August 12, 2008

Neocons Now Love International Law

by Robert Parry

It's touching how American neoconservatives who have no regard for international law when they want to invade some troublesome country have developed a sudden reverence for national sovereignty.

Apparently, context is everything. So, the United States attacking Grenada or Nicaragua or Panama or Iraq or Serbia is justified even if the reasons sometimes don't hold water or don't hold up before the United Nations, The Hague or other institutions of international law.

However, when Russia attacks Georgia in a border dispute over Georgia's determination to throttle secession movements in two semi-autonomous regions, everyone must agree that Georgia's sovereignty is sacrosanct and Russia must be condemned.

U.S. newspapers, such as the New York Times, see nothing risible about publishing a statement from President George W. Bush declaring that "Georgia is a sovereign nation and its territorial integrity must be respected."

No one points out that Bush should have zero standing enunciating such a principle. Iraq also was a sovereign nation, but Bush invaded it under false pretenses, demolished its army, overthrew its government and then conducted a lengthy military occupation resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The invasion of Iraq also wasn't a spur of the moment decision. In the months after the 9/11 attacks, Bush proclaimed an exceptional right of the United States to invade any country that might become a threat to American security or to U.S. global dominance. [For details, see's "Bush's Grim Vision" or see our book, Neck Deep]

When asked questions about international law, Bush would joke: "International law? I better call my lawyer."

The neocons' contempt for international law goes back even further - to the 1980s and the illegal contra war against Nicaragua and the invasion of Panama. Only in the last few days have the neocons discovered an appreciation for multilateral institutions and the principles of non-intervention. Despite this history, leading U.S. newspapers don't see hypocrisy. . . .

While major U.S. news outlets may be comfortable wearing blinders that let them see only wrongdoing by others, the rest of the world views the outrage from Bush and the neocons over Russia as a stunning double standard.

This larger problem is that the Bush administration - along with its neocon allies and many establishment Democrats - have lost any credibility with the world community when it comes to invoking international law. . . .


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

Julian Borger, "The Spies Who Pushed for War," Guardian, July 17, 2003

Daniel Howden and Philip Thornton, "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Phase 1 of the New 'Great Game'," Independent, May 25, 2005

"Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran," CBS, June 24, 2008

[The American-armed and trained Georgian army swarmed into South Ossetia last Thursday, killing an estimated 2,000 civilians, sending 40,000 South Ossetians fleeing over the Russian border, and destroying much of the capital, Tskhinvali. The attack was unprovoked and took place a full 24 hours before even ONE Russian soldier set foot in South Ossetia. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Americans still believe that the Russian army invaded Georgian territory first. The BBC, AP, NPR, the New York Times and the rest of the establishment media has consistently and deliberately misled its readers into believing that the violence in South Ossetia was initiated by the Kremlin.--Mike Whitney, "Putin Walks into a Trap," ICH, August 13, 2008]

[Georgia's decision to seize large parts of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, on the evening of 7 August was a disastrous political miscalculation, even in an era that is increasingly defined by spectacularly poor judgement. . . .

But under the influence of an energetic neo-con lobby in Washington, and with considerable support from Israeli weapons manufacturers and military trainers, Saakashvili and the hawks around him came to believe the farcical proposition that Georgia's armed forces could take on the military might of their northern neighbour in a conventional fight and win.--Misha Glenny, "What Russia and America are really doing in Georgia and who set the trap? Vladimir Putin and his thuggish FSB pals or Dick Cheney and his equally unflappable neocon friends?," New Statesman, August 14, 2008]

[Europe has plans to build an alternative energy natural gas system called Nabucco, after the opera by Verdi, and this would go right through Georgia. And I think one of the major objectives of Russia's incursion into Georgia is to say to the European leadership, "Your ideas about Nabucco are futile, because we can smash the Nabucco system anytime we want."--Michael Klare, "Russia-Georgia Conflict Fueled by Rush to Control Caspian Energy Resources,", August 15, 2008]

