Saturday, March 31, 2007

UKRAINE: THE STATE OF PLAY IN 2004

Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns
2/20/07


President Leonid Kuchma, isolated in November 2003
About a year after the rose Revolution in Georgia, the Otpor-Kmara template was again applied to great effect in the much larger and more vital former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. Here the nonviolent sniper sights were set on the corrupt, repressive, allegedly murderous government of Leonid Kuchma that – coincidentally, of course – was increasingly allied with Moscow. Kuchma was first elected to the Ukrainian Parliament in 1990, staking out a role in the Committee on Defense and State Security. After independence Kuchma was appointed Prime Minister in 1992, but resigned in late 1993 to run for the presidency on a platform of boosting the economy by restoring economic relations with Russia. Kuchma won the race in 1994 and soon signed a ‘Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership’ with Russia, and endorsed a new round of talks with the CIS. But he also arranged a $730 million loan from the Washington-based IMF, signed a special partnership agreement with NATO, and even raised the possibility of membership in the alliance, a pretty radical idea by Ukrainian standards. [1]

As for democratic procedure, as Canadian-Ukrainian journalist Taras Kuzio pointed out “under Kuchma, Ukraine never experienced free elections.” [2] After a scam re-election in 1999, serious problems for Kuchma’s regime began in November 2000. Opposition leader Oleksandr Moroz and others had accused President Kuchma of involvement in the abduction and killing of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, a prominent critic of the regime whose headless corpse was found in the woods after he went missing in September. The November release of incriminating recorded conversations, including an order from Kuchma’s own mouth to have Gongadze kidnapped, launched what came to be known as the “cassette scandal,” or “tapegate.”

Kuchma's former bodyguard was named as the source of the secret recordings, which Kuchma claimed were computer-generated forgeries. But his popularity at home and abroad sank as many others were convinced and as further revelations came from the tapes, if noticed a bit late. In 2002 Washington was alarmed to learn that the tapes also revealed an apparent transfer of a sophisticated Ukrainian defense system to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. [3] As a result, Kuchma was boycotted by the US and other Western governments for a time, and Ukraine turned increasingly to Russia for support, saying the country needed a “multivector” foreign policy that “balanced” Russian and Western interests with, hopefully, Ukraine’s own.

He also started referring to Russian as “an official language,” which was lucky news for Viktor Yanukovych, whom Kuchma appointed as Prime Minister in November 2002. Yanukovych hailed from Donetsk, the Russo-centered eastern capital of industry and was extremely unpopular in Kiev. Yanukovych was a criminal thug in his youth, accused of massive corruption in power, and while fluent in Russian, Yanukovych was considered clumsy with the Ukrainian language. The West’s planners frowned and turned back to their plan books.

Fashionista billionaire and sweetheart of the West Yulia Tymoshenko
In early 2004 Ukraine was set to join Russia’s United Economic Space along with neighboring Belarus. This prospect was blasted by rising Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as “one free-trade deal that won’t free trade.” She warned “the treaty will only entrench post-communism's corrupt and criminal business practices, not increase trade or prosperity […] The proposed 'united economic space' will also have its own norms - the ways of the oligarch, the corrupt bureaucrat, the crony capitalist, and the politically motivated prosecutor.” [9]Ironically, she is generally classed as a crony capitalist (whose cronies were simply not in power at the moment) and among the wealthiest of Ukraine’s oligarchs. While unpopular with many of their citizens, the West, and the West’s political allies in Kiev, Kuchma and Yanukovych remained in power and fully capable of stealing elections. If only there were a way of preventing that…

In the context of a great game with Russia, the emphasis on Ukraine is understandable - it’s the biggest thing one can take from Russia besides Russia itself. It seems a stretch to even attempt such a move, but apparently the successes of Belgrade and Tbilisi had left some people feeling very cocky. One should not be surprised if the western planners would play this touchy game a bit more carefully than they did in Georgia. Indeed, promoter of “democratic transformations” Michael McFaul noted that “in the years leading up to the 2004 votes, American ambassadors in Ukraine insisted that no U.S. government money could be provided to any candidate.” Instead, McFaul explains, the US simply urged the Orange Revolution on from the sidelines as they chose their own leaders and their own direction. Directly U.S. sponsored education seminars for activists have not yet been reported to my knowledge. Richard Miles was not made ambassador there. But while the U.S. government and its linked NGOs emphatically deny that they were involved in any real way, the same thumbprints are all over this case.

Monday, March 19, 2007

MILOSEVIC'S PIPELINE PLANS PREVENTED

Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 4/7/07



Caspian export routes, existing and proposed. General contours of Russian-Iranian-Chinese-dominated systems vs. the American-led model.

