Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-4-1349 7828

August 2008 # 2

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Back to Editorials 2008

Georgia on my Mind

You may have heard about the little stoush being fought out in the Republic of Georgia at present. Georgia is a little country that grew out of the former Soviet Union. Bordered by the Black Sea to the west, Turkey and Armenia to the South, Azerbaijan to the east and Russia to the north, this little country could well be the flash point for a new cold war. 

The bloody rule of the communist leaders of the former Soviet Union, during most of last century, saw thousands killed and many more displaced. We would now describe it as ethnic cleansing. However, for the most part we weren’t interested in another patch of soil well removed from our good friend and partner, the US.

Yet all the while, US and European interests were very interested in this part of the world. Not content with ‘winning’ the cold war, the masters of the universe - the financiers and their cronies - recognised the strategic value of this little place and were prepared to finance any war that would deliver to them the spoils. 

One can only appreciate the strategic value of this country in the current political climate when you consider oil. The pictures of the dead and dying, the focus on the high tech war machines and the grief of those who have lost everything obscure the real conflict. Forget ethnic separatists. Forget breakaway states. Focus on the money, or in this case, the oil that makes the money. 

The conflict is another example of the increasingly common use of revisionist history to support those for whom war is just another way of doing business. With the US and Israeli military backing Georgian militias, in an attempt to ensure the Georgian government remains prepared to do deals with their interests, it is little wonder the Russians are concerned. Whether the current conflict was sparked by Russian or Georgian aggression doesn’t really matter. The fact is they while oil flows through the pipes running over and under that dirt, there will be conflict. 

The pretext of “separatist” attacks or “rebel” forces has the media focus at present. The increasingly shallow and disjointed ‘reporting’ on the region does little to alert us to the involvement of the futures traders and investment houses that stand to win, or loose, billions depending on whose might prevails. 

With the British BP and US companies Chevron and ConocoPhillips being heavy investors in the oil pipeline running through Georgia, one has to ask, is it the right time to invest in the oil giants? Certainly they and their end customers (other oil companies) have quite a bit to loose should this regional war go pear shaped. 

Governed by greed and geopolitical deals, the strategic value of building the pipeline through Georgia was the easy option. It’s not Turkey, Russia or Iran. By dint of its location, this country lends itself to the whims of others not at all interested in its peoples, cultures or languages. 

Of course, this diversity can be used to stir up conflict when needed and that is, perhaps, the greatest strength and weakness of the whole region. Indeed, it has been the objective of all colonial powers to find the divisions, amplify them and attempt to shape them to fit their own agendas. Sometimes these agendas are revealed in the tiniest news snippets. 

George W. Bush said to the world that Russia should back off, that it was not kosher to invade a sovereign nation. He said that the Russians should withdraw and allow the democratically elected government find a solution, with the ‘worlds’ help, to its internal problems. What words! What a crock of male bovine excreta. 

To quote a segment of a famous Monty Python skit, “the inherent contradictions of the system” are showing. So long as US and European oil interests are threatened and along with them the stability of the structures that hold them up - the futures markets, investment advisors and more importantly our tax dollars - then it is inevitable under the capitalist system that wars will be fought over access to wealth producing resources. Justice and fairness do not enter these equations. The conflict is not over ideologies, cultures or religions but over who will take home the spoils. 

Meanwhile the people of Ossetia and Georgia will continue be played as the pawns in a much larger game of chess. A game of geopolitical chess, in which people are but bit players on a board laid according to the rules of capitalist accumulation. 

While diplomats and foreign advisors continue to earn their money by spruiking the interests of those who pay them, other human beings, who want very similar things to us, will continue to die. While the muscle men in the big houses squabble over the spoils, the hopes and dreams of tens of thousands will remain well outside their discussions. 

Our current government sees itself as being able to hold its own in the global debating club. However, as far as I can see from history, the influence of our politicians to shape the global agenda has been very small, particularly when it comes to the resource wars. As a resource rich landscape the strategic value of what lies under our soil remains high so long as we, that is we the people, don’t argue to much over who benefits from its exploitation. 

The conflict in Georgia is just another reminder that the real rulers of the world care little for the expectations of those they rule. Like the feudal rulers of old, so long as were tend our crops, pay them homage and taxes and bow and scrape when they pass by, the new rulers of the universe are content to let us be content with our lot. Should we, however, decide to attempt to claim back what is rightfully ours and share the spoils more equitably, then god help us all. 

So while in far off lands innocent people die because of the greed of others, we can remain content with our lot. Should we, as suggested, attempt to interfere then, like other ‘democracies’ that have been overrun by foreign powers, we might just find that an ‘insurgent’ or ‘breakaway’ group is suddenly identified as a global terrorism threat right here on our soil. I guess the question for us then would be, ‘whose side are we on?’ 

Perhaps somewhere around that point the people of Georgia, who still have homes and TV’s, might hear about a little nation at the bottom end of the earth that suddenly becomes the focus of the geopolitics of oil. For our sake, let’s hope not.


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