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US provoked war in Ossetia

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    Was an independent Ossetia inevitable after Kosovo or is it an US election ruse gone wrong, asks Eric Walberg Wag the Dog Eric Walberg
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2008
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      Was an independent Ossetia inevitable after Kosovo or is it an US
      election ruse gone wrong, asks Eric Walberg

      Wag the Dog
      Eric Walberg

      Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a gritty, straight-talking 30-
      minute interview with CNN this week in Russian. It was not
      translated or reported on widely in the US media, which is a shame.
      He charged that US military personnel were in South Ossetia during
      the attack, and lectured about such topics as Ossetia's long
      membership in the Russian empire (since 1801) and Ossetians' age-old
      resentment of Georgian chauvinism, especially following the 1917
      Russian revolution and the 1990 declaration of Georgian
      independence. A South Ossetian legislator has already mooted the
      possibility that it will eventually become part of the Russian

      When asked by CNN if he would stop threatening neighbours now that
      the Ossetian crisis was over, he angrily dismissed the question as
      preposterous, saying it was up to the US and its new Eastern
      European clients to stop threatening Russia. It is the Polish and
      Czech missile bases and Ukrainian and Georgian pretenses to join in
      the nuclear-tipped encirclement of Russia that are the destabilising
      developments forcing Russia to batten the hatches. The Russians see
      the bases as a precursor to a much larger system that would
      undermine the already seriously eroded Russian nuclear deterrent.

      "For the first time in history — and I want to emphasise this —
      there will be elements of the US nuclear capability on the European
      continent. It simply changes the whole configuration of
      international security. Of course, we have to respond to that," said
      Putin at a press conference last year which was also not reported in
      the mainstream US media.

      Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underlined Putin's words Monday,
      referring to "the reality of the post-America world" and warning
      that "in the absence of a reasonable multilateral dialogue we will
      be forced to react unilaterally." Europe's inability to produce a
      new collective security system, "open for everyone and taking into
      account everyone's interests," was to blame for the Georgia crisis.
      He added: "There is a feeling that NATO again needs frontline states
      to justify its existence."

      As if to make his point, the Russian military carried out a
      successful test of a Topol RS-12M nuclear capable stealth rocket
      from the Plesetsk space centre. Analysts are already speculating
      that Putin (OK, Medvedev) may well "take out" the Polish missile
      site. "He has no other option. The proposed system integrates the
      entire US nuclear arsenal into one operational-unit a mere 115 miles
      from the Russian border. It's no different than Khrushchev's plan to
      deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba in the 1960s," writes Mike Whitney
      at Online Journal. At the very least he "will be forced to raise the
      stakes and send warplanes over the construction site. That is the
      logical first-step that any responsible leader would take before
      removing the site altogether."

      So if Cold War II keeps accelerating and something like this happens
      later this year, what should we make of it? Is this Russia
      threatening and even invading its neighbour, or is it a justifiable
      warning to the US to back down from its attempts to instigate WWIII?

      Is it possible that all this furfural is really just an
      early "October Surprise", in the US electoral tradition that both
      Reagan and Bush II made such masterful use of? Recall that Ronald
      Reagan's advisors orchestrated a delay in returning US hostages from
      Iran in 1980, tipping the balance in his favour in the elections
      that year. President George W Bush got a letter purportedly from
      Osama bin Laden weeks before the elections in 2004, conveniently
      reminding Americans that he is their defender against terrorists.
      This possibility was the inspiration for the 1998 movie "Wag the
      Dog", where a few weeks before the elections, a presidential advisor
      hires a Hollywood producer to fabricate and market a war in an ex-
      socialist bloc country (Albania) and ensure the incumbent's re-

      In the current "reality show" version, discretion is thrown
      completely to the wind, with a certain Randy Scheunemann playing
      both spin doctor and advisor to Republican "incumbent" Senator John
      McCain. Scheunemann's two-man Orion Strategies lobby firm has been
      advising Latvia since 2001 and more recently, Georgia. Georgia hopes
      to following Latvia's success in joining NATO and — why not? — the
      European Union. It has already paid Orion Strategies $300,000 to
      this end.

