Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden

August 25, 2010 2 comments

August 25, 2010

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden
Rick Rozoff

The longest war in U.S. history and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first armed conflict outside Europe, as well as its first ground war, is nearing the beginning of its tenth year.

Over 120,000 troops are serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in addition to 30,000 under American command, and the Western military bloc recently confirmed that Malaysia has become the 47th official Troop Contributing Nation (TCN) for the war effort.

Never before have forces from so many nations served under a common command in one country, one war theater or one war.

All 28 full NATO member states have supplied soldiers for the campaign, as have over 20 Alliance partners in Europe, the South Caucasus, the South Pacific, Asia, Africa and South America. With the inclusion of contingents deployed and pledged by nations such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Colombia and Tonga as well as the 47 official troop contributors, there are military personnel from every populated continent assigned to the West’s war in Afghanistan.

European nations that have maintained neutrality since the end of World War Two and in some cases decades and centuries longer have provided NATO with troops for its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Austria, Ireland and Switzerland have sent nominal contingents under Partnership for Peace (PfP) obligations. PfP member Finland has approximately 150 troops attached to NATO’s Afghan command and Sweden has 500. The Swedish consignment was until lately the second-largest of all non-NATO member states, only surpassed by Australia until over 750 more U.S. Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops arrived in the South Asian nation in April. (Last month Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili said that the 1,000 total troops he deployed were matriculated in the “school of Afghan warfare” for use in future conflicts like those of the five-day Georgian-Russian war of two years ago.)

The main function of the Partnership for Peace program – whose name is counterintuitive, Orwellian and blasphemous given the fact it has graduated 12 Eastern European nations into full membership in the world’s only military bloc and prepared them for deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq – is to integrate nations in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia for NATO operations abroad. The major beneficiary of that process is the Pentagon.

Over twenty nations currently in that category are having their armed forces, military doctrines, weapons arsenals and foreign policy orientation transformed for interoperability with the Western alliance and in particular its leading member, the United States.

The PfP is training the armies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Austria, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, Montenegro and Sweden for the war in Afghanistan and, complementarily, is employing the war there to provide the militaries of those states combat experience and to build a globally deployable force for future NATO operations, including ones nearer the respective nations’ borders. [1] Other components of the strategy include conducting ever more frequent and large-scale war games and other combat training in partnership nations with Afghanistan the immediate battlefield destination but with general applicability for other locations, and expanding the arsenals of PfP states with – NATO interoperable – unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters, advanced warplanes and other engines of war.

Al Burke and his dedicated colleagues with the Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO initiative in Sweden are conducting a tireless campaign to sound the alarm over the surreptitious and accelerating drive to integrate the nation into NATO’s – and the Pentagon’s – global military sphere. [2]

For over a year Swedish troops in charge of ISAF operations in four northern Afghan provinces have been engaged in regular firefights, the first combat operations the nation has conducted in almost two hundred years. Two Swedish officers were killed in February, the first troops killed in an exchange of fire with Afghan rebels.

On July 1 the Swedish government ended 109 years of conscription and made the country’s armed force entirely voluntary; that is, Stockholm – to use the approved term – professionalized the military according to NATO standards and demands.

As a result, “All Swedish soldiers will in future be liable to be sent abroad on missions against their will. Any soldiers who refuse could lose their jobs….” [3]

The four unions representing the nation’s military personnel are all opposed to the compulsory overseas deployment provision.

As a press agency reported on the day of the announcement, “At the same time, it was decided to loosen the country’s traditionally strict neutrality to allow participation in more international military operations, like the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.” [4]

Last year Sweden hosted the ten-day Loyal Arrow 2009 NATO military exercise in its north. The war games consisted in part of “the biggest air force drill ever in the Finnish-Swedish Bothnia Bay” [5] and included the participation of 2,000 troops from ten nations, 50 warplanes and a British aircraft carrier. An account of it stated, “The exercise is based upon a fictitious scenario. Within this scenario, elements of the NATO Response Force (NRF)…will be deployed to a theatre of operations.” [6] The allegedly fictitious situation in question was one which could well be applied in the Baltic nations of Estonia and Latvia, the South Caucasus, Transdniester and other locations where NATO forces and war machinery could come into direct contact with their Russian opposite numbers.

Late this May NATO’s top military commander made a tour of inspection to Sweden, commending its government for deploying and maintaining 500 troops in Afghanistan. American Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited the country on the invitation of the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Sverker Goranson. He also consulted with the State Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gustav Lind, and the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Frank Belfrage. [7]

A few days later several special representatives from “NATO Partner Nations Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland,” among them Veronika Wand-Danielsson, ambassador of Sweden to NATO, met with French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, commander of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) at the latter’s headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

The European envoys “were also briefed by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice of U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) on that command’s mission and on the achievements and future of the ACT-USJFCOM cooperation.” [8]

NATO is and has always been designed to recruit nations into a military bloc so the Pentagon can integrate them into its own network as well. Where NATO advances, U.S. troops and bases follow, as with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland where Washington has acquired air, training, interceptor missile and strategic airlift bases over the past five years.

In June Swedish troops were among 3,000 from 12 countries participating in the annual U.S.-led Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) NATO Partnership for Peace maneuvers, “the largest multinational naval exercise in the Baltic Sea,” [9] which included 500 U.S. Marines, 130 of whom stormed a beach in Estonia, the U.S. Marine Corps’ “first amphibious landing exercise in a territory that was once part of the Soviet Union,” [10] 90 miles from the Russian border.

At the same time United States Air Forces in Europe launched this year’s Unified Engagement “wargame designed to explore future joint warfare concepts and capabilities” [11] in Estonia. Last year’s version was conducted in Sweden.

The American delegation was led by the commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, General Roger Brady, and worked with “counterparts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden to strengthen relationships, and improve interoperability and future cooperation.” [12]

The United States Air Forces in Europe website described the event as a “transformation war game to explore future combined warfighting concepts and capabilities.”

According to Brady, “Because of training seminars like Unified Engagement, the U.S. Air Force and our partners worldwide are better prepared for future operational challenges.” [13]

In mid-June it was announced that “Swedish armed forces operating in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will be equipped with their first tactical UAV capability since deploying into theatre….”

Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) systems, “Already operated by the US Army and Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq,” will be deployed by the Swedish air force within months. [14]

During the same week the Finnish government announced it was presenting a proposal to the nation’s parliament to join the NATO Response Force, following up on a decision of three years ago to do so “as part of a joint decision and simultaneous membership with Sweden.” [15]

The U.S. led the annual NATO Partnership for Peace Sea Breeze multinational military exercises in Ukraine in the first half of July – in the Crimea, near the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol – with Alliance members and partners Sweden, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine.

In late July and early August the U.S. 555th Fighter Squadron with 250 airmen spent two weeks in Sweden conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises with the host country’s air force during which “the U.S. Air Force worked side-by-side with their Swedish allies both in the skies and on the ground conducting more than 180 flying missions that tested their air combat capabilities as well as their precision weapons scoring….”

The deputy commander of the participating Swedish unit, Övlt (Lieutenant Colonel) Harri Larsson, stated on the occasion: “We really appreciate working with the U.S. Air Force because it gives us dimension…training with someone else, other equipment, other tactics, working in the English language, which is not our native language….I believe it gives us a lot of good experience which we can use in the future.”

He added that the air combat exercises were important for integrating the warfighting capabilities of his nation’s Gripen pilots with U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon counterparts. “They can improve their training and we become more interoperable.”

Larsson also revealed the purpose behind the joint maneuvers: “Our government wants us to become more flexible and be able to, on a short notice, go abroad. (Therefore), we need to work with other countries, especially the U.S. (as) the U.S. is the biggest contributor to NATO and the UN. [F]rom our point of view it’s necessary to work with the U.S.”

As the American squadron returned to the Aviano Air Base in Italy, Övlt Larsson said “the F 21 Wing hopes to host its American allies again in the near future.” [16] The F 21 Wing, also known as the Norrbotten Air Force Wing, hosted the fifty NATO warplanes used in last year’s Loyal Arrow war games.

Last week the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead arrived in Sweden to inspect some of the country’s warships and a submarine and meet with his counterpart Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad to “discuss present and future operations between the two navies in the region and around the globe.” [17]

Sweden’s top military commander, General Sverker Goranson, was at the Pentagon on August 5 to meet with Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Goranson had earlier studied at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and served as military attache in the United States.

With eleven years of NATO expansion and the Alliance’s transformation into the world’s first internationally-oriented military bloc, no nation in Europe is permitted to be neutral and none can avoid involvement in military missions, including wars, abroad. Sweden is no exception, having joined scores of other previously non-aligned nations around the world in being pulled into the Pentagon’s orbit in the post-Cold War period.

To illustrate how widely the network has expanded, on July 16 military officers from 63 nations enrolled at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College – Swedish military chief Goranson’s alma mater – visited state officials in Topeka, Kansas.

The officers were from Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Botswana, Britain, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Ukraine. [18]

Related articles:

End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009

Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
June 14, 2009

Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
July 26, 2009

1) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009
2) Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO!
3) The Local (Sweden), July 13, 2010
4) Agence France-Presse, July 1, 2010
5) Barents Observer, June 8, 2009
6) Allied Air Component Command HQ Ramstein, April 9, 2009
7) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
May 12, 2010
8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation
May 21, 2010
9) U.S. European Command, June 7, 2010
10) Associated Press, June 15, 2010
11) Russian Information Agency Novosti, June 7, 2010
12) United States Air Forces in Europe, June 8, 2010
13) Ibid
14) Shephard Group, June 16, 2010
15) Defense News, June 16, 2010
16) United States Air Forces in Europe, August 13, 2010
17) Navy NewsStand, August 24, 2010
18) The Capital-Journal, July 16, 2010

Clinton Renews U.S. Claims On Former Soviet Space

July 7, 2010

Clinton Renews U.S. Claims On Former Soviet Space
Rick Rozoff

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton completed a four-day, five-nation tour of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus by holding a press conference with Georgia’s volatile president Mikheil Saakashvili and delivering what in effect was a harsh ultimatum to Russia.

A stern and even provocative admonishment which clearly defines the narrow parameters within which the current U.S. administration has “pushed the reset button” with Moscow.

As Clinton’s own comments best illustrate, Russia is a partner of the United States when it assists in levying onerous sanctions against Iran, provides support for the nine-year American and NATO war in Afghanistan (and neighboring Pakistan), and timidly accedes to the Pentagon taking over military bases and stationing interceptor missile batteries along Russia’s Western flank from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

But should Russia object, however perfunctorily, however reticently, to Washington shearing the sheep too closely by recruiting former Soviet states and neighboring nations into its political, economic, energy and military blocs, then Clinton and the administration she is the foreign policy point person for will not hesitate to rebuff and even gratuitously insult its Russian “partner.”

Speaking in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and reiterating the demand that Russian troops evacuate Abkhazia and South Ossetia, ceding both to the less than tender designs of American client Saakashvili, the U.S.’s top diplomat stated, “That is the rebuke (to Russia) that no one can dispute.” [1]

With Saakashvili, who graduated from New York’s Columbia University (Zbigniew Brzezinski’s haunts) on a State Department fellowship in the 1990s, to her side, on July 5 Clinton all but ordered Russia to remove its troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia: “I came to Georgia with a clear message from President Obama and myself. The United States is steadfast in its commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States does not recognize spheres of influence. President Obama and I have also communicated this message directly to our Russian counterparts, most recently during our meetings in Washington on June 24th….As I told the [Georgian] president, President Obama and I and other American officials raise our concerns about the invasion and occupation with Russian counterparts on a consistent basis. And it is very important for us that we do so, because we are very frank in asserting our concerns and our ongoing support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” [2]

Saakashvili seized on her words, crowing that Obama and Clinton were the first major American officials to use the word invasion in lieu of earlier terms that almost sound diplomatic in tone. The Georgian leader said: “President Obama was the first one to call a spade a spade, basically, to say it was an invasion. Because before, as you remember, the term ‘disproportionate use of force’ was used….President Obama was the first one to use the term.” [3]

That the U.S. invaded and still militarily occupies Afghanistan and Iraq was not mentioned by either official. That Georgia has supplied 2,900 troops for both wars wasn’t mentioned either.

At an earlier town hall meeting in Tbilisi Clinton stated her government was “appalled, and totally rejected” the Russian argument that it was protecting the lives of its citizens in the two South Caucasus republics. “We, the United States, was appalled, and totally rejected the invasion and occupation of Georgian territory. I was in the Senate at the time, and, along with my colleagues and the prior Administration, made that view very clear. We continue to speak out, as I have on this trip, against the continuing occupation.” [4]

She reached into her quiver for the familiar verbal projectiles appropriate to the occasion: Acting as guarantor for Georgia’s claims on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have never been part of post-Soviet Georgia, and branding Russia’s defense of the two republics as invasion and occupation. Clinton, an attorney like Saakashvili, completed her indictment of Russia with the repeated asseveration that it is not entitled to a sphere of influence on its borders and in territory that had been its own for centuries.

Despite Clinton’s claim to the contrary, the United States most decidedly recognizes spheres of influence. In its own hemisphere – the entirety of it – in the South Caucasus and everywhere else on the planet. Its own sphere of influence and those of its allies and client states. It is the policy presented in the Aesopian apologue from which the expression the lion’s share is derived: What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is ours and what’s ours is mine.

The Ultimate Sphere: The Earth

Two years after being catapulted from the Illinois state legislature (where few outside his Chicago district had heard of him) into the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama spoke at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (until the year before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations) and less than two years before becoming president elucidated his notion of spheres of influence (and political Manichaeism and messianism):

“I dismiss the cynics who say that this new century cannot be another when, in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good. I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth.”

“We must maintain the strongest, best-equipped military in the world in order to defeat and deter conventional threats….I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines….No President should ever hesitate to use force – unilaterally if necessary – to protect ourselves and our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently threatened.”

“The American moment has not passed. The American moment is here. And like generations before us, we will seize that moment, and begin the world anew.” [5]

One can only imagine the response of the White House, the State Department and the American mass media should a member of the upper house of parliament – on his way to being head of state, moreover – of Russia or any other nation make comparable claims.

As for what Clinton as senator from New York State and now as secretary of state branded Russia’s invasion of South Ossetia, the following is from a pro-government Georgian new source at the moment the real invasion, that ordered by Washington’s client regime in Tbilisi, commenced:

“A senior official from the Georgian Ministry of Defense said Georgia has ‘decided to restore constitutional order in the entire region’ of South Ossetia.” [6]

The “restoring of constitutional order” was attempted with heavy artillery barrages, armored assaults and onslaughts by jet fighters and American Huey helicopters. It followed seven days of Georgian bombardment of South Ossetia, which began the very day after a sixteen-day military exercise, Immediate Response 2008, was completed in the country. The exercise was conducted under NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and led by 1,000 U.S. Marines. Many of the American troops stayed behind with their equipment during the five-day Georgian-Russian war.

Three weeks earlier Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Georgia and vowed to “get Russian forces to withdraw from the country ASAP,” [7] a reference to a small handful of peacekeepers that had been in South Ossetia and Abkhazia since the early 1990s. If Mikheil Saakashvili is ever tried for war crimes, as he richly deserves to be, his defense could be that he wasn’t acting alone and in fact was only following orders, the Nuremberg precedent notwithstanding.

What Appalls Hillary Clinton And What Does Not

Much of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali lay in smouldering ruins and many of its residents dead in the opening hours of the war launched to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing.

After Russia responded to the deadly blitzkrieg against South Ossetia, the majority of whose residents hold Russian passports, the Pentagon airlifted U.S. Marine-trained Georgian troops deployed to Iraq at the time back home for the fighting with Russia. “The U.S. military began flying 2,000 Georgian troops home from Iraq on Sunday [August 10], military officials said, after the Georgians recalled the soldiers following the outbreak of fighting with Russia in the breakaway province of South Ossetia.” [8]

Then Senator Hillary Clinton was not “appalled” by and found no reason to “totally reject” the above developments two years ago. In fact by publicly and fervently supporting them she was complicit in what could easily have escalated into a direct U.S.-Russia confrontation, a conflict between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

After the war ended and both to reward the Saakashvili regime for providing Washington a proxy war with Russia and to compensate it for not having received a NATO Membership Action Plan earlier in 2008 at the bloc’s summit in Romania, in January of 2009 Clinton’s predecessor Condoleezza Rice signed a specially crafted United States-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership. In December of 2008 NATO provided Georgia an unprecedented Annual National Program for the same reasons.

In the same month the pro-U.S. government of Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine received a comparable pact, the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, and NATO also granted it an Annual National Program, the second as a substitute for the Alliance’s Membership Action Plan. South Ossetia and Russia had accused the Yushchenko administration of covertly providing weaponry and troops to Georgia for the war in August.

Hillary Clinton began her recently concluded tour in Ukraine on June 2 where she addressed the Strategic Partnership Commission, which was established last year as a formal mechanism to implement the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership.

In the interim Yushchenko was eliminated (in fact humiliated) in the first round of this year’s presidential election, only receiving 5 per cent of the vote in January.

The rejection of Yushchenko and his staunchly pro-Washington policies was also an apparent blow to U.S. designs for the country. But that didn’t deter Clinton, in her visit to Kiev, from in many ways speaking as though the change in leadership had not occurred. (Yushchenko’s spouse, Kathy, a former State Department and Reagan White House official, is from Chicago, whose suburb of Park Ridge gave the world Hillary Clinton.)

Clinton met, as is a formal requirement under the circumstances, with current president Viktor Yanukovich, but also with his opponent in this February’s runoff election, the pro-American Yulia Timoshenko.

Addressing the Strategic Partnership Commission, Clinton continued pushing the military integration of Ukraine under both bilateral and NATO arrangements, for the world as though Yushchenko had not lost the first and Timoshenko the second round of the presidential election. Her comments included:

“Ukraine has participated in nearly every NATO operation as a member of the Partnership for Peace, and we hope to deepen our security cooperation later this month with the U.S.-Ukraine SEA BREEZE exercise. Increasing our ongoing bilateral defense cooperation, particularly in Ukraine’s defense reform and military transformation is another area where we see great promise.

“And regarding NATO, let me just say very clearly, Ukraine is a sovereign and independent country that has the right to choose your own alliances. And NATO’s door remains open….” [9]

Community Of Democracies And Missiles

She departed Kiev/Kyiv for Krakow and on July 3 met with her Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Like Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko, Sikorski’s wife is an American, former member of the Washington Post editorial board and adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute Anne Applebaum. Sikorski is a former British citizen, adviser to Rupert Murdoch, resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and Polish defense minister.

Recall that Secretary Clinton abhors and abjures “spheres of influence.”

While in Poland she and Sikorski signed an updated agreement on the stationing of U.S. interceptor missiles in the country. The two formalized a pact superseding one “signed two years ago between Sikorski and the then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. According to new missile defence plans, mobile launchers incorporating SM-3 interceptors will be placed in Europe. Poland will probably station the system between 2015 and 2018.” [10] The day before Polish Defense Ministry spokesman Janusz Sejmej revealed that “Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said the Americans promised to bring the SM-3s here after 2015 but definitely before 2018.” [11]

The SM-3 (Standard Missile-3) is an interceptor missile with a substantially longer range than the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles the U.S. moved into Poland this May, 35 kilometers from the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad district.

Another Polish Defense Ministry spokesman, Robert Rochowicz, was quoted late last month announcing that “The first contingent of American troops and Patriot missiles stationed in northern Poland have returned to base in Germany, with the second round scheduled to be in the country in late June or early July.”

The first deployment consisted of six Patriot missiles, forty military vehicles and one hundred American troops. Perhaps regarding the very day Clinton was in the country, the Defense Ministry spokesman added, “Further training of Polish troops stationed at the base in northern Poland will resume in the coming days when a second battery of missiles arrives.” [12]

Training foreign nationals in the United States to return to their homelands and assume posts as defense ministers, foreign ministers and presidents is not establishing a sphere of influence in the countries so affected, it’s certain Clinton would assert. Neither is basing American troops and missiles half a world away from the U.S. but only a few kilometers from Russian territory.

In Clinton’s words, “We’re…NATO allies, and the United States is deeply committed to Poland’s security and sovereignty. Today, by signing an amendment to the ballistic missile defense agreement, we are reinforcing this commitment. The amendment will allow us to move forward with Polish participation in hosting elements of the phased adaptive approach to missile defense in Europe. It will help protect the Polish people and all of Europe, our allies, and others from evolving threats like that posed by Iran.” [13] How placing intermediate-range American interceptor missiles near the Baltic Sea protects Poland from “Iranian threats” is a question it would be entertaining to hear Clinton explain.

She characterized the “phased adaptive approach” to deploying ever more sophisticated and longer-range U.S. missiles in Eastern Europe in much the fashion President Obama did last September 17; that is, as a “stronger, swifter, and smarter” alternative to the earlier George W. Bush version. “[T]his approach will be available on the time table set forth to defend portions of Europe years earlier than the original plan could have met. And this approach provides opportunities for allied participation. So instead of it being a unilateral U.S. commitment, it is now a commitment of the alliance. And it is very important for us that we get that kind of ownership and buy-in – which we are – from NATO. [14]

The division of labor in the foreign policy of the “world’s sole military superpower” [15] primarily leaves the troops and missiles, the training of Polish special forces and pilots, and the recruiting of 3,000 Polish troops to the killing fields of Afghanistan to Pentagon chief Robert Gates, though Clinton has had a hand in the first and the third matters.

Her formal role is as the purveyor of “soft power,” what in another culture might be called diplomacy but which in American practice is no less intrusive and coercive than the “hard power” complement.

From Madeleine Albright To Hillary Clinton, From Iron Curtain To Steel Vise

During her Polish visit Clinton was in Krakow for the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Community of Democracies, “a joint venture between one of Radek’s [Radoslaw Sikorski’s] predecessors and one of mine: Minister Geremek and Madeleine Albright.” Though neither was present, one for fairly obvious reasons, she added: “Thank you, Madeleine, and thanks to the memory of Minister Geremek.”

Her comments were delivered under the rubric of “Civil Society: Supporting Democracy in the 21st Century,” and included blasts at the targets of the day:

“North Korea, a country that cannot even feed its own people, has banned all civil society. In Cuba and Belarus, as Radek said, civil society operates under extreme pressure. The Government of Iran has turned its back on a rich tradition of civil society, perpetrating human rights abuses against many activists and ordinary citizens who just wanted the right to be heard.

“The idea of pluralism is integral to our understanding of what it means to be a democracy….[The] iron curtain has fallen. But we must be wary of the steel vise in which many governments around the world are slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit.” [16]

China, Russia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Congo, Ethiopia and Burma/Myanmar were also singled out for chastisement under the Steel Vise rubric. (So far has the U.S. progressed from the Iron Curtain motif/trope.)

Three facts must be registered on this score.

During her secretary of state confirmation hearing in the Senate in January of 2005, Clinton’s immediate predecessor Condoleezza Rice updated the U.S. international enemies list with what she called “outposts of tyranny.” They were (and evidently still are) Belarus, Burma/Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe. At the time the BBC asserted that Rice’s “comments were reminiscent of Mr Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech in 2002, in which he identified Iraq, Iran and North Korea as threats to US security.” [17]

As seen above, Clinton in Krakow castigated all six of the “tyrannical outposts.”

Second, during a question and answer period two days later in Georgia in which Clinton had the opportunity to prove her mettle on matters of human rights, freedom of expression and so forth, she demonstrated the difference between how a faithful client state is treated as opposed to any nation, whatever its political system may be, that pursues a foreign policy not entirely subordinated to U.S. diktat.

