Paradigm for peace applied to Russia, Ukraine, and the US: Proposal for a peaceful pathway forward – Part 4N

Part 4. Mental escalators of violence in US policy and media makers- Part 4N. US “experts” omit truth about Russia’s actions in Georgia to paint a good vs. evil scenario that ignores ethnic conflict, NATO, and fossil fuels

False Bias #14. Russia’s Government and Military Actions Are Motivated by Desires for Conquest, Empire, and Status, But US Government and Military Actions Are Motivated by Desires for Freedom, Democracy, and Humanity. US policymaker and civilian fears about Russia’s alleged aims for conquest are provoked not only by current Russian military actions in Ukraine (2022) but by past Russian military actions in Georgia (2008), Crimea (2014), and Syria (2015), as well as by even earlier Soviet military actions in Afghanistan (1979) and Eastern Europe. Yet US propaganda has played a powerful, deceptive, dysfunctional role in shaping how the American public perceives, understands, and evaluates each of these events. If we believe past US propaganda about Russia’s actions in Georgia, for example, it becomes easier to be vulnerable to current US propaganda about Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Although US policy and media makers portray every Russian military move as a case of evil Russia vs. freedom-loving, innocent people, every single one of Russia’s military actions can be seen from a different point of view in a much more understandable light. Fairly and honestly considering Russia’s perspective involves acknowledging several significant accompanying facts and circumstances that are always either omitted and suppressed in the Western narrative or else immediately dismissed as false lies, largely because they point to a role that US policymakers played in contributing to each crisis.

The point is not to promote Russian invasions, but if US policymakers are going to forever validate their own multiple invasions, it doesn’t make sense to condemn every one of Russia’s much more infrequent military moves, especially if US policymakers are slickly using that condemnation of Russia as an excuse for US war, economic war, and proxy war. It’s actually dangerous to join in the one-sided condemnation of Russia, for it’s really only laying the groundwork—not for the promotion of world peace and justice—but for the false justification for dangerous US hostility, weapon shipments, proxy war, sanctions, and injustice.

It also doesn’t make sense to automatically condemn Russia’s violence if Russia made its moves either in response to US violence, US-promoted violence, or some other insidious form of US encroachment into others’ nations, or to avoid worse violence and injustice it validly anticipated coming from NATO and US policymakers and from a dangerous imbalance in world power.

In fact, US policy and media maker lies and propaganda function as Mental Escalators of Violence—those factors of the mind and heart that harm one’s relationship with truth and with others in a way that augments the likelihood of choosing violence either as an act of aggression or in a defensive response to threatened feelings. US propaganda severely damages the American relationship both with truth and with Russia. By doing so, it escalates unwarranted American hatred and misunderstanding towards Russia.

In this essay, let’s consider Russia’s military actions in Georgia in 2008. But keep in mind, just as we’ll find with Georgia, Russia’s past actions in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Syria, Crimea, and Ukraine can also be understood from a perspective never honestly presented by US mainstream media. If we could understand this perspective, we could more easily cooperatively create non-violent solutions to conflict. But if we forever hear the false good vs. evil narrative, we’re more likely to be duped into believing that war and weapon shipments are necessary, for war can be used to kill off the allegedly evil other side. With the “evil” enemy killed or at least conquered, the problems and causes of conflict are shallowly perceived or at least proclaimed to be solved or contained. Instead of learning that US violence, hostility, and weapon shipments actually aggravated conflict, tension, despair, and injustice, we learn the lie that US violence, hostility, and weapons saved us and the world from worse evil.

Unlike US news sources, Russia Today (RT) candidly demonstrates how Russia’s actions in Georgia were reported quite differently, depending upon whether one was reading the news in the US or in Russia. In 2008, Western audiences heard that

“Russia was doing it again—attacking its weaker neighbor Georgia with tanks and warplanes. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili was. . . explaining how his country was being attacked because it wants freedom and how the battle was for values, nothing less. Anchors reminded viewers that Georgia provided troops to missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wanted to be part of NATO.”

