In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The role of the United States in Europe

Posted by seumasach on August 29, 2008

 

By Christopher King

Redress

29 August 2008

Christopher King argues that Europe is now at a juncture at which it must choose between the US and its lies, propaganda and military threats or a mutually-beneficial and prosperous relationship with Russia.



It is critical that recent events relating to Georgia and South Ossetia should be evaluated by the European Union with the objective of peace and prosperity for Europe rather than warfare, destruction and ruin. A choice must be made while there is time and opportunity to choose.

Europe has enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity for the last 60 years. The development of the European Union has fostered and consolidated this. It is right that the Eastern European countries should also join the EU where they have demonstrated that they share its values and are willing to commit fully to its further development.

The conflict over South Ossetia brings into sharp focus a fault line that must be addressed urgently if the EU is to continue to enjoy its achievements.

The fault line that runs through Europe is the role of the United States of America. 

In the past the US has been a good friend to Europe; however, in recent years its role in world events has been changing and those changes must be taken into account by the EU. Similarly, in the past the Soviet Union was considered to be Europe’s enemy. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Moreover, Russia has changed radically to become a friend and major trading partner to the EU. Those positive changes must be preserved and further developed in the interests of European peace and stability.

Simultaneously, the role of NATO must be re-evaluated in terms of the evaporation of the Soviet Union, Russia’s positive achievements and the changing role of the US. The US has military bases in many countries and from these and by other means, exerts its influence on their host countries and their neighbours. In the past this has generally speaking been a benign influence. That is no longer necessarily the case

 

The changing behaviour of the US reflects two major factors with implications for the world as a whole. The most important is the increasing scarcity of natural resources, primarily oil, coal and minerals; secondarily water and land. Increasing world population and Asian industrial development is bringing this factor to an acute stage. 

The second factor for change is the rapid development of science, technology and industry in the populous Asian countries. The US competes on more or less equal terms with Europe, but cannot compete with Asia in the linked markets for sale of manufactured goods or purchase of energy and minerals. As a result, the US is experiencing loss of manufacturing, a fall in living standards and a declining economy. 

Until the present, the US has used energy and minerals at a rate greatly disproportionate to its population. This has been possible due to its place in the forefront of the industrial revolution and the development of science and technology, supported by economic, political and military pressure. In future, that will no longer be possible.

The US response to its decline in economic influence has been to increase its use of military force, clandestine operations and bribery to invade, influence or overthrow foreign governments in obtaining materials and access to markets. The most obvious of these operations were the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq together with the current threat to Iran, on various well-known pretexts, to secure control of oil resources and pipeline routes. 

In its Middle-East operations the US has attempted to involve as many other countries as possible in order to create a wide-ranging de facto body of support for and commitment to its policies. Europe has, with a certain reluctance, supported the US to the present time, for reasons to do with cultural affinities, traditional links, preservation of NATO and past US support against the Soviet Union. Recently, personal gain by individual politicians, such as Anthony Blair, is likely. None of this is in European interests. 

One must ask, “What has the EU gained from invading Iraq and Afghanistan and what might it gain from the proposed bombing of Iran?” Nothing whatever, either moral or material. It is the US that is stealing Iraqi oil and controls Iraq’s oil profits of USD 67 billion in its banks. These wars were undertaken on the basis of lies and deception from George Bush and Anthony Blair. They are not only against Europe’s interests, but are morally despicable and undermine international law and stability.

Again, what might Europe gain from a US missile installation in Poland and the Czech Republic together with US bases in Romania and Bulgaria? Nothing except conflict at the US’s discretion. This is what we have seen in South Ossetia. The US offers Europe nothing constructive, nothing positive. Only armaments and proposals for warfare.

The facts about the South Ossetia conflict are undisputed. North Ossetia in the Russian Federation and South Ossetia in Georgia comprise a distinct ethnic group with its own language. In 1989 the Georgian government made Georgian the official language of South Ossetia and banned teaching of Ossetian. In 1990 it refused to recognize the results of South Ossetian local elections and banned regional political parties. In 1991 armed violence with Georgia broke out, ending in 1992 when a joint Russian-Georgian peacekeeping force was established. Two South Ossetian referenda in 1992 and 2006 in favour of independence were not recognized by the international community. 