One window of opportunity for Caspian Sea oil and gas export was due west across the Caucasus states of Azerbaijan and Georgia, the rocky alley between Russian and Iranian turf. These Caucasian pipelines could then connect via Turkey to the Mediterranean, to pipelines - running north through the Balkans - into Europe and its vast energy markets. Other planned lines could snake beneath the Black Sea to enter Europe at Bulgaria, and flow west through Macedonia (split from Yugoslavia in 1991) and end on the Albanian coast.

Before he was driven from power, Slobodan Milosevic had seen these same pipeline dreams and hoped to squeeze Yugoslavia’s way into the Caspian oil rush. He looked to a north-running route with Caspian oil piped from Greece (after being shipped from Ceyhan) and into Europe proper. In 1997 talks began on the Yugoslav portion, a pipeline running north from Macedonia to Belgrade, pumping 200,000 barrels a day to the refinery at Pancevo. It would pass through Kosovo, and would enable Yugoslavia to become a net exporter, shipping oil and petrochemical derivatives along the Rhein-Main-Danube highway to Europe’s markets. Yeltsin’s Russia was reportedly interested in aiding Milosevic, allowing him to tap into a major Russian pipeline to further boost his export potential.

But then those pesky rebels started rocking the boat in Kosovo, and when the war finally came, among the targets NATO chose for the fiercest bombardment were Serbia’s oil refineries, oil storage sites, petrochemical plants, and the infrastructure of ports and bridges along the Danube River. It was made clear that so long as Milosevic remained in power, such ambitions would remain out of reach. So the noble work of Otpor to bring freedom and decency to Yugoslavia also – as an unintended side effect of course – closed the way to Russian-sponsored pipelines tied in with Milosevic’s closed economy. Any such northbound pipeline that may be built will now have a name like Exxon, BP, or Shell attached.

(for more on Caspian pipelines, read here).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

THE LIMITS OF AIR POWER/THE PARIAH’S CLUB

The Stage is Set for the Bulldozer Revolution
Adam Larson / Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 3/13/07


As pressure grew over the situation in Kosovo, Yeltsin’s Russia pursued diplomacy, trying to make a name in the international community as a peace-maker while protecting the interests of its client state. The US played along with the Rambouillet conference of early 1999, though Milosevic was accused of leveraging such periods of calm to push his campaign deeper into Kosovo. With talks thus deemed counterproductive, Washington led the formation of an offensive coalition to solve the crisis. President Bush, confronted with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, had used the UN Security Council, the mark of the New World Order. But this time the plan was different. In 1995, Clinton pursued NATO as the venue of action instead, circumventing Russian and Chinese involvement in the decisions. [1] When the peace process broke down over Kosovo, it was again decided to pursue the Euro-Atlantic route and NATO again decided on war.

NATO, it seemed, had found its new mission and reaffirmed it on March 24, a bare twelve days after announcing its expanded power with the addition of Poland, Hungary, and the Czezh Republic. The campaign opened with bombs on Serb forces in Kosovo, eventually moving to Serbia itself. Operation Allied Force was waged entirely from the air, though there were threats of ground invasion late in the campaign. Civilian installations such as power plants, petrochemical plants, water processing plants and the state-owned broadcaster were intentionally targeted, and the Chinese Embassy was also hit, allegedly a simple accident.

CNN reported May 18 that “NATO launched its 55th day of air strikes against Yugoslavia on Monday,” with a “decided downturn […] from around 600 sorties daily to just 343. NATO said bad weather forced the cancellation of most flights.” [2] Such a massive bombardment was sure to kill civilians, as was made clear by well-publicized events like the apparently purposeful attack directly on an Albanian refugee convoy that killed 87. [3] Yugoslav reports of total civilian deaths ranged as high as 6,000, while Western estimates range from 500-1500. Even this number was artificially inflated, NATO said, by Milosevic’s use of “human shields” bussed in to potential targets and confined there to die. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon estimated that up to half of all civilians killed in the NATO air campaign may have been deliberately placed around bombing targets. He said such incidents stand as evidence of the “depravity of Milosevic,” thus demonstrating the justness of the war that was having over 600 bombing runs a day pounding those targets anyway. [4]

Under siege, Milosevic hung on stubbornly with solid support from Russia under President Yeltsin. On April 7, Milosevic met with a Russian envoy who stated that Russia condemned NATO's “criminal aggression on Yugoslavia,” insisted it should stop immediately, and passed on the Russian people's “support for and solidarity with the people of Yugoslavia.” [5] The air war evidenced the growing rift between the US and Russia as NATO took up its offensive military role. They had signed a “Founding Act” for cooperation in 1997 – that is between Yugoslav wars. When this failed to have Moscow consulted or even informed before the second campaign, they quit the partnership program and again adopted an adversarial stance with NATO. [6]