In other words, the good vs. evil script was once again invoked by US policy makers and then willingly, uncritically duplicated by US media. Moreover, providing Georgian people to kill and be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and hoping to join the military monster NATO were implied to be indicators of upbeat morality.

“On the same day Russian audiences learned that Saakashvili went on his latest military adventures, sending tanks and heavy artillery to shell the rebellious city of Tskhinval. Russian peacekeepers there had been killed. President Dmitry Medvedev. . . ordered a military response to enforce peace in South Ossetia.

“The schism of realities was palpable to those who got their news from sources on both sides.”[1]

By acknowledging this problem of falsehood, half-truth, and dishonest, misleading spin in the news, RT’s article helps show how conflict is aggravated by the polarizing emotions and convictions conceived and developed by fake news. RT further shows how the The Washington Diplomat could easily heighten American antagonism towards Russia by omitting any reference to Saakashvili being at it again with his “latest military adventures” and instead by portraying Putin as the aggressive one eager to pounce on more land: “‘Saakashvili’s miscalculation gave Putin the opening he needed to seize control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, leaving both territories financially and militarily reliant on Russia.’”

One might innocently assume that a media organization’s purpose is to promote comprehensive truth. But mainstream US media has a very different purpose. With regard to its role in foreign policy, its purpose is to serve as a Mental Escalator of Violence. It certainly doesn’t serve to clarify misunderstandings or promote non-violent conflict resolution! By promoting misunderstanding and half-truths, the US media manipulates minds and fosters dangerous and unnecessary antagonism and self-righteous wars.

Russia Today refers to NBC News which reportedly claimed in 2008 that “‘ethnic Georgians and Ossetians had lived together peacefully throughout the 20th century.’” Although this quote cleverly makes it sound like NBC appreciates peacefulness, its statement only serves to promote falsehood and unwarranted American hostility towards Russia. Evidently, if NBC actually did make that claim, then NBC’s deceptive or self-deceptive idea was to make it look like it was Russia who had messed up the halcyon lives of the people of Georgia. Yet RT describes significant ethnic conflict within Georgia dating back to at least the early 1900s when the Russian Empire collapsed, an event that triggered many kinds of separatism and nationalism along the borders of the empire.

At the time, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were made a part of Georgia with the condition that they receive “significant autonomy.” Both were denied their wish to leave Georgia and become a part of the USSR.[2] As Russian historian Evgeny Norin writes in Russia Today, ethnic conflict in various parts of the USSR that had been kept to a simmer under the USSR’s repressive rule spilled out into the open when the USSR collapsed. While Georgians were clamoring for independence from the USSR, Ossetians were clamoring for independence from Georgia.

In the early 1990s under the rule of Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, “who branded the Ossetians ‘trash,’” relations between Georgians and South Ossetians and Abkhazians grew worse and erupted into civil war in which hundreds were killed and thousands were displaced. South Ossetia declared itself an independent republic, but Georgia refused to recognize it.[3]

The violent ethnic conflict of 2008 between Georgians and Ossetians was set in motion by the coup of 2003. Just as the 2014 coup in Ukraine was a significant factor leading to the eight-year internal civil war followed by the 2022 military conflict with Russia, the 2003 coup in Georgia was a significant factor leading to the 2008 internal ethnic violence followed by the military conflict with Russia.

In 2003, Georgia’s President Eduard Shevardnadze, who had positive relations with Russia, was unseated in a reportedly US-supported uprising led by none other than Mikhail Saakashvili. Recall how US-supported leaders of Ukraine following the US-supported coup of 2014 were hostile towards Russia and eager to join the European Union and NATO. The same thing happened in Georgia. Saakashvili “took a sharply antagonistic stance towards Russia. He wanted Georgia to be part of NATO.” Western policy and media makers were fans of Saakashvili and put a false, positive spin on his behaviors.

