Georgia on my mind.
It's August, 1990 all over again.
And Bush and Cheney are cooking up another oil war to benefit the Republicans, the military-industrial complex and the oil industry.
At some point, the putative ally gets the idea that it can move forward with resolving, in a less-than-diplomatic manner, some of the issues with one of its neighbors.
The USG has been poking that ally's neighbor in the eye with a pointed stick for some time, leading to a decreasing level of friendliness in the US's relations with that neighbor. More importantly, the US defense establishment sees the caboose on the gravy train coming around that bend over by the horizon. Any military- industrial complex needs a steady source of contracts to make its incredibly expensive investments make sense, and the only sure steady source of contracts is trouble - not major, but simmering in a Cold War kind of way. The major, go-to-serious-war kind of trouble is actually more dangerous to a military-industrial complex than it is worth. In an existential conflict, by definition one can lose the war. That's not especially appealing, particularly because losing means no more contracts. Similarly, in existential conflicts, there tends to be actual oversight because people's sons are being drafted and they pay closer attention. The military-industrial complex is not exceptionally worried, given that Cheney is in charge of the US defense establishment and it is stocked liberally with his proteges. But there is some uncertainty, particularly about the future stream of contracts.
And, there's politics. A Republican administration is looking at a defeat in the polls, given the economy is faltering and (shudder) tax increases may soon be needed. The average guy is starting to wise up that the stock-market and financial industry profits of the last decade or so have come, not from increasing the productive ability of American business, nor from raised standards of living for Mr. and Mrs. Average such that they can buy more and better stuff, but rather from the pockets of Mr. and Mrs. Average. And the value which has been extracted from Mr. and Mrs. Average is gone in ways that make clear it isn't coming back.
Finally, there's oil. The US is addicted to it, and its oil companies are better pushers than anyone you'll see on a streetcorner anywhere. But, they need supply, and the only place to get it is in difficult corners of the globe.
So, what's a Republican administration to do? They want to win, they want to line their and their friends' pockets and they want to make sure the Democrats either look weak on defense or wind up having to go along with their plans. And they desperately want to get the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Average off the crappy condition of their wallets, jobs and futures (created by Republicans) and onto an External Threat.
How the scenario plays out, or, the bones of the scheme:
The US Administration, as is the wont of most US administrations since WWII, has been poking a lot of people with elbows, knees and pointed sticks to the eye on a pretty regular basis. Any of these series of affronts and slights could, if strung together by a sufficiently-motivated recipient, create a situation where that recipient would find itself in active opposition to the US and its policies. It's just a matter of modulating the US' future behavior toward a particular recipient to manipulate them into overt opposition.
The US sends a trusted envoy to meet with the putative ally's head of state.
In those discussions the envoy through ignorance or, more likely, design, allows the putative ally's head of state to come to the belief that starting a little, less-than-diplomatic rumpus with a neighbor, in order to resolve one of those festering issues, would not be opposed or even cautioned against by the Administration.
The putative ally takes the bait and raises the temperature of the world by beginning a military action against his pesky issue-bringing neighbor.
The world recoils in horror. That horror is amped up by the combined efforts of Cheney and his friends in the US defense establishment, and by Charlie Black's propaganda-lobbying shop.
Here, the plays of the scenaria seem to diverge - but only slightly. In reality, there is no
difference worth mentioning. In the first iteration of this chicanery the US had to be called in to militarily put the (now-former) putative US ally back into line, but the US was really doing the bidding of a neighbor of the issue-bringing neighbor of the (now-former) putative ally. In the second, more recent, iteration, a powerful neighbor of the issue-bringing neighbor is putting the putting-back-in-line unveiled by the camouflage of being called in. It's the difference between a fist wearing
a garden glove and a bare fist - no difference at all.
But, then, let us look at who benefits. In each scenario, the power putting the order ante-bellum back into line (a line drawn to its satisfaction) gets to assert its geopolitical stamp on a region - pretty much like a dog marking a hydrant. The Bushes, of course, have a bit of a habit of p*ssing into the well of their successors on their way out of office. This crisis will not be resolved before then, so here's Gorge II's opportunity.
In each scenario, the US military-industrial complex gets a bountiful new source of conflict and, consequently, contracts. The US oil industry gets to bend the US to its will, and extract even more money from US consumers. The Republicans get to bend the Democrats to their will, and avoid a drubbing come fall because
the people are focused not on their own wallets, but on some sh*thole run by an as*hole half a world away.
