OF THE WAR
does any of this have to do with the Russian invasion of poor
little Chechnya? The answer is: plenty. Substitute Mexico
for Chechnya and Russia for the US and the above scenario
is the history of the Caucasus region since the fall of the
Soviet Union. The recent terrorist attacks on a Moscow apartment
building, as well as in two other cities, in which hundreds
were killed, has sparked an entirely justified outrage that,
in Russia, translates into support for what is popularly seen
as a just war. As a retaliatory strike against the depredations
of ordinary bandits, it has the character of a police action,
at least ostensibly undertaken with the legitimate purpose
of protecting life and property. Using NATO-esque means, the
Russians mean to pursue nationalist ends and this is
the real root of the moral outrage in the West.
by last Thursday's statement by British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and German
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer calling for an end to the
war, the Chechens have lost no time in appealing to the US
for "humanitarian" intervention. The make-believe
President of Chechnya, Aslan
Maskhadov, was quick to declare that "the Chechen
people have huge hopes that the United States will use its
authority to defend human rights."
Huge hopes, indeed for a chance to be the next Kosovo,
a NATO-Russian battleground, with local factions acting as
proxies for one side or the other. This is the motivation
behind the growing chorus for US military intervention to
save "poor little Chechnya."
grim joke is that there is nothing to save: in reality there
is no such country as Chechnya, only a region inhabited by
a bewildering variety of clans and sub-clans, including many
nomads whose traditional lifestyle tends to disregard such
intangibles as national borders. "President" Maskhadov
has no control over the activities of local military "commanders,"
whose incursions into Russian territory have caused havoc
and led to plenty of civilian casualties. But these are the
sort of civilian casualties the Western media would rather
not report: instead, they are content to focus on the suffering
of Chechen refugees, whose tales of atrocities are uncritically
reported as fact.
OF THE NATO-CRATS
have we heard all this before? In Kosovo, of course, and not
all that long ago. Even as the moral outrage over the alleged
"atrocities" committed by the Russians begins to
build, the real story of how the NATO-crats lied, faked photographs,
and manipulated a willing media is beginning to come out in
some detail. While US government officials were bandying about
figures as high as one million Kosovars killed as a result
of a deliberate Serb policy of "genocide," with
the Western media echo chamber faithfully repeating these
numbers, it turns out that the number of civilians killed
is closer to 3,000 or less.. As even apologists for the exaggerated
claims, such as John
Swain in the Sunday Times of London,
the NATO-crats lied in order to stoke up the war hysteria
and prop up popular support for the war.
Emilio Perez Pujol, a Spanish forensic surgeon who has returned
home from investigating alleged Serb war crimes in Kosovo
on behalf of the International Tribunal, Swain acknowledges
that Pujol's estimate could be a lot closer to the truth than
the press releases dished out by NATO during the war: Pujol
believes that as few as 2,500 civilians were killed. Sent
to Kosovo as the head of a team of specialists, Pujol discovered
that the search for mass graves was, as he puts it, "a
semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machine, because
we did not find one not one mass grave."
in the northern sector, the area where the Yugoslav assault
began, Pujol's team could find no evidence of the mass graves
announced by Christiane Amanpour on CNN and cited by
her husband, State Department spokesman James Rubin, as the
"humanitarian" rationale for war as fact.
The closest they came was 97 bodies in a cemetery that exhibited
"no signs of mutilation or torture, but rather death
from shrapnel or bullets. I called my people together and
said: 'We've finished here.' I informed my government and
told them the real situation. We had found a total of 187
bodies, 97 in one place, eight in another, four in another
and so on. Four or five had died from natural causes."
He added: "A military action prejudices truth and I want
to stress that trying to manipulate an international court
does not benefit anyone."
IN YOUR B.S.-DETECTOR
of course it does benefit someone, and that is the
War Party. The history of atrocity-mongering and war propaganda
is as old as war itself, and it is an art that has come to
be practiced with some degree of skill in the modern era,
as the Kosovo war demonstrated beyond all doubt. In an era
of instantaneous communication and televised immediacy, media
support is second only to air support as a military necessity
and is, at the very least, far more essential than
congressional support. This is one of the great lessons of
the Kosovo war and its aftermath: While Congress condemned
the President's war policy, the media backed him up with endless
loops of refugee footage, and hagiographic portraits of KLA
"freedom fighters and the latter clearly carried
the day. This is why, when the Chechens show every sign of
becoming the latest "humanitarian disaster," alarm
bells ought to go off in the brains of every thinking person:
that is the signal to turn on your skeptometer, plug in your
bs-detector, and sniff the air for the familiar scent of lies
emanating from the general direction of the "mainstream"
about the right degree of skepticism was exhibited by the
response of the first deputy of Russia's general staff, Valery
Manilov, who said: "To great misfortune, an entire series
of statements by responsible Western leaders, including Albright,
Blair, and others, are based on the so-called CNN effect.
their own admission, they formulate political positions on
the basis of information that is not confirmed."
on your guard against the CNN Effect. We can see the effects
of this pernicious syndrome in Kosovo and the former Yugoslavia.