On July 5 Georgian head of state Mikheil Saakashvili spared no pains proving which category he was in, telling Clinton: “Mrs Secretary of State, you can see shelves of works by Thomas Jefferson and books by authors of the US constitution in my study. I read them frequently.” [18]

It is not likely that Saakashvili, who received his law degree in the U.S., would make that claim under oath, though the truth has always been an elastic concept, a nebulous notion to the Columbia Law School graduate.

When Jailing Children, Rigging Elections And Repressing News Media Are Acceptable

During a meeting with Georgian women, a human rights lawyer asked Clinton:

“I want to tell you that there are more than 61 political prisoners in the country. And I want to ask you, when you had a meeting with President Saakashvili, ask him why does it happen that he has so many political prisoners in Georgia today, why the judiciary is not independent in Georgia, why the Georgian people are deprived of a free choice during the last elections in the country, why media is not free in Georgia, why don’t we have free electoral environment?”

She added, “after I became [an opponent of] Saakashvili, then it happened so that many of my family members are in prison. My brother is in prison, just because I am an opponent and (inaudible) Saakashvili. My child has also been a victim when he is at school (inaudible). There was a (inaudible) to imprison him (inaudible). And these (inaudible) opposition, and because I fight for supremacy of law, rule of law, and freedom and democracy.”

The “community of democracies” heroine from Foggy Bottom responded:

“Thank you very much. And as I said, we raised all of these concerns in meetings with officials. I will raise these and other concerns when I meet with the president. This is what I do. And I don’t always know everything that is going on in any society. But our ambassadors around the world keep us informed.

“And I want to be clear that the United States supports the Georgian people. We support Georgian democracy. And we are going to do everything we can to further those values. And many of the issues you mentioned are ones that we will raise. But the people of Georgia are raising them. So, indeed, that’s the best forum of all.” [19]

No need to be too tough on an ally who jails political opponents and harasses family members, even children, of an attorney who attempts to defend them.

After all, as Clinton added shortly after the above-quoted masterpiece of “diplomatic” equivocation and evasion, “Well, the United States supports Georgia’s aspirations for NATO leadership and for NATO membership, and we appreciate your and your government’s efforts to meet the requirements of NATO membership. And we are grateful, too, for what Georgia is doing in providing troops for Afghanistan, which is an opportunity for the Georgian military to work with the United States and other NATO member militaries to develop some of the assets that are needed to be able to apply successfully for NATO membership.” [20]

Chicago: Model For World Democracy And Political Pluralism

Third, Clinton represents an administration whose head, Barack Obama, his Senior Advisor David Axelrod, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and senior adviser and assistant Valerie Jarrett are products of the Chicago political system, the last big city political machine in the country.

Chicago has a population of almost three million, more than that of scores of nations including several NATO members. Every chief executive, the mayor in Chicago, has been a member of the same political party for the past 80 years. The City Council has 50 alderman and although the post is formally non-partisan – candidates don’t run in party primaries and aren’t required to identify their party affiliation – currently 49 of the 50 are active members of the Democratic Party, with many of them doubling as party bosses in their respective wards. During the past several decades that number has often been 50.

For the past 55 years its mayor has been a leader for life and has been named Richard Daley. Richard J. Daley from 1955 until his death in 1976 and his son Richard M. Daley, a de facto hereditary autocrat, from 1989 to the present with only a slightly more than twelve-year hiatus.

Clinton may want to tread more cautiously in future when condemning other nations for their lack of – to use her own word – pluralism, when she serves a political cabal emanating from a one-party, dynastic, corruption-saturated system. Her criticisms of North Korea, in particular, raise parallels she might prefer be ignored.

(Chicagoan Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, is currently on trial for attempting to sell – auction off to the highest bidder – Obama’s former senate seat. He was handcuffed by federal agents at his Chicago home on December 9, 2008 and subsequently impeached and removed by the state legislature. When he first became governor in 2003, his congressional seat was ceded to Rahm Emanuel, who had never held elected office before. Emanuel, now White House Chief of Staff, has been subpoenaed by Blagojevich’s attorneys as he had held phone conversations with Blagojevich during the period the latter is accused of peddling the senate seat of an incoming American head of state. Valerie Jarrett, Tony Rezko and Ari Emanuel are other names that have surfaced as cast members in the murky drama.)

Baku: Chicago On The Caspian Sea, Launching Pad For Future Wars

After leaving Poland following a lecture on “what it means to be a democracy,” Clinton arrived in Azerbaijan, whose President Ilham Aliyev inherited his post from his late father Heydar, a tradition the native of the Greater Chicago area can well appreciate.

She met with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and the two lost no time in exchanging praises.

Clinton: “[T]he bonds between the United States and Azerbaijan are deep, important, and durable….Our soldiers have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.”

Mammadyarov: “We believe that United States is…a global power, is interested in bringing and spreading stability and prosperity all around, in all corners of the world. And besides that, if you took a look inside of the – our bilateral ties, how it’s developed through the years of our – after restoration of independence for Azerbaijan, it’s an open secret that United States provide us a great support, particularly in so very important and vital project like building up of the oil pipeline (inaudible). It’s – we know clearly that U.S. Administration – both, by the way, Republicans and Democrats – was very strongly behind the project. And, at the end of the story, this is starting to be a success story for the region. I think we are probably one of the few that can say that, with assistance of the construction and after the inauguration of the pipeline, the real money and the real prosperity comes particularly to Azerbaijan, at the same time it is also supporting Georgia.” [21]

The U.S. ambassador may have had a few words with the foreign minister after such an effusive and detailed exposition. Some matters are best kept among friends.

Clinton didn’t add Azerbaijan to the Iron Vise category. And for good reason, issues pertaining to human rights, civil society, transparency and political pluralism notwithstanding.

Her visit followed by less than three weeks that of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whose trip in turn was the first by a Pentagon chief in more than five years. [22] Clinton is the first secretary of state to visit Azerbaijan since James Baker did in 1992, shortly after Azerbaijan became an independent nation.

As Associated Press reported beforehand, “Clinton’s stop in Azerbaijan will accelerate efforts by the Obama administration to strengthen relations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June became the highest-ranking administration official to visit Azerbaijan; he delivered a letter from President Barack Obama thanking President Ilham Aliyev for allowing the U.S. to move troops and supplies through his airspace en route to Afghanistan.

“Azerbaijan also is part of an overland supply chain that is a critical alternative to the primary land route to Afghanistan through Pakistan. About one-quarter of all war goods comes through the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation.” [23]

Since the tightening of sanctions against Iran by the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and the European Union, stories have circulated on Internet news sites about Azerbaijan being used by Washington for military strikes against Iran.

An Azeri news source recently quoted Alexei Vlasov, General Director of the Social and Political Process Studies Information and Analytical Center at Moscow State University, as stating: “The upcoming Clinton visit to Baku is a way to get Azerbaijan to answer one question – how would it behave, if a strike on Iran would happen?” [24]

Another Russian political analyst, Andrei Areshev of the Strategic Culture Foundation, offered these insights last month:

“Matthew Bryza, whose provocative activities in August 2008 [during the Georgian-Russian war] are public knowledge, was appointed as ambassador to Baku; U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates visited [Azerbaijan]; the upcoming visit of Hillary Clinton to the South Caucasus was announced….One can suppose a more global purpose – Iran. The Islamic Republic is being surrounded by a circle of American military bases….The opinion that ‘the U.S. will be trying to involve Azerbaijan in its policy aimed at the isolation and weakening of Iran’ has serious grounds. A new war in Karabakh will force Russia out of the South Caucasian region in case of any outcome, and it may become a logical continuation of the anti-Iranian policy of the U.S., as well as a preparatory stage for a large-scale armed conflict in the Middle East.” [25]

The allusion to Karabakh is in reference to a potential armed conflict between Azerbaijan, which claims it as its own, and Armenia, which would defend the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the event of an Azerbaijani attack.

In late June Azerbaijani President Aliyev inspected large-scale military exercises held on the 92nd anniversary of the nation’s armed forces, drills which included over 4,000 troops, 100 tanks, 77 armored vehicles, 125 artillery systems, 17 combat planes, 12 combat helicopters and four transport-combat helicopters. [26]

His speech at the event included the following threats:

“At any time we have to be able to liberate our homeland [Karabakh] from invaders. Along with political and diplomatic efforts, we must have a strong army, and this process is going well. Today the level of the Azerbaijani army is very high.”

“We have to increase our military strength. Today, the Azerbaijani army is ready to honorably fulfill all tasks assigned to it. Combat capability, professionalism, patriotism, a strengthened material-technical base, demonstrated by the state of attention and respect for the army – all these factors will enable us to liberate [our] homeland from invaders.” [27]

The president also boasted that over the last seven years “military expenditures in Azerbaijan increased by more than 13 times. Today in Azerbaijan military expenditures for 2010 amount to 2 billion 150 million dollars, which exceeds the entire state budget of Armenia.” [28]

That is the military that could be directed against not only Karabakh and Armenia but potentially Iran as well as part of a broader U.S. and allied attack.

Since 1991 Azerbaijan has been closely allied with its ethnic cousins in Turkey. But with the Turkish government increasing adopting a foreign policy approach Washington objects to – closer relations with Iran, strained ones with Israel – the U.S. is placing more emphasis on military cooperation with Azerbaijan (as well as Georgia) to achieve its geopolitical objectives in the region and throughout the Broader Middle East.

For example, “Roughly a quarter of all supplies bound for Afghanistan travel via Azerbaijan.

“And since 2001, about 100,000 military personnel have also traveled through ‘the Caucasus spur,’ a designation that includes Azerbaijan, on their way to deployment in Afghanistan, according to Pentagon data.

“Beyond possibly probing a larger transit role, American officials are looking into the possibility of using Azerbaijan as a supply source. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense Industry signed protocols in mid-May with three US weapons manufacturers for the production of mortars, machine guns, grenades and cartridges….Defense Industry Minister Yaver Jamalov said on May 14 that the US companies’ representatives will visit Azerbaijan soon to test the pilot products and possibly to sign contracts….” [29]

Battle For The Caucasus, Former Soviet Union As America’s New Frontier

After leaving Azerbaijan on July 4, Clinton went to Armenia. Since at least last October she has been attempting – with some degree of success – to not so much assist as supplant the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Minsk Group/Process [30] in resolving the dispute over Karabakh.

Clinton’s mission is to intrude the U.S. – and NATO – further into the South Caucasus by directing negotiations between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. The end result is designed to limit Russian and Iranian influence in the region. Politically and economically. After all, Clinton is averse to “spheres of influence” as has been recorded.

The lingering conflicts that arose from the fragmentation of the Soviet Union – Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the South Caucasus and Transdniester to the northwest – are the pretexts for the U.S. and NATO to intervene in former Soviet space in the guise of mediators and arbiters.

The appeal to Armenia in this respect has resulted in that country sending its first troops to Afghanistan this year and may lead to its eventual departure from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization mutual defense bloc.

During the last leg of Clinton’s five-nation trip in Georgia, the country’s State Minister for Reintegration – that is, for forcibly seizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia – stated, “I would like to [recall] Clinton’s statement in Krakow. She noted that Washington would oppose the annexation of the occupied territories by Russia. It is important to sign a charter of strategic partnership between the United States and Georgia, [to determine] bilateral cooperation.” [31]

The resolution of the Georgia-Abkhazia and Georgia-South Ossetia conflicts, like the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Karabakh, may not be peaceful. Shortly before Clinton’s arrival in the Georgian capital, U.S. ambassador John Bass [32] said that “The United States will never quit supporting Georgia and protecting its territorial integrity” [33], citing similar pledges by Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Gordon [34]:

“The President made it clear to President Medvedev last week and we’ve been consistent in noting that we respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we call on Russia to abide by its commitments in the August, 2008 ceasefire, which…called upon the parties to move their military forces back to where they were before the conflict began. And that hasn’t been done. And we’ve been absolutely clear and consistent from the start that we believe that should happen….” [35]

Gordon also insisted that the U.S. had not and would not cease supplying the Saakashvili regime with arms, despite Russia calling on it to, as “Georgia is a sovereign state. It has the right to defend itself.” He added, “The United States appreciates the contribution that Georgia has made to the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, and will continue to cooperate with it in the military sphere.” [36]

The only sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union Washington objects to is Russia’s. Since 1991 the U.S. has seen that vast expanse of land as its own new private preserve, the American empire’s final frontier. Hillary Clinton’s extended Fourth of July weekend trip to Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus is a renewed initiative to that end.

See Also:

Hillary Clinton’s Prescription: Make The World A NATO Protectorate

Poland: U.S. Moves First Missiles, Troops Near Russian Border

Eastern Europe: From Socialist Bloc And Non-Alignment To U.S. Military Colonies

NATO: Pentagon’s Gateway Into Former Warsaw Pact, Soviet Nations

Former Soviet States: Battleground For Global Domination

1) Washington Post, July 5, 2010
2) Joint Press Availability With Georgian President Saakashvili
U.S. Department of State, July 5, 2010
3) Ibid
4) Remarks at a Town Hall With Georgian Women Leaders
U.S. Department of State, July 5, 2010
5) Remarks of Senator Barack Obama to the Chicago Council
on Global Affairs – April 23, 2007
6) Civil Georgia, August 7, 2008
7) Sunday Times, August 15, 2008
8) Associated Press, August 10, 2008
9) Remarks At the Closing of the Strategic Partnership Commission
U.S. Department of State, July 2, 2010
10) Polish Radio, July 3, 2010
11) Reuters/Warsaw Business Journal, July 2, 2010
12) Polish Radio, June 25, 2010
13) U.S.-Poland Bilateral Missile Defense Signing and Joint Press
Availability With Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski
U.S. Department of State, July 3, 2010
14) Ibid
15) Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind
Stop NATO, December 10, 2009
16) “Civil Society: Supporting Democracy in the 21st Century,” at the
Community of Democracies
U.S. Department of State, July 3, 2010
17) BBC News, January 19, 2005
18) Rustavi 2, July 5, 2010
The State Department website has: “Madam Secretary, you could have
seen on my bookshelves works by Thomas Jefferson and other founding
fathers, framers of the U.S. Constitution – I keep going back and
reading them.”
19) Remarks at a Town Hall With Georgian Women Leaders
U.S. Department of State, July 5, 2010
20) Ibid
21) Joint Press Availability With Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov
U.S. Department of State, July 4, 2010
22) Pentagon Chief In Azerbaijan: Afghan War Arc Stretches To Caspian And
Stop NATO, June 8, 2010
23) Associated Press, July 1, 2010
24) Vesti.Az, June 28, 2010
25), June 23, 2010
26) Azeri Press Agency, June 24, 2010
27) Azeri Press Agency, June 25, 2010
28) Ibid
29) EurasiaNet, June 28, 2010
31) Trend News Agency, July 5, 2010
33) Rustavi 2, June 30, 2010
35) Rustavi 2, June 30, 2010
36) Trend News Agency, June 30, 2010

Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia

July 4, 2010

Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Rick Rozoff

On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.

That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country’s Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops – those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).

Petraeus’s remarks on the occasion of accepting his new dual command contained the standard U.S. and NATO characterization of their war in Afghanistan as aimed exclusively against armed extremists, in particular those portrayed as fighters from other countries. A representative quote states “al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan.” Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the government of King George III may well have spoken in a similar vein concerning the likes of Johann de Kalb, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Friedrich Von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette illegally entering British territories along the Atlantic Seaboard and waging warfare against the Crown’s troops.

Petraeus arrived in Kabul on July 2, direct from Belgium where he had addressed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 28 member states’ permanent representatives in the North Atlantic Council and representatives of 46 ISAF contributors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Egon Ramms, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, and other senior military staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons. (Two days later at NATO headquarters in Kabul he had two flags bestowed on him, “one for the U.S. and the other for NATO.”) [1]

NATO chief Rasmussen was in Lisbon, Portugal the day Petraeus left Belgium for Afghanistan, in part to prepare for the November summit of the world’s only military bloc there in November, where NATO will adopt its new, 21st century, Strategic Concept and endorse plans for an integrated interceptor missile grid to cover almost the entire European continent in conjunction with, and under the control of, the U.S.

In reference to General Petraeus taking up his new duties, Rasmussen stated at a press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado that “It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy.”

A week after Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan [2], an ephemeral scandal that disappeared as quickly, which is to say instantaneously, as it developed, the U.S. Senate voted as it customarily does in matters of foreign policy – unanimously – and in a 99-0 vote confirmed Petraeus as the new commander of the world’s longest and largest-scale war.

He told Senate members on June 30 that “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”

A few days earlier he said of President Barack Obama’s proposed date for beginning the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan that the meaning of that pledge by the president, Petraeus’ commander-in-chief, was “one of urgency – not that July 2011 is when we race for the exits, reach for the light switch and flip it off.” Last December Petraeus asserted that there was no plan for a “rush to the exits” and that there “could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years.” [3]

In May he spoke at an Armed Forces Day dinner in Louisville, Kentucky – on a day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was visiting the same state – and insisted that “the US must continue to send troops to Afghanistan….” [4]

To indicate how thoroughly the Pentagon and NATO are inextricably enmeshed in not only the Afghan campaign but in a far broader and deeper partnership, a few days before Petraeus, speaking of his then-role as chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said that he has striven to “operationalize” U.S.-NATO military integration at CENTCOM “where up to 60 representatives of coalition partner countries serve. In addition, officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia act as representatives of CentCom, increasing further the need to share sensitive information.” [5]

Afghanistan falls within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility and the war in that country is a mechanism for extending the Pentagon’s military contacts, deployments, acquisition of bases and general warfighting interoperability with scores of nations both within and outside CENTCOM’s formal ambit.

In April, three months before taking up his Afghan war post, Petraeus was in Poland – covered by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) – to meet with the nation’s Chief of the General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, discuss the war that has now cost the lives of nineteen Polish soldiers, and disclose that “in a few months a 800-1,000 strong U.S. battalion would reinforce Poland’s ISAF forces in the Afghan province of Ghazni.

“Petraeus said that the U.S. troops would be placed under the Polish commander who is responsible for the province.” [6]

He also met with Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and President Lech Kaczynski as well as delivering a lecture at the National Defence Academy. Kaczynski, who would perish in an airplane crash three days later, presented Petraeus with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Iraq Star. [7]

Other new NATO members in Eastern Europe are equally involved, with the Pentagon employing seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to train Stryker brigades and airborne troops for the war in Afghanistan. [8]

As commander of CENTCOM and superior to General McChrystal in Afghanistan, Petraeus methodically laid the groundwork for expanding the scope of the greater Afghan war throughout his command’s broad geographical reach, the heart of what has been deemed the broader Middle East – from Egypt in the West to Kazakhstan in the East, taking in Iraq and the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and all of Central and much of South Asia.

On January 2 of this year he traveled to Yemen and met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh after the Christmas Day airline bomb scare outside Detroit, though Petraeus had also been in Yemen the preceding summer. Pentagon assistance to the Yemeni government, administered under what is described as a counter-terrorism program, had grown from $4.6 million in fiscal 2006 to $67 million in fiscal 2009.

While in Iraq the day before his departure for Yemen in January, Petraeus stated, “We have, it’s well known, about $70 million in security assistance last year. That will more than double this coming year.” [9]

At the time leading U.S. officials and those of its NATO allies strained to link their counterinsurgency wars – overt and otherwise – in the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden regions as extensions of the Global War on Terror from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia. Then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown even affirmed that “The weakness of al Qaeda in Pakistan has forced them out of Pakistan and into Yemen and Somalia.” [10]

In May the New York Times revealed that last September Petraeus had authorized covert special forces operations under a directive called the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order.

A United Press International feature last month indicated part of the order’s designs:

“The recent disclosure that the U.S. military is expanding its covert operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa is widely seen as a dangerous precedent, with Iran as one of the main targets….Officials stressed that the directive…permits operations that could pave the way toward possible military attacks against Iran if the confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program worsens.” [11]

This March the U.S. Defense Department’s website featured an article entitled “Centcom Looks Beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, Petraeus Says” in which, in addition to discussing counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan and Yemen, “Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States must remain vigilant in overseeing broader security challenges throughout the region.

“Petraeus called Iran the ‘primary state-level threat’ in the Middle East. He told the panel that Iran undermines security throughout the region in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons, which threatens a broader arms race, and uses its paramilitary force to influence Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan and the Gulf region.” [12]

Two months before he announced the U.S. was maintaining several Aegis class warships in the Persian Gulf, ships equipped with advanced missile radar and Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles. “The U.S. positioned eight Patriot missile batteries in the Middle East and Aegis ballistic missile cruisers in the Persian Gulf, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command leader, told the Institute for the Study of War on Jan. 22.” [13]

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 theater missile interceptors are to be deployed to Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbor states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In early March Petraeus was in what is now crisis-stricken Kyrgyzstan, less than a month before President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a bloody uprising [14]. He had arrived in Kyrgyzstan on March 10, one day after “the U.S. embassy said [a] $5.5 million anti-terrorist center would be built in Batken in southern Kyrgyzstan – where Russian and Kyrgyz officials had earlier said Moscow might consider building a similar military facility.” [15] It would appear that Petraeus and the Pentagon once more beat Russia to the punch.

He met with Bakiyev (who would be forced into exile early the next month) “to discuss bilateral cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan.” [16] The U.S. has used an air base at the Manas International Airport near the nation’s capital since 2001 for moving troops in and out of Afghanistan, recently at a rate of 55,000 a month.

A political analyst based in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Aleksandr Knyazev, was quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during Petraeus’ visit on the repercussions of the Pentagon constructing a counterinsurgency/special forces base in the country: “Such a demonstrative act by the Kyrgyz side to agree…to (build a U.S.-funded counterterrorism center) is like throwing down a challenge to Russia and China.”

The feature from which the above comment is borrowed added:

“The Kyrgyz plan to set up a U.S.-funded training center in Batken might upset Russia, as the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization announced its intention last year to build a military base in southern Kyrgyzstan.

“Kyrgyzstan had been under pressure by Russia and China to close the U.S. air base. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security treaty dominated by Russia and China, has called on the United States to close its military bases in Central Asia.

“According to the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Washington has committed $5.5 million toward the completion of the counterterrorism center.” [17]

Petraeus also visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in early April and immediately after his return Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with President Barack Obama in Washington. Nazarbayev announced that he had granted the Pentagon the right to fly troops and military equipment over his nation for the expanding war in Afghanistan. According to Michael McFaul, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, “the agreement will allow troops to fly directly from the United States over the North Pole to the region.” [18]

In early June a report titled “Pentagon Looks to Plant New Facilities in Central Asia” disclosed that the U.S. is “preparing to embark on a mini-building boom in Central Asia” and “the US military wants to be involved in strategic construction projects in all five Central Asian states, including Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.” [19]

In what was described as the major component of the project, the aforementioned training center in Kyrgyzstan, the report also stated, “The facility was originally intended to be built in Batken. But now it appears that it will be situated in Osh.” [20]

Three days after the above excerpts appeared online the city of Osh erupted into violence, a deadly conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks which cost hundreds of lives and led to hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks being displaced.

An account of an announcement reported to have been posted on the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website in the middle of this May included this quote: “We anticipate two different projects in Kyrgyzstan. Both are estimated to be in the $5 million to $10 million dollar range.”

The posting “added that up to $5 million each was earmarked for Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It also listed two separate proposals for Tajikistan, one valued at up to $5 million, the other worth up to $10 million.” [21]

The U.S. military was evicted from the Uzbek air base at Karshi-Khanabad in November of 2005 and neither troops nor planes have returned since. But this April General Petraeus visited Uzbekistan, met with President Islam Karimov, and “the sides exchanged opinions on the issues of further development of Uzbek-US cooperation and other areas of mutual interest.” [22] American troops and pilots may soon join their German NATO allies operating from the air base at Termez near the Uzbek-Afghan border.