On June 10 Milosevic agreed to withdraw from Kosovo and the bombardment ended, though Milosevic’s power survived the conflict. The bombs had failed to force him to surrender, and in many ways nationalism had increased under foreign aggression. And he was reportedly ready for a bold new venture. According to a December 1999 article from the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), the Yugoslav leader entertained dreams of “an axis stretching eastward,” allied with Lybia, Iraq, and North Korea – and possibly China and/or Russia - as a sort of Pariah’s club who felt abused by the West for having chosen a different path. Belgrade state media described this proposal as “a coalition of free states ranged against the New World Order.” [7]

In late 1999, IWPR noted, delegations from the governments of Iraq and North Korea visited Belgrade as China delivered $300 million of ‘humanitarian’ aid. As Serbian Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic pointed out, “Yugoslavia has many friends in the world.” [8] Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Vojislav Seselj, Deputy PM in the Federal Government, jointly emphasized the need for these friends to move closer together in the “struggle against American imperialism and hegemony.” [9] Baghdad and Belgrade were working towards a deal whereby outstanding Yugoslav loans to Saddam’s government could be repaid in oil, as well as early talk on a “medicines for oil” deal. [10] So not only was Milosevic still in power, the butchers of Baghdad and Belgrade were moving closer together, both despite American-led wars and continued sanctions, hoping to scrape together enough of their own resources to trade and create a small outcast economy. The West’s policy of starving nations out by excluding them from the global economy was set to backfire by pushing aside one too many and creating a viable fringe bloc, with the colossal, if faint, possibility of Chinese and Russian inclusion.

Milosevic looked forward to presidential elections in Moscow and Washington to set the tone for his next plans. In Russia, Milosevic was distrustful of “Washington’s man” Yeltsin, reportedly banking on Communist Gennady Zyuganov as next Russian president. IWPR reported that Milosevic felt Zyuganov could forge “a military-political alliance between Russia and China, which would of course include Yugoslavia.” And on the American front he was looking for the Clinton team that had so harassed him to simply go away. IWPR predicted that “a victory by the Republican and isolationist candidate George Bush Jr. in the US would likely lessen Washington's will to get involved overseas.” [11] As 2000 dawned, the US direction was yet to be seen but it was clear Putin was in power in Russia, and while not a communist he was keen on reviving Soviet policies and as time would show he had his own geopolitical ambitions, some indeed involving Milosevic’s hoped for alliance with China (a point to which we’ll return in later chapters). Washington clearly felt that the time to take out Milosevic was short – preferably before the US elections.

As Gene Sharp would later tell an interviewer, “when violence fails, people don't say violence doesn't work. They keep the belief that violence is the most powerful thing they can do even though it has proved to be a disaster.” [12] This was the perfect time and place to prove that attitude wrong. Serbia in 2000 provided the fertile soil of political discontent by the tractor-load. Political analyst Dejan Anastasejevic explained the source of this sullen mood:

“The people turned against [Milosevic] because he lost four wars in a row. He initially had a very large support but once he lost four wars, people started to look at you and thought may be you are not a very competent man. Also living standard in Serbia went sharply down during his rule because of the sanctions by the United Nations. People wanted these sanctions lifted so that they could live like normal people. And only way they saw that could happen was to remove Milosevic from power.” [13]

So even the discontent can be engineered from without as in this case - bombs and sanctions were direct decisions of the nations targeting Milosevic for removal. But either way the idea was planted in peoples’ minds – there is only one way out of this situation and Milosevic is blocking the exit. As Metta Spencer explained in Peace magazine, “Sharp has shown that dictators require the assistance of the people they rule - their skills and knowledge, their material resources, and especially their submission.” Once these were broken in Serbia, Spencer claims with only some hyperbole “Sharp's strategy brought down Milosevic.” [14]

Next: otpor! "Biting the system."

