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Georgia-Russia Conflict: Moscow Challenges America's Global and Regional Authority

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Not the Taliban in Afghanistan, insurgents in Iraq or even Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestine; but Russia is challenging America's authority worldwide, mocking its supposed leadership in international organizations like the United Nations and revealing an unpleasant double standard image of the United States.

In a Security Council meeting on August 10th, Zelmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, questioned Russia's objectives in expanding aggression beyond the South Ossetia region. He referred to a confidential call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which Lavrov had said that the elected president of Georgia "must go." "It's completely unacceptable and crossed the line," Khalilzad said. "Was Russia's objective [a] regime change in Georgia, the overthrow of the democratically elected Government of that country?"

Russia's Ambassador Churkin's response was short, clear and brutally naked: "'Regime change' was an American expression that Russia did not use."

When Khalilzad repeated his question, Churkin mocked him, saying "I have given a complete response and perhaps the United States' representative had not been listening when he had given his response, perhaps he had not had his earpiece on."

Two days after that, the U.N. Inner Press Service said that "Russian media reported that foreign fighters, including Americans, were found among the dead in Tskhinvali. Americans, who were probably either mercenaries or instructors in the Georgian armed forces."
Khalilzad responded to the Russian media reports with

"We hear a lot of propaganda. We've heard the U.S. gave the green light to this operation... I have nothing specific with regards to these reports, but I would not conclude that they are true. We did not have any prior knowledge or were not consulted by Georgia."

In the meantime, reports confirmed arms sales by Israel, America's closest ally in the region, to Georgia:

With the eruption of fighting between Russia and Georgia, Israel has found itself in an awkward position as a result of its arms sales to Georgia, caught between its friendly relations with Georgia and its fear that the continued sale of weaponry will spark Russian retribution in the form of increased arms sales to Iran and Syria.

(IPS News Agency)

Russia is a major provider of nuclear and missile technology to Iran and Syria. Just a few month ago Russia vetoed a U.S. backed resolution against Zimbabwe, regarding its latest presidential elections.

Yet the United States accused Russia of something that it does on a regular basis. "Regime change" is a very well-known part of the U.S. foreign policy; people in Washington pursue it in different ways, from Latin America, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and --- if they could -- Iran. Some regime changes are successful; some are not and have disastrous consequences. Seymour Hersh's recent article on the United States' support of armed groups fighting against the Iranian government is the latest example of this kind of foreign policy.

Russians politics, on the other hand, has a tough, rough and pre-internet style.

The fact is that the United States ignores the role of international organizations and pursues a systematic double standard set of policies in areas like human rights and democracy. Therefore, it cannot preach to other powers like Russia and China for committing the same offenses.

The more the United States ignores its own advice, the more it undermines America's global authority, which has been growing since the end of World War II.

During the last 8 years, the moral authority of the U.S. particularly has been undermined by the Bush administration. Continuation of this foreign policy has brought humiliation, failure, mistrust and hatred for America and undermined its efficacy in international organizations.
Consequently, the U.S. alliance with Russia over Iran's nuclear and missile program seems rather fragile. Russia's tone towards the U.S. ambassador is a reflection of a bigger reality that explains why Moscow has never been willing to abide by U.S. demands when it comes to issues like the management of Iran.

Considering all of America's difficulties in the Middle East region , Washington's alienation of Moscow will heighten tensions between the two countries in the Middle East and Central Asia.

France's role in this short conflict also illustrates the emergence of E.U. as an organization enjoying a higher level of moral authority among a larger number of countries. The U.S. is arguably no longer the most effective nation when it comes to interfering, influencing and finally resolving conflicts among nations. This is just one of the lessons the U.S. could learn from the Georgia-Russia conflict. That is, of course, if the "earpieces" are on.

(Video Below: Georgian President Mikheil Saakasvhili tells CNN's John Roberts that how the United States is losing the Central Asia, and what they expect the world and the U.S. to do...)


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