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The drums of war


There's no sabre rattler like a Labour sabre rattler. To listen to Foreign Secretary Miliband, you'd wonder why we aren't sending an expeditionary force to Georgia to fight the Russians. He and Bush (and others) are turning the world into a very dangerous place.

The government of Georgia would never have launched its surprise attack against the capital of the Autonomous Republic of South Ossetia on 8 August without previous coordination with Bush who, last month in Bucharest, committed to support Georgia's admission to NATO; that is like plunging a sharpened dagger deep into Russia's heart.

And that is almost certainly the intention. Russia is no longer socialist, but it does represent a huge and effectively closed market that will not "open up" to free trade and seeks to control its own vast energy resources. Bush and Labour are determined to make it pay for that crime against globalisation.

Many European states that are NATO members are concerned about the irresponsible manipulation of the nationalities issue, fraught with potential conflict, which could result in the disintegration of Britain itself. This is how Yugoslavia was dismantled: Tito's efforts to avoid it proved useless after his death. Here Russia too needs to exercise caution.

What need was there to light the powder keg of the Caucasus? If Russia today is no longer a "Communist threat" and it no longer has more than 400 nuclear launching-pads directly aimed at Europe's military and strategic targets since they were dismantled after the demise of the USSR, why does the USA seem determined to surround it with a nuclear shield? The old continent also needs peace.

Yet the USA is pressing its European allies to deliver initial sanctions against Russia by deciding to suspend the six-year-old NATO–Russia council. Britain, Poland and the Baltic states are pushing for a response which would include "severe consequences" for Russia.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has warned against issuing ultimatums against Russia. Yet French President Nicolas Sarkozy says, "Russia must immediately withdraw from Georgia", and that if it does not, he will convene an extraordinary European Council meeting "to decide on the consequences". He also claims, "If the Lisbon Treaty, which is in the process of being ratified, had already been in force, the EU would have had the institutions it needs to cope with an international crisis."

After the USA and Britain, Georgia is the country with the most soldiers in the Iraq war, and not out of internationalist sentiment. What are Georgian soldiers doing in Iraq, supporting a war which has cost that people hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of victims? What ideals are they defending there? It is only natural that people from South Ossetia do not wish to be sent as soldiers to fight in Iraq or in other parts of the planet at the behest of imperialism.