Monday, January 26, 2009

The Ax - Surviving the Flood of Disinformation...

Consensus reality. Truthiness is nonexistant...

THE COSSACKS OF THE DON...'Bad Day at Black Rock?'

Playing The all encompassing oil and Gas monopoly.

The ever expanding Geopolitical "Circles" of the Pentagon...

"This is the essence of ask an impertinent question and you're on your way to a pertinent answer." --

We should nationalize Hollywood, Wall Street and all the Banks simultaneously for good...

Dr. X Zbigniew Brzezinski.

It was the U.S., in the person of Zbigniew Brzezinski, that goaded the Soviet Union to start a war in Afghanistan. The U.S. is as far from being innocent in world politics as it gets. It and the Soviet Union were twin scourges on the planet, and now the U.S. is the absolute power that's absolutely corrupt....

The 8 years Reagan was in office represented one of the most bloody eras in the history of the Western hemisphere, as Washington funneled money, weapons and other supplies to right wing death squads. And the death toll was staggering?more than 70,000 political killings in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala, 30,000 killed in the contra war in Nicaragua. In Lebanon, tens of thousands were killed in a CIA proxy militias war of attrition, in Washington, the forces carrying out the violence were called "freedom fighters." This is how Ronald Reagan described the Contras in Nicaragua: "They are our brothers, these freedom fighters and we owe them our help. They are the moral equal of our founding fathers." So, Reagan did damage to Nicaragua beyond the imaginations of the people who are hearing me now. The ripple effects of that; criminal murderous interventions in Lebanon will go on for what, 50 years or more...More perhaps than any other U.S. President, Reagan convinced many around the world that the U.S. is a fraud, a big lie. Not only was it not democratic, but in fact the greatest enemy of the right of self-determination of peoples. Reagan, as mentioned, was known as the great communicator, and I believe that that is true only if one believes that to be a great communicator means to be a good all the BUSHES and the Neocon Zionazis/Ashkenazi's. That he was for sure. They could proclaim the biggest lies without even as much as blinking an eyelash. Hearing them talk about how we were supposedly persecuting Jews and burning down non-existent synagogues, I was led to believe really, that Reagan was possessed by demons. Frankly, I do believe Reagan at that time as much as Bush/Sharon/Olmert/Netanyahu did, was indeed possessed by the demons of manifest destiny...

"If it ain't worth askin' for it ain't worth gettin'!"? The BlackRock Desert Coils...!

"What kinda rice is brown on the outside and white
on the inside?

-- 'Condoleezza Rice' --

Instead of "Arab" they say "A-rabb"...{4A67652A-4D79-4340-B956-F5BDF89B07C5}&siteid=mktw&dist=

The Ark - Surviving the Flood of Disinformation...?

Many Western analysts have chosen to interpret the recent fighting in the Caucasus as the onset of a new Cold War, with a small pro-Western democracy bravely resisting a brutal reincarnation of Stalin's jack-booted Soviet Union. Others have viewed it a throwback to the age-old ethnic politics of southeastern Europe, with assorted minorities using contemporary border disputes to settle ancient scores.

Neither of these explanations is accurate. To fully grasp the recent upheavals in the Caucasus, it is necessary to view the conflict as but a minor skirmish in a far more significant geopolitical struggle between Moscow and Washington over the energy riches of the Caspian Sea basin -- with former Russian President (now Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin emerging as the reigning Grand Master of geostrategic chess and the Bush team turning out to be middling amateurs, at best.

The ultimate prize in this contest is control over the flow of oil and natural gas from the energy-rich Caspian basin to eager markets in Europe and Asia. According to the most recent tally by oil giant BP, the Caspian's leading energy producers, all former "socialist republics" of the Soviet Union -- notably Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- together possess approximately 48 billion barrels in proven oil reserves (roughly equivalent to those left in the U.S. and Canada) and 268 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (essentially equivalent to what Saudi Arabia possesses).

During the Soviet era, the oil and gas output of these nations was, of course, controlled by officials in Moscow and largely allocated to Russia and other Soviet republics. After the breakup of the USSR in 1991, however, Western oil companies began to participate in the hydrocarbon equivalent of a gold rush to exploit Caspian energy reservoirs, while plans were being made to channel the region's oil and gas to markets across the world.

Rush to the Caspian...

