I had great sympathy for Chechnya when it was twice destroyed by Russian forces. The Chechens have been fighting for their independence for more than a hundred and fifty years. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no sympathy for Chechnya because, he says, Chechnya is officially part of Russia. The Chechen issue is a matter of Russian ‘territorial integrity.’ I admit that Brown’s position here makes sense. However brutal Russia’s treatment of Chechnya, it isn’t Britain’s business. (It may be the business of concerned British people, but that’s something else).
I don’t have much sympathy for Georgia, however, and none at all for the bleatings of the US, Britain and Germany, including Brown’s ridiculous bleatings in the Guardian. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia relinquished its control of eastern Europe and allowed independence to Caucasian and Central Asian nations. But instead of independence several of these countries became absorbed into the American empire. The fear that some of them had of their huge neighbour was understandable and deeply rooted (though not in Georgia, which had participated in Soviet rule from the Georgian Stalin to the Georgian Shevardnadze). The real fault was the West’s, to so stupidly exploit this fear, and to extend, by hubris, NATO membership and American missiles right to Russia’s borders. Russia in 1991 was too weak to do anything but let power slip, but its tolerance of Western expansion also showed a naivety, an overly-optimistic trust in Western capitalism. The very memory of that naivety is a humiliation to Russians.
The current fighting started when the Georgian president (he is also an American citizen) decided, Milosevic-style, to seize back the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Thousands were killed in the Georgian bombardment, including Russian peace-keepers. South Ossetia, and the province of Abkhazia, have just as much right to secede from Georgia as Kosovo from Yugoslavia. Russia defended them, and took the opportunity to roll back American influence in the Caucasus.
The Monroe doctrine – that no major foreign power can install military bases in Central or South America because this is the United States’ sphere – has stood for 200 years. When the Soviet Union briefly shipped missiles to Cuba in 1962, the world shivered on the brink of nuclear war. But America has been pouring arms and military expertise into Georgia. So too has Israel. The torturers and murderers of the Shin Bet helped teach Saakashvili how to intimidate his opponents. In return, Saakashvili sent 2000 troops to participate in the dismantling of Iraq. He certainly expected more help from the West when his attack on South Ossetia rebounded on him.
In the event, Georgia was very similar to Gaza and Beirut. Despite all the US-Israeli arms, training and money, Georgia-as-client collapsed in hours. It is a sign of the times, these pockets slipping out of the empire’s grasp, one after the other. Imperial authority is fracturing.
Bashaar al-Assad exploited the moment beautifully. He immediately expressed his support for Russia, reminded the Russians again and again of the Israeli role in Georgia, and offered Russia a naval base in Tartus. It is unlikely that the strengthening relationship will give Syria weapons that threaten the Zionist state, but it may help Syria build its air defences against Israeli aggression.
But back to the idiots. In the Guardian, Gordon Brown says: “Twenty years ago, as the Berlin Wall fell, people assumed the end of hostility between East and West, and a new world order founded on common values.”
That was the mistake the Russians so gullibly made, until they discovered what ‘common values’ meant. To people like Brown, they mean American missile batteries in Georgia and the Ukraine. The rape of the Russian economy by anarcho-gangsters (it all happened under the direction of Western economic ‘experts’) brought Russia into the glorious new world order. Russian life expectancy plummeted.
Brown goes on to ask: “How can we best create a rules-based international system that protects our collective security and safeguards our shared values?” He has one answer: “We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship.” Do I need to point out the irony? You’d think not, not after Iraq and Afghanistan, not after Lebanon and Palestine, not after Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. But obviously, yes, I do, because Brown’s audience does not immediately laugh or vomit when he says such things.
The idiot Miliband insists on extension of NATO membership to Ukraine and Georgia. So does the idiot Cameron, leader of what passes for an opposition in this undemocratic society. If Georgia had been a member of NATO when it attacked South Ossetia, all NATO members, including Britain, would have found themselves at war with Russia. As a Briton, I’m not amused. As a human being, I am a bit: NATO is already losing a war in Afghanistan. What does it think it could do against Russia?
Brown bleating: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/31/russia.georgia