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Russia Encircled:

The Undeclared War

by Stephen Gowans

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,   1 March 2002 


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It’s hard to stop the other side from winning a war you don’t know is being fought. Which may be one reason those who are fighting the war are doing so well.

But this isn’t a war against al-Qaeda or Talibs. Not a war on Afghanistan.

But it is a war Washington is at the centre of. The instigator.

It’s a war for primacy, of the United States, over the rest of the world. It has been going on for a long time. But ever since one of the major obstacles to US ambitions, the USSR, collapsed, the war has heated up.

And with velociraptors in charge of the White House and the State Department and the Pentagon, the war has kicked into high gear.

Russia encircled

Soviet Russia once cranked out more engineers and scientists than any country in the world. Today, 10 million Russian children don't go to school.

In 10 years the economy has shrunk by half. Real incomes have plunged 40 percent. A third of the country lives in extreme poverty, many on the verge of starvation. Eighty per cent of the people have no savings.

Life expectancy for men has fallen to 19th century levels. The suicide rate has doubled; alcoholism has tripled. Old diseases, once thought eliminated -- cholera, typhus, diphtheria -- have come roaring back.

Market reforms have not been kind to Russia.

Though sinking fast, Russia is still a big country. And it does have a nuclear arsenal. And it isn’t prepared to roll over completely to let Washington have its way in its own backyard. Not yet. Which means to establish primacy throughout Europe and Asia the United States has to have more oblique means of dealing with Russia than direct confrontation.

So Washington uses another approach -- encirclement.

"Imagine," says researcher Rick Rozoff, an editor of the Web site Emperor’s Clothes, "that every country in the Western Hemisphere had joined the Warsaw Bloc."

That pretty well sums up what’s happened to Russia. Most of the republics that used to belong to the Soviet Union are clamouring to join NATO, and many old Soviet allies, like Poland, have.

And Washington’s war on terrorism has allowed the United States to establish a military foothold along Russia’s southern flank, in the oil and natural gas rich Caspian region.

Now, Washington is sending troops to Georgia, right up to Russia’s border.

Russian military leaders are antsy. They’ve lambasted the country’s president Vladimir Putin, and have called for the return of socialism and a planned economy. They see their country hemmed in, at the mercy of the United States.

"U.S. forces are now stretched from Norway and several other European countries neighboring Russia through Turkey, Georgia and three Central Asian states," online intelligence analysts Stratfor point out. "This latest deployment only adds to the pressure on Russia's strategic position along its entire western and southern border."

Were the same to happen to the United States, the Pentagon’s leaders would be apoplectic.

Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig -- once commander of NATO forces in Europe -- told UPI on January 7th what NATO opponents have long alleged. NATO’s real raison d’etre is to hem Russia in. Russia could never belong to NATO, said the former NATO commander, because "then there would be no reason for NATO. You would have to rechristen it and change its overall objective."

Military budget for a New World Empire

"More than one-third of the $68 billion allocated for new weapons in the 2003 budget is for cold war type weapons," writes Douglas Mattern on the Web site Liberal Slant. "Several billion dollars are allocated for cluster bomb systems that have been condemned by human rights groups around the world."

But President George W. Bush and others say the ballooning budget, to be paid for out of raided Social Security funds while the nation’s richest one percent reap a bonanza in tax cuts, is necessary to fight terrorism. How do cluster bombs fight terrorism? Aren’t they a form of terrorism themselves?

That the extra billions the president wants to increase military spending by is excessive is underscored by the fact that the extra alone is bigger than Britain’s military budget, and Britain is NATO’s second largest military spender.

"There is no rationale for this level of military spending other than a clear intent for the United States to be the New World Empire, dominating the globe economically and militarily," says Mattern.

Schvenigan -- They stole the Nazi’s strategy, now they steal the Nazi’s prison

The Balkans are important to the United States plan for a New World Empire. At The Hague one of the principal former obstacles to Washington dominating the Balkans, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, is centre stage in a show trial the Western media have likened to Nuremberg II. Rozoff dismisses the comparison as "a complete reversal of logic and history, a stark perversion of the truth."

"The Nuremberg Tribunal didn't prosecute German officials for human rights violations, but for starting a series of unprovoked wars which cost humanity 50 millions lives."

Hitler bombed Belgrade. The next world leader to order the bombing of Belgrade was former US president Bill Clinton. Today, the United States largest military base abroad, Camp Bondsteel, sits in Kosovo, a province of Serbia. US troops are deployed elsewhere throughout the former Yugoslavia, once a multiethnic socialist state that steered an independent course in foreign policy, now a fragmented collection of statelets under US control.

"That the US and its allies violated every manner of international law as well as the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Agreement and even NATO's own charter would make them, and not Yugoslav leaders, prime candidates for any true Nuremberg II," Rozoff notes.

But it’s not NATO leaders in the dock at The Hague, and never will be. NATO controls the tribunal, funds it, appoints the prosecutors, pays the staff. The tribunal isn’t going to indict its bosses, no matter how deserving of indictment they are.

It’s as if the Nazis won the war, and then put the people who led the movements and governments that resisted Nazi invasion on trial for war crimes.

"By 1990, most of the countries of Eastern Europe had yielded to Western pressures to establish what were misleadingly called 'reforms'," says researcher and writer Sean Gervasi.