Between 1 and 7 August 2008 intense small-arms fighting between South Ossetian and Georgian positions developed. Russia attempted to obtain United Nations intervention but was blocked by the US. On 8 August immediately past midnight, Georgia began shelling, rocketing and bombing the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, indiscriminately. The interview shown in the video below is with a US citizens who was in South Ossetia at the time.


US eyewitness Joe Mestas blames the US and Georgia for the violence in South Ossetia

Russian forces began moving through the Roki tunnel between North and South Ossetia later in the day on 8 August where they were attacked by Georgian forces. After this failed attack, which nevertheless inflicted damages, it could hardly be expected that Russian forces would subsequently be overly solicitous with Georgia, whatever their original intentions.

Who and what was behind the Georgian attack on Tshkinvali? Whatever his personal reasons, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has been shown on television lamenting that the US and NATO did not come to his aid against Russia. He and his forces clearlyexpected them to do so.

 On 15 July 2008, US, Georgian and Armenian troops took part in a joint military exercise in Georgia. The US has been pressing for Georgia to join NATO and the US/NATO has equipped and trained Georgian forces. It is impossible that US/NATO advisers in Georgia were not aware of Saakashvili’s invasion plans, yet, at very least, they did not advise him against it. The US itself must have known and approved since it provided President Saskashvili with satellite photographs of the Russian troop movements into the Roki tunnel during the day of 8 August. Georgia was already shelling Tshkinvali at this time. It was also well publicized that the US airlifted 2000 Georgian troops from Iraq to Georgia when conflict with Russia commenced.

Israel has also been involved in training the Georgian army and has been involved in arms sales to Georgia. Georgian Minister Temur Yakobshvili praised the Israeli army’s training for the success of Georgian tactics against Russian forces. The Russians will doubtless not forget this. 

The conclusion is inescapable that the US had knowledge of Saakashvili’s intention to invade South Ossetia, very likely encouraged it and certainly gave assistance.

The response of the Western media to Russia’s actions has been hysterical; that of the US media, insanely hysterical to the point of absurdity. The leader page of the Economist of 16 August, from which one might hope for a dispassionate economic analysis, contains a few lines of fact together with a diatribe of nonsense about Russia fanning the flames of conflict, aggression against Georgia, Russia’s military fist, etc. Much of the article suggests means of retaliation against Russia, including further provocation by hastening the entry of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. It is complete rubbish in an allegedly reputable publication but, in fact, somewhat more restrained than media comment generally.

The Polish government has hastily signed an agreement to accept the US’s proposed missile installation, implicitly admitting that the missiles were aimed at Russia in the first instance, despite Condoleeza’s Rice’s amazing assertion that they were aimed at “no-one”. This is an act of unbelievable local naïveté if not corruption and in, a wider context, betrayal of the European Union’s interests. The idea that these missiles give Poland security is absurd.

The position is this. A child could deduce it. There is no possibility whatever that the United States will embark on nuclear war for Europe, much less Poland. Neither Russia nor the US want mutual destruction. Europe is the United States’ buffer against Russia and always has been. NATO is a fraud, designed to give Europe a false sense of security but to be abandoned in any nuclear exchange. Russia will always win any war in Europe because it will use tactical nuclear weapons and can do so on European territory without nuclear retaliation from the US. In that event, it will be too late for recriminations against US inactivity and defence of its homeland.

In the Cold War days of the 1960s, the first stage of a tacit, limited nuclear exchange would have taken place on German territory in the West and in Eastern European countries on the Soviet side. Russia’s installation of missiles in Cuba created panic in the Kennedy administration because Russia had by-passed the intermediate European theatre and threatened the US directly. That was not a geographical shift in threat as such, since there was no difference in Russia’s ability to strike the US; it was a strategic shift that removed Western Europe as a first-strike buffer, leaving it unscathed if it took no action, in the event of a nuclear exchange. It left the US no room for manoeuvre, for any option other than immediate full-scale war. This difference was never analysed at the time but the Kennedy administration’s panic betrays its thinking. It is also current US thinking.

