Monday, 31 August 2009
What is missing here in Anne Di Lellio's account is not only that the grievances of the Serbs are based on a legitimate criticism towards the hypocrisy of declaring Kosovo an independent state after having supported the KLA in 1999.
It is also that the KLA runs a regime that profits from terrorism, drug trafficking and sex slave networks which reduce women to prostitution, and allows gangsters to swell their bank accounts from money derived from corrupt privatisation.
None of this has benefited the majority of Albanian Kosovars nor the Serbs who have to tolerate a regime that carried out the brutal ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Serbs and Sinti from Kosovo after NATO started bombing in 1999.
The way Kosovo was 'liberated' by arming and aiding the KLA through the CIA and US private army contractors had undermined the possibility for future peace in Kosovo for generations to come. On the riots caused by Kosovan movement Self Determination Di Lellio opines that,
...most Albanians who wholeheartedly condemned Self-determination's actions share the same deep contempt for the international presence in Kosovo. They see it as arbitrary and undemocratic. They have a point.
They certainly do. And so did Neil Clark in January 2008 when he revealed in the Guardian that,
'Anna di Lellio...was a political adviser to the former Kosovan prime minister and one-time Kosovan Liberation Army chief of staff, Agim Çeku'
The very Agim Ceku responsible for ethnic cleansing and setting up the semi-criminal gangster state which now acts as the European entrepot of global criminal activity, importing heroin from Afghanistan and on to the West.
Kosovo is not merely 'restless', an absurd euphemism for a land wracked with corruption, poverty and power outages and with Pristina plagued with incessant gangland killings, car hijackings, kidnappings and assaults.
Self Determination are rioting at the way the West has imposed this sordid elite and the fact that aid goes direct into their pockets or on parasitical NGO consultants and Public Relations spinmeisters. Like Anne De Lellio.
This mix of double standards and arbitrariness dangerously legitimises a way of thinking about the law as a subjective artifice in the hands of the powerful. The fight is against power, and its artifice is the first victim.
It certainly does and those responsible are those who connived to get the KLA narco-state as a means of protecting US corporate interests and to get KLA gangsters to act as lobbyists.
Nepotism has generated incompetence as energy utilities are privatised into the hands of Ceku's clan.
As Walter Mayr revealed in Confusion and Corruption in Kosovo ( 19 April 2009 )
New plant is needed because the existing sections of the power plant, despite €1 billion ($1.6 billion) in investments in the power grid, can't deliver enough energy. Daily power outages last up to eight hours. Many people use diesel generators
Ethem Çeku is CEO of the current electricity monopoly. He's also the cousin of former Prime Minister Agim Çeku and has close ties to UNMIK Director Rücker.
Çeku has also served as chairman of the steering committee in the race for the new €4 billion project. One of his former colleagues is part of the favored consortium, while other companies bidding on the power plant project include German energy giants EnBW and RWE.
Albanians now see that the liberation was really about the USA's global interests. Camp Bondsteel is a monument to that and built essentially to guard over the AMBO Pipeline that goes through Macedonia from Bulgaria to Albania.
Misha Glenny in McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, refers to Kosovo as governed by,
"a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web...Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus'".
Hashim Thaci (prime minister since January 2008) are heavily involved in the trafficking of drugs that come in along the 21st new Silk Road that follows the pipeline route from Kosovo through Turkey to Georgia, Central Asia and Afghanistan.
KLA politicians have absolutely no interest in developing a normal state with a functioning 'civil society' or governance' terms that remain vapid buzzwords used by neoliberal ideologues in innumerable think-tank reports.
So to divert attention from that Di Lellio falls back on the usual propaganda technique of blaming Serbian nationalism for inflaming things. Again Serb resentment is understandable. For De Lillio's language reveals her role as a the hired propagandist she is.
Whilst Kosovan pogroms of Serbs are described as a result of "escalating Albanian frustration with the UN protectorate against the Serb minority", the Serbs are accused of "violent obstruction in the northern region of Kosovo".
The blame for that lies with the fact the "Serbian minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, said in an interview that the protocol ( on police co-operation between Kosovo and Serbia ) is evidence that Kosovo is Serbia"
Yet it is not just Bogdanovic who is repeating this mantra. As Mark Almond has stressed, the US and EU have been “surprised” by the unity shown by Kostunica and the more pro-Western President Boris Tadic and his Democrats (DS) in opposing Kosovo's declaration of independence.
It was predictable that the declaration would encourage further separatist sentiments, ethnic pogroms and another bloodbath despite the absurd US position that Kosovo independence is a never to be repeated and “one-off” case.
For self determination could well be claimed too by Serbs demanding incorporation of the northern ethnic Serb-dominated Kosovo and to demand the remaining half of Kosovo’s 200,000 Serbs who live in small enclaves to have the right to migrate there.
The declaration of independence was a sure sign of what Almond has called the obsession of the former KLA leaders Thaci and Ceku with 'identity politics' and 'the question of status'. As opposed to the more mundane job of using foreign aid to end the appalling poverty.
Naturally, for De Lellio Serb resentment has also nothing to do with the way Serb nationalists at the Hague have been tried and jailed whilst KLA ethnic cleansers are allowed to go free because they are protected by people in high places.
For example, when Haradinaj became Prime Minister in 2004 he was forced to resign his post in March 2005 when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted him for crimes against humanity.
Haradinaj was accused of abducting civilians, unlawful detention, torture, murder and rape but curiously acquitted acquitted in April 2008 for lack of evidence, after nine out of ten prosecution witnesses got bumped off.
The tenth withdrew his statement after narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt. Contract killing and murder is also the method of dealing with those who challenge the 15-20 mafia clans who rule Kosovo or of anti-corruption inspectors in NGOs.
Such is the reality of the narco-state those like De Lellio helped create in Kosovo.
In fact not only do both Kosovo and Afghanistan have that in common they also have something else in common that is seldom mentioned in the media or, if it is , mentioned as a minor point of interest as though it were unconnected or peripheral to the ambitions of the NATO powers.
For both Wars had the purpose of constructing oil pipelines and developing connections between them which would contitute an axis running from Pakistan and India right through Central Asia, the Caucasus, Turkey and the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea.
As John Foster writes,
Rivalry for pipeline routes and energy resources reflects competition for power and control..... Pipelines are important today in the same way that railway building was important in the 19th century. They connect trading partners and influence the regional balance of power.
Pipeline rivalry is slightly more visible in Europe. Ukraine is the main gateway for gas from Russia to Europe. The United States has pushed for alternate pipelines and encouraged European countries to diversify their sources of supply.
Recently built pipelines for oil and gas originate in Azerbaijan and extend through Georgia to Turkey. They are the jewels in the crown of U.S. strategy to bypass Russia and Iran.The rivalry continues with plans for new gas pipelines to Europe from Russia and the Caspian region.
The Balkan pipeline is being constructed by the US-registered Albanian Macedonian Bulgarian Oil Corporation (AMBO)
The go ahead for the pipeline was formally agreed on 27 December 2004 by representatives of Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria and Ted Ferguson, the president & CEO of AMBO.
On 31 January 2007, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania signed a trilateral convention on the construction of the Balkan pipeline. As Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano remarked,
"This is one of the most important infrastructure projects for regional, EU, and Euro-Atlantic integration for the western Balkans" .
The pipeline was not just an economic development but part of a geopolitical strategy all along.
The AMBO Pipeline was first proposed back in 1993 and was set back by the instabilty and the civil wars in Yugoslavia. Most troublesome was the ethnic conflicts in Kosovo which threatened to destabilise neighbouring Macedonia.
According to Misha Glenny, in his The Balkans 1804-1999:Nationalism War and the Great Powers, it was the fear that Albanian irredentism and hostility to Serbia that finally convinced the USA that NATO had to intervene to stop Milosevic's policy of 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo.
The NATO bombing of Serbia when portrayed as it was at the time as primarily a humanitarian one with the stability of the Balkans and NATO's 'credibility' at stake, was ,however, certainly more than a merely a connvenient propaganda myth.
It ignored the longer term geopolitical context in which the AMBO Pipeline was central calculation. Though few care anymore, now that NATO troops are being killed in trying to defeat the Taliban in southern Afghanistan where the TAPI Pipepline is sceduled to be built in 2010.
Such evidence is plentiful through simply looking at what NGO's do in the region and what Peter Dale Scott calls those think-tanks representing a "the privatisation of intelligence"claim about their attempt to create 'mutually beneficial partnerships', corporate led 'synergies' and so on.