Yugoslavia, Gervasi points out, resisted. "The 1990 elections in Serbia and Montenegro kept a socialist or social-democratic party in power. The Federal government thus remained in the hands of politicians who, although they yielded to pressures for 'reforms' from time to time, were nevertheless opposed to the recolonization of the Balkans."

Many Yugoslav leaders were also opposed to the fragmentation of Yugoslavia. "Since the third Yugoslavia, formed in the spring of 1992, had an industrial base and a large army," Gervasi says, "the country had to be destroyed."

Today Milosevic, the resister, is being held at Schvenigan, part of a working Dutch prison once used by the Nazis to detain Dutch resistance fighters.

What the Nazis did to the Balkans, the US led NATO has also done. They’re even using the Nazi’s prison.

Venezuela -- Coup in the making

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez maintains a precarious hold over the leadership of this desperately poor South American country. Venezuela sits atop massive oil reserves, but half its populations is mired in abject poverty. Chavez, who came to power with a campaign aimed at the poor, has taken steps to better spread the country’s oil wealth. That’s angered the oil industry, which has faced hikes in royalty rates, and Chavez’s insistence that state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA hold a controlling stake in future exploration ventures has won him few friends among oil industry executives.

But that’s not all. On December 28, 2001 The New York Times reported that there’s "a growing belief in Republican circles that Mr. Chavez is undercutting American foreign policy by providing oil to Cuba, by opposing ‘Plan Columbia’ which includes $1.3 billion in United States counter narcotics aid for South America, and giving political support to guerillas and antigovernment forces in neighboring Andean nations."

Weeks later, members of Venezuela’s top military brass have stepped forward, demanding that Chavez step down.


Vice-Admiral Carlos Molina Tomayo, who was trained in electronic warfare in the US, points to Venezuela’s relations with Columbia’s guerillas, sales of oil to Cuba, and Chavez’s ‘extreme leftist’ regime. In other words, everything Washington objects to. Chavez is veering away from Venezuela’s traditional allies (i.e., the US) says Tomayo, and is undermining its interests by "cozying up to Cuba."

On February 7, Colonel Pedro led a demonstration of thousands to the presidential residence, demanding Chavez step down.

"To put things in perspective," comments Emperor’s Clothes’ Rozoff, "imagine a U.S. Colonel demanding that a popularly elected president...step down. The press would be full of warnings about threats to electoral democracy, the rule of law, national security and stability."

Ratcheting up the pressure, General Roman Gomez Ruiz, an Air Force general, is calling for Chavez’s resignation. According to a Feb.26 AFP report, Ruiz said Chavez must leave "for the good of the country and the love of the armed forces."

An elected president sets out to relieve the grinding poverty of his country’s citizens, pursues an independent foreign policy, Washington objects, and before you know it, the military is demanding the president’s resignation.

Moldova -- The last thing Washington wants is Communist russophiles

Venezuela isn’t the only country in which demands are being made of an elected government to step down. Moldova, a former Soviet republic, is another.

And like Venezuela, Moldova is undercutting US foreign policy.

Last February, Moldova’s communists came roaring back to power in a landslide victory at the polls, winning 71 seats in the country’s 101-seat chamber.

If that wasn’t bad enough from Washington’s perspective, the government bucked the trend, choosing to align itself with Russia, and not the rapidly expanding US controlled NATO.

And now, a year after the elections, protesters are demanding the government step down.


Because the government planned to make Moldova’s students learn Russian as a second language.

When the government backed off its plan, the protesters renewed their demands, encircling the parliament building.

Does this add up? Or can Washington’s hand be glimpsed behind the scenes?

Belarus -- Return of the "weasel."

Alexander Lukashenko, president of the former Soviet republic of Belarus, is under sustained attack for aligning his government with Russia, refusing to join NATO, and dragging his heels on surrendering the Belarusian economy to the IMF. Although elected, Lukashenko is calumniated as Europe’s last dictator, a favorite slur thrown at any leader unwilling to show complete obeisance to Washington, NATO, or the IMF.

The United States undertook a massive campaign to oust Lukashenko in last September’s elections, funnelling money to non-governmental agencies opposed to the Belarusian president, backing a youth group reminiscent of the US-backed Serb resistance group, Otpor, and arranging for Radio Free Europe broadcasts to urge Belarusians to vote for Lukashenko's US-backed opponent.

At the centre of the campaign was Michael Kozak, US Ambassador to Belarus, a man with some experience in destabilizing governments Washington doesn't like. Nicknamed "the weasel" by former CIA director William Casey, Kozak served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, working in Panama and El Salvador in the 80's, and in Nicaragua at a time Washington was employing various shady and illegal means to topple the Sandanistas, including illegally funnelling money to the Contras. In a startling letter to a British newspaper, Kozak revealed that Washington's "objective and to some degree methodology are the same" in Belarus as in Nicaragua, reported the Sept. 3, 2001 issue of The Times.

The campaign failed. Lukashenko was re-elected. But not without the usual charge being made: he stole the election.

Will Lukashenko hold onto to power, in the face of the relentless US assault? Or will he end up like another resister, Milosevic, jailed at the Nazi’s Schvenigan?

In this undeclared war there are victims aplenty. Only we think the victims are tyrants, dictators, stealers of elections and strongmen.

Copyright Stephen Gowans   2002. 

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