Saturday, August 16, 2008

South Ossetia: A Gaza of Their Own?

Image © - Click to enlarge.Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is directly responsible for supreme war crimes of aggressive war and genocide within a larger campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Russians and ethnic Ossetes of South Ossetia — a secessionist region of Georgia that has declared its independence, once by war and more recently by landslide referendum.

Emboldened by U.S. and Israeli support, the Caucasian champion of freedom and democracy isn't bothered by liberty-based phenomena like republican self-government, secession, and the like. In fact, according to his masters in the United States, Israel, NATO, the U.N., and the E.U., South Ossetia is Saakashvili's own private Palestine.

As sadistic and over-simplified as that sounds, upon review of the recent Georgian-U.S.-Israeli aggression it is arguably true. (Of course, in terms of illegality and duration, there is no contemporary comparison to the oppression endured by the Palestinians; but the conflict in the Caucasus — and the Georgian aggression that sparked it — do reveal many parallels and downplayed connections to Israeli aggression against the peoples it attempts to own.)

In a surprise attack late Thursday night, August 7, and into Friday, the Georgian army heavily bombarded several villages in the secessionist region, including the capitol, Tskhinvali. According to one mainstream news report: "The air and artillery bombardment left the provincial capital without water, food, electricity and gas. Horrified civilians crawled out of the basements into the streets as fighting eased, looking for supplies." Unarmed people and civilian objects were targeted. Some of those attempting to flee the raining death were strafed on the roads.

It was a calculated act of aggression you would expect to be condemned in the strongest terms across the globe; but thanks to Georgia's decided "PR edge," U.S. and European news media told a tale of Russian aggression against Georgia.

These are all attributes of Israeli terror campaigns against the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (IOPTs) and S. Lebanon — from the militarism to the media spin.

And they don't end there.

U.S.- and Israeli-supplied military wherewithal was used; U.S. and Israeli war-planners had been coaching and cross-training Georgian military units and diplomats in their brinkmanship against Russia; and the initial invasion was done in a most thuggish of ways, reminiscent of Israeli Defense [sic] Force tactics.

Justin Raimondo relates the pertinent details from a ReliefWeb report:

"On August 7, after days of shooting incidents in the South Ossetian conflict zone, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili made a speech in which he said that he had given the Georgian villagers orders not to fire, that he wanted to offer South Ossetia 'unlimited autonomy' within the Georgian state, with Russia to be a guarantor of the arrangement.

"Both sides said they were discussing a meeting the next day to discuss how to defuse the clashes.

"That evening, however, Saakashvili went for the military option. The Georgian military launched a massive artillery attack on Tskhinvali, followed the next day by a ground assault involving tanks.

"This was a city with no pure military targets, full of civilians who had been given no warning and were expecting peace talks at any moment."

He adds:

[I]t was a particularly vicious sneak attack, undertaken while "peace talks" were supposedly taking place. As Reliefweb put it:

"The attack looked designed to take everybody by surprise — perhaps because much of the Russian leadership was in Beijing for the opening of the Olympic Games. It also unilaterally destroyed the negotiating and peacekeeping arrangements, under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, that have been in place for 16 years. Russian peacekeeping troops based in South Ossetia were among those killed in the Georgian assault."

Readers may recall how the state of Israel has — as a matter of policy, under the shadow of peace talks — accelerated its campaign of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians via house demolitions, apartheid wall construction, kidnappings, assassinations, unearthing of groves and orchards, intermittent massacres, and so on, using U.S.-supplied weaponry and demolition equipment.

This "conflict in the Caucasus" has Israeli and U.S. colonial fingerprints all over it.


As a benefit of the "special arrangement" Israel enjoys with its host, the USA, Israel is virtually untouchable: if another state invades, U.S. lapdogs come to the rescue. (See: The 1973 airlift, just for starters.) Israel knew it would get away with violating Syrian airspace and bombing a Syrian construction site on September 7. It has gotten away with its multiple invasions of Lebanon since 1958, and its belligerent, 41-year occupation of Palestine, thanks the U.S. veto in the U.N. and, once again, that "special relationship."