Sources:
[1] Justin Logan and Ted Galen Carpenter. “NATO Insists on Poking Russian Bear.” Cato Institute. January 27 2006. Accessed via MosNews. http://www.mosnews.com/commentary/2006/01/27/russianbear.shtml
[2], [4] “NATO says 'human shields' account for bombing deaths Albanian troops clash with Serbs.” CNN. May 18 1999. http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9905/17/kosovo.03/
[3] “Who NATO Killed.” Edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. Counterpunch. 1999. Accessed at: http://www.counterpunch.org/dead.html
[5] “Yugoslavia's Milosevic meets with Russia's Seleznyov.” April 7 1999. Accessed May 4, 2006 at:
http://www.serbia-info.com/news/1999-04/07/10606.html
[6] De Haas, Marcel. ''N.A.T.O.-Russia Cooperation: Political Problems Versus Military Opportunities.'' Power and Interest News Report. May 29 2006. http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=498&language_id=1
[7], [8], [9], [10], [11] Sunter, Daniel. “Milosevic Dreams Of Military Axis To The East.” Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Dec 17 1999.
http://www.iwpr.net/?p=bcr&s=f&o=245700&apc_state=henibcr1999
[12] Spencer, metta. “Transcript: An Interview with Gene Sharp.” Peace Magazine. July 9, 2003. http://www.why-war.com/news/2003/07/09/aninterv1.html
[13] Htet, U Min. “Serbia: Demise of a Dictator.” BBC News. September 16 2005. http://www.bbc.co.uk/burmese/learning/story/2005/09/050912_transition_prog12.shtml
[14] Spencer, Metta. “Gene Sharp and Serbia: Introduction: Nonviolence versus a Dictatorship.” Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2001, p.14. http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v17n4p14.htm

POLAND AND CHINA, 1989

East-West: The Twin Pillars of Nonviolence
Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 3/13/07


By 1980 the Cold War, a grinding state of indirect conflict between a developed, Capitalist “West,” and a developing, Communist “East,” had been going on for over three decades. The Capitalist nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were arrayed from North America across Western and Southern Europe to hedge in any encroachment of Soviet Communism further west, and bound by their mutual defense clause to consider an attack on one nation an attack on all. Any such attack was predicted to come from NATO’s nemesis, the Communist nations of the Warsaw Pact, a Soviet-led alliance of Eastern European countries with its own mutual defense clause to prevent any capitalist encroachment further east. Both sides were heavily armed with vast nuclear arsenals capable of ending or seriously complicating all life on Earth, both connected to these mutual defense triggers. Since anybody attacking anything in Europe could easily lead to the mutually assured destruction of Soviet-US nuclear war, the two political bulldozers stared each other down, idling in high gear. Arms reduction talks and other d├ętente policies had calmed the situation some, but as 1980 opened on Europe the Iron Curtain still held firm for both sides in a long-term status quo stalemate.

By decade’s end it would be torn down and the Cold War ended. It is indeed ironic that Warsaw Pact, which had been signed in and named for the Polish capital, began to fall apart most dramatically in that same nation. Solidarity, a labor union-turned political player challenged the Communist government starting in 1981 with labor strikes and other such nonviolent means. Throughout the 1980s, Solidarity was suppressed by the hard line Jaruzelsky government, but continued its disciplined nonviolent actions in the underground, pursuing reforms based on Catholic social teaching as opposed to Communist rule.
Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, supported by Washington and Rome, campaigns for President of Poland in May 1989.

The group had as its rallying figure electrician-turned-dissident Lech Walesa and enjoyed robust supported from the CIA, Reagan’s Washington in general, and the Roman Catholic Church (under its first Polish pope, John Paul II). In 1988 they gathered enough steam to launch a final wave of strikes; the economy ground nearly to a halt, and the government was forced to open negotiations. Soon the Solidarity party was allowed to stand candidates in elections, and their leader Walesa was overwhelmingly elected president of Poland at the end of 1989; the Communists were driven out and a new day dawned.
Beyond Poland’s borders, Solidarity’s decade-long example had sparked imitators, whose own struggles crested that same year. Czechoslovakia saw Vaclav Havel's “Velvet revolution,” and Hungary and Bulgaria also saw revolutions in late 1989. Romania’s brutal leader Nikolai Ceausescu was given the Mussolini treatment, executed along with his wife on Christmas Day, their corpses shown on worldwide TV. But of course the most vivid and widely remembered story of the year was the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9 to an exuberantly united Germany (it wasn’t physically torn down for another year). The events of 1989 announced the sudden and final end for the Soviet-led eastern bloc. Spectators in Washington, London, and Brussels watched with a mixture of satisfaction and professed surprise as people power expressed with primarily bloodless uprisings allowed the “democratic West” to finally win the Cold War in Europe as the last decade of the 20th century began.

Further east but earlier that same year, another attempted revolution against Communist rule didn’t go so well. Chinese president Deng Xiaoping’s policies of liberal reform went too far by the standards of many citizens, and not far enough in the eyes of others. This fragmented discontent rose above the surface in Beijing, with protest activities beginning in April. By May the activists started a hunger strike centered on Tiananmen Square, and solidarity strikes spread across the country, threatening the economy. Authorities first tried to quell the protests non-violently, but the decision was finally made to concede nothing to the demonstrators, who were seen as tools of external “bourgeois” powers.

