Archive for August, 2008

Mother Nature is coming for our freedoms!

August 31, 2008

For those of you that read annatopia, you may remember that I used to wage a one man war of words with the terrorist that is Mother Nature. Using the powerful tool of free speech called amongst those in the know as a blog, I dared to call attention to the hideousness and cruelty that is Mother Nature’s ideology of terror and fear. Valiantly, bravely, handsomely, I stood alone like an unbending reed against the hurricane force winds of fear, denying that fiend her control over the hearts and minds of my dear patriot-readership. That’s right, I’m a true American hero!

Speaking of hurricane force winds, it seems Mother Nature has decided to use her latest weapon of mass destruction, the Loop Current of Doom, to disrupt the entire democratic process of our proud nation! Right in between the conventions of our two political parties, when citizens should be sitting on their front porches discussing the merits of party platforms and who would be the hotter first lady, this Loop Current of Doom is being used to generate terrifying super storms aimed at our gulf coast.

As this is being written, or typed I guess, actionable intelligence points to an imminent attack somewhere along the gulf coast between Galveston, Texas and Mobile, Alabama. The press, being blind to Mother Nature’s obvious involvement in this – some would even say complicit in covering up the true nature of the threat – is still talking about this as if it’s just some wind and rain naturally drifting along and that it’s timing with the conventions is just coincidence.

For the record I am beginning to question the patriotism of Meteorologists.

This first attack wave – codenamed Gustav (commie sounding isn’t it?) – is reportedly about to link up with the Loop Current of Doom. Top secret sources are claiming that once the “hurricane” Gustav acquires this new weapon of mass destruction, the next phase of the terror attack begins: a suicide mission headed straight for us! And if that isn’t enough, there are reports of chatter indicating several other sleeper cell attack waves being activated from the Caribbean to Africa!

Now, we can either run from this like cowards and leave it up to our inept government to stop this and future attacks, or we can rise to the challenge like our Founding Fathers did and face this terror threat with courage. Before you decide, think about how they handled the terror-flooding of our midwest earlier this year… standing idly by while citizens homes and farms were flooded by Mother Nature’s Storm Forces. Our government didn’t fire a shot at those storms – not one single bullet. This is insane. The terrorists were right there overhead raining down destruction and our armed forces were forced to fill sand bags instead of fighting. WTF?

This time things will be different because I have a plan. As I understand it, the Loop Current of Doom works by using hot water in the Gulf of Mexico. So obviously what we need then is ice and lots of it. I’m talking truck loads, train loads, boat loads; this is the real deal people, we need to chill the Gulf of Mexico to the point that it will keep your Corona cold. This will render the Loop Current of Doom useless and then our forces can engage the weaker Gustav forces in a surprise shock and awe attack!

Empty your freezer trays, head to the store and get some bags; bring all the ice you can find immediately to the gulf coast and stand strong against terror! If every citizen does their part, we can stop this ourselves and we can show Mother Nature that Americans don’t take shit from anyone, especially not freedom hating terrorists!

Operation “Big Chill” is on people! America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the tide on the terrorist freedom haters. Our time to bring new energy and lots of ice – seriously we need tons of ice – to the challenge we face. Our time to offer defense for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations in acquiring ice. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people, and their endless supply of ice trays. Because if we are willing to work for it and fight for it and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to fight back against Mother Nature’s reign of terror; this was the moment when we started winning this war on nature and our planet began to be safe again; this was the moment when we started a war to end all wars and secured our nation and restored our image as the biggest, baddest nation on earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to defend this great nation so that it may always be full of freedom, bald eagles and political conventions. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

The Speech

August 28, 2008

Tonite is The Speech to end all Speeches. After this night no human will ever again be able to communicate to large crowds of people in any manner.

Actually, that may not be true. I’ll have my people check into it.

This is the night though for Obama’s acceptance speech, and if I was a cool “progressive” I would post a Martin Luther King Jr. speech video. But everyone has already done that today, so I guess I need to pick another speech giver-er.

How about LBJ;

I’d never seen that before. Truly amazing. The ending is brilliant.

It simply cannot be denied that tonight is historic. And I have little doubt that Obama understands fully the importance of this moment. I hope he makes the most of it. If the past is any indication, I’m sure he will.

Will someone at least try to stop this from escalating?

August 27, 2008

I’m just wondering, with all the excitement about the conventions, if anyone is even paying attention to the plethora of conflicts we are engaged in anymore. Why are we sending in our navy gunboats into the Black Sea, except to stoke the fire?