In the 1990s, the Caspian Sea basin was viewed as the world's most promising new source of oil and gas, and so the major Western energy firms -- Chevron, BP, Shell, and Exxon Mobil, among others -- rushed into the region to take advantage of what seemed a golden opportunity. For these firms, persuading the governments of the newly independent Caspian states to sign deals proved to be no great hassle. They were eager to attract Western investment -- and the bribes that often came with it -- and to free themselves from Moscow's economic domination.

But there turned out to be a major catch: It was neither obvious nor easy to figure out how to move all the new oil and gas to markets in the West. After all, the Caspian is landlocked, so tankers cannot get near it, while all existing pipelines passed through Russia and were hooked into Soviet-era supply systems. While many in Washington were eager to assist U.S. firms in their drive to gain access to Caspian energy, they did not want to see the resulting oil and gas flow through Russia -- until recently, the country's leading adversary -- before reaching Western markets.

What, then, to do? Looking at the Caspian chessboard in the mid-1990s, President Bill Clinton conceived the striking notion of converting the newly independent, energy-poor Republic of Georgia into an "energy corridor" for the export of Caspian basin oil and gas to the West, thereby bypassing Russia altogether. An initial, "early-oil" pipeline was built to carry petroleum from newly-developed fields in Azerbaijan's sector of the Caspian Sea to Supsa on Georgia's Black Sea coast, where it was loaded onto tankers for delivery to international markets. This would be followed by a far more audacious scheme: the construction of the 1,000-mile BTC pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then on to Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Again, the idea was to exclude Russia -- which had, in the intervening years, been transformed into a struggling, increasingly impoverished former superpower -- from the Caspian Sea energy rush.

Clinton presided over every stage of the BTC line's initial development, from its early conception to the formal arrangements imposed by Washington on the three nations involved in its corporate structuring. (Final work on the pipeline was not completed until 2006, two years into George W. Bush's second term.) For Clinton and his advisers, this was geopolitics, pure and simple -- a calculated effort to enhance Western energy security while diminishing Moscow's control over the global flow of oil and gas. The administration's efforts to promote the construction of new pipelines through Azerbaijan and Georgia were intended "to break Russia's monopoly of control over the transportation of oil from the region," Sheila Heslin of the National Security Council bluntly told a Senate investigating committee in 1997.

Clinton understood that this strategy entailed significant risks, particularly because Washington's favored "energy corridor" passed through or near several major conflict zones -- including the Russian-backed breakaway enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. With this in mind, Clinton made a secondary decision -- to convert the new Georgian army into a military proxy of the United States, equipped and trained by the Department of Defense. From 1998 to 2000 alone, Georgia was awarded $302 million in U.S. military and economic aid -- more than any other Caspian country -- and top U.S. military officials started making regular trips to its capital, Tbilisi, to demonstrate support for then-president Eduard Shevardnadze.

In those years, Clinton was the top chess player in the Caspian region, while his Russian presidential counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, was far too preoccupied with domestic troubles and a bitter, costly, ongoing guerrilla war in Chechnya to match his moves. It was clear, however, that senior Russian officials were deeply concerned by the growing U.S. presence in their southern backyard -- what they called their "near abroad" -- and had already had begun planning for an eventual comeback. "It hasn't been left unnoticed in Russia that certain outside interests are trying to weaken our position in the Caspian basin," Andrei Y. Urnov of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared in May 2000. "No one should be perplexed that Russia is determined to resist the attempts to encroach on her interests."

Russia resurgent, trying to defend itself...

At this critical moment, a far more capable player took over on Russia's side of the geopolitical chessboard. On December 31, 1999, Vladimir V. Putin was appointed president by Yeltsin and then, on March 26, 2000, elected to a full four-year term in office. Politics in the Caucasus and the Caspian region have never been the same.

Even before assuming the presidency, Putin indicated that he believed state control over energy resources should be the basis for Russia's return to great-power status. In his doctoral dissertation, a summary of which was published in 1999, he had written that "[t]he state has the right to regulate the process of the acquisition and the use of natural resources, and particularly mineral resources [including oil and natural gas], independent of on whose property they are located." On this basis, Putin presided over the re-nationalization of many of the energy companies that had been privatized by Yeltsin and the virtual confiscation of Yukos -- once Russia's richest private energy firm -- by Russian state authorities. He also brought Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas supplier, back under state control and placed a protégé, Dmitri Medvedev -- now president of Russia -- at its helm.

