The outbreak of a deadly armed conflict in the Caucasus is not only a humanitarian disaster which has already cost some 2,000 lives, but poses a very real threat of wider wars in the region. Imperialism’s preparations and aggressions in Georgia are sparks that can eventually ignite a much larger conflagration, demanding the sharpest condemnation of the international labour movement and all peace and anti-imperialist forces.

Unhindered by a strong socialist bloc of countries, imperialist countries led by the US in the NATO military alliance are using Georgia to prepare future aggressions, in violation of the basic principles of international law such as those in the United Nations Charter. The Communist Party of Canada condemns the Georgian invasion on August 7, including bombing raids on residential areas, hospitals, and schools in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, as an unprovoked assault which plunged the Caucasus into war. We give full support to calls from many countries for the com plete withdrawal of Georgian forces from South Ossetia as a first step towards a peaceful solution to this conflict, which must not be allowed to expand into all-out confrontation in the Middle East and Central Asia.

We also note that contrary to claims by much of the western media and by the Bush regime, this is not a case of “Russian aggression.” The source of rising tensions in the Caucasus is not the presence of Russian troops, which entered South Ossetia in the early 1990s as peacekeepers after Georgia attempted to forcibly annex the area, driving much of the population across the border into North Ossetia, which remained within Russia.

The real origin of this conflict lies in the US/NATO imperialist policies of expansionism. For decades, starting with the Cold War, the US has sought to place a military ring around its rival, undermining allies of the Soviet Union and later Russia, and imposing so-called “pro-Western” regimes which allow US bases on their soil and rely heavily on US military cooperation and support. Recalling the Nazi invasion which cost their country over twenty million lives, Russia strongly opposes such imperialist encirclement.

This is the case with Georgia, which became a U.S. client state at the time of the illegal NATO war against Yugoslavia in 1999. Israel, the main U.S. ally in the region, has also forged close political and economic links with the Ge orgian government. The high level of US/NATO/Israeli/Georgian military integration makes it clear that the August 7 aggression must have been known in advance and approved by the Bush and Olmert governments. Bolstering this view is the decision on August 9 by the United States to provide military transport aircraft to fly many of Georgia’s 2,000-strong troop contingent out of Iraq to join the fighting at home.

The imperialist drive to plunder oil and other vital resources is a key factor in destabilization of the region. Notably, the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline brings oil and gas through Georgia to the Eastern Mediterranean, including a large part of Israel’s oil imports from Azerbaijan. Controlled by British Petroleum and built with US support, the BTC pipeline is a vital piece of the military-political bloc including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, which the US considers a vital counter-balance against the influence of Russia and China in the region.

In the wake of the US/UK war against Iraq and the continuing efforts by the occupation forces to turn over Iraq’s vast oil wealth to the transnational corporations, nobody should underestimate the desire of the ultra-right clique around Bush, Cheney and other Republican hawks to use events in the Middle East and Central Asia to further this strategic push. Seen in this context, Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia, which quickly met pow erful Russian resistance, may have been a provocation to create better conditions for expansion of the US/ NATO military presence in the area.

The Caucasus war could also influence the US presidential election, by tilting voter support towards Republican candidate John McCain. It is not a stretch to wonder if these events may be intended to help lay the groundwork for a US strike against Iran, with the long-range goal of imperialist seizure of that country’s oil reserves. Such an attack would unleash a war of unforeseeable dimensions, costing millions of lives and spreading far beyond the borders of the Middle East.

In pursuit of its aim of global hegemony, imperialism is playing with fire, and Georgia’s latest aggression is part of this wider pattern. The Communist Party of Canada urges full support for international attempts to contain and extinguish this conflict, and for an end to all imperialist meddling in the Caucasus. Issued by the Central Executive Committee