Moments like this show why it is so important to pay attention and elect competent people. Instead, we have a cowboy and a madman at the helm. Their world views are warped to say the least, and their hypocrisy knows no bounds. From today’s news:

The United States on Wednesday called on Moscow to allow a “credible investigation” into reported atrocities committed in South Ossetia during the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia, a top official said.

“We have seen reports that there are atrocities being committed against civilians,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

“We want to call on the Russians to allow credible investigation to take place on reports that atrocities have been committed by all sides,” he told a press conference.

Wood did not clarify who should be tasked with the investigation or how it should be carried out.

Yes, let’s have some credible investigations. Let’s start with investigating the torture regime set up by BushCo. That would be a good place to start. Torture is pretty atrocious. Or all the civilians killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, what about investigating their deaths? And if we are going to demand that others be completely loyal to international law and that they submit to its authority, then it would seem only fair that we do the same.

Like that would ever happen.

No, instead we get the Republicans stirring up a little war fear right before the election. I expect Red Dawn to start running on all News Corp channels soon. Barack Obama isn’t perfect when it comes to his foreign policy decisions, but even at his worst he would still be a better president then John McCain for many reasons. The one that secures my vote is because he could, and would actually talk to people, as opposed to at them like BushCo does. Instead of all the threats and warmongering, we need to look at our own actions and see how as the biggest military and economy in the world our actions help create fiascos like this.

Look, the Russian leadership is not stupid; they know that the future relationship of our two nations for decades to come depends completely on who wins November 4th. And the Russians are well aware of the Republicans use of fear and war to win elections.

When you stop and listen to the two men running for president, think about this:

On May 18, in Pendelton, Ore., Obama said that “strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny, compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet, we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’

“And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war, and over time, allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall,” Obama continued. “Now, that has to be the kind of approach that we take. You know, Iran, they spend one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have, to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn’t mean we agree with them on everything. We might not compromise on any issues, but at least we should find out other areas of potential common interest, and we can reduce some of the tensions that has caused us so many problems around the world.”

Then think of this:

It’s not even on the level of, “which one seems more presidential”; it’s more, “which one seems more like an adult”?

The Russians have stated their case:

………..ignoring Russia’s warnings, western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo’s illegal declaration of independence from Serbia. We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others.

And I really don’t think there is much that the US could do about this, assuming it really wanted to do anything at all. Short of all out war, this is a draw. We can push this to the edge, but we must remember that there’s quite a few people in this world that have a grudge or two with us (we haven’t exactly been spreading goodwill in those secret CIA torture planes).

Russia may take a stab at the Ukraine. Personally I doubt it. At least not just an out right invasion. Maybe another “intervention for democracy”. It depends in large part on what we do from here. If we keep pushing them, they will keep pushing back. You can’t think about this logically, you have to view it for what it is: playground politics.

This is also insane. Georgia only matters to this administration because of oil pipelines and geographical location. We are trying to start a war, yet again, over oil.

This pretty much sums it up:

There has been much talk among western politicians in recent days about Russia isolating itself from the international community. But unless that simply means North America and Europe, nothing could be further from the truth. While the US and British media have swung into full cold-war mode over the Georgia crisis, the rest of the world has seen it in a very different light. As Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore’s former UN ambassador, observed in the Financial Times a few days ago, “most of the world is bemused by western moralising on Georgia”. While the western view is that the world “should support the underdog, Georgia, against Russia … most support Russia against the bullying west. The gap between the western narrative and the rest of the world could not be clearer.”

Why that should be so isn’t hard to understand. It’s not only that the US and its camp followers have trampled on international law and the UN to bring death and destruction to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the early 1990s, the Pentagon warned that to ensure no global rival emerged, the US would need to “account for the interests of advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership”. But when it came to Russia, all that was forgotten in a fog of imperial hubris that has left the US overstretched and unable to prevent the return of a multipolar world.

I find it interesting that our “unipolar” days started and ended with a Bush in the White House.

Nice convention and all, but………

August 26, 2008

The latest fiasco of BushCo inches ever closer to war. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign entities:

MOSCOW – Russia stunned the West on Tuesday by recognizing the independence claims of two Georgian breakaway regions, and U.S. warships plied the waters off of Georgia in a gambit the Kremlin saw as gunboat diplomacy.

The announcement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ignored the strong opposition of Europe and the United States, and signaled the Kremlin’s determination to shape its neighbors’ destinies even at the risk of closing its doors to the West.

“We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War,” President Dmitry Medvedev said hours after announcing the Kremlin’s decision and one day after Parliament had supported the recognition.

