8/13/08 A Miscalculation, or a Calculated Offense in the Global War?

"Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people ...Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."
GWB 8/11/8

1,252,595 Iraqis Slaughtered Since U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

"Russian Aggression Must Not Go Unanswered"
VP Dick Cheney

The War in Georgia Is a War for the West
President of Georgia
Why this war? This is the question my people are asking. This war is not of Georgia's making, nor is it Georgia's choice.

"...if you were to rate how serious the strategic situations have been in the past few years, this would be above Iraq, this would be above Afghanistan, and this would be above Iran."
Colonel Gardiner, retired Air Force colonel and strategy and military operations teacher: the National War, Air War, and Naval War Colleges.

Massive US Naval Armada Heads for Iran:
The build up of naval forces in the Gulf will be one of the largest multi-national naval armadas since the First and Second Gulf Wars. The intent is to create a US/EU naval blockade (which is an Act of War under international law) around Iran

Washington Risks Nuclear War by Miscalculation
By F William Engdahl
"Market Oracle" --- - The dramatic military attack by the military of the Republic of Georgia on South Ossetia in the last days has brought the world one major step closer to the ultimate horror of the Cold War era—a thermonuclear war between Russia and the United States—by miscalculation. What is playing out in the Caucasus is being reported in US media in an alarmingly misleading light, making Moscow appear the lone aggressor. The question is whether George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are encouraging the unstable Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili in order to force the next US President to back the NATO military agenda of the Bush Doctrine. This time Washington may have badly misjudged the possibilities, as it did in Iraq , but this time with possible nuclear consequences.

The underlying issue, as I stressed in my July 11 piece entitled Georgia, Washington and Moscow: a Nuclear Geopolitical Poker Game , is the fact t hat since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 one after another former member as well as former states of the USSR have been coaxed and in many cases bribed with false promises by Washington into joining the counter organization, NATO.

Rather than initiate discussions after the 1991 dissolution of the Warsaw Pact about a systematic dissolution of NATO, Washington has systematically converted NATO into what can only be called the military vehicle of an American global imperial rule, linked by a network of military bases from Kosovo to Poland to Turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan . In 1999, former Warsaw Pact members Hungary , Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO. Bulgaria , Estonia , Latvia , Lithuania , Romania , and Slovakia followed suit in March 2004. Now Washington is putting immense pressure on the EU members of NATO, especially Germany and France , that they vote in December to admit Georgia and Ukraine...

Russia is unwilling to see Georgia join NATO. In addition, the Ossetes are the oldest Russian allies in the Caucasus who have provided troops to the Russian army in many wars. Russia does not wish to abandon them and the Abkhaz, and fuel yet more ethnic unrest among their compatriots in the Russian North Caucasus . In a November 2006 referendum, 99 percent of South Ossetians voted for independence from Georgia , at a time when most of them had long held Russian passports. This enabled Russian President Medvedev to justify his military's counter-attack of Georgia on Friday as an effort to "protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, wherever they may be."

For Russia , Ossetia has been an important strategic base near the Turkish and Iranian frontiers since the days of the czars. Georgia is also an important transit country for oil being pumped from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and a potential base for Washington efforts to encircle Tehran ...

Proxy War
In March this year as Washington went ahead to recognize the independence of Kosovo in former Yugoslavia, making Kosovo a de facto NATO-run territory against the will of the UN Security Council and especially against Russian protest, Putin responded with Russian Duma hearings on recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway republic in Moldova. Moscow argued that the West's logic on Kosovo should apply as well to these ethnic communities seeking to free themselves from the control of a hostile state. In mid-April, Mr. Putin held out the possibility of recognition for the breakaway republics. It was a geopolitical chess game in the strategic Caucasus for the highest stakes—the future of Russia itself.

Saakashvili called then-President Putin to demand he reverse the decision. He reminded Putin that the West had taken Georgia 's side. This past April at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, US President Bush proposed accepting Georgia into NATO's "Action Plan for Membership," a precursor to NATO membership. To Washington 's surprise, ten NATO member states refused to support his plan, including Germany , France and Italy .They argued that accepting the Georgians was problematic, because of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia . They were in reality saying that they would not be willing to back Georgia as, under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which mandates that an armed attack against any NATO member country must be considered an attack against them all and consequently requires use of collective armed force of all NATO members, it would mean that Europe could be faced with war against Russia over the tiny Caucasus Republic of Georgia, with its incalculable dictator, Saakashvili. That would mean the troubled Caucasus would be on a hair-trigger to detonate World War III. ...
Since Saakashvili took power in late 2003 [through U.S. -Soros sponsored Rose Revolution] the Pentagon has been in Georgia giving military aid and training. Not only are US military personnel active in Georgia today. According to an Israeli-intelligence source, DEBKA file, in 2007, the Georgian President Saakashvili “commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also have been giving instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel . These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army's preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday.” Debkafile reported further, “ Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia , finally threatening a crisis in bilateral relations. Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilisi was ‘defensive.'” The Israeli news source added that Israel 's interest in Georgia has to do as well with Caspian oil pipeline geopolitics. “ Jerusalem has a strong interest in having Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan , rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia , Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel 's oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat . From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean .”

This means that the attack on South Ossetia is the first battle in a new proxy warfare between Anglo-American-Israeli led interests and Russia . The only question is whether Washington miscalculated the swiftness and intensity of the Russian response to the Georgian attacks of 8.8.08.

So far, each step in the Caucasus drama has put the conflict on a yet higher plane of danger. The next step will no longer be just about the Caucasus , or even Europe . In 1914 it was the “Guns of August” that initiated the Great War. This time the Guns of August 2008 could be the detonator of World War III and a nuclear holocaust of unspeakable horror.

Nuclear Primacy: the larger strategic danger
Most in the West are unaware how dangerous the conflict over two tiny provinces in a remote part of Eurasia has become. What is left out of most all media coverage is the strategic military security context of the Caucasus dispute.

In my book, Century of War , I describe the developments by NATO and most directly by Washington since the end of the Cold War to systematically pursue what military strategists call Nuclear Primacy. Put simply, if one of two opposing nuclear powers is able to first develop an operational anti-missile defense, even primitive, that can dramatically weaken a potential counter-strike by the opposing side's nuclear arsenal, the side with missile defense has “won” the nuclear war.

