Bemoaning the Human Tragedy of Syria, Without Blaming Obama For It

[The US military has created so many new wars throughout the region that it should have fully absorbed the lessons of those wars by now, in particular, the grieveous human cost of ill-advised, or outright foolish military adventurism. Unleashing tnunamis of war refugees is a bi-product of all war, contingencies should have been prepared years ago (before starting new wars) to humanely deal with the refugees in surrounding countries. Blaming any of this upon ISIS should be unacceptable since it was the US/Saudi sponsorship of Islamists within Syria that created the monster in the first place. The ISIS/refugee problems which arose offer proof that the Pentagon either suffers from a total lack of foresight or the slightest degree human compassion. It is no wonder that so many returning war vets suffer from PTSD. Any legislation passed to deal with the refugee crisis now, should have already been enacted after the first regime-change disaster in Iraq, or before the consecutive disasters in Libya, Syria, Yeman, and Ukraine (?).]

npr
Syrian girls, carrying school bags provided by UNICEF, walk past the rubble of destroyed buildings on their way home from school on March 7 in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. So many people have fled the city and so much of its infrastructure has been destroyed that nighttime satellite images show 97 percent less light compared to four years ago.

Syrian girls, carrying school bags provided by UNICEF, walk past the rubble of destroyed buildings on their way home from school on March 7 in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. So many people have fled the city and so much of its infrastructure has been destroyed that nighttime satellite images show 97 percent less light compared to four years ago.  Zein al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images

 

The conflict in Syria is entering its fifth year, and two new reports suggest it just keeps getting worse for civilians there.

One United Nations agency says life expectancy has plummeted by 20 years in the once-developed nation, while another new study based on nighttime satellite imagery finds that, in the past four years, 83 percent of the country’s lights have gone off.

And that’s just the average, says Michael Klosson, vice president for policy at aid group Save the Children. In areas like Aleppo, where much of the populace has fled and infrastructure has been pulverized, researchers found that light has been reduced as much as 97 percent.

Klosson says he thinks the satellite images illustrate that the hopes for Syria’s children — his aid group’s focus — are darkening.

“You’ve got 5.5 million kids who need humanitarian assistance — that’s equivalent to the population of the entire state of Maryland,” he says. “That’s a lot of kids in need.”

Meanwhile the U.N. report says life expectancy has fallen from nearly 76 years to under 56 in Syria, that the nation’s education system has collapsed and that the country is descending into poverty.All that despite a UN Security Council resolution passed last year to open up aid routes. Activists say it’s had little impact.

“The U.N. and the world have failed, and things have gotten worse for civilians,” says Gawain Kripke, director of policy and research at Oxfam America. “Our ability to provide assistance has been limited, and there are more people in places that are hard to reach now, than there were before the U.N. took action.”

Aid groups can’t get to about 4.8 million people in Syria, Kripke says, 2.5 percent higher than in 2013. The rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State certainly plays a role, but Kripke says Washington has been too focused on that.

“We’re spending a lot of time, money and resources focusing on parts of the problem — like ISIS — but it’s not a comprehensive solution to the conflict,” he says. “And it’s ignoring the suffering that’s going on.”

The problem is so enormous — former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday said, “What is happening on the ground in Syria is a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe of the first order” — that some worry people may decide it’s a lost cause.

“It has the danger of people switching off, because it’s hard to imagine what can be done,” says Nigel Pont, who is stationed in Beirut for Mercy Corps. “While we are not able to put an end to this war, and while we can’t alleviate everyone’s suffering, we are able to help millions of people a year.”

Save the Children’s Klosson also worries that the world’s attention is shifting away, and is urging the U.S. and other world powers to step up humanitarian assistance and work harder to find a solution the conflict.

“That’s how you get the lights back on,” he says.

Dumb-Ass Republican Leadership Frothing At the Mouth For MORE WAR!

[SEE:  Half of the US Senate Publicly Undermines and Embarasses the President of the United States (Cotton and 46 Fellow Senators to Send Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran)]

GOP’s New Foreign Policy Hero Is a Surveillance-Loving Interventionist Nightmare

reason

In soviet America, Cotton picks you! |||
Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton wants to invade Iran and Syria, jail journalists and whistleblowers, eavesdrop on Americans, and keep the ‘savages’ locked up in Gitmo.

Matt Welch

He’s “the star of the 2014 Senate class,” proclaims The Washington Post. A “conservative superstar,” deems The Atlantic. The “leading GOP national security hawk,” says The Washington Post again. Even a “dark horse” 2016 candidate for president, says The New Republic. So just who exactly is the new letter-writing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee, and what does his prominence say about the contemporary GOP?

Beyond being a Harvard-educated Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s biggest new political protégé, and also a target of sustained affection from National Review, Cotton is a politician who has already taken plenty of policy positions. Among them:

* That the U.S. should pre-emptively invade Iran, topple the mullahs, and ensure “replacement with [a] pro-western regime.”

* That “we should be proud for the way we treated these savages at Guantanamo Bay,” and that “the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is that there are too many empty beds.”

* That we should keep at least 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the forseeable future to finally get the job done there.

* That the U.S. should deploy ground troops against ISIS.

* That President Barack Obama should have taken “decisive, effective military action” against Syria after the regime crossed the administration’s “red line” in 2013.

* That the National Security Agency needs to be able to collect bulk metadata on unsuspecting Americans, because “Folks, we are at war. You may not like that truth … Do not take this tool away from our warriors on the front lines.”

* That Edward Snowden is a “traitor.”

* That defense spending needs to be jacked up: “We need to restore money not only cut by the sequester but the $1 trillion [reduced before that].”

* That, “Far from restraining the use of drones […] through unwise and unconstitutional mechanisms, we should continue and probably expand their use in our war against radical Islam.”

* That Iraq was a “just and noble war.”

* That, concerning pre-emptive military intervention, “George Bush largely did have it right, that we can’t wait for dangers to gather on the horizon, that we can’t let the world’s most dangerous people get the world’s most dangerous weapons, and that we have to be willing to defend our interests and the safety of our citizens abroad even if we don’t get the approval of the United Nations.”

* That ending President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran “is very much an intended consequence” of Cotton’s efforts in the Senate; “a feature, not a bug.”

* That, concerning the Obama administration’s November 2013 agreement with Iran in Geneva, “I fear that future generations may view what happened in Geneva as we have viewed Munich for 75 years. What makes this moment worse is that the West appeased Hitler at Munich out of fear and weakness. President Obama capitulated at Geneva even though we were in a position of strength given the sanctions regime. One can only imagine the thinking behind this grievous, historic mistake.”

Cotton first came to prominence as an Army lieutenant in Iraq in 2006, when he wrote a soon-to-be-viral open letter to then-New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau criticizing the paper’s investigative piece about administration efforts to disrupt terrorist financing. The letter closes with a desire to see the journalists deprived of their freedom:

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others — laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

It is no wonder that neoconservatives such as Washington Free Beacon founder Michael Goldfarb wish “there were 20 Tom Cottons.” The open question, as it pertains to the new GOP majority, is whether Goldfarb is correct in his assessment that “At the end of the day, the Republican base is for bombing bad people.”

 

Kerry Denies Obvious US Destabilization/Civil War Agenda

Kerry Re-writes History of U.S. Support for Color Revolutions

strategic culture foundation

Wayne MADSEN | 06.03.2015 | 00:00

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry either has a blind spot when it comes to the last 15 years of U.S. foreign policy or he told a big whopping lie in Geneva. Kerry, in defining U.S. action in Ukraine, said that «We [the United States] are not involved in multiple color revolutions». Someone in Kerry’s position should know better. After all, he is not only the chief foreign policy officer of the United States but he served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2009 to 2013 and was a member of the committee from the very outset of America’s «themed» or «color» revolutions, beginning with the October 5th Revolution, which overthrew Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

The chief of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, correctly said that the United States is funding Russian opposition groups and using sanctions over Ukraine to promote civil society discontent leading to a color revolution in Russia. The alarming record of U.S. support for color revolutions around the world speaks for itself.