Such euphemistic jargon abounds in the language of those entrusted to promote US interests in the Balkans. One such organisation is called the Corridor Network and claims on its website,
Transportation Corridor VIII is one of the Trans European Network Corridors recognized by the European Union. The corridor VIII development project is an internationally recognized plan for development of highway, rail and pipeline links between Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Many of the components are already underway, but many more remain unfunded. The “Masterplan” for the development of the Corridor was detailed in a 20-year plan commissioned by the U.S. Trade & Development Agency as part of the Southeast Balkan Development Initiative Program in 1998. ( my italics )
One of the backers for this development opportunity is the Albanian American Trade & Development Association of Albania (AATDA AL).
The 'Masterplan' not only goes back to 1998, the year before the NATO War started even though the ethnic conflicts were already developing, but ever further back in time.
The Trade & Development Agency (TDA - subsequently renamed the USTDA) was given the job of developing this 'masterplan', known as the South Balkan Development Initiative (SBDI) and created in 1996. The TDA had been set up in 1981, a year after the Carter Doctrine.
This Doctrine, written in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had made the protection of oil resources in Central Asia and the Middle East or anywhere a matter of 'vital national interest' that could entail the use of military force.
It had long been Brzezinski's ambition to bring down the Soviet Union and liberate Eastern Europe. That was a major consideration in his decision to covertly arm and provide finance for the mujahadeen in it's insurgency against the Soviet Union.
Not only would that defeat the Communist PDPA regime but it would also have the advantage of drawing the Soviet Union into invading and thus give the Soviet's their Vietnam, weakening its hold over Eastern Europe by the divertion of money and manpower towards Central Asia.
As Alfred John Mendes has emphasised the TDA was set up to deal with a situation in which Soviet Union's influence was on the wane and which later presented itself in the wake of it collapse. Yugoslavia was no longer useful as a bulwark to Soviet ambitions in the Balkans.
One of the TDA's aims, quoted from its reports of the years 2000 and 2001, is to advance the USA's geopolitical and economic ambitions.
“The longest lasting impact we can have is to bring US technology & investment to the Balkans through our private sector”. It is worthy of note that the TDA describes itself as “ an independent US government agency”.
The pretence of the NGO in being 'independent' is simply again propaganda put forth by the oil and contruction corporations which have a decisive influence on US foreign policy as most political figures in Washington are lobbyists or representatives of these interests.
The company which TDA had chosen to run the Corridor 8 pipeline had obtained “exclusive right” so to do at a meeting with the three countries involved in the project, and that one of the three, Bulgaria, had also granted Russia “exclusive right” to run its line through Bulgaria.
Far from humanitarian intervention the realpolitk underlying the solution to Balkan crisis was very much based in 1999 on carving out relative 'spheres of influence' of the sort that can be defended. Russia only offered token opposition to the NATO bombings.
The interest in building the AMBO Pipeline accounted for President Clinton's policy of awarding huge grants to Balkan nations for feasibility studies and direct aid to incorporate them into the US sphere of influence.
In 1998, Bill Clinton and the Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov met in Washington and issued a joint statement which revealed the following ( Mendes ),
“Over the past 7 years, the United States has provided Bulgaria with over $235 million in assistance under the Support for East European Democracy Program (SEED) to advance fundamental economic reforms”
There had been a,
$3.2 million Foreign Military Financing program ..and a US “military liaison team resident in the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense to organize staff & information exchanges”
TDA wrote in their Annual Report 2000: “...we always knew Corridor 8 was far more than just a road (sic). As the links among the economies and cultures of the three countries continue to grow, Corridor 8 will become a vital economic Corridor as well” (4).
A feasibility study for this pipeline project was farmed out by the TDA to the oil and construction company Brown & Root, the CEO of whose parent company, Halliburton, had been Dick Cheney who was Vice-President at the time.
What they could have added was that it would also provide a reason for maintaining a strong military presence (NATO) in the region for security.
Moreover what is seldom ever mentioned is the support given by Richard Holbrooke to the KLA guerillas who wanted not just to defeat the Serb paramilitaries but also to get total independence or even unification with Albania was connected to Holbrooke's connection with the AMBO plan.
A BBC report of 2004 stated ,
'the company had already raised about $900m from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) - a US development agency - the Eximbank and Credit Suisse First Boston'.
What was not mentioned by the BBC was that economic analysis for the feasibility study was sub-contracted to Credit Suisse First Boston, the Vice-Chairman of which had been none other than the USA's Balkan's 'peacemaker'-Richard Holbrooke
Holbrooke's strategy was to ramp up the conflict by encouraging the KLA and even it's mujahadeen alllies to step up attacks on Serb policemen so as to goad Milosevic into launching a dracinian crackdown in Kosovo and thus provide pretext to decisively end Yugoslav Civil Wars.
For Milosevic too needed the war to shore up his diminishing domestic support base and knowing the terms of the conflict and his indispensibility in previous stages of the war he thought he would survive. Holbrooke had factored that in to his calculations.
The strategy was intended to minimise NATO casualties by getting the KLA to do 'the dirty work' on the ground. The KLA was not only financed not by the CIA. It was also trained by ‘privatised’ group of retired US Generals known as the Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) .
Under the command of ex-General Richard Griffiths had a close relationship with Agim Ceku KLA Commander as a result of the training and help he provided to the Croation army when it committed war crimes against Serbian civilians in 1995 .
As regards Kosovo, the Times reported on March 12 2000,
"American intelligence agents have admitted they helped to train the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA] before Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia. The disclosure angered some European diplomats, who said this had undermined moves for a political solution to the conflict between Serbs and Albanians... Several KLA leaders had the mobile phone number of General Wesley Clark, the Nato commander..."
It undermined the political settlement in two ways. Firstly,it led to the KLA embarking of a policy of ethnc cleansing in revenge which has continued to poison iter ethnc relations throughout the now independent states of Kosovo.
Secondly,the KLA was also aided by Albanian mafia networks, sex slavery of Eastern European women and becoming dealers and international middlemen in the trade trafficking drugs coming from Afghanistan via Central Asia.
The problem has got steadily worse since as Kosovo has turned into a state rusted through with corruption and drug money.
For whilst the Taliban had banned opium because their enemies had raised money from opium to resist the Taliban regime. Trade flourished again following the NATO invasion when it worked with the Northern Alliance to get rid of the Taliban and thus allowed warlords like Gulbin Hetmayer to get back in business.
Unfortunately, the Taliban then got into the opium trade as warlords were co-opted to serve the new Afghan regime and effectively bought off by paying huge bribes for them to support the West. The hope being that those involved with providing security will get a stake in the transit fees from the TAPI Pipeline.
The collosal irony is that the invasion of Afghanistan was justified by the need to destroy Al Qaida after the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001 when it had, just two years previously, worked with a KLA that had actively worked with Al Qaida.
The Kosovan and Afghan states are semi-criminal states micromanaged as clients by Western business interests and profit making NGOs that espouse jargon about 'goverance' and 'civil society' whilst putting power in the hands of narco-trafficking war criminals with morals as low as the Serb paramilitary Arkan's Tigers
For along this axis of influence that runs from the Balkans to Afghanistan are not only the pipeline routes but also the main 21st century 'Silk Road' for the heroin that reaches the streets of Britain. All of that is accepted as the price of gaining control of the pipelines through proxy forces
These contortions prove that the 'war on terror' was never really wholly concerned with terrorism as such but the politically incorrect forms of terrorism that attacked US strategic and corporate business interests and that got in the way of building pipelines from the stans to the the West.
The most outstanding testimony to which is the circumstances and collection of interests surrounding the contruction of Camp Bondsteel, a huge military base near Urosevic in southern Kosovo. Not to mention to consequences.
Camp Bondsteel is strategically situated next to the Kosovo-Macedonia border, giving it easy access southwards and which can be used for incursions into Macedonia to guard the AMBO Pipeline and act as a transit camp for 'processing' suspected terrorists.
Mark Almond has written of Camp Bondsteel that it provides 'the template for the new steel spine of bases sprouting up deep into central Asia for the war against terrorism'.That is completing the geostrategy outlined by Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard (1997),
"To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." (p.40)
Not only that Ted Ferguson, appointed President & CEO of AMBO, in Jauary 1997, had previously been Director of Oil & Gas Development in Brown & Root of Texas, the same company that built Camp Bondsteel and whose interests had been advanced by Dick Cheney.
Brown & Root's role in the military-industrial complex was established a long time before NATO's campaign in 1999. As Mendes reveals,
“Between 1992 and 1999, the Pentagon paid BRS more than $1.2 billion for its work in trouble spots around the globe. In May of 1999, the US Corps of Army Engineers re-enlisted the company’s help in the Balkans, giving it a new 5-year contract worth $731 million” The base cost made $36.6 million for Brown and Root.