On June 25 Western news agencies reported that Ken Gross, the American ambassador to Tajikistan, where a French-dominated NATO operation has been run since early 2002 at the Dushanbe Airport but where to date no U.S. forces have been stationed, revealed that the Pentagon is to “build a facility for training local troops” to be opened next year. The American envoy said that “The plan [includes] almost $10 million to build this national training centre for the Tajik armed forces.” [23]

An Agence France-Presse report added that “The United States has in past years built training facilities, financed military programs and established airbases in a handful of strategic ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia….These include Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.” [24]

Petraeus’s visits to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in April followed up on trips to the same three Central Asian nations last August, to Tajikistan in October and to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in January of last year.

What his visits have focused on and in large part accomplished is to secure transit rights and, as has been seen above, a military foothold in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Starting in earnest with his tour of Central Asia in January of 2009, Petraeus has solidified what is known as a Northern Distribution Network for the Afghan war, a three-prong project that takes in a majority of the fifteen nations that formerly constituted the Soviet Union and that circumvents Pakistan, hitherto the main land route for U.S. and NATO supplies into Afghanistan but one which is more endangered by attacks with each passing day.

The first route starts in Latvia on the Baltic Sea and proceeds overland through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Last month “NATO marked a new first in its Afghan campaign…as officials announced that the alliance had sent supplies by rail to its troops via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the first time….”

“The first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia on May 14 and arrived in Afghanistan on June 9….” [25]

The second starts at the Georgian Black Sea port cities of Poti and Batumi and moves south and east to Azerbaijan, then across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, from there to Uzbekistan and then to Afghanistan. A third option bypasses Uzbekistan by going, as the first does, from Latvia through Russia to Kazakhstan, but then from the last country through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan.

As commander of Central Command Petraeus oversaw a proxy war on the Arabian Peninsula [26] in Yemen and in conjunction with NATO engineered the military buildup against Iran in the Persian Gulf. [27]

He also to varying degrees pulled the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan deeper into the Afghan war nexus. Even nations outside of Central Command’s area of operations – Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and now Russia – are part of the network. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine have troop contingents serving under NATO in Afghanistan, with Moldova likely to provide troops soon. Of the fifteen former Soviet republics, then, only Belarus would remain completely aloof from the war.

While speaking outside NATO headquarters in Kabul on July 4, General Petraeus stated “We are in this to win.” Only four days before, the deadliest month of the war for NATO forces ended and with it the lives of over a hundred foreign soldiers.

Petraeus’s 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops are not going to turn the tide in America’s longest, and NATO’s first ground, war. Nor will the conflict be shortened by pulling more nations, with almost a third of the world’s already embroiled, into the Afghan vortex.

1) Associated Press, July 4, 2010
2) West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Stop NATO, June 25, 2010
3) New York Times, December 7, 2009
Nobel Committee Celebrates War As Peace
Stop NATO, December 8, 2009
4) KEYC TV, May 15, 2010
5) Air Force Times, May 12, 2010
6) Xinhua News Agency, April 7, 2010
7) Ibid
8) U.S. And NATO Accelerate Military Build-Up In Black Sea Region
Stop NATO, May 20, 2010
9) Reuters, January 1, 2010
10) Agence France-Presse, January 4, 2010
U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010
11) United Press International, June 3, 2010
12) U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
March 16, 2010
13) Stars and Stripes, February 3, 2010
U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, February 3, 2010
14) Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia
Stop NATO, April 7, 2010
15) Reuters, March 9, 2010
16) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 10, 2010
17) Ibid
18) Washington Post, April 12, 2010
Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
19) EurasiaNet, June 8, 2010
20) Ibid
21) Ibid
22) UzReport, April 7, 2010
23) Agence France-Presse, June 25, 2010
24) Ibid
25) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 11, 2010
26) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
27) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
Stop NATO, February 10, 2010

West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level

June 25, 2010

West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Rick Rozoff

On June 23 President Barack Obama announced the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, and within hours Associated Press reported that the Western military death toll in the country had reached at least 80 so far this month, making June NATO’s deadliest month in a war that will enter its tenth year on October 7.

McChrystal, appointed on June 15 of last year as top commander of all U.S. and all NATO-led International Security Assistance Force troops in the South Asian war zone – currently 142,000 with thousands more on the way – was to have led the largest assault of the war this month in the province and capital city of Kandahar.

The campaign, which was to have consisted of 25,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan government troops, appears to have been postponed indefinitely and may in fact never occur.

The Kandahar offensive was planned as the culmination of McChrystal’s much-vaunted counterinsurgency strategy that was inaugurated in earnest on February 13 of this year with Operation Moshtarak in the Marjah district of Kandahar’s neighboring province, Helmand.

In that operation at least 15,000 U.S., British, French, Canadian and Afghan National Army troops poured into a district that has been described as a loose aggregation of small agricultural hamlets and other communities with a combined population as low as 50,000. A CBS News report of February 9 stated 30,000 troops were to be involved in the U.S. Marine-led offensive. [1] One major Western news agency estimated that the amount of insurgents confronting the 15,000-30,000 NATO and Afghan government forces was as low as 200.

Far from overwhelming and quickly subjugating the area, however, the Western troops and their Afghan subordinates, the latter reluctantly dragooned into service for the attack, encountered fierce and intractable resistance.

Almost a month into the fighting – an operation by U.S.-led forces with as much as a 75- to 150-1 advantage in numbers – the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimated that 28 civilians, including 13 children, had been killed and 70 more civilians had been wounded, 30 of those children. The report issued by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission attributed most of the casualties to U.S. and NATO rocket and artillery fire.

Having taken the rural district by storm and, to employ the Pentagon parlance faithfully passed on by the mainstream media, eliminated the last pockets of resistance, the U.S. and NATO victory soon evaporated with the West’s inability to pacify Marjah for transfer to the control of the Hamid Karzai regime in Kabul.

The prototype for not only the largest but what was planned as the decisive military offensive of the long-drawn-out war preparatory to the White House’s pledged withdrawal of troops starting next year – the assault on the insurgent stronghold of Kandahar – evidently fared poorly enough for the latter offensive to be delayed if not scrapped.

Even without an operation in Kandahar, though, the West has already lost 80 soldiers in Afghanistan this month, the most since July of 2009 when 79 U.S. and NATO personnel were killed, with almost half of this month’s fatalities being non-American.

To employ one of the expressions from the cliché book of Western journalism, several grim milestones have been reached this month. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have officially surpassed the 1,000 mark. The Pentagon has now been conducting the longest sustained combat operations in the history of the United States, exceeding in duration those in Vietnam from 1964-1973.

The British death toll has reached at least 303, more than in any other conflict since the 1950s. Australia lost three soldiers on June 21, the most deaths in one day the nation has suffered after its role in supporting the U.S. in Vietnam.

Romania, a new NATO member which will soon have over 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, lost two soldiers on June 23. “Romania began to send troops to Afghanistan in July 2002. The action was the country’s first military mission abroad after the Second World War.” [2]

On June 6 a rocket attack on the Polish forward operating base in Ghazni province wounded four soldiers and on June 12 a similar attack on the same base killed one soldier and wounded eight more. Poland, with 2,600 soldiers serving under NATO in Afghanistan and another 400 held in reserve for deployment there, has lost 17 soldiers in one of the country’s first two overseas military operations – Iraq being the other – in its history and its first combat role since the Second World War.

As for NATO as a whole, the Afghan mission has achieved three major precedents: The first armed conflict outside of Europe, the first ground war and the first combat deaths (several hundred such) in the military bloc’s 61-year history.

It is against this backdrop that General McChrystal was abruptly and summarily relieved of his dual command over U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

After a 30-minute tête-à-tête with McChrystal, then a war council with Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, National Security Advisor James Jones and White House Chief of Staff and in many respects grey eminence Rahm Emanuel, President Obama stood behind a podium in the White House Rose Garden and announced McChrystal was not to return to Afghanistan as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

His career had ended the way his predecessor’s, Army General David McKiernan, had a year before: He was unceremoniously deposed.

Flanked on both sides by Mullen, Biden, Gates and McChrystal’s hastily appointed successor General David Petraeus, Obama characterized the sacking of the Afghan war’s military chief as a resignation, the public relations equivalent of leaving a loaded revolver on the desk of a discredited subordinate.

The uptake of the American commander-in-chief’s address was contained in two sentences: “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.” In fact the piece in question would not be published for another two days.

He was referring to leaked excerpts from a Rolling Stone magazine feature on McChrystal and several of his aides, in particular off-the-cuff comments by aides as well as McChrystal, including ones uttered during a bibulous bus ride from Paris to Berlin in April. Wine keeps neither secrets nor promises as the aphorism has it.

Members of the establishment press corps (consumed with envy at not scooping the scandalous quotes themselves) scrambled for a thesaurus to characterize McChrystal and company’s less than flattering word portraits of Biden, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and White House Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke as intemperate, indiscreet, impolitic and so on down the list. Recall that their indignation was provoked by assorted obiter dicta issued on the wing and on the run over a month-long period. Being unenthusiastic about opening emails from Richard Holbrooke is not a crime of lese majesté, is not high treason.

Along the lines of Obama’s reference to maintaining civilian control of the military, mainstream political analysts and commentators made strained allusions to Abraham Lincoln’s firing of General George McClellan during the Civil War and Harry Truman’s cashiering General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

The freelance reporter whose story was the occasion for McChrystal’s departure, Michael Hastings, said after McChrystal’s dismissal that “he believed the story would last for 72 hours and then McChrystal and his staff would get back to business as usual.” [3]

Not so much a matter of changing commanders in midstream as it is throwing overboard the captain of a ship threatened with being capsized by a tempest.

That the commander of all foreign military forces in the world’s most extensive military conflict, one that involves over 50 nations [4] on six continents and will shortly reach its ninth year, would be dismissed within two days of a leaked report from an entertainment magazine (two days before its publication) is to all outward appearances a drastically disproportionate response, one that itself could be branded intemperate.

There were and are other, more substantial, dynamics at play.

Another American general who left his last post under a cloud, former U.S. European Command chief and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark – never one to be shy of the limelight or a television camera – appeared on CNN the evening of McChrystal being dumped and dutifully echoed the official post-purge position: “I think that there are lines you can’t cross and I think there’s responsibilities that you have to uphold as a senior commander.”

In reference to Central Command head David Petraeus taking charge of 150,000 U.S. and NATO (and in truth what there is of an Afghan National Army) troops, Clark added a revealing item which may prove to be the main intention behind and result of McChrystal’s dismissal: “I don’t know what the timetable means. Whether it means you’ve got to pull a brigade out or four brigades out or half the troops out or, you know, an outpost out, I’m not quite clear.”[5]

With mid-term congressional elections in early November and Obama’s presumed reelection bid two years later, Petraeus’ appointment may have a distinctly political dimension. Either simply an effort to put a new face on a disastrous affair or to signal a shift in war tactics. But if meant to boost the election prospects of Democratic candidates this year and Obama in 2012, the White House may get more than it bargained for.

A graduate of the West Point Military Academy like McChrystal, Petraeus has been the subject of rumours – for at least three years – that he intends to run for the U.S. presidency, and in fact has been deftly positioning himself for just that eventuality.

Presented as the hero of the war in Iraq who as commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) from January of 2007 to September of 2008 presided over the so-called surge during that interim – and ballyhooed as the father of a Petraeus Doctrine at the time – his reprising that role in Afghanistan could enhance his appeal as a war hero cum man on horseback in 2012, much as the aforementioned Wesley Clark attempted (with scant success but having tested the waters) in 2004.

Commentators have alluded to the 1962 novel (and its cinematic adaptation two years later) Seven Days in May [6] lately in reference to outgoing Afghan war commander Stanley McChrystal. The parallel may more properly suit Petraeus.

When he assumed command of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in the very month that President George W. Bush launched the Iraq surge with the announcement of 20,000 more troops to be deployed there, Petraeus took control of all foreign occupation forces in the country, not only from the U.S. and Britain but also from dozens of other nations, primarily at the time 20 new NATO and NATO candidate and other partner states from Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

All of the above except for Kazakhstan and Moldova (for the time being), with new nation Montenegro added, have troops assigned to NATO in Afghanistan.

The war in and occupation of Iraq provided Petraeus and the Pentagon an unprecedented opportunity to integrate the armed forces of dozens of nations – others included Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Mongolia and Singapore, which now have troops in Afghanistan as well – for purposes of weapons and combat interoperability and for NATO membership and assorted partnerships under wartime conditions.

Preceding his appointment as commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in 2007, Petraeus was named both head of the Multi-National Security Transition Command — Iraq and the first commander of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq in 2004.

Before that, while a brigadier general, he served in Bosnia in the early years of this decade as part of NATO’s Operation Joint Forge and as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for the NATO-led Stabilization Force and Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

In recognition of his role in Iraq, in April of 2008 Secretary of Defense Gates announced that President Bush was nominating Petraeus to head up U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which post he took up on October 31, 2008.

The U.S. is the only nation in history to divide the world into military commands. CENTCOM’s area of responsibility includes, in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, other nations beset by armed conflicts like Pakistan and Yemen, and all of the Middle East (except for Israel), the Persian Gulf (including Iran) and Central Asia. Egypt is the only African nation left to CENTCOM, with Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and Sudan ceded to the new U.S. Africa Command, though Lebanon and Syria were transferred from European Command to Central Command in 2004.

In the past twenty months Petraeus has not only overseen ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen and supported those in Pakistan, but has also worked assiduously at building a far-reaching nexus of military overflights, land routes and transit bases from the Persian Gulf and the South Caucasus to Central Asia for the Afghan war.

He will now step down as head of CENTCOM to command 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The lionization of Petraeus began before the fact regarding the dual Afghan commands and within hours of his announced appointments, with the predictable claque clapping like trained seals.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen guaranteed that Washington’s 27 partners in the military alliance would sheepishly keep their own counsel: “After all, they are only supplying 25 percent of the alliance’s 130,000 troops in Afghanistan. They will accept Mr Obama’s step, be it with some disappointment because they generally agreed that McChrystal was doing a good job.” [7] Hardly a passionate endorsement of the organization he heads and which is touted as a “military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America.”

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius regaled his readers with a glowing panegyric entitled “Gen. David Petraeus: The right commander for Afghanistan,” which is replete with these specimens of fawning puffery:

– Gen. David Petraeus didn’t sign on as the new Afghanistan commander because he expects to lose.

– Obama has doubled down on his bet, much as George W. Bush did with his risky surge of troops in Iraq under Petraeus’s command.

– [A]s I’ve heard him say: “The thing about winners is that they know how to win.”

– Petraeus is, among other things, the most deft political figure I’ve seen in uniform. In just two years he has gone from being Bush’s go-to general to Obama’s. [8]

The piece goes on in that vein for an unconscionably, an insufferably, long time.

It is emblematic of the peculiarly American art of concocting an overnight hero mythos. The identical technique was exhibited a year ago when Stanley McChrystal was promoted to four-star general to take command of the Afghan war.

Petraeus, like the fox in the fable of Aesop, may want to think twice about entering a lion’s den in which he sees footprints enter but not come out. Unless political ambition blinds him to the evidence.

2) Xinhua News Agency, June 24, 2010
3) New York Daily News, June 24, 2010
4) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s
First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009
5) CNN, June 23, 2010
7) Radio Netherlands, June 24, 2010
8) Washington Post, June 24, 2010

Military Watershed: Longest War In U.S. And Afghan History

June 9, 2010

Military Watershed: Longest War In U.S. And Afghan History
Rick Rozoff

This week news about the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization armed conflict in Afghanistan, the largest and longest-running war in the world, has begun to penetrate the wall of triumphalism and complacency erected by Washington during the past year’s unparalleled military escalation in the South Asian nation.

Between the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on January 20, 2009 and now, the number of American troops in the war zone has almost tripled, from 32,000 to 94,000, with the total to reach 100,000 in upcoming weeks. Late last month U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan for the first time outnumbered those in Iraq, 94,000 compared to 92,000. There will soon also be an aggregate of 50,000 armed forces provided by Washington’s NATO allies and NATO partnership nations.

The 150,000 U.S. and allied troops in place by this summer will exceed by tens of thousands the largest amount of foreign forces ever before stationed in Afghanistan: An estimated 118,000 Soviet troops that constituted the high water mark of the USSR’s deployment between late 1979 and early 1989. [1]

The territory of what is now Afghanistan was invaded in remote times by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan among other conquerors, but the first two armed attacks against Afghanistan itself were in 1839 and 1878, in both cases by English and colonial troops invading from British India.

In the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1839–1842 over 20,000 British and Indian troops invaded the country, ending in an inglorious – a disastrous – rout for the aggressors. In the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878–1880 Britain invaded with a force of 40,000 troops and that incursion also culminated in a withdrawal to India.

The Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919 was a three-month campaign waged by London against the government of Amanullah Khan which ended in a stalemate and in the effective independence of Afghanistan as a modern nation.

The 150,000 U.S. and NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in the country, then, represent the largest invasion, occupation and foreign warfighting force in Afghanistan’s history. They are also the most diverse military force not only in Afghan but in any nation’s experience: Armed combatants from as many as fifty nations and all continents except uninhabited Antarctica.

On June 7 mainstream American media acknowledged that the war in Afghanistan is now their country’s longest one, with Washington having entered month 104 of a conflict that began on October 7, 2001.

The most protracted war before had been that in Vietnam. Current calculations based on the beginning of the American role in major and independent combat operations in that Southeast Asian nation – from the Tonkin Gulf Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress on August 7, 1964 – to the withdrawal of the last American combat troops in March of 1973 total 103 months. In fact it took several months for the Pentagon to act on the resolution and as such the Afghan war has already been the lengthiest in America’s history, but the formal recognition of it as such is now a matter of public record.

As for Afghanistan itself, the first Soviet troops entered the country on December 24, 1979 and the final troop withdrawal began on May 15, 1988 and ended on February 15, 1989, a total of 102 and 111 months respectively.

By the beginning of next year U.S. troops will have been in Afghanistan longer than Soviet ones were.

On June 8 CNN (Cable News Network) featured an online report stating “The United States passed [a] grim milestone” on that date with the death of its 1001st soldier in Afghanistan. The next day four more American soldiers were killed when a helicopter they were traveling in was shot down in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

The independent iCasualties website had already estimated 1,108 U.S. soldiers killed in and around Afghanistan (that is, also in Pakistan and Uzbekistan) and previous accounts had mentioned deaths in excess of 1,000 in the sixteen-nation greater Operation Enduring Freedom area of operations, but the acknowledgement of over 1,000 U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan alone by the commercial media is another landmark.

American deaths this year are now at least at the 165 mark, compared to 327 for all last year and 155 in 2008 according to iCasualties. Total foreign military losses since 2001 are over 1,800. Britain lost its 294th soldier on June 9, the highest number of combat deaths the United Kingdom has registered since the counterinsurgency war in Malaya in the 1950s and 39 more than in the 1982 war with Argentina over the Falklands/Las Malvinas. Two days before Canada lost its 147th soldier, the highest military death toll for the nation since the Korean War.

On the same day a Polish forward operating base in the province of Ghazni came under rocket attack and four Polish soldiers were wounded. On June 1 Denmark announced the first-ever death of a female service member in an improvised explosive device attack in Helmand Province.

With the five American and British deaths on June 9, NATO has lost at least 29 soldiers in the first nine days of this month. Ten foreign soldiers were killed on June 7 alone, including two Australian and one French serviceman. The deaths occurred both in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Ahead of what has been planned as the largest military offensive of the nearly nine-year war, the assault against the southern province of Kandahar and in particular the city of the same name which is its capital, the initiative does not appear to be with the U.S. and NATO. The campaign was scheduled to begin this month and culminate in August when combined U.S. and NATO troop strength in Afghanistan will reach 150,000.

On the morning of June 9 fifty NATO tankers transporting oil and other supplies were attacked only fifty kilometers south of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

According to earlier reports, top U.S. and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal is amassing over 25,000 troops – American, NATO and Afghan government – for the offensive in the city of Kandahar.

The Daily Telegraph recently reported that “British military intelligence estimates there are between 500 and 1,000 insurgents who operate regularly in the area,” [2] which would mean as high as a 50-1 ratio of U.S.-led troops to Afghan insurgents, comparable to February’s attack on the town of Marjah in neighboring Helmand Province where 15,000 U.S.- and NATO-led forces faced as few as 400 armed fighters. [3]

The Kandahar operation is still scheduled to commence this month and “will focus on Kandahar city and the farmland around it, and could take from four to six months. While Nato commanders are promising a low-key, Afghan-led approach to Kandahar city itself, international troops are preparing for combat operations in some of the areas around the city.” [4]

Despite the pledge by President Obama that after what was touted in advance as a victory in Kandahar and throughout the war-wracked nation to begin drawing down U.S. and NATO troops in 2011, all indications are that Western forces will remain in Afghanistan long after that. Far longer than any foreign military power has ever stayed in the nation before in a war that is already the longest in American history. [5]

1) New York Times, February 16, 1989, “according to Western intelligence
2) The Telegraph, June 1, 2010
3) Associated Press, February 14, 2010
4) The Telegraph, June 1, 2010
5) Afghanistan: Charlie Wilson And America’s 30-Year War
Stop NATO, February 15, 2010

Related articles:

NATO In Afghanistan: World War In One Country

War In Afghanistan Evokes Second World War Parallels

Afghanistan: NATO Intensifies Its First Asian War

West’s Afghan War: From Conquest To Bloodbath

End Of The Year: U.S. Recruits Worldwide For Afghan War

Afghanistan: World’s Lengthiest War Has Just Begun

U.S., NATO War In Afghanistan: Antecedents And Precedents

Christmas 2009: U.S., NATO To Expand New Millennium’s Longest War

Afghanistan: West’s 21st Century War Risks Regional Conflagration

Following Afghan Election, NATO Intensifies Deployments, Carnage

Pentagon Chief In Azerbaijan: Afghan War Arc Stretches To Caspian And Caucasus

June 8, 2010 3 comments

June 8, 2010

Pentagon Chief In Azerbaijan: Afghan War Arc Stretches To Caspian And Caucasus
Rick Rozoff

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on June 6, meeting with President Ilham Aliyev on that day and on the following with Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiyev.

Gates was the first cabinet-level American official to visit the strategically positioned nation – located in the South Caucasus with Russia to its north, Iran to its south and the Caspian Sea to its east – in five years and the first U.S. defense chief to visit since Donald Rumsfeld did in 2005.

When Gates’ predecessor was last in Azerbaijan his mission centered on “the transportation of Caspian oil and the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline” as the chief element of U.S. trans-Eurasian oil and natural gas plans “which [are] directly connected with Mr Rumsfeld’s department” [1] to bring Caspian Sea hydrocarbons into Europe while bypassing Russia and Iran, both of which adjoin Azerbaijan.

Rumsfeld’s visit of five years ago also focused on a related initiative, the Caspian Guard project the Pentagon launched in 2003. “Guaranteeing security to the pipeline…will be the prime goal of the Caspian Guard. The Caspian Guard will represent a network of police detachments and special military units in the Caspian region.” [2]

At the time Rumsfeld’s Defense Department planned to allot over $100 million for the Caspian Guard to operate at both ends of the inland sea – Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – and to be based in Stuttgart, Germany where the Pentagon’s new Africa Command is now based. In fact U.S. European Command was simultaneously elaborating plans for the Caspian Guard and a complementary Gulf of Guinea Guard in oil-rich western Africa to secure control over the 21st century’s main new sources of energy supplies. [3]

Gates arrived in Azerbaijan the day after the ninth annual Asian security summit organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore and before his attendance at the NATO defense chiefs meeting in Brussels on the 10th and 11th.