Martial law was declared on May 20, and the government ordered units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to regain control of the city on June 4. Tanks were sent to crush through roadblocks erected by protesters, and PLA troops reportedly fired directly into the crowds without warning. Casualty estimates vary widely; Chinese authorities cite 400-800 killed, others cite deaths in excess of 2,000, besides perhaps tens of thousands injured and/or imprisoned. This was called the “June 4 incident” in China, and the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” in the west, which imposed various sanctions and other punishments over the episode. Nonetheless, the idea of a dictatorial East won the day in China and the “People’s Republic” carried on much as it had.
The lone protester, identity and fate still unknown, who famously but briefly held up a PRC tank column at Tiananmen Square, June 4 1989.

The massacre at the “gate of heavenly peace” revealed starkly the dangers of mass opposition as a tool of pressuring or toppling governments. This gloomier side, along with the more positive examples in Europe, sent a mixed message for nonviolent protesters as the 1990s opened. The Warsaw Pact, with its leadership in Moscow teetering, had been broken and Eastern Europe freed. But the PRC had not been on the brink of collapse and so remained intact in all its repressive efficiency. Many lessons can be drawn from this dichotomy, depending on one’s perspective, but clearly Solidarity and Tiananmen presented the twin pillars of civil insurgency – the peaceful and successful vs. the brutally suppressed. At the risk of over-simplification, the events of 1989 presented an East-West polarity that would leave an impression for decades and would evidence itself as the 21st Century's round of transformations played out.

Next: Iraq and the New World Order at the End of History

Thursday, March 8, 2007

IRAQ AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER AT THE END OF HISTORY

Adam Larson
Caustic logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted March 7 2007
updated and edited a bit, 11/11/09


The USSR’s demise came not a minute too soon for Washington’s grandest ambitions of world power. Near the end of his tenure, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev was setting himself up to assume a major continued role in the world. His domestic legacy of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (economic restructuring) had greatly softened the Soviet image in a world that he noted was growing more interconnected and self-aware. He apparently fancied himself a bit of a latter-day Woodrow Wilson, and publicly laid his utopian plans for an end to the Cold War and its replacement with something called a “new world order,” to be led by the USSR and the US working in harmonious tandem. He first announced this on December 7 1988 at a UN assembly: “further world progress is now possible only through the search for a consensus of all mankind, in movement toward a new world order.” [1]

He wasn’t the first to use the phrase; it’s been a perennial favorite of idealist rhetoric since at least World War I and is even on our US currency. But his specific formulation was unprecedented in that it came from a Soviet leader and that it was taken serious by many worldwide, premised deftly on the concerns of the day. He offered a partial Soviet surrender as it were, an end to economic blocs and creation of one global capitalist economy if with local variations. He foresaw beyond this a gentler world of great power cooperation, wider democracy and social justice, environmental protection, nonviolent conflict resolution and of course nuclear disarmament. Gorbachev’s proposal was seen by many as a rambling pipe dream, but his idealism boosted Soviet influence in Europe, and in 1990 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Of course there were motives other than pure high-minded Pollyannaism at work; with a mismanaged economy in decline and a military drained by the eight-year war in Afghanistan, Gorbachev’s plan seems to have been to replenish Soviet power with his bold injection of intellectual capital. When you’re short on both guns and butter, a good enough idea may help fill the gap. The premier explained that despite the disagreements that had held the past in a chokehold, mutual respect was the to be the new paradigm. “For a new type of progress throughout the world to become a reality, everyone must change,” he stressed in June 1990. “Tolerance is the alpha and omega of a new world order.” [2]

Bush and Gorbachev meet at Malta to discuss the shape of the New World Order, December 2-3, 1989
Washington and the newly elected president Bush were left on the defensive by this visionary approach, accepting the Soviet leader’s basic premise but dithering on committing to it in a definitive way. In their memoir of power A World Transformed, Bush and his national security adviser Brent Scowcroft explained their concern about losing leadership to Gorbachev if they followed his lead, and the counterbalancing fear that the Europeans might stop following Washington if it seemed to drag its feet on the yellow brick road to the future. [3] The Malta Conference of December 2-3 1990 was supposed to re-open the East-West discussion of the shape of the new world, but the results were disappointing, with Bush again criticized for a lack of commitment to Gorbachev’s ambitious divination. Famously weak on “the vision thing,” in retrospect it almost seemed Bush was waiting for something to point him in the right direction to chart his own map towards a new world - one with Washington taking the lead.