Furthermore, despite Camp Bondsteel being the main base for KFOR, whose mission it is to protect those living in Kosovo and act as peacekeepers, it has singularly failed to protect the Serbs against violence from far-right Kosovan nationalists..
The NATO Campaign itself ratcheted up the spiral of ethnic violence and ethnic cleansing. 250,000 Serbs and Sinti were driven out of Kosovo by the KLA and they were never news in the same way that the Kosovans were.
For the simple reason the suffering of Serbs did not fit in with the official narrative that the NATO action was 'humanitarian intervention'.Rather than a geopolitical calculation and the exploitation of a humanitarian crisis to advance the USA's global bid for hegemony.
The aim of redeveloping NATO's role away from the defence of Europe and towards advancing, protecting and promoting pro-Western governments on the pipeline route, no matter how corrupt or brutal its clients, undermines the claims made about humanitarian intervention.
For those interests led NATO to tacitly ignore KLA ethnic cleansing, especially in the area around Camp Bondsteel.
Mendes cites the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK) which,
"noted in their report in the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict - and after the arrival of NATO in the area - this was an area in which the Serbs were the majority ethnic group, and it had remained relatively calm during the conflict".
“Since the end of the conflict, however, the situation has been startlingly different.” For instance, whereas in June 1999 “..only one house in Gnjilane had been destroyed” - by October of that same year“the number had risen to 280!”.
The KLA was now in the area in force.
The population of Urosevic near Camp Bondsteel prior to 1999 was 57,421 of which 9% were Serbs.In 2009 the total population is around 160,000 with Serbs accounting for just 150 inhabitants. This means around 4000 Serbs fled or were driven out by the KLA.
Not only has drugs smuggling and ethnic cleansing by the KLA political elites been overlooked, seldom is there any mention of how a blind eye is turned to the KLA's involvement in the sex trafficking of women from other parts of Eastern Europe to service the NATO troops needs.
The KLA on 'liberating' Kosovo decided to cash in on the sex slave trade by bringing it back to Kosovo and setting up brothels to serve the needs that go beyond those catered for by the McDonald's and multiplex cinemas built for the troops.
As Jeta Xharra has reported,
Unheard of three years ago, the sex industry is now the fastest growing "business" in post-war Kosovo, which has undergone unprecedented social and political upheaval since the 1999 conflict.
Mobilised for over a decade against the Milosevic regime, the population now plays host to the KFOR peacekeeping force, which provides a steady stream of clients for the protectorate's 120 or so strip clubs.
Around 60 per cent of women working in the sex trade come from Moldova, the others from Romania and Ukraine.
....figures from the International Organisation of Migration, IOM, counter-trafficking unit suggest that 70 per cent of the overseas women were lured from their home countries with promises of jobs as cleaners, waitresses, baby-sitters or care workers.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
Vaughan is due in 2009 to publish the first authorised biography of Brzezinski who was National Security Advisor to President Carter at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Yet for the average Polish citizen curious as to why Polish troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 the connection between Poland's interests and Afghanistan remains obscure.
Yet it was Brzezinski's decision to give covert aid to the mujahadeen that played a part in drawing the Soviet Union into Afghanistan to give it 'it's own Vietnam'.
With continued US military assistance to allow the mujahadeen to thwart the Soviet Union as the war went on for ten years causing huge losses to in both blood and money and making a major contribution to its collapse in 1991.
It was the collapse of Soviet power that crucially helped Solidarity win freedom and independence but the price of that support is only just becoming clear twenty years later as Afghanistan claims the lives of more Polish troops for no tangible gain.
For it was by arming the mujahadeen that played a major role in causing the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaida who went on, after the demise of Soviet power in Central Asia and the Middle East, to see the USA as the next Evil Empire it could bring crashing down.
The attacks of September 11 2001 were used to convince the West led by the USA that the chaos emanating from Afghanistan had to be stopped and former Solidarity dissidents like Adam Michnik were willing to offer gestures of unquestioned support.
Part of this was perhaps gratitude but it was also to do with the sense that Afghanistan's condition was a consequence of the very geopolitical strategy that had led to what some members of the CIA had conceded was 'blowback'.
None of this, however, has occasioned any searching criticism of the strategy nor any probing into the continuity in the search for geopolitical hegemony over Central Asia or why Poland ought to be part of it now.
On the contrary the mood with regards Brzezinski's strategy seems one of continued triumphalism. Brzezinski himself remains defiant in maintaining the position he took in 1998 when questioned by the French magazine Nouvel Observateur,
"What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"
Moreover it looks like Vaughan's authorised biography is not going to challenge very much on this score because he tends to share Brzezinski's geopolitical outlook.
In 1999 Vaughan published an article in the Polish Review looking at Brzezinski’s role in helping the Carter Administration deter a potential Soviet invasion of Poland in late 1980.
In response, Brzezinski has allowed only Vaughan access to his personal archives and to expand his article into a PhD Dissertation and now into the biography. Excerpts have appeared in the English language Krakow Post,none of which dealt with Brzezinski's backing of the mujahadeen.
This is perhaps because Vaughan's profile at the Wyższa Szkoła Europejska in Krakow states he is a specialist in analysing 'the use of "soft power" in bringing about U.S. foreign policy interests'. Something that can be critically analysed but not fundamentally challenged.
Hence the unpleasant parts perhaps would not fit his remit as a member of 'Peace and Development Studies' programme, his involvement at the Institute of American Studies and the postgraduate MA programme in 'Transatlatic Studies he offers at the Jagiellonian University.
It would be interesting to look further into how crucial a role Afghanistan has played a role in bringing US and Polish foreign policy interests together. For the 'The Eastern Card' was played by Polish politicians and diplomats throughout the twentieth century.
At the time of the Revolutions in 1905 the rival Polish leaders Jozef Pilsudski and Roman Dmowski were in Tokyo to convince Japan continue the war on Russia as a means of weakening the Tsarist Empire and gaining liberation.
Brzezinski has been in a long line of Polish diplomats who believed that building alliances in Central Asia that Russian influence could be contained and checked. With the liberation of Poland from Soviet domination the idea that the US could now dominate ex-Soviet space.
This underlies his thinking in The Grand Chessboard ( 1997) which calls for the projection of US power into what the British political geographer Sir Halford MacKinder termed 'the World Island' and formulated the terms of the Great Game in 1919 thus,
"Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World."
Controlling Afghanistan would allow the USA to block off Chinese interests there and potential pipeline routes through to Iran which to the north will be surrounded by states that can be brought over to the US side and thus block off Russia from exerting influence.
With permanent restriction on the power of China and Russia in place, the USA, Brzezinski argues, will be able to establish a chain of bases and pipeline routes linking Turkey through Georgia and Azerbaijan to 'the stans'.
"To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." (p.40)
That's why Brzezinski flew in 1995 to Azerbaijan to negotiate the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline with President Heydar Aliev. The use of 'soft power' was not much in evidence here as Aliev is a ruthless authoritarian who climbed his way to the top by murder and 'disappearing' people.
Aliev had come to power through a coup organised by his mafioso and ex-KGB thugs in June 1993 followed by a fraudulent election the following October after which he commented "I was always a democrat. It’s just that you didn’t notice."
President Aliev won 98.9% of the votes without any complaint of the sort that usually greets election frauds when carried out by other ex-Soviet hardmen who are not as amenable to the designs of Brzezinski or others from Washington.
Brzezinski also gave key support for Georgia's 'Rose Revolutionary' Mikheil Saakashvili in 2004 which he saw as a triumph for freedom and democracy and a vindication of the soft power strategy supported by liberal NGO activists of the sort Professor Vaughan in Krakow likes.
That said Brzezinski is able to use the soft power jargon to good effect. As he commented at a dinner organized by the USACC (U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce) on February 15, 2000 to honor President Heydar Aliev's visit to the U.S.
This route reflects the shared strategic commitment to a concept of openness, pluralism and multiple participation in the promotion of prosperity and stability in the region.
Unfortunately keeping vassals such as Saakashvili pliant by conceding his government the right to control the transit fees,whilst US neoliberal 'reforms' fail to work and plunge Georgians even deeper into poverty, has only entrenched oligarchical power struggles and demagoguery.
The upshot of which was Saakashvili's attempt in August 2008 to boost his flagging popularity and increasingly repressive rule by a firing rockets on to South Ossetia thus precipitating a conflict with Russia and potentially destabilising the entire 'Eurasian Balkans'.
None of this nor his embrace of the Chinese state seems to have dented Brzezinski's pretensions to anti-communist morality in Poland which continues to look to him as an inspiration. Most likely because of his near racist loathing of Russia fits in with that of many of the Polish elites..