What is even more galling about Kerry’s denial of U.S. operations aimed at overthrowing various governments is that it was he who chaired a series of hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1987 to 1989 on the covert Central Intelligence Agency war to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. In 25 years, Kerry has gone from a firebrand opponent of CIA coup d’état and destabilization operations to a consummate cover-up artist for these activities.

After the overthrow of Milosevic in 2000 in a street protest-turned-revolution that followed the Gene Sharp/CIA manual to the tee and which was backed by the granddaddy of all NGO protest groups, OTPOR!, there were some 20 themed revolutions in rapid succession. These were followed by the «Arab Spring» themed revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Soros and his NGOs’ fingerprints were found on smaller attempted revolutions from Honduras to Maldives. OTPOR personnel were even dispatched to some of these countries, courtesy of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to assist in the fomenting of rebellion.

Mr. Kerry says Washington was not involved in «multiple color revolutions». Why did he use the term «multiple color revolutions?» Because there has been repeated U.S. support for multiple color revolutions as the following list attests:

The United States supported the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the Olive Tree Revolution in Palestine (that saw Hamas come to power and effectively split the Palestinian independence movement), the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Purple Revolution in Iraq (that saw a Shi’a-dominated government friendly to Iran come to power, spelling the end of the unified Iraqi state), Blue Revolution in Kuwait, Saffron Revolution in Burma (one that was crushed by the military) and the Crimson Revolution in Tibet (put down by the Chinese security forces), and the abortive Green Revolution in Iran. There were also attempted themed revolutions in Moldova (the Grape Revolution), Mongolia (the Yellow Revolution, which was partially successful), Uzbekistan (the Cotton Revolution), the autonomous Russian Republic of Bashkortostan (Orange Revolution), Ecuador (the Police Revolution), Bolivia (the Gas Revolution in the four secessionist natural gas-producing provinces), and Belarus (the Denim Revolution).

Not to be omitted is the Orange Democratic Movement’s uprising in Kenya, one that saw thousands murdered before the Orange movement’s leader Raila Odinga became Prime Minister in a power-sharing government. These color revolutions were followed by the U.S. – and Soros – supported Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, the Lotus Revolution in Egypt, the Twitter Revolution in Syria, and the uprising in Yemen. From the Middle East, the revolution engineers set out to attempt themed coups in Maldives (Yellow Revolution), Indonesia (the ill-fated «Sandal Revolution»), and the «Pots and Pans Revolution in Venezuela. Soros’s “Yellow Revolution” government in Maldives was ousted in a counter-coup by the vice president and police.

After the CIA-engineered coup against the democratically-elected president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya in 2009, the military-backed junta received the support of the wealthy elites who marched in the streets in support of the junta and adopted the color white in support of the military-installed president Roberto Micheletti. What did then-Senator Kerry say about that themed coup, the first carried out by the Obama administration? Kerry supported Zelaya’s goal of returning to power because Zelaya was the democratically-elected president of Honduras. Today, Kerry does not support the return of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to power in Kiev even though he too was democratically-elected and forced out unconstitutionally. When the Law Library of the U.S. Congress concluded that Zelaya’s removal was unconstitutional, it was Senator Kerry who demanded that the finding be reversed. Surely, Mr. Kerry learned the meaning of the word «hypocrite» while attending Yale and Boston College.

The history of U.S. support for themed revolutions continued well after the Arab Spring. After the second Ukrainian themed revolution against the Yanukovych presidency, the so-called «Euromaidan Revolution,» there were also attempted themed uprisings in Russia (the «Blue Bucket Revolution») and Macedonia.

There is no way on earth that Kerry can deny the themed color nature of U.S.-funded uprisings. As first seen with the Orange Revolution in Kiev in 2004, which was most definitely a Soros- and CIA-funded revolution that denied presidential winner Yanukovych the presidency and installed pro-U.S. Viktor Yushchenko and the corrupt Yulia Tymoshenko into power, flags and orange banners were ubiquitous on Kiev’s Central Square. In the most recent Ukrainian «Euromaidan» revolution, revealed by America’s bread-distributing maven of European affairs, Victoria Nuland, to have cost the U.S. taxpayers $5 billion, factory fresh red and black Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) flags appeared on Kiev’s Central Square, renamed Maidan Square, and throughout Kiev.

In the NED- and USAID-financed themed revolutions in Libya and Syria, factory-fresh flags of the former regimes, the King Idris regime of Libya and post-colonial and pro-French «Syrian Republic,» respectively, appeared practically overnight on the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli, as well as Aleppo, Homs, and Damascus. The old Kingdom of Libya standard is now the national flag of the dysfunctional “Republic of Libya,” which is split between rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk. In the case of Syria, the pre-Assad flag is now used by the Salafist-allied Free Syrian Army and is recognized as the flag of Syria by the United States, NATO, and the European Union.

China has not been immune to the American color revolutions. China’s defenses against such operations were tested first in Tibet and most recently in Hong Kong. Soros’s daughter, Andrea Soros Colombel, is the founder and president of the Trace Foundation and the co-founder, along with her husband, of the Tsadra Foundation. Both organizations directly support the Tibetan government-in-exile and their fingerprints were on the 2008 bloody rebellion in Tibet. Soros’s OSI Burma Project/Southeast Asia also had its fingerprints on the 2007 Buddhist monks’ rebellion in Burma, the so-called Saffron Revolution, the same theme applied to the Tibetan uprising in 2008. In 2011, a call went out for a Jasmine Revolution from the U.S.-based Chinese-language website Boxun.com.

The color revolution concept was on display in Calgary, Alberta where Conservative Naheed Nenshi, a Shi’a Ismaili, rode into the mayor’s office in a so-called «Purple Revolution». While not a coup, the elevation of Nenshi was heralded as a great «multicultural» success for an otherwise xenophobic and racist political party. Nenshi made no secret of his support for the Keystone XL pipeline and his disdain for the First Nation treaties that govern Ottawa’s relations with native tribal territories. Nenshi and his Conservatives are now trying to abrogate treaties with the First Nations and seize their hydrocarbon resources, something that is akin to a coup d’état against tribal sovereignty.

Kerry’s entire State Department top echelon has supported color revolutions under the Obama administration’s R2P (Responsibility to Protect) rubric since 2009. Many of the interventionists, including Nuland, her human rights point man Thomas Melia, and Jeffrey Feltman (now the Political Undersecretary General under UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after having served as the chief point man for the Arab Spring at the State Department) are either holdovers from the discredited George W. Bush administration or well-known neo-conservative political hacks. They are joined by the «neo-liberal» R2P architects, most notably national security adviser Susan Rice and UN ambassador Samantha Power.

John Kerry claims there has been no U.S. support for multiple color revolutions. Mr. Kerry should be sent Crayola’s 64 crayon pack as a reminder that there has been at least that number of color revolutions either hatched or planned by the United States since the October 5th Revolution in Belgrade.

2009 German Analysis Documenting US Plan To Unleash Civil War In Ukraine

Imperial Geopolitics: Ukraine, Georgia and the New Cold War between NATO and Russia

IMI german

von: Martin Hantke | Veröffentlicht am:

1. Januar 2009

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand current and future U.S., EU and NATO policy. Over ten years ago the former National Security Advisor gave a graphic description of the imperatives of imperial geopolitics. He argued that the U.S.A.’s position of supremacy should be preserved under all circumstances. To this end NATO, acting as a “bridgehead” of the U.S.A., should expand into Eurasia and take control of geostrategically important regions so as to prevent Russia’s resurgence as a powerful political force.

