Robert Scheer uncovers an interesting piece of the puzzle as to what transpired in Georgia over the past week. But he can't resist the temptation to portray it as the entire explanation for the war—in further evidence of the current hegemony of the Conspiracy Theory of History in dissident (and even not-so-dissident) discourse these days. From AlterNet, Aug. 13, emphasis added. Our commentary follows.
While mainstream media coverage in the West has generally painted a once-sided picture of arbitrary Russian aggression against an innocent Georgia, much of the "alternative media" is merely inverting the equation—and arriving at similarly skewed perceptions. We hate to have to call out Bruce Gagnon, because his Space4Peace.org website is a vital resource. But just because he's up to speed on weapons in space doesn't make him politically astute about other things. His Aug. 12 blog post—highlighting the similarly faulty analysis of one Patrick Schoenfelder—is a case study in mere kneejerk reaction to mainstream portrayals as a substitute for actual thought. We reproduce it below with untruths and distortions in bold. Our commentary follows.
Russia says it is gathering evidence for charges of genocide against Georgia, accusing it of driving 30,000 refugees out of South Ossetia. Georgia responded by filing a case against Russia at the International Court of Justice for ethnic cleansing between 1993 and 2008. (London Times, Aug. 13) Human Rights Watch reports that on Aug. 12, its researchers "saw ethnic Georgian villages still burning from fires set by South Ossetian militias, witnessed looting by the militias, and learned firsthand of the plight of ethnic Ossetian villagers who had fled Georgian soldiers during the Georgian-Russian conflict over the breakaway region of South Ossetia." (HRW, Aug. 13)
British Petroleum has closed both the Baku-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa pipelines through Georgia, while denying that either of them have actually been damaged in the fighting. The closure of the Baku-Supsa or Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP) further limits BP's export options from the Caspian Sea after a fire (caused by a guerilla attack) damaged its key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) link to Turkey last week. The Shah-Deniz field in Azerbaijan is effectively shut down, and operations have been reduced at the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli oilfields. (Reuters, Aug. 12)
Oil prices surged Aug. 11 on concerns that fighting between Russia and Georgia could threaten the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Crude was up by $1.19 to $116.39 a barrel in New York. It rose $1.81 to $115.14 a barrel in London. (London Evening Standard, Aug. 11) Georgia's Black Sea ports of Supsa and Batumi, key transfer points for crude exports from Azerbaijan, have been reduced to partial operation as a result of the fighting. A third Georgian port, Poti, is completely shut following air-strikes. (Lloyd's List, Aug. 11) The Baku-Supsa pipeline, completed in 1999 by the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), has a capacity of 115,000 barrels per day (bpd). (Alexander's Oil & Gas, May 17, 1999) The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline has a capacity of 1 million bpd (1% of daily world consumption). (Reuters, Aug. 7)
Georgian authorities say Russian warplanes are targeting the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and have carried out over 50 air-strikes near the conduit. A BP-led consortium operates the pipeline, which transports one million barrels a day from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean. "They need control of energy routes," Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said of the Russians. "They need sea ports. They need transportation infrastructure. And primarily, they want to get rid of us." (The Telegraph, Aug. 11)
Georgia is calling home 1,000 of its 2,000 troops in Iraq for a general mobilization to fight Russian-backed separatists in South Ossetia. Georgia's national security chief Kakha Lomaia said Tbilisi ordered the withdrawal to "defend ourselves from Russian aggression." (AGI, Aug. 8) Late Aug. 8, Georgian officials reported at least one Russian air-strike, on the Black Sea port of Poti. They said Russian bombers were flying over Georgian territory and that the presidential offices and residence in Tbilisi had been evacuated. (NYT, Aug. 9)
Georgia declared a cease-fire following an outburst of heavy fighting with separatist forces in the breakaway region of South Ossetia Aug. 7. Georgia is blaming Russia for the escalation of violence. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said in televised remarks: "The Russian peacekeeping forces told us several hours ago that they have totally lost control over the separatist forces. We are in permanent contact with the Russian Foreign Ministry, but it fails to convince the separatist[s] to cease fire." Moscow has not yet responded to the claim.