Which is a reason why Poland defends the most staunch Transatlanticist vision in which the 'New' EU and NATO members develop an increasing weight in determining NATO policy as against those like France and Germany who urge caution in allowing states like Georgia entry.
Expanding NATO power through Eastern Europe from the Baltics down to the Black Sea through Ukraine is seen as an essential part of that strategy and will turn the Black Sea into a lake surrounded by NATO states.
That is the starting point of the Drang Nach Osten which has as its Easternmost outpost Afghanistan.All part of a long march for permanent global hegemony through which economic and political threat of a rapidly industrialising and energy hungry China can be checked.
As Peter Dale Scott wrote on August 11 2009,
One might have thought that by now the lessons of Napoleon and Hitler would have subdued all illusions that any single power could command the "World Island," let alone the world.....Such overblown rhetoric is out of touch with reality, dangerously delusional, and even arguably insane.
It is however useful, even vital, to those corporations who have become accustomed to profiting from the Cold War, and who faced deep cuts in U.S. defense and intelligence spending in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Which is a major explanation for the Missile Shield which is designed to defend the US geopolitical strategy for Central Asia and not defend Poland from a threat from Russia that did not exist before Poland agreed to host it without first even attaching any conditions.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Edgar has claimed that the problem with world politics has been the breaking on the progressive alliance between the intelligentsia and 'the poor'.
There were he writes in 1989 a series of uprisings in 'an obscure corner of Europe' and he and his Marxism today colleagues showed 'the failure to notice the new political fault lines they drew throughout Europe and beyond'.
The reason for that is Marxism Today scribblers did not care about the struggle for freedom in Eastern Europe. As is clear by the fact Edgar seem to think Poland was 'an obscure part of Europe'.
As with so many on the trendy designer left tended to overlook the crimes of Communist regimes as a Stalinist detour and not a logical consequence of Lenin's Revolution.
Certainly playwrights like Stoppard and Pinter gave their support to Vaclav Havel and Charter 77 but Edgar was not involved in taking any active interest in that.
Which has not stopped him pontificating about the nature of revolutionary change.
Many people underestimated or misread the significance of what was happening in eastern Europe in 1989.
That's true enough on the Western left who tended to be hostile to Solidarity because it was a trade union movement based upon the values of Catholicism.
It was quite different to the anti-communist dissident movement in Czechoslovakia which was more attractive because it seemed more avant-garde and 'leftist'.
For all the American triumphalism, the revolutions gave the lie to the neocon theory – used to justify American support for brutal military dictatorships in Latin America and elsewhere – that rightwing "authoritarian" regimes would peaceably morph into democracies while leftwing "totalitarian" systems couldn't.
It is Edgar who misread the significance of 1989. For in Europe it was authoritarian right wing regimes like those in Spain and Portugal which went first in the 1970s. Chile democratised peacefully in the 1980s and it did not need a mass movement like that in Poland to remove it.
Putting the terms authoritarian and totalitarian in scare quotes to doubt their veracity as terms is intended to draw a direct equivalence between them in such a way as to point to their absurdity without having to justify the assertion any further.
Yet its a fact that no matter how brutal Pinochet's dictatorship, civil society institutions were not completely abolished in Chile as they had been in Poland and Czechoslovakia under the Communist system.
Pinochet's coup cannot be compared with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia nor Jaruzelski's Martial Law because in Eastern Europe almost the entire nation was united in opposing Soviet imposed authority whereas in Chile the nation had been polarised by the threat of Communism backed by Moscow.
Edgar is just rehashing history into a self-presentational radical credo that can be flashed around in front of the toytown revolutionaries who turn up to the annual Socialist Workers Part conferences. It's pure radical chic complete with the misuse of the word 'neocon'.
The 'neocons' did not exist back in 1989. They emerged slowly after as an indentifiable group of dissenters from the realpolitik tradition in Republican foreign policy and who believed the USA should take a more staunchly anti-totalitarian position.
Neoconservatives wanted to harness the the appeal of the universalist American revolutionary credo to support and reiforce doctrines of regime change that would win over large numbers of the socially aspirant in such states to support pro-US democratic coalitions.
The revolutions in Eastern Europe actually confirmed to those who later became neoconservatives that market freedoms, consumerism and multimedia visions of infinite prosperity were better ways to get people to support the USA than CIA support for right wing coups.
Not least because with the end of the Cold War there was no longer any pressing need for that cynical realpolitik and in any case it was going to provide the USA with bad Public Relations.
If global opinion was to be manipulated successfully , then it had to return to the principles of creating docile consumers instead of active citizens as had been put into practice in the USA by Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann.
The revolutions in Eastern Europe proved that there was no need to support old style coups. As Aldous Huxley once accurately predicted,
'There is no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old. Government by clubs and firing squads, by artificial famine, mass imprisonment and mass deportation is not merely inhumane..:it is demonstrably inefficient.....A really effective totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not need to be coerced because they love their servitude.
The means to achieve that would be provided by consumerism and a suffocating entertainment economy, a theme developed by Neil Postgate in Amusing Ourselves to Death. People Power had to be both a spectacle and a divertion, a way of creating the feeling of change.
The Velvet Revolutions were very much TV spectacles and in any case depended far more upon the disintegration of the power of the Soviet Union than on the actions of the dissidents who were soon swept aside by the deal the US educated elites made to impose 'shock therapy'.
Yet the fairytale ending appealed to US global opinion formers and technocrats who had close connections with the new emerging Power Elites in the 'transition' nations of the post-Communist world, one that later found formal expression through transatlantic think-tanks.
That was quite obviously the situation in Poland where Solidarity leaders like Geremek and Michnik approved of a full scale plunge into free market capitalism under the Balcerowicz Plan. The idea was to destroy the old society and create a brave new world of consumerism overnight.
The reason for that was outlined by Balcerowicz who had been influenced by the Chicago Boys and their experiments in Fascist Chile and Thatcher's Britain:that it how to defeat the spectre of Communism and create a new consumer class that would identify with the system.
Balcerowicz explicitly referred to this as 'extraordinary politics', that is of using the exhilaration of people power liberation to ram through policies that would be questioned by many Poles if they were given time to think about them. Solidarity and grassroots democracy had outlived its usefulness.
This project to engineer a new kind of society was more important than the merely political changes that Edgar thinks the left did not understand,
Optimistic leftwingers thought eastern Europe had risen up for social democracy, not realising that the enticing Swedish (and West German) model was also in deep trouble. Reading backwards off the last east European insurgency (against Ceausescu in Romania), cynics argued that the whole thing was a fake, cooked up by Gorbachev's KGB.
Actually many Solidarity members believed they had risen up for something like social democracy or Christian democracy and many Poles are still bitter that they were forced down the road to modernisation via the neoliberal economic model.
They were never given the chance to decide otherwise and apathy and impotence alongside the promise of consumer goods has dampened down any belief that real change is possible.
Besides there was always the feeling in Poland that it was only a backwards Russia Communist system had prevented it being the kind of advanced consumer society it had the right to be as a Western nation in Europe.
Designer revolutionaries like Michnik grew cynical. They came precisely from the 1968 New Left that Edgar was in Britain. Like Michnik they saw the masses as a means to the end of creating a society of the kind in which they felt comfortable.
Edgar complains about the chasm between the designer revolutions of the progressive left and the downtrodden without realising that all the things he wants to see (sexual 'liberation', total individual autonomy etc ) only break down the barriers separating the individual from the market.
That's precisely why so many 1968ers are now New Labour ministers and ideologically aligned with those like Michnik who have made a slick transition into self promoting media figures who can provide slogans and rationalisations for launching messianic 'pro-liberation' crusades against 'Islamofascism'.
It isn't that New Labour in Britain has become 'conservative': it is 'authentically' left wing in so far as it believes that the masses of the people are materially satisfied and that real idealism of the kind that animated 68 now has to be spread across the globe.
That has resulted in the mythology of the Velvet Revolutions in Eastern Europe having become People Power, where the imagination can come to power through contrasting the dullness and boredom of traditional societies with the consumerist Utopias of the West.
The futuristic excitement behind these visions was inherent in that of the revolutionary credo of the 68 student politicians now in power both in Western and Eastern Europe. It owes something to Trotsky's idea of 'permanent revolution' as a revolution not only of society but of the self free from repressive moral codes and material want.
Whilst Edgar is disgruntled about the way it has turned out it is the logical consequence of the politics he has consistently championed since 1968. As David Caute puts it in Sixty-Eight: Year of the Barricades,
'the new generation of playwrights' in the 1970s 'were the angry children of '68 and not shy of the revolutionary heritage'.
Edgar still is not and clearly he is still trying to rationalise his anger into an authentic creed and looking for just any movement that can attack the established social order that he and his generation did so much to create. That leads him into all kinds of absurdity.