As mad as this sounds, it has been explicit Pentagon policy through the last three Presidents from father Bush in 1990, to Clinton and most aggressively, George W. Bush. This is the issue where Russia has drawn a deep line in the sand, understandably so. The forceful US effort to push Georgia as well as Ukraine into NATO would present Russia with the spectre of NATO literally coming to its doorstep, a military threat that is aggressive in the extreme, and untenable for Russian national security.

This is what gives the seemingly obscure fight over two provinces the size of Luxemburg the potential to become the 1914 Sarajevo trigger to a new nuclear war by miscalculation. The trigger for such a war is not Georgia 's right to annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Rather, it is US insistence on pushing NATO and its missile defense right up to Russia 's door.

By F. William Engdahl

a revealing strategic imperialist analysis by Stratfor CEO
The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power
By George Friedman
The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted. The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as potential conflict with Iran and a destabilizing situation in Pakistan. It has no strategic ground forces in reserve and is in no position to intervene on the Russian periphery. This, as we have argued, has opened a window of opportunity for the Russians to reassert their influence in the former Soviet sphere. Moscow did not have to concern itself with the potential response of the United States or Europe; hence, the invasion did not shift the balance of power. The balance of power had already shifted, and it was up to the Russians when to make this public. They did that Aug. 8...

The Mystery Behind the Georgian Invasion
In this simple chronicle, there is something quite mysterious: Why did the Georgians choose to invade South Ossetia on Thursday night? There had been a great deal of shelling by the South Ossetians of Georgian villages for the previous three nights, but while possibly more intense than usual, artillery exchanges were routine. The Georgians might not have fought well, but they committed fairly substantial forces that must have taken at the very least several days to deploy and supply. Georgia’s move was deliberate. The United States is Georgia’s closest ally. It maintained about 130 military advisers in Georgia, along with civilian advisers, contractors involved in all aspects of the Georgian government and people doing business in Georgia. It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia’s mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian frontier. U.S. technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the posture of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that t he Russians had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?
It is very difficult to imagine that the Georgians launched their attack against U.S. wishes. The Georgians rely on the United States, and they were in no position to defy it. This leaves two possibilities. The first is a massive breakdown in intelligence, in which the United States either was unaware of the existence of Russian forces, or knew of the Russian forces but — along with the Georgians — miscalculated Russia’s intentions. The United States, along with other countries, has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when the Russian military was in shambles and the Russian government was paralyzed. The United States has not seen Russia make a decisive military move beyond its borders since the Afghan war of the 1970s-1980s. The Russians had systematically avoided such moves for years. The United States had assumed that the Russians would not risk the consequences of an invasion.
If this was the case, then it points to the central reality of this situation: The Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia and the United States and Europe could not respond. As for risk, they did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no counter. Economically, Russia is an energy exporter doing quite well — indeed, the Europeans need Russian energy even more than the Russians need to sell it to them. Politically, as we shall see, the Americans needed the Russians more than the Russians needed the Americans. Moscow’s calculus was that this was the moment to strike. The Russians had been building up to it for months, as we have discussed, and they struck.

The Western Encirclement of Russia
To understand Russian thinking, we need to look at two events. The first is the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. From the U.S. and European point of view, the Orange Revolution represented a triumph of democracy and Western influence. From the Russian point of view, as Moscow made clear, the Orange Revolution was a CIA-funded intrusion into the internal affairs of Ukraine, designed to draw Ukraine into NATO and add to the encirclement of Russia. U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had promised the Russians that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet Union empire. That promise had already been broken in 1998 by NATO’s expansion to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — and again in the 2004 expansion, which absorbed not only the rest of the former Soviet satellites in what is now Central Europe, but also the three Baltic states, which had been components of the Soviet Union.

The Russians had tolerated all that, but the discussion of including Ukraine in NATO represented a fundamental threat to Russia’s national security. It would have rendered Russia indefensible and threatened to destabilize the Russian Federation itself. When the United States went so far as to suggest that Georgia be included as well, bringing NATO deeper into the Caucasus, the Russian conclusion — publicly stated — was that the United States in particular intended to encircle and break Russia.
The second and lesser event was the decision by Europe and the United States to back Kosovo’s separation from Serbia. The Russians were friendly with Serbia, but the deeper issue for Russia was this: The principle of Europe since World War II was that, to prevent conflict, national borders would not be changed. If that principle were violated in Kosovo, other border shifts — including demands by various regions for independence from Russia — might follow. The Russians publicly and privately asked that Kosovo not be given formal independence, but instead continue its informal autonomy, which was the same thing in practical terms. Russia’s requests were ignored.
From the Ukrainian experience, the Russians became convinced that the United States was engaged in a plan of strategic encirclement and strangulation of Russia. From the Kosovo experience, they concluded that the United States and Europe were not prepared to consider Russian wishes even in fairly minor affairs. That was the breaking point. If Russian desires could not be accommodated even in a minor matter like this, then clearly Russia and the West were in conflict. For the Russians, as we said, the question was how to respond. Having declined to respond in Kosovo, the Russians decided to respond where they had all the cards: in South Ossetia.
Moscow had two motives, the lesser of which was as a tit-for-tat over Kosovo. If Kosovo could be declared independent under Western sponsorship, then South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two breakaway regions of Georgia, could be declared independent under Russian sponsorship. Any objections from the United States and Europe would simply confirm their hypocrisy. This was important for internal Russian political reasons, but the second motive was far more important.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin once said that the fall of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical disaster. This didn’t mean that he wanted to retain the Soviet state; rather, it meant that the disintegration of the Soviet Union had created a situation in which Russian national security was threatened by Western interests. As an example, consider that during the Cold War, St. Petersburg was about 1,200 miles away from a NATO country. Today it is about 60 miles away from Estonia, a NATO member. The disintegration of the Soviet Union had left Russia surrounded by a group of countries hostile to Russian interests in various degrees and heavily influenced by the United States, Europe and, in some cases, China.
Resurrecting the Russian Sphere
Putin did not want to re-establish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re-establish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union region. To accomplish that, he had to do two things. First, he had to re-establish the credibility of the Russian army as a fighting force, at least in the context of its region. Second, he had to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meant nothing in the face of Russian power. He did not want to confront NATO directly, but he did want to confront and defeat a power that was closely aligned with the United States, had U.S. support, aid and advisers and was widely seen as being under American protection. Georgia was the perfect choice.
By invading Georgia as Russia did (competently if not brilliantly), Putin re-established the credibility of the Russian army. But far more importantly, by doing this Putin revealed an open secret: While the United States is tied down in the Middle East, American guarantees have no value. This lesson is not for American consumption. It is something that, from the Russian point of view, the Ukrainians, the Balts and the Central Asians need to digest. Indeed, it is a lesson Putin wants to transmit to Poland and the Czech Republic as well. The United States wants to place ballistic missile defense installations in those countries, and the Russians want them to understand that allowing this to happen increases their risk, not their security.
The Russians knew the United States would denounce their attack. This actually plays into Russian hands. The more vocal senior leaders are, the greater the contrast with their inaction, and the Russians wanted to drive home the idea that American guarantees are empty talk.

