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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
For a third day high-placed Russian and Georgian politicians have been pronouncing loaded phrases, in the deparaging sense, which are not acceptable in diplomatic protocal. In reply to the suggestion of Igor Ivanov that bin Laden might be hiding in the Pankisi gorge, a more than insulting answer followed from President Eduard Shevardnadze, with the […]

The Pentagon in the Transcaucasus

by Vasily Streltsov

For a third day high-placed Russian and Georgian politicians have been pronouncing loaded phrases, in the deparaging sense, which are not acceptable in diplomatic protocal. In reply to the suggestion of Igor Ivanov that bin Laden might be hiding in the Pankisi gorge, a more than insulting answer followed from President Eduard Shevardnadze, with the proposal to seek out the terrorist in Ivanov’s mother’s house. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Georgian Security Minister Valery Khaburdzania quickly jumped into the frey, while the barbs of the Georgian side continued to carry a very offensive tone.

People who understand international politics understand that Tbilisi has found a serious argument, which would allow an absolutely economically weakened country to speak with Moscow, if not from a position of strength, then from something similar to that. Sources are informing NG that such an argument has indeed been found. Yesterday American military personnel arrived in Georgia. It is a small group, possibly Army communications specialists or simply advisors who are preparing the introduction of fundamental allied forces into the Pankisi gorge. In any case, one can affirm with confidence that the Americans have got their feet onto Georgian soil, and it is forever.

International society has already had the opportunity to be convinced that the singular argument for speaking from a position of strength in modern geopolitics is an American military presence. This was demonstrated by the situation in Afghanistan, who was deserted by all of her allies, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. An this is demonstrated by the case of Gerogia, where a small and weak republic allows itself to speak with Russia in an offending tone.

The US is once again playing a very complex combination play with many moves, in which the accent is clearly placed on the struggle with illegal terrorist organizations, and as a result of which Russia turns out to be in a losing situation. Russia faithfully supported the struggle with the Taliban and formally it has won from this. But Russia has lost in the strategic sense, as all of the southern tier has been blockaded by the USA. In order to completely dominate on the territory of the former Soviet Union, the Americans needed a military presence in the Caucasus. The best pretext for this was the struggle with illegal armed formations. Afterwards a spreading of influence to Azerbaijan and Armenia will follow.

It is very nice that preparations have already begun in Georgia for fall exercises within the framework of the NATO “Partnership for Peace” program, “Cooperative Partner-2002,” in the course of which the actions of international forces will be worked out in the conducting of a complex anti-terrorist operation. Applications for participation came from 16 countries, including all of the states of the south Caucasus. And if for Baku the further drawing together with NATO is a continuation of the traditional policies of recent years, then for Yerevan this could mean a definite change in foreign policy priorities which, it seems, would be fully justified by the emerging competition.

Russia, hopelessly losing, is feverishly searching for an Nto save face. Events of recent days have demonstrated that Russia has been carrying on a search for a pretext to withdraw from Georgia legally in the context of diplomatic canons for a while now. In this context, the recent proposal voiced by General Staff head Anatoly Kvashnin to withdraw the Transcaucasus Group of the Russian military from Tbilisi “in a slapdash fashion” becomes understandable. If this operation had actually been carried out in a condensed period, then it could forever have been said that the Americans arrived in Georgia already after the Russians withdrew, not giving a toss about their presence.