Not least the stupid belief that the Islamist Revolutions can dovetail progressively with the radical inheritors of the New Left.Edgar still fails to get it that secular revolutionary politics is anathema to Islamism, though certain strands of Islamism have taken concepts and ideas about the revolutionary vanguard from it.
So Edgar gets even more desperate when he claims,
For all its religious fervour, Iran in 1979 was a recognisable, 20th- century, third-world revolution, in which the progressive middle class allied with the rural masses to overthrow a hated, foreign-backed autocracy.
Well, some progressives in Iran aligned with it and many secular leftists and trade unionists then ensued to be immediately executed by the Ayatollah Khomeini.It was a third world revolution and 'recognisable' as such but it was not 'progressive' in the secular left wing sense.
Which is precisely one reason why so many 68ers like Hitchens and Michnik have forthrightly aligned themselves with what they regard are the fundamentals of the Western Enlightenment against the creeping menace of totalitarian theocracy and that Edgar believes is a 'reactionary' and a 'betrayal'.
Edgar clearly thinks that the criteria for positioning oneself on the left is about being anti-American and then rationalising just any resistance towards it as containing the germ of some global proto-proletarian uprising.
It's easy to see 1989, too, as a variation on that theme. Its seeds lay in the 1980 workers' occupation of the Gdansk shipyard in Poland. Its political mechanisms were borrowed from the 1960s anti-war movement.
Every claim here is false. Poland just was not a Third World nation, it was not rising up against what it considered American Imperialism and was not comparable in its violence to the Islamist Revolution that preceded the Gdansk protests of 1980.
The comparison, such as it is, might come in the predominance of Catholicism, that is of a religion and of the Polish messianism of rebellion against a Satanic USSR and some Poles in their hatred of Russia come close to such Catholic fundamentalist ideology.
However, the revolution in 1989-1990 did not see Gdansk workers and women armed with AK-47' shooting people dead and mass executions of hated Communist functionaries or collaborators in the streets.
Nor did the peaceful revolution in Poland owe much at all to the 'anti-war movement' of 1968. Most Poles were fervently pro-American and took no interest in what was happening in Vietnam nor particularly in Latin America.
Only intellectuals like Michnik did make token criticisms in that direction, though in recent years he has perversely mirrored those who once uncritically gave their support to the USSR in supporting the USA exactly such as manner and supporting the Iraq War.
Which is why Edgar just has to see the current crop of Colour Revolutions in some Trotskyist sense as a 'revolution betrayed' or even as 'bourgeois revolutions' against autocratic regimes paving the way for a more radical one later.
....in retrospect, rather than being the last of the 20th-century revolutions, 1989 looks more like an anticipation of the colour/flower-coded revolutions of the 21st: from Georgia's 2003 rose revolution via Ukraine's 2004-05 orange revolution to Kyrgyzstan's initially pink or lemon but finally tulip revolution against another crooked post-communist government, later the same year.
Despite considerable, covert American backing for the insurgencies and the highly dubious character and record of the successor governments, the rose, orange and tulip revolutionaries had right on their side
What Edgar fails to understand is that the Rose Revolution of 2004 was not a revolution but a multimedia parody of a revolution which in reality was no more than a grubby coup packaged and presented to credulous Westerners.
There is no case of a popular revolution 'despite American backing' not even the case of the carefully choreographed 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine which really was backed by a large degree of popular discontent.
Colour Revolutions are US style PR Revolutions founded on the concept of selling the future to those craving to be Western Jeans wearing consumers. No mention is ever made of their corporate backing nor of what the necessary reforms' will be.
Which will, of course, has been neoliberal shock therapy and the removal of control from crony oligarch capitalists to other crony oligarch capitalists who support the geopolitical designs of the West in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The Colour Revolutions have had 'right on their side' if the illusion of freedom American style is consumed and one holds to the idea that nations like Ukraine need to spend billions of dollars on procuring weapons from the USA.
That these Colour Revolutions are a staged drama played over the heads of their people ought to be the first thing that a leading British playwright would see in the light of his knowledge of the theatre of the absurd.
That he does not is because Edgar has not absorbed the lesson that 1968 was essentially a form of of what Raymond Aron, at the time witnessing the student occupation of the Sorbonne in Paris called 'a psychodrama...a verbal delirium'.
Colour Revolutions are the fruit of the 1968 Revolutions, the belief in the rising of the forces of youth against the dead hand of the past. In many cases named after fruit, they are the creations of mass advertising strategies.
Colour Revolutions depend on harnessing Western leftist emotionalism to serve the agenda of global corporations and Western geopolitical hegemony over the oil and gas upon which mass consumerism depends.
Islamism is just not 'progressive' unless that word just means anything which brings 'radical change', though a certain section of the Respect Party left that Edgar champions wants to align Islam with Leninist revolutionary politics.
Yet from the Islamist side of Respect rather than the SWP one, it is the secular revolutionary left that is the junior partner and whose support for just any anti-American 'resistance' at home and abroad is 'useful'.Just as it was during the Islamist Revolution in Iran.
The aim is not to unite British society around a common anti-war agenda but to perpetuate the idea that Muslims are uniquely demonised and form a transnational community of the oppressed whose liberation abroad is the condition for their liberation here.
By creating the myth of a victim community poor Muslims can be radicalised and constitute a large body within the West who can put pressure on Britain to push its foreign policy in the way they demand or else face the prospect of violence.
That has very little in common with the idea of a peaceful revolution of the sort advocated in Eastern Europe and is anathema to Islamists who see Hezbollah as the will of the downtrodden umma and not the Lebanese Cedar Revolution.
As leading British Islamist ideologue Soumaya Ghannoushi snarled when commenting on the way Western feminists criticised the dress of female Hamas supporters,
...the women of Jenin, Falluja, or Tyre are not photogenic enough for them ( the Western media ) Their photos will never adorn the front pages of newspapers and magazines, unlike the girls of the much applauded "cedar revolution" with their tight designer jeans, sunglasses, and expensive hairdos.
Clearly, Islamists either in the West or Near East are not going to be staging peace happenings or staging musicals like Hair. This makes a black farce of Edgar's claim that,
The 21st-century revolution pits the educated, western-oriented, socially liberal, economically neoliberal urban middle class against the economically egalitarian, socially traditionalist rural poor.
For nobody could be more middle class than many Islamists no less than so many middle class ideologues from the Russian Revolutionaries to the Italian Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof were.
Islamists are Western oriented because Islamism is centrally influenced by the Western revolutionary tradition in rejecting a liberal ideology that is seen to conceal the underlying structures of economic repression.
That does not mean that such ideologues middle class or otherwise respect the human rights of the rural poor any more than other revolutionaries did in regarding them as the raw material for a revolutionary war against a system they hate.
As with most revolutionaries the people can only prove their usefulness if they are indoctrinated with the politically correct dogmas and if they resist the experiment they will be excluded from Utopia by death or expulsion from society.
A lesson learnt at least by ex-Trotskyists like Michnik and many of those who rejected Leninist Communism after 1968 but clearly not by Edgar who like Pilger is terminally incapable of admitting that Stalinism is a logical consequence of mass ideological revolutions.
Like the Russian revolution, all of the great progressive campaigns of reform in the 20th century ...grew out of an alliance between the progressive intelligentsia and the poor. That alliance was betrayed in Russia when Stalin turned on the intelligentsia in the Great Purge of the 1930s, as Mao Zedong did in the Cultural Revolution of the late 60s.
The alliance was not 'betrayed' by Stalin. It was betrayed by Lenin who hijacked the Russian Revolution, closed down the Constituent Assembly and instigated the Red Terror and murdering of political opponents even before the counter revolution got a chance to organise.
The progressive intelligentsia detested the Russian masses. Lenin hated the peasantry no less than all radicals for whom traditional and rural societies are full of idiocy, prejudice, bigotry, religion and backwardness.
Neoliberal globalisers have inherited that contempt for ordinary people who should conform to the prescriptions of dogmas worked out on paper and designed to bring about a revolution from above.
When faced with the immiseration and unemployment caused by IMF approved 'shock therapy' in Poland, Balcerowicz later mused that he had forgotten to factor in the element of human motivation into his calculations.
After all, not all the Polish people were mentally capable of rising to the new challenges of a market economy just as Martin Jacques of Marxism Today blamed the British people for being bedazzled by Thatcher.
Which is one reason why Jacques has now fled to China where he writes awestruck commentaries on how it is the future of the world and how the USA and the West is declining with a not so obviously secret sense of satisfaction.
Jacques too shared Edgar's somewhat sniffy ambiguity towards the 'series of uprisings in an obscure corner of Europe' for same the reason that it merely brought globalisation and consumerism to Eastern Europe.