[Sackur asked if "independent investigators" would be welcome in South Ossetia to document the war crimes that Ivanov spoke of and his response was 'WELCOME', they would be welcome. I wrote independent 'journalists' instead of 'investigators'...ergo, Russia says that independent investigators are welcome to document the war crimes that Bush, Israel and Georgia just inflicted upon South Ossetia.--Karl Schwarz, "The Train Wreck Of The Zionist New World Order,", August 15, 2008]

[Spiegel, a prominent Jewish oligarch boasting close ties with the Kremlin, accused Georgia of genocide and ethnic cleansing.--Lily Galili, "Head of World Congress of Russian Jewry accuses Georgia of genocide," Haaretz, August 16, 2008]

August Cole, "Attack on Georgia Gives Boost To Big U.S. Weapons Programs," Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2008

[For almost 8 years the US media has served as Ministry of Propaganda for a war criminal regime. Americans incapable of thinking for themselves, reading between the lines, or accessing foreign media on the Internet have been brainwashed. . . .

The gullibility and unconcern of the American people has had many victims. There are 1.25 million dead Iraqis. There are 4 million displaced Iraqis. . . .

Only this time, the rest of the world didn't buy it. The many years of lies - 9/11, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections, yellowcake, anthrax attack, Iranian nukes, "the United States doesn't torture," the bombings of weddings, funerals, and children's soccer games, Abu Ghraib, renditions, Guantanamo, various fabricated "terrorist plots," the determined assault on civil liberties - have taken their toll on American credibility. No one outside America any longer believes the US media or the US government.

The rest of the world reported the facts - an assault on Russian civilians by American- and Israeli-trained and -equipped Georgian troops.

The Bush Regime, overcome by hubris, expected Russia to accept this act of American hegemony. But the Russians did not, and the Georgian military was sent fleeing for its life.--Paul Craig Roberts, "This Time, the World Is Not Buying It,", August 16, 2008]

[The Bush administration appears to have pulled off its latest military fiasco in the Caucasus. What was supposed to have been a swiftly and painless takeover of rebellious South Ossetia by America’s favourite new ally, Georgia, has turned into a disaster that left Georgia battered, Russia enraged, and NATO badly demoralized. . . .

Bush, who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and is threatening war against Iran, accused Russia of 'bullying' and 'aggression.' Putin, who crushed the life out of Chechnya's independence movement, piously claimed his army was saving Ossetians from Georgian ethnic cleansing and protecting their quest for independence.--Eric Margolis, " CRISIS IN THE CAUCASUS. WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING IN THE WHITE HOUSE?,", August 18, 2008]

[As of 1991, the oil of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan belonged to Moscow. Can we not understand why Putin would smolder as avaricious Yankees built pipelines to siphon the oil and gas of the Caspian Basin through breakaway Georgia to the West?

For a dozen years, Putin & Co. watched as U.S. agents helped to dump over regimes in Ukraine and Georgia that were friendly to Moscow.

If Cold War II is coming, who started it, if not us?

The swift and decisive action of Putin's army in running the Georgian forces out of South Ossetia in 24 hours after Saakashvili began his barrage and invasion suggests Putin knew exactly what Saakashvili was up to and dropped the hammer on him. . . .

The war in Georgia has exposed the dangerous overextension of U.S. power. There is no way America can fight a war with Russia in the Caucasus with our army tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor should we. Hence, it is demented to be offering, as John McCain and Barack Obama are, NATO membership to Tbilisi.--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Who Started Cold War II?,", August 19, 2008]

[John McCain calls the conflict in Georgia "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War," and he is doing everything he can to make it his own, even at the cost of upstaging the shrinking President Bush. But the tragedy in Georgia also reveals the most embarrassing foreign policy blunder since - well, since the Bush administration decided to wage a preemptive war in Iraq. If deep thinkers in Washington insist on setting up a string of client states to encircle Russia, they should never let the puppets pull their own strings, as Mikheil Saakashvili appears to have done when he sent his army into rebellious South Ossetia.--Steve Weissman, "McCain's War: Playing With Nuclear Fire,", August 20, 2008]

[Indeed, most of the world is bemused by western moralising on Georgia. America would not tolerate Russia intruding into its geopolitical sphere in Latin America. Hence Latin Americans see American double standards clearly. So do all the Muslim commentaries that note that the US invaded Iraq illegally, too. Neither India nor China is moved to protest against Russia. It shows how isolated is the western view on Georgia: that the world should support the underdog, Georgia, against Russia. In reality, most support Russia against the bullying west. . . .