He had intended to visit Beijing following the conference in Singapore, but his overtures in that direction were rebuffed by the Chinese government, presumably because of Washington’s confirmation this January of plans to complete a $6.5 billion arms transaction with Taiwan, one whose latest installment includes 200 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missiles.

That Baku replaced Beijing on the Pentagon chief’s way to the NATO meeting indicates the importance that the comparatively small nation – with a population of under nine million while China’s is over 1.3 billion – has in American global geostrategic plans.

U.S. media reports highlighted efforts to mend fences with Azerbaijan after joint military exercises scheduled in the nation for last month were abruptly cancelled – evidently by the host country as a sign of dissatisfaction with Washington’s moves to take a more balanced approach toward Azerbaijan’s regional rival Armenia in a bid to lure all the nations of the South Caucasus into the U.S. and NATO orbit. Last December the Armenian government approved the deployment of troops to serve under NATO command in the Afghan war theater along with those of their Caucasus neighbors Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Received opinion has it that the U.S. intends to incorporate all three nations into NATO simultaneously. Armenia and Azerbaijan have NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans and Georgia a special, even more advanced, Annual National Programme.

The cancelled exercises were to have built upon last year’s Regional Response 2009 in Azerbaijan, a NATO Partnership for Peace operation to advance the North Atlantic military bloc’s Individual Partnership Action Plan with the nation.

To demonstrate that Rumsfeld’s Caspian Guard plans are still alive, during his visit to Azerbaijan Secretary Gates discussed bilateral military ties, particularly “further U.S. help with maritime security in the Caspian Sea.”

In his own words, “We already help them there with several tens of millions of dollars, boats, radars and capabilities.” [4]

According to the Pentagon’s website, “More military exercises and intelligence sharing also came up during the meetings,” Gates added, “and the discussions also touched on Iran and Russia,” with the American defense secretary saying of his hosts, “These guys clearly live in a rough neighborhood.” [5]

Georgia borders Russia and Armenia borders Iran, but Azerbaijan alone abuts both. The same defense minister Gates met with on June 7, Colonel General Safar Abiyev, not long ago addressed the head of state Gates met with the day before and said: “Our armed forces are able to annihilate targets in all the territory of Armenia. Mr. President, I notify you that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces are able to hit any target in the territory of Armenia.” [6]

Gates’ main concentration – or at least that of most immediate importance – was on the expanding war in South Asia, where he will soon have 100,000 U.S. troops serving with another 50,000 NATO forces.

Western and local reports have recently divulged that 25 percent of U.S. and NATO supplies and equipment for the Afghan war pass through what is referred to as the Caucasus Spur – Azerbaijan and Georgia – and that “100,000 troops have flown through Azerbaijani airspace in the past year en route to Afghanistan.” [7]

More specifically, “Tens of thousands of cargo aircraft have flown over Azerbaijan for the Afghan war, with planes ferrying 100,000 US and allied troops and personnel through the country’s airspace last year, Pentagon officials said.” [8]

With the recent turmoil in Kyrgyzstan hampering the transit of troops and equipment through the Central Asian country where hundreds of thousands of U.S. and NATO forces have passed directly to Afghanistan, Azerbaijan (in addition to Kazakhstan [9]) will play an even more pivotal role as the battle for Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province begins.

While in Baku, Gates delivered a personal letter from President Barack Obama to his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev. As the local press described it, “Gates, the most senior U.S. official to visit Azerbaijan since Obama took office last year, hand delivered the letter to Aliyev to make clear ‘we have a relationship going forward,’ a senior defense official said….” [10]

Obama commended his opposite number for doubling the amount of troops deployed to Afghanistan and providing the use of his nation’s land (for supply trucks) and air space, especially ahead of the next surge of 30,000 U.S. troops.

An Azeri news agency reminded its readers that “Azerbaijan is also a major oil producer and a key hub on a route for Central Asia and Caspian Sea energy to Europe bypassing Russia to the north and Iran to the south,” while quoting the following from Obama’s letter: “Azerbaijan’s leadership in the development for a Southern Corridor for energy has also increased regional prosperity and enhanced global energy security.” [11]

Gates told Azerbaijan’s defense minister that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would also be visiting the nation shortly.

Last month an Azerbaijani delegation visited Afghanistan to meet with the nation’s defense minister and NATO International Security Assistance Force commanders, during which “the education of Afghan national policemen, soldiers and officers in Azerbaijan” was discussed. [12] In early May U.S. military officers arrived in Baku to “hold seminars related to the tasks of operational officers at the battalion and brigade [levels]. [13] The month before Azerbaijani troops began “a communication course in San Antonio, USA from April 21 to December 15.” [14]

In April Robert Simmons, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia and NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Security Cooperation and Partnership [15], was in Baku to promote Azerbaijan’s Individual Partnership Action Plan. In the same month it was announced that the bloc’s chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is to visit this summer.

Since January of 2009 Romania has been the NATO Contact Point Embassy in Azerbaijan and its ambassador to the country, Nicolae Ureche, the Brussels-based military bloc’s main liaison there. In early May he opened a conference in Baku titled NATO’s Role in Ensuring Security and Stability in Europe and in the Strategic Arena, dedicated to NATO 61st anniversary and the 16th of Azerbaijan joining the bloc’s Partnership for Peace program.

The preceding month the Romanian envoy gave a speech in Baku in which he stated that “In connection with the 61st anniversary of NATO, the NATO Institute of Cooperation and embassies of the NATO member-states accredited in Azerbaijan have declared April NATO Month in Azerbaijan.” [16] During his presentation Ureche “especially emphasized NATO’s attention to energy security.” [17] A week before he said, “We…welcome Azerbaijan’s role in ensuring global energy security.” [18]

That sentiment was echoed last week when Special Envoy of the United States Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar spoke at the 17th International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference held in the capital of Azerbaijan and confirmed that Washington “support[s] the diversification of energy exports from the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia” and – American that he is – presumed to speak on behalf of Europe’s energy security, endorsing the anti-Russian Southern Corridor to transport natural gas and oil from the Caspian Sea Basin and the Middle East to Europe. [19]

The preceding month Morningstar’s fellow Foggy Bottom denizen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Tina Kaidanow, was in Azerbaijan. While there her message to the nation’s leaders was: “The United States considers Azerbaijan an essential partner. Our interests overlap in many areas, from collaborating on strengthening energy security via the Southern Corridor gas and oil projects to our work together countering terrorism and extremism. We appreciate Azerbaijan’s contributions to regional and global security, from Kosovo to Iraq to Afghanistan.” [20] Kaidanow took over her current post last August from Matthew Bryza, arguably a contender for Washington’s main point man in the former Soviet Union over the past two decades. His resume includes:

– Being attached to the U.S. embassy in Poland from 1989-1991 as contact person for Solidarnosc

– Serving at the U.S. embassy in Russia during the equally key transitional years of 1995-1997 with his main assignments being the Russian parliament, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the North Caucasus, especially then tense Dagestan

– Special advisor to Richard Morningstar (the current Special Envoy of the United States Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy) from 1997-1998, who at the time was Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Assistance to the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union

– Deputy to the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy from July 1998 to March 2001

– In 2001 he occupied the post of the National Security Council’s Director for Europe and Eurasia with emphasis on the Caucasus, Central Asia and Caspian Sea energy

– Became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in 2005

Last month the White House nominated Bryza as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan.

His appointment indicates the importance Washington assigns to the nation.

In March of this year Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg spoke of U.S.-Azerbaijan cooperation, mentioning in particular the “involvement of Azerbaijan in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, bilateral military ties in the context of Caspian energy and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline security, and the participation of Azerbaijan in the US-led military missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.” [21]

A Russian report on his comments added, “US companies are actively involved in the development of Caspian hydrocarbons in offshore Azerbaijani oilfields, and the US government actively supported the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline as the primary route of transportation for Caspian oil.” [22]

In the same month the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus in Washington sent a letter to President Obama “reflecting the importance of Azerbaijan-US relations.”

It included these items:

“Azerbaijan has opened Caspian energy resources to development by U.S companies and has emerged as a key player for global energy security. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project, supported by both the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations…has become the main artery delivering Caspian Sea hydrocarbons to the US and our partners in Europe.”

“Notably, in 2009 Azerbaijan provided nearly one quarter of all crude oil supplies to Israel and is considered a leading potential natural gas provider for the U.S supported Nabucco pipeline.”

“Azerbaijan was among the first to offer strong support and assistance to the United States. Azerbaijan participated in operations in Kosovo and Iraq and is actively engaged in Afghanistan, having recently doubled its military presence there.”

“Azerbaijan has extended important over-flight clearances for US and NATO flights to support ISAF and has regularly provided landing and refueling operations at its airports for US and NATO forces.” [23]

With Turkey increasingly adopting an independent foreign policy orientation not to Washington’s liking; with the nearly nine-year-old war in Afghanistan reaching its apex; with the U.S. and its NATO allies ramping up pressure on Iran in Azerbaijan’s “rough neighborhood”; and with the U.S. pursuing global interceptor missile plans that may include evicting the Russian military from the Gabala radar station in the north of the country, Azerbaijan is assuming a greater strategic significance with each passing day.

That is why U.S. Defense Secretary Gates was there on June 6 and 7. It will not be his last visit.

Related articles:

West’s Afghan War And Drive Into Caspian Sea Basin

Azerbaijan And The Caspian: NATO’s War For The World’s Heartland

Eurasian Crossroads: The Caucasus In U.S.-NATO War Plans

1) Armenian News Network, May 10, 2005
2) Ibid
3) Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans
Stop NATO, January 22, 2009
4) U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
June 7, 2010
5) Ibid
6) Azeri Press Agency, April 24, 2010
7) Trend News Agency, June 7, 2010
8) Agence France-Presse, June 6, 2010
9) Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
10) Azeri Press Agency, June 7, 2010
11) Ibid
12) Azertag, May 20, 2010
13) ANS News, May 3, 2010
14) Azeri Press Agency, April 19, 2010
15) Mr. Simmons’ Mission: NATO Bases From Balkans To Chinese Border
Stop NATO, March 4, 2009
16) Trend News Agency, April 8, 2010
17) Azeri Press Agency, April 8, 2010
18) Interfax-Azerbaijan, Azeri Press Agency, April 1, 2010
19) Trend News Agency, June 2, 2010
20) Azeri Press Agency, May 12, 2010
21) Itar-Tass, March 30, 2010
22) Ibid
23) Azeri Press Agency, March 30, 2010

Black Sea: Pentagon’s Gateway To Three Continents And The Middle East

August 27, 2009 1 comment

February 21, 2009

Black Sea: Pentagon’s Gateway To Three Continents And The Middle East
Rick Rozoff

The Black Sea region connects Europe with Asia and the Eurasian land mass to the Middle East through Turkey on its southern rim, which borders Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The northern Balkans lie on its western shores and the Caucasus on its eastern end, the latter a land bridge to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia.

Ukraine, Russia and the strategic Sea of Azov are on its northern perimeter.

Given its central location, the Black Sea has been coveted for millennia by major powers: The Persian and Roman empires, Greeks and Hittites, Byzantines and Huns, Ottoman Turkey and Czarist Russia, even by Napoleon’s France and Hitler’s Germany in their wars to unite Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

The famed Trojan War was fought for control of Troy/Dardania/Ilium, the entrance to the Sea of Marmara which connects the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. The strait connecting the two is still called the Dardanelles after ancient Dardania.

Going back to antiquity a third continent has also been involved, Africa; the Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the Black Sea city of Colchis, now in modern Georgia, was founded by Egyptians and in Virgil’s if not Homer’s account of the siege of Troy Memnon, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), is slain by Achilles fighting in defense of Troy.

A Romanian news source recently reiterated the importance of the region for the modern era:

“Through the Black Sea, the European area strategically meets Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, hydrocarbon production and transit areas.” [1]

Allusions to the Black Sea’s importance for not only energy and transit but for world military purposes will occur frequently in citations to follow.

Prior to the breakup of the Warsaw Pact in 1990 and the Soviet Union a year later the Black Sea was mainly off limits to the West in general and to the Pentagon and NATO in particular. Until 1991 only four states bordered the sea, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the Soviet Union.

Turkey as a key NATO member state was the West’s sole beachhead in the region with Bulgaria and Romania, the second more nominally than in fact, members of the Eastern bloc and the Warsaw Pact.

In the intervening eighteen years the situation in this region, like so many others, has been transformed and a new battle for control of it has emerged.

There have arisen two new littoral states, Georgia and Ukraine, with Abkhazia added last August, and every past Warsaw Pact nation outside the former Soviet Union is currently a full member of both NATO and the European Union – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the former German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – with three former Soviet republics on the Baltic Sea – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – also dual members.

As an Indian commentator, Premen Addy, described it last summer:

“NATO’s noose is drawn ever tighter round the Russian neck. American military and missile bases are already ensconced in Romania and Bulgaria – two states once in harness with Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and the invading Nazi legions into the USSR – in a bid to strangle the possible emergence of a rival centre of power in the Black Sea….” [2]

A year earlier the online intelligence site The Power and Interest News Report in an analysis called “Bulgaria, U.S. Bases and Black Sea Geopolitics” summarized the situation regarding one key Black Sea state in the following words:

“Geographically speaking, Bulgaria provides the U.S. (and N.A.T.O.) a greater presence in the Black Sea, through which there are plans to build oil and gas pipelines.

“Also, it is close to the former Yugoslavia, a place of constant tensions, particularly in the last decade.

“The [new Pentagon] bases allow the U.S. to keep increased control of the country and the Greater Middle East region, as Washington now has a military presence in the south (America’s 5th fleet is based in Bahrain) and will have a presence in the north through nearby Bulgaria.” [2]


Since 1991 but especially since the December 2003 “Rose Revolution” the United States has transformed Georgia on the Black Sea’s eastern border into a private military preserve, first dispatching Green Berets, then Marines to train, equip and transform the nation’s armed forces for wars abroad and at home.

The revamped Georgian army was first tried out in Iraq, where with a 2,000-troop contingent it had the third largest foreign force in Iraq until last August when the U.S. military, whose creation it was, flew the soldiers home for the war with Russia.

Before the echoes of last August’s gunfire and artillery rounds had died down the U.S. sent its warship the USS McFaul to the Georgian port city of Batumi and the flagship of its Sixth Fleet, the USS Mount Whitney, to Poti whose mission was announced to the chronically credulous as delivering “juice, powdered milk and hygiene products.”

Batumi is the capital of Ajaria (Adjaria), a former autonomous region subjugated by the then newborn “Rose” regime in April of 2004 after its American-trained army staged Georgia’s largest-ever military exercises in nearby Poti and threatened invasion, lies just south of the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi, where Russian ships were then stationed. Warships of the world’s two major nuclear powers faced off against each other off the Black Sea coast just 75 kilometers apart.

At the same time NATO deployed a naval strike group to the Black Sea consisting of three U.S. warships, a Polish frigate, a German frigate and a Spanish guided missile frigate as well as four Turkish vessels with eight more warships planning to join the flotilla.

The NATO warships were only 150 kilometers from their Russian counterparts then docked in Abkhazia.


On the north end of the Black Sea the U.S. has led annual Sea Breeze NATO exercises in Ukraine’s Crimea, evoking mass outrage and spirited protests from the Crimeans themselves whose parliament three days ago voted against a proposed U.S. representative office being set up, one which no doubt would oversee both the suppression of increased autonomy demands and anti-NATO actions in Crimea and prepare the groundwork for the eviction of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol.

Regarding the second point, a Russian news site offered these insights:

“Analysts speak about Ukrainian plans to kick out Russia and turn over the Crimean bases to NATO and the United States, as both salivate for a military presence in the Black Sea Basin.” [4]

“One of the conditions for NATO membership is absence of foreign bases on the country’s territory….[Ukraine’s “orange” authorities] do what they can to drive away the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the Crimea. In such a way Kiev signals to Brussels that it is preparing a base for NATO naval ships in the Black Sea.” [5]

Georgia’s and Ukraine’s next, complete, phase of integration as Pentagon military outposts was announced last December and January, respectively, when Washington signed Strategic Partnership Charters with first Kiev and then Tbilisi. Months before that and only days after Georgia launched its attack on South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers there, triggering last August’s war, all 26 NATO members sent representatives as part of a delegation to the Georgian capital to establish a new NATO-Georgia Commission.

At the same time the regime of Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko, who rode to power on the U.S.-financed and -directed “orange revolution” of December 2004, and whose wife Kathy is a Chicago-born and -raised former official in the Reagan State Department and the George H. W. Bush Treasury Department and was once described by a fawning admirer as “a Reaganite’s Reaganite,” used the deployment of Russian ships to the Black Sea during the war with Georgia to apply pressure on the Black Sea Fleet, at one point implying the ships might not be permitted to return to Sevastopol.

Several weeks after the Caucasus war ended, Washington sent an intelligence gathering ship, U.S. Pathfinder, to Sevastopol harbor.

The Yushchenko government renewed its accusations against the Russian fleet late last month on another score, slightly over a month after the Charter on Strategic Cooperation was signed with Washington.

The Black Sea connects with the Sea of Azov, surrounded almost entirely by Russia, at the Kerch Strait, the scene of a confrontation between Russia and Ukraine in 2003.

A Russian newspaper at the time explained what was at stake in the dispute:

“The Kerch Strait at the center of Russia’s dispute with Ukraine controls access to the Azov Sea, which is reputed to have largely untapped hydrocarbon reserves.

“Ownership rights to potential oil and gas resources have not been decided between the two countries, despite years of negotiations to delimit the seabed.

“Although unlikely to be a second Caspian, geologists believe the Azov Sea is likely part of the same seam of hydrocarbon deposits that stretches from southern Ukraine and Russia through the Black Sea to the Caspian and beyond.” [6]

The U.S.’s Stratfor augmented the above with this brief analysis:

“The Kerch Strait is a 25-mile-long channel that is no wider than 9 miles, linking the critically important Black Sea to the Sea of Azov off of Russia’s Northern Caucasus border. It has served as a key location for some strategic battles in the past from the Crimean wars to a Nazi-Soviet naval clash. To Russia, the Kerch Strait is a continuation of the Northern Caucasus into Ukraine’s Crimea regions, which is one of the country’s most pro-Russian regions and home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet located at Sevastopol.” [7]

More concisely and even more to the point, a few weeks ago this quote appeared in a Ukrainian press wire report:

“Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations require that it solves all its problems, including border disputes. They need a border [in the Kerch Strait] for just one reason: to be able to join NATO as soon as possible.” [8]

Bulgaria and Romania

Washington has signed Strategic Partnership Charters with both Georgia and Ukraine over the past two months and the two nations are the centerpieces for Washington’s takeover of the Black Sea and indeed the former Soviet Union as a whole.

They are the main fulcra for the U.S.-created GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) bloc originally set up in 1997 as the main transit route for 21st century Eurasian energy wars and for undermining and undoing the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States. They are also the foundation stones of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership.

But to date the main emphasis of the Pentagon’s campaign to conquer the Black Sea region, and arguably the major focal point for its international shift to the east and the south, is with Bulgaria and Romania.

Both nations were formally brought into NATO at the 2004 Istanbul summit of the Alliance and since became the last – perhaps in both senses of the word, most recent and final – members of the European Union.

Earlier, Bulgaria and Romania both denied Russia use of their airspace to transport supplies to troops they had moved into Kosovo in June of 1999.

Russia was acting within its rights under the terms of UN Resolution 1244 to protect ethnic minority communities in the Serbian province, but clearly Bulgaria and Romania were following U.S. and NATO orders in blocking the flights.

Whether, if Russia had persisted in its intent, the two nations would have grounded the Russian aircraft or even shot them down is a matter of conjecture, though perhaps not much.

Later Romania allowed the U.S. to use its Mikhail Kogalniceanu Air Base in 2002 for the buildup to the following March’s invasion of Iraq.

In December of 2005 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to the Romanian capital to sign an accord to use – take control of – four military bases, the aforementioned Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base and training and firing grounds in Babadag, Cincu and Smardan.

The U.S.’s explanation at the time was that it was to employ the four bases for training, including joint and multilateral exercises, provision of supplies and transit for the downrange wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And Romanian territory has served those purposes ever since.

In April of the following year, 2006, Washington signed a comparable agreement with neighboring Bulgaria for the use of three of its major military bases – the Bezmer air base, the Novo Selo army training range and the Graf Ignatievo airfield.

Both pacts were signed for an initial ten year duration.

The U.S. was allowed to station troops – estimates vary from 5,000-10,000 – on a rotating or permanent basis in both countries.

In the case of Bulgaria it will be the first time foreign troops have been stationed on its soil since Nazi Wehrmacht forces were driven out in 1944 and with Romania since Soviet troops withdrew in 1958.

The seven sites in both countries will be the first U.S. military bases in former Warsaw Pact territory.

The Bezmer air base in Bulgaria is a major facility, similar in scope to Romania’s Mihail Kogalniceanu, and its scale and purpose for current and futures campaigns in the east and south are indicated by this Bulgarian description:

“[T]he airbase…according to the US-Bulgarian agreement…will acquire the status of a strategic military facility in two years, like the Incirlik airbase in Turkey and Aviano in Italy.” [9]

The same newspaper added that, “The Bezmer military airport near the town of Yambol (southeastern Bulgaria) will be transformed into one of the six new strategic airbases outside US borders.” [10]

Britain’s Jane’s Defence Weekly in late 2006 informed its readers of the strategic sweep of the Pentagon’s move into the Black Sea:

“[T]he new land, sea and airbases along the Black Sea will provide much improved contingency access for deployments into Central Asia, parts of the Middle East and Southwest Asia. [11]

From the other end of the planet Lin Zhiyuan, deputy office director of the World Military Affairs Research Department of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, saw the developments through the same lens but with trepidation:

“[N]ew military bases, airports and training bases will be built in Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and other nations to ensure ‘gangways’ to some areas in the Middle East, African and Asia in possible military actions in the years ahead.” [12]

Both preceding analyses were confirmed by the U.S. military itself the following year when Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, the U.S. Army Europe operations chief and deputy chief of staff, spoke of Romania to an armed forces publication:

“It’s in a critical location with emerging partners, at a location which is really a place that has been a historical transit route for bad guys.”

The interview added “The bases would house rotating U.S. troops that would train under the command of Joint Task Force East, headquartered at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base.

“The U.S. signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement with Romania in December 2005 to allow U.S. forces to use the former communist nation for training, pre-positioning of equipment and, if necessary, staging and deploying troops into war zones.” [13]

Two months after the U.S.-Bulgarian agreement the U.S. led joint military training exercises in Bulgaria in which the head of local troops involved effused, “We want to be certified as part of NATO forces. We want to conduct expeditionary exercises as part of NATO.” [14]

The war games, named Immediate Response 2006, were designated to break in the new bases in Bulgaria and Romania and to implement the Rumsfeld era Pentagon’s plans for military “lily pads” from which to spring into action to points east and south.

In reporting on the exercise the main newspaper of the American armed forces provided this background perspective:

“According to the agreements, the U.S. would be able to use the Romanian and Bulgarian bases for pre-positioning of equipment, and to send U.S. troops and equipment into war if necessary. The ‘forward operating sites,’ as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls them, would be in Romania at the Smardan Training Range, Babadag Training Area and Rail Head, Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, and Cincu Training Range.” [15]

A Bulgarian civilian cited by the same source said, “Every day we can see them (U.S. troops) in the cities and villages.” [16]

By September of the same year, “Sofia and Washington are to sign about 13 additional agreements to regulate the joint usage of several military bases in Bulgaria.