      Putin firmly declared in his CNN interview that the attack on
      Russian peacekeepers by Georgia was given the green light by US
      officials as part of an US election campaign ploy. He was most
      likely referring to McCain, a personal friend of Georgian President
      Mikheil Saakashvili, and Scheunemann, McCain's chief foreign policy
      advisor. Or possibly Joseph Wood, Cheney's deputy assistant for
      national security affairs, who was in Georgia shortly before the war
      began. Or both.

      But Putin is caught between a rock and a hard place in this US
      election year. Even if he's right about Scheunemann, McCain's
      advisor has his counterpart in Senator Barack Obama's chief foreign
      policy advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who while being no fan of Bush,
      is rubbing his hands in glee over the Russian move to protect
      Ossetia .

      So whoever wins in November will undoubtedly push WWIII into high
      gear, come what may.

      Will this "Wag the Dog" Part II bring in the votes for McCain? That
      is far from certain considering his admiration for the now-despised
      Bush, his endless gaffes and his patent lack of intelligence.
      However, the key to US elections — the Israeli lobby — is not happy
      with Brzezinski, and could scuttle Obama's candidacy, despite
      Obama's choice of self-proclaimed Zionist Senator Joe Biden as his
      running mate. Recall that Brzezinski was foreign policy advisor to
      ex-president Jimmy Carter, whose Camp David accords forced Israel to
      give the Sinai back to Egypt.

      Enter Scheunemann. He has no such skeletons in his closet. And he is
      a big fan of the current Middle East make-over designed to ensure
      Israeli supremacy. As director of Chalabi's Committee for the
      Liberation of Iraq he pushed for the invasion in 2003. Mission
      accomplished, he found his new warrior prince in Tbilisi.
      Scheunemann is just one of dozens of US and Israeli advisors to the
      trigger-happy Georgian president. Israel has been actively
      supporting Saakashvili, eager to see the Georgian pipeline project
      bypassing Russia completed. Georgian Defence Minister Davit
      Kezerashvili and Minister of Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili are
      both Israeli citizens who returned to Georgia to enter politics.

      If in fact the US Israeli lobby has decided on McCain for president,
      and passed the word on to Sheunemann, this could well account for
      the green light that Saakashvili clearly thought he had to attack
      Russian peacekeeping troops and Ossetia civilians, killing hundreds
      if not the 1,500 claimed by Russia. And what better way to force
      both candidates to shore up Bush's policy of war and death, just in
      case by some fluke the suspicious Obama overcomes the many hurdles
      to a candidate not enjoying the full confidence (i.e., control)
      of "the lobby".

      You can't fault Obama for trying to please them, short of firing his
      patron Brzezinski. Already, he has dropped his willingness to talk
      to "the enemy", which clearly means Russia these days, every bit as
      much as Iran. Under him, Iraq will keep its US bases and Afghanistan
      will absorb any troops who leave Iraq. Whether or not Washington
      succeeds in bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO is the only moot
      point in all this, and this really depends more on Russia than on
      who inhabits the White House for the next four years.

      This is all very much like Brzezinski's scheming as advisor to
      president Carter. He now boasts that by orchestrating US funding of
      Islamic extremists like bin Laden from 1979 on, he was responsible
      for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse
      of the Soviet Union. This did nothing to wag Carter's dog back into
      power in 1980, but that is of little consequence to these shadowy
      advisors, who are never without work in the higher echelons of US
      politics, just as Scheunemann will not suffer in the least if his
      candidate is found to have Aldzheimer's and forgets to show for his
      inauguration next January. And if Obama wins, he will merely cede
      his White House pass to Brzezinski and continue advising world
      leaders such as the hapless Georgian president.

      It's quite possible that this ratcheting up of tensions in the
      Caucasus is intentional. It clinched the Polish missile deal in a
      hurry and put Russia in a bad light, giving succour to those
      planning to make the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline the key link
      in a network bypassing Russia. But the Georgian pipeline was shut
      down by BP during the recent conflict, and it is far from clear that
      spin doctors and tweaking the Russian bear's nose will bring the US
      any closer to cutting Russia down to size. What this episode and
      Putin's steely evaluation did was to further expose the poison at
      the heart of American politics and confirm the world's suspicions
      that Russia is not afraid to stand up for itself.


      Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly.


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