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Sun

21

Nov

2010

NATO/Russian “Strategic Concept” Hinges On Russian Designs In Georgia
Sunday, 21 November 2010 18:40
by Peter Chamberlin

What does Russia really want from Georgia?  As in all issues between Russia and former satellite nations, the Kremlin wants to create or strengthen its ability to assert control over the independent governments, but there is much more to it than this.

Georgia is a state of contention, an area where the battle between East and West is waged.  It is here and in the other zones of conflict where Russian leaders must take concrete steps to put their “new thinking” into action.  We cannot see which path Putin and Medvedev will choose to take, mainly because they don’t appear to know themselves at this point which path they will choose for the immediate future.  But, from all the sweet noises emanating from Lisbon so far, it seems that the Russians will stay firmly on the path to a global partnership with the US.  The problem in all of this is how can Russia hold onto past gains without upsetting potential profits in the future.  Putin’s dilemma is how to switch tracks from post-Soviet government, to the new globalist partnership with the USA without provoking an unmanageable social revolution in the interim period.  How can he transition smoothly from the traditional stance of making trouble for American plans to one of working with the US planners.  The problems will arise when the switchover takes place—one day the office will work in the old thinking, the next day the workers’ and the office managers’ minds must switch to the new track.

Putin’s dilemma becomes most obvious in the S. Caucasus Region, where Soviet map-maker agitation of ethnic divisions in the past comes into play against ever-changing pipeline plans.  The US/Russian battle between South Stream and Nabucco pipeline plans has created uncertainty and a fuzzy notion of borders, so that the people, whose lives were being planned for them, have defensively turned to nationalism, with a stake in a future worth fighting for.

Defensive nationalism must be turned into an asset, by demonstrating where the new future must lie.  Past attempts to overcome the inherent difficulties in pacifying the region can be seen in the creation of new enclaves with self-defined borders, such as S. Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh.  These guerrilla staging areas must be eliminated without ignoring the interests of the key players in them.
 

Can American and Russian leaders overcome Putins’ dilemma, through some sort of joint “peace offensive”?  (SEE: The Peace Pipeline)

The recent steps taken by the players in the Azeri/Armenian conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh suggest that the US/Russian partnership is prepared to allow or encourage the military resolution of the issue, in order to prepare the two key nations for backed-up pipeline plans, even as they sign treaties committing them to abide by established “conflict resolution” measures.

Normally I avoid reading the Russian propaganda organ Pravda, but they have recently run a timely report on this impending issue  (SEE: Russia to become involved in another war on post-Soviet space?).  In addition to this Russian report, we have Armenia’s announcement that it would not be attending the ongoing NATO summit, as well as the following supplements:  ( Armenia may ‘turn from Russia to USA’ ; Russia against ‘Turkmen-Azerbaijani reconciliation’ ; Russia perceives Turkey as opponent ).

By supporting the peaceful resolution of the Georgian issues, the US side is committing itself to resolving the stand-off with Russia over S. Ossetia and Abkhazia, even though Russia cannot surrender to Georgian ambitions.  What price will Russia extract from Georgia, NATO and the US to relinquish territory deemed important enough to wage war over?  Abkhazia became a Russian military enclave as a direct reaction to Sakaashvili’s de-Russification program.  S. Ossetia blew-up when the Georgian leader tried to evict the Russians and block the single tunnel (Roki Tunnel) connecting North and South Ossetia, in an attempt to force the Russian forces to retreat beyond the Caucasus Mountains.  In an ideal US/Russian partnership, the American presence in Georgia would also represent the interests of the Russian side.

Surely the ongoing discussions between US and Russian presidents in Lisbon concern the limitations to the global partnership and how differences between East and West can be kept hidden from the prying eyes of the global citizens and their uncontrollable free press.  (SEE: US, Russian presidents hold unplanned meeting).

It is our job, as members of that uncontrollable free press, to ensure that all the secret plans for our future do not remain hidden.

peterchamberlin@naharnet.com

 
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