As RT reports, much like post-coup Ukraine received military support from the US and NATO, Saakashvili’s troops “were offered training and equipment by allies and an honorary place to serve alongside NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. George W. Bush called Georgia a beacon of liberty.” Yet “the beacon’s darker aspects were not given much attention,” including “brutal suppression of mass protests in 2007,” which Saakashvili claimed were in response to an alleged coup attempt promoted by Russia, and a “harsh penal system” where torture was common. Bush Jr.’s “beacon of liberty” statement also served as a Mental Escalator of Violence: it promoted falsehood that would both increase American antagonism towards Russia and also stifle concern and deter investigation into Saakashvili’s violent approach towards the Georgian people.

Like several US allies, “Georgia under Saakashvili became quite militaristic. He increased defense spending from below one percent of GDP to eight percent of GDP and didn’t hesitate to send troops.”[4] Saakashvili declared his goal of bringing Abkhazia and South Ossetia back under the control of the Georgian government. Note that while US “experts” obsess over Putin’s alleged aims for empire—for regaining back lost territories, none of these concerns appeared with regard to Saakashvili’s quest to regain back Abkhazia and South Ossetia. US “experts” harp on Putin’s alleged admiration for tough-guy leaders, his portrayed-to-be-strange interest in history, and his supposed aim to make his mark as the new Peter the Great. Yet no US “experts” were apparently bothered that Saakashvili “obviously wanted to enter history as the man who restored Georgia in every possible sense of the word. In his speeches, he liked to mention conquests and heroes of the past, going back to the Middle Ages.”[5]

Like two bull moose testing each other by displaying showy body movements, the US, thousands of miles from its own borders, staged a military exercise in Georgia, and Russia staged a military exercise across the border in Russia.[6] Moose, of course, are much too smart and peaceful to get into many fights let alone devote resources to weapons or wage war. They generally sensibly walk away from one another without engaging in any violence.

But in August 2008, Saakashvili, who is not a moose, sent troops to attack South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinval. At first, it was acknowledged that the goal was to make South Ossetia behave—however that might be defined, but Georgia’s government later claimed its attack was not an attack but rather a defensive attempt to pre-empt an allegedly in-the-works Russian invasion of Georgia. You can see how justifying violence becomes a simple formula for a foreign ally of US policymakers: any leader can attack his people or another nation and claim he was pre-empting a coup by Russia or pre-empting an attack by Mid-Eastern terrorists.

Russia had made it clear that it would not tolerate an attack by Georgia. Its peacekeeping force had been deployed there earlier, with the consent of both Ossetians and Georgians. While Russia Today describes Russia as responding to Saakashvili’s military attack, according to an article by Steven Pifer on Brookings Institution’s website, it was Saakashvili who was responding to Russia’s military attack. Pifer writes that war broke out when “Saakashvili ordered his troops into the breakaway region of South Ossetia, after Russian forces shelled Georgian villages just outside of South Ossetia. The Russians—by appearances, spoiling for a fight—responded swiftly with massive force.”

Of course, it’s typical of propaganda and conflict dynamics to always describe the enemy as being the aggressive attacker eagerly “spoiling for a fight” and one’s own side as operating innocently on defense. It’s a ploy that helps to gain support for one’s own side, but it’s also a dumb strategy because it paradoxically pushes one farther away from ever reaching peace and understanding with the opposing side.

So what actually happened in Georgia? Is there any honest individual or organization who can clarify this? Most articles I came across indicate that there had been a series of skirmishes between Georgians and South Ossetian, a Russian peacekeeping force was deployed to Tskhinval, Saakashvili attacked Tskhinval in August 2008, and then Russia responded with military intervention on the side of the South Ossetians.

Note that even Pifer acknowledges that “in 2008, many European states held Saakashvili partially responsible for triggering the war with the Georgian advance into South Ossetia.”[7] According to Evgeny Norin, the Russian military’s primary mission in acting in South Ossetia was to “rescue a small group of peacekeepers encircled by the enemy and put an end to the shelling of a small town nestled deep in the Caucasus Mountains.”[8]

As usual, Western media not only condemns Russia for its military intervention but paints a picture of massive Russian brute force together with the “spoiling for a fight” imagery, as if Russians are hungry wolves. According to Norin, more Georgians were deserting from their army than were being killed. While Russians made some attacks and accidentally killed some civilians, they also merely disarmed many and let them go. Nonetheless, Western media condemned Russia for excessive force.