Once he had restored state control over the lion's share of Russia's oil and gas resources, Putin turned his attention to the next obvious place -- the Caspian Sea basin. Here, his intent was not so much to gain ownership of its energy resources -- although Russian firms have in recent years acquired an equity share in some Caspian oil and gas fields -- but rather to dominate the export conduits used to transport its energy to Europe and Asia.

Russia already enjoyed a considerable advantage since much of Kazakhstan's oil already flowed to the West via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which passes through Russia before terminating on the Black Sea; moreover, much of Central Asia's natural gas continued to flow to Russia through pipelines built during the Soviet era. But Putin's gambit in the Caspian region evidently was meant to capture a far more ambitious prize. He wanted to ensure that most oil and gas from newly developed fields in the Caspian basin would travel west via Russia.

The first part of this drive entailed frenzied diplomacy by Putin and Medvedev (still in his role as board chairman of Gazprom) to persuade the presidents of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to ship their future output of gas through Russia. Success was achieved when, in December 2007, Putin signed an agreement with the leaders of these countries to supply 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year through a new conduit along the Caspian's eastern shore to southern Russia -- for ultimate delivery to Europe via Gazprom's existing pipeline network.

Meanwhile, Putin moved to undermine international confidence in Georgia as a reliable future corridor for energy delivery. This became a strategic priority for Moscow because the European Union announced plans to build a $10 billion natural-gas pipeline from the Caspian, dubbed "Nabucco" after the opera by Verdi. It would run from Turkey to Austria, while linking up to an expanded South Caucasus gas pipeline that now extends from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Erzurum in Turkey. The Nabucco pipeline was intended as a dramatic move to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian natural gas -- and so has enjoyed strong support from the Bush administration.

It is against this backdrop that the recent events in Georgia unfolded.

Checkmate in Georgia?

Obviously, the more oil and gas passing through Georgia on its way to the West, the greater that country's geostrategic significance in the U.S.-Russian struggle over the distribution of Caspian energy. Certainly, the Bush administration recognized this and responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the Georgian military and helping to train specialized forces for protection of the new pipelines. But the administration's partner in Tbilisi, President Mikheil Saakashvili, was not content to play the relatively modest role of pipeline protector. Instead, he sought to pursue a megalomaniacal fantasy of recapturing the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with American help. As it happened, the Bush team -- blindsided by their own neoconservative fantasies -- saw in Saakashvili a useful pawn in their pursuit of a long smoldering anti-Russian agenda. Together, they walked into a trap cleverly set by Putin.

It is hard not to conclude that Russian prime minister goaded the rash Saakashvili into invading South Ossetia by encouraging Abkhazian and South Ossetian irregulars to attack Georgian outposts and villages on the peripheries of the two enclaves. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly told Saakashvili not to respond to such provocations when she met with him in July. Apparently her advice fell on deaf ears. Far more enticing, it seems, was her promise of strong U.S. backing for Georgia's rapid entry into NATO. Other American leaders, including Senator John McCain, assured Saakashvili of unwavering U.S. support. Whatever was said in these private conversations, the Georgian president seems to have interpreted them as a green light for his adventuristic impulses. On August 7th, by all accounts, his forces invaded South Ossetia and attacked its capital city of Tskhinvali, giving Putin what he long craved -- a seemingly legitimate excuse to invade Georgia and demonstrate the complete vulnerability of Clinton's (and now Bush's) vaunted energy corridor.

Today, the Georgian army is in shambles, the BTC and South Caucasus gas pipelines are within range of Russian firepower, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia have declared their independence, quickly receiving Russian recognition. In response to these developments, the Bush administration has, along with some friendly leaders in Europe, mounted a media and diplomatic counterattack, accusing Moscow of barbaric behavior and assorted violations of international law. Threats have also been made to exclude Russia from various international forums and institutions, such as the G-8 club of governments and the World Trade Organization. It is possible, then, that Moscow will suffer some isolation and inconvenience as a result of its incursion into Georgia.

None of this, so far as can be determined, will alter the picture in the Caucasus: Putin has moved his most powerful pieces onto this corner of the chessboard, America's pawn has been decisively defeated, and there's not much of a practical nature that Washington (or London or Paris or Berlin) can do to alter the outcome.

