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COLUMNISTS

Checkbook Diplomacy Doesn’t Apply to the United States

Wayne MADSEN | 07.02.2012 | 15:29
 

The United States, Australia, and New Zealand and their ally in Tbilisi, Mikheil Saakashvili, are upset that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently visited Fiji. The fear from Washington, Canberra, Wellington, and Tbilisi was that Lavrov was going to offer Fiji lucrative financial assistance in return for the South Pacific nation’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The two countries broke away from Georgia, triggering a war between Georgia and Russia in 2008.

While the Obama administration is cautioning Fiji about recognizing the independence of the two secessionist republics in return for economic aid from Moscow, something Washington calls Taiwan-style “checkbook diplomacy,” it is more than happy to reward other countries with special incentives if they recognize the independence of America’s creation in the Balkans that was severed from Serbia, Kosovo.

The United States has complained, along with its two surrogate “sheriffs” in the Pacific region – Australia and New Zealand – that Russia’s offer of economic perks to Nauru, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu, three nations that have never managed to fully break free of Western colonialist dictates, resulted in those nations’ decisions to recognize the independence of Abkhazia. While Vanuatu recognized only Abkhazia during a government crisis in Port-Vila, the Vanuatu capital, Nauru and Tuvalu recognized both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Previously, only Russia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela recognized the two breakaway nations, with Washington charging that Russia offered military and other deals to Nicaragua and Venezuela in return for their recognition of the two emergent nations.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd lived up to the Australian Labor Party’s total subservience to the United States by calling for transparency in Russia’s dealings with the South Pacific states. Yet Australia’s and New Zealand’s policies to the small Pacific nations has often been based on secret intelligence agreements between the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, including the signals intelligence alliance between the three nations that makes the diplomatic communications of the South Pacific states and all telecommunications in the South Pacific subject to eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Georgia has argued that the cases of Abkhazia/South Ossetia and Kosovo are un-related. However, the United States has cajoled a number of nations into recognizing Kosovo, the latest being Ghana. In return for recognition, Washington has granted countries recognizing the organized crime-imbued regime in Pristina, the Kosovo capital, with the same sort of perks that the United States has accused Russia of providing the South Pacific and Latin American states that have recognized Abkhazia/South Ossetia. While the United States condemns the “checkbook diplomacy” practiced for years by Taiwan and China to gain and swap diplomatic recognition from mostly poor and small nations, it has practiced the same sort of “checkbook diplomacy” with regard to Kosovo.

A State Department cable divulged by WikiLeaks points to the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy and how Washington has pressured countries into not recognizing Abkhazia/South Ossetia by exerting pressure directly or via its allies.

On February 22, 2010, a cable from the U.S. embassy in Quito, Ecuador cited the visit by the Abkhazian Vice Foreign Minister to Quito and referred to U.S. concern that Ecuador’s Multilateral Affairs Under Secretary Arturo Cabrera had met the Abkhazian official in preparation for the announcement of diplomatic relations. The cable states:

“Cabrera said that the MFA too was surprised by the Vice Foreign Minister's visit, and indicated that nothing materialized from it. He gave the impression that he considered it unlikely the GOE would recognize South Ossetia or Abkhazia as independent states, although he did not say so directly. Cabrera also informed us that the issue was handled by Bilateral Affairs rather than his office. When the opportunity arises, the Embassy will raise the issue also with the MFA's Bilateral Affairs office.”

Previously, on January 26, 2010, the U.S. embassy in Peru ensured that a Peruvian official would raise Washington’s objections with Ecuador over Abkhazia/South Ossetia at a South American defense meeting:

“Charge raised reftel points regarding the Government of Ecuador's potentially recognizing the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with MFA Under Secretary for the Americas Ambassador Javier Leon January 25. Leon said he planned to travel to Ecuador this week for a UNASUR meeting of Vice Ministers of Defense, and would raise the issue with his GOE [Government of Ecuador]
counterparts at that time.”

The same day, the U.S. embassy in Chile tried to use Chile to pressure Ecuador not to recognize the two secessionist nations but with little success:

“Poloff [Political Officer] delivered reftel demarche to Eduardo Schott, Deputy Director for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Schott was unaware of Ecuador's potential decision to recognize the independence of the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He will consult with colleagues about the possibility of raising the issue with Ecuador. He said that Chile is comfortable sharing its reasons for not recognizing the regions, but other countries are free to make their own decision.”

Nauru’s decision to recognize Abkhazia/South Ossetia was seen as a “comedy” according to a December 16, 2009, cable from the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi:

“Georgian officials downplayed the significance of Nauru's apparent December 14 recognition of Abkhazia's "independence," which Russia reportedly encouraged with an offer of $50 million to the island nation. Although officials are discussing with Australian counterparts whether the recognition is actually final, Reintegration Minister Yakobashvili joked in public about Russia's apparent purchase of the recognition, calling it a "comedy," while Deputy Foreign Minister Bokeria told us privately the step was not so important, even if it was true. The relaxed approach represents a welcome shift from Georgia's more manic reaction to previous recognitions by Venezuela and Nicaragua, an approach that we have actively encouraged with our Georgian counterparts. Georgia has also recognized and expressed appreciation for successful U.S. efforts to discourage additional recognitions from Latin American countries . . .”

Perhaps the most draconian use of U.S. pressure regarding recognition of Abkhazia / South Ossetia was the pressure Washington, London, and Paris applied on four poor African states, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali, that signaled a willingness to establish relations with the secessionist states. The information is contained in a September 1, 2009, cable from the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi. The relevant sections of the cable are as follows:

“Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called in the U.S. and UK ambassadors August 31 to request urgent assistance on two matters. First, the Georgians learned that four African countries -- Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali -- are seriously considering recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the Georgians want help dissuading them from doing so . . . Vashadze told the ambassadors that the Georgian Embassy in Paris learned from the Quai d'Orsay that Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea-Bissau, and Mali were seriously considering taking the step of recognition. He considered this information quite reliable. He expressed great concern that such a step would undermine many of Georgia's diplomatic successes over the past year. He was especially concerned that Russia will orchestrate an announcement of these recognitions at the UN General Assembly, saying that such announcement would be an absolute catastrophe, especially if it occurred when President Saakashvili was in New York. ”

The four African nations were pressured into not recognizing Abkhazia/South Ossetia.

Other leaked State Department cables illustrate Washington’s pressure on various nations, including Spain, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Zambia, Guatemala, South Africa, Brunei, Djibouti, and even the tiny Maldives through the same sort of financial incentives and diplomatic “sweeteners” Washington accused Russia applying on the South Pacific states in return for recognition of Abkhazia/South Ossetia.

When it comes to hypocrisy, there is no greater world center for it than the U.S. Department of State. However, thanks to the leaks of State Department cables, the hypocrisy of the State Department and the Obama administration in foreign policy can be read in their own words.

 
Tags: Abkhazia Georgia Kosovo South Ossetia
 

 
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Wayne MADSEN

Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. Has some twenty years experience in security issues. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and a terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. Lives in Washington, D.C.


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