So here are some random, and not so random, observations and quotes that I think might give us all something to ponder.
* It's all about oil and natural gas. Russia has the world's largest supply of natural gas and Iran has the world's second largest supply. There is much oil and natural gas up in the Caspian Sea region. Which ever country controls this part of the world will have a jump start in controlling the keys to the world's economic engine for the foreseeable future.
* The expanding economy of China has tremendous need for energy. China now imports much of its oil via sea (thru the Taiwan Straits) and the U.S. has in recent years doubled its naval presence in this region pursuing the ability to "choke off" China's ability to import oil. China is looking for alternative, land routes, to transmit oil thus pipelines through Central Asia become crucial. U.S. permanent bases in Afghanistan and attempts to put military bases in other Central Asian countries is in large part an attempt to create the ability to control these pipeline routes. F. William Engdahl, author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, maintains that, "Washington is out to deny China east land access to either Russia, the Middle East or to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea."
Engdahl goes on to say, "A close look at the map of Eurasia begins to suggest what is so vital for China and therefore for Washington's future domination of Eurasia. The goal is not only strategic encirclement of Russia through a series of NATO bases ranging from Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo to Poland, to Georgia, possibly Ukraine and White Russia, which would enable NATO to control energy ties between Russia and the European Union."
"Washington policy now encompasses a series of 'democratic' or soft coup projects which would strategically cut China off from access to the vital oil and gas reserves of the Caspian including Kazakhstan. The earlier Asian Great Silk Road trade routes went through Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Almaty in Kazakhstan for geographically obvious reasons, in a region surrounded by major mountain ranges. Geopolitical control of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan would enable control of any potential pipeline routes between China and Central Asia just as the encirclement of Russia controls pipeline and other ties between it and western Europe, China, India and the Mideast."
* Some years ago I read the book called The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski which I recently wrote about in relation to his being a chief foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama. Brzezinski has been critical of the Bush administration for invading Iraq essentially saying that it was the wrong war. Brzezinski has long maintained that Russia and China were the targets that had to be militarily contained if the U.S. hoped to continue its role as chief superpower of the world. He says, "Eurasia is the world's axial super continent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world's three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia.....Eurasia accounts for 75% of the world's population, 60% of its GNP, and 75% of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's."
* In 2005 the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline opened. It cost $3.6 billion and was funded by British Petroleum (BP) in a consortium including Unocal of the U.S. and Turkish Petroleum, and others. With the fall of the Soviet Union a scramble ensued for political and economic control of this part of the world. Georgia is on the pipeline route. Russia was opposed to this pipeline route. Brzezinski was a consultant to BP during the Bill Clinton era and urged Washington to back the project whose route would circumvent Russia.
Brzezinski also serves on the board of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce that includes people like Tim Cejka (President of ExxonMobil Exploration); Henry Kissinger; James Baker III (who in 2003 went to Georgia to tell them President Shevardnadze that Washington wanted him to step down so U.S.-trained Mikhail Shaakashvili could replace him as president); Brent Scowcroft (former Bush I national security adviser); and Dick Cheney (who served on the board before becoming Bush II's V-P).
The U.S. has long been involved in supporting "freedom movements" throughout this region that have been attempting to replace Russian influence with U.S. corporate control. The CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (board members include former neo-conservative congressman Vin Weber and General Wesley Clark), and Freedom House (includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Obama foreign policy adviser Anthony Lake) have been key funders and supporters of placing politicians in power throughout Central Asia that would play ball with "our side".
* Now all of this hardball politics is to be expected. The U.S., Russia, and China all want control of this part of the world. OK, nothing new there. But the current Georgia-Russia conflict indicates that things are moving to a new dangerous stage of development. Very recently the U.S. and Georgia held military maneuvers in the now disputed territories. Russia countered with military maneuvers of its own. Russia is feeling threatened by expanding U.S. bases in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic. Added to that are NATO attempts to put bases in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia and possibly even Georgia - all along or very near Russia's border.
* None of this is about the good guys versus the bad guys. It is power bloc politics and when the shooting starts it is civilians who die and their communities get destroyed. Big money is at stake and big money does not mind killing innocent people who stand in the way of "progress". For the peace movement we must first understand some of the history, and also understand the "chess" game now underway. We must not have illusions that this is about "democracy" and must denounce the military and corporate agenda of the players involved. For us in the U.S. we must also remove our blinders and see that both parties (Republican and Democrat) share a bi-partisan history and agenda of advancing corporate interests in this part of the world. Obama's advisers, just like McCain's (one of his top advisers was recently a lobbyist for the current government in Georgia) are thick in this stew.
* In the end the peace movement must recognize that this current fighting could trigger protracted war and the only question becomes which weapons get used? Does the U.S. decide it must "come to the aid of it's ally Georgia"? Is an attack on Iran somehow connected to this widening war for oil? Are nuclear weapons on the table? None of us has all the answers but it is imperative that we begin asking these hard questions and learn as quickly as possible as much as we can about the region.
* Lastly, need I remind anyone, that any protracted warfare in this region will be directed by space satellite technology. Space control and domination gives the U.S. the leg-up in any superpower struggle for control of oil and natural gas.