Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Georgian upstart overplayed his hand, reflecting divisions among Western states on strategy in the Caucasus.
The US has always pursued a 'Grand Area' strategy. In this design, whole areas of the planet are presumed to be under its command. American planners had an unprecedented opportunity when the USSR broke down
Contrary to some opinion, the placing of 'lily-pads' in the Caucasus and Central Asia did not begin under Bush or after 9/11, but under Clinton in 1997. Encirclement of Russia is a bipartisan policy.
The US political class is less divided. McCain is staking out the most belligerent territory, but Obama is catching up rapidly. His foreign policy advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has compared Putin to Hitler and complained that Western access to crucial oil pipelines will be cut off by Russia's action - which suggests that any administration that takes his advice would be far more aggressive toward Russia than the Bush administration has been.
Obama wants to pour troops into Afghanistan and shore up the Central Asian frontier. Brzezinski has already supplied the rationale for this in The Grand Chessboard: "Eurasia is the world's axial super continent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world's three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia
Eurasia accounts for 75% of the world's population, 60% of its GNP, and 75% of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's."
In this account, control of the Middle East is a secondary aim.
You may recall Obama's sabre-rattling toward Pakistan
It would seem that US control of its Pakistani ally is tenuous, and that the US has to threaten it with a bit of ultra-violence to keep it in line.
So Obama was being perfectly realistic about what he might be expected to do.
In his most recent book, Second Chance, Brzezinski offers a future president the purported means to reverse America's declining power. One of his recommendations is to pay more attention to Russia, disrupt its increasingly close relationship with China and make a concerted effort to contain Putin's efforts to restore Russian power. Brzezinski, I suspect, is speaking for a lot of people in the American establishment. So, don't buy the line that Obama is just tail-coating McCain when he talks tough about Russian aggression. It is an integral component of the global 'Grand Area' strategy of a significant component of US power.
One of the most strident anti-Russian voices was that of former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, a supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. In comments to the British Guardian and the German Die Welt, he compared Putin to Hitler and Stalin, and the Russian intervention in Georgia to the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939. “Georgia is to an extent the Finland of today, both morally and strategically,”
Brzezinski pointed to the central role of oil, particularly the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline built over the last decade with US support to bring oil from the region to the world market, bypassing Russian territory. “If Georgia no longer has its sovereignty, it means... that the West is cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia,”
The strategists of US imperialism have broader interests than oil, however. Brzezinski himself has long sought the breakup, not only of the old Soviet Union, but of the Russian republic which comprises the bulk of the land mass of the former USSR. As the Guardian observed Monday, “The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is only a minor element in a much larger strategic equation: an attempt, sponsored largely by the United States but eagerly subscribed to by several of its new ex-Soviet allies, to reduce every aspect of Russian influence throughout the region, whether it be economic, political, diplomatic or military.”