Compared to China's revolutionary capitalism launched in 1978 with Deng, the revolutions in Eastern Europe were a parochial event,
Compared with 1989, 1978 was admittedly a rather dull affair, however far-reaching its implications might have been. But 1989, on the other hand -notwithstanding the fact that it was bloodless and atypically good-natured - had more than a touch of the grand European political theatre. It was recognisably in the European revolutionary tradition. No contest there then.
As a former Communist, Jacques was embittered by the failure of the USSR and even more so by the failure of New Labour to jettison Thatcherism and the way it failed to rebuild an alliance with the working classes.
Seeing how Britain had exported its manufacturing base away to China and the developing world ( no less than the nations of the former Communist bloc did ) Jacques turned to China as the embodiment of his hopes of a 'systemic challenge' to Western hegemony.
Edgar has been left floundering around for a domestic alliance in Britain that can offer a 'systemic alternative' but he is unlikely to find it if Jacques is to be believed because the West, especially Europe is doomed to be a marginal world player anyway.
As Jacques gloats,
Unlike the Soviet Communist party, the Chinese Communist party chose to introduce capitalism. So in political terms, in the language of grand alternatives Europeans are so partial to, 1978 cannot hold a candle to 1989.
Europe, for example, is therefore still largely oblivious to the fact and consequences of this transformation, not least what it will mean politically and culturally for our continent. As a sign of our parochialism - and almost historically coincident with the rapid rise of China - we have become increasingly obsessed with the "Islamic problem".
So long a cipher of the US, and now mired in its own travails and sense of decline, Europe has grown myopic and introspective, a poor vantage point from which to see the future.
Edgar also cannot understand how some of the social changes the New Left campaigned for necessarily have led to the decline of the European states into a state of senescence, especially the feminist movement and the the contempt for the family as a 'repressive social contruct'.
These 68er New Left causes have not been depoliticised nor disarmed but co-opted to serve the neoliberal consumerism of which they were always going to be of great service in stimulating inner desires and sating them with products.
Identity politics was a perfect vehicle for destroying the barriers that has prevented the market being applied to the exploitation of the innermost cravings of consumers, that a person could identify with depersonalised lusts and elevate them to the status of a 'human right'.
One of the striking things about visiting eastern Europe during the 80s and 90s was finding people who shared western liberal values on sex, drugs and rock'n'roll but who regarded Thatcher as a heroine and her politics as a model.
Such values are complementary because based on rampant egotism, individualism and libertarianism of the sort satirised by Michel Houellebecq, an ex-Communist who at least has had the integrity to be honest about what the 1968 generation did.
David Coward summarised Houellebecq's devastating indictment of the 1960s generation as well as can be,
Since the 1960s, market forces have reorganized the economic activity of the Western world. With the collapse of religion and the death of ideology, capitalism acquired a free hand to interfere in those parts of our lives previously governed by faith and political belief. Consumerism, the leisure society and youth culture have radically reconfigured our emotional norms and made sexuality a system of social hierarchy.
The "supermarket society", with its offers of a constantly renewed selection of cheap, easily attainable goods, has delivered a death blow to religion.
In the wake of the Enlightenment, believers became citizens. Citizens have now turned into customers, who cannot conceive of a future, let alone of an afterlife, except in terms of increasing wealth and the acquisition of consumer products for status and satisfaction.
But that is only the half of it. People have also been "emancipated" by the sexual revolution which had the effect of pushing them to disastrous levels of individualism. The sexually free did not stay satisfied for long.
Having been given sex, they wanted more and pushed so hard at all the limits that they were soon demanding child abuse, pornography, torture, snuff movies.
The cult of brute force which had been curbed over the centuries by morality and law was revived in a single generation by sexual liberation. And thus was destroyed the last remaining outpost of the collective spirit, the family, whose members serve each other without hope or expectation of tangible reward.
Individualism, the antechamber to barbarism, is the grave of communal life and ultimately of civilization. It is also an illusion. Only the decay of the flesh, and death, truly belong to the individual. The rest -behaviour, ideas, ideals -is fed to us by politicians, advertisers and assorted stars who want our votes, our money and our admiration.
Nor has Islam or Islamism much of a long term chance of survival either,
Having lived for extended periods in Ireland and Spain, two deeply Catholic countries, he was struck by how quickly religion had collapsed in both places in the wake of modernization. He considers that Islam will go the same way.
Fiercely supported at present by the young, it will disappear in its turn, dismantled by the same appetite for consumer goods that marked the end of Communism in former Eastern Bloc countries. Like Christianity or punk, he says, it will leave only aesthetic remains.
That observation is borne out by recent trends in Poland where the same forces of social, intellectual and moral deregulation are proceeding apace and are only further stimulated by the inability of its Catholic Church to offer anything but sterile dogmas.
The sheer boredom of such an atomised society is also one reason why 'pro-liberation' leftists across Europe like Michnik, Nick Cohen et al believed that left wing idealism could be revived by spreading Western freedoms to places like Iraq. Yet it also accounts for the daft meanderings of Edgar.
As intellectuals and creative artists just are not very influential any more, they feel the need even more to make sense of their alienation by trying to pretend that they can divine the ultimate direction of the world process and attach themselves to some new global wave of future liberation.
The despair is not merely a result of anger over real injustices but a sense that consumerism and the infernal cycle of production and consumption that is eating away at the very foundations of human civilisation and causing worldwide environmental despoilation is 'the end of history'.
It is not, of course, even if the spiritual and moral torpor of Western society at the present time makes it feel that way. Edgar need not worry. Depleting oil, global heating, resource wars and the creation of an ever more authoritarian state to deal with terrorism will mark the next decades.
Monday, 24 August 2009
This is one reason why governments in the ex-Soviet republics and Russia have increasingly started to look back at the history of the Soviet Union and its relation to its former republics to add legitimacy for current geopolitical strategies involving those no longer part of the Soviet orbit.
In particular, as NATO expansion is advocated for Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia, it has become a staple of pro-NATO propaganda that only entrance into NATO and a forthright alliance with the USA can protect them from Russian domination.
This issue is one quite different to the that of EU membership. Yet the Atlanticists are very powerful in Eastern Europe in insisting that gravitation towards the EU can only be allowed if non-EU states first join NATO.
Something that only antagonises post-Soviet Russia and is probably meant to in some decision making quarters.
That had its consequences in August 2008 with the war between Georgia and Russia.
Instead of the West gradually building up trade ties with Georgia through the EU, the West had indulged Mikheil Saakashvili's belligerent nationalist regime. Its fanatical insistence on ramping up the conflict with Russia was intended largely as a means of speeding up NATO entry.
So it was hardly surpising that hack propagandists who masquerade as journalists started to scribble about how Putin's Russia was some hideous amalgam of both Hitlerite and Stalinist tyranny rolled into one in it's contempt for the rights of small nations.
Something that found it's expression back in 1939 with the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Then Hitler and Stalin agreed to carve up and absorb a broad swathe of territories in Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the legacy of which was only ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
It is entirely fitting that a Declaration of the European Parliament on the proclaimed 23 August as a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. Both totalitarian empires subjected many in the lands they ruled to 'resettlement' and concentration camps.
Yet what the Soviet Union did to the Baltic Republics, Eastern Poland and Bessarabia ( now Moldova ), in trying to eradicate the intelligensia and 'unreliable elements', should not disguise the fact that many Romanian and Baltic elites collaborated with the Nazis after Hitler invaded the Soviet occupied territories in 1941.
The exception was Poland. It had the unique and ghastly fate of being subject both to Nazi and Soviet attempts to destroy it no sooner than Hitler and Stalin had invaded in accordance with the pact.
Here, where the destruction of the Polish ruling elite and intelligensia was clear from the outset, collaboration with either the Nazis or the Soviets was never a moral nor a tactical possibility.
However, unlike Poland most of the Eastern borderlands between Germany and the former Soviet Union are still at the centre of a geopolitical struggle for influence, this time between NATO and Russia, there has a been a lot of 'revisionism' by political elites trying to justify anti-Russian politics.
Unfortunately, just as many in the West were credulous about Stalin's Soviet Union in being a beacon of Enlightenment humanism or at least the home of international socialism, so too have the Baltic States and Georgia been held up as beacons of market freedom and liberty.
Which is precisely why journalists like James Marson writes on the 70th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact that it,
'comes at a time when a war over history – particularly Stalin's legacy – is defining many political arguments across the former Soviet Union. A number of politicians from the former Soviet bloc hold up the pact as an example of how the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were similar in their cynical, rapacious and murderous behaviour towards their neighbours.
