Not One Dime for Georgia

We’re not talking about the great state of Georgia, which deserves everything it has coming to it and more. We’re talking about the Republic of Georgia, a nation of 4.5 million people wedged between Russia and Turkey.

On Wednesday, September 3, the White House announced a comprehensive aid package valued at $1.1 billion dollars to help the Republic of Georgia recover from the whipping it took after it attacked Russian peace keeping forces in South Ossetia, a breakaway province of Georgia near the Russian border. That region experienced a major war in 1991 and varying tensions since.

Russian personnel were in Georgia as part of a multi-national peace keeping regime created by the United Nations and endorsed by the European Union in 2006.

When the Soviet Union dissolved, Georgia was one the few Soviet republics to successfully declare its independence. This resulted in tensions with the Russian government and also generated real concern among those living in South Osettia. They’re not ethnic Georgians and have experienced periodic conflict with the government. As a result of war related violence in 1991, for example, 100,000 fled South Ossetia for refuge and safety in Russia.

South Ossetia held two national elections which endorsed independence form Georgia. The Georgians refuse to recognize this claim and, unlike Kosovo, which had no elections, there was little international support for the aspiring nation. As a result, there have been ongoing skirmishes and political conflicts between the South Ossetia and Georgia from 1991 on.

Tensions between Russia and Georgia had been building in recent months. On Aug. 7, 2008, the Georgian president issued orders to his negotiators to meet with the chief Russian negotiator.

We should find all the means to stop incidents and to stop the violence, to stop threats and creating of problems to the peaceful population. Of course, we will show maximum restraint, but we do not recommend anyone to continue provocations.
Mikheil Saakashvili, Aug, 7, 2008, 12:45

A few hours later, the government of Georgia said it had “decided to restore constitutional order in the entire region” of South Ossetia” through military efforts. By the afternoon of Aug, 8, officials in South Ossetia confirmed that, “Numerous Georgian military units are moving towards the border [with the breakaway region]” and that Georgia was carrying out “large scale military attacks” against their country.

The TimesOnline (London) reported that this was the start of military conflict. They’re clear that the conflict was initiated by the military actions announced by the Georgian government on August 8, 2008.

“Russia and Georgia edged dangerously close to direct conflict today after Tbilisi (Georgia) launched an overnight offensive to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

“Fighting raged around the city of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetians capital, as Georgian troops backed by tanks and warplanes pounded separatist forces. At least 15 people were reported to have been killed.”

Those who insist that Russia started the military phase of this conflict need only check in with the government of Georgia. On Aug. 8, 2008, at 12:35, a Georgia news agency reported that “A senior official from the Georgian Ministry of Defense said Georgia had ‘decided to restore constitutional order in the entire region’ of South Ossetia.” The release went on to say that Georgia took the military action after the South Ossetia refused to accept a cease fire.

Russian military actions came after the attacks on South Ossetia by the Republic of Georgia. The only people who fail to acknowledge this are found in the U.S. political and media establishment.

Today, we’re all Georgians!
– Sen. John McCain, Republican Presidential Candidate, Associated Press, Aug., 12, 2008

McCain’s battle cry drew little response form the general public. It did fall in line with Bush administration policies, however.

The leader of Georgia responsible for initiating the conflict, President Mikheil Saakashvili, is a U.S. trained lawyer who took power in Georgia in 2004 through the “Rose Revolution.” The Bush administration and private groups helped advance the claim that Georgia’s government had committed election fraud and lacked legitimacy.

George Soros, the activist billionaire, provided $42 million to oust the former government with the help of Freedom House, headed at that time by former CIA Director James Woolsey. Other private foundation funded “democracy” groups helped as well. Saakashvili had the foresight to hire Sen. John McCain’s current foreign policy adviser as his DC lobbyist, Randy Scheunemann.

There were well organized public protests in the capitol, a chorus of international pressure for change, and Saakashvili was swept into power.

With Saakashvili in charge, U.S. and European firms made major investments in the nation and then praised the new government for rapid economic growth accounted for by those investments. Improvements to ports and infrastructure for a U.S.- European oil pipeline, intended to bypass Russia, were a central focus of the investments.

Once in power, the proponents of democracy followed the path of those they’d replaced by turning the country into a virtual one party state. Charges of corruption like that under the old regime have become more common. There are also charges that Saakashvili and his party are engaged in election fraud like that of the previous rulers.

Nevertheless, U.S. support has been unwavering. On July 10, less than a month before Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia, Condoleezza Rice was in the Georgian capital lending U.S. support to Georgia’s “territorial integrity,” by which she meant the disputed area of South Ossetia.

Shortly after he attacked, President Saakashvili must have been further encouraged by White House orders to promptly fly 2,000 Georgian troops home from Iraq to help fight the Russians.

The Russians responded to the attack by Georgia in about the same way that the United States would be expected to respond if Cuba, for example, attacked U.S. military personnel conducting official business close to our borders. How hard was it to anticipate the disastrous outcome?

Hallucinogenic Politics

The volatile Georgian president held a bizarre press conference on Aug. 15 after it was clear that there would be no U.S. or other troops coming to his aid. Speaking at a joint press conference with Condoleezza Rice, Saakashvili blamed the Russian invasion on a NATO meeting in April 2008 where Georgia failed to gain admission to that organization. He said that Russia began a military buildup along the border that somehow made it clear that Russia intended to attack his tiny republic.

He skipped over some important events (like his troops attacking South Ossetia) and lashed out at the United States and Europe with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice next to him: “So who invited the trouble here? Who invited this arrogance here? Who invited these innocent deaths here? Who is – not only those people who perpetrate them are responsible, but also those people who failed to stop it.”

In a clear contradiction to his claimed knowledge of an imminent threat of invasion, the president of Georgia indicated that he had no idea that a Russian military action was about to take place: “When the thing started, I had to rush back, cut my holiday short when the tensions started to raise.”

The very odd gap in Saakashvili’s narrative concerns his orders for a Georgian attack on South Ossetia on Aug. 7, 2008. He knew that Russian personnel were present in South Ossetia. How could he forget about his order to restore Georgian “constitutional authority” by sending his troops on the offensive? What did he think the Russians would do? Did he actually expect that the United States would attack the Russians in response? And what kind of chief executive goes on holiday when he’s convinced that his country is about to be attacked?

After a joint press conference where he insulted the United States for inviting “these innocent deaths” by inaction, the Bush administration decided to give him $1.1 billion to repair the damage that resulted from the rash actions by the Georgian president.

So Why are We Giving Georgia $1.1 Billion Dollars?

Sen. McCain had a point when he said that “Today, we’re all Georgians.” In fact, the Bush-Cheney regime and the cooperating “democracy” groups gave birth, so to speak, to the current Georgian state.
Could it be that some of the patrons of those who helped create Georgia will benefit from the $1.1 billion dollar aid bill?

If so, then a portion of the billion dollars will subsidize those firms that made the initial investments after Saakashvili s rise to power. These folks were truly Georgians on Aug. 12 when Georgia was put in its place. They’ll surely be in line for the largess handed out by the fathers of Georgian democracy, the president and vice president of the United States of America.

The Russian response to Georgia’s attack on August 8 was predictable. They have a number of vital interests in the region. The provocation by the tiny Republic of Georgia was a gift. It created an opportunity to extend Russian influence in response to an attack on their peace keeping personnel. In retrospect, this outcome was probably guaranteed with the installation of an intemperate, rash leader who received nothing but praise as he replicated the policies and tactics of the corrupt regime that he helped remove from power.

Giving Georgia a billion dollars may simply recycle those funds to U.S. firms that are doing business there. In addition, this financial reward will reinforce the tactically challenged president of Georgia for his grandiosity and lack of restraint. It may even create the opportunity for yet another Russian smack down followed by outraged reaction from those whose tears are more likely from joy at the ever expanding opportunity to promote the cycle of war and rebuilding around the world paid for by the hard work and taxes of the citizens of the United States.

Michael Collins writes for Scoop Independent News and a variety of other web publications on election fraud and other corruptions of the new millennium. He is one of few to report on the ongoing struggles of Susan Lindauer, an activist accused of being a foreign agent, who was the subject of a government request for forced psychiatric medication. This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship, a link to this article, and acknowledgment of images. Read other articles by Michael, or visit Michael's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on September 6th, 2008 at 12:40pm #

    Small point of constitutional law: precisely because the Soviet Union was “dissolved”, all 15 former Soviet republics automatically became independent, without there being any need for a formal declaration, although some had already declared their independence before the collapse of the Soviet Union. All 15 republics therefore became “successfully” independent. I don’t really understand Mr Collins’s odd formulation.

    A point on electoral fraud. Georgia is one of the 43 member states of the Council of Europe, the “club” of European democracies, which was the body that blew the whistle on the rendition flights. If there has been electoral fraud, that will be contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights and will find itself in due course before the European Court of Human Rights. The fear of being condemned in Strasbourg might well ultimately push Saakashvili to resign.

  2. David Sanchez said on September 6th, 2008 at 12:48pm #

    Great overview! With so many sources pushing disinformation, it is important to have the facts laid out clearly.

    Hearing bullshit like “We are all Georgians” is painful, but the news of our gift of a billion dollars is exasperating.