Oddly enough, Russia’s actions in Ukraine are being simultaneously condemned as excessive and “savage” and also ridiculed as incompetent for not being forceful enough. A completely propagandistic video by Infographics, for example, both condemns Putin for attacking Ukraine and also states that Putin, had he been smart, should have attacked Ukraine the way the US attacked Iraq in the Persian Gulf War with its overwhelming kill ratio.[9] The moral of the US propaganda story isn’t that violence is wrong and inferior to non-violent conflict resolution measures. The moral is that only the US has the right to order military attacks and only the US has the smarts and strength to do it right—powerful and deadly yet somehow not savage or inhumane. Of course, such a combination can truly only be achieved with the words woven by propaganda, not in reality.

It’s critical to understand that “August 2008 was, in many ways, a turning point for Russia and its relations with the West. Many Russians saw the war with Georgia as a proxy war with NATO, with the lost lives of Russian peacekeepers and soldiers blamed on those who supported the Georgia military build-up.” Moreover, “a significant share of Russians blame Georgia, US, and NATO for the 2008 South Ossetia war.”[10] For Russia, the conflict marked “the beginning of the current confrontation with the West.” As Norin writes, within Russia, “the common take on the events was as follows: the West had used its vassal state to test how Russia would react to a great infringement upon its interests. It was the first time Moscow had actively fought back against Western pressure, or what felt like pressure. The tensions only heightened over the ensuing years.”[11]

How would US and NATO policymakers respond to this? The Clinton administration certainly had been building up Georgia’s military. According to NATO’s website, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, first established relations with Georgia in 1992 when Georgia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. What was the point of this? In 1994, Georgia joined the Partnership for Peace and “practical bilateral cooperation” began and then deepened after the coup of 2003.[12]

So obviously, both the US and NATO were involved in militarizing Georgia and preparing it for battle. As Norin writes, “Georgian troops were trained by the US and its NATO partners. The president stuck to his Westernization policy with regard to the army too. Georgia increased its military spending to 9.5% of GDP, which is extremely high—more typical for a nation in a state of war.”[13]

Given the US and NATO arming and training of Georgia, it’s reasonable that the five-day war in South Ossetia would be viewed by Russians as a proxy war with NATO. After all, if the US and NATO had disapproved of Saakashvili’s actions, couldn’t they have threatened to cut off his support and military joint training? Did they try to stop him? Or were they, in fact, curious to evaluate Russia’s military capabilities?

According to Norin, neither Russia nor the US wanted a war. Thanks to documents leaked by Wikileaks, it’s now known that “American diplomats considered Moscow’s concerns about a possible military move on the part of Saakashvili nothing but a case of paranoia.”[14] But, in fact, it wasn’t paranoia. Saakashvili did attack Tskhinval with a plan to try to seize control of the Roki Tunnel, a crucial point on the one road leading north to Russia, in order to cut off the Russian peacekeeper force in South Ossetia and force them to surrender.

Norin also suggests that mixed signals from different members of the US government might have confused Saakashvili, and made him think he’d be backed by the US. Of course, this is the same argument made with regard to Saddam Hussein. There seemed to be “mixed signals” from the US government that made him think the US wouldn’t try to stop him if he invaded Kuwait in 1990. So are US signals truly mixed? Or are they deliberately ambivalent to hide accountability?

NATO—Georgia ties grew even closer in 2008, when the Allies agreed that Georgia would become a member of NATO as long as it met the requirements. At the 2014 NATO summit meeting, “a substantial package of measures was launched to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend itself.”[15] That year, the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package was initiated with measures “aimed at strengthening Georgia’s three military branches and fostering closer ties with Western defense institutions.”