Marson seems to think that Russia's inability to discuss its Stalinist past is due to the fact that it wants to use the 'anti-fascist' struggle during World War Two to legitimise current policies. There is some truth in that and far more so in Belarus.
However, Marson wants to play the old Stalinist trick of 'look over there': in other words only the Russian government uses history as propaganda.
The pact is rather a sticky topic in Russia, where the defeat of the "fascists" remains ideologically valuable to the current leadership; a recent attempt to rehabilitate the agreement dovetails neatly with current Kremlin thinking on its right to a sphere of influence.
Firstly, despite propaganda to the contrary, NATO does aspire to a 'sphere on influence' It just refuses to refer to it as that because NATO is not an Empire but a collection of free states that volunteer to be part of NATO unlike former members of the Warsaw Pact.
For the main purpose of expanding NATO power into Eastern Europe follows Sir Halford MacKinder's observation made at the height of British Imperial power at the turn of the 20th century
Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island controls the world."
Central Asia contains most of the world's as yet unexplored and untapped oil and gas, something that Zbigniew Brzezinski has emphasised, in works such as The Grand Chessboard ( 1997), is the key towards preserving US hegemony into the 21st Century.
Hence the level of involvement in the internal affairs of states like Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia to get the politicians colationed who will fulfil the agenda of the Western states if not necessarily the interests of their own people.
Secondly, Marson thinks it's appropriate to put 'fascists' like this in scare quotes indicates an evasion. After all, Nazi Germany was 'fascist' and so too were many of those who joined Hitler in the invasion of the Soviet Union such as Antonescu's Romanian forces.
Whilst its true that 'fascist' has often acted as a term to be flung at any political opponent that is disliked, not least by the Soviet Union and its Communist supporters, the same has become increasingly true of 'Stalinist'.
Marson intentionally conflates two problems here.
The first is the denial coming from many sections of the Western Left with regards the crimes of Stalin. The second the use to which Putin and Medvedev are putting the 'anti-fascist' struggle of World War Two to justify interfering in the affairs of ex-Soviet states.
What he does not mention is that the Kremlin is responding to the propaganda which crudely equates Putin with Stalin and his government as trying to revive Russian-cum-Soviet Imperialism with regards states like Georgia which in last Augusts' war received the unconditional support of the USA and Britain.
As well as a whole chorus of opinion from David Clarke, Denis MacShane, Luke Harding, Timothy Garton Ash, and, of course, Marson.
Not least because Marson himself holds to this vulgarised propaganda-as-history myth no less than those neoconservatives who tried to make absurd comparisons between Russia's incursion into Georgia and Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938.
That was Brzezinski's line at the time in an interview with Die Welt. Clearly, the comparison was fake because Czecoslavakia hadn't actually fired rockets on to Germany and because Putin's Russia is not some neo-totalitarian threat bent on expansionism.
Yet such propaganda is handy if Western politicians want to project their own expansionist ambitions through NATO on to Russia. The democratic socialist George Orwell who did so much to draw attention to the crimes of Stalin and of the progressive intelligensia's desire to 'kiss his bum' had a word for that; he called it 'doublethink'.
When Brzezinski later corrected himself to mean 'the tactics' used by Russia to try and destroy Georgia's territorial integrity by handing out passports to the South Ossetians he seems unaware that Romania was doing exclty the same with regards Moldova.
The reason for the doublethink is that NATO selflessly wants to advance freedom and so states on our side are allowed to be a rabidly nationalistic as they want. Whether in trying to revive the war time reputation of the Greater Romanian dictator Antonescu or whether it's Latvian politicians commemorating the Waffen SS.
This is the point. Russia has a sphere on interest in the ex-Soviet republics no less than the USA and it's NATO partners who want to project their strategic power deep into Central Asia through the Eastern Europe and 'the Eurasian Balkans' i.e the Caucasus.
If anything that NATO drive to control the oil and gas and the pipeline routes reflects the logic underlying Hitler's Drang Nach Osten and to control Central Asian oil and gas by supporting far-right nationalist regimes with a grudge against Russia to act as dependable client states.
Russia has reacted to that by countering the idea that the Baltic far-right nationalists wartime support for Hitler was part of a crusade against Bolshevism by drawing on it's defeat of Nazi Germany as a righteous one and that Western sponsored clients are sympathetic to Nazism.
Those in Estonia like the ex-prime minister, revisionist historian and Milton Friedman prize-winner, Mart Laar who sought to destroy all monuments commemorating the Soviet armies victory over Nazi Germany such as the Bronze Statue in Tallinn.
Laar acts as a US media publicist for Mikheil Saakashvili whose nationalist rhetoric against Russia as a 'race of barbarians' has been matched by a Soviet style revision of history in Georgia's Museum's of 'Russian occupation'.
Such propaganda contains a curious omission of the fact that Stalin, Beria and Ordzhonikidze were actually Georgians and that the current borders of Georgia that the West has sought to defend were actually established by Stalin's Soviet Union and not by 'the Russians'.
Yet the history has to be rewritten to fulfil the geopolitical needs of the leaders in calling for ever more extensive US involvement in the project of NATO expansion.
Something that Yushchenko has been demanding vociferously whilst using the Ukrainian Terror famine of the 1930s to mendaciously claim that the 'Holomodor' was a deliberate attempt by Russia to ethnically cleanse Ukrainians and dampen its desire for independence.
Again those who remember the history of the Soviet Union willl know that the Terror Famine was orchestrated by a transnational party and its functionaries who came from all over what had been the former Tsarist Empire reborn under a new militant revolutionary ideology.
It involved Ukrainian Communist Party apparatchniks like Krushchev and affected Russophone Ukrainians just as much as it did those who spoke only Ukrainian.
The experiment was,as Marson concedes, part of a 'class war' against the Kulaks but it was not a Russian nationalist imposition as Yushchenko is trying to claim. The Soviet leadership regarded all Soviet citizens as equal in being the raw material for their Utopian experiment on humanity.
In that sense unlike Nazi Germany they were very undiscriminating on a racial basis.
None of this stops Marson from trying to claim that Medvedev's attempt to restrict access to the Russian archives and set up a 'history commission' is nothing more than a 'response' to Yushchenko's brave attempt to reveal the truth about Ukraine's subjugation.
A crucial Russian method of keeping Ukraine under its wing is to inhibit the formation of a strong Ukrainian national identity by maintaining control over a crucial nation-building tool: history.
Medvedev cannot possibly prevent Ukrainian and Western historians writing about the Terror Famine. Most of the facts are already known about it and those that are not could hardly disprove the consensus of Western historians that the Terror Famine was class warfare not racial and not certainly not nationalist in intent.
Stalin, having been Lenin's Commissar for the Nationalities after the Revolution, wanted to eradicate the supposedly nationalist elites in all the Soviet Republics that could possibly offer resistance. It was colluded in by Party members of all nationalities who wanted to forge a new Soviet elite.
Marson goes on to claim,
Indeed, its obsessive focus on history is a tacit admission that it has little positive to offer Ukraine in the future.
This statement is idiotic.Medvedev is at once trying to suppress people understanding history in Ukraine and at the same time has an obsession with controlling it which is, of course, impossible because Ukraine is an independent state.
Those who remember how Yugoslavia was destroyed after 1990 will remember how such a selective history based on a victimhood narrative was used to perpetuate such nationalism created inter ethnic hatred and conflict.
It was as Misha Glenny correctly asserts in his The Fall of Yugoslavia purposely fomented by Communist politicians like Tujdman and Milosevic who turned to nationalism to secure their power base when faced with the economic downturn of the early 1990s.
The signs are ominous in Ukraine. Concurrent with Yushchenko's revival of nationalism is the slumping of his popularity ratings as the impact of US style neoliberal reforms has served to exacerbate the impact of the global recession.
Yet Marson seems only monomaniacally obsessed with what Russia is doing is a 'response' to Yushchenko.
Just as Western journalists kept repeating that Russia 'attacked' Georgia and not that Georgia 'attacked' South Ossetia and which, like Kosovo, wanted independence but was not recognised because the successionist precedent was not itself recognised.
Marson is also deeply ignorant about the nature of Ukrainian nationalism, as if Ukraine was only a victim nation not one with the partisans of UPA who were rampant ethnic cleansers, murdering hundreds of thousands of Poles in what's now Western Ukraine.
Nor about how the mass murder of Jews was justified by the myth of Jewish Communism which is still held by many Ukrainians extreme nationalists in Western Ukraine like L'viv where Yushchenko derives most of his support
Before Marson pontificates about Russian Imperialism he needs to understand that Eastern European nationalism justified by the hatred of Communism has an unpleasant history too and that often the West is not backing not moderate patriotic democrats.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
There used to be something called 'the silly season' but in the Guardian that seems to have been extended into a a general principle based on tetchy neurotics hunting frantically around for just anything that could be considered offensive.
