Robin Yassin-Kassab

Fracturing Authority

with 7 comments

I had great sympathy for Chechnya when it was twice destroyed by Russian forces. The Chechens have been fighting for their independence for more than a hundred and fifty years. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no sympathy for Chechnya because, he says, Chechnya is officially part of Russia. The Chechen issue is a matter of Russian ‘territorial integrity.’ I admit that Brown’s position here makes sense. However brutal Russia’s treatment of Chechnya, it isn’t Britain’s business. (It may be the business of concerned British people, but that’s something else).

I don’t have much sympathy for Georgia, however, and none at all for the bleatings of the US, Britain and Germany, including Brown’s ridiculous bleatings in the Guardian. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia relinquished its control of eastern Europe and allowed independence to Caucasian and Central Asian nations. But instead of independence several of these countries became absorbed into the American empire. The fear that some of them had of their huge neighbour was understandable and deeply rooted (though not in Georgia, which had participated in Soviet rule from the Georgian Stalin to the Georgian Shevardnadze). The real fault was the West’s, to so stupidly exploit this fear, and to extend, by hubris, NATO membership and American missiles right to Russia’s borders. Russia in 1991 was too weak to do anything but let power slip, but its tolerance of Western expansion also showed a naivety, an overly-optimistic trust in Western capitalism. The very memory of that naivety is a humiliation to Russians.

The current fighting started when the Georgian president (he is also an American citizen) decided, Milosevic-style, to seize back the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Thousands were killed in the Georgian bombardment, including Russian peace-keepers. South Ossetia, and the province of Abkhazia, have just as much right to secede from Georgia as Kosovo from Yugoslavia. Russia defended them, and took the opportunity to roll back American influence in the Caucasus.

The Monroe doctrine – that no major foreign power can install military bases in Central or South America because this is the United States’ sphere – has stood for 200 years. When the Soviet Union briefly shipped missiles to Cuba in 1962, the world shivered on the brink of nuclear war. But America has been pouring arms and military expertise into Georgia. So too has Israel. The torturers and murderers of the Shin Bet helped teach Saakashvili how to intimidate his opponents. In return, Saakashvili sent 2000 troops to participate in the dismantling of Iraq. He certainly expected more help from the West when his attack on South Ossetia rebounded on him.

In the event, Georgia was very similar to Gaza and Beirut. Despite all the US-Israeli arms, training and money, Georgia-as-client collapsed in hours. It is a sign of the times, these pockets slipping out of the empire’s grasp, one after the other. Imperial authority is fracturing.

Bashaar al-Assad exploited the moment beautifully. He immediately expressed his support for Russia, reminded the Russians again and again of the Israeli role in Georgia, and offered Russia a naval base in Tartus. It is unlikely that the strengthening relationship will give Syria weapons that threaten the Zionist state, but it may help Syria build its air defences against Israeli aggression.

But back to the idiots. In the Guardian, Gordon Brown says: “Twenty years ago, as the Berlin Wall fell, people assumed the end of hostility between East and West, and a new world order founded on common values.”

That was the mistake the Russians so gullibly made, until they discovered what ‘common values’ meant. To people like Brown, they mean American missile batteries in Georgia and the Ukraine. The rape of the Russian economy by anarcho-gangsters (it all happened under the direction of Western economic ‘experts’) brought Russia into the glorious new world order. Russian life expectancy plummeted.

Brown goes on to ask: “How can we best create a rules-based international system that protects our collective security and safeguards our shared values?” He has one answer: “We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship.” Do I need to point out the irony? You’d think not, not after Iraq and Afghanistan, not after Lebanon and Palestine, not after Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. But obviously, yes, I do, because Brown’s audience does not immediately laugh or vomit when he says such things.

The idiot Miliband insists on extension of NATO membership to Ukraine and Georgia. So does the idiot Cameron, leader of what passes for an opposition in this undemocratic society. If Georgia had been a member of NATO when it attacked South Ossetia, all NATO members, including Britain, would have found themselves at war with Russia. As a Briton, I’m not amused. As a human being, I am a bit: NATO is already losing a war in Afghanistan. What does it think it could do against Russia?