In preparation for Georgia’s becoming a full-fledged member of NATO, Georgia and NATO also conduct joint military drills. Moreover, as with the Eastern European nations required to junk their Soviet weaponry and enrich the coffers of the US weapon industry with new purchases, Georgia has been “gradually getting rid of old-fashioned and obsolete weaponry,” you know, the kind that kills in a half-hearted, old-fashioned way, and has been replacing Soviet-made weapons with US-made weapons in line with NATO standards and aimed to “increase Georgian armed forces’ battle-readiness.”[16]

Keep in mind, NATO had promised Russia back when Germany was reunited that it wouldn’t move one inch east from Germany![17] So why is there no sensitivity to the fact that this is all highly dishonest and provoking to Russia? Georgia and Russia used to be a part of the same nation! How would US policymakers like it if various states of the US seceded and initiated joint military training with Venezuela and Cuba?

And why on Earth were the US and NATO embroiling Georgian troops and NATO troops into the problems US policymakers were having with Afghanistan and Iraq? Did Georgia’s population and the populations of Europe appreciate the use of their men and women to fight the wars of US policymakers who lack skills and willpower to resolve conflict non-violently? It’s maddening enough that Americans have to lose their lives to fight wars simply because US diplomats are inept at cooperative negotiation! But why must unlucky foreigners in need of a paycheck be roped into the fighting?

Most importantly, why do US and NATO incessantly promote violent “solutions” to conflict rather than non-violent solutions? Why were they so intent on preparing Georgia to fight, fight, fight rather than preparing Georgia for the development of skills and understanding and the fostering of talent to succeed at non-violent conflict resolution? Instead, it seems that US policymakers’ goal is to expand NATO as much as possible worldwide, like a creeping amoeba, so that people worldwide can be forced to fight US policymakers’ wars anywhere, anytime. It’s like a giant mercenary or conscription service.

People may disagree about the facts presented here, but notice that these facts aren’t even discussed in cooperative dialogue. Instead of acknowledging any of the helpful details about ethnic conflict in Georgia and the Russian perspective with regard to a US and NATO proxy war, Western media patronizingly delivered to their audiences a fairytale interpretation of events as a case of good vs. evil, with Russia, as usual, being painted as evil. RT writes: “The conflict was blatantly misreported by the Western media, which didn’t bother with the complexities of the situation and were apparently happy with the comfortable “bad Russia attacks freedom-loving country” narrative, which the Georgia PR officers were happy to offer them.” The obvious conclusion is that “Western media is not a neutral objective source of information. The reports about the war were all too often one-sided, giving Russia’s side of the story a few seconds and offering minutes upon minutes to that of Georgia.”[18]

But it gets worse, for the actual complexities of the situation in Georgia that were ignored by US mainstream media and political leaders go even further than the unmentioned ethnic conflicts. Like most conflicts, the history behind this proxy war between Russia and the US in Georgia has a lot to do with another category of the Paradigm for Peace model that I use when studying conflict, the topic of Wealth, Land, and Possessions.

US policymakers, CEOs, bankers, lawyers, and investors are not here to defend their point of view or to offer an alternative explanation for their behaviors, and it’s always important in cooperative dialogue to listen to others’ perspectives because the information one has read or heard from others could always be slanted in some way that omits important details. Simultaneously, our own minds, including my own mind, try as we might to see things truthfully, could unintentionally see the world through skewed lenses, just as US foreign policymakers obviously are looking through skewed lenses of a very different sort.

So just as we should make great efforts to shed biases and sincerely step into the shoes of Russian policymakers, we should also shed other biases we may have and sincerely step into the shoes of US and NATO policymakers and their business colleagues. However, keeping in mind that there may likely be other viewpoints that should be fairly considered, I’ll say that it seems to me that once the role of US policymakers’ and businessmen’s avarice for wealth, possessions, and control over natural resources and markets is made apparent, it becomes easy to see that US policymaker talk of spreading freedom and democracy is pure hogwash.

In fact, US foreign policymakers and the US military seem to have become nothing more than a taxpayer-funded arm of the fossil fuel industry, the weapon industry, and probably a few others, such as the reconstruction-after-war-destruction, nuclear, and pharmaceutical industries. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), who also was very unlike any decent moose, sought to control all organizations involved in the entire chain of producing fossil fuels, from drilling and refining to transportation on the railways.[19] If he were alive today, he’d most likely be pleased with the hijacking of government by wealthy individuals and corporations, for control over government foreign policy and predatory access to taxpayer money is really just one leg in this giant process of acquiring and selling fossil fuels. No doubt he’d see the development not as predatory, but as virtuous.

