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Feature Story November 13, 2003
Georgia in the Crunch
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 3 of 5
Ambassador Miles was the chief of mission (effectively ambassador) to Yugoslavia from 1996 to 1999. He was one of the key instruments in America's drive to push the Kosovo crisis towards war and eventual occupation by NATO forces. If you go back and read accounts of Miles' service, he was first involved with the Serbian democratic opposition in the 1997 elections and drive to get Milosevic thrown out of power. Miles' biography hilariously cites his speeches to opposition leaders in which he tells the Serbs about his alleged hippie days and sit-ins at the Pentagon in the 60s. I dunno, call me a sin-ic and all, but somehow I have a hard time seeing Ambassador Miles beating a tambourine and denouncing the pigs...

Despite his and America's efforts, the Serbian opposition failed to unseat Milosevic in 1997. So American policy moved to undermine him by backing a different opposition group -- the KLA -- and pushing for war in Kosovo. The following year, in 1998, Miles took a leading role in the Western "observer" convoys which oversaw cease-fires in Kosovo. After the war, a BBC documentary revealed that the OSCE mission in Kosovo was a front for the CIA to gather intelligence on the Serbs, then prepare for and trigger the war against Serbia.

In 2000, Milosevic was thrown out of power in circumstances that look a lot like today's in Georgia: a rigged election leading to street protests by the U.S.-backed democratic-nationalist opposition and a powerful youth group; their refusal to recognize the results; and a stand-off which threatened to spill into civil war. American funding, propaganda, and the war in Kosovo were all key to getting rid of Milosevic, and it worked, with Richard Miles running the whole American-engineered coup. The result was that Milosevic was thrown out of power, a pro-U.S. government took power, aid started to flow, and American bases in Kosovo look secure for a long time to come. Miles wasn't there to oversee the final stage of the coup and takeover that he spearheaded -- in 2000, he moved to the ambassadorship in Bulgaria, speeding this tiny "New Europe" nation into NATO's orbit, a move effected, some allege, by funneling aid through friendly yet corrupt Bulgarian politicians.

Miles was named U.S. Ambassador to Georgia in March of 2002. Roughly ten years earlier, he had been named ambassador to Azerbaijan, the first leg of the Caspian Sea oil pipeline, and he served there long enough to watch approvingly as Haidar Aliyev established his decidedly anti-democratic dynasty.

Miles was named ambassador to Georgia last year at a crucial moment. America had just introduced its first units of Special Forces ostensibly to train special Georgian battalions to rid the Pankisi Gorge of supposed Al Qaeda terrorists. It caused an uproar in Russia and was one of the key moves which drastically cooled relations between Russia and America. The Al Qaeda rumors were generally recognized as a bogus excuse to introduce American forces, thereby pulling Georgia deeper into America's grip. Not that the Georgians minded -- most welcomed the arrival of the American Green Berets, naively believing that they would protect Georgia from the Russians and reconquer lost territory. This move backfired and the Russians now have more control over Georgia than any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but more on that later.

In his Senate confirmation hearings in Washington that year, Miles began his statement, "President Shevardnadze will retire in 2005. As you well know, three years is the blink of an eye in the world of politics. A top priority of U.S. policy on Georgia during this critical period will be to help Georgian political leaders and Georgian society to prepare for a peaceful and democratic transition of power in 2005."

Sounds nice on the surface, but what it means in the local context is this: America is not only going to make sure that this "transition of power" takes place, but how and to whom. Here's how: "As we engage with a new generation of leaders, we will also maintain a partnership with President Shevardnadze in his commitment to advancing democratic and market economic reform and fighting corruption." Leaving aside the black humor -- America partnering up with Shevardnadze to fight corruption is about as insane as Hitler partnering up with the Iron Guard to fight anti-Semitism in the Balkans -- his mission was clear: to put into power younger, more pliant Georgian politicians. Shevardnadze was bad for stability: he is 75 years old, grossly unpopular, too wily to control.

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The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

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