Before we turn the entire Caucasus region into a battlefield,
and provoke Russia into a military confrontation, let us remember
the lies of CNN and the complicity of the Western media in
validating what turned out to be a gigantic hoax.
THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS
us be on guard, also, against taking sides in a battle where
there don't seem to be any good guys. The Russians are no
angels, but then neither are the various Chechen factions,
including the Islamic fundamentalists who have infiltrated
Chechnya from Afghanistan and even as far away as Jordan,
and also the various local chieftains and "commanders"
who owe nominal allegiance to a nonexistent national government,
but act as independent warlords, battling each other as much
as the Russians. The Russians have suffered an invasion of
their province of Dagestan, which has been targeted by Islamic
rebels for "liberation" although the terrified
Dagestanis show no sign of wanting to be "liberated"
and desire only to be left in peace. Using bases in Chechnya,
foreign fundamentalists have poured into Dagestan, killing,
looting, and generally raising holy hell. The Russians, invoking
their own version of the Monroe Doctrine, have moved to protect
their southern border. The Chechnyan war is a strictly defensive
measure that poses no danger to the national interests of
the U.S. It does, however, pose a major danger to certain
private interests the kind that have plenty
of clout in both major parties.
OIL AND THE CASPIAN LOBBY
discussed in this column before, the avid interest taken
by Big Oil in what transpires in the Caucasus has been translated
into official US government policy. As the Petroleum Economist
[May 12, 1999] put it: "So important to US strategic
interests has the Caspian become, that in July 1998, US President
Bill Clinton created the Office of the Special Advisor to
the President and the Secretary of State for Caspian Basin
Energy Diplomacy. Ambassador Richard Morningstar was appointed
to the office. As overseer of US policy in the region, he
has strongly backed proposals to build a main exporting corridor
for Caspian energy to the West."
With the discovery of oil reserves in the Caspian Sea area
that may rival or even dwarf the oil riches of the Arabian
peninsula, the race to cash-in is underway, with American
and British oil companies and their lobbyists in the lead.
After much lobbying for government subsidies, loan guarantees,
and contracts by the profiteers of the "Great Silk Road,"
and lots of squabbling over the exact route that the transshipment
of Caspian oil would take, the
first pipeline deal was finalized on the very day that
Chechen President Maskhadov called on the Americans to assert
their "authority" in the region. What
it was a coincidence don't you think? I mean,
if it wasn't, then all those conspiracy theorists may have
something on the ball but, no, that couldn't possibly
be right. Could it?)
Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, a Turkish
port on the Mediterranean, the pipeline is supposed to go
through the territory of Georgia a route fraught with
danger and ominous implications for the entire region. For
Georgia is torn by armed strife between the central government
in Tbilisi, where the ex-Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze
clings to the Presidency, and
at least two separatist insurgencies backed by elements within
the Russian military. As the darling of Western liberals,
and a favorite of the media, Shevardnadze has long been angling
for Western support against his domestic opponents: with the
construction of the pipeline, he may have planted the tripwire
that will ensure Western military aid to his precarious regime.
so all the elements for a major confrontation between nuclear-armed
Russia and the US are being put in place: not only the "humanitarian"
aspect of the coming war with Russia, but also the developing
"national security" rationale. With billions of
dollars invested in the area, including untold millions in
US government subsidies, the building of the pipeline has
suddenly become a matter of "the national interest"
instead of just certain private interests.
DUBYA: CAPTIVE OF THE CASPIAN LOBBY
Oil has its champions in both parties, but Dubya Is certainly
that interest group's Great White Hope for the White House.
He has solid links to the powerful and wealthy Azerbaijan
lobby in Washington, which has been unusually visible and
active. As Robert C. Butler put it in a piece posted on oilandgas.com:
"It is clear that if George W. Bush, son of the former
president and today governor of Texas, is nominated by the
Republican Party and elected, then the international energy
consortia will have a new friend in the White House and Azerbaijan
will profit from the situation. Many of the advisors whom
Bush has chosen for his campaign have in the past been either
active advocates of close ties with Azerbaijan or have voted
against maintaining Section 907 restrictions on US assistance
to the country."
international consortium made up of the biggest players, including
Amoco, British Petroleum, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil and Unocal
have led the lobbying effort that could draw the US deeply
into an area of the world that may turn out to be the biggest
quagmire of them all and the most dangerous. Among
the members of the Bush
inner circle who are personally profiting from the Caspian
of the big oil companies are James Baker, Brent Scowcroft,
Dick Cheney and John Sununu. On the Democratic side of the
aisle, Caspian lobbyists include Lloyd Bentsen, former Treasury
Secretary under President Clinton, and Zbigniew Brzezinski,
former National Security Adviser under President Carter. The
Brit contingent consists of Tim Eggar, former British Energy
Minister and Malcolm Rifkind, former British Foreign Minister
under the Conservatives. Don't look now, but the fix is already
Hitchins wrote in an excellent article on the power and
influence of the Azerbaijan lobby, in 1997: "It didn't
take long for the lobby to start posting some impressive returns.
Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott, the point man on these
matters, presented the administration's considered view last
July. Speaking loftily about history, Talbott recalled the
'Great Game' of imperial manipulation that, 'fueled and lubricated
by oil,' had mutilated the Caucasus in the 19th century. No
more, he said, would this be the dynamic. Then, almost quickly
enough to escape notice, he called for the immediate repeal
of the relevant sections of the 1992 Freedom Support Act."
LITTLE STALIN OF CENTRAL ASIA
Act forbids US foreign aid to tyrannical one-party states
such as the one run by Azerbaijan's strongman Heydar Aliyev.
The absolute ruler of oil-rich Azerbaijan is an ex-Communist
and resident KGB officer in the region who seized power after
the breakup of the Soviet Union: Aliyev has become the mini-Stalin
of central Asia, with a one-party state and a cult of personality
that goes beyond the parodic. As the central Asian version
of the Emir of Kuwait, Aliyev is not exactly an inspiration
to the worldwide U.S.-led movement for "democracy"
Strobe Talbott and Madeleine Albright are always invoking.
the Western media can always be counted on to overlook that,
just as they whitewashed the KLA another Islamic "ally"
in what is taking on all the characteristics of a US-Islamic
jihad against Eastern Orthodoxy. First Serbia, and
now Russia in both instances the US is acting as the
catalyst of a civilizational war that pits Christians against
Muslims. What is the basis of this alliance budding alliance?
It's very simple: money.
EXPANSION ALL THE WAY TO BAKU
the signing of the pipeline agreement scheduled for later
this month in Istanbul, the alliance of Aliyev and Shevardnadze
with Turkey and the OSCE, backed up by the US, is solidified
and here we enter into dangerous territory. The recent
assault on the Armenian parliament and the assassination of
several government officials, adds an ominous aspect to the
developing crisis: with Armenia and Azerbaijan locked in eternal
combat over the Nagorno-Karabakh question, the ire of Armenian
separatists is bound to be taken out on the pipeline. Yet,
the West is pledged to defend its investment. This will be
done, at first , by Western proxies, such as the Georgians
and the Azeris, and then perhaps by NATO troops Shevardnadze
has already added his country to the list of NATO applicants.
Now that's what I call real NATO expansion clear
into the plains of central Asia!
COSTS OF INTERVENTION
do not misunderstand: Russian imperialism is very far from
being a benevolent force. Not only that, but this war will
be Russia's undoing. The Russian troops are young conscripts,
ill-fed, ill-trained, and ill-inclined to fight. The Chechens,
on the other hand, are highly motivated: they are fighting
for their lives on their own territory. The Russians can take
Grozny, but they can never hold it. The last Russian war to
regain Chechnya ended in defeat, and that is likely to be
the ultimate result of this latest misadventure which
seems, perversely, to be a bizarre attempt to avenge the "honor"
of the Russian military, at least in part, and which will
wind up achieving the exact opposite. With the question "who
lost Chechnya?" feeding Russian nationalism and giving
credence to all sorts of exotic and uniquely Russian conspiracy
theories, the potential for trouble is endless and
Western intervention, even if only rhetorical, can only make
a bad situation worse.
smart thing to do would be to let the Russian generals lose
Chechnya on their own, without any help from the West or its
regional proxies. But too much is at stake too much
money for such a laissez-faire approach to prevail.
As in the Balkans, the soil of the Caucasus is rich with the
blood of ancient ethnic and religious feuds, Add to this volatile
mix the promise of great wealth, and the two necessary factors
for war hate and greed are present in great
abundance. Factor in the reality of a nuclear-armed Russia,
and the growing Sino-Russian rapprochement, and what
we are seeing in Chechnya (and in the Western response) makes
war almost inevitable.
IN THE ISOLATIONISTS!
all those alleged "isolationists" of the Republican
Party step forward and stop the show and I wouldn't
count on it, looking at the resumes of top Bush advisors
the Caucasus is the next item on the interventionist agenda.
With a controlling interest in both parties, the Caspian oil
lobby rules. No matter who wins the White House (excepting
Pat Buchanan), it won't be long before US troops are in Baku
guarding the pipeline from attack by Armenian rebels
under the pretext of a "humanitarian" rescue of
"CNN EFFECT" AN ANTIDOTE
CNN Effect is powerful, and its hypnotic qualities are well-known.
Yet it can be overcome by a kind of mental discipline, in
which the willing suspension of disbelief is, itself, suspended,
and everything is examined with extreme skepticism. That is
what we have done from the beginning, on this site, when we
questioned the charge of "genocide" leveled at the
Serbs and this is what we will continue to do. Our
method is to question the conventional wisdom, challenge the
ceaseless propaganda of the War Party, and expose the special
interests that stand to profit in dollars and in political
power from the interventionist policy of perpetual
war for perpetual peace. From Chechnya to Kosovo to East Timor
and beyond, we aim at bringing you the truth from the world's
battlefields, unclouded by the prism of the "CNN Effect"
no matter how contrary to the received wisdom it may