Russia is of particular interest to the US fossil fuel industry for several reasons: Russia has been the major supplier of natural gas to Europe’s market. It borders the Black and Caspian Seas, both of which are rich in fossil fuels and therefore ripe for further environmental disaster. Moreover, Russia includes and borders the potentially fossil-fuel-rich regions of the Arctic. In fact, more than a century ago Rockefeller was incensed when Russia struck major oil deposits in Baku, Azerbaijan, a find that enabled Russia to sell oil at a price that undercut Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.[20] Little did he know—but perhaps it was his ambition—that his company’s descendants, ExxonMobil and Texaco Chevron, would be in Baku while US policymakers militarized Azerbaijan after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.[21]

For eyes and hearts that perceive the world in terms of access to wealth and power, much like a board game of Monopoly or Risk, one’s opponent is nothing more than a soulless playing piece to be defeated, the greatest goal is winning the most money and property, and fulfillment of what exists of the mind, heart, and spirit is achieved through control of foreign markets and resources. Notice how the two dimensions of the board game crunch the players into two-dimensional beings—lacking in mental, emotional, and spiritual depth and wisdom, and lacking in the ability to see reason, heart, spirit, and dignity in their opponents, as well.

With the 1991 collapse of the USSR, the subsequent behavior of US policymakers and their business allies strongly suggests what the Cold War was all about: rivalry for resources. It had been portrayed as a moral conflict, with the Forces of Freedom and Light battling what President Reagan dramatically called the “Evil Empire.” But why, with the USSR’s collapse, was there this tremendous US push for privatization? Why this US grasping for ownership and investment in Russian businesses and resources? Why this groping for the Caspian Sea, with ExxonMobil and Texaco Chevron setting up camp in Azerbaijan and the Pentagon’s “Caspian Guard” program deployed in Azerbaijan?[22] Why the push to sell US weapons to former Soviet republics?

Why no fervent attempts to set up systems, rules, and programs to prevent one-third of Russians from sinking into poverty? Instead, avaricious Americans, Americans who don’t seem to know what it means to feel content with one’s lot, Americans perhaps prodded by anxiety that they’ll look foolish within their social, business, and presidential circles if they miss out on a clever chance to make more money and acquire more power over resources, came swooping down to grab whatever they could from former Soviet republics. The avaricious weren’t only Americans. Avaricious Russian oligarchs enriched themselves at the expense of so many others. Were they motivated purely by greed? Were they striving to stay on top rather than sink to the bottom in this new sea of confusion, bewilderment, and insecurity?

Michael Klare’s Blood and Oil (2004)[23] and investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater (2007) each describe intense US government and military involvement and private military contractor participation since the 1990s in striving to secure access to the oil of the Caspian Sea, to secure access to surrounding regions for pipeline placement, and to push Russia out of the market of its own former republics, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Once the USSR collapsed in 1991, “multinational oil giants swooped in like vultures as the United States and its allies moved quickly to shore up the repressive regimes of the littoral ex-Soviet republics of the Caspian region.” So much for those fake US claims about defending freedom and democracy abroad.

As Scahill writes, the Clinton administration “worked feverishly to secure Caspian resources,” but it wasn’t until the Bush Jr. administration and his host of oil-business policymakers came to power and then 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan conveniently transpired that construction of the Caspian Sea oil pipeline, intended to transfer oil from Azerbaijan to Turkey by way of Georgia, finally began in 2002.