“Defence Minister Veselin Bliznakov has announced that next week US European Command (EUCOM) experts will arrive in Bulgaria to draw a draft document.” [17]

The pacts with Bulgaria and Romania are, as usual in such instances, to be jointly used by NATO, as all three signatories are members of the bloc.

In a U.S. armed forces dispatch titled “England-based airmen head to NATO exercise in Bulgaria” it was reported that a British “squadron plans to test-fire laser-guided and general-purpose weapons at a Bulgarian range, as well as conduct air-to-air training with the Bulgarian MiG-29 and -21 aircraft” in war games coded Exercise Immediate Response. [18]

Later NATO continued its leapfrogging over the Pentagon into Bulgaria as detailed in an article called “NATO bases may be set up near Bulgaria’s Sungulare” which included this report:

“NATO asked if the former buildings of a tank brigade in the town of Aitos could be turned into a reserve storage base.

“NATO planned to store here the equipment for one or two battalions, which would be based in the military bases of Novo Selo and Bezmer.” [18]

In fact what NATO achieved was securing a base of its own.

“NATO will pay 150 million US dollars to the municipality of Sungurlare (central Bulgaria) in exchange for a plot of municipal land for the construction of a military base.” [20]

The comparison between the Bulgarian Bezmer air base and the U.S.’s and NATO’s main strategic air (bombing) bases in Aviano, Italy and Incirlik, Turkey was established earlier and this report later confirmed the analogy’s accuracy, though immediately in reference to another air base.

“NATO will move aircraft from the US air base in Aviano, northeastern Italy, to Bulgaria’s Graf Ignatievo air base near Plovdiv.” [20]

The above news item described the transfer as temporary, but it may have been a portent of what is planned for the future.

Aviano was the main base used by the U.S. and NATO in their joint Operation Deliberate Force bombing of the Bosnian Serb Republic in 1995 and in the 78-day terror bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999.

To leave no further doubt as to under whose auspices the Pentagon was able to secure its seven new bases for attacks to the east and south, in the autumn of 2007 “A top general from the NATO’s Southern Command in Naples will inspect the two-week military exercises of army units from Bulgaria, the USA and Romania which will be held near the town of Sliven, in southern Bulgaria.” [22]

And to dispel any misconceptions as to who the main target of the U.S.- and NATO-acquired bases was, in June of that year Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing the emerging and unmistakable pattern of “a new base in Bulgaria, another in Romania, a site in Poland, radar in the Czech Republic,” rhetorically queried “What are we supposed to do? We cannot just observe all this.” [23]

The severity and urgency of the threat perceived by Russia was such that General Vladimir Shamanov, adviser to Russia’s Defense Minister, was quoted as saying “We will point our missiles at the US military facilities in Bulgaria and Romania.” [24]

This concern was echoed by the Russian foreign ministry:

“Russia once again voiced her concern with the deployment of US military facilities in Bulgaria and Romania.

“‘We are deeply concerned, because such a move entails an expansion of the US forces in countries, which not long ago were allies of Russia,’ Anatoly Antonov, Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Department, said at an extraordinary conference on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (DOVSE,) held in Vienna.” [25]

The Russian military, most directly alert to and aware of the repercussions of the deployments, voiced its alarm in the person of Maj. Gen. Vladimir Nikishin, a representative of the Defense Ministry’s Main International Military Cooperation Department, who said, “The location of NATO bases in Bulgaria and Romania actually means that the Alliance is creating bases for building up it forces in Eastern Europe, which is at variance with the adapted Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.” [26]

Two months afterward Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would add, “Russia finds it hard to understand some decisions of NATO like, for example, the deployment of US military facilities in Bulgaria and Romania.” [27]

Lastly, the then chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, Yuri Baluyevsky, voiced concern that “Plans are…afoot to set up new US military bases in Bulgaria and Romania, and unlike Russia, no NATO country has so far raised a finger to ratify the modified CFE treaty.” [28]

The references to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) pertain to a 1989 pact signed between NATO and the former Warsaw Pact limiting the deployment of conventional weapons and equipment. No member of NATO has ratified the treaty.

The above apprehensions could not have been assuaged by comments that year from Solomon Passy, former Bulgarian foreign minister, advocating that American infantry, air and naval forces be followed by missile deployments.

“Following the NATO treaty and the agreement for joint military bases in Bulgaria I think this will be the next strategic step that would enhance the security of the country, the region and the whole of Europe….This shield should be [placed] above all member states of NATO and the EU.” [29]

Nor could Russian fears be alleviated by the announcement the same month that “NATO defence ministers agreed at their Friday meeting in Brussels to initiate procedures for adding a short-range missile defence system in Eastern Europe to the on the US proposes that would also include Bulgaria.” [30]

Slightly over a year after the U.S.-Bulgarian bases accord had been inked it was announced that U.S. troops were heading there and to Romania and “The bases are part of an ambitious plan to shift EUCOM’s [the Pentagon’s European Command’s] fighting brigades from western Europe – mostly Germany – to forward bases closer to the Caucasus, the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa, for a quicker strike capability.” [31]

The same report added:

“‘When this rebasing process is complete, two-thirds of USAREUR’s [United States Army Europe and Seventh Army’s] maneuver forces will be positioned in southern and eastern Europe,’ [EUCOM and NATO’s top commander John] Craddock told the U.S. Senate in written testimony.

“USEUCOM has requested $73.6 million to build out Mikhail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, and to establish a forward operating station in Bulgaria.” [32]

The Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base received the first U.S. troops deployed to Romania in 2007 and has hosted the U.S. European Command’s newly formed Joint Task Force East, formerly the Eastern Europe Task Force.

The title of that unit alone reveals volumes.

As soon as the Bulgarian and Romanian “full spectrum” air, land and sea bases were acquired, the Pentagon moved to expand and integrate them with its other Black Sea military partners, Georgia and Ukraine.

Referring specifically to the Romanian bases, it was reported that “It is also possible that troops from others nations would go to the sites to train, and that U.S. forces based there would, as part of their six-month tour, travel to nearby nations such as Georgia and Ukraine for shorter training missions.” [33]

In May of 2007 the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Gen. Tom Hobbins, “visited with defense and air force leaders in Bulgaria and Georgia May 14-16 to discuss air force capabilities, modernization and future goals.” [34]

The same commander the following month, described as looking “eastward to the Black Sea and southward into Africa,” said: “Both Bulgaria and Romania have over a dozen projects where runways are being enhanced, facilities [and] buildings are being built. So we’re actually taking advantage of the fact that there’s a lot of NATO money being spent….” [35]

To make maximal use of the runways Hobbins mentioned, in February of 2007 Reuters reported that the U.S. was selling Romania 48 new fighter jets and recalled that “The Romanian facilities and bases in Bulgaria will be the first U.S. military installations in the former Soviet bloc.” [36]

In August Washington launched war games in Romania to inaugurate its new forward sites and break in its new Joint Task Force East, a process accompanied by no little fanfare:

“About 1,000 mostly Europe-based military personnel and civilians will have a ceremony today to commence the United States’ first deployment to Joint Task Force East.” [37]

The significance of the exercise, named Proof of Principle, was highlighted as being a watershed, that “The U.S. military’s new era in Eastern Europe has begun.”

The same news source elaborated:

“American and Romanian military forces marked the start of a historic, two-month exercise on Friday that will serve as a trial run for thousands of U.S. troops expected to rotate in and out of Romania and Bulgaria for years to come.” [38]

Two months afterward the U.S. held the Rodopi Javelin 2007 air warfare exercise in Bulgaria at the Graf Ignatevio air base where US F-16s were able to practice against Russian-made Bulgarian MiG-29s for future purposes.

Earlier in the year a U.S. destroyer, the San Jacinto, docked in the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna.

In April of last year the U.S. reprised the earlier joint air exercise, also at the Graf Ignatevio air base. Similar aerial combat drills have been conducted in Romania and in both countries American warplanes are provided the opportunity of testing their abilities against Russian-made aircraft.

A month afterward the U.S. embassy announced “a deal to re-fit a Bulgarian military base, one of four due to be used…in autumn 2008.

“The Novo Selo camp in eastern Bulgaria will undergo a $6.5 million refurbishment by the German-based company Field Camp Services (FCS).

“The Pentagon has also set aside some $60 million for the construction of a permanent base at Novo Selo.” [39]

In June a Bulgarian news source, in an article titled “US Army Town to be Built near Novo Selo,” wrote:

“Five hundred soldiers and officers will settle in Bulgaria permanently, the other 2,500 will live in the bases of Bezmer, Novo Selo, Graf Ignatievo and Aitos on a rotation principle.

“It means that up to 5,000 troops may be using the bases when need arises….The first US servicemen will arrive in Bulgaria this August.

“Over 1,200 soldiers will take part in a three-month exercise called ‘The Bulgarian Panther.'” [40]

The following day another Bulgarian report appeared on the expansion of U.S. military sites in the nation:

“{T]he US military base to be built near Novo Selo…is expected to be of the size of an average Bulgarian town….500 US rangers and their entire families would arrive at the base then to live permanently there while deployed to Bulgaria.

“Another 2,500 US soldiers would use on rotation bases the military facilities in Bezmer, Graf Ignatievo and Aitos….[T]he military airport in Bezmer…is slated to become one of the 6 strategic military airport bases outside the US….” [41]

Events proceeded similarly in Romania.

“Construction of a permanent U.S. base in Romania to house 1,700 personnel is well under way, with work on a similar facility for up to 2,500 personnel due to start in Bulgaria this winter, according to a U.S. official.” [42]

In August of 2008 the Deputy of the Office for Defense Cooperation with the American embassy in the Bulgarian capital, Jake Daystar, held an interview with a Bulgarian news agency in which he said of one of the new U.S. bases in the nation, “The main purpose of the base is to improve abilities through training – both of NATO troops and divisions of the US Army….The imperatives are hidden in the location of the state” as “with its geographic location Bulgaria has always been a strategically important country, as it stands on the crossroad between Asia and Europe.” [43]

By September of last year Russian concerns over the escalating U.S. military buildup in the Black Sea had not abated and in citing the Pentagon’s new bases in Bulgaria and Romania as well as its missile shield plans and ongoing NATO expansion to its borders, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “Parity as the basis of the strategic balance in the world has been violated.” [44]

Nothing loath, within days of Lavrov’s dire warning it was reported that “U.S. warships will call at the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Burgas, and drills involving the U.S. and Bulgarian air forces are also scheduled for next month….” [45]

While that dispatch was being filed U.S. and Bulgarian troops were engaged in a joint military drill at the Novo Selo Training Area and “Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov and Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe Gen. Carter Ham…watched the drill….”

The news story added, “More than 62 million dollars will be spent on the training area’s permanent facilities and equipment in the next two years, and construction is expected to be completed by then [for] conflict zones in the Middle East and beyond.” [46]

Bulgaria and Romania, now full NATO members for almost five years, have deployed military contingents to the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq and have lost troops in the last two nations.

While neither hosted Soviet forces or Warsaw Pact bases during the Cold War, both are on the front line of future wars in the Black Sea region like that of last August between Georgia and Russia, one which might easily have drawn in Ukraine and in alleged defense of Ukraine NATO and the U.S. directly.

Romanian President Traian Basescu was quoted in a feature of last August titled “Romania is responsible for EU, NATO borders protection” as saying that “The Romanian navy is responsible in the name of the EU and allied countries.” [47]

Romania and Bulgaria will both be held to that pledge. That is one of the crucial reasons they were absorbed into the Alliance.

Both will be ordered to intervene in former Yugoslavia – Kosovo and Bosnia – if their masters in Washington and Brussels will it.

They are both involved in the transit of troops and materiel for the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq.

For two years now it has been repeatedly mentioned that Bulgarian, now joint Bulgarian-U.S., air bases may be used for attacks against Iran, most recently by Russian envoy Dmitry Rogozin last September.

The U.S. and allied NATO military expansion into the Black Sea is aimed at all four compass points.

A proponent of this dangerous strategy, Vakhtang Maisaia, Chairman of the Foreign Policy Association of Georgia, offered this terse yet comprehensive summary of what is involved in the Georgian Times of April 2, 2008:

“The Black Sea is a vital geo-strategic area for the Alliance in conjunction with the Alliance’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan, logistic operations in Darfur, the NATO training mission in Iraq, and peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.

“Currently, some clear signs of the new interest of NATO in the Black Sea region comprised of the South Caucasus and the South-East Europe sub-regions and Black Sea area itself, can be seen by looking at the geo-economics (including the Caspian energy reserves)….” [48]

“[W]ith the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria into the Alliance, the Black Sea has been incorporated into NATO’s Article 5 (collective defense) operational zone where activation of the Combined Joint Task Force (a deployable, multinational, multi-service force with a land component and comparable air and naval components) is possible.

The author cited a statement from the 1999 NATO fiftieth anniversary summit in Washington, DC: “In the event of crises which jeopardize Euro-Atlantic stability and could affect the security of Alliance members, the Alliance’s military forces may be called upon to conduct crises response operations.” [49]

1) Nine O’Clock News, May 14, 2008
2) Daily Pioneer, August 16, 2008
3) The Power and Interest News Report, August 29, 2007
4) Voice of Russia, May 28, 2008
5) Voice of Russia, May 22, 2008
6) Moscow Times, October 24, 2003
7) Stratfor, November 10, 2008
8) Interfax-Ukraine, January 31, 2009
9) Standart News, June 10, 2007
10) Standart News, June 6, 2007
11) Sofia Echo, November 17, 2006
12) People’s Daily, December 5, 2006
13) Stars and Stripes, May 4, 2007
14) Stars and Stripes, July 22, 2006
15) Stars and Stripes, July 5, 2006
16) Stars and Stripes, July 24, 2006
17) Sofia News Agency, September 21, 2006
18) Stars and Stripes, July 13, 2006
19) Sofia Echo, January 3, 2008
20) Standart News, December 2, 2007
21) Sofia News Agency, October 6, 2007
22) Standart News, September 3, 2007
23) New Europe [Belgium], Week of June 2, 2007
24) Standart News, June 6, 2007
25) Standart News, June 13, 2007
26) Interfax-Military, September 19, 2007
27) Standart News, December 7, 2007
28) Voice of Russia, December 17, 2007
29) Focus News Agency, June 10, 2007
30) Sofia News Agency, June 15, 2007
31) United Press International, May 18, 2007
32) Ibid
33) Stars and Stripes, July 8, 2007
34) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, May 18, 2007
35) Air Force Magazine, June 2007
36) Reuters, February 22, 2007
37) Makfax, August 17, 2007
38) Stars and Stripes, August 18, 2007
39) Agence France-Presse, May 14, 2008
40) Standart News, June 23, 2008
41) Sofia News Agency, June 24, 2008
42) Stars and Stripes, July 27, 2008
43) Focus News Agency, August 14, 2008
44) Itar-Tass, September 29, 2008
45) Sofia News Agency, October 15, 2008
46) Ibid
47) Focus News Agency, August 15, 2008
48) Georgian Times, April 2, 2008
49) 1999 NATO Washington Summit

Balkans: Staging Ground For NATO’s Post-Cold War Order

August 26, 2009 Leave a comment

February 9, 2009

Balkans: Staging Ground For NATO’s Post-Cold War Order
Rick Rozoff

The world hasn’t begun to recover from the events of 1991, a true annus terribilis whose watershed nature was insufficiently appreciated at the time and has been practically ignored since.

The year initiated the first attempt in history to enforce worldwide military, political, economic and cultural unipolarity; the advent in earnest of neoliberalism with all the devastating economic and social consequences it has wrought since then; the genesis of U.S.-led and Western-supported air, ground, counterinsurgency and proxy wars against defenseless targets from the Middle East to the Balkans, South Asia to Africa.

The major political events of the year were three:

The Operation Desert Storm war against Iraq and the inauguration of U.S.-engineered gratuitous wars of convenience waged under the auspices of self-designated coalitions of the willing – major NATO powers and whichever client states could be bribed or bullied into providing false plumage for the alias adopted then and ever after, the “international community” – as often as not impersonating the United Nations or even more presumptuously humanity.

The seemingly instantaneous breakup of the Soviet Union into its fifteen constituent federal republics.

The beginning of the fragmentation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with the largely German-instigated secession of, first, Croatia and Slovenia, and then Macedonia.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Europe saw the simultaneous end of the only two multi-ethnic and multi-confessional federated nations in Europe, leaving only Serbia and Russia (meaningfully) now in that category.

With these two concomitant dismemberments, 1991 also issued in the demolition of the edifice of the entire post-World War I and -World War II system of international relations which had often been observed even in the breach, with the main institutional manifestation of the second, the United Nations, undermined and supplanted, and the confirmation and codification of the post-World War II definition of state-to-state principles in Europe, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, torn to shreds.

The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (Helsinki) Final Act of August 1, 1975 states in its section on Inviolability of frontiers that:

“The participating States regard as inviolable all one another’s frontiers as well as the frontiers of all States in Europe and therefore they will refrain now and in the future from assaulting these frontiers.

“Accordingly, they will also refrain from any demand for, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all of the territory of any participating State.”

In its statement on Territorial integrity of States the Final Act adds:

“The participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States.

“Accordingly, they will refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force.”

Strongly implicit in the above principles is the acknowledgment that national borders in Europe as decided upon at the 1945 Yalta and Potsdam conferences and confirmed in the United Nations at its founding in 1945, however imperfect in various respects, were inviolable and all the signatories to the Helsinki Final Act – including the U.S. and all its NATO allies – committed themselves to the irrefragable territorial integrity of all European nations as constituted after the end of the world’s most deadly and devastating war, one caused by the last attempt to redraw borders in Europe and Asia.

There are now nineteen nations in Europe (including the South Caucasus) that could not be found on a map at the time of the Helsinki Final Act: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany (united), Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine, and one aborted pseudo-state, Kosovo.

All but reunified Germany (itself only two years old at the time) didn’t exist until 1991 and many are nations that never were independent countries until that year.

If Operation Desert Storm was the opening act in defining the Post-Cold War new American and NATO order, and the breakup of the Soviet Union allowed for its full implementation and the launching of a new Eurasian Great Game from the Baltic to the Black and the Caspian seas, Yugoslavia and its former republics would be the main laboratory for the post-post-Yalta and post-Helsinki world.

In reference to the Balkans wars of the 1990s, the aftermath of which alone will be dealt with here, suffice it to say that a veritable mountain range of selective hyperbole, inverted logic, puerile bromides, the attribution of collective and exclusive guilt to one party (the Serbs), the “clairvoyant” ascription of evil motives to only one of the belligerents (again the Serbs, at almost all times to almost all Serbs), ad nauseam, the popularized distillation of them has been summed up by most all Western commentators with two cliched chestnuts: Yugoslavia broke up because of a mythic Greater Serbia project and former and late Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic “started and lost four wars.”

Parroting the last two inanities is all that’s required to pass muster as a Balkans expert in most circles in the West and much of the rest of the world.

Starting in the summer of 1991 this writer asserted that the entire compendium of such received prejudices could be refuted, could be demolished, with one word: Macedonia.

The events in Macedonia at that time are a subject fairly begging for book-length examination and analysis, but this synopsis will due for now:

Following the NATO takeover of the Serbian province of Kosovo in June of 1999, with its so-called Kosovo Liberation Army allies in tow, the latter almost immediately metastasized into similar armed formations in South Serbia (Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja) and Macedonia (National Liberation Army) as well as suspected offshoots in Montenegro and northeastern Greece (Epirus).

The National Liberation Army (NLA} of Ali Ahmeti, also a founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), launched murderous attacks inside Macedonia from its bases in NATO-occupied Kosovo, at times marching right past American Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops, even dragging artillery with them as they did so. Macedonia was in the opening stages of a full-fledged civil war instigated from neighboring Kosovo.

While then NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson initially referred to the NLA invaders as “murderous thugs,” NATO, the U.S. and the European Union threatened the Macedonian government into signing the Ohrid Framework Agreement on August 13, which legitimized the NLA, brought it into the national parliament as a political party (under a different name) and even installed Ahmeti as a cabinet minister in the federal government.

The above is detailed for two reasons: There is only a negligible Serbian minority in Macedonia and at the time of the events described above former Yugoslav president Milosevic was languishing in a prison cell in the Hague, where he had been taken after being illegally whisked away from Belgrade in a NATO helicopter.

Remember the Western mantra: Serbian nationalism and Sloboban Milosevic were culpable for all unrest and violence in former Yugoslavia.

Having unleashed the prototype of the now infamous “color revolutions” that have since afflicted Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon and toppled the government of Slobodan Milosevic in the autumn of 2000, the U.S. and NATO now had governments installed in all six former Yugoslav federal republics that would permit what the Rambouillet Appendix B ultimatum to Yugoslavia ten years ago had aimed at, the rejection of which by Belgrade had been used by NATO for its 78-day bombing war against Yugoslavia the same year, particularly this provision:

“NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] including associated airspace and territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet, and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations.”

What has occurred in the interim incontrovertibly reveals what was hidden behind the mask of NATO’s “humanitarian intervention,” replete with cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions, graphite weapons and terror bombing, arming and training of racist pogromists for ethnocide and murder, the demolishing of bridges, factories, broadcasting stations and the Chinese embassy in Belgrade: To turn the Balkans into a permanent military colony for the subjugation of the region and for the expansion of NATO to points east and south, along its new Silk Route to the Chinese border and throughout the so-called Broader Middle East and into Africa.

In the seminal and near-prophetic presentation “Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?” of January of 1996, the late and irreplaceable American scholar Sean Gervasi remarked of NATO’s first military deployment, in Bosnia in the preceding year, that its objectives included a far broader strategy:

“These have to do with an emerging strategy for securing the resources of the Caspian Sea region and for “stabilizing” the countries of Eastern Europe – ultimately for ‘stabilizing’ Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States….Not a few commentators have made the point that Western actions in extending NATO even raise the risks of nuclear conflict….”

The paper is worth reading in its totality at:

A recent news item offers the latest verification of the claim regarding the current escalation of war in South Asia:

“Navy Captain Kevin Aandahl, spokesman for the US Transportation Command [said] one route could go from the Balkans to …south through Central Asia to Afghanistan.” [1]

NATO’s longstanding plans to transform the Balkans into one large military colony for bases locally, troops for wars further afield and a staging ground for military actions to the east and the south will be explored nation by nation and after that in terms of the general strategy at the end of this article.

The consolidation of American and NATO military integration of the Balkans as a whole, the former Yugoslavia in particular, has proceeded unremittingly and inexorably over the past ten years and is most disturbingly exemplified by recent developments in the world’s newest nation, Montenegro, and the West’s new, less than a year old, “NATO pseudo-state,” Kosovo.

Montenegro declared its unilateral abrogation of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro, itself created from the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 2003, on May 21, 2006.

It is the 192nd and latest state to join the United Nations.

Within seven months, perhaps before it even completed putting its national seal on government stationary, it was absorbed into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

Montenegrins themselves were never consulted on the matter: “Polls have suggested that 70% of Montenegrins would vote against joining NATO if given a chance to do so.

“One of the primary reasons for the citizenry’s resistance to the desires of their political leaders is lingering resentment for the NATO’s intervention in the Balkans in 1999.” [2]

Last June NATO’s Norfolk, Virginia-based Allied Command Transformation conducted a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Work Programme (EAPWP) seminar in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, which was described as being “designed for regional Partnership for Peace (PfP) defence and military officials who are responsible for security and defence policy, strategic planning and execution.