The EU should be under no illusions about US strategy for Europe. The return to the Cold War scenario places Europe in the same position as it occupied at that time. Those countries that threaten Russia will be destroyed very early in any war or threatened war. The reason is that Russia has lost its own buffer states – the Eastern European countries, whereas the US has gained them. Poland, other states containing US bases, France and the UK as nuclear states will be the first to be attacked. The US will not fire a single missile from the US mainland in their defence. To do so will be to be destroyed itself. The much vaunted “star wars” and anti-missile systems will always be only partially successful. They are an expensive means of enriching US industrialists and politicians. US citizens should also be under no illusions about the situation that their government is creating.

That is the bad news. The good news is that Russia has progressed a long way from the days of the Georgian mass murderer Stalin and his hatchet-man Beria, who the Russians shot as soon as possible after Stalin’s death. Russia has progressed toward democracy and a market economy, for which we may thank Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. We have not seen much of Dmitry Medvedev but Vladimir Putin is a tough but apparently straightforward character who will act in Russia’s best interests, as we must expect. At present he sees these in a closer, mutually beneficial relationship with the EU. That could easily change, depending on the EU’s decisions.

Russia does not need either the US or the EU. US bluster about punishing Russia is not only hollow, but if carried out will not harm Russia and only damage the EU’s relationship to Russia. As I have said previously, disrupting the EU’s relationship with Russia is a United States objective. Russia possesses not only large oil and gas reserves, but enormous known mineral resources and doubtless more yet undiscovered. If it cannot trade with the US and Europe, Russia will trade with China, Japan, India, Iran and the many other countries that will need its goods and minerals. 

Russia deserves credit for its achievements in moving into the mainstream of international community activity and deserves further trust. The EU should recall that twice in the first half of the 20th century Germany brought disaster on Europe. Spain was a dictatorship under Franco until 1975, Portugal a dictatorship under Salazar until 1974. These countries are now good Europeans. Western Russia is essentially European in culture and history. The Soviet Union and its Stalinist legacy have gone. There is every reason to believe that the EU can create a mutually beneficial relationship with the new Russia – if it makes the right decisions. That might appear to be a risk, but it is no risk at all. It is the course of safety. Examine the alternative.

The alternative is to follow the United States’ directions. These can be seen in its conduct of the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, its support of Israel’s terror campaign against the Palestinians, its legalization of torture, the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay prison outside legality, kidnapping and rendition of other countries citizens and now missile bases and provocation of Russia from within the EU. At the present time, the US offers only trouble to Europe.


The US opposes the Iranian gas pipeline to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh

The US is assiduously alienating its previous friends, leaving aside the entire Muslim world and most of South America, for example in opposing the Iranian gas pipeline to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh where these countries, two of which are enemies, have made commercial agreements. Russia has made clear its concerns that the US has abrogated the anti-ballistic missile treaty, placed bases and missiles on its borders and expanded NATO. These are reasonable concerns. The US offers only lies, propaganda and military threats. Russia offers the prospect of mutual prosperity.

It is urgent that the EU comes to a dispassionate strategic evaluation of its best interests for the next 50 years. If the EU is to continue to be a friend to the US it needs to guide its friend away from its present course. Anthony Blair failed to do that. Mr Blair was the principal reinforcer of the series of illegal actions that the US took following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. He is a UK/EU responsibility. The clearest signal of recovery of its moral standing and constructive direction would be for the EU to put Mr Blair on trial at the International Court of Justice for his lies and crimes. It should cease participation in the wars in which Mr Blair and the US has involved it and press for just, humanitarian solutions to them. It should above all, carefully evaluate its relationship with Russia against its recent experience of the US.


Christopher King is a retired consultant and lecturer in management and marketing. He lives in London, UK.

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