How would the U.S. react to a similar situation if we were in Putin's and Russia's place.

What can be done? The American administration should exercise some common sense, cease being belligerent and arrogant. In fact, as an article from the Associated Press suggested today: instead of threatening to kick Russia out of the G 8 group and to punish it in other ways >>>

Invite Russia to Join NATO !!!