“Partners were introduced to transformational principles for maintaining competitive military advantage over potential adversaries in the 21st
Century….” [3]

Less than two weeks later NATO launched an Intensified Dialogue with Montenegro after “Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Dragana Radulovic and Deputy Minister for Defence Mr. Drasko Jovanovic met with NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Security Cooperation and Partnership [and for the Caucasus and Central Asia] Robert F. Simmons Jr….” [4]

Only five months later, such is the accelerated pace of integration, the U.S.’s and NATO’s long-term client in Podgorica, President Milo Djukanovic, announced that he had been assured by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer that “NATO is not tired of enlargement,” and then “handed over Montenegro’s formal application for NATO’s membership action plan [Individual Partnership Action Plan]…seen as the last step before full membership….” [5]

Less than a month afterward – – note the breathtaking telescoping of time and stages – Montenegro joined Bosnia in being pulled into the Adriatic Charter, which is “a cooperation mechanism initiated by the United States in 2003 [which] consists of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia [and] aims to co-ordinate NATO membership preparations.” [6]

Albania and Croatia are slated to be granted full NATO membership at the Alliance’s sixtieth anniversary summit on April 3-4, with Macedonia to follow once the “name dispute” with Greece is settled.

The next, inevitable, step soon followed.

On December 17, 2008 Montenegro’s ambassador to the U.S., Miodrag Vlahovic, signed a NATO Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement, which establishes terms and conditions for the stationing of NATO nations’, including the U.S.’s, military forces in a partner nation.

The very same day the Montenegrin parliament authorized the first, nominal but precedent setting, military deployment to Afghanistan to serve under NATO command.

This is in keeping with the simultaneous withdrawal of troops by fellow Balkans NATO members and partners – Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia – from Iraq in December and the announcement that all four would increase their troop commitments in Afghanistan.

On January 27 of the current year a NATO delegation arrived in the capital of Montenegro “for the evaluation of the IPAP [Individual Partnership Action Plan}” just commenced last November, the demands of which are far-reaching enough to entail “[C]riteria for NATO and EU membership [including] the significant role of the Directorate for Anticorruption Initiative in drafting anticorruption laws [and a] recently initiated process of drafting the Law on integrity, which is completely a new piece of legislation in Montenegro [and projects] planned in the field of local self-government, public administration and the private sector.” [7]

To be NATOized is to be subordinated in every category, even being dictated to in matters of “local self-government.”

Only days ago Frank Boland, head of NATO’s Defense Policy Planning Directorate, told a Balkans daily that “Montenegro could become a NATO member in 2012 given the overall progress the country has made thus far” but that “Montenegro first will have to get rid of its old weapons, which needs to be stored safely and later destroyed. The country also needs to adjust troop training in line with NATO standards.” [8]
Kosovo, which seceded from Serbia on February 18, 2008 after the mediation of Britain, France, Germany and Italy – the very four nations that “mediated” Nazi Germany’s seizure of the Czech Sudetenland 60 years earlier at Munich – is, almost a full year later, only recognized by 54 of the world’s 192 nations.

It is the site of Camps Bondsteel and Camp Monteith, built after Serbian forces were expelled from the province and the largest overseas US military installations constructed since the Vietnam War.

The majority of the countries recognizing the illegal secession are NATO members, candidates and partners with an assortment of “coalition of the willing” entities – so far has the stature and influence of the West waned in the past few years – as Belize, Liechtenstein, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Samoa.

Within five months of the U.S.- and NATO-engineered breaking off of the historical heart of Serbia, Kosovo’s prime minister and former KLA commander Hashim Thaci, who then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright first started grooming as a future head of state in 2000 when she personally squired him around the State Department, United Nations and Democratic Party nominating convention in Los Angeles, delivered himself of the pledge that:

“We will present our goal and vision that Kosovo be part of the Euro-Atlantic family, part of NATO and the European Union as soon as possible.” [9]

Eight days later Thaci was in Washington, his first visit as “head of state,” meeting with Albright’s successor once removed Condoleezza Rice, where he effused that “Kosovo and the people of Kosovo bow before the government and the people of America for their support.” [10]

To be recalled the next time one reads in reference to Kosovo such elevated terms as independence, freedom and self-determination. Thaci’s “capital” of Pristina as of last December now has a George Bush Street as well as a statue erected to Bill Clinton.

The following month Kosovo Defense Minister Fehmi Mujota (readers can add as many inverted commas here and afterward as they choose) affirmed that “Kosovo will build a continuous partnership with NATO, fulfilling its standards and necessary capacities in the defense field” and that the “Kosovo Security Force will be the nucleus of the future Kosovo army matching NATO standards.” [11]

In a remarkable feat of historical and geographic legerdemain, Thaci last month asserted that Kosovo was “never Serbian” and that “We are part of the European family, we will be part of the EU and NATO….” [12]

A demonstration of the diplomacy and statesmanship taught to him by his tutors Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and former United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) chief Bernard Kouchner, now French foreign minister.

Local Serbs, whose ancestors lived in Kosovo for at least 800 years of course have, to the West, the temerity to differ with Thaci’s revisionist history and NATO’s KFOR troops have dealt with them ruthlessly on behalf of Thaci and his fellow KLA veterans.

The commander of French NATO forces in Kosovo, General Michel Yakovleff, early last month threatened besieged Serbs with the warning to “Be aware of the strong determination of KFOR to respond, even brutally if necessary, to all forms of violence.” [13]

That is, to any attempts by ethnic Serbs and other minorities to defend themselves after thousands of Serbs, Roma, Ashkalis, Egyptians, Gorans and Turks have been murdered and “disappeared” since June of 1999 and as many as 4-500,000 have been terrorized into fleeing the province.

A week earlier a Kosovo separatist authority announced that the former KLA and current Kosovo Protection Corps would be transformed into a Kosovo Security Force – the embryo of a national armed forces – and that a “nine-week training course would be run by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Kosovo Force, or KFOR, an international peacekeeping mission led by NATO.” [14]

Within days NATO announced it was in fact forming a new Kosovo army.

In a dispatch titled “NATO says new Kosovo force to be launched on Jan 21,” it was announced that “[The Kosovo Security Force] will replace the KPC [Kosovo Protection Corps], a 3,500-strong…force backed up by some 2,000 reservists that was mostly composed of former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas who fought against Serbian rule” and that “Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu has named KPC [and before that KLA] commander Sylejman Selimi to head the new force.” [15]

The Kosovo Security Force’s uniforms will be supplied by the Pentagon [16] and its troops “will be trained by British Army officers, with their uniforms provided by the U.S., and their vehicles by Germany.” [17]

And if any doubts could remain regarding the organic and inextricable links between NATO and the KLA (in whichever avatar), a former KLA commander has eliminated them.

“The Kosovo Security Force is striving to become part of NATO…said Kosovo Security Force commander Sylejman Selimi [who added] ‘NATO has been showing interest in assisting the establishment of the Kosovo Security Force and I believe that the cooperation will go on. We are happy to acquire NATO’s experience in training, equipment and infrastructure'” [18]

NATO returned the favor the next day by formally announcing on its website that “KFOR representatives will present the concept of the recruitment campaign for the new Kosovo Security Force to the public at the University of Pristina.” [19]

The above immediately drew the well-warranted ire of both Serbia and Russia, with, in addition to current Serbian government officials, former prime minister Vojislav Kostunica complaining that “”NATO is making and arming Kosovo’s army” and that NATO (and its KFOR operation) are “no longer paying any attention to Serbia, and are implementing the Ahtisaari plan openly, building a Kosovo army.”

Kostunica in the same statement urged a reevaluation of Serbia’s Partnership for Peace status, which had been secured by NATO two years ago, in the (certain) event that the Alliance persists in building its proxy army.

The Russian ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Konuzin was equally vehement in his denunciation, stating “Forming these forces is a remilitarization of Kosovo and, in itself, runs counter to Resolution 1244.” [20]

Lastly on this topic, Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac claimed at the end of last month that the new Kosovo army is also being prepared, in addition to suppressing minority and other loyalist forces in Kosovo, for integration into NATO military operations aboard, presumably to join their Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Romanian and Slovenian Balkans counterparts in Afghanistan and future NATO war zones.

In 2004 arch-war criminal and then head of the Kosovo Protection Corps Agim Ceku offered members of the Corps, referred to by Western officials and journalists as a “civilian emergency services organisation,” to the U.S. for use in the war in Iraq.
Serbia itself is not to get away unmolested and its sons and daughters won’t be spared the fate of their neighbors.

It was dragged into NATO’s Partnership for Peace along with Bosnia and Montenegro in 2006 and last October NATO Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac signed a security agreement that “will facilitate military-to military cooperation between Serbia and the alliance.” [21]

In 2003 the Western press was replete with accounts of 1,000 Serbian troops being sent to Afghanistan to fight under NATO command.

The deployment never materialized, but with Serbia the only former Yugoslav Partnership for Peace member without troops there the prospect still remains.
Bosnia is the first former Yugoslav republic to have suffered the presence of NATO troops.

In the opening days of this year the Bosnian government, which had just recalled its last troops from Iraq, transparently in response to U.S. and NATO demands, revealed that it had authorized the first deployment of troops to Afghanistan to serve with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
Croatia, which has been shepherded toward full NATO membership over the past five years through the U.S.’s Adriatic Charter along with Albania and Macedonia, will be inducted into the Alliance at its April summit.

Preparatory to its final initiation, Washington signed an “Additional SOFA” (Status of Forces Agreement) with the nation last summer described at the time as “an international agreement between Croatia and the US determining issues regarding US forces’ presence in Croatia within the framework of cooperation connected with the NATO and PfP.” [22]

In the spring of last year Croatia hosted an international NATO exercise called MEDCEUR 08, which in addition to the U.S., its sponsor, included “12 members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program – Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine,” in an illustration of how NATO is jointly integrating Balkans and former Soviet states into its global army. [23]

Shortly thereafter Croatia was also the site for Adriatic Shield 08, an international “exercise…being held under the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that was launched by the United States in 2003.

“The three-day exercise…is co-organized by Poland and the United States, with Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia also taking part.” [24]
Albania, another Adriatic Charter graduate, for years hosted NATO forces in Durres.

Last November its Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha met with NATO chief Scheffer and pledged assistance in the creation of Kosovo’s new army.

The nation has troops stationed in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Chad. In April it will be brought into NATO as a full member.
In November of 2008 Macedonia held the largest military exercise in its history, Macedonian Flash – 04, “an air-land exercise aimed at evaluating the preparedness of ARM [Army of the Republic of Macedonia] troops for deployment in NATO-led missions,” for which a “NATO team [was] tasked to observe and evaluate the units’ operational capabilities, their inter-operability and application of the NATO standards in conducting of the training exercises” [25], indeed “watched by 70 NATO representatives from 26 Alliance” member states. [26]

A month later a high-ranking delegation of the NATO Military Committee, led by the committee chairman Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, arrived in Macedonia to discuss “the current and future participation of Macedonian troops in missions abroad.” [27]

Early last month Macedonia deployed another contingent of troops to Afghanistan to serve with a NATO mechanized infantry unit.

A few days ago a delegation of the French armed forces visited the country to evaluate the “participation of its troops in missions abroad.” [28]
Slovenia, one of the first two Yugoslav federal republics to secede from the nation, is the first and to date only one to be fully integrated into NATO, being absorbed after the Istanbul summit in 2004.

Before leaving office last month US President George Bush included Slovenia and the other six newest NATO members in the classified nuclear information agreement ATOMAL.

Last November its troops were among those participating in a joint NATO-Afghan army Joint Multinational Training Command exercise in Germany.

A month earlier a NATO flotilla of four warships and 800 sailors docked in the Slovenian port of Koper.

Days ago its government announced a modest increase in troops being deployed to Afghanistan in addition to sending security personnel to Gaza.

NATO has plans to open a center for training mountain troops in Slovenia, if it hasn’t done so already.
Bulgaria and Romania became full NATO members after the Istanbul summit also.

The next year the U.S. commenced plans to take over three bases in Bulgaria and four in Romania as “forward operating sites: and “pre-positioning” staging grounds for operations to the east.

The Pentagon is to station several thousand troops at these full spectrum – infantry, air force, naval – locations.
In October of 2008 U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at a meeting of the Southeast European Defense Ministerial (SEDM} in Macedonia “urged Eastern European leaders to shift their military efforts from Iraq to Afghanistan, where their forces are more urgently needed.” [29]

At the time, of the ten non-American members of the SEDM nine – Italy, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia – had a combined level of 5,100 troops in Afghanistan. The last, Bosnia, also has now pledged troops in responses to Gates’ orders.

A concise summary of the SEDM is as follows:

“The SEDM currently includes Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Romania, the United States, Slovenia, Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and such observer countries as Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro.

“The Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial was set up in 1996….as a bridge with Euro-Atlantic organizations, particularly NATO.” [30]

Before his appearance at the SEDM ministerial Gates was in Kosovo meeting with leaders of the separatist regime there and “went from Kosovo to Macedonia, where he participated in a southeastern Europe defense ministers conference. While there, he met with his Ukraine counterpart and expressed America’s support for NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine. He also spoke to the defense ministers of Montenegro and Macedonia about recognizing Kosovo. Both nations did so Oct. 9.” [31]

That is, the U.S. Pentagon chief went to Kosovo to meet with American troops stationed there and with Kosovo officials, surely Hashim Thaci among others, then left for Macedonia where he ordered the host government and that of Montenegro to recognize Kosovo’s independence, which both did the following day.

Also in October President Bush, while signing papers formalizing Washington’s support for Albania’s and Croatia’s NATO admission, “reiterated U.S. support for prospective NATO members Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina,” and added, “The door to NATO membership also remains open to the people of Serbia should they choose that path.” [32]

A sentiment seconded by former Bulgarian foreign minister and current reputed candidate for NATO’s top post Solomon Passy, who said at practically the same moment “I hope this won’t stop until the other countries from the West Balkans (Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Kosovo) become NATO member states” and said that “if this happens, one third of NATO member states will be from the Balkans….” [33]
At the beginning of 1991 Yugoslavia was a united country, a member and founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, with no foreign bases on its soil and no troops stationed abroad.

In the intervening eighteen years it has been torn to pieces and its fragments turned into little better than NATO military occupation zones and recruiting grounds for foreign wars.

The prototype for what awaits much of the world if the developments of 1991 aren’t soon halted and reversed.
1) Agence France-Presse, February 6, 2009
2) Montenegro Times, April 4, 2008
3) NATO, Allied Command Transformation, June 12, 2008
4) NATO, June 25, 2008
5) Associated Press, November 5, 2008
6) Makfax, December 4, 2008
7) Government of Montenegro, January 27, 2009
8) Makfax, February 2, 2009
9) Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, July 9, 2008
10) Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, July 18, 2008
11) New Kosova Report [Sweden], August 19, 2008
12) Tanjug News Agency, January 24, 2009
13) Deutsche Welle, January 9, 2009
14) Associated Press, February 2, 2009
15) Reuters, January 14, 2009
16) B92 [Serbia], January 17, 2009)
17) Beta News Agency, January 20, 2009
18) Focus News Agency [Bulgaria], January 23, 2009
19) NATO, January 24, 2009
20) FoNet/Danas [Serbia], January 27, 2009
21) New Europe, October 6, 2008
22) Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European  
    Integration, July 3, 2008
23) Agence France-Presse, May 2, 2008
24) Agence France-Presse, May 12, 2008
25) Makfax, November 2, 2008
26) Makfax, November 3, 2008
27) Makfax, December 8, 2008
28) Focus News Agency, February 4, 2009
29) Associated Press, October 9, 2008
30) National Radio Company of Ukraine, October 9, 2008
31) United States European Command, October 14, 2008
32) Agence France-Presse, October 24, 2008
33) Focus News Agency, October 23, 2008

NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul

August 26, 2009 1 comment

February 6, 2009

NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul
Rick Rozoff

[NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in the Kingdom of Bahrain for the NATO-Bahrain Relations and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative conference in 2008]

The NATO summit held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on June 28-29, 2004 was nothing less than epochal in terms of its geopolitical repercussions, where several historical thresholds were crossed and post-World War II international taboos violated.

Some of the decisions reached at the summit were commented upon in the world press at the time as the precedents they were, but the implementation of the same has in the interim come to be accepted as not only an accomplished fact but as within the natural and inevitable nature of things.

The multifaceted expansion plans formalized by NATO at the summit will be dealt with separately below and major emphasis will be directed to that least examined aspect, the eponymous Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

On January 3 of this year Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Admiral Luciano Zappata was obliging enough to issue this statement:

“The vast dimension of the emerging area of responsibility and interest covers traditional NATO borders, but also ranges from the Strait of Bering to Norway and Estonia; from the Bosphorus-Dardanelles, the Gibraltar Strait and the Mediterranean Sea to the High North; and from the Suez Canal to the Red Sea, Horn of Africa, the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf – and possibly beyond.” [1]

The Persian Gulf and beyond will be the main focus of this article.

But to provide historical context, the last four NATO summits have been held in Eastern Europe: the Czech Republic in 2002, Turkey in 2004, Latvia in 2006 and Romania in 2008.

Three of the four host nations were formerly in Warsaw Pact territory and one, Latvia, was a former Soviet Republic. Latvia and Romania were only inducted into NATO in 2004, at the Istanbul summit, and were the sites of summits themselves only two and fours years later, respectively.

A lot has happened since then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker assured the Soviet Union’s last president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that “there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east.”

What began to happen, four years later to be exact, was that NATO instituted two transitional mechanisms for integrating states traditionally “out of area” (Alliance term) into what were even at that time plans for a global military nexus.

The two programs were the so-called Partnership for Peace (PfP) and Mediterranean Dialogue partnerships, both of which were initiated in 1994.

The first, with Ireland didn’t join until 1999, included every nation in non-post-Soviet continental Europe not already one of NATO sixteen members (here and henceforward by European nations are designated all but minor entities like Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City State) except for what remained of Yugoslavia and two former Yugoslav republics (Bosnia and Croatia, both still riven by post-conflict instability) and Cyprus, and included all fifteen former Soviet republics.

In the first category were Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Macedonia, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland and in the second Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Russia would pull out of the PfP in 1999 in reaction to NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, about which more later, and Ireland would join in the same year.

Malta, which was incorporated into the PfP in 1995 would withdraw the following year – the only nation ever to have pulled out of a NATO structure – but was dragged back in last year.

Also in 1994 NATO launched what it called the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD), a military and political partnership with seven nations on the southern flank of the Mediterranean Sea, on or near its eastern wing and all the way to Africa’s Atlantic coast: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

[Military officials from Jordan and Mauritania at a Mediterranean Dialogue meeting with the NATO Military Committee in Brussels in 2007]

With Bosnia (2006), Croatia (2000) and Montenegro (2006) being pulled into the PfP, 17 of 21 nations with coastlines on the Mediterranean are now full NATO members or members of the bloc’s partnerships.

Starting clockwise from the Strait of Gibraltar they are: Gibraltar/Great Britain (NATO), Spain (NATO), France (NATO), Italy (NATO), Malta (PfP), Slovenia (NATO), Croatia (PfP, soon to be a NATO member), Bosnia and Herzegovina (PfP), Montenegro (PfP), Albania (PfP, also soon to be inducted into NATO), Greece (NATO), Turkey (NATO), Israel (MD), Egypt (MD), Tunisia MD), Algeria (MD) and Morocco (MD).

The only exceptions currently are Cyprus, Lebanon, Libya and Syria. (For the purposes of this study the Palestinian Gaza Strip will be considered separately.)

[Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) visiting Morocco as part of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue]

After Israel’s war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006, German warships were deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean to lead a naval blockade of the nation, leading a Western news source to note, accurately enough but also blandly, that the German deployment represented “this country’s first military engagement in the Middle East since World War II.”

Berlin’s cohorts in this ongoing blockade include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Bulgaria. In other words, a NATO operation in all but name.

And one that is slated to be extended to the Mediterranean coast of Gaza.

In April of last year it was announced that “Libya has agreed to participate in its first NATO naval exercise” and “Libya will send naval vessels to NATO’s Phoenix Express-2008. …” [2]

On January 28 of this year a Cypriot paper wrote that the opposition Democratic Rally (DISY) party had “re-introduced the issue of Cyprus joining the Partnership for Peace, a programme of practical military and security co-operation between NATO and individual countries,” and that “DISY is trying to forge alliances with other parties that support its entry.” [3]

One has to assume that the above initiative was forged in Brussels and Washington and not Nicosia.

Should all the above efforts to pull hitherto unaffiliated nations into NATO’s military nexus succeed, that would leave only Syria unaligned in the entire Mediterranean.

The Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) of imperial Rome at its zenith never dreamed of such comprehensive control. Neither did the Berlin-Rome Axis of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, even with the former’s Vichy France proxy’s control of what are now Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Syria.

At the 1999 50th anniversary summit in Washington, as the bloc was waging its first full-blown war – against Yugoslavia, which then didn’t even border a NATO state much less threaten one – the first post-Cold War NATO expansion was effected.

It was not only the single largest extension of memberships at any one time – three countries were brought into the fold – but all the new inductees were former Warsaw Pact members: The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, with one, Poland, bordering Russia (the Kaliningrad enclave).

Only three years later the Czech capital hosted the next NATO summit and two years after that the Alliance further demonstrated its new drive east by holding a summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

That summit make a complete mockery of James Baker’s earlier-cited pledge and in a number of alarming ways.

First, NATO accepted seven new members, more than half the number of original NATO members at its founding summit in 1949.

Also, it brought into its phalanx six more nations once in the Warsaw Pact (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the first two new members on the Black Sea since Turkey joined in 1952 (Bulgaria, Romania), the first former Yugoslav republic (Slovenia) and, what was unimaginable a few years earlier, three former Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).

The Istanbul summit also signaled an equally dangerous shift in another direction: The south.

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) was created to elevate the Mediterranean Dialogue to full partnership status and to initiate a military arrangement with the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – in the Persian Gulf.

On the opening day of the summit the NATO website published a description of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative which is at this link:

It contains plans to promote “military-to-military cooperation to contribute to interoperability through participation in selected military exercises and related education and training activities that could improve the ability of participating countries’ forces to operate with those of the Alliance in contributing to NATO-led operations” and to “invite interested countries to observe and/or participate in selected NATO/PfP exercise activities” such as “to join Operation Active Endeavour (OAE)….”

Operation Active Endeavour is the all-encompassing naval surveillance and interdiction deployment that was started in October 4, 2001 under NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense clause and is slated to end…never.

[NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor]

Also, the ICI intends to not only upgrade Mediterranean Dialogue but eventually also Persian Gulf allies to the level of the Partnership for Peace apprenticeship and gateway to complete NATO integration; or, as the Alliance document states, to provide the thirteen new partners “access to appropriate PfP programmes and training centres.”

The last-named is already being implemented with the annual Cooperative Longbow / Cooperative Lancer multinational military exercises in the South Caucasus – last year in Armenia (which included Istanbul Cooperation Initiative forces), this year in Georgia.

Last year in the third South Caucasus nation, Azerbaijan, the annual NATO Week activities included the participation of “Representatives from about 100 member countries of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative” members. [4]

One astute Persian Gulf observer characterized the ICI in these terms:

“Nato, as a…tool in the hands of the US, became the final arbiter in world disputes and effectively sidelined the UN. It took on the mantle of the ‘world cop’…In 2004, after the US and the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations coined the new term ‘Broader Middle East and North Africa’, Nato launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), an ambitious joint-venture endeavour with the GCC countries.”