As the tougher-minded in Washington saw it, partnership with Moscow was less necessary by the end of 1989; the writing was on the wall and the hawks were preparing for a different new world order - one without the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s soft attitude and the general Soviet weakness freed their hand to pursue hot war over their own interest with less reservation than in the past. The initial test of this freedom of movement was the US conflict with Panama of December 1989, just weeks after Malta. With charges of drug dealing by president Noriega as justification, this easily-won, small-scale neighborhood war began the “reluctant sheriff” phase of America’s self-appointed post-Cold War military role.

But that “reluctant sheriff” called his next high-noon showdown within less than a year. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had just escaped a draining eight-year war with Iran, and in August 1990 responded to a string of apparently American-sponsored provocations by ordering a full invasion and annexation of his tiny, oil-rich neighbor Kuwait. The Americans had first told him they had “no opinion” on such “Arab-Arab disputes” as the border disagreement with Kuwait, but once carried out, this brazen act was taken as the first real challenge to the nascent and ill–defined new world order. [4] At this point Bush finally took the linguistic offensive, tapping into Gorbachev’s vein of optimistic ideals in a speech on September 11 1990:

“Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective - a new world order - can emerge: a new era - freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. […] Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we've known. […] [Gorbachev] and other leaders from Europe, the Gulf, and around the world understand that how we manage this crisis today could shape the future for generations to come.”

Bush stressed in his speech “this is the first assault on the new world that we seek, the first test of our mettle.” America rose to the occasion with its ready and eager military and an increasing momentum of international resolve. Gorbachev was reportedly torn between his desire for purely peaceful ends and the obvious (linguistic) similarity of Washington’s approach to his own vision of cooperation. [5] Working with Secretary of State James Baker, Bush pulled every trick in the book, not least flattery, to swing Soviet opinion behind the war plan in hopes of unanimity in the UN Security Council.

Permanent member China was persuaded to abstain, voting neither way, Yemen and Cuba (then two of the ten rotating members) were the only no votes (repaid with more sanctions) and the USSR followed Washington’s lead, joining 11 other yes votes on Security Council Resolution no. 678 in November 1990. Saddam was thus given a deadline of January 15 to withdraw or face UN forces, and so Bush, Baker, Shevardnadze, et al. had forged the first Security Council-approved military action since the fluke of approval for the Korean conflict at the UN’s dawn in 1950. This sudden usefulness of the UN was new, it was all about world order, and would go down as Bush’s legacy, not Gorbachev’s.

All it took was some serious follow-through, and the forces were already built up in neighboring Saudi Arabia – ostensibly neither to attack Iraq nor to liberate Kuwait, but only to defend the Saudi Kingdom from what the Americans insisted was a realistic threat of an Iraqi invasion. The military machine that assembled itself during late 1990 in sprawling bases in the Saudi desert were primarily American and British, no Soviet troops took part. Bush offered to have Soviet troops in the coalition, as noted by then National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, but Gorbachev apparently declined the honor. [6] It was the largest American military buildup since the Vietnam War, and designed to finally wash that war’s bad taste from America’s maw. By the end of the year, over a half-million soldiers and a mind-boggling arsenal of advanced weaponry was announced as offensive capable and ready to enforce Security Council Resolution 678.

For whatever reason, Saddam failed to withdraw by the deadline. Air strikes began a few days after and through late January and all of February pounded targets across Iraq with a bombardment that rivaled anything since World War II. On February 22, Iraq agreed to a Soviet-sponsored cease-fire agreement calling for a withdrawal in three weeks to be overseen by the Security Council. The US rejected the proposal and kept bombing, two days later launching the final phase with coalition ground forces pushing through Kuwait and into Iraq. Saddam finally surrendered and the US shot up some of the (retreating? withdrawing?) columns. But Bush refused to push on to Baghdad. Saddam was left in power though locked in a “box” of sanctions and weapons inspectors, to be policed by the world community.

Immediately after the war was finished, President Bush lauded the cooperative spirit of world community – the US and USSR were on the same side! He declared in a speech on March 6, 1991:

“The Gulf war put this new world to its first test. And my fellow Americans, we passed that test. […] Even the new world order cannot guarantee an era of perpetual peace. But enduring peace must be our mission. Our success in the Gulf will shape […] the new world order we seek.”

