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Provoking Russia

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

It was five years ago that the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvilli, who was installed in power by the Washington supported “Rose Revolution,” launched a military invasion of South Ossetia, a break-away province under its own government.

The Georgian attack killed Russian peace-keeping troops and numerous Ossetians.

The Russian military response overwhelmed the US trained and equipped Georgian army in 5 days to the embarrassment of Saakashvilli and his Washington sponsors.

Washington began the training and equipping of the Georgian military in 2002, and continues to conduct joint military exercises with Georgia. In March and April of this year the US again conducted joint military exercises with Georgia. Washington is pushing to have Georgia admitted as a member of NATO.

Most analysts regard it as unlikely that Saakashvilli on his own would violate the peace agreement and attack Russian troops.  Certainly Saakashvilli would have cleared the aggression with his Washington sponsor.

Saakashvilli’s attempt to recover the territories was an opportunity for Washington to test Russia. Washington saw the attack as a way of embarrassing the Russian government and as a way of testing Russia’s response and military in action.  If Russia did not respond, the government would be
howeconembarrassed by its failure to protect its interests and the lives of those Russia regards as citizens.  If Russia did respond, Russia could be denounced, as it was by President George Bush, as a bully that invaded a “democratic country” with a Washington-installed president.  Especially interesting to Washington was the ability to observe the Russian military’s tactics and operational capabilities.

North Ossetia is part of Russia.  South Ossetia extends into Georgia. In 1801 Ossetia and Georgia became part of Russia and subsequently were part of the Soviet Union.

Under Russian law former Soviet citizens have the right to be Russian citizens.  Russia permitted Georgia to become independent, but South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the 1990s.

If Washington succeeds in installing Georgia into NATO, then an attempt by Georgia to recover what it regards as lost territories would escalate the conflict.  An attack by Georgia would comprise an attack by the US and NATO against Russia. Despite the risk to Europe of being pulled into a war with Russia, this month the chief of Denmark’s Home Guard was in Georgia on Washington’s mission discussing cooperation between the defense ministries of Denmark and Georgia on regional security issues.

Georgia lies to the East of the Black Sea.  What “regional security issues” does Georgia have with Denmark and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?  NATO was established to defend Western Europe against Soviet attack.

Finland and Sweden remained neutral during the Cold War, but both are now being recruited by NATO.  NATO lost its purpose with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet, it has been greatly expanded and now includes former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire.  NATO has become a cover for US military aggression and supplies troops for Washington’s wars.  Georgia’s troops are fighting for Washington in Afghanistan and fought for Washington in Iraq.

Washington kept NATO alive and made it into a mercenary army that serves Washington’s world empire.

In a provocation to both Russia and China, the US is currently conducting military exercises in Mongolia.  Troops from Korea and Tajikistan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, are also participating. Washington calls such operations “building interoperability between peacekeeping nations.”  Obviously, foreign military forces are being incorporated into the Empire’s army.

Are Americans aware that Washington is conducting military exercises all over the world, is surrounding Russia and China with military bases, and now has an Africa Command?  Have Congress and the American people signed off on Amerika Uber Alles? Shouldn’t Washington and the military/security complex be reined in before Washington’s aggression triggers a nuclear war?

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format.

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Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

CounterPunch Magazine

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