The Russians also know something else that is of vital importance: For the United States, the Middle East is far more important than the Caucasus, and Iran is particularly important. The United States wants the Russians to participate in sanctions against Iran. Even more importantly, they do not want the Russians to sell weapons to Iran, particularly the highly effective S-300 air defense system. Georgia is a marginal issue to the United States; Iran is a central issue. The Russians are in a position to pose serious problems for the United States not only in Iran, but also with weapons sales to other countries, like Syria.

Therefore, the United States has a problem — it either must reorient its strategy away from the Middle East and toward the Caucasus, or it has to seriously limit its response to Georgia to avoid a Russian counter in Iran. Even if the United States had an appetite for another war in Georgia at this time, it would have to calculate the Russian response in Iran — and possibly in Afghanistan (even though Moscow’s interests there are currently aligned with those of Washington).
In other words, the Russians have backed the Americans into a corner. The Europeans, who for the most part lack expeditionary militaries and are dependent upon Russian energy exports, have even fewer options. If nothing else happens, the Russians will have demonstrated that they have resumed their role as a regional power. Russia is not a global power by any means, but a significant regional power with lots of nuclear weapons and an economy that isn’t all too shabby at the moment. It has also compelled every state on the Russian periphery to re-evaluate its position relative to Moscow. As for Georgia, the Russians appear ready to demand the resignation of President Mikhail Saakashvili. Militarily, that is their option. That is all they wanted to demonstrate, and they have demonstrated it.
The war in Georgia, therefore, is Russia’s public return to great power status. This is not something that just happened — it has been unfolding ever since Putin took power, and with growing intensity in the past five years. Part of it has to do with the increase of Russian power, but a great deal of it has to do with the fact that the Middle Eastern wars have left the United States off-balance and short on resources. As we have written, this conflict created a window of opportunity. The Russian goal is to use that window to assert a new reality throughout the region while the Americans are tied down elsewhere and dependent on the Russians. The war was far from a surprise; it has been building for months. But the geopolitical foundations of the war have been building since 1992. Russia has been an empire for centuries. The last 15 years or so were not the new reality, but simply an aberration that would be rectified. And now it is being rectified.

Putin Walks into a Trap
By Mike Whitney
The Georgian army had no chance of winning a war with Russia or any intention of occupying the territory they captured. The real aim was to lure the Russian army into a trap....
In June [ digest note: U.S.conducted 3 wks. of military training exercises in Georgia in June '08] former foreign policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, presented the basic storyline that would be used against Russia two full months before the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia...on the Kavkazcenter web site... "Russia actively tends to isolate the Central Asian region from direct access to world economy, especially to energy supplies..If Georgia government is destabilized, western access to Baku, Caspian Sea and further will be limited". http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2008/06/13/9798.shtml...
Brzezinski is not only the architect of the mujahadin-led campaign against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but also, the author of "The Grand Chessboard--American Primacy and it's Geostrategic Imperatives", the operating theory behind the 'war on terror' which involves massive US intervention in Central Asia to control vital resources, fragment Russia, and surround manufacturing giant, China. "The Grand Chessboard"... the 21st century's version of the Great Game...begins: "Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.....The key to controlling Eurasia, says Brzezinski, is controlling the Central Asian Republics."...
Brzezinski's comments that Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia was... part of a larger strategy to drag Russia into an endless conflict that will sap its resources, decrease its prestige on the global stage, weaken its grip on regional power, strengthen frayed alliances between Europe and America, and divert attention from a larger campaign in the Gulf.... Brzezinski, Holbrooke and Albright ... are cold-blooded Machiavellian imperialists who know how to work the media and the diplomatic channels to conceal their genocidal operations behind a smokescreen of humanitarian mumbo-jumbo. They know what they are doing and they are good at it. They're not fools. They have aligned themselves with the Obama camp and are preparing for the next big outbreak of global trouble-making. This should serve as a sobering wake-up call for voters who still think Obama represents "Change We Can Believe In".

democrat 'lesser-of-the-evils'!
Russia's Invasion of Georgia Is Reminiscent of Stalin's Attack on Finland
Zbigniew Brzezinski (Obama consultant)
Huffington Post
The question is about our longer term interest. If a Russia, which misjudges its power and its capacities embarks now on a blatantly nationalistic and imperialistic course, we will all suffer....

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Fundamentally at stake is what kind of role Russia will play in the new international system. Unfortunately, Putin is putting Russia on a course that is ominously similar to Stalin's and Hitler's in the late 1930s. Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has correctly drawn an analogy between Putin's "justification" for dismembering Georgia -- because of the Russians in South Ossetia -- to Hitler's tactics vis a vis Czechoslovakia to "free" the Sudeten Deutsch....

Even more ominous is the analogy of what Putin is doing vis-a-vis Georgia to what Stalin did vis-a-vis Finland: subverting by use of force the sovereignty of a small democratic neighbor. In effect, morally and strategically, Georgia is the Finland of our day
The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin's control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/ Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.
In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdepedent world, conduct that should be based on accommodation and consensus, not on brute force.
If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine....

The United States, particularly, shoulders the major burden of mobilizing an collective international response. This invasion of Georgia by Russia is a very sad commentary on eight years of self-delusion in the White House regarding Putin and his regime... It has to be a concerted effort on all levels -- at the United Nations, in the Atlantic Council, in the EU or in NATO, in consultation with the Japanese, the Chinese and others -- to convey to Russia that, whatever grievances it may have, it cannot resolve them by a deliberate policy of dismembering an adjoining state and trying to obtain political domination over it.

Why Russia’s Response to Georgia was Right
By Sergei Lavrov
For some of those witnessing the fighting in the Caucasus over the past few days, the narrative is straightforward and easy. The plucky republic of Georgia, with just a few million citizens, was attacked by its giant eastern neighbour, Russia. Add to this all the stereotypes of the cold war era, and you are presented with a truly David and Goliath interpretation – with all its accompanying connotations of good and evil. While this version of events is being written in much of the western media, the facts present a different picture.