There will, of course, be more rounds to come, and it is impossible to predict how they will play out. Putin prevailed this time around because he focused on geopolitical objectives, while his opponents were blindly driven by fantasy and ideology; so long as this pattern persists, he or his successors are likely to come out on top. Only if American leaders assume a more realistic approach to Russia's resurgent power or, alternatively, choose to collaborate with Moscow in the exploitation of Caspian energy, will the risk of further strategic setbacks in the region disappear...

The origins, the financiers of all trouble, the ;false flags' and of the illegal invasions for power and profit. So, if we try for instance to look for the word 'Israel' in any article, I don't find it anywhere.... And that's not honest, it's gatekeeping...
for instance: "Clinton made a secondary decision - to convert the new Georgian army into a military proxy of the United States, equipped and trained by the Department of Defense." That's not reality again, because in Israel they were mighty proud of the by them given training too of the Georgian military and special forces, and their $billion investments.
Gatekeeper also writes: "Boris Yeltsin, was far too preoccupied with domestic troubles." but knows very well that Boris Yeltsin for years also was kept permanently drunk by the robbing thieves around him, by the BBC portrayed as Russia's 'business oligarchs' - Url.:
We also know very well that Yukos, the $40 billion giant was bought for about $300 million by the oligarchs, thus looting the entire Russian economy for the benefit of a handful of Israeli citizens living in Russia. When Yukos' chairman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested, the American capitalist establishment went orbital. Forgetting the 1999 New York Times exposé on massive money laundering and fraud from Yukos, the conservative establishment began to lionize oligarchy and, specifically, Khodorkovsky." [end quote from the late Vialls] - Url.:
To whip up the frenzy, not only the French state information agency 'Agence France Presse' (AFP - Sunday, 02 November 2003) sent out the information worldwide: also a London newspaper, the Sunday Times, one of Rupert Murdoch's pro-Zionist propaganda rags, claimed that ''Control of Khodorkovsky's shares in Yukos had passed to a member of the Rothschild banking family under a deal which they hammered out prior to the Russian oil baron's arrest. Voting rights to the shares passed to Lord Jacob Rothschild, 67, under a "previously unknown arrangement" designed to take effect in the event that Khodorkovsky could not longer "act as a beneficiary" of the shares,'' the Sunday Times said. Khodorkovsky was said by the paper to have made the arrangement with Rothschild when he realized he was facing arrest. ''Rothschild now controls the voting rights on a stake in Yukos worth almost eight billion pounds,'' the newspaper said in a dispatch from Moscow." (end quote). - Url.:
But the Rothschild c.s. plan to hijack the biggest part of the Russian energy industry: "Looting the entire Russian economy for the benefit of a handful of Israeli citizens living in Russia," did not work. So far the multinational bankers and their criminal cartel have failed. - BBC about Russia's business oligarchs - Url.:
And the 'jackals' - as Putin called them - are again at it, and with full financial force too - because, according to their sick and hegemonic AIPAC/PNAC plan, they still want to control the Russian energy too. At whatever cost to humanity. - 'Russia vs. Robbers' - Url.:
in this piece it's further shifting the blame to "the administration's partner in Tbilisi, President Mikhail Saakashvili," who according to they: "sought to pursue a megalomaniacal fantasy of recapturing the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with American help." Again it doesn't deliver the facts: it wasn't only the financing, arming and training: the 'green light' for the illegal invasion by Georgia of South Ossetia was given by Washington, through London and Tel Aviv. Saakashvili wouldn't dare to do something like that on his own. Even if the people killed, between 1500 and two thousand, never count in the eyes of the warlords.
And last but not least: "Together, they walked into a trap cleverly set by Putin." it writes. That's not true either: both sides, Russia as well as the US/UK/NATO cartel's war machine had info by satellites too. And not a wheelbarrow could roll, without it being seen, filmed and sniffed at, especially troops amassing in a crisis border zone. It was a power match, and the US/UK's war machine had to give in to Russia.... But again at a huge cost to humanity.
The dire warnings and complaints about the totalitarian course of the US/UK/Israeli cartel which - at that time - Russian President Vladimir Putin had in his speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, tells one exactly which world one lives in. - February 11, 2007, Munich - Url.:
That's among other things gatekeepers should have written, based on the eternal question: who profits?
And it's certainly not the abused and poor people in that area. Nor you or me....

