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The Expansionist
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
 
'October Surprise' Two Months Early? The Russian invasion of Georgia (the country) has handed the Republican Party a huge gift. The question is whether it is too early to guarantee a Republican landslide in both the Presidential and Congressional elections.
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The timing of this particular episode of Russian militarism / imperialism / adventurism is interesting, coinciding with both the start of the Olympics thousands of miles to the east and the vacation of the Democratic Presidential candidate further thousands of miles east.
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PussyBoy Obama issued a namby-pamby statement calling for 'mutual restraint' and multilateralism to find a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Georgia is invaded by its former colonial overlord, which appears intent on ripping part of its territory away, but is supposed to show restraint. I suppose that if Russia invaded Alaska, another former possession of the Russian Empire, we too should show restraint and seek international mediation to arrive at a peaceful resolution — as by giving back to Russia oh, say, a fifth of Alaska. At gunpoint.
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Tuf Old Guy McCain came out fiting, indicating that nobody would dare do such a thing if he were Commander-in-Chief.
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The Bush Administration, as soon as the "President" (First Puppet) was safely back in the White House from his own vacation in the stands in Beijing, staged a very gutsy maneuver, sending the U.S. military to provide "humanitarian assistance" to the people of Georgia. This puts U.S. soldiers very nearly in harm's way. Brilliant brinksmanship. Or is it merely showmanship?
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Is Russian Premier Putin's government "in on it"? Have they carved out a chunk of Georgia for pro-Russian forces in preparation for eventual reunification of Ossetia, South (Georgia) with North (Russia), and staged a phony mass invasion of Georgia to allow them to withdraw graciously only from Georgian territory outside Ossetia, while staying in Ossetia, yet still look benevolent? (By the way, despite what you may have heard on television, the proper pronunciation of "Ossetia" is os.sée.sha.)
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Is such (partial) withdrawal in synch with Bush Administration / Republican Party purposes?
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Or is this "Regime Change, Russian Style"? Moscow doesn't like the current President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, and his plans to take Georgia into NATO. By forcibly separating South Ossetia and, it now turns out, Abkhazia, from Georgia and perhaps bringing them into formal or informal union with Russia; and by humiliating Georgia militarily, the Putin Government may hope to turn the Georgian electorate against Saakashvili. And in showing that NATO is too gutless to protect Georgia from its main threat, Russia, they may intend to show the people of Georgia that joining NATO would be worthless in a positive sense and dangerous in a negative sense for angering their powerful neighbor.
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Perhaps NATO should respond by admitting Georgia NOW, and sending NATO forces to guard its borders, including the northern edge of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (that is, keeping them inside Georgia), and daring Russia to attack NATO. But the Bush Administration seems unlikely to favor that. Like most bullies, they are willing to take on only people they are certain are weaker than they are.
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Whom would the Russian Government prefer be in charge of the United States Government, Obama or McCain? Hard call.
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On the one hand, McCain, a "Cold Warrior" with deep personal reasons to hate the old KGB man now in the Russian premiership, might give Russia a hard time with its drive for greater prestige and influence.
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On the other hand, however, Russia may feel it gains by standing up to the United States and competing for influence in the Third World and Europe if the U.S. is dominated by regressive forces. An Obama Presidency (hard tho it is to conceive of an Obama win) may be seen as confronting Russia with a new Kennedy, a political rock star and lite unto the world who will change the reputation of the United States and bring out a new, PRO-American surge around the planet, in key areas that with McCain in charge could instead be ripe for Russian picking.
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Putin may regard McCain as a known entity, and Obama as The Great Unknown, so prefer the known. Putin knows that the U.S. under McCain will continue to be bogged down in Iraq, and may even embark upon another disastrous war, in Iran, which would drain away U.S. resources, further devastate our reputation, and continue the slide of worldwide sentiment into seeing the United States as a hypocrite and spent force, while Russia — and China, and India, and Brazil — come to be seen as the Wave of the Future, the people everybody needs to cozy up to.
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I certainly have no inside info as to what Putin is thinking. Nor do I know what he is being told about the likely result of the upcoming U.S. election. He may have been told that, "all things being equal", the Democrats should win in a triumphal landslide, giving them the White House and both houses of Congress as would empower them to make massive changes in U.S. finances, healthcare, and social policy as could restore much of the Nation's lost power and self-confidence, which could be very dangerous to Russian ambitions on the world stage. The Republicans, by contrast, (Putin might be told,) would continue the slide into eclipse of the United States, the undeniable and permanent end of the American Century, and thus produce a Russian Century, or at least a century that Russia can share with China and other incipient major powers with whom Russia would have great influence if the U.S. were rendered weak and irrelevant.
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Russia can keep up the tension all the way up to the election. Or it could appear to back down in the face of decisive action by the Republicans. Or it could stage a referendum on outrite secession in South Ossetia to be held before the U.S. election or shortly after, and keep this issue before the American electorate.
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What it is unlikely to do — tho you can never know, with the Russians — is provoke an armed confrontation with the United States, as by firing upon U.S. military personnel or aircraft as they are providing humanitarian assistance to people in Georgia. But what, let's think a moment, would happen if they did decide to push things to a military confrontation?
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Hm. In terms of the election, McCain wouldn't back down. Would Obama rally to decisive military action by the Bush Administration?
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In terms of governmental behavior, would the Bush Government move combat-ready troops from Iraq into Georgia? Now that would create a quandary for Obama, wouldn't it?
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It would, after all, constitute a drawdown or partial withdrawal / expedited withdrawal from Iraq. But it would create a new front in a military approach to the whole planet. In that such a move would be a genuine response to a call for assistance from a democratic government (unlike the nonexistent call from the Iraqi people for the U.S. to invade to "liberate" them), how could Obama object? If Obama says that multilateral action is far preferable, and that the U.S. should merely provide logistical aid to a United Nations peacekeeping force drawn from, for instance, the European Union, which brokered the current ceasefire, would the electorate praise him for his restraint or damn him as a pussy who is giving the EU greater prominence and hastening the day when the EU is a second superpower, causing us problems all across the planet?
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And what will China do? China has been trying to create a two-nation Eurasian axis of China and Russia as counterweight to the United States in world affairs. If Russia pushes, will China back it up? Stranger things have happened, for instance, Adolf Hitler declaring war on the United States after Japan staged the Pearl Harbor attack. He didn't have to do that, and shouldn't have, strategically speaking, but he did, and thus sealed his doom.
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China may feel that it is in the catbird seat in any confrontation with the United States, because, it reasons, the U.S. economy is now so dependent upon imports from China, and China holds so much U.S. Government debt, that the U.S. could not possibly retaliate against China without producing a catastrophic Great Depression II that would make current economic problems look like The Good Old Days.
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The Chinese (or is it merely pseudo-Chinese?) curse — which could actually be a blessing — "May you live in interesting times" seems to be upon us. The kids and empty-headers have video games. The rest of us have world affairs. Maybe the Georgian crisis will set the 24-hour newschannels to their proper task and knock the crap out of their programming.
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'Liberal' Self-Destruct. Speaking of 24-hour newschannels, something very odd has happened to Keith Olbermann and his cohorts. So rabidly anti-McCain are they that they have seemed to place themselves in the most-illiberal position of favoring Russian imperialism and opposing a hard stance against it. I have, two nites in a row, sat in astonishment at the hypocrisy of Mr. Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and others in Olbermann's stable's attacking John McCain for standing courageously against Russian aggression. They are acting as tho McCain is the aggressor, Russia's actions are perfectly reasonable and defensible, and McCain's reaction against them is extremist.
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Olbermann has taken the incomprehensible stance that because a senior policy adviser to McCain has worked as a lobbyist for Georgia, therefore there is some kind of "conflict of interest" in McCain's standing with Georgia against Russian aggression. Huh? Hiring as an adviser someone whose worldview agrees with yours, and then acting in accord with that shared worldview is not remotely a "conflict of interest". For Olbermann, who is usually a very rational man, to utter such an asinine non sequitur is astounding. Extreme partisanship has driven him out of his mind. Let's hope his insanity is temporary.
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To aid Americans in deciding whether McCain is out of line and extreme in his reaction to the Georgian invasion, we need ask only one question:

If Russia had done to Israel what it has done to Georgia, would Olbermann & Co. think a strong stance by McCain against Russia extremist?
I suggest that a Russian invasion of Israel would produce a virtual unanimity of opinion on the part of both media and political officeholders that the most vigorous countermeasures were called for, even if that were to risk World War III. The United States has embarked on two wars for Israel and is apparently planning for a third, but just one for Georgia? Even to think of such a thing is, we are to believe, extremist. That is taking kneejerk anti-McCain partisanship to a ridiculous extreme, and Obama supporters cannot really expect everyone to conform to such mindless rabidity.
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The Liberal movement has turned on itself before. In the Vietnam era, Communists promoted the idea of the "Liberal-Left", in which Liberals were to be seen as the vanguard of the Left, of which they were an integral part, in promoting worldwide Communist revolution. The "Left" drove anti-Communist "Liberals" out of the Liberal movement. Are we about to see a replay of those Bad Old Days, when strict conformance to some official party line is enforced by expulsion of people who take different stances? All 'true Liberals' are to oppose McCain no matter what he says.
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Standing against Russian militarism is a good thing. If Obama won't do it, but McCain will, then actual true Liberals — those who stand for "libertas" for the people of Georgia — will abandon Obama for McCain in record numbers. Who, then, will be 'left' to vote for Obama?
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,141 — for Israel.)


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