Will it be the Flyswatter or the Blunderbuss?
By Mike Whitney
2003: US-backed NGOs and western intelligence agencies toppled the Eduard Shevardnadze regime in the... "Rose Revolution". Since then, Saakashvili has done everything that's been asked of him... built up the military and internal security apparatus, allowed US advisers to train and arm Georgian troops, applied for membership in NATO... made huge purchases of Israeli and US-made (offensive) weapon systems and devoted more than... a quarter of GDP, all Georgian public income to military hardware.
Now, he has sent his army into battle... Vladimir Vasilyev, Chairman of Russia's State Duma Security Committee: "The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America. In essence, the Americans have prepared the force, which destroys everything in South Ossetia, attacks civilians and hospitals."...
Israeli arms manufacturers have also been supplying Saakashvili with state-of-the-art weaponry. According to Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz:

"In addition to the spy drones, Israel has also been supplying Georgia with infantry weapons and electronics for artillery systems, and has helped upgrade Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia, according to Koba Liklikadze, an independent military expert in Tbilisi. Former Israeli generals also serve as advisers to the Georgian military." ("Following Russian pressure, Israel freezes defense sales to Georgia" Associated Press)

The Israeli news source DebkaFile elaborates on the geopolitical implications of Israeli involvement in the Georgia's politics:

"The conflict has been sparked by the race for control over the pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region....The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili’s ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines.

Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean." (Paul Joseph Watson, "US Attacks Russia Through Client State Georgia")

The United States and Israel are both neck-deep in the "Great Game"...the ongoing war for vital petroleum and natural gas supplies in Central Asia and the Caspian Basin.... Putin appears to have the upper-hand because of his alliances with his regional allies–under the Commonwealth of Independent States—and because most of the natural gas from Eurasia is pumped through Russian pipelines. An article in “Today’s Zaman” gives a good snapshot of Russia’s position vis a vis natural resources in the region:
“As far as natural resources are concerned Russia’s hand is very strong: It holds 6.6 percent of the worlds proven oil reserves and 26 percent of the world’s gas reserves. In addition, it currently accounts for 12 percent of world oil and 21 of recent world gas production. In May 2007, Russia was the world’s largest oil and gas producer.
As for national champions, Putin has strengthened and prepared Gazprom (the state-controlled gas company), Transneft (oil pipeline monopoly) and Rosneft (the state-owned oil giant). That is why in 2006 Gazprom retained full ownership in the giant Shtokman gas field (7) and took a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 natural gas project. In June 2007, it took back BP’s Kovytka gas field and now is behind Total’s Kharyaga oil and gas field.” (“Vladimir Putin’s Energystan and the Caspian” Today’s Zaman)
Putin...collaborated with the Austrian government on a huge natural gas depot in Austria which will facilitate the transport of gas to southern Europe. He has joined forces with German industry to build an underwater pipeline through the Baltic to Germany (which could provide 80% of Germany’s gas requirements) He has selected France’s Total to assist Gazprom in the development of the massive Shtokman gas field. And he is setting up pipeline corridors to provide gas to Turkey and the Balkans. Putin has very deliberately spread Russia’s influence evenly throughout Europe with the intention of severing the Transatlantic Alliance and, eventually, loosening America’s vice-like grip on the continent. Putin’s overtures to Germany’s Merkel and France’s Sarkozy are calculated to weaken the resolve of Bush’s neocon allies in the EU and put them in Russia’s corner. Putin is also attracting considerable foreign investment to Russian markets and has adopted “a ‘new model of cooperation’ in the energy sector that would ‘allow foreign partners to share in the economic benefits of the project, share the management, and take on a share of the industrial, commercial and financial risks’”. (M K Bhadrakumar “Russia plays the Shtokman card”, Asia Times) All of these are intended to strengthen ties between Europe and Russia...
Sometimes war provides clarity. That's certainly true in this case. After this weekends fighting the Russian political establishment knows Washington is willing to sacrifice thousands of innocent civilians and plunge the entire region into chaos to achieve its geopolitical objectives... Putin...should announce that Russia will sell all $50 billion of its Fannie Mae mortgage-backed bonds, all of it US dollar-backed assets, and will accept only rubles and euros in the future sale of Russian oil and natural gas. Then watch as the Dow Jones goes into a death-spiral.[...]

US sends more arms to Georgia from its base in the Jordanian port of Aqabah: Israeli Maariv newspaper report

Bush, Sending Aid, Demands That Moscow Withdraw
President Bush sent American troops to Georgia on Wednesday to oversee a “vigorous and ongoing” humanitarian mission, in a direct challenge to Russia’s display of military dominance over the region... a C-17 transporter carrying medical supplies and materials for shelter...arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, on Wednesday; a second was due Thursday.
“We expect Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads and airspace, remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for civilian transit,” Mr. Bush said... It was his strongest warning yet of potential retaliation against Russia over the conflict.The decision to send the American military, even on a humanitarian mission, deepened the United States’ commitment to Georgia and America’s allies in the former Soviet sphere, just as Russia has been determined to reassert its control in the area...a senior Pentagon official said the relief effort was intended “to show to Russia that we can come to the aid of a European ally, and that we can do it at will, whenever and wherever we want.” ...
In Russia, Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister, warned the Bush administration that it risked a breach with Russia by throwing its support so strongly behind Georgia and its president.
“We understand that this current Georgian leadership is a special project of the United States,” he said, “but one day the United States will have to choose between defending its prestige over a virtual project or real partnership” with Russia....
One of the Russian commanders, Gen. Vyacheslav Nikolayevich of the Pskov Airborne Division...Asked whether Mr. Bush’s relief mission made him nervous, scoffed. “What can the Americans do to us?” he said. “A big country like Russia doesn’t fear America.”...

[digest: HRW is a U.S./"humanitarian" Soros operation and propaganda feed, see below and earlier digests]
In South Ossetia, investigators began to look into accusations of atrocities. Human Rights Watch reported that researchers witnessed “terrifying scenes of destruction” in four ethnic Georgian villages, and said the villages had been looted and burned by South Ossetian militias. Anna Neistat, one of the researchers, said by telephone from Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, that they had found no evidence to substantiate Russian assertions of widespread brutality by Georgian troops. Human Rights Watch has been able to confirm fewer than 100 deaths...