    Thanks for the good article.

  3. Michael Collins said on September 6th, 2008 at 1:01pm #

    Michael, point taken. The charges of election fraud should be heard and take seriously, as should any in a serious democracy. Of course, in this country, you’re labeled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ and dismissed if you make those charges (except by the 40%-50% of the public, different polls, who doubt the legitimacy of the 2004 election).

    David, thanks. Isn’t it odd that we’re about the only place on earth that thinks that Russia started the military conflict. I’m sure there are historical debates that would consume endless space on what the “real” cause of all this is. But in terms of what sparked the Russian response, it’s clear. The grandiose pronouncements of Saakashvili about restoring “constitutional order” were quickly followed up with ‘I surrender.’ Of course, once in, Russia did as they chose. Dividing the country was one way of sending a message.

    It’s disappointing that there is all this nonsense going on between the United States and Russia. Why the rush to hostility on our part?

    The idea that this nation with a president like this could be a NATO member is also unsettling. It’s simply unacceptable to have Georgia in a position to engage us in a military conflict with the Soviet Union. But in a political system in which Sarah Palin can get the #2 spot on the Republican ticket, who knows what will happen.

  4. colleen said on September 6th, 2008 at 3:58pm #

    great, great article.

    saakashvili and cheney have tried to rewrite history right in front of our eyes.

    both are pathological liars and psychopaths and they must be called out on this.

  5. Michael Collins said on September 6th, 2008 at 7:40pm #

    colleen, That’s the fact. They just pull this stuff out of their ears and it’s for domestic consumption.

    Here’s a perfect comment from a reply to this same article at OpEdNews

    “We were in Spain when the news broke – on CNN Europe – that S. Ossetia had been attacked by Georgia, which the separtist area had ticked off by leaning toward an alliance with Russia. It surprised no one that Russia had sent troops to protect its friends and teach the bellicose Georgia president and his big money friends in the White House to back off.

    So you can imagine our surprise when we arrived back in the U.S. and learned from CNN-U.S. that Russia had been the aggressor! Its no wonder that Vladimir Putin treats the U.S. with such disdain. Its an attitude that he’s been perfecting for some time.

    Arriving back in the U.S. and hearing the media’s, and therefore Washington’s, spin on events in Georgia was like walking through the Looking Glass.”

    There’s the news and the “News” – we get the latter here.

  6. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 7th, 2008 at 7:30am #

    michael collins,
    as a peace activist i’ m unhappy that russia after georgian troops left or were driven out of s. ossetia had not done what was legally and morally correct.
    the correct thing to do wld have been is not to invade georgia.
    instead, ICC should have even before georgian withdrawal from abkhazia and s. ossetia indicted saak, yakub, et al (shvilis) for crimes against humanity.
    needless o say, nato wld have fits over that and in all probability prevented ICC to do its work.
    but the moral victory for oppressed peoples like pals afghans, iraqis, ossetians wld have reveberated for all time.
    it had been a golden opportunity to show how its shld have been done regardless of any gains.

  7. Brian said on September 7th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    This is a great article. Only Bush and McSame would REWARD SOME ONE FOR MASS MURDER!

    I agree it is refreshing to read the truth for a change.

    Bush and “sack of free money”, the president of Georgia, are one in the same. They sacrifice human life for their personal gains. Innocent life, all of which had a brother, mother, father,son or daughter who grieves their death and will for evermore hate the United States–and dare I say it who can blame them?

    Both Bush/Cheney and the Georgian president should face war crimes trial.

  8. Michael Collins said on September 7th, 2008 at 12:25pm #

    Thanks Brian. There should be accountability here, e.g., the Bugliosi plan, and internationally. The more I think about this, Georgia’s actions make no sense.

    For example, billions have been spent on this EU-US oil pipeline with Georgia as a key link in a pipeline. Then the guy Bush-Cheney puts in charge in Georgia goes off and attacks Russian personnel, giving them an excuse do as they chose, at least for a while. Now the energy analysts are saying the US-European backed pipeline is a loser. All because they couldn’t control their hand picked president.

