Monday, August 11, 2008

Boy George's Last Stand-Off

With apologies, in advance, to the British rocker who, I suspect, enjoys a bit of word play and, of course, King George III who, no doubt, doesn't feel a thing, the other George, yes, the current principal at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is getting such a workout these days, he might even consider running for governor of California when Ah-nold's term is up.

Don't you just love the irony of this president, and both candidates for the presidency, in their declared contempt for Russia's invasion, and pummeling, of the "sovereign state" of Georgia, especially in light of what we did to Iraq? After all, what was Baghdad back in 2002--chopped liver? Remember, too, that the U.S. can't claim to have any historical territorial imperative in the Middle East, just an overzealous appetite for oil reserves.

Speaking of which, it looks like it's about oil all over again, a tug of war between Russia and the U.S. for what is a major conduit for the precious stuff that flows from Russia to the west, so whichever superpower controls Georgia, also inherits the portal for oil.

It's no secret that Russia has profited greatly from oil exports, maybe not as greatly as Iraq has made out in recent days nor can Russia point to the record profits of Exxon, and Chevron, but certainly the distribution of the world's most valuable resource will be affected by who holds the purse strings of what the U.S. likes to think of as a fledgling democracy.

Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's president, now accuses the Russians of "ethnic cleansing." And, while, predictably, we don't hear much from Russia's president, that country's prime minister, and Mr. Bush's enemy twin, Vladimir Putin, returns the compliment by accusing the Georgians of ethnic cleansing.

What we do know is that, for more than four days now, Russia has bombarded Georgia from the sky, and from the ground, bombing civilians, as well as Georgian troops.

Talk about convenient timing---what could be better for a GOP shoe in than a seismic shift in tensions between Russia and the U.S., something 43 has been working to instigate for the past few years. Well, like they say, if you throw enough horseradish against the wall, some of it is bound to stick.

And, forget Boy George, if they're not careful, the Obama and McCain match may come off looking like a remake of Famous and McCandy. After all, it would be easier to take candy from a baby than to take the idea of combat away from McCain; he's hungry for it. He's so hungry for battle, he's even twisted a 1960's song into a military exercise.

The Arizona senator found himself perfectly, and fortuitously, positioned for a photo op in which he denounced Russian aggression, and called for a strong response from NATO. His counterpart, Mr. Obama, chimed in from Hawaii, where he is vacationing, about the importance of protecting Georgia's sovereignty. Isn't it hugely reassuring that both candidates affirm the sovereignty of Georgia. Now maybe both will affirm the sovereignty of Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, Pakistan, Venezuela, Syria, and the list goes on.

You can also bet that, by the Republican Convention, candidates of both parties will not only be wearing matching socks, but they will be indistinguishable from each other with respect to foreign policy. If this is what "national security" means more than midway through the first decade of a new millenium, all one can say is "oy!"

We can no more afford the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum politics of convenience now than we could, say, before the beginning of World War I, but in fairness to Barack Obama, he didn't create the wartime presidency. He stepped into the Bush administration's quagmire and, if anything, has done more to neutralize the militaristic paradigm by interjecting dialogue, a fresh concept given a series of run amok Republican cowboys.

Whoever said we don't have a three party system in the U.S. is dead wrong. His latest military misadventure, the most egregious since Chechnya, proves that Putin is also running for president as an Independent while, simultaneously, playing up American hypocrisy.

One thing that would be especially perilous to let slip through the cracks, though, remember that the former Russian president was with the KGB for many years. As we've seen from his crackdown of dissidents, esp. in Chechnya, Mr. Putin is quite adept at employing KGB tactics not unlike his American counterpart, Dick Cheney, who was recently outed by a high level CIA official for allegedly giving the command to forge a letter that falsely links Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks. Fascinating, isn't it, how both executives, Cheney and Putin, have had extensive experience with the intelligence branches of their government, CIA and KGB, respectively.

Clearly, even a casual observer might find one or two forged letters intended as catalysts to what is seemingly a sudden, unexpected attempt to topple what some might argue is the puppet regime of a Georgian leader who attended Columbia and Georgetown, and who passes both the American and Israeli smell test. That history rewrites itself is not, in and of itself, a concept that might take one's breath away. Who is behind the rewrite is, of course, another matter.

But, what is breathtaking is the degree of deception and bloodshed that both countries, the U.S. and Russia, have demonstrated in their gluttony for oil, and world domination.

Given that he has about five months left in office, the conflict in Georgia, manufactured or otherwise, may be Boy George's last stand-off before he rides off into the polluted sunset, and the GOP's best chance of occupying what was once a sovereign White House.

By way of update: Russia reportedly had decided to halt all military action against Georgia, a move which will distinguish Putin from his American nemesis. Of course, Sarkosy, the European Union, and the rest of the world is wise not to hold its breath, a dangerous pastime in these flip-flopping war zones where cease-fire often means reload and go for it.

Clearly, the idea of running as an Independent in the U.S. presidential elections doesn't sit well with the Russian prime minister. Maybe, he'll consider running, instead, as John McCain's vice-president. How's that for bipartisanship? (bipolarship?)

If you're old enough to read this, you're a witness to what living in the post-detente era really means. The military option has been the default position for more than half a century. If Bush, Cheney, and Putin have their way, it will be the de facto modus operandi for generations to come.