[u.s. still wielding carrots & sticks]
At the United Nations, Security Council members continued informal but inconclusive consultations on the final draft of a resolution intended to codify the cease-fire.

Troops from Atlanta will train in Republic of Georgia
14 Jul 2008
A large contingent of Georgia Army National Guard soldiers flew to the Republic of Georgia for joint military exercises at a time when tension is brewing in the region. The soldiers, mostly from the metro area, will be part of "Immediate Response 2008," which will amount to the largest U.S. footprint on the crossroads of Asia and Europe since the Cold War began. The three-week operation also provides practical training for the 48th Infantry Brigade's 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment just months before a pending deployment to Afghanistan.

U.S. Military Instructors Command Hirelings in Georgia
11 Aug 2008
Thousands of mercenaries commanded and cooordinated by U.S. military instructors are fighting for Georgia RIA Novosti reported... "From 2,500 to 3,000 mercenaries fight against Russia’s peacekeepers on behalf of Georgia,"... According to intelligence data, there are roughly 1,000 military instructors of the United States in Georgia.

Georgian MP lauds IDF military training
12 Aug 2008
Georgian Integration Minister Temur Yakobashvili told The Jerusalem Post he "felt proud as a Jew," thanks to the training Israelis provided to Georgian military.

coincidence? u.s. insinuating cyber attacks on Georgia were Russian-based, despite fact July 'botattacks' were u.s.-based
Law Professor: Counter Terrorism Czar Told Me There Is Going To Be An i-9/11 And An i-Patriot Act
By Steve Watson
Amazing revelations concerning already existing government efforts to overhaul the way the internet for much greater restriction and control of the web.
Lessig is the founder of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. He is founding board member of Creative Commons and is a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and of the Software Freedom Law Center. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.... a respected Law Professor from Stanford University [he] told an audience at this years Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, California, that “There’s going to be an i-9/11 event” which will act as a catalyst for a radical reworking of the law pertaining to the internet... an event where the instability or the insecurity of the internet becomes manifest during a malicious event which inspires the government response.
During a group panel segment titled “2018: Life on the Net”, Lessig also revealed that he had learned, during a dinner with former government Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, that there is already in existence a cyber equivalent of the Patriot Act, an “i-Patriot Act” if you will, and that the Justice Department is waiting for a cyber terrorism event in order to implement its provisions...
Such an event could come in the form of a major viral attack, the hacking of a major city’s security or transport systems, or some other vital systems, or a combination of all of these things. Considering the amount of unanswered questions regarding 9/11 and all the indications that it was a covert false flag operation, it isn’t hard to imagine such an event being played out in the cyber world.
However, regardless of any i-9/11 or i-Patriot Act, there is already a coordinated effort to stem the reach and influence of the internet... Legislation such as the PRO-IP Act of 2007: H.R. 4279, that would create an IP czar at the Department of Justice and the Intellectual Property Enforcement Act of 2007: S. 522, which would create an entire ‘Intellectual Property Enforcement Network’... just two examples... we have already seen how the major corporate websites and social networks are decentralizing and coming together to implement overarching identification, verification and access systems ... Some of these major tech companies have already joined efforts in projects such as the Information Card Foundation, which has proposed the creation of a system of internet ID cards that will be required for internet access. Of course, such a system would give those involved the ability to track and control user activity much more effectively. This is just one example.
In addition, as we reported yesterday, major transportation hubs like St. Pancras International, as well as libraries, big businesses, hospitals and other public outlets that offer wi-fi Internet, are blacklisting [SIC] alternative news websites and making them completely inaccessible to their users.These precedents are merely the first indication of what is planned for the Internet...

just kidding....
Pentagon puts hold on USAF cyber effort
The Pentagon delayed and may kill the Air Force's nascent Cyberspace Command, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. This comes as Russia used a major computer network attack to begin its assault on Georgia... The Air Force considers cyberspace a "domain" for which the service should train and equip forces to defend, as it does airspace... A senior military commander told the AP, however, that the mission to defend U.S. military networks is better vested in U.S. Strategic Command, which has the military responsibility for cyberspace across all services and commands. According to an August "for official use only" intelligence report by the Homeland Security Department, obtained by The Associated Press, there are no effective means to prevent a similar attack on U.S. Web sites connected to the Internet. The service's Cyberspace Command is to coordinate computer network defense and, more controversially, offensive attacks on enemy networks. The goal, according to senior officials, is to be able to take control of adversary computer networks to thwart attacks or otherwise influence their behavior_ either with or without that adversary realizing it. The Russian computer takedown served the same purpose as a traditional air attack on enemy radars and communications antennae, said Michael Wynne, the former U.S. Air Force Secretary who made cyberwar a central mission of the Air Force. "The Russians just shot down the government command nets so they could cover their incursion," said Wynne. "This was really one of the first aspects of a coordinated military action that had cyber as a lead force, instead of sending in air planes. We need to figure out a way not only see the attack coming but to block it, and in blocking it chase it home."
"I think this is a very poor time to send a signal that the United States is not interested in focusing on warfighting in the cyber domain," Wynne added. Wynne was fired by Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this year after the Air Force's mishandling of nuclear weapons. Wynne, however, told reporters he was fired over differences with Gates on the need for additional F-22 fighter jets, among other matters... http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080813/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/air_force_cybercom...

more stage-setting for internet 2
Combating Enemies Online: State-Sponsored and Terrorist Use of the Internet
By James Jay Carafano and Richard Weitz,

Bank Data Secretly Sifted by U.S.
Under a secret Swift program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, officials gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States... Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.... Officials described the Swift program as the biggest and most far-reaching of several secret efforts to trace terrorist financing. Much more limited agreements with other companies have provided access to A.T.M. transactions, credit card purchases and Western Union wire payments ... The program is separate from the National Security Agency's efforts to eavesdrop without warrants and collect domestic phone records, operations that have provoked fierce public debate and spurred lawsuits against the government and telecommunications companies.... Data from the Brussels-based banking consortium, formally known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has allowed officials from the C.I.A., the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to examine "tens of thousands" of financial transactions... Swift's database provides a rich hunting ground for government investigators. Swift is a crucial gatekeeper, providing electronic instructions on how to transfer money among 7,800 financial institutions worldwide. The cooperative is owned by more than 2,200 organizations, and virtually every major commercial bank, as well as brokerage houses, fund managers and stock exchanges, uses its services. Swift routes more than 11 million transactions each day, most of them across borders.... Swift's 25-member board of directors, made up of representatives from financial institutions around the world, was previously told of the program. The Group of 10's central banks, in major industrialized countries, which oversee Swift, were also informed. It is not clear if other network participants know that American intelligence officials can examine their message traffic.
Because Swift is based overseas and has offices in the United States, it is governed by European and American laws. Several international regulations and policies impose privacy restrictions on companies that are generally regarded as more stringent than those in this country. United States law establishes some protections for the privacy of Americans' financial data, but they are not ironclad. A 1978 measure, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, has a limited scope and a number of exceptions, and its role in national security cases remains largely untested.
Swift and Treasury officials said they were aware of no abuses...Treasury officials said Swift was exempt from American laws restricting government access to private financial records because the cooperative was considered a messaging service, not a bank or financial institution....

