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 experienceâ€”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
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 Saakashviliâ€™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.