And added that “A sensitive aspect of the ICI is the clause that it ‘should be complementary to the alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue and would complement Nato’s specific relationship with the partner countries of the Mediterranean Dialogue’… .Oman is apprehensive the ICI stands the risk of being interpreted by Iran as an attempt to rope in Nato to intimidate it.” [5]

In addition to the Alliance filling in another geopolitical gap in its expansion from its Euro-Atlantic metropolis southward and eastward toward what is a self-proclaimed global NATO, and as will be documented later the bloc’s plan to police world energy resources and their transit, the invitation to the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council to be integrated into the regional and worldwide ambitions of NATO was aimed squarely at Iran.

To both solidify and camouflage what has been, particularly since 1990, a permanent and ever-growing and deepening U.S. military presence in the Gulf, already used to wage two wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, since 2004 NATO has been used to ensnare the Persian Gulf sheikdoms and monarchies into a military cordon sanitaire around and a string of basing and transit launching pads for potential attacks against Iran.

Regarding the already extant U.S. buildup in the region, it’s worth recalling that the American Navy’s 5th Fleet is based in Gulf Cooperation Council/Istanbul Cooperation Initiative member state Bahrain. The 5th Fleet takes in the entire area of responsibility of the Pentagon’s Central Command (CENTCOM) including 25 nations in and bordering the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the coastline of East Africa south to Kenya.

The Fleet was decommissioned after World War II and only recommissioned in 1995, in between the two wars against Iraq.

The Pentagon’s Central Command headquarters was shifted to Qatar for the war on Iraq named Operation Iraqi Freedom in and after March of 2003.

100,000 U.S. troops were amassed in Kuwait for the initial attack and the nation remains a key transit station for the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Slightly over a year ago the Congressional Research Service in the U.S. reported that Washington had provided $72 billion dollars worth of arms to the six Gulf Cooperation Council members from 1981 to 2006.

Regarding just U.S. air forces in the region, “About 27,000 Air Force personnel are stationed in the Middle East region….They operate from a network of bases that stretch from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia. The Air Force has at least five air bases inside Iraq, one in Afghanistan, one in Kyrgyzstan, and several others in Qatar, Kuwait, and surrounding countries.” [6]

The Gulf is also an integral part of the U.S.’s plans for a global layered interceptor (Star Wars) missile system and has been for a while.

“The Bush administration announced plans on Wednesday to sell advanced anti-missile systems to the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait with a combined potential value of nearly $10.4 billion.

“The Pentagon told Congress the United Arab Emirates had asked about buying 288 Patriot Advanced Capability PAC-3 missiles and related gear worth up to $9 billion.” [7]

“The UAE (United Arab Emirates] led the region in missile defense deals, receiving approval from the Pentagon to buy Patriot 3 launchers and systems. It also became the first country outside the US to receive approval to purchase the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) designed to shoot down incoming missiles, in a deal valued at $7b.” [8]

In December of 2007 Pentagon chief Robert Gates traveled to Bahrain to issue a call for an “‘air and missile defence umbrella'” over the Gulf region to deter missile attacks by Iran.” [9]

The following month the U.S. Defense Department “proposed sales of Patriot missile defence and early warning systems to the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait worth more than $US10 billion.” [10]

It’s upon the above foundation that NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative is being constructed.

The following excerpts from a speech by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer illumine another aspect of NATO plans in the Gulf:

“[NATO] can help to police the oceans….Just a few days ago NATO defence ministers decided to detach parts of a NATO Maritime Task Force to the Gulf of Aden….Just this week we are holding a major conference in Doha [Qatar] on energy security with our partners from the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Those partners include Qatar, which is the world’s largest producer of liquified natural gas, but also major energy producers in Central Asia such as Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan, not to speak of important African producers such as Nigeria….Energy security is today very much on the agenda when we meet with these countries in our Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, our Mediterranean Dialogue or our Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.. ..” [11]

Again NATO’s plans regarding energy and military expansion are not only integrally, indeed inextricably, linked but are fully reciprocal. Allegedly providing for “energy security” and “protecting shipping lanes” are in fact just as much the public relations rationale for projecting military power into strategic areas as they are concerns and objectives in themselves.

A review of NATO’s relations with the ICI since the 2004 summit will illustrate the bloc’s major strategies in relation to the Persian Gulf, which include:

-Integrating the Gulf Cooperation Council states into NATO’s global army. The progressively larger involvement of GCC military forces in exercises in the South Caucasus alongside those of the Mediterranean Dialogue and Partnership for Peace has been discussed earlier.

The United Arab Emirates has assigned troops to serve under NATO in Afghanistan alongside counterparts from the Partnership for Peace and so-called Contact Countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore.

In increasingly frequent meetings of NATO Chiefs of Defence, the Alliance’s highest military authority, the heads of defense and other representatives from ICI partners are in attendance.

-Employing GCC states to base troops, warplanes, cargo and surveillance for operations both in the area and throughout the so-called Broader Middle East.

-As mentioned above, incorporating the Gulf states into a global missile surveillance and missile shield program

-Bringing the GCC nations not only under the U.S.’s missile and nuclear umbrella, but effectively under NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense provision, the latter entailing the possibility of claiming that one or more GCC members is threatened by a non-member (that is, Iran) and using that as a pretext for “preemptive” attacks.

-Reprising NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor in the Gulf by inaugurating a comprehensive naval interdiction – that is, blockade – in the Strait of Hormuz where an estimated 40-50% of world interstate oil transportation occurs.

The following chronology attests to how far these plans have advanced since 2004.

At a conference entitled International Conference of NATO and Gulf Countries: Facing Common Challenges Through ICI attended by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and delegates from all NATO and GCC states held in Kuwait City in December of 2006, the head of Kuwait’s National Security Agency, Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah, said:

“Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are looking forward to building strategic security cooperation with NATO” and the Alliance’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that “cooperation between NATO and Gulf states had already increased in the fields of political contacts, intelligence sharing and military inter-operability. ” [12]

The latter also revealed that NATO had submitted a list of demands to Kuwait, that was more elaborate than the list previously presented to GCC states, “regarding border security, counter-terrorism, crisis management, as well as military training and development.” [13]

The above-mentioned conference was touted as gathering “together for the first time in the region the NATO secretary general and the North Atlantic Council – which includes top NATO officials, academics and government officials from all six Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) invited countries – to exchange views on the ICI and opportunities for cooperation available to the countries of the broader Middle East region.” [14]

The Alliance’s motives were characterized as NATO seeking “to establish a political and security partnership with important international and regional blocs including the GCC due to the Gulf states’ strategic location, natural resources and their investment and economic role internationally….” [15]

[Signing of an agreement between NATO and the United Arab Emirates in 2009]

During the meeting NATO signed a military intelligence agreement with Kuwait, the first such between the Alliance and a GCC member state.

Several months later NATO commenced negotiating a transit pact with Kuwait, described in the local press as “the first of its kind in the Gulf region, and NATO is working to conclude a similar one with Qatar.” [16]

Representing NATO, its Deputy Secretary General Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo also announced that “the alliance was now developing a ‘training and education initiative’ including a new faculty for the Middle East at NATO Defense College in Rome.” [17]

In the interim between the last two reports, “Experts from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [arrived] in Kuwait…to assess the Gulf Arab nation’s preparedness to deal with a nuclear emergency.” [18]

Two months later someone NATO called its Weapons of Mass Destruction Centre head, Ted Whiteside, asserted “We have to organise our efforts and move towards global integration to improve our performance.” [19]

In September of 2007 the aforementioned NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, while in Bahrain, stated that nation would “host a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the most important decision-making body in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)….” [20]

By 2007 four of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members had formally joined the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – and Oman and Saudi Arabia had not.

Oman’s possible objections have been alluded to earlier, to wit that the ICI could embroil GCC states in a regional war should the U.S. and its NATO allies stage a provocation against Iran.

A not unlikely scenario at a time when then U.S. Central Command chief Adm. William Fallon was in Bahrain, en route to Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, “pressing Arab allies to form a more united front against Iran,” and “seeking to quietly galvanize Gulf leaders while letting others sharply escalate pressure on Tehran” and “express[ing] support for a possible $300 million upgrade for the nation’s [Bahrain’s] F-16 fleet.” [21]

Two weeks later NATO chief Scheffer was in the Israeli capital meeting with the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee where they discussed “developments in the enhanced Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative launched at the 2004 Istanbul Summit.” [22]

Several months earlier “a Centre for Strategic Studies is to be established in one of the GCC countries,” the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee General Raymond Henault announced while in Qatar. [23]

Later in the year, this time in the United Arab Emirates, the same Henault “noted that intensive consultations are going on with Qatar and Bahrain in an effort to pen a security agreement, close on the heels of a similar agreement signed with Kuwait last year.” [24]

Pressure was brought to bear on seemingly refractory Saudi Arabia early in the year.

In January “NATO appealed to Saudi Arabia…to consider entering a cooperation agreement with the Western alliance” and its Deputy Secretary-General Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo effused “I do want to stress here today that NATO would very much value the participation of Saudi Arabia.” [25]

The following day a joint NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council Security Cooperation Forum opened in Riyadh which focused on “how to strengthen security cooperation within the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.” [26]

By early 2008 NATO had succeeded in recruiting the first troops from the GCC, Emirati ones, for the war in Afghanistan. To date they are the only contingent from an Arab country serving under the Alliance in the Afghan War.

And no later than January NATO had appointed a head of a bureau for Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and Contact Countries, one Dr. Alberto Bin, who was in Kuwait to finalize the Alliance’s military transit agreement with his host as part of a delegation that “came to enhance already existing military and diplomatic relations with Kuwait.” [27]

At the same time the new Sarkozy government announced that France was “Setting up a permanent military presence in the Gulf region, where they had no such presence before,” by establishing a base in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

With this unprecedented move, as France is a NATO member and the UAE part of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, one observer opined that “we can assume that a military base in Abu Dhabi would contribute to a better NATO-GCC understanding.

“For France, the military base certainly improves its status within NATO as well as with the US as it would become the only NATO member other than the US that is stationed in the Gulf.” [28]

A couple of days before, NATO’s Secretary General Scheffer signaled his approval of the initiative in advance by visiting the UAE, when it was noted “that his first ever official visit to this region showcases the strengthening pace of cooperation between NATO and the countries of this region.”

On that occasion Scheffer emoted that “Even before the launch of the ICI, the UAE displayed strong cooperation with NATO in the Balkans during the 1990s” and threatened that “The issue of nuclear proliferation has again taken center stage owing to the ambitions of Iran and North Korea….” [29]

And it was added, not that it needed to be, “The United Arab Emirates and Nato mull the establishment of cooperation in line with the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), said the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.” [30]

On January 29 NATO Assistant Secretary Jean-Francois was in Qatar where he told the local press corps:

“Our practical cooperation has intensified as well, especially at the military-to-military level. There has been a growing number of participants from Qatar in NATO courses and seminars. Besides, Qatar was the first ICI country to appoint a Liaison Officer to NATO in Brussels, in order to facilitate our cooperation,” after which the press reported that “A NATO team recently visited Doha to discuss…the possibility of elaborating an Individual Cooperation Programme with the Alliance….” [31]

Not to be left out, the Pentagon announced the following month that it was establishing a major Army command in Kuwait. Its commander described it as “a permanent platform for ‘full spectrum operations in 27 countries around southwest Asia and the Middle East’ and added, “That’s full spectrum operations. We’re able to adapt better…and go from high-intensity to regular warfare….” [32]

Among the command’s objectives was “facilitating Patriot missiles in Qatar and Bahrain to discourage attacks from Iran.” [33]

Five months later Kuwait placed a $156 million-order with the U.S.’s Raytheon to purchase the Patriot air and missile defense system.

The same month, July, the Director of the Security Office of NATO was in Kuwait to complete the joint security accord negotiated in 2006.

“The current security situation in the region and means to promote Kuwait-NATO ties within the Istanbul Initiative for Cooperation were also discussed.” [34]

In April NATO held its second international conference in Bahrain which was the first occasion in which it openly identified Iran as the target of its Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

“A 110-member NATO delegation, including ambassadors from all of Nato’s 26-member countries, will discuss the changing security landscape of the Gulf from a Bahrain and regional perspective, as well as Gulf-Nato relations.” [35]

During the gathering, which included “Ambassadors from all of [NATO’s] 26-member countries…including the head of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Co-operation Initiative Nicola de Santis,” it was announced that “Bahrain is on the verge of signing a security agreement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.” [36]

But the major policy statement would come from Jaap de Hoop Scheffer:

“NATO’s secretary-general told Gulf Arab states on Thursday that Iran’s nuclear ambitions were a major threat to regional stability.

“‘Iran’s pursuit of uranium enrichment capability in violation of its U.N. Security Council obligations is a serious concern not just for Iran’s neighbors but for the entire international community,’ Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a conference to promote ties between NATO and Gulf Arab states.” [37]

The following month, right on cue, the U.S., France, Italy, Australia, Egypt, Jordan and all six Gulf Cooperation Council member states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – conducted a joint air force exercise in Bahrain.

In October NATO would drop the last veil and expose what the ultimate purpose of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was: Preparing for possible military action against Iran.

Jean-Michel Boucheron, then outgoing chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group, said “that while Nato states did not have the same obligation to defend GCC countries as they would other alliance members in the event they were attacked, Nato would ‘not remain indifferent’ if a Gulf country were subject to aggression.

“’Gulf countries are friends of Nato countries and of other western countries, notably France, for example,’ he said, citing Nato’s involvement in the First Gulf War when Iraq invaded Kuwait, as well as French overtures towards establishing a military base in the UAE.

“’An attack against a country of the Gulf would be very, very badly viewed because it would be against the security interests of all.’” [38]

Another account of Boucheron’s comments is even more revelatory of NATO’s role in the region for the past nineteen years:

“For example, when Kuwait was attacked in 1990, we were unanimous in condemning this and taking part in the first war….Kuwait was attacked and therefore we were in agreement with the war.” [39]

At practically the same moment NATO parliamentarians were holding a seminar on Middle East and Global Challenges in the United Arab Emirates, whence the following statement was issued:

“This strategic meeting contributes to creating a common understanding between NATO countries and the GCC region, and will address the global challenges faced by Middle East.” [40]

Within weeks, matching the action to the word, NATO held its first ever operation within the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, a multinational naval exercise, described by a Gulf newspaper:

“German, Turkish and US ships are expected to hold their first joint exercise with the Bahraini Royal Navy today.

“The exercises will be repeated with other Gulf navies following visits to Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. involves the U.S., France, Italy, Australia, Egypt, Jordan and the six Gulf Cooperation Council member states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.” [41]

Note that all six Gulf Cooperation Council member states were brought into the war games.

Two weeks later “Rear Admiral Ignacio Horcada, Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) Support CC-Mar Naples, who is currently in Doha leading a three-vessel fleet of Standing Nato Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), told Gulf Times that they would like to expedite the level of co-operation between Qatar and Nato.”

“‘This is our first practical activity as part of the Istanbul Co-operation Initiative (ICI) in the region’….” [42]

NATO’s penetration of and military buildup in the Persian Gulf continues apace into this New Year.

After a meeting of Kuwaiti Deputy Premier, Foreign Minister and Acting Oil Minister Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah with NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero on January 27, the former said that he had been “briefed on Nato’s role, which was to form a defense mechanism and ‘prepare for the Third World War, which was the ‘mindset’ from which the alliance expanded” and on “Nato’s training of Iraqi security forces, as well as exercises with armed forces in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, noting Nato’s relations with all countries of the region.” [43]

Preparing for the Third World War remains NATO’s mindset and no better proof of it exists than the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.
1) NATO, Allied Command Transformation, February 3, 2009
2) World Tribune, April 4, 2008
3) Cyprus Mail, January 28, 2009
4) Azertag, May 27, 2008
5) Gulf News [United Arab Emirates], October 13, 2008
6) Boston Globe, December 23, 2008
7) Reuters, December 5, 2007
8) Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2008
9) Agence France-Presse, December 8, 2007
10) Khaleej Times [United Arab Emirates], January 27, 2008
11) Quoted in Lloyd’s List [Britain], December 9, 2008
12) Agence France-Presse, December 12, 2006
13) Kuwait News Agency, December 12, 2006
14) Kuwait News Agency, December 4, 2006
15) Ibid
16) Kuwait Times, September 9, 2007
17) Ibid
18) Associated Press, April 3, 2007
19) Gulf Daily News [Bahrain], November 20, 2007
20) Gulf News [United Arab Emirates], September 12, 2007
21) Associated Press, September 18, 2007
22) NATO International, October 4, 2007
23) Gulf Times [Qatar], May 16, 2007
24) Gulf News [United Arab Emirates], November 26, 2007
25) Reuters, January 21, 2007
26) Xinhua News Agency, January 22, 2007
27) Kuwait News Agency, January 17, 2008
28) Gulf News [Saudi Arabia], January 27, 2008
29) Dubai City Guide, January 24, 2008
30) Khaleej Times [United Arab Emirates], January 27, 2008
31) The Peninsula [Qatar], January 29, 2008
32) Stars and Stripes, February 19, 2008
33) Ibid
34) Kuwait News Agency, July 10, 2008
35) Gulf Daily News [Bahrain], April 24, 2008
36) Gulf Daily News, April 24, 2008
37) Reuters, April 24, 2008
38) The National [United Arab Emirates], October 9, 2008
39) Gulf News [United Arab Emirates], October 10, 2008
40) Emirates News Agency, October 6, 2008
41) The National [United Arab Emirates], November 2, 2008
42) Gulf Times [Qatar], November 14, 2008
43) Kuwait News Agency, January 27, 2009

Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans

August 26, 2009 2 comments

January 22, 2009

Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans
Rick Rozoff

Lost amid the national and international fanfare accompanying the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States is attention to the person who is slated to be the next major foreign policy architect and executor, retired U.S. Marine General James Jones.

In nearly identical phraseology that cannot be construed as either fortuitous or without foundation, the Washington Post of November 22, 2008 referred to the then pending selection of Jones as National Security Adviser in these terms:

“Sources familiar with the discussions said Obama is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger.”

And the following day’s Israeli Ha’aretz wrote:

“Jones is expected to play a key role in the Obama administration. According to U.S. press reports, he will be as strong as Henry Kissinger, the all-powerful national security adviser to President Richard Nixon.”

The analogy is with the role of Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser to the first and second Nixon administrations (1969-1977, continuing into the Ford White House) and as both National Security Adviser and Secretary of State during the second term; that is, as a then unprecedentedly influential player in determining U.S. foreign policy.

A similar comparison can be made with the Carter administration’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the true power behind the foreign policy throne from 1977-1981, with Secretaries of State Cyrus Vance and, briefly, Edmund Muskie, largely figureheads in relation to him.

James Jones is now the first career military officer to hold the post as head of the National Security Council since retired general Colin Powell did so in the second Reagan Administration and is the first former NATO Supreme Allied Commander to hold the post.

Jones was appointed to the NATO post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the overlapping, essentially coterminous one of Commander, United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) in the first Bush term and is part of the two-thirds of the Obama administration’s foreign policy triumvirate – National Security Adviser, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense – inherited from the preceding administration. The other is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who like Jones is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a doctorate degree in Sovietology and Russian studies.

As commander of the Pentagon’s European Command (EUCOM) Jones was in charge of the largest military area of responsibility in world history, one that encompassed anywhere from 13-21 million square miles and included 92 of the world’s 192 nations. And as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander he was the chief military commander of an expanding military bloc of twenty six full members, two new candidates and twenty three Partnership for Peace, six Mediterranean Dialogue, six Gulf Cooperation Council and assorted other military partners in South and Far East Asia and the South Pacific, altogether on five continents.

While wearing both the above braided hats, Jones was the major architect of what last October 1st was officially launched as the first new U.S. military command in the last quarter century, Africa Command (AFRICOM), whose chartered area of operations includes fifty-two nations. (All of Africa except for Egypt.)

AFRICOM’s historical precedents were commented upon by a Ghanaian news source almost three years ago:

“Marine General James L. Jones, Head of the US European Command…said the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access…bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African countries.

“The new US strategy [is] based on the conclusions of a May 2001 report of the President’s National Energy Policy Development group chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney and known as the Cheney report.” [1]

And by a Nigerian commentator the following year:

“[In January of 2002 the African Oil Policy Initiative Group] recommended that African oil be treated as a priority for the national security of the US after 9/11, that the US government declares the Gulf of Guinea an ‘area of vital interest’ and that it set up a sub-command structure for US forces in the region. In September 2002, the then U.S. Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, put forward a proposal to establish a NATO Rapid Response Force (NRF) which was approved by the defence ministers of NATO in Brussels in June 2003 and was inaugurated in October 2003.” [2]

In keeping with the above, after his formal selection as nominee for National Security Adviser late last year, Jones revealed that “[A]s commander of NATO, I worried early in the mornings about how to protect energy facilities and supply chain routes as far away as Africa, the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea.” [3]

Or as a U.S. daily newspaper put it later:

“During his 2003-2006 stint as NATO’s supreme commander, Jones stressed his view that energy policy was a top national security matter for the United States and a leading international security priority. For the past year, Jones has been president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. Until his Dec. 1 selection by Obama, he also served as a board member of the Chevron Corp.” [4]

The above reflected designs voiced earlier, as evidenced by:

“NATO’s top commander of operations, U.S. General James Jones, has said he sees a potential role for the alliance in protecting key shipping lanes such as those around the Black Sea and oil supply routes from Africa to Europe.” [5]

And shortly before stepping down as both European Command and NATO commander, Jones, addressing U.S. business leaders, said:

“Officials at U.S. European Command spend between 65 to 70 percent of their time on African issues, Jones said….Establishing such a group [military task force in West Africa] could also send a message to U.S. companies ‘that investing in many parts of Africa is a good idea,’ the general said.” [6]

And, just as candidly, he and his NATO civilian cohort declared:

“NATOs’ [commanders] are ready to use warships to ensure the security of offshore oil and gas transportation routes from Western Africa,  Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s Secretary General,  reportedly said speaking at the session of the foreign committee of PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe].

“On April 30 General James Jones, commander-in-chief of NATO in Europe, reportedly said NATO was going to draw up the plan for ensuring security of oil and gas industry facilities.

“In this respect the block is willing to ensure security in unstable regions where oil and gas are produced and transported.” [7]

Note that while speaking to those he assumes to be interested and complicit parties, Jones is quite explicit in moving his finger across the map of the world and indicating precisely where the Pentagon’s – not the State Department’s, say, or the U.S. Department of Energy’s – priorities lie.

And they are, as mentioned above, immediately in three of the five areas of the world where hitherto unexploited or underexploited massive oil and natural gas deposits lie: Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, the Black and Caspian Seas and the Persian Gulf.

The other two contested zones and already current battlegrounds between the West and Russia and other emerging nations in this regard are the Arctic Circle and the northern part of South America and the Caribbean. Southeast Asia may be soon be another candidate for the role.

The drive into Africa, from the Mediterranean in the north to the South African way station to Antarctica and its offshore environs (the sixth key global energy chess piece) and from the war-torn northeast to the oil-rich Atlantic west, is thus integrally linked to the concomitant U.S. and NATO military expansion into the Black and Caspian Seas and Persian Gulf regions.

Mind, this is not a direct, reductionist ‘war for oil'; it is rather an international strategic bid by a consortium of declining Western powers united under the NATO aegis to seize and dominate world energy resources and transportation lines in order to in turn maintain and expand global economic and political hegemony. (Indeed, the two nations most central to Western plans for trans-Eurasian oil transit plans, Azerbaijan and Georgia, have recorded the largest per capita and percentile increases in military spending in the world over the past five years – a case of oil for war rather than the reverse.)

