Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Civilians pay for American and Russian imperialism

Over 2,000 people have been killed in the recent fighting in the Caucasus after Georgia declared war on Russia over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These regions have never wanted to be part of Georgia and the treatment of minorities within Georgia's borders has always been a problem.

But the fighting is also the result of imperial powers attempting to secure the energy and resources in the region through military force, and it must condemned.

The US has responded to the fighting by accusing Russia of wanting "regime change" in Georgia. The hypocrisy of this accusation is astounding, given that the goal of the US in Iraq was nothing less than regime change. Yet for the US administration this is an unacceptable goal for other imperial powers to have.

Russia shares this hypocrisy. While Russia moved against Georgia on what it claims are humanitarian grounds, arguing that because many South Ossetians have Russian citizenship they must be protected, the real reason is to secure its geopolitical interests. Russian aggression has little to do with humanitarian principles. It claims that if the US can recognise Kosovo as independent, it can make moves to ensure that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are under its sphere of influence. Russia also wants to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, and has demonstrated it will use military force to do so.

The region is heavily contested between Russia and the US, and each have interests in securing their domination of the untapped oil reserves. Pipelines are being built from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, with strong political support from the US. The situation has undoubtedly escalated tensions between the US and Russia, not seen since the end of the Cold War.

The US administration referred to a "significant long-term impact" on US-Russian relations if Russia continued to attack the Georgians disproportionately. But this is exactly the way the US is fighting in Iraq; through disproportionate attacks.

It is unacceptable that both powers are using military force to secure their interests, without concern for civilians. The Left Alternative opposes the fighting and calls on all sides to end hostilities. We also call on Britain to refrain from supporting the US and break with US foreign policy.

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