Awesome analysis but incomplete conclusions....since It was the U.S., in the person of Zbigniew Brzezinski, that goaded the Soviet Union to start a war in Afghanistan. The U.S. is as far from being innocent in world politics as it gets. It and the Soviet Union were twin scourges on the planet, and now the U.S. is the absolute power that's absolutely corrupt....and now Dr. X is back again at the complete the circle.....? changing the guards does not necessarily change anything to the original equation....started in the mid-seventies...they are just closing the loop and adding more and more circles to the grand old design....{4A67652A-4D79-4340-B956-F5BDF89B07C5}&siteid=mktw&dist=

Wow.. BUSH-man comes and saves the world with his daisy cutters ? The mutant gaseous brain with hydrogen synapses is popping up some interesting ideas....

For normal human beings, it is clear that Georgia, Iran , Iraq, Afghanistan is all about geopolitics.....

Along with the strait of Hormuz, Georgia is an important checkpoint for US gas supplies. The former has been checkmated by Iran and the later by Russia. Let's thank the chimpleton Bush for his diplomatic success.

The era of geopolitics is running close. Inevitably, we are stepping into a multipolar world. Why is this ? Because economic growth is an exponential function and the whole world is growing rich. As other countries get richer, the US share in the global economic product will fall down. There is nothing that USA can do to stop it. Tough luck !

It can either continue with its stupid game of geopolitics, or get serious about becoming energy independent. Oil and natural gas exports will fall down further and further, because energy-rich countries such as the middle east, Venezuela and Russia are realizing that energy is the new currency. There is no point exchanging it with something so ephemeral as US dollars. If you want to import energy, you have to exchange a deeper pound of flesh.

Relying on gas imports looks all the more idiotic when you consider that there are a million alternatives - ranging from the good (solar and nuclear) to bad (coal). It is the job of the environmentalist community to see that this transition to energy independence will avoid the bad alternatives.

Russia checkmates USA on the road to Afghanistan...?

Precise, quick, deadly - the skills of a soldier are modest. But then, US Central Command chief General David Petraeus is more than a soldier. The world is getting used to him as somewhere more than halfway down the road to becoming a statesman. Sure, there may be warfare's seduction over him still, but he is expected to be aware of the political realities of the two wars he conducts, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That is why he tripped last Tuesday when he said while on a visit to Pakistan that the American military had secured agreements to move supplies to Afghanistan from the north, easing the heavy reliance on the transit route through Pakistan. "There have been agreements reached, and there are transit lines now and transit
agreements for commercial goods and services in particular that include several countries in the Central Asian states and Russia," Petraeus said...

He was needlessly precise - like a soldier. Maybe he needed to impress on the tough Pakistani generals that they wouldn't hold the US forces in Afghanistan by their jugular veins for long. Or, he felt simply exasperated about the doublespeak of Janus-faced southwest Asian generals.

The shocking intelligence assessment shared by Moscow reveals that almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves. The US Army is getting burgled in broad daylight and can't do much about it. Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. The Peshawar bazaar is doing a roaring business hawking stolen US military ware, as in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. This volume of business will register a quantum jump following the doubling of the US troop level in Afghanistan to 60,000. Wars are essentially tragedies, but can be comical, too.

Moscow disclaims transit route

At any rate, within a day of Petraeus' remark, Moscow corrected him. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Maslov told Itar-Tass, “No official documents were submitted to Russia's permanent mission in NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] certifying that Russia had authorized the United States and NATO to transport military supplies across the country."

A day later, Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, added from Brussels, "We know nothing of Russia's alleged agreement of military transit of Americans or NATO at large. There had been suggestions of the sort, but they were not formalized." And, with a touch of irony, Rogozin insisted Russia wanted the military alliance to succeed in Afghanistan.

"I can responsibly say that in the event of NATO's defeat in Afghanistan, fundamentalists who are inspired by this victory will set their eyes on the north. First they will hit Tajikistan, then they will try to break into Uzbekistan ... If things turn out badly, in about 10 years, our boys will have to fight well-armed and well-organized Islamists somewhere in Kazakhstan," the popular Moscow-politician turned diplomat added.