Jones’ resume as top military commander of both the Pentagon’s European Command and of NATO gave him, and still gives him, a pivotal role in what the State Department of Condoleezza Rice (herself with a doctorate degree in Sovietology and Russian studies) has referred to for years as the “push east and south.”

As the U.S. armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes reported a year and a half ago:

“Five years ago, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent marching orders to Marine Gen. James L. Jones, telling him that the U.S. European Command needed an overhaul to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century. Jones’ plan, started in 2002, called for the moving of thousands of troops from Europe back to the United States, moving troops into Eastern Europe and setting up forward operating sites in Africa.”

What has occurred in the interim regarding the first trajectory, the push to the east, is that the Pentagon and NATO have selected seven military bases in Bulgaria and Romania, after the latter two’s NATO accession in 2004, for land, naval and air ‘lily pads’ on the Black Sea for operations in the Caucasus, Ukraine, Central and South Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. and its Alliance cohorts have similarly turned another Black Sea, and Caucasus, nation – Georgia – into a military and strategic energy corridor heading both east and south.

In fact Georgia is the central link in what Western officials for years have touted as the “project of the century”: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline transporting oil from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea.

Along with its sister projects, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku (“China to London”) railway, the West envisions plans to export oil and natural gas from as far east as Kazakhstan on the Chinese border over, around and under the Caspian Sea to the South Caucasus and from there north to Ukraine and Poland to the Baltic Sea and onto Western Europe, and south along the Mediterranean to Israel to be shipped on tankers through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea and across the Arabian Sea to countries like India and Japan. That is, back to East Asia where much of it originated.

If any more grand (or grandiose) and far-reaching geopolitical design has ever been contemplated, history fails to record it.

Chinese military analyst Lin Zhiyuan summed up the general strategy over two years ago:

“[N]ew military bases, airports and training bases will be built in Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and other nations to ensure ‘gangways’ to some areas in the Middle East, African and Asia in possible military actions in the years ahead.

“More important, the United States will successfully move eastward the gravity and frontline of its Europe defense, go on beefing up its military presence in the Baltic states and the central Asia region, and also raise its capability to contain Russia by stepping into the backyard of the former Soviet Union.

“James L. Jones, commander of the European command of the US army [EUCOM, as well as NATO], acknowledged that the EETAF [Eastern European Task Force] would ‘greatly upgrade’ the capacity of coordinating the forces of the U.S. and its allies, and the capacity of training and operation in Eurasia and the Caucasian region, so that they are able to make faster responses in some conflict areas….” [8]

The author was perhaps referring to an earlier statement by James Jones, one reported on the US State Department’s website on March 10, 2006:

“[Jones] discussed ongoing shifts in troop levels, the creation of rotational force hubs in Bulgaria and Romania, and initiatives in Africa….Those forces remaining in Europe will focus on being able swiftly to deploy to temporary locations in southeast Europe, Eurasia and Africa. Along the Black Sea, recent basing agreements will allow U.S. forces to start establishing an Eastern European Task Force [which will] ‘significantly increases’ the ability of U.S. and partner forces to coordinate and conduct training and missions in Eurasia and the Caucasus….

“Africa’s vast potential makes African stability a near-term global strategic imperative.”

Jones also described the Caspian Guard, a program to improve the capabilities of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in a strategic region that borders northern Iran. “Africa’s vast potential makes African stability a near-term global strategic imperative.”

In the past week the Pentagon’s Central Command chief General David Petraeus visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, the first and third on the Caspian Sea and the two largest producers of oil and natural gas in Central Asia.

This is the further implementation of Jones’ plan which he bluntly articulated well over three years ago:

“NATO’s top military commander is seeking an important new security role for private industry and business leaders as part of a new security strategy that will focus on the economic vulnerabilities of the 26-country alliance. “Two immediate and priority projects for NATO officials to develop with private industry are to secure the pipelines bringing Russian oil and gas to Europe…to secure ports and merchant shipping, the alliance Supreme Commander, Gen. James Jones of the U.S. Marine Corps said Wednesday.

“A further area of NATO interest to secure energy supplies could be the Gulf of Guinea off the West African coast, Jones noted…’a serious security problem.’ Oil companies were already spending more than a billion dollars a year on security in the region, he noted, pointing to the need for NATO and business to confer on the common security concern.” [9]

On the far western end of what British geographer and proto-geostrategist Halford Mackinder called the World Island (Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East) lies the Atlantic Coast of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

It is here that then EUCOM and NATO top military commander Jones arranged the foundation of the future AFRICOM.

Though not without attending to the rest of the continent as well during his dual tenure from 2003-2006.

In April of 2006 he already advocated the following:

“Jones…raised the prospect of NATO taking a role to counter piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, especially when it threatens energy supply routes to Western nations.” [10]

Two and a half years before NATO initiated the Atalanta interdiction operation in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden last autumn (NATO warships even docked at the Kenyan port city of Mombasa), Jones was laying the groundwork for the NATO cum European Union mission of today.

As the Horn of Africa region was the only part of continental Africa not formerly in EUCOM’s area of responsibility (it was in Central Command’s), Jones was clearly speaking of an AFRICOM that wouldn’t appear for another 30 months.

Also, in addition to American bilateral military agreements with Northern African states, Jones was NATO Supreme Commander in 2004 when at the Istanbul summit NATO upgraded the Alliance’s seven Mediterranean Dialogue members – the bulk of which are in North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) – to an enhanced partnership status.

He also created the military wing of the U.S. State Department’s Pan Sahel Initiative. The Pentagon’s website described it in early 2006 as follows:

“The 2002 Pan Sahel Initiative involved training and equipping a least one rapid-reaction company in each of the four Sahel states: Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The current initiative involves those four states and Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia and Nigeria.”

Jones is quoted in the same article as saying that, “U.S. Naval Forces Europe, (the command’s) lead component in this initiative, has developed a robust maritime security strategy and regional 10-year campaign plan for the Gulf of Guinea region.

“Africa’s vast potential makes African stability a near-term global strategic imperative.” [11]

In the following year an Algerian article called “U.S. embassies turned into command posts in North Africa” added this:

“[T]he countries involved in the U.S. embassies command posts are Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Chad and Senegal. A major focus of AFRICOM will be the Gulf of Guinea, with its enormous oil reserves in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola and the Congo Republic….The U.S. is already pouring $500 million into its Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative that embraces Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria in North Africa, and nations boarding the Sahara including Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Senegal.” [12]

And in May of 2005 NATO began its first official operation on the African continent, transporting troops to the Darfur region of Sudan, thereby beginning Western military intrusion into the Central African Republic-Chad-Sudan triangle.

Yet the Gulf of Guinea remained the main focus of attention.

No later than 2003 Western news sources reported on a suspected unprecedented oil bonanza in the former Portuguese possessions of Sao Tome and Principe in the Gulf.

Shortly afterward there was talk of the Pentagon establishing a naval base on Sao Tome.

The State Department estimated at the time that the U.S. was then currently importing 15% of its oil from the Gulf of Guinea and that the figure would rise to 25% in a few years.

Western Africa oil offers two key advantages to the U.S. It’s comparatively high-grade crude and can be transported on tankers directly across the Atlantic Ocean, thereby circumventing straits, canals and other potential choke points and attendant customs duties and taxes by littoral nations.

Throughout his time as EUCOM and NATO top military commander Jones touted what he described as ongoing and permanent U.S. and NATO naval presence in the Gulf.

In June of 2006 NATO held its first large-scale military exercises in Africa, in fact initiating the NATO Rapid Response Force, north of the Gulf in Cape Verde.

Below are accounts of the drills:

“Hundreds of elite North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) troops backed by fighter planes and warships will storm a tiny volcanic island off Africa’s Atlantic coast this week in what the Western alliance hopes will prove a potent demonstration of its ability to project power around the world.”  [13]

“Seven thousand NATO troops conducted war games on the Atlantic Ocean island of Cape Verde on Thursday in the latest sign of the alliance’s growing interest in playing a role in Africa.

“The land, air and sea exercises were NATO’s first major deployment in Africa and designed to show the former Cold War giant can launch far-flung military operations at short notice.

“‘You are seeing the new NATO, the one that has the ability to project stability,’ said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after NATO troops stormed a beach on one of the islands on the archipelago in a mock assault on a fictitious terrorist camp.

“NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Jones, the alliance soldier in charge of NATO operations, said he hoped the two-week Cape Verde exercises would help break down negative images about NATO in Africa and elsewhere.” [14]

Jones may have inveigled Reuters with concerns about NATO’s public image, but its rival agency was more forthcoming:

“NATO is developing a special plan to safeguard oil and gas fields in the region, says its Supreme Allied Commander on Europe, Gen. James Jones.

“He said a training session will be held in the Atlantic oceanic area and the Cabo Verde island in June to outline activities to protect the routes transporting oil to Western Europe….Jones said the alliance is ready to ensure the security of oil-producing and transporting regions.” [15]

That same month Jones was in the northern tip of the Gulf, in Monrovia, the capital of the one nation on the continent that seemed at first willing to host the future AFRICOM’s headquarters after Washington assisted in the toppling of the Charles Taylor government and the installation of former US-based Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to head its successor.

A local paper reported:

“A United States military delegation today met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Executive Mansion office in Monrovia. The delegation was headed by General James Jones of the US Marine Corps who is also the head of the US government European Command.

“Also with General Jones today were seven members of his delegation, who were in full US military uniform. General Jones reaffirmed his government’s support in assisting the Liberian government in the formation of the new Liberian army. He said some members of his command, were due in Liberia soon, to begin the training of the new Liberian army, which is expected to begin in July. [16]

Two months before the US State Department reported on another of Jones’ African plans, the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Initiative, and thereby tied together a few threads in Washington’s African tapestry:

“‘Left unattended, political instability in Africa could require reactive and repeated interventions at enormous costs, as in the case of Liberia,’ Jones said.” [17]

And in the intervening month Jones reminded readers that he still wore two commanders’ caps and that his energy and broader geopolitical strategy encompassed, still, both south and east:

“Our strategic goal is to expand…to Eastern Europe and Africa….The United States is not unchallenged in its quest to gain influence in and access to Africa.” [18]

And so it remains.

The West, the U.S. in the first instance, is waging an unparalleled drive to retain and expand what military, political and economic domination and monopolies it has wrested from the rest of the world over the past five centuries, and control of the globe’s energy resources and their transportation is a vital component of that reckless campaign.

Africa is rapidly shaping up to be a major battleground in that international struggle.

With James Jones as new U.S. National Security chief, complemented by the ‘soft power’ efforts of former State Department Africa hand Dr. Susan Rice as probable ambassador to the United Nations, the continent’s and the world’s guard must not be relaxed.

1) Ghana Web, February 23, 2006
2) Leadership, November 22, 2007
3) Agence France-Presse, November 30, 2008
4) Houston Chronicle, December 25, 2008
5) Reuters, November 27, 2006
6) U.S. Department of Defense, August 18, 2006
7) Trend News Agency, May 3, 2006
8) People’s Daily, December 5, 2006
9) United Press International, October 13, 2005
10) Associated Press, April 24, 2006
11) Defense Link, March 8, 2006
12) Ech Chorouk, October 17, 2007
13) Associated Press, June 21, 2006
14) Reuters, June 22, 2006
15) Associated Press, May 2, 2006
16) African News Dimension, June 2, 2006
17) Washington File, April 7, 2006
18) Stars And Stripes, March 9, 2006

21st Century Star Wars And NATO’s 60th Anniversary

August 26, 2009 Leave a comment

January 15, 2009

21st Century Star Wars And NATO’s 60th Anniversary
By Rick Rozoff

Regular contentions by U.S. civilian and military officials that the installation of projected third position interceptor missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic are aimed at so-called rogue states like Iran and North Korea are a geographical, geometrical and geopolitical absurdity.

In fact such plans are entirely aggressive in nature and present the potentially most dangerous threat the world has known.

Missile deployments in Poland and the linked missile radar site in the Czech Republic are an integral, indeed the central, component of a global (and more than global) U.S.-dominated system to neutralize targeted nations’ deterrence and retaliation capabilities, both before and after the fact, for uses of blackmail and actual implementation.

It’s worthy of note that the two affected countries, Poland and the Czech Republic, are two of the three first nations incorporated into NATO since the end of the Cold War, at the Alliance’s 50th anniversary summit in Washington in 1999 in an event that occurred as NATO was launching its first war (in or out of area), against Yugoslavia.

The third member inducted at the same time was Hungary, where protests have halted the construction of a projected NATO radar station.

In fact the American missile shield outposts in Eastern Europe are an overt effort to implement the Reagan era Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), infamously known as Star Wars.

The X-band radar that is to be installed in the Czech Republic will be shifted from the US Marshall Islands where it is linked with the Reagan Test Site, and the missile center at the Vandenberg Air Force Base from which US (and allied) interceptor tests have been regularly conducted in conjunction with a sea-based X-band radar off the coast of Alaska and more interceptor missiles at Fort Greely in the Alaskan mainland is named the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Site.

The floating X-Band Radar periodically moved off the shores of Alaska for these exercises weighs 2,000 tons and is 30 stories high.

Its permanent base is in Hawaii where a local newspaper wrote, referring to the sea-based Aegis component of the system, in June of 2008:

“The Missile Defense Agency co-manages the Navy’s Aegis program, partners with the Army on its ground-based Patriot missiles and has primary responsibility for other, developing anti-ballistic missile technologies. It’s an evolution of the Strategic Defense Initiative begun by President Reagan and has an $8.7 billion budget this year.”

Similarly, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is based in Huntsville, Alabama, where the Pentagon employed former German missile scientists in the 1950s for its own Cold War programs and where last year the MDA completed its Von Braun III building, a $240-million, 900,000-square-foot facility.

The center is named, of course, after the founder of Nazi Germany’s missile program.

Upon completion of the Von Braun III building in April of last year Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said that naming the complex after Dr. Wernher von Braun was “fitting.”

“His spirit is with us here today,” Shelby said, “and certainly his vision continues because of the work started here.”

Despite the regular disclaimers that the current American global missile shield program is not a so-called Son of Star Wars, an Alabama newspaper reported in 2006 upon the completion of the earlier Von Braun II building in Huntsville that:

“On the back wall of the lobby area are five pages, hand-edited with scribbled notes and revisions, in a simple wooden frame. It is the Star Wars speech given by President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983….”

And as Reuters reported in the same month, “The Bush administration and Republican allies in Congress are again pushing for seed money to explore options for putting a multibillion-dollar layer of ballistic-missile interceptors in space [which was] first floated in the 1980s as part of then-President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.”

Time magazine echoed that observation in November of last year, stating that “President George W. Bush promised to build a ‘Star Wars’ missile shield, and he has kept that promise….”

With the above in mind, the extension of revamped U.S. Stars Wars installations to Eastern Europe, in the case of Poland within immediate striking distance of Russia, takes on ominous dimensions.

As the Russian Novosti agency’s chief military commentator remarked last November:

“[T]he strategic importance of these interceptor missiles would increase were the U.S. to deliver a first nuclear strike against Russia.

“In this scenario, interceptor missiles would have to take on the limited number of missiles surviving the first strike, which would allow the U.S. to hope for success and, for the first time since the 1950s, for a victory in a nuclear war.”

And the official Chinese party newspaper People’s Daily reported in May of 2007:

“[T]he U.S. is seeking to deploy bases within [the territory] of its European allies [and], if it succeeds, in building interceptor bases and radar bases.

“Then, its missile defense system takes the shape with its homeland as its center and East Asia and Europe as the two wings. [T]he existing layout is…targeted directly and entirely at both Russia and China, and this is precisely the reason to arouse the strong opposition of Russia.”

That is, the missiles in Poland have to be seen as part of a first strike strategy in two respects in which if the threat doesn’t work, the actual use remains.

The ground-based missiles themselves can hit Russia’s two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, within minutes.

Whether such missiles contain conventional or nuclear warheads, a fact only the Pentagon would know, is a distinction Russian air defenses and strategic forces wouldn’t have the time or luxury to evaluate.

Even to take the U.S. at its word and to assume that missiles with non-nuclear payloads would be used against ‘rogue states,’ they could produce the following results, in the words of the then Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky and Ukrainian Defence Minister Anatoly Gritsenko, respectively:

“Within a radius of 500 to 600 kilometers, depending on the size of the interceptor’s nuclear charge, an electro-magnetic impulse will be generated and cause a total power blackout, shutting down computers, generating plants, gas works, water-pump stations, radio and television, and dispatcher’s offices in airports and at railroad stations.

“A shock wave will destroy many buildings and structures, while radioactive fallout will contaminate the terrain for years. The Chernobyl disaster would look like a child’s prank.” (December 2005)

“Nobody knows what can be inside these fragments [of intercepted missiles]. If it is not a nuclear bomb or nuclear warhead in a literal sense, it can be a dirty bomb, for example, with radioactive agents that in addition to the effects from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster may pollute our territory much more. It can be also any virus or biological  weapon.” (March 2007)

The first addition to the missiles in Poland, even before their deployment, is the U.S.’s commitment to station a Patriot battery with 96 warheads to Poland, within striking distance of Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave and Belarus now that the Pentagon has developed a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system with a range of 120 kilometers.

And all of the above is only a small portion of the integrated full spectrum global and space system the U.S. and its allies have already successfully tested and are preparing to deploy, which include:

-Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD)
-Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV)
-Ground Based Interceptor (GBI)
-Forward Based X-Band Radars (FBXB)
-Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

These permit the destruction of other nations’ missiles in the launch, boost, midcourse and terminal phases and in theory in the silo.

The global missile system also includes – in addition to ground-based interceptor missiles – air, sea and space components.

The sea-based element is the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, increasingly being deployed on U.S. and allied NATO and what has recently been termed Asian NATO warships. Linked with the Pentagon’s plans for a “1,000-ship navy” this would provide Washington and its military allies the ability to patrol all the world’s waterways and shipping lanes with missile killer capacities.

The spaced-based components include kinetic-energy weapons, space lasers, space-based conventional weapons space-based interceptors, with the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle an intermediate weapon.

Regarding the third leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, not even in theory a defensive one, the B-2 stealth bomber is described by its proponents as being equipped with “sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs” that can “pass through extremely dense anti-aircraft defenses.”

The Pentagon and the B-2’s manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, regularly boast that it can penetrate radar and air defenses and strike “deep in the interior” of a targeted state that possesses “strategic depth.”

That description, given today’s political reality, can only pertain to Russia and China.

As authors Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, referring to the general strategy of delivering crippling first strikes, wrote in their paper “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy” in Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council of Foreign Relations, in its March/April 2006 edition:

“It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike.

“The U.S. Air Force has finished equipping its B-52 bombers with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, which are probably invisible to Russian and Chinese air-defense radar. And the air force has also enhanced the avionics on its B-2 stealth bombers to permit them to fly at extremely low altitudes in order to avoid even the most sophisticated radar.”

On the general strategy of so-called missile defense, the Russian analyst Yury Rubtsov said late last September:

“The pending deployment of interceptor missiles in Poland is a link in the system of the global anti-missile shield sweeping from Greenland to Alaska created by the United States that does not conceal its plans for setting up a fourth and a fifth position area for its anti-missile shield.

“The system that Americans are forming is to include offshore and on-land elements in Alaska, California, Japan, Greenland and a number of European countries. A naval base in the Aleutian Islands has been put back in service to support sea-based radar mounted on a re-built oil platform.

“The radar in turn will be a component of the integrated system of the anti-missile shield alongside the interceptor missiles deployed in Alaska.

“[M]ore than ten countries are involved in the formation of the US anti-missile shield, including Australia, Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic Denmark, France, Japan, India, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Taiwan and Ukraine.”

All of the above are NATO members or partners except for India and Taiwan – it would be too overt a challenge to China to formalize partnerships with them – but the latter two are also being progressively integrated into the U.S./NATO international nexus.

This past September the Pentagon began its first-ever permanent military deployment in Israel, to man an X-Band missile radar site with a range of 1,240 miles; that is, able to operate throughout the Middle East and into Southern Russia.

In addition, outgoing U.S. Missile Defense Agency director Lt Gen Henry Obering has over the past eighteen months either alluded to or been accused of laying plans for deploying Star Wars missile and radar bases in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine.

At the last summit of NATO in Bucharest, Romania in April of last year, all 26 member states endorsed American missile system plans in Poland and the Czech Republic.

That support was reiterated at a NATO defense ministers meeting last November (with the attendance of the military chiefs of over sixty nations, over a third of the countries of the world) and the following month at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, evoking this response from Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov:

“The deployment of a U.S. missile shield in central Europe would disrupt the strategic balance among the world’s nuclear powers.”

With the upcoming NATO sixtieth anniversary summit on April 3-4 of this year, and with the incoming Obama administration naming former Bush administration NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Jones as its National Security Adviser, all indications are that U.S. and allied missile plans for Europe may expand yet further.

While in Prague three weeks ago California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Strategic Forces Subcommittee, was described by the Czech News Agency as having “long been demanding that the system protecting the USA and its allies against possible hostile missiles be fully included in the NATO complex of defence.”

The same agency reported the previous month that “Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek…said the approval of the treaties would crucially influence the defence capability of NATO.”

And Polish Minister of Defense Radoslav Sikorski said that the elements of the air defense shield which will be deployed in Poland will become part of the air defense shield of the entire NATO bloc.

A sentiment shared by NATO Spokesman James Appathurai last April in also calling for the integration and expansion of the U.S. interceptor sites into a broader, continent-wide Alliance system.

Even more ominously, last month current NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Bantz John Craddock affirmed:

“[T]he fact is there is strategic need and advantage for nuclear weapons….The alliance has made the decision to have them. There has been no debate to retrograde them out.”

And in reference to the 400 U.S. B-61 tactical nuclear bombs stored at bases in several NATO countries, including Britain, Germany, Italy and Turkey, a Pentagon report released on December 8, 2008 stated:

“The presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe remains a pillar of NATO unity.”

The combination of American nuclear warheads in Europe and the expansion of the NATO Alliance and U.S. missile interceptor sites to encircle Russia on its eastern, southern and western borders is a far more threatening development than anything that occurred during the Cold War.

Recent surveys show two-thirds of Czech opposed to the U.S. missile radar site, with 71% demanding a referendum on the issue, and 54% of Poles in opposition to having their nation turned into a potential ground zero in a cataclysmic missile war.

Czechs and Poles clearly realize the danger that most of the rest of the world has been oblivious but can no longer remain indifferent to except at its own peril, perhaps at the risk of its very survival.

The half century long stationing of U.S. nuclear warheads throughout Europe and current plans to deploy missiles and missile radar sites on the continent’s eastern perimeter would both be impossible, would be inconceivable, if the nations and peoples of Europe were not enchained by an increasingly ambitious and expansive military bloc that places bases, nuclear arms and missiles on their soil and sends their sons and daughters to kill and die in 21st Century colonial wars of conquest and domination.

As self-styled global NATO prepares its 60th anniversary, first bi-national, summit in France and Germany this April, the abolition of this, history’s first, attempt at an international aggressive military axis must be brought to an end.

Radio Interview: United Nations Subverted With NATO Expansion

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Fight the Empire

KBOO.FM (Portland, OR) August 20, 2009 Interview

28:02 minutes (12.84 MB)

Host Per Fagering talks with Rick Rozoff, peace activist and writer with the Global Research website, about how NATO continues to expand despite hopes of the “peace dividend,” how the United Nations is being subverted in conjunction with NATO expansion, and how wars such as in Afghanistan are carried out under the notion of “protecting global resources.”

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Rick Rozoff interview on Russia Today

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

On March 11, 2009, Rick Rozoff was interviewed on Russia Today.  He discussed the continued US policy of military encirclement of Russia during the new Obama administration.

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