If we are going to have another Cold War, can we at least have a good reason to once again spend billions on theormonuclear weaponry? Like, I dunno, say Russian missiles in Cuba or something?
Regarding the ongoing tensions resulting from the recent flare-up between Russia and Georgia, dare I say, that the Russians may actually have a point?
By saying such a thing, I almost feel like I've been cast back in time to some late night drunken debate in my undergraduate residence. In those days, merely pointing out that Russia had a legitimate sphere of interest meant that you risked being labeled a "Commie sympathizer" or a "useful idiot" and therefore part of their plan for global domination. Such talk could cause great personal distress and was therefore generally reserved to like-minded audiences, such as fellow anti-nuke marchers.
A loose analogy would be to try to look at things from the perspective of the average Pashtun tribesman today, or to take an honest look at the recent history of warfare in Afghanistan. You may as well shut up, lest your voice fall upon deaf ears, with many a glazed eye looking at you like you have 5 left feet; whilst the fat-assed cracker at the end of the bar spontaneously combusts all over your nitrate-laden sausage.* It's usually not worth the risk.
Seriously, has history taught us nothing? The Commie empire may be long gone, but irrational fear of the Russian bear is alive and well.
The Russians point to a growing NATO naval presence in the Black Sea and accuse the West of using aid shipments as cover to rearm Georgia after Russia's bloody foray into Georgia earlier this month left Georgia's military decimated.
According to Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, "It's not a common practice to deliver humanitarian aide using battleships."
Ah, yeah -- he does have a point. And saying so doesn't mean I support Russia's recent incursion into Georgia. It merely means I understand something about geopolitics, distasteful as it often is.
Should anyone be surprised, if in fact, these Russian accusations are true? After all, the West has been arming Georgia with military advisors, weapons sales and the promise of NATO membership -- NATO being that "Western" organization, of course, created as an anti-Soviet military alliance. The alliance apparently sees fit to go stomping around Afghanistan to do the bidding of its hegemonic power, the United States (Note: They should at least re-brand themselves because the "North Atlantic" Treaty Organization is so 20th century!)
I digress. In this case at least, NATO is doing its usual job of surrounding Russia and we are to assume that this is an inalienable right handed down from the heavens, and so shall it always be. But imagine the reaction in Washington, Ottawa and London if an "Eastern" alliance was expanding into Mexico. Such thoughts are reserved for people who live on other planets, I suppose.
Meanwhile, much to the chagrin of the old Russian security establishment, a thousand Israeli military advisers from Israeli security firms have been training Georgia's armed forces and were deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to attack and capture the capital of South Ossetia. What the hell? As usual, Israel gets a pass. And why not? They too have the God-given right to covertly mess around in other countries without a peep out of CNN.
Did the Bush administration actually prod the Georgians into their ill-fated, amazingly stupid attack on the breakaway South Ossetians? Was it part of an election ploy by the McCain team, as some have suggested? Or did the US and the Europeans just completely botch up the diplomacy aspect, big time?
Either way, it is a dangerous game that NATO is playing in the Russian backyard, and we have no business playing Nicky Nicky Nine Door on their back porch.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband may not be personally interested in starting up a new Cold War, (as he stated on a recent visit to the Ukraine), but there is clear evidence that many neo cons in the US government want precisely that.
The inconsistency of, on the one hand -- recognizing the independence of Kosovo earlier this year, but on the other hand -- not recognizing the disputed province of South Ossetia, is clear for all to see. But in order to see, one needs open eyes and a little effort with a keyboard because such glaring hypocrisy on the part of the West barely merits mention in the mainstream press.
What you won't read or hear about offline is the following perspective, put so succinctly by Nebojsa Malic over at antiwar.com:
It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to communicate with someone so obsessed with managing the perceptions of reality that they've become incapable of recognizing reality altogether. In the Bizarro World of the Atlantic Empire, the bombing of Serbia was humanitarian, the invasion of Iraq was defensive, the occupation of Afghanistan was democratic, and the separation of Kosovo was legal – while the Russian intervention to neutralize the Georgian army and save the Ossetians from ethnic cleansing was "aggression" befitting Hitler or Stalin.In fact, even punditman is somewhat amazed to witness the near complete re-demonization of the Russians within a few short weeks. As expected, the Big Media commentators have fallen into line, dutifully parroting the predictable horse manure spewing from the White House. But, at least according to a few informal discussions I've had with otherwise intelligent folks, many a common citizen has likewise fallen back under the radioactive spell of their Cold War programming from that bygone era. Duck and cover everybody, the Russian boogeyman is gonna get you!
People seem to forget that Russia does in fact have nukes, and that for very good historic reasons they are just a tad sensitive about their borders. Playing chicken with them is phenomenally reckless as is setting the time machine back several decades. I would hope that any drunken undergraduate student of history could tell you that.
*in truth, punditman typically does not eat sausage, bacon or baloney.