The Republic of Georgia is all in the headlines again this week, this time over former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s alleged role in planning a violent coup in that key Caucasus country. The headlines read “Bloodthirsty Saakashvili” more or less. The man Ukraine’s Poroshenko made governor over the vital Odessa region may soon be joined by many others on the Georgia’s unwanted list. Saakashvili, the businesses trying to take advantage of new western influence in Georgia, promise still more conflict in this war weary region. Here’s a look at the timely coincidences that link up a new American hegemony play.
I don’t believe much in coincidence, and especially not when it comes to US policy of late. Mikheil Saakashvili was not just given Ukraine citizenship and control over Odessa by chance. The scene of the most horrendous massacre of the young Ukraine civil war, Odessa remembers the scorched bodies of anti-Maidan demonstrators there. The imagery of the pregnant cleaning lady bent backward over a desk, some say garroted rather than burned alive, haunts the sympathetic amongst us to this day. But the people of Odessa have other horrors to tell since February 2014, some far worse. According to reporting from people on the ground there, the new Nazis at Saakashvili’s beckon call kidnap young girls and boys for sex slavery, organ harvesting, and other sadistic inhumanity. We need not divert to the fascism America has sponsored in Ukraine, but focusing on Odessa as a key energy import center is necessary in order to understand all these current wars
While the world watches the diversion that is Syria, and Europe focuses on Ukraine as some the focus of a mythical Vladimir Putin conquest, it is Georgia that is the real prize. And the west needs Saakashvili back there now that moderation has set in along the Caucasus. This is the “why” question presented as the WikiLeaks recordings surface. Georgia, for all the American and UK business enterprises set to flourish there, is sick and tired of American and Brit meddling. Putin’s and Russia’s more recent moves to gather the Georgians back into the fold have met with approval, the US hegemony already revealed at cocktail parties and with the wheeling and dealing over Georgian assets, it was only a matter of time. Washington and London need the brutal Saakashvili back in control. But the jig is up now, and a new Azerbaijan to Odessa energy corridor is probably quits too.
Doing some research for a colleague, Veterans Today Bureau Chief, Jeff Silverman who’s in Georgia, I ran across the most unlikely “coincidence” of my own. Silverman, who has been in a sort of exile in Georgia since the US State Departmentunceremoniously revoked his American citizenship, has given recent testimony before Tbilisi media on the mess that is the US presence there. Without telling this former US Army bioweapons expert’s whole story, it’s fair to say “some” people did not want Silverman talking about a Georgia bio-weapons lab. The Veterans Today journalist also brought to my attention, my hometown of Charleston, SC in this current Georgia affair. This is where, in my view, “coincidence” ends, and a pattern emerges.
Most people’s recent recollections of Charleston are from the horrible killings which occurred at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown back in June. That incident sparked widespread friction and politicizing of yet another human tragedy. For an old Charlestonian reporting on international policy, learning South Carolinians are at work in the Caucasus has put “coincidence” out of mind, and has helped me focus on another reality. Enter a journalistic figure named Will Cathcart, a Daily Beast author form Charleston who was Saakashvili’s media adviser. If not for Silverman’s contention the Clemson graduate tried to bash the Veteran’s Today correspondent’s brains out outside the Dive Bar in Tbilisi, this South Carolina boy would have had no clue my home state had any business in a former Soviet republic. But Will Cathcart, the Charleston Mercury, and other bit players from my home town pale in comparison to the key players in this new Great Game of ordered chaos. Propping up Will Cathcart is a cadre of Charleston business people, aristocrats, and seeming spooks from the military complex in America. By all appearances, not only was Saakashvili supported by George W. Bush’s administration, but by the whole network of business-intelligence mechanisms from South Carolina and elsewhere in the US. Cathcart’s part seems to have been via a sort of “mentor” named Admiral (Retired) David Shimp, who’s a VP of a Charleston maritime firm known as Maybank Industries. Shimp, who joined an all star lineup of dignitaries at Will Cathcart’s recent wedding gala in Tbilisi, is also head of a security firm Silverman claims is a CIA front. Maybank’s interest in Georgia seems to be with regard to the construction of a deepwater port for natural gas and oil shipments, as well as interests in the Georgia railroad project all in the news lately.
Rear Admiral Shimp, it turns out, is one of the most influential men of a type in South Carolina. A fairly recent story in Charleston’s Post & Courier places the admiral and the war hawk SC Senator Lindsey Graham at a ceremony I think was meant to steal PR clout from a World War II hero. Another brazen coincidence is that Maybank Industries (Government contract PDF) is a big campaign contributor to Graham. As to my “war hawk” suggestion for Graham, this dressing down of the US Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff betrays the South Carolinian as an advocate of ultimate war with Russia over Syria. As to collusion with industry in the overthrow of foreign governments, for now all we have to go on is “coincidence” and circumstantial evidence. But there’s more, a lot more happenstance.