Brzezinski had in mind two countries or regions in particular: “Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status, but it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state, more likely to be drawn into debilitating conflicts with aroused Central Asians, who would then be supported by their fellow Islamic states to the south.” […] “However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”1 Brzezinski argued further that there was an imperative need to gain control of the southern Caucasus, i.e. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, on Russia’s southern flank. The past master of U.S. geopolitics set out the aim and purpose of NATO policy with impressive clarity: “The United States and the NATO countries – while sparing Russia’s self-esteem to the extent possible, but nevertheless firmly and consistently – are destroying the geopolitical foundations which could, at least in theory, allow Russia to hope to acquire the status as the number two power in world politics that belonged to the Soviet Union.”2

In the years that followed, these words were systematically put into political practice with NATO taking its eastward expansion right up to Moscow’s borders. Furthermore, active Western support for the “colourful revolutions” in Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004) led to the sitting pro-Russian or neutral governments and presidents being ousted by pro-Western candidates.3 Russia regarded NATO’s policy as crossing the “red line”. As the war between Russia and Georgia in the summer of 2008 showed, Russia is no longer prepared to stand idly by in the face of further attempts at expansion. Nevertheless, the Western military alliance is doggedly pursuing its escalation policy, in which Ukraine and Georgia are now being offered NATO membership as a means of safeguarding the “successes” that have been scored. U.S. President Barack Obama is also in favour of these two countries joining NATO.4 The announcement that Michael McFaul, a hardliner on policy towards Moscow, is to be appointed senior director for Russian affairs at the National Security Council gives little cause for hope that Washington under its new president will abandon its aggressive, anti-Russian policy. This amounts to tacit acceptance that the New Cold War between NATO and Russia, invoked so frequently of late, will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ukraine: “On someone else’s arse”

Even now, the approach to Ukraine is evidently still determined by Brzezinski’s recipes from the devil’s workshop of geopolitics. NATO accession and Europe’s energy supply are issues that are closely intertwined. Writing in Handelsblatt, Peter Zeihan from Strategic Forecast, the think-tank often referred to as the “shadow CIA”, described the complex geopolitical situation as follows: “On the one hand, the ‘orange’ revolution of 2004 led to the installation of a Ukrainian government hostile to Russia’s objectives. President Viktor Yushchenko would like to integrate his country into the European Union and NATO. For Russia that would be the kiss of death. Most of the infrastructure linking Russia with Europe – from pipelines to railway lines and high-voltage cables – is located in Ukraine. Industry and agriculture in both countries are closely interlinked. There are more Russians living in eastern Ukraine than anywhere else in the world outside Russia. The Russian Black Sea fleet is stationed in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol because there are no reasonable alternatives. Ukraine stretches so far into southern Russia that a hostile power in the country could pose a threat to Moscow. Moreover, the country stretches so far eastwards that an antagonistic government there could even threaten Russia’s connections with the Caucasus. In a nutshell, if Ukraine slips out of Russia’s sphere of influence Russia will be forced completely onto the defensive in strategic terms. Vice versa, if Russia regains control in Kiev, the country could set itself up as a regional – and perhaps even a global – power.”5 It was to obviate such a scenario that Washington engaged in a further round of frenzied activity shortly before the end of U.S. President George W. Bush’s period in office. This activity was aimed at advancing Ukraine’s future membership of NATO. Martin Luther’s words to the effect that “Riding through a fire is easy on someone else’s arse” might perhaps have flashed through the mind of the then U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, as she walked up with Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Volodymyr Ohryzko, to sign the United States-Ukraine Charta on Strategic Partnership on 19 December 2008. Rice said: “The United States supports Ukraine’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures. And in that regard, I want to assure you that the declaration at Bucharest which foresees that Ukraine will be a member of NATO when it can meet those standards is very much at the center of our policy.” The Ukrainian Foreign Minister set great store by a strengthening of the presence of the United States in Ukraine, in particular through a diplomatic mission on the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea.6

In addition to a programme of enhanced security cooperation intended to strengthen Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership, agreement was reached on close collaboration on energy issues. It was resolved inter alia that “In recognition of the importance of a well functioning energy sector, the parties intend to work closely together on rehabilitating and modernizing the capacity of Ukraine’s gas transit infrastructure.”7 This Charter on Strategic Partnership was signed against the backdrop of the gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia. Given Ukraine’s failure to pay its debts and the lack of any new agreement on deliveries of gas to Ukraine, supplies of Russian gas to Ukraine were stopped as of 1 January 2009. Within a few days the dispute began to have an effect on energy supplies throughout Europe. On 6 January 2009, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia reported that deliveries through the Ukrainian transit pipelines had come to a halt. Supplies to Austria fell by 90%. There are a number of indications that Ukraine’s actions can only be explained by reference to the support it received from the U.S.A. That was the Russian view too: “The Russian gas company Gazprom has pinned responsibility for the gas dispute with Ukraine on the U.S.A. Gazprom declared on Tuesday that Ukraine’s actions are being directed by the U.S. government. Despite the deployment of EU observers the Ukraine is again removing gas from the transit pipelines. Russia is therefore unable to deliver supplies to the EU countries. Alexander Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Russian energy giant, has accused the U.S.A. of fuelling the conflict.”8

In the case of both Georgia and Ukraine there is a close link between the gas dispute and support for their admission to NATO. In April 2008 the Bertelsmann Foundation concluded that Ukraine and Georgia were already closely integrated into “NATO’s working processes”. “Ever since it was founded in 1994, both countries have been part of the Partnership for Peace programme of the North Atlantic Alliance which is intended to promote individual cooperation between NATO and non-NATO countries. Cooperation has subsequently been extended. […] In their bilateral cooperation agreements with NATO both countries see far-reaching domestic reforms as a means of moving closer to the defence alliance. Such reforms principally concern the consolidation of internal democratic structures, but priority is also given to the fight against global terrorism and support for the operations and missions of the North Atlantic Alliance. The latter was one reason why U.S. President George W. Bush emphasized his efforts to have Ukraine and Georgia included in the Membership Action Plan. The progress made in integration into NATO’s defence structures puts into perspective the question that arose at the Bucharest summit about the steps Ukraine and Georgia will take after the provisional ‘no’ to their admission to the Membership Action Plan. Their path will inevitably take them into NATO.”9

Germany is playing a double role here. On the one hand it has joined France in rejecting an accelerated accession procedure for Ukraine, which the U.S.A. favoured; on the other hand it is playing a risky game by not placing any obstacles in the path of fundamental approval of Ukraine’s accession to NATO. The German Foreign Office has itself provided an apt description of this double role: “At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008 Ukraine was in principle given the prospect of membership (‘We agreed today that these countries (i.e. Ukraine and Georgia) will become members of NATO’). Ukraine was not granted a Membership Action Plan (MAP); instead, a comprehensive review process was initiated.”10 This granting of prospective membership to Ukraine for the first time, combined with Georgia’s aggression shortly afterwards against Abkhazia and South Ossetia, proved the last straw for Moscow.

Georgia: a geopolitical prize

A look at the map quickly makes it clear why the Southern Caucasus is so important. Georgia provides the only opportunity of supplying Europe with gas and oil from the resource-rich countries of Central Asia and of transporting goods and products to Europe by land from China and Kazakhstan. The Nabucco pipeline project is intended to help reduce Europe’s “dependence” on Russian gas imports, which currently account for 40% of its supplies and are expected to climb to even higher levels. According to the European press service EurActiv, “The US has long been pushing for the construction of oil and natural gas pipelines from the Caspian basin that would bypass Russia, especially via Georgia.”11 The project is a top priority for the European Union, too. During his period as representative of the EU Council President in 2006 the Austrian Minister of Economics Martin Bartenstein said: “[The] Nabucco pipeline is Europe’s most important energy project.”12

For both the EU Member States and the NATO countries Georgia provides the geographical terrain that is essential to cutting Russia off from the purchasers of its energy exports. Russia’s countermeasures include three pipeline projects – Nord Stream (Baltic Sea pipeline), South Stream (Russian-Italian gas pipeline through the Black Sea via Varna in Bulgaria) and Blue Stream (from Russia through the Black Sea into Turkey) – as well as the building of direct energy lines to western and southern Europe to ensure the unobstructed export of energy free from any checks or controls by former Eastern Bloc states very favourably disposed to the U.S.A. This was why the U.S.A., in particular, played the Georgian card in the hope of containing Russia’s political influence in Europe and preventing its rise to the status of an industrial power.