Brown bleating: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/31/russia.georgia

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

September 1, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Posted in imperialism, UK, USA

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7 Responses

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  1. It upsets me that wediffer greatly with Arab Muslims on Russia. If you lived under Russia, you’d have a totally different perspective. Yes, i am willing to live under American empire, if next choice is to be absorbed into madhouse called Russia or swallowed up by Iran. Yes, US exploits our feelings – but we have little choice in this matter. Things like that are not questions of abstract morals but of national survival. I am 100% for Georgia and sentiment is shared by most of Former Russian colonies.

    Hazar Nesimi

    September 2, 2008 at 4:28 am

  2. Where are you from, Hazar? Of course, I simplify a little to make my point. I’m sure that Russia is committing atrocities in Georgia too. But still, if Georgia wants to provoke Russia by becoming a servant of the more distant empire, I have no sympathy. And do you not sympathise with South Ossetia or Abkhazia?

    I do understand your point about Russia. I said in my post that small neighbouring countries have good reason to feel scared of Russia. But I don’t understand what you are saying about being ‘swallowed up by Iran.’ Iran has attacked nobody in its modern history, unlike Russia, America, or Georgia.


    September 2, 2008 at 7:52 am

  3. I am from Georgian neighbour – Azerbaijan and I do not sympathize with few thousand Ossetians or Abkhazians, the fighting and “peacekeeping” is done by Russians anyway. THere is not really an Ossetia, thre is just illegally occupied Georgian land. We have our own conflict with Russian-supported Armenia, that occupied our lands, in which more than a million were displaced from their lands.
    Iran is a state not predis[psed towards us as well, because they have a large Azeri Turk minority, but hey – this is Middle East, can not get more complex than that, so far we were able to maintain very tricky balancing act between 3 powers. Now, it seems we will have to choose a protector.

    Hazar Nesimi

    September 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

  4. A great article. As always, presents our feelings as words. I’m I dreaming or just the history repeats itself? At least, in different countries.We are with every struggler in the world with our prayers.Thank you.


    September 2, 2008 at 6:32 pm

  5. Hazar – You’re in the region and you know more about it than me. But I don’t think denying the existence of the Ossetians is very fair. And I can’t agree with what you said in your first comment that living under the American empire is a matter of ‘national survival’. I think the case of Georgia proves the opposite. Saakashvili’s brutal attack on South Ossetia gave Russia the excuse it needed, but the real reason for Russia’s action was the threat of American weapons on its borders. A neutral, independent Georgia would have had a much better chance of remaining independent. Anyway, America is no longer in a position to defend Georgia, Azerbaijan, or anyone else on Russia’s border. American power is still enormous, but it is steadily and surely waning. That’s why even Saudi Arabia is diversifying its options, getting friendly with China, and so on. Clients who take too long to understand the geopolitical shifts will pay dearly.


    September 3, 2008 at 12:18 am

  6. I agree that geopolitical plates are shifting and we are to find ourselives in the position where it is not possible to maintain the balance . I am increasingly pessimistic about Impotent west, Georgia is gone, we too. You are witnessing the fall of the West, these are just first steps. Maybe you do not realize how sad it will be for me, who cherished some great ideas of how we can be improved. US has lost it, since Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been disappointed in my European dreams long time ago, and more so after 9/11, i know Europeans is a bunch of impotent and easily-scared fools, and it is useless in all things except talking nice, but that does not negate my hatred of all things Russian. I prefer to be lied smiling to than smacked in the face and left to rot.

    Hazar Nesimi

    September 4, 2008 at 7:15 am

  7. “i know Europeans is a bunch of impotent and easily-scared fools, and it is useless in all things except talking nice…”

    Do you prefer a bunch of war-mongers who are hell-bent on conquest and ‘full-spectrum domination’? What do you expect from Europe, Hazar? You seem to desire that Europe be a civilised example to the rest of teh world, but at the same time have no problem with an aggressive neo-con foreign policy. Your position doesn’t really make sense.

    The lack of human rights in pro-western dictatorships of central Asia such as Uzbekistan is on a par with pro-Russian states like Belorus. Surely there needs to be a better solution.

    Jeff Wode

    September 8, 2008 at 8:54 pm

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