know the enemy's lies: propagandists manufacturing consent
The Invasion Continues
The West confronts an unfamiliar sight: a nation bent on conquest.
Nations on every continent should make clear that invasion and conquest are not acceptable modes of behavior and that Russia will face long-term and damaging consequences if it persists in occupying parts of Georgia and even more damaging consequences if it extends its military campaign. NATO's plans for the joint defense of members such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland need to be urgently upgraded; the decision to hold the Winter Olympics in a Russian city near the Georgian border should be reexamined; Europe's insouciance about its dependence on Russian oil and gas should be a thing of the past.
But the most urgent need is to see clearly what is taking place. As the crisis deepened, one could hear in Washington the usual attempts to blame the victim, as if Georgia somehow deserved this fate because its elected government had opted for friendly relations with the West. There were also the predictable efforts to score domestic political points.
Fortunately, both candidates for president rose above such temptations, issuing statements that showed they understand the moral calculus and the stakes -- and that the U.S. election will not yield a president any more tolerant of the Kremlin's bullying. Yesterday morning, Sen. John McCain (R) condemned the attacks, outlined a series of policy responses and said, "We must remind Russia's leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of that world." Later in the day, Sen. Barack Obama (D) said, "There is no possible justification for these attacks" and added: "I have consistently called for deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a Membership Action Plan for NATO, and we must continue to press for that deeper relationship."
That's the right call; but a precondition of a deepening relationship is the survival of an independent Georgia. As we write, Russia has put that survival shockingly in doubt.

Wall Street Journal
How the West can stand up to Russia
Gary Schmitt and Mauro De Lorenzo of the American Enterprise Institute outline a policy for helping Georgia advocating rushing military and medical supplies to Tbilisi.
Reversing this course will not be easy, but it is absolutely necessary. At stake are international law, energy security, NATO's future, and American credibility when it comes to supporting new democracies. It is also about resisting Russia's openly hegemonic designs on its neighbors -- including Ukraine, which Mr. Putin reportedly described as "not a real nation" to President Bush at their meeting in Sochi earlier this year.
What can the West do? The first step is for the U.S. and its allies to rush military and medical supplies to Tbilisi. If we want democracy to survive there, Georgians have to believe that we have their backs. At the moment, the tepidness of the Western response has given them serious cause for doubt. In addition, Washington should lead the effort to devise a list of economic and diplomatic sanctions toward Russia that impose real costs for what Moscow has done. Russia should know that the West has a greater capacity to sustain a new Cold War than Russia, with its petroleum-dependent economy, does.
Next, the West should make use of Russia's claim that its role in South Ossetia and Abkhazia is driven by the need to protect the populations there. If so, Moscow should have no objections to U.N.-sanctioned peacekeepers and observers moving into those two regions to replace the jerry-rigged system of "peacekeepers" that, until the war broke out, consisted of Russian troops, local separatist militaries and Georgian forces. If nothing else, the goal should be to put Mr. Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, the new Russian president, on their back foot diplomatically.
Over the longer term, it is essential that Russia's stranglehold on Europe's energy supplies be broken. The EU's failure to get its house in order by diversifying energy supplies and insisting that Russia, in turn, open up its own market, has created a situation in which Moscow rightly believes it has significant leverage over the policy positions of key countries such as Germany....
The real payback for Moscow's decision to invade Georgia should be the sweet revenge of a strong, prosperous and fully independent Georgia. Building on the strides Georgia has already made, Brussels and Washington should give Tbilisi a clear road to NATO and EU membership.
Mr. Schmitt is director of the American Enterprise Institute's program on advanced strategic studies. Mr. De Lorenzo is an AEI resident fellow.

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Georgia's Crisis, Olympic Tricks, and Major Power Double-Standards
August 13, 2008

Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
* Look Twice: Citing Iraq and Georgia, the paper asserts in an editorial that whenever major powers start seeking to justify their actions on the basis of pure principle, the rest of the world should beware, because in truth those very principles are in danger.

* Competition: The resurgence of nationalism in Russia and China heralds an era of competition, not cooperation, writes Editor-at-Large Paul Kelly in an opinion piece.

Boston Globe
* Friend or Foe: Henry Kissinger used to say it can be dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, but to be a friend is fatal writes columnist Jeff Jacoby, adding Georgia to a long list of others.

Business Daily (Kenya)
* Pure and Simple: One word -- Kosovo -- explains why the U.S., NATO, and the European Union are sitting on their hands while Russia defends its citizens and national interest in the Caucasus, writes John Helmer, the paper's Moscow correspondent.

Christian Science Monitor
* Rose Tinted: In an editorial, the paper says the U.S. needs to act swiftly to bolster Georgia with all the aid, trade, and other "soft power" that it needs to flourish as an independent state, not a pawn to Russia's neo-imperial ambitions.

Wall Street Journal
* Georgia Airlift: In an editorial, the paper draws a comparison between the American response to the blockade of Berlin in 1948 and the U.S. response to the Georgia crisis and finds President Bush wanting.
* Chinese Faith: Columnist Holman W. Jenkins writes that with the crisis in Georgia the world is getting an idea of what a "war for oil" really looks like.

Times of London
* Look Out: The paper's Foreign Editor Richard Beeston writes that Russia is heading for a fall. Vladimir Putin once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. Trying to resurrect it could be the greatest folly of the 21st, he says.

Independent (UK)
* Blame Game: Henry Kissinger biographer Alistair Horne tracks America's share of the blame for the Georgia crisis back to the appointment by President Clinton of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Daily Telegraph
*All Forgiven: The world has become used to despising the United States for its foreign policy since 2001 writes columnist Simon Heffer. If it wishes to live safely, it had better reverse that opinion, he argues, advocating that the U.S. should show Russia that appeasement does have an end.