Western support for the war

Germany continues to play a significant part in the arming of Georgia. The Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) mostly train Georgian officers as part of the general staff training course which includes participants from other countries. Over the past few years the Bundeswehr has been host to a steady stream of high-ranking military delegations from Georgia. In addition, G 36 rifles manufactured by Heckler & Koch have been delivered to Georgia. The bulk of the training has been carried out by the U.S.A., however. The U.S. Army has trained Georgian soldiers “to bring the armed forces of Georgia, a loyal ally of Washington, up to NATO standards as an outpost in the Caucasus.”13 In 2006 alone, says the German news magazine Der Spiegel, the U.S.A. supported Georgia to the tune of 80 million U.S. dollars, 13 million of which went on the payment of “military supplies and services” as well as the training of soldiers. In addition the U.S.A. has helped Georgia by regularly modernising its fleet and delivering helicopters free of charge.14 The considerable extent of U.S. military assistance, which has “enabled the Pentagon to overhaul Georgia’s forces from bottom to top”, is described by the New York Times as follows: “At senior levels, the United States helped rewrite Georgian military doctrine and train its commanders and staff officers. At the squad level, American marines and soldiers trained Georgian soldiers in the fundamentals of battle.”15
All told, therefore, the Georgian armed forces have over five infantry brigades each numbering 2,000 men. In addition there are the reservist units whose level of training is far inferior. The Georgian government talks officially of 37,000 soldiers and 100,000 reservists. Since Mikhail Saakashvili took office, Georgia’s military spending has increased significantly: “In 2003 it amounted to 52 million lari (24 million U.S. dollars), whereas in 2006 that figure had tripled to 139 million lari (78 million U.S. dollars). Real expenditure is much higher, however. Anyone liable to be called up for military service, for example, can buy themselves out of the army – four-fifths of the money goes straight to the ministry.”16

There is also brisk cooperation between Georgia and NATO. In July 2008, a joint manoeuvre was held as part of the Partnership for Peace Programme in which a total of 1,630 military personnel, including 1,000 Americans and 600 Georgians, took part.17 In addition, the Georgian army has been – and still is – prominently involved in the war in Iraq, which is in contravention of international law, as well as in Afghanistan and Kosovo. In 2008, Georgia had 2,000 solders in Iraq, the third-largest contingent of the “Coalition of the Willing”. However, after the Georgian army had been repulsed in South Ossetia in August 2008, the U.S. Air Force flew the Georgian units stationed in Iraq back to the home front to provide help while the fighting was still in progress. Given the massive campaign undertaken by the U.S.A. and its allies to build up the country’s military, it is barely credible that, while the U.S.A. might not actually have given the green light, it was not fully informed of the pending attack and subsequently kept silent about it.

At any rate, the Russians are certain that the attack took place with support from Washington. The Russian ambassador to NATO, Dimitri Rogozin, made a statement to the effect that Saakashvili agreed the attack with his “backers”. It is clear to whom he was referring.18 Vladimir Vasilyev, Chairman of the Duma Security Committee, summed up the Russian point of view as follows: “The longer the matter goes on, the better the world will come to understand that Georgia would never have been capable of it [the attack on South Ossetia] without the United States”.19 In an interview for the German TV station ARD the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made his views of the U.S.A.’s behaviour perfectly clear: “One cannot help thinking that the American leadership knew of the planned action and, indeed, participated in it […] in order to organise a small-scale but successful war. And, if things went wrong, to force Russia into the role of the enemy.”20

Russia’s counter-attack

It is, indeed, hard to believe that the Georgian attack took place without any prior consultation with the U.S.A. Yet it must have been clear to the U.S. government that the Georgian army would be crushed in battle, which was precisely what happened. The question arises, therefore, as to Washington’s motives. Did it simply miscalculate in assuming that Russia would quietly accept the Georgian advance? It is hard to imagine but conceivable nonetheless. The other explanation is that the primary objective was to stir up a conflict with Russia so as to make the European Union toe an even more anti-Russian line and that Saakashvili came in handy here in the role of useful idiot, albeit at the expense of the people in the region. The matter cannot be clarified with any degree of certainty, although the latter explanation would appear more plausible.

At all events, the calculation backfired, because Russia seized the opportunity provided by the Georgian attack to improve its own position in the Caucasus. It is also very hard to imagine that Moscow was not informed of Georgia’s invasion plans. It was evidently well prepared for such an eventuality. In July, 8,000 Russian soldiers carried out an exercise simulating the repulsion of a Georgian attack. That might also explain why the Georgian troops were halted within 24 hours and the Russian troops gained the upper hand relatively quickly. Hence to describe Georgia’s war of aggression as the result of President Saakashvili stumbling into a Russian trap is not very convincing. Whether the Russians were well prepared or not, the fact of the matter is that Georgia engaged in a war of aggression.

In the course of the conflict Russia succeeded in shattering confidence in Georgia’s reliability as a transit country for future Caspian energy supplies. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili himself said that “one of the main reasons for the Russian attack was that Georgia already has the Baku-Tblissi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC), which has been laid one metre underground from end to end. This is intended to circumvent Russia.”21 That suspicion is not as mistaken as it might seem. After all, the opening of the BTC pipeline in May 2006, over which Washington and Moscow had wrangled bitterly for almost a decade, was one of the biggest geopolitical successes in the U.S.A.’s plans to roll back Russian influence in the region. “The Georgian security adviser, Alexander Lomaia, says that the Russians dropped six bombs but failed to hit the pipeline. If that is true, it would indicate that Russia’s military action was conducted in pursuit of other, more far-reaching strategic goals than merely preventing a humanitarian crisis in South Ossetia.”22

The Nabucco project was also dealt a heavy blow. According to Ed Chow from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Russia has raised serious doubts in the minds of Western lenders and investors […] as to whether a pipeline through Georgia is safe from attacks or beyond the control of the Kremlin.”23 Nevertheless, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs attempted to give an assurance that the EU was sticking to its plan to build the Nabucco pipeline through Georgia despite the Caucasus conflict: “This infrastructure is needed”, Piebalgs said.24

For the first time since the end of the (old) Cold War Russia has thus ended a Western attempt at expansion by military means. That alone is sufficient to underline the dimensions of the Russian-Georgian war. At the same time the invasion of Georgia is a clear signal to the West that in future Russia will once again have to be taken into account in international power politics. A Strategic Forecast analysis says: “Russia has demonstrated three things with its operation in South Ossetia. Firstly, its army can carry out successful operations, which foreign observers have doubted. Secondly, the Russians can defeat forces trained by U.S. military instructors. Thirdly, Russia has shown that the U.S.A. and NATO are not in a position that would enable them to intervene militarily in this conflict.”25

Astonishing one-sidedness

It is hardly surprising that the Russian response to the Georgian invasion was fiercely criticised by the U.S., which almost unreservedly took Georgia’s side. Zbigniew Brzezinski was vociferous in his response, comparing Putin’s actions with those of Hitler. He went on to say that Moscow’s behaviour “can lead to exclusion and economic and financial sanctions. If Russia continues down this road it must ultimately be isolated within the community of states.”26
The European Union adopted an equally one-sided stance: “The European Council is gravely concerned by the open conflict which has broken out in Georgia, by the resulting violence and by the disproportionate reaction of Russia.”27 These were the words used by the European heads of state and government on 1 September in commenting on the events in the Caucasus. They failed to mention, let alone criticise, the fact that Georgia’s aggression was clearly what had unleashed the war. The statement continues by severely criticising Russia alone. Thus the heads of state and government “strongly condemn Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” In stark contrast to the policy of recognizing Kosovo that was pursued by the vast majority of EU Member States, the European Council “recalls that a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Georgia must be based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and United Nations Security Council resolutions.”27

There were occasional vehement demands for even more drastic action against Russia. The Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP), advocated an EU position that is “tougher than that of NATO.”28 The fact that the hardliners were not able to have their way entirely has to do with the specific constellation of interests that have made this appear inopportune, particularly from a German perspective. On the one hand there is a desire to show Moscow who is in charge in Europe but, on the other, there is a wish not to spoil things completely with Russia, because business there is simply too profitable.29 Nevertheless, Germany is in almost full accord with NATO’s escalation policy.

