Saturday, August 16, 2008

Memorial services for Ed Boyd/Georgia On The Mind

Brandy Baker



For Immediate Release

August 15, 2008

The following memorial services have been scheduled for the late Eddie Boyd:

Monday, August 18 1:00 PM

J. B. Jenkins Funeral Home

7474 Landover Rd, Landover , MD

Sunday, August 24 4:00 PM

The Maryland War Memorial Building

500 E. Fayette St., Baltimore , MD

The service at the Maryland War Memorial Building is a potluck event and is being held on August 24, which would have been Eddie’s 47th birthday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008 1:57 PM

Georgia On The Mind

By Conn Hallinan

One of the major causes of the recent war in Georgia has

nothing to do with the historic tensions that make the

Caucasus such a flashpoint between east and west.

Certainly the long-stranding ethnic enmity between

Ossetians and Georgians played a role, as did the almost

visceral dislike between Moscow and Tbilisi . But the origins

of the short, brutal war go back six years to a June afternoon at West Point .

Speaking to the cadets at the military academy, President

George W. Bush laid out a blueprint for U.S foreign policy, a

strategy lifted from a neocon think tank, the Project for a New

American Century. In essence, the West Point Doctrine made

it clear that Washington would not permit the development of a

"peer competitor," and that, if necessary, the U.S. would use

military force to insure that it maintained the monopoly on world

power it had inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union .

The 21st Century was to be an American century.

Some of the building blocks of this strategy were

already in place before the President’s address. Rather

than dismantling the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

(NATO) following the disintegration of the East bloc’s

Warsaw Pact in 1991, the alliance was expanded to

include former Pact members Poland , Hungary and the

Czech Republic. Latvia , Lithuania , Romania , Slovakia and

Bulgaria followed in 2004. On the eve of the latest

Caucasus war, Washington was lobbying hard to recruit

Georgia and the Ukraine .

It is important to keep in mind the deep paranoia - a

state of mind well founded in historical experienceĆ¢€”that

the Russians have over their borders. Those borders have

been violated by Napoleon, and by Germany in both WW I,

and WW II. In the later conflict, the Russians lost 27 million people.

Besides expanding NATO from a regional military pact to

a worldwide alliance-the organization is deeply engaged

in Afghanistan and is currently moving into the Pacific

Basin-the Bush Administration began dismantling East-

West agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile

Treaty (ABM). The demise of the Treaty allowed the U.S.

to deploy an ABM and to recruit nations to sign up for

the system, including Japan , India and Australia .

Lastly, NATO has just agreed to build an ABM system in Eastern Europe .

In spite of the way it is portrayed, an ABM is not a

defensive system and is certainly not aimed at 'rogue

states,- since none of them have missiles than can

threaten the U.S. or Europe . An ABM is designed to

absorb a retaliatory attack following a first strike.

U.S. nuclear doctrine is based on this first strike, or

'counterforce,- strategy.

Russia and China currently the only two nations that can

seriously challenge the idea of an American century find

themselves surrounded by U.S. bases from northern

Europe, through the Middle East and Central Asia , to the

north Pacific. At least in theory, the U.S. ABM system

pretty much cancels out China ’s modest nuclear

capability, and, fully deployed, a European system could

neutralize much of Russia ’s.

The Bush Administration says that its ABM system is not

large enough to stop Russia ’s thousands of nuclear

warheads, but it fails to mention that a first strike

would destroy all but about five percent of those

weapons. All an ABM would have to do is handle the

handful of warheads that survived a counterforce strike.

The Russians and the Chinese have made it quite clear

that they consider the ABM system a threat to their

nuclear deterrence ability.

The Russians are also deeply angry over the European

Union and NATO’s support for dismembering Yugoslavia and

the forcible removal of the province of Kosovo from Serbia

'I think we have underestimated the anger in Moscow over

the increasing NATO involvement in Russia ’s backyard,-

says Christopher Langton of the International Institute

for Strategic Studies in London .

This is the context in which the recent fighting took

place. While the western media has largely portrayed the

war as the mighty Russian bear beating up on tiny

Georgia, Moscow sees Tbilisi ’s attack on South Ossetia

as yet another move aimed at surrounding it with hostile powers.

U.S. non-governmental organizations, some, like the

National Endowment for Democracy, close to the U.S.

Central Intelligence Agency, played a key role in

helping to bring Georgia ’s current president Mikhail

Saakashvilli to power. For all the Bush Administration

touts him as a 'democrat,- the Georgian president has

exiled his political enemies, closed down opposition

newspapers, and turned his police on peaceful demonstrators.

Following his election, the U.S. and Israel poured

military aid and trainers into Georgia . Some 800 U.S.

and 1,000 Israeli trainers are currently working with

the Georgian military.

