The dark lord of the NeoCons Dick Cheney was in Georgia the other day. No, not the U.S. state that calls Atlanta its capital but the Caucus Nation that calls Tbilisi its capital. While the pundits were dissecting every gaseous emission coming from Sara Palin and John McCain, Cheney barely rated a quick mention Internet Sites of the BBC or CNN.. But one ignores the dark lord at ones peril. Our current foreign policy disaster is mostly of Cheney’s making. Cheney fed Incurious George raw unfiltered NeoCon “intelligence” and the Iraq war was the result. Name a foreign policy disaster of the Bush Administration and Dead-eye Dick’s grubby fingerprints are all over it. As a matter of fact the current situation in the caucuses is the end result of NeoCon overweening arrogance and incompetence.
Needing participants in the “coalition of the willing” Cheney and crew helped build the Georgian army form less than nothing. Once the army was built it shipped off to Iraq. The U.S. supplied, trained, and “Advised” the Georgian army. Basically the Georgian Army is a Caucus version of ARVN dragged into the 21st century. As part of the dirty deed done by the NeoCons Georgia was sponsored by the USA for NATO membership.
Of course the Russians went apoplexic over the possibility of NATO troops on their southern borders. They were sending all sorts of not so subtle messages to any one who would listen about how they objected to the idea. Bush and Cheney ignored the Russians. The NeoCon monomania about the “war on terror” and the Iraq war had no time for any other considerations. Even when our European allies tried to focus the Bush Administration on Russia’s legitimate concerns; Bush et al gave them the back of the hand. The head-long rush to station a missile defense shield in Poland was just one indication of Bush Administration crass disregard for good old Putin.
However it was matter of Kosovo that really frosted Putin’s corn flakes. Russia was deeply humiliated by the granting of Kosovo independence. Russia has a long history of being the protector of the Serbs. The ties with the Orthodox Slavs of the Balkans are deep and storied. One of the Reasons Russia got embroiled in WWI was to make good its claim of Serbia’s backstop. Bush and crew steamrollered Putin's objections and recognized Kosovo’s independence.
So when the pro-Western state of Georgia got far too frisky with the Russian Bear Putin decided on a little pay-back. He suckered the Georgian leader into a war. That war went badly for the Georgians. There newly minted military collapsed under the wieght of the might of Russian arms. Mikheil Saakashvili found out exactly the promise of eventual NATO membership actually meant-Zilch.
Then Putin did and incredibly dumb thing. He overplayed his hand. While there is little that the west can do about Russia’s grab of South Ossetia and Abkhazia now or in the foreseeable future, the damage done to Russia’s reputation is incalculable. While Russia can push the idea of these two areas being “independent” no nation is going to support the idea. The rest of world community will see this for what it really is. a naked land grab by the Russians.
Enter Cheney. Give the devil his due he knows when to strike. He is now pushing the idea of expediting Georgia’s entrance into NATO. Now if we were dealing with sane people this would be seen as the Administration trying to buck up the Georgians. But sanity has never been one of Cheney’ strong suites. He lives in his hermetically sealed NeoCon reality. The man is serious about this. He really wants to commit U.S. power and prestige in Georgia. NATO membership for Georgia would mean that a Russian attack on Tbilisi would be treated the same as an attack on Terre Haute. Again Cheney is deadly serious about this. Remember it took just about the entire Administration to counter Cheney’s desire to rumble with Iran. The fact we did not have the military to invade Iran did not deter him, the fact that an invasion or bombing of Iran would inflame Muslims everywhere, the fact that Iran would unleash the terrorist dogs of war did not enter Cheney’s calculations. Cheney was singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran” right along with John Sidney McCain. Now Russia has given an opening to Cheney to do that Voodoo he does so well.
Again Cheney is blissfully unaware of dangerous game he is playing. He is moving his chess pieces again to achieve his goals and damn the consequences. Cheney is a hard-line anti-Soviet. That the Soviet Union no longer exists in the real world is of no consequence to Cheney. In his warped world view Putin’s Russia will substitute nicely. Cheney is out to “win” the Cold War again. This time it will be done his way, by his ruthless rules and strategy. No namby-pamby peacenick waffling this time. This time they will do it the “right way.”
Cheney is on the move in the Caucus. He is going for a daily double. He is going for a international crisis in Caucus in October. In his sick and twisted world this is a win-win. It lines up the ducks for an East-West alignment and an expansion of American power into Russia’s back yard. Missiles are already scheduled to go in to Poland, Cheney will find a way to get them into the Caucuses. A strategy of encirclement will be played for all its worth. Russia being Russia they will react badly. With tensions at fever pitch the American people will of course turn to the war hero John McCain.
Sounds crazy no? But this group has already twice used war fears to get elected. The only real way the Republicans win is via fear. So far the Republicans have been unable to stoke up the fear machine as they have in elections past. The economy is in such a bad way people are willing to give the Donkeys a shot. Barack’s oddball preacher, his oddball name, his oddball color are not enough at the moment. The meme of the dangerous taxing, radical-liberal who will sell us out to the evil Mooslims is just not working. God knows the Republicans flogged it for all its worth at the convention. But all that happened is that the Democratic base got energized by the nomination of Sara Palin as V.P. The Donkeys got ten million dollars and over a hundred thousand new contributors thanks to the Alaska hockey mom. Sara gave a great speech but she is still a net minus for the Republicans.
The only way to have the election of McCain be a slam dunk is via a international crisis. So Darth Cheney is running around the area and seeing what hornets he can stir up. His best shot is Georgia as the Situation in the Ukraine does not lend itself to his machinations. The Ukrainian government has just collapsed due to interminable infighting thus there are no leavers for Cheney to pull at the moment. But Saakashvili is still large and in charge in Georgia. Saakashvili may be more than willing to poke the Russian Bear one more time. Keeping the hostilities with Russia going insures him of staying in power.
The danger here is that both Cheney and Saakashvili have good short term reasons for escalating the crisis with Russia. Both are more than willing to overplay their hand. That Cheney short term strategy could have long term disastrous consequences has not been looked at seriously. Cheney is more than willing to push us into untenable situation. He is blithely confident of great outcome; just as he was confident of Iraq being a rousing success. The man has learned nothing from the Iraq debacle. He is setting up yet another excellent misadventure in Caucuses. Be afraid, be very afraid.