(Energy) NATO is put into position

In November 2006 U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a leading NATO strategist, literally went on the offensive. On the fringes of the NATO summit in Riga he criticised Moscow for its attempts to use oil as a “weapon” against the West and proposed the setting up of an “Energy NATO”. The underlying idea is that in future NATO should treat any interruption of oil and gas supplies as it would a military attack (see article by Tobias Pflüger).

In January 2008, five high-ranking NATO generals published a position paper that was specifically introduced into the debate in the form of a catalogue of requirements for the forthcoming updating of NATO’s strategic concept, the idea being that it could serve as a blueprint for the NATO summit on 3/4 April 2009: “ There will be an increase in global competition for scarce resources, and this will certainly be the case for fossil fuel, which will swell the possibility of suppliers abusing their position and their leverage.. […]Dependency on oil and gas is a vulnerability that some governments will seek to exploit – the Gazprom crisis demonstrated how easily demand can be manipulated. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is – and is likely to remain – a mechanism for keeping the price of oil artificially high, and recently Russia and the United Arab Emirates have been exploring the idea of setting up a ‘Gas OPEC’. […] For this reason, it might well be worth considering using NATO as an instrument of energy security.”30

Shortly afterwards, in June 2008, Richard Lugar, who for a time was under discussion as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State for Defense, repeated his threats against Russia at a hearing of the Senate and vigorously advocated the building of the Nabucco pipeline.31 At the same hearing the new U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden expressly praised Lugar’s work on energy policy and emphasised the importance of the conflicts in the Caspian region: “The stakes involve hundreds of billions of dollars in oil and infrastructure, the resurgence of Russia, and the energy security of Europe.. […] Russians love chess. Our strategic response on the chess board of Central Asia must be to establish a presence on parts of the board they do not yet control. That means laying down new pipelines that add alternatives […] to the monopoly Russia has enjoyed.”32

Biden is therefore likely to have welcomed one of the last major security policy initiatives launched by the Bush administration which aimed at drawing Georgia further into the Western orbit by means of a joint declaration on partnership: “The United States and Georgia officially became “strategic partners” under a charter signed by the two governments on January 9 [2009]. […] Few details have been publicized about the charter, which was signed four months after Georgia’s disastrous war with Russia. It has been widely reported, however, that the Georgian pact resembles a strategic partnership charter signed by the United States and Ukraine in December.”33 Like the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership the agreement with Georgia is likely to comprise intensified military cooperation and measures to expedite Ukraine’s membership of NATO. On 15 September 2008 NATO resolved to set up a commission to deepen relations with Georgia. This is intended “to coordinate Alliance efforts to assist Georgia in recovering from the recent conflict”.34

Cold War as a self-fulfilling prophecy

The aim of the policy pursued by the U.S.A. in Ukraine and Georgia is to wage a new Cold War against Russia. Russia is to be challenged by a policy of pinpricks involving “colourful revolutions”, energy blockades, NATO expansion and the stationing of missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic. By disrupting economic relations with Western Europe Washington aims to contain Russia’s global political influence and thwart its advance as a new industrial power. Should this scenario turn out to be a success, it would simultaneously ensure that the NATO allies in Western Europe are tied into a joint strategy of escalation and have to become even more heavily involved in projects designed to secure energy supplies.
Since this strategy has thus far proved successful and it cannot, unfortunately, be assumed that there will be a move away from a policy of U.S. confrontation under President Obama, there is a renewed threat of bloc confrontation. At the height of the Georgian war Russian President Dmitri Medvedev sent out a clear message to the West: “We are not afraid of anything, not even the prospect of a Cold War.”35 The anti-war movement will have to adjust to the realities of the New Cold War. The strategy of imperialism pursued by NATO and the EU must be opposed here and now in a calm and collected fashion.

Endnotes

1 Brzezinski, Zbigniew: The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York 1997, p. 24 (Seitenangabe in der englischen Fassung unsicher)
2 ibid., p.27 (s.o.)
3 On Western support for the “colourful revolutions” cf. Chauvier, Jean-Marc: Westlich werden und östlich bleiben, Le Monde diplomatique, 14 January 2005
4 Carpenter, Ted: Worse than Bush? National Interest Online, 11 July 2008
5 Zeihan, Peter: Moskau wird Kiew nie dem Westen überlassen [Moscow will never leave Kiev to the West], Handelsblatt, 20 January 2009
6 United States, Ukraine Sign Security Charter, America.gov, 19 December 2008
7 United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, 22 December 2008, URL: http://tinyurl.com/agqc4k
8 Befeuern die USA den Gasstreit? [Is the U.S. fuelling the gas dispute?], heute.de, 13 January 2009
9 Isic, Mirela: Ein „Vielleicht” für die Ukraine und Georgien [A “maybe” for Ukraine and Georgia], Center for Applied Policy Research, CAP News, 10 April 2008
10 Auswärtiges Amt [German Foreign Office]: Ukraine, Stand: Oktober 2008 [Ukraine, status as of October 2008], URL: http://tinyurl.com/b3gvbg
11 Nabucco: ‘Pie in the sky’ after Georgia crisis?, EurActiv, 25 August 2008
12 ibid.
13 Friedmann, Matti: Sie waren nicht bereit für den Krieg mit Russland [They weren’t prepared for war with Russia], AP, 19 August 2008
14 Schröder gibt Saakaschwili die Schuld [Schröder puts the blame on Saakashvili], Der Spiegel 16 August 2008
15 Grey, Barry: Bush escalates confrontation with Russia over Georgia, World Socialist Web Site, 13 August 2008
16 Der Spiegel 16 August 2008
17 Georgien stockt Armee mit Blick auf NATO-Beitritt deutlich auf [Georgia boosts its army with a view to NATO membership], russland.ru, 16 July 2008
18 Nuclear Nightmares: The Return of M.A.D., Huffington Post, 19 August 2008
19 Chin, Larry: South Ossetia: superpower oil war, Online Journal, 13 August 2008
20 This and many other critical remarks made by Putin were cut out of the ARD broadcast. A full transcript of the interview can be found at http://www.spiegelfechter.com/wordpress/392/das-interview
21 EurActiv, 25 August 2008
22 Rosenbaum, Kaspar: Südossetien: Der Westen in der Propagandaschlacht [South Ossetia: The West in a propaganda battle], ef-online, 11 August 2008
23 EurActiv, 25 August 2008
24 Energie-Agentur sagt wachsende EU-Abhängigkeit von Importen voraus [Energy agency predicts growing EU dependence on imports], Yahoo News Finanzen, 4 September 2008
25 Stratfor: Russland hat Stärke gezeigt und wird nur auf Stärke hören [Russia has shown its strength and will only respond to strength], RIA Novosti, 11 August 2008
26 “Russlands Vorgehen ähnelt dem von Hitler” [Russia’s actions resemble those of Hitler], Die Welt, 11 August 2008
27 Extraordinary European Council, Brussels, 1 September 2008, 12594/08
28 Pflüger, Tobias: EU eskaliert den Konflikt mit Russland weiter [EU escalates the conflict with Russia], IMI-Standpunkt 2008/052
29 On Germany’s role cf. Hantke, Martin: The Georgian War and Imperial Geopolitics, in: AUSDRUCK (October 2008).
30 Naumann, Klaus et al.: Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership, URL: http://tinyurl. com/5buj19, p. 47 et seq.
31 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Richard G. Lugar Opening Statement for Hearing on Oil, Oligarchs and Opportunity: Energy from Central Asia to Europe, 12 June 2008, URL: http://tinyurl.com/df7tg8
32 BIDEN: We Need to Confront Russia’s Oil Dominance with Aggressive, High Level Diplomacy, 12 June 2008, URL: http://tinyurl.com/crjhol
33 Corso, Molly: Georgia: Washington and Tbilisi sign Strategic Pact sure to irk the Kremlin, Eurasia Insight, 9 January 2009
34 Framework document on the establishment of the NATO-Georgia Commission, Tbilisi, 15 September 2008
35 Dimitri Medvedev raises spectre of new Cold War, The Times Online, 26 August 2008

Ambassador Admits That US Plan To Counter Russian “Hybrid Warfare” Is To Cause “Maidan” In Moscow

[SEE:  “NATO has a dream, and this dream is a Maidan in Russia”]

vershbow Photo: PARLEU2015.LV Alexander Vershbow in Riga

ESDP and NATO: better cooperation in view of the new security challenges

NATO

Speech by NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow at the Interparliamentary Conference on CFSP/CSDP, Riga, Latvia, 5 March 2015

I am very pleased to be in Riga today. I appreciate that NATO-EU cooperation is high on your conference programme. And I am honoured to discuss this important subject with such eminent co-panellists — and with all you parliamentarians gathered here this afternoon.