The invasion of S. Ossetia was done with the expectation that, if worse came to worst, the USA and its "NATO allies" would clean up by at least taking Georgia's side in the U.N. and elsewhere — spinning the conflict nearly 180° to make it look as though Russia planned to aggressively invade Georgia, occupy the capitol, and oust Saakashvili. Sure enough, war criminal and profiteer, Zalmay Khalilzad (a.k.a., the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.), was Johnny on the spot with the schoolyard trash-talk, while fellow führerettes Cheney, Rice, and Bush made their fealty clear with veiled threats.

That false sense of righteousness and invincibility from behind a superpower is key to both Georgia's and Israel's genocidal success; but the most vital parallel in all this is the "dirty little secret."

Every war criminal must hide his atrocities and cover his tracks from the viewing world (or at least the eyes of the American people); otherwise, you can count out that blind support by the neocon-Likudnik empire.

Enter the lapdog U.S. news media.

It's an irrefutable fact, that Israel's atrocities against Palestinians and Lebanese have long been greatly concealed by the Propaganda Ministry; as has the illegal and immoral status of U.S. aid to the terrorist state. Saakashvili's assault on the Ossetes and Russians of S. Ossetia has been treated similarly — at times, even worse. CNN, Fox, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, as if instructed by neocons in the Pentagon and the Bush Administration, led their own massacre on the truth with made-ready yellow gems like these and these.

As phony images of a Georgian good guy fill the U.S. airwaves, echoes of Israeli "men of peace" — Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, et al., whose murderous rampages are peddled as reluctant defense of country — surely fill the memories of familiar observers.

Of course, for the Georgian invasion of S. Ossetia, U.S. corporate news media — already well-versed in going along with the state terror against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and of course the IOPTs — didn't have to be told what their role was. U.S. "allies" and puppet regimes are to be "covered," while the chosen enemies of the state are to be "exposed" (i.e., hyped as criminal threats via lies and omissions).

What's more, these corporate lie machines are superbly adept at "adjusting" on the fly.

Soon after the July 12, 2006, Israeli invasion of S. Lebanon began, news media started changing their tune on the Hezbullah capturing and killing of IDF militants. Initial reports said the operation took place on the Lebanese side of the border. Some reports eventually went with the irresponsibly neutral "on the border," while most outlets settled on "cross-border raid" and the like. The time-line of suppression was skewed as well: originally, it was reported that the Israeli army fired into Lebanese population centers first. Some news media (mostly, corporate news services and flaming neocon rags) settled on an Israeli response to Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbullah.

Either way, it was a win-win for the Israeli aggressors and their shameless apologists. Bully states like Israel and the Unites States need only cloud the picture in order to win the PR battle. Sewing confusion buys time and doesn't incriminate. It's the unfiltered truth that dissolves the clay buttresses under their houses of glass.

What we need is contemporary context, facts on legality, and whether the U.S. government and military should be involved in the first place; what we get is he said/she said cop-outs to the duty of speaking to power. We confuse; they (you) lose.

That's why, in the Russia-Georgia row, you'll notice news media are not only omitting the initial criminality of the first aggression by Georgia, and the illicit role of the USA and Israel, but that they're also making sure you hang your hat on such shortcuts-to-journalism as "there are so many conflicting reports," and "both sides are saying some pretty sensational things." Instead of getting down to the legal and moral arguments for and against each action, we're forced to focus on the words coming from both sides that are "exaggerated" and "not backed up with evidence."

Truth be told, Saakashvili and his masochistic neocon salesmen in think tanks and media are he said/she said bullshitters par excellence.

I'm no fan of the excessive Russian military response, if that is in fact what occurred (it appears that way); but with the way U.S. media are kid-gloving the Georgian tyrant and war criminal, after the atrocious aggression he and his neocon handlers have committed, you must surmise that the truth is at least slightly more favorable to the Russians.

"Let he who is innocent cast the first stone"; well, the Georgian government and its neocon masters have cast the first and most, and appear determined to cast the last. And then there are those troublesome points — like the legitimacy of the Ossetian secessionist movement and the utterly un-democratic nature of the Georgian regime — which are omitted because they only confirm the hypothesis.