Financial Times
* China Challenge: Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) writes in a column that the only hope for preventing the Georgian crisis from becoming a calamity for Russia's relationship with the West is for Moscow to cease fire immediately, pull back its forces and agree to negotiations brokered by the international community.
* Russia Right: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov writes that the David and Goliath presentation in the western media of the Georgia crisis is a misrepresentation and defends his country's actions.


Contractors in Iraq cost U.S. over $100 billion, outnumber troops
at least 180,000 people in the country [Iraq], forming what amounts to a second, private army, larger than the U.S. military force, whose [RULES] roles and missions and even casualties
[TORTURE & MURDERS] have largely been hidden from public view.

Pentagon: Gitmo Detainees Subject to Permanent Detention Even if Acquitted
Detainee 'enemy combatants' at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will likely never be released, if tried and acquitted will still be subject to continued detention Pentagon spokesman said

U.S. military inflicts more damage on its own credibility
Glenn Greenwald
...The Bush administration issued the most threatening possible rhetoric as part of its original, now-discredited rendition of events. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley warned ominously : "This is a provocative act -- not a smart thing to do, and they are going to have to take responsibility for the consequences, if they do it again," a threat issued as he flew with the President to Israel....

"Pentagon Video, Audio Fake"
Iran accused the United States on Wednesday of fabricating video and audio released by the Pentagon showing Iranian boats confronting U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-7211334,00.html

Manufacturing Threats: Sudan, Iran, And The War For Civilisation
By David Edwards
12/26/07 Media Lens
News that British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons had been jailed in Sudan after allowing her pupils to call a teddy bear Mohammed fed straight into the UK media’s hate factory and its “war for civilisation”. The Gibbons story was mentioned in a massive 257 articles in UK national newspapers in the first week, providing an excuse to boost claims of “genocide” in Sudan in 10 of these.... Whereas, over the last year, the term “genocide” has been used in 246 articles mentioning Sudan - many of these affirming that genocide has taken place - the results of the US-UK invasion of Iraq, and of the earlier sanctions regime, are essentially never described in similar terms.. The elusive but key truth is that mainstream politics and media have an astonishing capacity to make certain issues seem real and important while consigning others to oblivion. To criticise the actions of the Iranian state, for example, is to have a voice - our words are likely to matter, they may well be heard; they can lead to discussion and even action.. By late 2002, establishment propaganda had made the need to take action to deal with Saddam Hussein’s regime seem real, urgent and important ... and so while the media continue to capitalise on any excuse to promote a “clash of civilisations” between the West and “militant Islam”, it remains a remarkable fact that the ‘threats’ faced are mostly invented. Much of the actual violence against the West has been, and will continue to be, in retaliation for grave Western crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere consuming literally millions of lives. The simplest way for the West to bring its “war on terror” to a successful conclusion would be for it to stop waging war and to renounce terrorism. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18952.htm

Behind The Arrest Warrant for The President of Sudan?
No other government in the world is charging Sudan with ‎Genocide except the American government... The American government is determined to topple the National Congress Party, the ruling party in Sudan ‎and to demonize its leader President Omar al-Bashir. This attempt is to break up the Sudan into 3 or 4 ‎separate entities making it impossible for the Sudanese people to unite and keeping them at war while the ‎Western World robs The Sudan of their natural resources, oil being the chief one. ‎

US seeking to turn India into a military base
The US wants India to be converted into a military base to facilitate refuelling for its planes and recreation for the soldiers engaged in the Iraq war, Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP Brinda Karat said. http://ia.rediff.com/news/2008/aug/01ndeal2.htm

Iraqi women were more protected under Saddam's reign compared to the situation after the US-led invasion in 2003. Iraqi women today are subjected to random violence of assault, rape, kidnapping or death at the hands of American troops, Iraqi police, suicide bombers...and local thugs...

"Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq."
...4 in 10 military women say they were raped while in service - ... In 2007...only 181 out of 2,212 reports of military sexual assaults, or 8 percent, were referred to courts martial. By comparison, she said, 40 percent of those arrested in the civilian world on such charges are prosecuted. Defense statistics show that military commanders took unspecified action, which can include anything from punishment to dismissal, in an additional 419 cases...when it came time for the military to defend itself, the panel was told that the Pentagon's top official on sexual abuse, Dr. Kaye Whitley, was ordered not to show up despite a subpoena.A GAO report indicates that the numbers could be even higher.[omits previously reported information how women who do report are viciously blamed, retaliated against and/ or ignored]

Military declares it suicide
LaVena Johnson, a private in the Army was brutally raped, beaten and killed in 2005. Her teeth were knocked in, her nose broken, she had teeth marks on her body and there was corrosive liquid poured into her vagina...Then she was shot and her body set on fire. After all this, the military called it ... a suicide. A trail of blood from the private's body led into the tent of a military contractor from Kellogg, Brown & Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton at the time). http://www.lavenajohnson.com/

Sexual Assault in the Military: DoD Cover-Up
...Army Pfc. Tina Priest was raped at Taji, Iraq, and found dead 10 days later of a gunshot wound. After her family had measurements taken of her arms and of the angle of the bullet and found that she could not have pulled the trigger of her M-16 with her finger, the Army said she had pulled the trigger by using her toe...
Two other military women...[beside pregnant Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach]... have been murdered near military bases in North Carolina in the past two months.Red Cross employee Ingrid Torres told the subcommittee of being raped at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea by an Air Force flight doctor...of the difficulty she had obtaining medical and emotional treatment from the facility where the doctor still worked, and later from military facilities in other parts of the world where she was assigned.....
Veterans Administration statistics that one in three women in the military has been sexually assaulted... the prosecution rate of those accused of raping fellow military service members is abysmally low. Of the 2,212 reported rapes in the military in 2007, only 8 percent of the cases ended in court-martial of the perpetrator...

in case you missed it...