2014 was a watershed year. Since this time last year, we have seen the emergence of an entirely new strategic reality. We have seen new threats and challenges both on our eastern and our southern borders. They are different, but they are serious.

NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. But Russia no longer appears to want to be integrated in a common Euro-Atlantic community. We see an angry, revisionist Russia that breaks international rules, that wants to re-establish spheres of influence, and is prepared to redraw borders by force to achieve its goals.

Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine reflect an evolving pattern of behaviour that has been emerging for several years – from Moldova, through Georgia. And it is justified by a false narrative alleging that Russia has been humiliated and encircled by the West ever since the end of the Cold War. This is a myth. The reality is that for over twenty years, NATO has tried to engage Russia, not to isolate it.

We have also seen emerging a new form of ‘hybrid warfare,’ combining military intimidation, disguised intervention, the covert supply of weapons and weapon systems, economic blackmail, diplomatic duplicity and media manipulation, with outright disinformation.

The terrain is not just the field of geopolitics, but Russian domestic politics as well. President Putin’s aim seems to be to turn Ukraine into a failed state and to suppress and discredit alternative voices in Russia, so as to prevent a Russian “Maidan”. We’ve seen that the victims are not just in Eastern Ukraine, with the brutal murder of Boris Nemtsov last Friday. While we don’t know who pulled the trigger, we do know that Boris Nemtsov was a powerful voice for democracy and against Russia’s involvement in Ukraine who was among those vilified as “traitors” and “fifth columnists” in Russia’s official propaganda. The international community has made clear its condemnation of the murder of Nemtsov and its call for an open and impartial investigation into his death.

Even before this tragic event, there was mounting evidence that the Russian incursion into Ukraine is becoming much less popular among the Russian public – especially as Russian leaders are less and less able to conceal the fact that Russian soldiers are fighting – and dying – in large numbers in Eastern Ukraine.

The agreements reached in Minsk last month are an important step to end the violence and promote a political solution to the Ukraine conflict. But full implementation is key. And Russia has a special responsibility, together with the separatists that it supports with training, equipment and forces, to bring about a real de-escalation – not a temporary pause, but a lasting solution that allows the people of Eastern Ukraine to have their normal lives restored as part of unified, democratic Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

At the same time, we also face a serious challenge on our southern borders. Across the Middle East and North Africa, ISIL’s violent ideology has poured oil on the fire of extremism and sectarianism that was already burning after the failed promise of the Arab Spring. And the situation has become particularly tense with the recent upsurge of violence in Libya.

Our NATO Ally Turkey is already on the front-line of the fighting. We have seen more and more people desperate to escape the violence, which is putting enormous strains on countries like Turkey and Italy. Recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen show the danger of violent Jihadism spilling back onto our streets, damaging the very fabric of our societies.

So what do these dual challenges mean for Western policy? I firmly believe they require a unified strategy to strengthen our own resilience — but also that of our eastern and southern neighbours. Because if they are more stable, we are more secure. And I also believe such a unified strategy puts a premium on closer cooperation between the European Union and NATO.

In the East, our first priority must be to strengthen our own defences against any threats. And that’s exactly what NATO is doing with our Readiness Action Plan agreed at our Wales Summit last September.

We have already increased significantly our military presence here in the Baltic region and elsewhere in the eastern part of the Alliance. And we are making good progress in making our forces more ready, more responsive, and better able to meet any threat from any direction. We want to assure all Allies that NATO has “got their back” – and to deter any potential aggressor.

That’s why we are also focusing on the threat of hybrid warfare that has been central to the Russian strategy, first in the illegal annexation of Crimea, and now in Eastern Ukraine.

Hybrid warfare isn’t new. But we have seen it applied in Ukraine with renewed vigour and ingenuity. While we don’t see any immediate threat to NATO allies, we can’t be complacent about the possibility it could be used against a NATO country.

Hybrid warfare mixes hard and soft power. And so our response should also be multi-faceted. NATO and the European Union each have distinct hard and soft power tools. Our challenge is to bring them together so that we complement each other, and reinforce the essential measures taken by our member states.

At NATO, we are looking at how we prepare for, deter, and – if required – defend against hybrid threats. Preparing means that we must strengthen our open and inclusive societies. We must also improve our intelligence and warning systems. We must protect our infrastructure, including our information infrastructure. And we must make sure we can take decisions quickly to deal with events that, at least initially, may be characterized by ambiguity and deception.

To deter hybrid threats effectively, we need to demonstrate our resolve to act promptly, whenever and wherever necessary. NATO’s enhanced presence in the eastern part of our Alliance, the implementation of the Very High Readiness Spearhead Force, the setting up of command and control units in six eastern Allies, and other steps – all send a strong signal that we are improving both our political and military responsiveness, and that we are able to deploy the right forces to the right place at the right time.

Finally, if deterrence should fail, NATO stands ready to defend any Ally against any threat. For hybrid scenarios, we may need not only to deploy conventional forces quickly, but tailored force packages with special operations forces, civil affairs expertise, and information capabilities that can work with local authorities to counter efforts to subvert or destabilize social peace. And I expect that any NATO response would then be complemented by a much broader international effort – to bring to bear diplomatic, economic and other levers as well.
In Ukraine, the first priority of the international community is to stop the fighting. We need to see full compliance with the ceasefire, a pullback of heavy weapons from the line of contact, and withdrawal of foreign forces, including Russian forces – all subject to unhindered verification by the OSCE. If Russia and the separatists it backs do not fulfil their commitments, the international community has made clear that it will continue to raise the costs.

At the same time, we must continue to work with Ukraine and other eastern neighbours who aspire to a European future, in particular Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. It is not only a moral duty, but also a vital security interest, to help them to become stronger, better able to withstand outside pressure, and to chart their own course.

There is a key role for the European Union in helping these countries to stay on the path of democratic reform, to open up their economies, and build effective institutions. But NATO is making an important contribution as well, by helping them to reform their defence sectors and to build effective armed forces, and by reinforcing our long-standing partnerships.

The challenge coming from the south also demands that our efforts should be complementary. Over the past two decades, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, NATO has shown a unique ability to mount complex operations involving both Allies and partners, and also to work in concert with organisations like the United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League.

It is clear, at the same time, that deploying large numbers of troops is not always the answer to a crisis. Most of the time, it will be more effective to help countries to build up their own defence capacity, and their own ability to maintain peace and stability in their region. That is why we have stepped up our support for Jordan. We are considering how we can best respond to a request for assistance by Iraq. And we stand ready to support Libya, as requested by its government, once security conditions allow.

When it comes to supporting our southern neighbours with security sector reform and defence capacity building, NATO can bring unique added value. But there is a key role for the European Union too, to help these countries with political and economic reforms, to build strong institutions, and to fight corruption.

The logic of closer cooperation between NATO and the EU is more compelling than ever before. We need to strengthen the resilience of our own nations as well as that of our eastern and southern neighbours. We need to further coordinate our approaches to counter hybrid warfare, dispel propaganda and misinformation, and defend our shared democratic values. And we need to work together to manage crises, bring relief, and project stability beyond our borders.

