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The Way the Wind Blows

America’s Baleful Worldwide Pressure

by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

The overweening arrogance of the United States in conduct of its foreign relations is evident throughout the world. A morning glance at international headlines will usually light on some intriguing gobbet of  Washington conceit, generally a lecture, a scolding or a spiteful threat intended to ensure that lesser nations keep firmly in their place, subservient to the imperatives of an empire that is increasing its military dominance day by day.

Hillary Clinton lectured the world from Phnom Penh recently, declaring that  “the nations of the [South China Sea] region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and without use of force.”  Which prompts the question: in that case why does the United States of America, which has no justification for any presence in the South China Sea (7,000 miles from the US mainland), have a vast fleet, including carrier strike groups and Marine Expeditionary Units, roaming the area?  And it doesn’t explain why the US refuses to ratify a UN Treaty relevant to the China Sea which expresses the “desire to settle, in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, all issues relating to the law of the sea.” That is, to put it mildly, total humbug.

As the Asia Times noted about American military expansion in Asia, “The US also intends to station four new Littoral Combat ships and increase ship visits and base surveillance aircraft in Singapore. In addition, upgraded military relations with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei will support already existing US plans with Australia, Singapore and the Philippines.” And the super-oaf Defense Secretary Panetta, never one to ignore an opportunity to increase international tension, declared to Fox News during a visit to Vietnam that “The more I am out here, the more critical I view this region in terms of our national defense and the defense of the world . . .  we need to be rightly focused on playing a bigger role here in the Asia Pacific.”  — “Rightly”?  What right does America have to poke its martial snout into the South China Sea?

US confrontation with China looms closer, and it’s hardly the fault of the Chinese whose position, in the words of  Xinhua, is that “the tree craves calm but the wind keeps blowing.”  But there’s one thing certain:  the Chinese tree will whip back if the Washington wind increases its intensity.  As the Chinese well understand, the world in general craves calm, but the out-of-control US military machine, in an expansionist wave of unprecedented energy, is hell-bent on domination.  One unintended development of this is closer cooperation between China and Russia, as shown during President Putin’s visit to Beijing in June when he described China as “a good partner on the world platform,” — contrasting markedly with Moscow’s relations with Washington.

No sooner had the Soviet Union collapsed twenty years ago than New York’s vultures of greed descended on Moscow and ripped off what was left of a shattered economy, creating Russian clones of the western financial swindlers who caused the economic crises in the US and elsewhere. Then Washington joined in and encouraged former states of the USSR to join NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance specifically constructed to fight against the Soviet Union and whose military commander is always a US general. This expansion was intended to send a menacing message to Russia which, although in a difficult economic condition with sizeable social problems, was and is a proud and noble nation. And the message was clear: the baleful influence of Washington is being continually extended.

This influence is strikingly evident in Georgia, which in 2008 attacked the border region of South Ossetia where Russian speakers (the majority) were attempting to make their allegiance clear. (It had been an autonomous area even during the time of the USSR.)  In 1992 Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian leaders had agreed to a tripartite peacekeeping force of 500 soldiers each, and South Ossetia’s elected President, Eduard Kokoity, asked Moscow to recognize the republic’s autonomy. In 2002, deliberately and directly challenging Moscow, the Pentagon initiated a ‘Train and Equip Program’ to arm and train the Georgian military, and in 2005 arranged a “Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program  to broaden capabilities of the Georgian armed forces.”  Israel was deeply involved, and Haaretz reported that  “Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili yesterday praised Israel for its role in training Georgian troops and said ‘Israel should be proud of its military, which trained Georgian soldiers,’ Yakobashvili, who is Jewish, told [Israeli] Army Radio in Hebrew.”

With such backing, Georgia had the confidence to invade South Ossetia, which resulted in Russian counter-attacks in which Georgian forces were defeated. George Bush then gave the country a billion dollars and continued to be its strong supporter, going so far as to arrange a ‘Charter on Strategic Partnership’, which “recognizes Georgia’s important contributions to Coalition efforts in Iraq as demonstrating Georgia’s potential as a net provider of security.” The Iraq debacle didn’t stop Georgia sending over 900 soldiers to Afghanistan under US command. (16 have been killed, the latest dying on July 29,  and its battalion commander in December last year had both legs blown off.  Georgia is the only country to be increasing — almost doubling — its troop numbers while all others are reducing theirs.)  In a blatant display of arrogant international meddling last August the US Senate passed a resolution declaring that South Ossetia is a province of  Georgia  “illegally occupied by Russian troops who must get out and return to Russia.”

The webs, dens and spearheads of US influence along Russia’s perimeter are wide, complex and sinister and have two main objectives: to threaten Russia militarily and curtail its economic growth, especially in the energy sector.  It’s the Cold War all over again, and President Vladimir Putin has taken a tough stand against the new imperialism, which has resulted in much vilification of him in US and British media. During the Obama-Putin get-together in June there was no meeting of minds, with Putin refusing to endorse US policies and not one public exchange of a smile. Russia isn’t storm-struck Poland, and Putin is determined to stand up for his country.  This tree is not for bending in the Washington wind.

But there is one tree that is looking decidedly leaf-torn by the US storm, and that is Pakistan, where Washington’s malevolence includes the recent threat by Hillary Clinton to destroy the economy by sanctions if Pakistan and Iran build the gas pipeline which is so vital for Pakistan to reduce power cuts. It doesn’t sound much in international terms, but it’s a vitally important matter for Pakistan whose citizens endure extreme temperatures that can be alleviated only by constant supply of electricity but who suffer from up to 18 hours a day without it.  Power cuts are having dire economic and social consequences.

Pakistan has suffered immense domestic damage since the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in the fatuously-named Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.  They caused thousands of militant fanatics to flood into Pakistan where they began a campaign of mayhem, encouraging home-grown extremists in a tide of psychotic savagery.

There had been only one suicide bombing attack in Pakistan before the invasion (and that was an Egyptian citizen aiming at his own embassy in 1995), but since then there have been 311 attacks and 10,262 people killed. The first was in 2003, and the psychos’ campaign really got into its stride in 2007 when the foreigners’ war in Afghanistan intensified and drone attacks in Pakistan increased. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, on average one assassination drone attack has struck Pakistan every four days during Obama’s presidency. Out of some 2,500 people killed in the strikes only 126 could be named. All the others were apparently ‘suspected terrorists.’  At least 350 civilians have been killed (some estimates are double that) of whom over 160 were children. Now there’s a tree bend for you.  Why not kill a kid for Enduring Freedom?  Sure, they deserved calm in their lives, but the cyclonic explosions of Hellfire missiles blasted them to eternal tranquility. In small pieces. That’s the way the wind blows.

Brian Cloughley’s website is www.beecluff.com