Russian experts have let it be known that Moscow views with disquiet the US's recent overtures to Central Asian countries regarding bilateral transit treaties with them which exclude Russia. Agreements have been reached with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Moscow feels the US is pressing ahead with a new Caspian transit route which involves the dispatch of shipments via Georgia to Azerbaijan and thereon to the Kazakh harbor of Aktau and across the Uzbek territory to Amu Darya and northern Afghanistan.

Russian experts estimate that the proposed Caspian transit route could eventually become an energy transportation route in reverse direction, which would mean a strategic setback for Russia in the decade-long struggle for the region's hydrocarbon reserves.

Russia presses for role in Kabul

Indeed, Uzbekistan is the key Central Asian country in the great game over the northern transit route to Afghanistan. Thus, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Tashkent last week, Afghanistan figured as a key topic. Medvedev characterized Russian-Uzbek relations as a "strategic partnership and alliance" and said that on matters relating to Afghanistan, Moscow's cooperation with Tashkent assumed an "exceptional importance".
He said he and Uzbek President Islam Karimov agreed that there could be no "unilateral solution" to the Afghan problem and "nothing can be resolved without taking into account the collective opinion of states which have an interest in the resolution of the situation".

Most significantly, Medvedev underlined Russia had no objections about US President Barack Obama's idea of linking the Afghanistan and Pakistan problems, but for an entirely different reason, as "it is not possible to examine the establishment and development of a modern political system in Afghanistan in isolation from the context of normalizing relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in their border regions, setting up the appropriate international mechanisms and so on".

Moscow rarely touches on the sensitive Durand Line question, that is, the controversial line that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan. Medvedev underscored that Russia remained an interested party, as there was a "need to ensure that these issues are resolved on a collective basis".

Second, Medvedev made it clear Moscow would resist US attempts to expand its military and political presence in the Central Asian and Caspian regions. He asserted, "This is a key region, a region in which diverse processes are taking place and in which Russia has crucially important work to do to coordinate our positions with our colleagues and help to find common solutions to the most complex problems."

Plainly put, Moscow will not allow a replay of the US's tactic after September 11, 2002, when it sought a military presence in Central Asia as a temporary measure and then coolly proceeded to put it on a long-term footing.

Karzai reaches out to Moscow

Interestingly, Medvedev's remarks coincide with reports that Washington is cutting Afghan President Hamid Karzai adrift and is planning to install a new "dream team" in Kabul.

Medvedev had written to Karzai offering military aid. Karzai apparently accepted the Russian offer, ignoring the US objection that in terms of secret US-Afghan agreements, Kabul needed Washington's prior consent for such dealings with third countries.

A statement from the Kremlin last Monday said Russia was "ready to provide broad assistance for an independent and democratic country [Afghanistan] that lives in a peaceful atmosphere with its neighbors. Cooperation in the defense sector ... will be effective for establishing peace in the region". It makes sense for Kabul to make military procurements from Russia since the Afghan armed forces use Soviet weaponry. But Washington doesn't want a Russian "presence" in Kabul.

Quite obviously, Moscow and Kabul have challenged the US's secret veto power over Afghanistan's external relations. Last Friday, Russian and Afghan diplomats met in Moscow and "pledged to continue developing Russian-Afghan cooperation in politics, trade and economics as well as in the humanitarian sphere". Significantly, they also "noted the importance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO]" that is dominated by Russia and China.

SCO seeks Afghan role

Washington cannot openly censure Karzai from edging close to Russia (and China) since Afghanistan is notionally a sovereign country. Meanwhile, Moscow is intervening in Kabul's assertion of independence. Moscow has stepped up its efforts to hold an international conference on Afghanistan under the aegis of the SCO. The US doesn't want Karzai to legitimize a SCO role in the Afghan problem. Now a flashpoint arises.

A meeting of deputy foreign ministers from the SCO member countries (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) met in Moscow on January 14. The Russian Foreign Ministry subsequently announced that a conference would take place in late March. The Russian initiative received a big boost with Iran and India's decision to participate in the conference.

New Delhi has welcomed an enhanced role for itself as a SCO observer and seeks "greater participation" in the organization's activities. In particular, New Delhi has "expressed interest in participating in the activities" of the SCO contact group on Afghanistan.

The big question is whether Karzai will seize these regional trends and respond to the SCO overture, which will enable Kabul to get out of Washington's stranglehold? To be sure, Washington is racing against time in bringing about a "regime change" in Kabul.