NATO-EU cooperation has continued to intensify these past few years. We hold political consultations on the situation in Ukraine; we have broad staff-level contacts; and we are working together on operations, capability development, and defence capacity building. We have launched efforts to coordinate our strategic communications. But at the working level, we have almost reached the limit of what we can do within the well-known, long-standing constraints on our cooperation. We need political engagement, at the highest levels, to address those constraints.

Parliamentary support will be critical in driving the NATO-EU relationship forward. And I would encourage you to do what you can to help bring it about – both in your national parliaments and through your interparliamentary work.

Finally, our security does not come for free. Keeping our military forces on high readiness, investing in new equipment, and supporting our partners – all these things are expensive. Smart Defence and pooling and sharing help to get the most out of every defence Dollar and Euro. So we need to continue those efforts. But we also need to stop the decline in our defence budgets, and to raise them again as our economies improve. You play a vital role in making sure that the necessary resources for our defence are available. And I hope you will also play that role to the full.

This is a critical time for the security of all our nations. We face new, complex challenges both to our east and our south. If there was ever any doubt about the need to re-invest in our defence, and for NATO and the European Union to work much more closely together, that doubt should have really disappeared by now.

Zbig, the Polish Defector Pushes Congress To Fight Russia In Eastern Europe

satanski

The ‘Democrat’ Brzezinski Says Russia’s Putin Wants to Invade NATO

rinf news

 

Eric Zuesse

Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. President Obama’s friend and advisor on Russia, is a born Polish aristocrat who has hated Russia his whole life but who hid that hatred until after the communist Soviet Union collapsed and he then publicly came out as hating and fearing specifically Russia — the nation, its people, and their culture. In 1998, he wrote The Grand Chessboard, arguing for an unchallengeable U.S. empire over the whole world, and for the defeat of Russia as the prerequisite to enabling that stand-alone global American empire to reign over the planet.

He now has told the U.S. Congress (on February 6th but not reported until March 6th, when the German Economic News found the clip) that Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin “seized” Crimea and that Putin will probably try to do the same to Estonia and Latvia, unless the U.S. immediately supplies weapons and troops to those countries and to Ukraine. Here is his stunning testimony (click on the link under it, to hear it, but the key part is quoted in print below):

“I wonder how many people in this room or this very important senatorial committee really anticipated that one day Putin would land military personnel in Crimea and seize it. I think if anybody said that’s what he is going to do, he or she would be labeled as a warmonger. He did it. And he got away with it. I think he’s also drawing lessons from that. And I’ll tell you what my horror, night-dream, is: that one day, I literally mean one day, he just seizes Riga, and Talinn. Latvia and Estonia. It would literally take him one day. There is no way they could resist. And then we will say, how horrible, how shocking, how outrageous, but of course we can’t do anything about it. It’s happened. We aren’t going to assemble a fleet in the Baltic, and then engage in amphibious landings, and then storm ashore, like in Normandy, to take it back. We have to respond in some larger fashion perhaps, but then there will be voices that this will plunge us into a nuclear war.”

He continues there by saying that we must pour weapons and troops into the nations that surround Russia, in order to avoid a nuclear conflict: deterrence, he argues, is the way to peace; anything else than our sending in troops and weapons now would be weakness and would invite World War III. 

He says that American troops must be prepositioned in these countries immediately, because otherwise Putin will think that America won’t respond to a Russian attack against those countries.

The most serious falsehoods in his remarkable testimony are three, and they’ll be taken up here in succession:

(1) The crucial background for what Brzezinski there calls the “seizure” of Crimea by Russia on 16 March 2014 was an extremely aggressive action by the United States, a violent coup in Kiev that climaxed prior, during February 2014, which used the “Maidan” demonstrations there as a cover in order to take over Ukraine’s Government, a violent coup which the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor subsequently (and correctly) referred to as “the most blatant coup in history,” and which the President of the Czech Republic says should not be compared at all to Czechoslovakia’s 1968 “Velvet Revolution,” and that only “ignorant” people don’t know that it was a coup instead of a revolution. But not only was it an incredibly bloody coup, but the leader of the post-coup Government who became officially designated on 26 February 2014 turned out to be exactly the same person whom Obama’s controlling agent on the entire matter had explicitly selected and informed her underling on 4 February 2014 to get appointed to become the new leader; so, she not only knew that the coup would soon be occurring, but she had already selected by no later than 18 days beforehand the person who would replace the then sitting, democratically elected, President of Ukraine. Furthermore, Ukraine is a country bordering Russia, and so this coup was far worse for Russia than even the 1959 communist takeover of Cuba was for the United States. The U.S. many times tried to overthrow Castro — so, how much gall does the United States have today for its refusing even to acknowledge that our extremely violent takeover of Ukraine, on Russia’s very border, constitutes an existential threat against Russia? (And even the top EU leadership knows that this was a U.S. coup, not any authentic revolution.) For Brzezinski to say nothing at all about any of this is simply scandalous (an obvious intention by him to deceive), but for the U.S. Senate to invite such a man to address it is even worse: it is as if the U.S. Congress in 1933 had invited Hitler to lecture it about “the Jewish threat.” It’s worse than insane; it is bloody dangerous in a nuclear-armed world.

(2) As I recently documented with links to the direct sources, headlining “The Entire Case for Sanctions Against Russia Is Pure Lies,” Gallup polls in Crimea both before and after the 16 March 2014 plebiscite on whether to stay within Ukraine, which Crimea had been part of since 1954, or instead to rejoin with Russia, which Crimea had been part of between 1783 and 1954, showed that by more than 90%, Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia and held both the U.S. and EU in extremely low esteem. Furthermore, because Russia’s key Black Sea Fleet had been stationed there since 1783, Russia always had troops there and didn’t need to “land military personnel in Crimea and seize it.” There was no invasion, no “seizure” at all. The plebiscite was entirely peaceful, because the public craved it (on account of the recent bloody coup in Ukraine) and because the already-existing presence of Russian troops to protect them to have it so that Ukraine wouldn’t send in their army to prevent it, enabled it to be carried out peacefully. There is no military base of any sort from Russia anywhere in Latvia nor in Estonia, nor in any other NATO country. The very idea put forth by Brzezinski, that the two situations are at all analogous, is insane and can be understood only within the context of the bizarre hatred held by this born aristocrat who learned his hatred since birth and who is now obsessed with it in his old age. The very fact that U.S. Senators would invite such a person to testify is scandalous, and is an indication of their ignorance or else of their sharing Brzezinski’s rabidly counterfactual and extremely dangerous beliefs. Russia should take that as being a clear indication of hostile intent from the U.S. Congress, because Brzezinski’s statements are entirely out of line and an irrational outburst that’s based on nothing but hatred and a distorted portrayal of the clearly documented realities to the contrary of Brzezinski’s selective and false description of Russia, Ukraine, Putin, and NATO.

(3) The basis of the NATO Treaty is its mutual-defense provision: that all members are committed to the defense of each member. How crazy does Brzezinski have to be to think that in order to prevent Putin from invading NATO, the U.S. must now send weapons and troops in to each one of the 12 NATO member-nations that were formerly Russia’s allies? Brzezinski’s alarmist and sensationalistic lies and distortions go well beyond standard propaganda into the realm of the insane: propaganda that’s directed at fools and yet that’s being presented to U.S. Senators. Are they crazy, too?

Russia has every reason to believe that the U.S. Government is set upon surrounding it by armed and dangerous hostile nations and taking it over by force. This isn’t at all about Putin; it is about U.S. President Barack Obama, and the U.S. Congress.

For whatever democratic nations that still exist in the EU and NATO not to quit those organizations is for them to consent to being ruled by the U.S. dictatorship, which means that they themselves are dictatorships serving the American aristocracy. This is a dictarorship by America’s aristocracy, the very same people who are ruining the United States and who are now determined to take over every other aristocracy in the entire world — determined to reign over the entire planet.