While the U.S. claims that it strongly advised the

Georgians not to use force in Ossetia and Abakhzia, just

a few weeks before the attack Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice visited Tbilisi and made it clear that

the Bush Administration fully supported Georgia claim

over the two provinces.

The U.S. pledge was made despite the fact that

Saakashvili broke a 2005 agreement not to use force in

the two provinces. In 2006, the Georgian president sent

troops into Abkhaza to occupy the Kodori Valley . Did it

occur to the U.S. that backing SaakashviliĆ¢€™s adventurism

in Abkhaza might encourage him to consider a similar

move in South Ossetia ?

Besides the trainers, 1,000 U.S. troops recently carried

out joint exercises with the Georgian military. How

would Americans feel about Russians troops training in

Mexico, particularly if the latter government was

demanding back the lands seized by the U.S. in the

Mexican-American War? And what were those troops

training for? An invasion of South Ossetia ? Defense

against a Russian counterattack?

U.S. trainers say they had no inkling that the Georgians were going to attack

Ossetia, a denial that is hard to swallow given the buildup of ammunition,

armored vehicles, and - supplies that the Georgians must have made in preparation for the

invasion. It strains credibility to think that U.S. advisors did not know what was up, but if they

did not, it bespeaks a sobering level of incompetence on the American military side.

The Israelis are not so coy.

According to the DEBKA File, a publication close to the

Israeli military and intelligence agencies, Israeli

advisors "were undoubtedly deeply involved in the

Georgian Army’s preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital."

The Israeli interest in Georgia is over the two oil and

gas pipelines that transit the country, bypassing

Russian pipelines to the north. Israel takes on oil at

the Turkish port of Ceyhan and ships it to a refinery at Ashkelon .

So who knew what, and when did they know it? This is not

an abstract exercise. Had Georgia been admitted to NATO,

the war would have triggered Article 5 requiring

alliance members to use "collective force" against

Russia. Such a scenario could well have led to a

worldwide thermonuclear war.

Did the Georgians think they could attack Ossetia , kill

civilians and Russian peacekeepers, and get away with

it? Unless President Saakashvili and the people around

him are snorting something that turns reality upside

down, they must have known that Georgia ’s army was no match for Russia ’s.

Could the Georgians have been working under the illusion

they had the full backing of the U.S? What Rice told

Saakashvili during her July 10 trip becomes critical.

Did she really tell the Georgians in private not to

attack as she claims? Or did Tbilisi take Rice’s public

rhetoric supporting Georgia ’s claim of sovereignty at face value?

Shortly before Georgia attacked, the Russians tried to

get a resolution through the UN Security Council calling

on Ossetia and Georgia to renounce the use of force. The

U.S., Britain, and Saakashvili torpedoed it. Why?

Might the U.S. have snookered the Georgians into making

an attack Washington knew would end in disaster?

Political commentator Robert Scheer suggests the war was

a neocon election ploy aimed at getting John McCain

elected president. On one level the charge seems far-

fetched, but as Scheer points out, the McCain campaign

is filled with neocons and Georgia boosters, and some of

McCain’s recent statements seem as if they were lifted

from the depths of the Cold War.

Is the Georgia War the "October surprise" for the fall

elections as Scheer suggests? The Republicans need a

crisis so they can argue that only McCain has the

experience to handle it. The Iran bugaboo is wearing

thin, and the polls show overwhelming opposition to a

war with Teheran. China is playing nice, and, in any

case, it is not a good idea to pick a fight with someone

who can call in its loans and bankrupt you.

But there is always the big, bad Russian bear.

This is an inordinately dangerous situation. The Bush

Administration has sent U.S. troops into Georgia , and it

is not inconceivable that Russians and Americans might

end up shooting at one another. Wars have a tendency to

get out of hand, which is one reason why it is good to avoid them.

But avoiding war means avoiding the kind of policies

that make war a possibility. If you have a strategy that

says you have the right to determine what happens in the

world, and then go about surrounding your potential

competitors with military bases and destabilizing

weapons systems, sooner or later someone is going to

push back. A hundred years ago that would lead to

tragedy. In today’s nuclear-armed world, it is an existential issue.

In the short run the solution is a ceasefire, withdrawal

of troops, and a pledge not to use force in the future.

But the problem that brought about the recent war is the

result of policies that the U.S. and its allies have

followed since the end of the Cold War. A real solution would be:

Dissolve NATO; Revive the ABM Treaty; and Enforce the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which means dismantling the world’s supply of nuclear weapons and embarking on a course of general disarmament.

To do less it to hold the world hostage to the actions of a few who might at any moment hurl us all into a war that none would survive.


Portside aims to provide material of interest

to people on the left that will help them to

interpret the world and to change it.


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