In this process, Gorbachev had followed hopefully, but the war had been an American game and by now so was the Cold War. 1990 saw a weaker Moscow granting more autonomy to the constituent republics, and 1991 was mired in deeper crisis yet with Russia’s role in the USSR itself coming into question. Just six months after the end of the Gulf war, a coup by Communist hardliners had the premier sidelined for three days in August amid a nationwide “emergency.” This spurred strong international condemnation and threats, massive strikes and protests from the Russian public, and deft moves by an emerging new class of West-friendly leaders like Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.

The liberal Gorbachev was thus restored but the final slide had been entered. Half the Republics took the chance provided by the coup’s chaos in Moscow to declare independence, and the USSR’s final dissolution was recognized by all parties in December. As 1992 dawned, the Pro-West Yeltsin was in power in the new Russian Federation, by far the largest of the newly independent constituent republics. Where there had been one massive, monolithic nation there now stood massive Russia (with its south Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad) and fourteen smaller republics.

Some semblance of a regional cooperation framework was maintained with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The creation of the CIS in December 1991 is what officially marked the end of the USSR. It was agreed to by Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to ensure a “civilized divorce” of the republics, yet it continues on to the present time, eventually including all the former SSRs minus the Baltic states: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, who sought to escape Russia’s sphere as totally as possible.

The Cold War was over and the West officially emerged victorious. It was a heady time in Washington and a bit of a dreamland. Influential American thinker Francis Fukuyama even wrote about the “end of history,” first in a 1989 article and later in a 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama explained “a remarkable consensus concerning the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a system of government had emerged throughout the world over the past few years, as it conquered rival ideologies like hereditary monarchy, fascism, and most recently communism.” Fukuyama defines history narrowly as the development of political ideologies, and so the emergent liberal democracy constitutes the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution” and as such marked the termination of the historic process. [7] History is over because we had won, Fukuyama’s case seems to run. We put the period at the end of the sentence because all of history has leading up to the perfection we are. We the liberal Democratic New World Order, we the Last Men of the West.

Next:
Euro-NATO: How the West was Run
Sources:
[1], [2], Wikipedia. “New world order.” last modified 21 July 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_world_order
[3] George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft. A World Transformed, ISBN 0679752595, pp. 42-43.
[4] Clark, Ramsey. The Fire This Time: US War Crimes in the Gulf. New York. Thunder’s Mouth Press. First edition, First Printing. 1992. Page 12-19.
[5] Aldrich-Moodie, Benjamin. “Negotiating Coalition: Winning Soviet Consent to Resolution 678 Against Iraq”
Woodrow Wilson school of Public and International Affairs. WWS Case Study 1/98
http://www.wws.princeton.edu/cases/papers/negotiating.html
[6] see [3], pp. 361-364.
[7] Fukuyama, Francis. “The End of History and the Last Man. (intro) Penguin. 1992.
http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/fukuyama.htm

Friday, March 2, 2007

SOROS MONEY AND THE OPEN SOCIETY

Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Poated 3/2/07


Even more outside the government, billionaire financier George Soros is an indispensable private source of support to utopian ideas like Gene Sharp’s. Born 1930 in Hungary as Giorgy Schwartz, his father changed the family name to avoid revealing their Jewish identity to the Nazi occupiers. The name Soros has a double meaning; Hungarian for “designated successor” and also “will soar” in the short-lived international language Esperanto. The elder Schwartz was fluent in both languages and knew exactly what a Messianic name he had chosen for his son. [1] young George lived through the Nazi takeover but was old enough to leave the country once the Communists took over. He slipped out and moved to London to study economics and quickly went into business, predicting and exploiting currency fluctuations (“the weaknesses of capitalism,” he explains) to his own benefit. [2] In 1956 he moved to New York and in 1973 established Soros Fund Management, which ranked as the world's largest hedge fund by the 1990s. [3] With remarkable investment returns, by 2000 the firm had made him one of the richest men in the world at a personal worth fluctuating around $7 billion.

Soros is not universally admired; he has been called ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ for his bet against the British pound in 1992, Malaysian authorities accuse him of bringing down their currency during Asia's 1997 financial crisis, and French authorities have fined him millions for insider trading. [4] He has also praised Europe’s unified currency, the Euro, and repeatedly banked against the US dollar while predicting the general collapse of the world economy. The Asian financial crisis followed by a similar monetary collapse in Latin American presented a threat of a “disintegration of the world capitalist system,” Soros warned the US Congress in September 1998. [5]

George Soros
George Soros, billionaire speculator and freelance freedom financier
As he made his fortunes on Wall Street and increasingly in the financial centers of Europe, the politics of Eurasia were never far from Soros’ mind. In the 1980s he offered support for the Solidarity labor movement in Poland as well as Czech activists and opposition leader Vaclav Havel. In 1993 Soros established The Open Society Institute (OSI), a grant-making foundation to promote the usual – democracy, human rights, etc., with special emphasis on openness to new ideas and the “free expression of critical thought” as the wellsprings of a democratic “open society.” [6]

