At the risk of sounding like a nostalgic old Red brokenhearted at the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia’s invasion of Georgia is a tonic! It serves the cause of world peace.
This is, oddly enough, because Russia has acted a little like the Soviet Union – that is, like as a superpower prepared to stand up and defend its own interests.
Almost since the day George Bush became president of the United States despite being defeated in the general election by Democrat Al Gore, and certainly since the Saudi Arabian attacks on 911, the neoconned United States government has been lurching out of control.
Sane people throughout the world watched with alarm as U.S. forces under the leadership of Bush’s creepy Darth-Vader-like Veep Dick Cheney invaded countries, set up concentration camps, subjected non-citizens and citizens alike to torture, subverted the U.S. Constitution, asserted their right to kidnap and murder anyone anywhere, and rattled nuclear sabers in every direction.
Particularly disturbing was the Bush junta’s apparent and increasing willingness to risk confrontations with powerful states that had the potential for grave consequences, military and economic, for those of us who live in the rest of the world.
Examples included encouraging separatism in the Balkans, threatening Iran and China, and, indeed, financing the “pro-Western” coup that brought Georgia’s loony-tune president to power.
There is plenty to suggest the Georgians were encouraged by the Americans to launch their spree of ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia. Apparently they believed that the Russians, with Prime Minister Putin out of town at the Olympics, would hesitate too long to push back, allowing the U.S.-advised Georgian forces time to dig in and present the world with a fait accompli.
Indeed, disturbing reports in the world press – though nary a word is heard from North America’s tame media, of course – indicate that when the Georgian dictator sent his troops into South Ossetia they were accompanied by American and Israeli advisors.
This was not the United States we knew and admired. It was as if a trusted and beloved uncle had begun to act violently and abusively, screeching at his children, beating his wife, drinking straight from the bottle and threatening to set the neighbourhood afire.
Sane people in Canada were not only alarmed, but embarrassed as all this transpired to a chorus of support from the pipsqueak neocon choir of Stephen Harper’s “Conservative” government. Harper would support any U.S. action, even if it flew directly against Canada’s interests – viz., backing vicious Kosovo separatists thereby encouraging their counterparts here at home, or sacrificing the lives of brave Canadian service men and women in Afghanistan.
So, notwithstanding the democratic imperfections of the Russian bear, in Soviet or post-Soviet attire, it comes as a relief that someone with the muscle to back it up has drawn a line in the sand and told the Americans, “No more!”
Clearly the slap delivered by the Russians had an immediate salutary effect. While some neocons continue to bluster and threaten, and the Dickster’s office no doubt continues to scheme and plot, Washington seems to have sobered up, at least for the moment.
At any rate, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said in measured tones there is no way U.S. military forces would directly confront a nuclear-armed Russia, justifiably aroused, in its own back yard. “I don’t see any prospect for the use of military force by the United States in this situation,” he stated. No kidding!
We are not out of the woods, of course. Neocon forces in the U.S. government, contemptuous of democracy and the needs of ordinary people everywhere, have plenty of scope for mischief, in the Caucasus and elsewhere.
Moreover, despite the obvious wish of the American people for return to normal competent government, there is also no guarantee the neocons will not steal another U.S. election next November.
But Russia’s willingness to stand up to the bully on everyone’s block – the world’s last remaining “superpower,” broke, tied down by its considerably less justified invasion of Iraq and nearly hysterical, but still armed with more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world combined – offers us all some hope for a return of peace, order and sanity.
One imagines that it is not just in the rest of the world that sane people are heaving sighs of relief and discreetly thanking the Russians for their resolve.
Even in the halls of State Department and the Pentagon in Washington, one suspects, cooler heads are secretly relieved by this turn of events.