The plays of this scenario:
Come the beginning of 1990, the Soviet Union has all but collapsed (and will in a year or so). Its satellite states have departed the Warsaw Pact, thrown out their communist governments and opened their borders to the West. This ended the Cold War. The end of the Cold War brought on immediate pressure to cut the size of the US military and its budget and redirect the money spent on arms on domestic programs which would tend to enhance the welfare of the average American. The '80s, decade of rampant excess, conspicuous consumption and stock-market exuberance, had come to an end with the twin crashes of 1987 and 1989. The bill for that party was coming due and the economy was heading into recession. Bush (I) was facing wobbly popularity numbers and the hard fact that he would likely have to sign a tax increase, violating his sacred covenant with the wingnuts in his own party: "Read my lips. No new taxes."
Bush had also promised a "new world order" on the fall of the Berlin Wall (coincidentally, erected 47 years ago today); he never did explain exactly what he meant by that phrase.
In the summer of 1990, US Ambassador April Glaspie goes and meets with Sadaam, and he takes from the meeting a green light to invade Kuwait. Whether that was the intent of the US or not remains disputed, but it surely served the US interests well.
Sadaam and his Kuwaiti neighbors had long-standing disputes over a lot of things, not the least of which were Kuwaiti sovereignity and distribution of oil from fields along their mutual (and ill-defined) border. The US had been subtly and later overtly supporting Iraq and Sadaam against Iran in an extended war, with sales of military hardware (including chemical weapons) undertaken in the prior years under the Republicans. Cheney's good friend and mentor Rumsfeld was, infamously, photographed shaking hands with Sadaam after the meetings which effected the big opening to Iraq.
The opening to Iraq had been, in effect, a joint US-Saudi-Kuwaiti enterprise to counterbalance Iran, a long-standing bete noir to the US and particularly the US Republicans.
Sadaam invaded Kuwait, to effect resolution of the issues between Kuwait and Iraq by integrating Kuwait into Iraq. Because Iraq had never acknowledged Kuwaiti sovereignity, Iraq saw this not as invading, but as rectifying an anomaly of history. Whether Sadaam ever intended to invade Saudi Arabia or not is open to discussion - the disposition of his forces upon concluding the invasion of Kuwait was amenable to both an ordinary defense (linear, but with some depth) of his (new) border and to converting from defense to offense. His generals had been winnowed and honed by 8 years of war with Iran and the Iraqi secret police, so both their professionalism and (enforced) loyalty were not questionable.
The US and the Saudis came to an agreement - whether it was Cheney or the Saudis who pushed for US help (ultimately under the auspices of UN resolutions) is an open question, but Cheney was one of the first people to come to Saudi after the invasion - under which the Saudis would allow the US (and its allies) to come into Saudi Arabia and drive Sadaam out. This was, I suppose, intended to assuage the fears of the Saudi government that it, too, would be displaced by Sadaam driving southward. I suspect the more pressing need was the one felt on the US side - to keep Sadaam (whom the US might not have felt it could play as well as it played the Saudis) from getting control of Saudi oil. Subsidiary to this was the military-industrial complex' need to find a new conflict as a source of contracts, given the end of the Cold War. Since the Gulf crisis came late in the fiscal year, the budget for FY 1991 had already pretty much been set - and there were already cuts in it. The need for supplemental appropriations to support a putative war would tide the contractors over, until a new source of conflict and contracts could be created.
We all know how the war, the run up to it, and after it, turned out. Charlie Black sold the war, running a masterful propaganda campaign, including things like babies snatched from their incubators (as told by a perjuring, but pretty, young lady who was not in Kuwait when the things (which never happened) allegedly happened. The Democrats folded to the Republican policies. The US had a new presence - in the Gulf - to replace the diminished (and increasingly less-important) one in Western Europe. Every now and again, Sadaam would be accused of doing something, and some bombs would drop. It was a new Cold War, not as big but every bit as expensive as the one it replaced. No resolution was intended - just a continuing low-level crisis.
And Bush I, when he left office after losing in 1992 - left both the unresolved Iraq issue and Somalia on Bill Clinton's plate to keep the Democrats from making a clean break with Republican policies in that region.