In the US, leading neo-conservative thinkers see China as their primary contradiction. Yet they also support Israel with a passion, without realising this stance is a geopolitical gift to China. It guarantees the US faces a hostile Islamic universe, distracting it from focusing on China.--Kishore Mahbubani, "The west is strategically wrong on Georgia," Financial Times, August 20, 2008]

[The U.S. ambassador to Moscow, in a rare U.S. comment endorsing Russia's initial moves in Georgia, described the Kremlin's first military response as legitimate after Russian troops came under attack.

U.S officials, including President George W. Bush, have strongly criticized Moscow's subsequent action but have not focused on the initial chain of events that triggered the conflict between Russian and U.S.-ally Georgia.

The war broke out after Georgia tried to retake its Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia, prompting a counter-attack by Russian forces.--"Russia's first Georgia move legitimate: U.S. envoy," Reuters, August 22, 2008]

[Without qualification the scope and intensity of Russian military moves against Georgia deserve legal, moral, and political condemnation, but at the same time Georgian and United States responsibility for the crisis is significant, and should not be overlooked.

Russia violated the core norm of the UN Charter by sending its military forces beyond its borders to attack a small neighbor on August 12, doing heavy damage in the densely inhabited capital city of Tskhinvali by firing a flurry of rockets and missiles, including cluster munitions. There are unconfirmed media reports that as many as 2000 civilians died from the combined Georgian and Russian attacks on South Ossetia, with the bulk of these being caused by Georgia.--Richard Falk, "Assessing the Georgian crisis,", August 25, 2008]

Steve Gutterman, "Russia recognizes breakaway Georgian regions," Associated Press, August 26, 2008

[President Mikheil Saakashvili epitomises the style, made worse in his case by the lies he served up to deceive foreign opinion. He boasted of defeat. Georgia was being swallowed up, Tbilisi was on the verge of occupation, Russia was using weapons of mass destruction.

The biggest lie was his attempt to airbrush the fact that he created the crisis by launching an artillery barrage on the South Ossetian capital, which killed scores of civilians and 15 Russian peacekeepers. It was absurd to think Russia would not retaliate.--Jonathan Steele, "Crisis of lies and hysteria," Associated Press, August 26, 2008]

[Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he had reason to think U.S. personnel were in the combat zone during the recent war in Georgia, adding that if confirmed, their presence suggested "someone in the United States" provoked the conflict to help one of the candidates in the American presidential race.--Philip P. Pan and Jonathan Finer, "Putin Asserts Link Between U.S. Election and Georgia War," Washington Post, August 29, 2008

"Spiegel: OSCE observers fault Georgians in conflict,", August 30, 2008

[Georgia also had a special relationship with Israel that was mostly under the radar. Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli . . .

Israel began selling arms to Georgia seven years ago. U.S. grants facilitated these purchases. From Israel came former minister and former Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo, representing Elbit Systems, and his brother Shlomo, former director general of Military Industries. Israeli UAV spy drones, made by Elbit Maarahot Systems, conducted recon flights over southern Russia, as well as into nearby Iran.

In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations.--Arnaud de Borchgrave, "Israel of the Caucasus," Middle East Times, September 2, 2008]

Mark Ames, "The Cold War That Wasn't," Nation, October 22, 2008

Seumas Milne, "The truth about South Ossetia: After the west heaped blame on Russia for the conflict, it ignores new evidence of Georgia's crimes of aggression ," Guardian, October 31, 2008

George Friedman, "The Russian Economy and Russian Power,", July 27, 2009

[The most remarkable dimension of the various joint projects concerns energy cooperation, most notably Turkey's expression of support for Russia's South Stream project.--Saban Kardas, "Putin, Erdogan seal 'grand bargain'," Asia Times, August 13, 2009]

Philip P. Pan, "Georgia Set Off War, Probe Finds," Washington Post, October 1, 2009

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