The point is, more and more countries in the region are finding it difficult to accept the US monopoly on conflict-resolution in Afghanistan. Washington will be hard-pressed to dissociate from the forthcoming SCO conference in March and, ideally, would have wished that Karzai also stayed away, despite it being a full-fledged regional initiative that includes all of Afghanistan's neighbors.

The SCO is sure to list Afghanistan as a major agenda item at its annual summit meeting scheduled to be held in August in Yekaterinburg, Russia. It seems Washington cannot stop the SCO in its tracks at this stage, except by genuinely broad-basing the search for an Afghan settlement and allowing regional powers with legitimate interests to fully participate.

The current US thinking, on the other hand, is to strike "grand bargains" with regional powers bilaterally and to keep them apart from collectively coordinating with each other on the basis of shared concerns. But the regional powers see through the US game plan for what it is - a smart move of divide-and-rule.

Moscow spurns selective engagement

No doubt, these diplomatic maneuverings also reveal the trust deficit in Russian-American relations. Moscow voices optimism that Obama will constructively address the problems that have accumulated in the US-Russia relationship. But Russia figured neither in Obama's inaugural address nor in the foreign policy document spelling out his agenda.

Last Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov summed up Moscow's minimal expectations: "I hope the controversial problems in our relations, such as missile defense, the expediency of NATO expansion ... will be resolved on the basis of pragmatism, without the ideological assessment the outgoing administration had ... We have noticed that ... Obama was willing to take a break on the issue of missile defense ... and to evaluate its effectiveness and cost efficiency."

But Russia is not among the new US administration's priorities. Besides, as the influential newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted last week, "A considerable number of [US] congressmen from both parties believe Russia needs a good talking-to." The current Russian priority will be to organize an early meeting between Lavrov and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and until such a meeting takes place, matters are on hold - including the vexed issue of the transit route for Afghanistan.

Thus, while talking to the media in Tashkent, Medvedev agreed in principle to grant permission to the US to use a transit route to Afghanistan via Russian territory, but at once qualified it saying, "This cooperation should be full-fledged and on an equal basis." He reminded Obama that the "surge" strategy in Afghanistan might not work. "We hope the new administration will be more successful than its predecessor on the issues surrounding Afghanistan," Medvedev said.

Evidently, Petraeus overlooked that the US's needless obduracy to keep the Hindu Kush as its exclusive geopolitical turf right in the middle of Asia has become a contentious issue. No matter the fine rhetoric, the Obama administration will find it difficult to sustain the myth that the Afghan war is all about fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban to the finish.....

Let's think in terms of eco-dollars.


The Prospero....

New Philosophy, which I define as "the science of science", and in new biology and evolutionary science, as a critic of orthodox theory and a "social fractalist", one who applies the theory of fractal evolution to social theory...

The central question is: "Is there a way of turning our civilization around 180 degrees? Right now, we’re a fear prone and warring civilization apparently bent on self-destruction. Is it possible to avoid the doom that so many are projecting, to turn this blood-soaked world into a ‘party planet’? "what makes a negative future inevitable is the fact that so many believe it is inevitable – and so few can find a basis for believing otherwise...."

Is there any real basis for believing in a positive future? "yes", and the Prospero Project offers an explanation in two parts – An interpretation of the history of the human species and of the Western world as a multi-faceted and largely unconscious effort to master "the realm of belief ", and an exposition of the emerging scientific basis for believing that humans, both individually and collectively, are and always have been the creators of their realities. The main metaphor for positive transformation of Millennial Man is Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which I regard as "an extremely important and extremely neglected document in the prophetic literature of the West..."

In the play, a while magician named Prospero creates a holographic storm that leaves old enemies shipwrecked on the shore of his island. With the help of lofty consciousness, magic and young love, Prospero not only corrects an old injustice against himself, he also prepares a sound basis for the creation of a new, benign political order in his old kingdom. "The play is full of wisdom", . "If we master the wisdom, we just may be able to transform the genocidal New World Order into a True World Order....

There are a number of good books which explore "pieces of the puzzle" of human evolution. The Prospero Project is one of the few books so far that puts the pieces together in a highly credible way. As such "the mind of man is now in the process of making a momentous choice regarding the future of our species…life or death. We can make it..., and there is a way to give the better angels of our nature a chance to work their magic, to turn the current appalling human tragedy into a miracle play....