There's also the Military-Industrial Complex angle. Israel is said to have been a strategic asset for the U.S. cold-warriors of the '50s–'80s. It has since been pitched as the West's first front in the so-called war on terror. This is how the hundreds of billions in illicit U.S. financial aid to the military-state has been "justified" since its coming into existence.

In the latest episode in a long line of violating Russo-U.S. agreements, Saakashvili's neocon king-makers have been emboldening him to retake South Ossetia in order to have control of a contiguous strip of land between Russia and the oil pipeline that runs through the Georgian capitol, Tbilisi. (A "buffer zone" to some — a military staging ground to others. Perhaps both, in reality.) But the idea is that, once achieved, and once it could be shown that Georgia was no longer at war, the NATO gig would be in the bag, and the mutually-lucrative, economic, political, and military benefits would be made official for all (except the 99% everyday people in Russia, S. Ossetia, Georgia, Abkhazia, and the USA).

This anti-Russia warfare belies the notion that the Cold War ever ended. (NATO wasn't exactly created to cozy up with the Big Bear.) Add to that the threatening missile shields the neocons are dying to install in Poland and the Czech Republic, and you have a total shakedown of Russia underway, with unimaginable blowback potential. But the insane neocons, with their rich history of using NATO as a tool for building an indomitable U.S. empire, show no signs of slowing their encirclement of Russia with U.S. clients and NATO members. Georgia, like Israel in the '60s, is their brinkmanship tool against the perceived threat to neocon hegemony in the region. And of course Israel has its contrived Syrian and Iranian nuclear threats.

And then there are those less-obvious, historical political and ethnic connections between Israel and the Caucasus.


The neocon-Likudnik war demons of Tel Aviv and D.C. put their cancerous touch on their tool in Tbilisi, and like Abe Lincoln on crack (a redundancy?) Saakashvili went to work. In probably the most aggressive chapter of resistance-crushing in this post-Soviet conflict, Georgia treated South Ossetia on August 7–8 as the state of Israel treated the West Bank town of Samua on November 13, 1966, the Syrian Golan on June 5–6, 1967, and S. Lebanon on July 12, 2006.

Those Israeli aggressions were veiled and backwardly-spun as defensive moves, but were merely ethnic-cleansing and land-grab operations for political and financial purposes. Similarly fraudulent, Saakashvili's power play is disguised as a defensive attempt to secure Georgian sovereignty, when in fact, like the decades-long Israeli ethnic-cleansing charade against the Palestinians, it's really all about resources and political power.

The means are the same; the ends are only superficially different.

— Saakashvili needs the "territorial integrity" and "peace"; without it, there is no guarantee of NATO membership and the benefits thereof. And a constant struggle, to be seen as truly democratic while suppressing the growing political opposition, looms. Without the phony image of an ever-aggressive existential threat — Russia — there's no justification, right or wrong, for further U.S. support. To "secure" that defensive posture in the media, and thereby all the spoils, he must perform for his U.S. and Israeli masters.

— Israel must continue its ethnic cleansing of Palestine, retain its occupation of the Syrian Golan, and one day invade S. Lebanon again; otherwise, the Jewish [sic] state will have to start earning its water and oil, and the entire Zionist enterprise would be a total failure, only reaching the Jordan River to the East and not even the Litani in the North. Furthermore, without the contrived existential threats — Hamas, Hezbullah, Iran — U.S. support lacks justification. But, whereas Georgia had to earn its status as media darling, the U.S. media and think-tank establishment have long been Israeli-occupied territories, and U.S. officials must therefore perform for them. (Not that Georgia doesn't have a D.C. lobby of its own.)

Put another, simpler way: Georgia and Israel are cash cows for the MIC, with a few major situational differences. Israel, as mentioned above, is more like "the tail that wags the U.S. dog," whereas Saakashvili and his otherwise insignificant, nuke-less nation must dance the the tune of their sponsors to earn his gig; South Ossetia was, at one time, an uncontested part of Georgia, whereas the IOPTs have never legally been part of Israel; and the Palestinians have no Russia of their own, so Israel hasn't had to endure a dominating response from the targets of its aggression, or the victims' allies.*


* - It wasn't Hezbullah's firepower, necessarily, that dominated the Israeli invaders in 2000 and 2006.

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