    Georgian Conflict Obliges Export Route Reality Check
    21 Aug 2008 12:32 PM

    Excerpt from Caspian Investor by Dr. Kent Moors, Contributing Editor
    http://tinyurl.com/5drpde

    “Within days of military action commencing, all oil pipelines and seaport terminal export facilities closed in Georgia. The separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia remain resolved to leave Georgia guaranteeing ongoing domestic unrest. That means threats of pipeline and port closures will continue, substantially increasing the risk equation in moving hydrocarbons out of the Caspian basin. The vulnerability of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipelines, as well as the ports of Batumi, Poti and Kulevi, will certainly prompt a serious reappraisal of export security. Snip

    “BTC had been the one major accomplishment of Washington and Brussels, a primary export venue from the rapidly developing Caspian basin beyond the touch of Moscow. Apparently, that is not the case any longer. The argument that Moscow’s intent all along was to put pressure on the BTC through this military exercise has nothing substantive behind it. In the end, however, that makes little difference. The military rationale for the incursion is not the issue here. Events have accomplished Moscow’s “energy full court press,” as one observer put it to us.”

    bozhidar, I agree with you. The response here should have been to raise holy Hell with the international organizations. The Russian case was very strong, truly. But they couldn’t resist the impulse to do what they do. Now the entire human rights issue is clouded and big power politics take over. Once again, the people and their lives are discarded.

  9. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 7th, 2008 at 1:49pm #

    michael collins,
    russian response to georgian aggression was understandable. i do sympathize with russia.
    russia is doing a noble thing to defend s.ossetia and abkhazia.
    i was very unhappy with russian treatment of chechnyans. i am a strong socialist and egalitarian but not in an utopian way.
    i’d sooner vote for communist party that the Conservatives and Liberals. thank u for ur comment.

  10. Michael Collins said on September 8th, 2008 at 12:32am #

    bozhidar, I couldn’t agree more on the Chechnyans. That was and is dreadful and created quite a “blowback,” as Chalmers Johnson would say. This time they were better. But blowing the whistle loudly, no t just about the attacks on their personnel but also the whole oil scam would have done wonders. At the same time, they felt compelled to move in to protect their folks and that made conflict inevitable. They took their sweet time leaving, which is where people object (and I agree).

    As for the sequence of independence declarations, Georgia was one of the first. They followed the Baltic states and preceded the rest (13 or so).

    Russian Republics

  11. Lijandra said on September 9th, 2008 at 8:28pm #

    I see very sympathetic comments to Russia here. The thing is that the Russians are no saints. It seems that North Ossetia an Abkhasia have been egged on by Russians to cause instability in Georgia for a long time now. They’ve given out Russian passports to them, etc. None of the people in so called government of South Ossetia have been born there. In fact, they all have had high posts in Russian military or the former KGB. Doesn’t that seem fishy? Can anyone here see how it would drive Georgians crazy? There are also claims of ethnic cleansing of Georgians in those regions, making them abandon their homes and move to Georgia proper.

    Most former Soviet Republics (including my native Lithuania) fear Russia and hate it with passion. They’ll do anything to get away from Russian bullying. And yes, that might lead them into the open arms of US, which has its own selfish motives. Such is life, huh?

  12. Michael Collins said on September 10th, 2008 at 12:05am #

    Lijandra , Noting the incredible ineptness of Georgia’s leader does not translate into whitewashing South Ossetia and certainly not Russia. In fact, the article pointed out that the rash behavior, irrational it appears, of Saakashvili was the ‘gift’ that the Russians kept on taking with their long good bye.

    Who on earth would provoke a major power by attacking in the way that Georgia did? Someone who is not serious about the national security of his country.

    South Ossetia is a very poor region that relies on smuggling to a large degree. “The main reasons for smuggling in these regions are institutional weakness and corruption in law enforcement bodies, and the absence of initiative among previous leaders of the supreme executive branch of the Government of Georgia.” South Ossetia – Recent Developments (www.globalsecurity.org). The article goes on to point out there there are those in South Ossetia, Georgia, and Russia who benefit from these activities.

    Nevertheless, that’s no excuse to attack their capitol and kill and injure many, as the Georgian leader commanded. The Georgian people aren’t “crazy,” their leader is rash and out of control.

    Your statement about the entire South Ossetia government being from somewhere else is not accurate. Some are, maybe to take advantage of the smuggling rake off, but not all.

    The situation was languishing, somehow a major conflict had been avoided, then there was the totally amazing and outrageous attack by a nation of 4.5 million against one of 170 million.

    As for selfish interests, there are plenty to go around. It’s the people negotiating the hazards of everyday life who suffer, in this episode, the citizens of South Ossetia.

  13. Lijandra said on September 10th, 2008 at 1:20am #

    Michael, thank you for your reply. I would really like to know how Mikheil Saakashvili came to the decision to attack South Ossetia. Putin suggested that US told him to. I wonder what really went on there. Maybe he was urged to stabilize the situation so that the oil pipeline could function. Maybe he was led to believe that US would do more than it did. Sure it sounds crazy, but we can’t know for sure.

    I agree that regular people suffer the most when stuff like this happens. Yet I refuse to believe that Russia is looking out for the interests of those people. As you said, they are just using that as a pretext for their own agenda.