Testimony such as Brzezinski presented to the U.S. Senate yesterday is shocking and damning against the Senate itself. Brzezinski accuses Russia of planning to invade NATO when instead the United States has been surrounding Russia by formerly-Russian-allied nations, which are new members of America’s anti-Russian military club, NATO. The preparations for an all-out nuclear war have begun. The U.S. aristocracy definitely started this incipient war; for them, it’s a war of choice. It’s not a war of choice for anyone in Russia. (Ukraine’s oligarchs, especially the White-House-connected Ihor Kolomoysky, are ripping off everything they can from it.) The significance of the Ukrainian conflict is that it’s the beachhead to take over Russia. And the Ukrainian post-coup leadership have stated proudly, many times, that this is their ultimate aim. It clearly is Obama’s.

Why are Americans not marching by the millions against this rogue government in Washington? How much longer will the American people continue to tolerate it — an affront against not only the American people but the entire world?

Brzezinski’s testimony to Congress on February 6th was so brazen because he’s like he describes Putin as being: he does what he can get away with doing. It’s way over the line. If there is no public revulsion expressed against it, then we are all heading into danger that’s unprecedented since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis, when the shoe was on the other foot and the United States was the country facing the existential threat.

Russia has already let things go too far, with 12 former Warsaw-Pact allies already being members of the NATO alliance against Russia. If Putin doesn’t draw the line at Ukraine, as being over the line, then he might as well do everything that America’s President demands him to do. But America’s Presidency no longer represents the American people; it now represents the American aristocracy. So: for the welfare of everyone except America’s aristocrats, Putin should stand firm. But the danger of America to the world exists no matter what he does.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Gen.”Strange”-love (Breedlove) Sabotaging Minsk Deal With “false claims and exaggerated accounts”

Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

der spiegel

By SPIEGEL Staff

Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.

 

US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel’s efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin’s approach. And NATO’s top commander in Europe hasn’t been helping either.

It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn’t holding perfectly, but it was holding.

On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine — with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” having been sent to the Donbass. “What is clear,” Breedlove said, “is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn’t understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn’t the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

The ‘Super Hawk’

But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel’s diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove’s bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the “super hawk,” whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America’s more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary. But for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. To be sure, neither Berlin’s Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.But it is the tone of Breedlove’s announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.

There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians — even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing — had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced “direct Russian military intervention.”

Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency’s satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it “remains a riddle until today” how the general reached his conclusions.

Much More Cautious

“The German intelligence services generally appraise the threat level much more cautiously than the Americans do,” an international military expert in Kiev confirmed.

At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was “incredibly concerning.” But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.

Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were “regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine.” One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren’t fighting units, but “mostly trainers and advisors.”

He initially said there were “between 250 and 300″ of them, and then “between 300 and 500.” For a time, NATO was even saying there were 1,000 of them.

The fact that NATO has no intelligence agency of its own plays into Breedlove’s hands. The alliance relies on intelligence gathered by agents from the US, Britain, Germany and other member states. As such, SACEUR has a wide range of information to choose from.

Influencing Breedlove

On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that “we have seen columns of Russian equipment — primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops — entering into Ukraine.” It was, he noted, “the same thing that OSCE is reporting.” But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.

Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. “I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,” he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims. He wrote that it was to be expected that assessments of NATO’s intelligence center, which receives information from all 33 alliance members in addition to partner states, doesn’t always match assessments made by individual nations. “It is normal that not everyone agrees with the assessments that I provide,” he wrote.

He says that NATO’s strategy is to “release clear, accurate and timely information regarding ongoing events.” He also wrote that: “As an alliance based on the fundamental values of freedom and democracy, our response to propaganda cannot be more propaganda. It can only be the truth.”

The German government, meanwhile, is doing what it can to influence Breedlove. Sources in Berlin say that conversations to this end have taken place in recent weeks. But there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove’s statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove’s public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council’s weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander’s statements.

The government in Berlin is concerned that Breedlove’s statements could harm the West’s credibility. The West can’t counter Russian propaganda with its own propaganda, “rather it must use arguments that are worthy of a constitutional state.” Berlin sources also say that it has become conspicuous that Breedlove’s controversial statements are often made just as a step forward has been made in the difficult negotiations aimed at a political resolution. Berlin sources say that Germany should be able to depend on its allies to support its efforts at peace.

Pressure on Obama

German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. “I would prefer that Breedlove’s comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved,” says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. “Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism.” Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. “We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had,” he says.

The pressure on Obama from the Republicans, but also from his own political camp, is intense. Should the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine not hold, it will likely be difficult to continue refusing Kiev’s requests for shipments of so-called “defensive weapons.” And that would represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis. Moscow has already begun issuing threats in anticipation of such deliveries. “Any weapons deliveries to Kiev will escalate the tensions and would unhinge European security,” Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s national security council, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday.

Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. “We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically,” Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.

In reporting on the meeting later, the German tabloid Bild reported that Nuland referred to the chancellor’s early February trip to Moscow for talks with Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow stuff.” No wonder, then, that people in Berlin have the impression that important power brokers in Washington are working against the Europeans. Berlin officials have noticed that, following the visit of American politicians or military leaders in Kiev, Ukrainian officials are much more bellicose and optimistic about the Ukrainian military’s ability to win the conflict on the battlefield. “We then have to laboriously bring the Ukrainians back onto the course of negotiations,” said one Berlin official.Nuland Diplomacy

Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year’s presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying “I love Russia.” Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.

She is also very direct. She can be very keen and entertaining, but has been known to take on an undiplomatic tone — and has not always been wrong to do so. Mykola Asarov, who was prime minister under toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, recalls that Nuland basically blackmailed Yanukovych in order to prevent greater bloodshed in Kiev during the Maidan protests. “No violence against the protesters or you’ll fall,” Nuland told him according to Asarov. She also, he said, threatened tough economic and political sanctions against both Ukraine and the country’s leaders. According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public.

Nuland has also been open — at least internally — about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said “Fuck the EU” during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.

When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe’s resistance to arming Ukraine.

On the seventh floor of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the heart of Munich, it was Nuland who began coaching. “While talking to the Europeans this weekend, you need to make the case that Russia is putting in more and more offensive stuff while we want to help the Ukrainians defend against these systems,” Nuland said. “It is defensive in nature although some of it has lethality.”

Training Troops?

Breedlove complemented that with the military details, saying that moderate weapons aid was inevitable — otherwise neither sanctions nor diplomatic pressure would have any effect. “If we can increase the cost for Russia on the battlefield, the other tools will become more effective,” he said. “That’s what we should do here.”

In Berlin, top politicians have always considered a common position vis-a-vis Russia as a necessary prerequisite for success in peace efforts. For the time being, that common front is still holding, but the dispute is a fundamental one — and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action. Additionally, the trans-Atlantic partners also have differing goals. Whereas the aim of the Franco-German initiative is to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, it is Russia that concerns hawks within the US administration. They want to drive back Moscow’s influence in the region and destabilize Putin’s power. For them, the dream outcome would be regime change in Moscow.

A massive troop training range is located in Yavoriv in western Ukraine near the Polish border. During Soviet times, it served as the westernmost military district in the Soviet Union. Since 1998, though, it has been used for joint exercises by Ukrainian forces together with the United States and NATO. Yavoriv is also the site where US soldiers want to train members of the Ukrainian National Guard for their future battle against the separatists. According to the Pentagon’s plans, American officers would train the Ukrainians on how to use American artillery-locating radar devices. At least that’s what US Army in Europe commander Lt. Gen. Hodges announced in January.

The training was actually supposed to start at the beginning of March. Before it began, however, President Obama temporarily put it on hold in order to give the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk a chance. Still, the hawks remain confident that they will soon come a step closer to their goal. On Tuesday, Hodges said during an appearance in Berlin that he expects the training will still begin at some point this month.

By Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, Marc Hujer, Gordon Repinski, Matthias Schepp, Christoph Schult, Holger Stark and Klaus Wiegrefe