Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Re-Framing The Georgian Debacle'

Steve Soto here.

There are many implications to the Russia-Georgia fighting, both geopolitical and closer to home. On the world stage, it was already clear that the Bush Administration's war of choice against Iraq eliminated our ability to lecture and hold others accountable for actions like these, and it was left to the Europeans to take the lead in dealing with the Russians on this, despite the "me-too" claims from the administration that they brought pressure upon the Russians to stop this. Certainly the Georgians made a grave error in provoking the Russians, who were looking for an opportunity to demonstrate their military control over their neighbors. Unlike the misguided and misled Georgians, Putin and the Russian military knew that despite whatever bluster and encouragement these former Soviet regions and satellites heard from Dick Cheney and Condi Rice about American support, the United States was reduced to a paper tiger militarily and diplomatically by eight years of Bush/Cheney foreign policy.

We have been courting these countries on Russia’s border over the last eight years because they have oil and gas, or can be transit routes for pipelines that feed us or our allies. Some of them are led by leaders who share Bush/Cheney’s view that civil liberties and freedom are secondary to authoritarianism in support of disaster capitalism. And yet these countries will now wonder if they will be the next Georgia, subjected to the military might of Russia while waiting for an American cavalry that will never come.

Closer to home, no amount of empty saber-rattling from John McCain, written by an advisor who helped steer Georgia and the Bush Administration into this mess can hide the fact that Russia has just shown the world and especially China that America has been neutered and is no longer a credible guarantor of anything. Our economy and our people are now shackled to impoverishment caused by dependence on foreign oil produced by unreliable states, priced by economic speculators unregulated by our government, paid for with money borrowed from countries that have used globalization to run up trade surpluses deployed against our interests. As a result, Bush/Cheney will leave office with this country in a far weaker position than any administration in decades.

It would be wise for Senator Obama☼ to push back immediately against the smears against his patriotism by Joe Lieberman and John McCain, by telling the voters what role they and McCain's Georgian lobbyist advisor played in the events leading up to this debacle. It gives Obama another chance to point out that the same wrongheadedness spewed by the likes of McCain and Lieberman that ended up making Iran more powerful at the expense of our treasury and blood has also now made Russia more powerful to the detriment of the Georgian people and their neighbors.

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