For anyone who does not know better, it almost seems as if there is a whole industry over in America organized to milk the life blood out of every nation on Earth. This is not an easy thing to grasp, or to admit about one’s own country. Down at the factory worker level, teaching school, or hanging telecommunications wires across America, the average person knows for real the game is rigged. This is a foregone conclusion since 50 years for most people. “Trust” is simply not something one attributes to any politician, but still people want to believe. Back during Vietnam, at least at the beginning, none of would have believed South Carolina palms were greased over war commodities like Agent Orange, napalm, white phosphorus, or the gunpowder companies like Dupont made. Air bases and naval bases, the ultimate impact of the military industrial complex never really hit us kids, running King Street or Broad, playing at White Point Gardens, or standing at mock attention at a Citadel parade. But Charleston’s aristocracy surely was complicit, and in ways nobody may ever know. So were most cities in America, and most politicians, inextricably tied to the money interests? I would say “that’s another story,” but it is in fact this story too.
Simply searching for the names in this Black Sea drama reveals 10,000 connections that bite at the borders of coincidental possibility. South Carolina delegations to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro, indicted Gamecock fans (and chicken fighting politicians), spook ex-military men, even European aristocracy appears in this Alfred Hitchcock-ish thriller fit for the silver screen. A colleague who’s just returned home from Charleston tells me of intrigue only discernible at high brow cocktail parties downtown, drunken mutterings that lead to a billion or two in contracts, deals, and money motivation. Down home on the Cooper and Ashley rivers, former Citadel commandants address the valiant and long gray line, while in far off republics the next wave of third world slaves are put in chains. That’s right, once the people of Georgia learn what the aristocrats really think about people in the Caucasus, they’ll run them all out of town on a rail. The people of this former Soviet republic need to ask the question; “Is retired admiral David Shimp teaching policy at Caucasus University out of his great love for our people?” If the man put in Georgia to assist Maybank Enterprises, and to further the aims of the World Security Network possesses such devotion to Georgians, then from whence did this adoration come? If he can prove this great love, then all my coincidences herein shall be proven utter chance.
Silverman contends Shimp is a so-called “spook” – for my part, I believe him. Shimp was commander of one of the NATO support teams during the Balkans war, and this CIA description of such teams is implicative. While this is conjecture until proven though, the weight of business devoted to Georgia, Ukraine, and to Syria is astronomically out of balance from American interests. Shifting back to Shimp’s protégé Will Cathcart for a moment, his place in the current Georgia hierarchy is absolutely curious for any casual onlooker. What are the chances the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland attends a Daily Beast writer’s wedding? Is it coincidence Shimp is there to read out congratulatory messages from SC Congressman Joe Wilson, or former First Lady of South Carolina Ann Edwards?
Right now try and imagine a kid from Charleston all grown up to discover, what appears to be a web of not so nice business extending from downtown to foreign capitals with one thing in common – suffering and chaos. Maybank industries may in fact be squeaky clean with regard to any illegal doings, but the company is embossed with highly influential names, and doing business from Cuba to the Black Sea. Even longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley’s son Bratton Riley works with Maybank. I’m a bit gob-smacked to tell you the truth here, but Charleston and South Carolina are not the only curious bedfellows over on the Black Sea. This Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum PDF lists Will Cathcart as the Maybank Industries right alongside huge LNG projects in between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Ukraine. The aforementioned railroad and highway improvements are therein too, but the larger scope is illuminated with the featuring of Vice President Joe Biden on the cover of the report.
Whatever connections or evidence surface in ongoing research, Senator Graham and many other South Carolinians unabashedly defend defense oriented corporations like Boeing, one of South Carolina’s and Charleston’s biggest employers. I’ll give Senator Graham one thing, he’s confident enough in his almighty position to not even care if the public knows he supports big business no holds barred. This recent story has the South Carolinian fighting so Boeing and GE can get cheap loans to improve their bottom line. And Graham’s jousting for business is not isolated to giants like Boeing, Maybank Industries is under his wing too. I am sorry to report to the reader there is in fact no end for this report today. Every time my search seems to reach a degree of closure, another prominent name pops up, another “just business” rational for foreign policy disasters.
What are readily apparent are the myriad mutual gratification societies from Meeting Street in Charleston, to Kiev, on to Washington and London, and in Tbilisi, and beyond. Having dug deep into Silverman’s allegations, and knowing from assets on the ground in Ukraine, Syria and Georgia the extent of US meddling in these countries, I know all this house of cards needs is one key whistle blower to bring down the roof. What we only suspected as kids and as co-workers down south in the bible belt, will hopefully come home to roost at state houses and in Washington soon. The Americans I call friend and countrymen will not be comfortable knowing Donbass, Syrian or Caucasus kids suffered or died, so fat cats can get fatter still. The point is, the Hillary Clinton Benghazi or Email missteps, Victoria Nuland’s utter loss of credibility and trust, associations with questionable leaders like Mikheil Saakashvili’s, and a vast US policy fumbling leave the wider public knowing the whole truth. Business entities rationalize the whole mess away, but on the human level people suffer. There is no denying this fact we’ve supported Saakashvili, and fascists from Damascus to Timbuktu.
To be continued……
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe