Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama's Boy in the Caucasus

According to a Reuters item dated January 31 ("U.S. envoy warns against Russian base in Abkhazia"), Matthew Bryza, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, has expressed concern about possible Russian bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Bryza was quoted as saying "deployment" of such bases would be "moving in the wrong direction," further alleging Russia had broken promises to reduce its military presence in the region and "deploying a naval base would be another violation."

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs blamed Russia for not cooperating towards a settlement under UN auspices and accused Russia of jeopardizing "the safety of energy supplies" (for the West, that is) that run through Georgia. Russia had been causing similar fears by cranking up a gas dispute with the Ukraine, the US official asserted. However, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs announced there was a glimpse of hope for shivering Europeans yearning for Russian gas: the US was considering putting its weight behind a new $800 million pipeline to bypass bottlenecks.
These are truly amazing statements. How come, one wonders, a US diplomat makes utterances like the above? Why would Russia not be entitled to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by establishing military bases there? After all, this is exactly what the US has been doing since the 1990s in the Balkans. Why would the US be authorized to do things while at the same time it attempts to prevent others from doing the same thing, invoking "international law?"

By establishing miltary bases in Bosnia Herzegovina, the US has helped support the fragile, dubious independence of this region. Then the US moved on to mineral-rich Kosovo, setting out to turn this province of Serbia into a US client state, or protectorate if you will. This could not have been done without massive military support: indeed "Camp Bondsteel" is now one of the biggest US military bases in Europe, covering 36 hectares and holding some 7.000 troops.
But other than that, Europe is studded with US military bases, from Norway to Greece and from Spain to Bulgaria. And as for Great Britain, it is in fact no more than a US aircraft carrier moored just off the coast of Europe. Does Europe need this massive and oppressive, humiliating US military presence? Of course not, only the US desperately needs the bases in Europe for carrying out its wars of aggression against poorly armed, weak nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this military presence required for the "defense of Europe?"

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