Version 2.0 - Georgia, 2008.
The South Ossetia region lies within the borders of Georgia. It's part of Ossetia, which itself straddles the Georgia-Russia border. There's a long history of mutual recrimination, warfare, and subjugation in this part of the world, one which probably makes the Balkans look positively serene and their history the stuff of sunshine, light and courtly politeness.
The US has been quite repeatedly poking the Russians with pointed sticks since Bush II and Cheney took office. There was the withdrawal from the ABM treaty almost immediately upon entering office. The Iraq war. The continuing threats against Iran - a Russian neighbor and major Russian trading partner (among the trade items - nuclear facilities). The expansion eastward of NATO. The desire of the US to incorporate Georgia into NATO. A Transcaucasus pipeline, which would deprive Russia of at least part of its leverage over both Ukraine and a lot of Europe - its nearly-annual recalculation of fees on petroleum transiting Russia combined with almost-as-regular shutting off the supply for a day or two. That usually comes between Christmas and New Years, when it's cold in Europe. The Georgian ends of the pipelines come out near the Black Sea port of Poti, most recently blockaded as a part of this operation by the Russian Black Sea fleet. (Bushie's sending in the US Navy to open the ports "to allow humanitarian and medical aid in"). Then came the US proposal to install a radar and missle defense program in Poland and the Czech Republic. This was ostensibly designed to intercept Iranian missiles headed for Western Europe, notwithstanding the Iranians' lack of any such current capability (or the likelihood of one in the immediate future), let alone their non-existent warheads. The Russians - correctly, in my view - saw this system as being directed against them. One can argue the merits of missle defense v. living under the threat of missles 'til one is blue in the face, but this program chapped the Russians no end. And we lived under the undefended threat of missles for many, many years during the Cold War. Still do, as a matter of fact.
The Russians responded to this eye-poking with no little bit of their own. They re-started flying their reconnisance planes into the North Atlantic. Most recently, they've talked about re-starting the Murmansk-to-Cuba shuttle of their recon planes and, purportedly, a new bomber. They now have oil money - lots of it - and are getting their Russian back on.
But, come the summer of 2008, the Republicans are staring a savage - and well-deserved - electoral defeat in the face.
The military-industrial complex, which has made something on the order of a half-trillion dollars out of Iraq, sees that conflict as winding down. The Iraqis have made that quite clear - they want the US out within the time frame Obama has proposed. There is not a lot of contract money to be made in high-tech (i.e., high-cost) weapons in Afghanistan. That is an ultimate grunt's war - cheap, sweaty, and tiring.
But, there is a lot of money to be made in a new Cold War with Russia. The end of the first Cold War has taught us, when the doors opened and the Wall came down, that the Russians were in fact first-class designers and engineers of first-class weapons systems. That hasn't changed since 1989. In fact, they continue to make - albeit in much smaller quantity - world-class equipment. And there is nothing the MIC likes more than an arms race, particularly when it's in high-tech.
The oil industry either has decided to wait on Iraq coming to them to do the work there or has a deal for Iraq in the bag and is not divulging it (probably to come out after the election). But they see the Caucasus and Georgia as the next on their list of sources.
We look around and see Charlie Black working the propaganda organs, this time from on board McSame's bus.
And McSame has lobbyists for Georgia on his staff, preparing his briefings and campaign speeches, and then working for Georgia, too.
A couple weeks after Condi Rice went, Karl Rove goes to visit with the Georgian head of state and a month later the invasion begins? And the Georgians, having US trainers/advisors with their military, concluded an national-level military exercise immediately (like, the day) before the invasion begins?
And Dick Cheney is in charge of the US defense establishment.
As I write this diary, German radio reports that the Russian foreign minister has said, publicly, that the US has to choose between having a virtual puppet in Georgia, or having a real relationship with Russia. This is, of course, welcome news to the Cold Warriors in the Administration. And, we will be presented with a changed world alignment come September.
It never makes sense to introduce a new product in August, particularly when everyone can be distracted by looking for where John Edwards has been.... But you have to have that product ready to go come September 1, and that's where we are.
And Obama? He's on vacation in Hawaii.
Last candidate I remember taking a vacation in August of the campaign season was that guy from Connecticut - Senator Lamont.
Oh, yeah. He lost.
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