Scahill describes the “United States’ quest for domination of the world’s petrol reserves” and explains that in 2004, Erik Prince’s Blackwater, the private military contractor infamous for its reckless behavior in Iraq, began working in Azerbaijan as part of the Caspian Guard when it was “contracted to work in the heart of the oil- and gas-rich Caspian Sea region, where they would quietly train a force modeled after the Navy SEALS and establish a base just north of the Iranian border as part of a major U.S. move in what veteran analysts in the region call the ‘Great Game.’” In working to protect US access to Caspian Sea fossil fuels, the US was defending the personal investments of its favorite social and business circles, the ones whose interests are called “US interests.” Blackwater, in essence, was defending a “high-stakes pet project of some of the most powerful figures in the U.S. national security establishment, including Henry Kissinger, James Baker III, and Dick Cheney.”[24]

Although fossil fuel pipelines and energy markets received little if any coverage in US mainstream news with regard to explaining US policymakers’ interests in Georgia and Russia’s military actions in Georgia in 2008, pipelines and energy were very likely the major issue underlying what some see as a proxy conflict between the US/NATO and Russia and goading the self-serving US propaganda that painted Russia as malicious and militaristic. Klare states his belief in a 2008 interview on Democracy Now! that the pipeline issue “is what really underlies the conflict” and that the US has long wanted Caspian Sea oil and gas and considers Georgia

“as an energy corridor for exporting Caspian Sea oil and gas to the West, bypassing Russia. And this was the brainchild of Bill Clinton, who saw an opportunity, when the Soviet Union broke apart, to gain access to Caspian oil and gas, but he didn’t want this new energy to flow through Russia or through Iran. . . .

“So he anointed Georgia as a bridge, to build new pipelines through Georgia to the West. And it was he who masterminded the construction of the BTC pipeline, which is now the outlet for this oil, with new pipelines supposedly following for natural gas. And he. . . also built up the Georgia military to protect the pipeline, and Russia has been furious about this ever since. And I think that’s the reason that they have clung so tightly to Abkhazia and South Ossetia ever since.”[25]

How would US policymakers respond to Klare’s accusation? Is he right? Would they agree to any aspect of his argument? Or do they think he’s skewing reality with his interpretation?

We’ll continue more on this topic in the next essay.

Kristin Christman has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at Kristin graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. She has been a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice recently published her article on suicide, culture, and peace in their special edition on suicide, Vol. 33 No. 4.

[1] Russia Today, “10 Years Since Georgia Attacked South Ossetia and Russia—Not the Other Way Around,” Aug. 8, 2017,

[2] Russia Today, “10 Years Since Georgia Attacked.”

[3] Evgeny Norin, “How the Ambitions of a Small Country’s US-Backed Leader Launched the Current Confrontation between Russia and the West,” Russia Today, Aug. 13, 2022,

[4] Russia Today, “10 Years Since Georgia Attacked.”

[5] Norin, “How the Ambitions,” Russia Today, Aug. 13, 2022,

[6] Russia Today, “10 Years Since Georgia Attacked.”

[7] Steven Pifer, “George W. Bush Was Tough on Russia? Give Me a Break,” Brookings Institution, Mar. 24, 2014,

[8] Norin, “How the Ambitions.”

[9] Infographics Show, “Russia’s Big Problem with Ukraine,” Apr. 8, 2022,

[10] Russia Today, “10 Years Since Georgia Attacked.”

[11] Norin, “How the Ambitions.”

[12] NATO, “Relations with Georgia,” last updated July 14, 2022,

[13] Norin, “How the Ambitions.”

[14] Norin, “How the Ambitions.”

[15] NATO, “Relations with Georgia,” last updated July 14, 2022,

[16] Davit Kukashvili, “Georgia Draws Closer to NATO, Upgrades Arms with American-Made Weaponry,” Caspian News, June 1, 2017,

[17] Vladimir Putin, 43rd Munich Conference on Security and Policy, Feb. 11, 2007,

[18] Russia Today, “10 Years Since Georgia Attacked.”

[19] Lita Epstein, C.D. Jaco, and Julianne C. Iwersen-Neimann. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: The Politics of Oil. (Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2003), 82-85.

[20] Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 19, 243-46, 250.

[21] Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 68.

[22] Scahill, Blackwater, 172.

[23] Michael T. Klare, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum, (New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt, 2004).

[24] Scahill, Blackwater, 167-69.

[25] Democracy Now!, Interview with Michael Klare, “Russia-Georgia Conflict Fueled by Rush to Control Caspian Energy Resources,” Aug. 15, 2008,


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