No U-turn. Obama's stance on Iraq is chillingly consistent
Sami Ramadani
As November's American presidential elections approach, Barack Obama's message on Iraq is being widely interpreted as "flip-flopping" and a "retreat" from a previously unequivocal stance of fully withdrawing the US occupation forces. This is to misunderstand Obama, who is not someone who shoots from the hip. There is much more to his words than cursory reading could unravel.
His remarks before the 2003 invasion resonated well within the American antiwar movement. His scathing references to the Bush administration's folly and his demands for "ending the war" were probably decisive in winning him the Democratic party nomination against Hillary Clinton, whose vote for war in 2003 ultimately crippled her credibility as the commander-in-chief who would bring it to an end....
Obama sees Iraq as part of a wider theatre of war and potential wars engulfing the entire Middle East, where US strategic goals and interests are at stake. So his obvious shift on the "surge" operations in Iraq (underlined by deleting criticisms of it from his website last week) is strengthening his call for "redeployment" from Iraq to Afghanistan. His current strategy could be summed up as: de-escalate the war in Iraq, escalate it in Afghanistan, and talk to Iran. On Iran, his offer of talks was coupled with an alarming, Bush-style threat. "I'll do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything," Obama told a gathering of the pro-Israel lobby group, Aipac, in April. He is echoing the sentiments of his famous anti-Iraq war speech in 2002, in which he repeatedly stressed that he was not opposed to all US wars....

To distinguish his policy from that of his rival for the White House, Obama declared: "Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea." But it doesn't require rocket science to know that keeping "residual" forces requires heavily fortified areas, installations and a state of readiness to go to war. Unless Obama has discovered something new, such areas are known as military bases. So it is the word "permanent" that separates the two, as McCain may want to stay "100 years" in Iraq. The comparison with South Korea is not heartening, considering massive US bases have been in that country for over half a century.

Obama has even pre-empted a possible line of attack from hawks by chillingly suggesting he would possibly invade Iraq again if necessary. His website states: "He would reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq." The word potential is worth pausing over; it is salutary to remember Bush and Blair occupied Iraq and caused the death of perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent people for "humanitarian" reasons....

Tactical differences and issues of style aside, Obama's message on occupied Iraq is deeply troubling - not because it has U-turned but because it has been consistent. His 300 foreign policy advisers are making sure that he will not stray from protecting US imperialist interests, even if it does mean launching new wars and bolstering puppet regimes and corrupt dictatorships throughout the "greater Middle East".

U.S. Speculation behind global commodity price rise
Ramgopal Agarwala
Michael Masters, a hedge fund manager in his testimony before the US Congress, has said that gasoline prices could fall to $2 a gallon, half of today's price with legislation barring commodity index funds. There are now more than 10 legislative proposals before the US Congress calling for better regulation of commodity index markets.
The vested interests are trying to divert the attention from regulation by arguing that other factors, including growing demand from emerging markets such as China and India, is responsible for commodity price increases. This game of blaming emerging economies in which the President of the US has also joined is patently absurd because the rapid growth in India and China has been going on for more than a decade with no increase in commodity prices even in nominal terms and cannot explain the sharp increase in last two years. ...speculative finance is a key factor in sudden price increases in oil, food and metals in the last two years.... Given the play of vested interests in US Congress it is not clear which way the legislation on regulating speculative finance in commodity futures will move. Policymakers in developing countries in which price increase in fuel and food are matters of life and death for the poor cannot remain silent and accept vulnerability to the price fluctuations originating in developed countries' financial markets. This must reflect on what they can do to safeguard their people against the onslaught of the speculators in foreign lands... http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Guest_Writer/Speculation_beh...

A bureaucratic oversight allowed 24 oil companies to avoid over $1.3 billion in royalties due for extracting oil and natural gas from U.S. territory in Gulf of Mexico

price at pump rises, crisis of capitalism deepens ...
Shares Rally as Oil Continues to Fall
Oil settled at $115.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday...oil prices have fallen more than 20 percent from a high of $145.29 in early July the housing market and the economy over all are still showing significant weakness.

The study by the Government Accountability Office said two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, and about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

killer 'health care'...
Drug companies are quietly pushing through price hikes of 100% — or even more than 1,000% for a...growing number of prescription drugs, helping to drive up costs for insurers, patients and government programs. The number of brand-name drugs with increases of 100% or more could double this year from four years ago
Drug Condition Company Price before Price after % increase
Cosmegen tumor Ovation $16.79 $593.75 3,436%
Indocin IV Heart problem in premature babies Ovation $136.10 $1,875 1,278%
Acthar Infantile spasms Questcor $1,650 $23,269 1,310%

Laptops and all electronic devices may be detained at border, no suspicion of wrongdoing needed
Border security policies recently disclosed by the Department of Homeland Security state that officers may "detain" laptops and other electronic devices "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion." Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25960741/

Military's 'Social Science' Grants Raise Alarm
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is calling on "eggheads" to help the military unravel questions about the recruitment of terrorists, the resurgence of the Taliban and messages delivered in militant Muslim religious schools. The Pentagon's $50 million Minerva Research Initiative, named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and warriors, will fund social science research deemed crucial to national security....
Minerva will fund research on five topics, including the development of China's military and technological prowess and how religion, culture, economics and politics in the Islamic world "interact to foster political violence, terrorism or insurgent behavior."
The Pentagon also wants insights into Saddam Hussein's rule and into terrorist groups. Citing the development of game theory and Kremlinology in the Cold War, the Pentagon is asking the brightest minds to come up with new ways of thinking about national security. Universities around the world are eligible for Minerva funding....

But the Network of Concerned Anthropologists... said dependence on Pentagon funding could make universities an "instrument rather than a critic of war-making."... Every year, the Defense Department spends billions of dollars on research to improve technology, weapons and medicine, including nearly $13 billion this fiscal year. But its relationship with social science has sometimes been tumultuous. Anthropologists were active during World War II, even designing propaganda to encourage Japanese soldiers to surrender.
In the 1960s, Project Camelot, an Army-sponsored effort to study political change and unrest in Latin America, was canceled abruptly after the program was revealed in the Chilean press.
Recently, the Army's Human Terrain System has embedded social scientists in military units in Iraq and Afghanistan with the aim of helping commanders understand local culture and customs. The project has drawn criticism from many academics. Two scholars have been killed.

Thomas Mahnken, a deputy assistant defense secretary for policy planning, said Minerva is "not about supporting combat operations." He said Gates seeks to fill a void in funding for basic social science scholarship that would improve understanding of issues that bear on national security."This is the first significant effort in 30 or 40 years to engage social sciences on a large scale by the Department of Defense," Mahnken said, citing the unsuccessful Project Camelot as a contributor to a rift between the military and many anthropologists."There was an effort during [the Vietnam era] that ended up being ill-conceived and burned bridges on both sides, and, unfortunately, these attitudes have persisted," Mahnken said. "This effort is about rebuilding those bridges."...http://tinyurl.com/5cha4a http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/02/AR200808...