Through OSI and other foundations he has either started or joined, Soros has financed efforts towards “open societies” in more than 50 countries around the world, donating in the neighborhood of $450 million each year. [7] Since he began his crusade, Soros has given away more than four billion dollars, which makes him an international philanthropist on the world-shaping scale of Carnegie and Rockefeller, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his pains. [8] From a geopolitical perspective, his works are in line with U.S. policy; Jonathan Mowat writes that Soro’s donations “always dovetail with those of the NED.” [9] In fact he is a member and former Director of the CFR, the authors of the American end of the Anglo-American world strategy. Indeed the fiercest denunciations of Soros’ crusades have been lobbed by nationalists and deposed leaders at the short end of his financial stick.

But Soros has also been targeted by the American right, notably the National Rifle Association, for alleged one-world order tendencies and promoting disarmament of all citizens in a gun-free world, and by DAMADD (Dads And Moms Against Drug Dealers) as a “villainthropist” financier of the global drug trade. [10] He is indeed a supporter of liberal causes, once called “the Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization” in 1996 after dropping money to support two state ballot initiatives legalizing medicinal marijuana. [11] In domestic politics, Soros is generally more keen on Democrats, and had been a regular but modest donor.

But he also has links with certain Republicans, like the Bush family. Soros had been a partner in the Carlyle Group with George Bush sr. and, until late 2001 anyway, members of the bin Laden family. [12] He had also owned nearly a third of Harken Energy in 1986 when the company purchased (bailed out) Spectrum7, a failing Texas oil company that had been run into the ground partly by George W. Bush, then the vice president’s son. The Nation’s Washington correspondent David Corn asked Soros why in 2002. “I didn't know him,” Soros was reported to explain. “He was supposed to bring in the Gulf connection. But it didn't come to anything. We were buying political influence. That was it. He was not much of a businessman.” [13]

Nor would he be much of a President in Soros’ eyes. The billionaire crusader has since turned to purchasing influence not through but against his old business partner, targeting the president for regime change like some third world dictator. “Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God,” Soros once said. “He's leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence.” [14] There was an ominous familiarity to childhood memories; the post-9/11 statements of Bush functionaries like Attorney General Ashcroft “reminded me of Germany, under the Nazis. […] It was the same kind of propaganda about how ‘We are endangered’ and ‘We have to be united.’” [15] As Germany was under Hitler, “America, under Bush, is a danger to the world,” he warned. Soros has called Cheney and the other the neoconservatives surrounding the president “a bunch of extremists guided by a crude form of social Darwinism.” [16]

As the 2004 election approached, he compiled his concerns into a book, The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power. In it, he argued for a collective approach to security and increased foreign aid, an investment in a more peaceful world where Western interests could be achieved without gross violence or destabilizing nationalism. “It would be too immodest for a private person to set himself up against the president,” he said of his book’s argument. “But it is, in fact the Soros Doctrine.” [17]

A central tenet of this was the removal of Bush and his cronies from power. Defeating Bush in 2004 was “a matter of life and death” for Soros and “the central focus of my life.” He built on this theme, delivered lectures to this effect, and as the election and a chance to drive Bush and Cheney from office loomed he set to dishing out money. Soros' generous support for “527” voter-mobilization groups like the anti-Bush “Move On” organization became a focus of criticism; the Republican National Committee lashed back that “George Soros has purchased the Democratic Party.” [18] By November 2003 he had committed $15.5 million to groups dedicated to ousting Bush, much more than he had donated to Democratic elections before. His total by Election Day was reportedly $23.5 million, and he pledged “if necessary, I would give more money.” [19] When asked if he would trade his entire fortune to defeat Bush, he responded “if someone guaranteed it.” [20] But Soros had nothing on Diebold and Jeb’s Florida as far as shaping the election and he knew it - so he still has most of his fortune and lives to fight another day. And again, Europe was never far from his mind – his handiwork plays a crucial role in the events of the following chapters.

Next: Some Notes on Timing And Consent

Sources:
[1] “George Soros.” Wikipedia. Last Updated December 10 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soroshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soros
[2], [3], [4] Boselovic, Len. “Billionaire raps Bush on tour: Hedge-fund chief woos GOP moderates.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. October 6 2004. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04280/391035.stm
[5] Vann, Bill. “Latin America's crisis spells social upheavals.” World Socialist Website. September 18 1998.
http://www.wsws.org/news/1998/sep1998/lat-s18.shtml