In Poland the controversy over its the role of anti-semitism in it's history will go on but it has recently been brought into focus as a result of the controversy over David Cameron's alliance in the European Parliament with the Polish PiS Party through the European Conservatives and Reform group.
It is claimed that Michal Kaminski, elected president of the ECR is anti-semitic and that PiS is 'respectable fascist'. The evidence for this is that Kaminski was a member of the neo-fascist National Rebirth of Poland as a teenage in the dying days of Communism.
However, as Timothy Garton Ash writes,
More serious is what Kaminski has said and done as an adult. In the 1990s, he was a dynamic and ambitious young activist in a rightwing, nationalist, xenophobic party, the Christian National Union. In 1999, he visited Britain to present what is described as a gorget embossed with an image of the Virgin Mary to General Augusto Pinochet. "This was the most important meeting of my whole life. Gen Pinochet was clearly moved and extremely happy with our visit," Kaminski told the BBC's Polish service. In a short video clip from July 2000, he describes homosexuals as pedaly, a slang term roughly translatable as "queers" or "poofters".
As for the anti-semitism,
In 2001, he became involved in one of Poland's greatest post-1989 historical controversies, about the murder in July 1941 of almost all the Jewish inhabitants of the Polish village of Jedwabne – a murder committed by Polish villagers. As the local MP, he denounced the post-communist president Aleksander Kwasniewski for his readiness to apologise in Poland's name for this crime.
An interview with Kaminski appeared in a nasty rightwing weekly, Our Poland. In it, while acknowledging "the tragedy of the Holocaust", he is reported as saying the murder was committed by a handful of outcasts ("no decent person would be involved in burning Jews"), and that he will apologise if someone "from the Jewish side" apologises for what "the Jews" did during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from 1939 to 1941.
The problem with accusing Kaminksi of anti-semitism is that many Poles believe that though the Holocaust was a 'tragedy' without necessarily being anti-semitic. They usually just want to assuage any sense of guilt by claiming that Poles were also the victims of Nazism.
Where the myth of Zydokomuna is not still held there is the view that the kind of collaboration with the Nazi's that occured at Jewdwabne was the exception and that Poland had the highest number in Europe of Righteous Amongst Nations so honoured by Israel for saving Jews.
What Kaminksi was doing in his Nasza Polska interview was playing on the feeling of victimisation of Poles to gain popularity. The idea was to convince Poles that Jews had supported Communism and that this was as much a genocidal attack on Poles as the Nazis carried out on Jews.
Yet the peculiarity of anti-semitism without Jews that undoubtedly still exists in Poland is matched only by the curious way that the issue of Michal Kaminski's alleged anti-semitism has been politicised by the liberal left.
After all, though it demonstrates a moral failing it does not have any immediate consequences in Poland for the miniscule community of surviving Jews who have not been subjected to discrimination or been attacked.
It is, of course, important that Poland come to terms with the anti-semitic past ( as documented formidably by Gross with regards the rest of that nation in his later work Fear in 2005) because, as Kaminski's populist rants, show the self pity and tendency to scapegoat 'enemies within' has hindered Poland's ability to develop politically.
As any political discussion on TVN reveals the political class in Poland prefer to shout over one another loudly in pseudo-debates over non-issues instead of trying to discuss sensibly and calmly the future of their nation.
Yet the Polish liberal left and it's allies in New Labour like Denis MacShane are hardly in a position to take the moral highground when considering the slavishly 'Westernising' policies that Poland has supported in recent years.
For the Polish populist right from Lepper's Self Defence to Giertych's League of Polish Families and PiS have only been able to score electoral success because of the scale of the poverty created by neoliberal 'shock therapy'.
The anger and bitterness that caused led many Catholic workers to turn to the populist right for rationalisation of what had gone wrong. The Polish populists have to exploit that to get votes whilst pursuing the same neoliberal policies.
Hence the recourse to 'identity politics' by Kaczynski and Kaminski. As Catholic peasants and workers have became more powerless after the hopes generated by Solidarity it's all there is left. A theme developed by David Ost in The Defeat of Solidarity.
For the deal stitched up by Solidarity leaders like Michnik, Geremek and Mazowiecki at the Magdalenka Talks in 1990 followed by the Balcerowicz Plan, which allowed large numbers of industries to collapse, impoverished millions.
Outside the prosperous cities many in rural areas and the small towns now espouse conspiracy theories, involving the one that Michnik and Geremek's Jewish ancestry ensured they were in league with Jewish capital.
Kaminski knows that PiS has to win over this broad constituency of the disaffected who regard the EU as an attempt to destroy the Polish nation through stealth and impose decadent Western attitudes.Playing on fear is an effective way to get votes.
With regards the Jedwabne controversy, Kaminski is only repeating a common view in Poland that the incidence of one massacre in which Poles collaborated with the Nazis is being used to destroy Poland's pride in its national history.
All with the aim of delegitimising criticism of the EU, a motive that is far from absent in the liberal left's attempt to portray PiS as 'Francoist', a charge levelled by those like Denis MacShane and Michnik. Michnik even hysterically claimed that Kaczynski's government was intent on a coup.
Moreover as Poland has become a key client state and subservient ally of the USA and its Middle Eastern ambitions, it cannot affford to be seen as anti-semitic when anti-semitism is a core part of the propaganda justifying Israel's policies and delegitimising criticism in it's treatment of the Palestinians.
For Israel is central to the 'neoconservative foreign policy of those like Michnik and MacShane. No less than it is to Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle who has been attacked for defending Kaminski and accounts for the confusion over the nature of the Tories alliance with PiS.
For in reality when it comes down to it the ECR alliance between Cameron's Tories and the PiS nothing to do with the forces of nasty nationalism. It is an expedient one dictatated by the need to serve the neoconservative market fundamentalist agenda better than the Atlanticist liberal left can.
There are virtually no political voices in Poland calling for copying the German or French economic models. Even Kwasniewski who led Poland into war with Iraq in 2003 without a vote in the Sejm is a member of the Atlantic Council.
On foreign policy there is no real dissent. Only sterile debates on the past which is used for crudely political purposes at the level of domestic politics and that deflects attention from a reasoned consideration of them.
Denis MacShane, who first publicised Kaminski's shady past in a member of the Henry Jackson Society which also includes key backers for David Cameron like the neoconservatives Michael Gove, Ed Vaizey and Alan Mendoza.
As the Conservative Eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannan writes of his 'friend' Kaminski-"We each have two little girls of similar ages. We're both conservatives: Eurosceptics, free-marketeers and Atlanticists".The only difference to MacShane is the 'Euroscepticism'.
Kaminski like MacShane is a spin doctor who masterminded the PiS election victory in 2005. He has few convictions other than procuring power no less than New Labour in Britain which makes 'the right noises' about Muslims just as he does on Jews.
That the Euro-Atlantic liberal left ( as represented 'intellectually' by the likes of MacShane and Michnik ) likes to pretend that PiS and right wing populists have real 'nationalist' or 'fascist' convictions is just stale politicking.
Indeed for all Kaminski's vulgarity and the anti-semitism without Jews that does exist in Poland-largely due to guilt at the greedy peasants who opportunistically stole Jewish property-it hardly compares to the Islamophobia without Muslims.
The defence in 'freedom of speech' terms given by Michnik and Geremek in 2006 to Oriana Fallaci's rant about the demographic threat of Muslims in The Strength of Reason. a book where she describes Muslims as "rats", is of far more contemporary relevance
Moreover in combatting "Islamofascism" the Polish governments have allowed CIA rendition on Polish soil and acquiesced in the neoconservative war on terror without hardly a demur about the use of torture and human rights abuses.
All of which makes the anti-semitism controversy with regards Kaminski somewhat of a sideshow.
True, the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Racism and Antisemitism, based at Tel Aviv University, reports, that PiS contains radical nationalists and ex-members of antisemitic organisations and retains a tactical alliance with Radio Maryja, "the mass-audience nationalist Catholic radio station and a key force on the far right", which gives airtime to antisemitic ranters.
Yet apart from acting to salve those who have guilty consciences over the 'Unwelcoming of Jewish Survivors' from Nazi occupied Poland, the looting of Jewish property and the resentment at having it brought back up anti-semitism has no real traction as a political force with significance.
Unlike 1968, when General Moczar used anti-Zionism as a pretext to expel 'Zionist' elements and enemies within from the universities and win popular support for the Polish Communist state, Poland is now a free democracy in which anti-semitic voices appeal to silly people for the same reason conspiracy theories do in the West-it comforts them and prevents them having to make an effort to understand how the world really works.