Lovely idea, but no thanks. Seriously, are there any grown ups left in Washington who could step in and maybe manage this a little better?

What’s really screwed up about this is that the US is trying so hard to keep a straight face while it chest thumps and grunts at Russia. BushCo knows full damn well they created this mess, and they will exploit it to get McCain elected just like they used 9-11 to win elections in 2002 and 2004. Hell, this is even scarier then Iran ever could be. The war on terror wasn’t working anymore, but all those middle aged white folk remember the Reds.

And so we stir the pot. First off, from the article above, this really does stand out:

As the West focused on Russia’s effort to shift Georgia’s internationally recognized borders, the Kremlin denounced the U.S. use of a Navy destroyer and Coast Guard cutter named the Dallas to deliver aid to Georgia’s Black Sea coast.

“Normally battleships do not deliver aid,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dryly told reporters in English, apparently confusing the word “warship” with “battleship.”

Earlier Tuesday, the United States said it intends to deliver humanitarian aid by ship on Wednesday to the beleaguered Georgian port city of Poti, which Russian troops still control through checkpoints on the city’s outskirts.

Good point. Then there’s this:

The State Department said Monday an interagency team led by U.S. Undersecretary of State Reuben Jeffery arrives this week to assess Georgian post conflict reconstruction needs that officials of the Tbilisi government say could reach $2 billion.

The Pentagon meanwhile said an air and sea relief effort for Georgia continues and has now delivered more than 700 tons,nearly $20 million worth of emergency supplies. The first of three U.S. military vessels sent to Georgia, the Navy guided missile destroyer USS McFaul, arrived at Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi on Sunday.

Now why on earth would that make the Russians nervous? And it is making them nervous:

SOCHI, August 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia does not want a new Cold War but is not afraid of one should it occur, the Russian president told the Russia Today international news channel on Tuesday.

President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees on Tuesday recognizing Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states despite warnings by Western leaders against the move.

“We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War, but we don’t want one, and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners,” Medvedev said, adding that the West should understand why Moscow recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s sovereignty.

Medvedev also said that U.S. presidential candidates may use this current situation in their election campaigns, although “voters are indifferent to events abroad during U.S. elections.”

And he’s right. We are all so worried about the economy that we have let Iraq slip into the background, and this fiasco is even less on the public’s radar. The Russians see this as their “Kosovo Moment”:

Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been seeking independence since the early 1990s, resulting in bloody conflicts with Georgia. Their hopes were given a new lease of life following Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February and subsequent recognition by most EU and western countries, including the United States.

“In both cases the center started a war in Kosovo and South Ossetia, as well as Abkhazia, but the conflicts were halted in different ways – through the ruthless inhuman bombardment of Belgrade in the case of Kosovo and without punishing Tbilisi for its attacks on Sukhumi [Abkhazia’s capital],” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“A ceasefire was agreed, peacekeepers were deployed and mechanisms for talks established. Belgrade has never tried to use military force or cast doubt on negotiations since 1999, but they were destroyed by Kosovo Albanians supported by the West. And it was Tbilisi that undermined the settlement mechanisms in South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” the minister said.

“Therefore, drawing parallels is irrelevant here, and the difference is evident between Belgrade’s policy towards Kosovo and how Saakashvili’s regime behaved towards South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” Lavrov said.

The Russians are using our own arguments against us. After all, who are we to point fingers with 150,000 soldiers and 190,000 contractors in Iraq, and we won’t honor the sovereignty of the government there that we helped get elected:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday that all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by 2011 and there would be no security agreement between the United States and Iraq without an unconditional timetable for withdrawal. This was a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which insists the timing for troop departure would be based on conditions on the ground.

“No pact or an agreement should be set without being based on full sovereignty, national common interests, and no foreign soldier should remain on Iraqi land, and there should be a specific deadline and it should not be open,” Maliki told a meeting of tribal leaders in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

………………………………………………………………………………….

But the White House disputed Maliki’s statement and made clear the two countries are still at odds over the terms of a U.S. withdrawal.

“Any decisions on troops will be based on conditions on the ground in Iraq,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in Crawford, Texas, where President Bush is vacationing. “That has always been our position. It continues to be our position.”

Fratto denied Maliki’s assertion that an agreement has been reached mandating that all foreign forces be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

“An agreement has not been signed,” he said. “There is no agreement until there’s an agreement signed. There are discussions that continue in Baghdad.”

Maliki also said the dispute has not been resolved over immunity for U.S. troops and contractors when they are off their bases. He said this was one of the most divisive issues under negotiation.

“We can’t neglect our sons by giving an open immunity for anyone whether he is Iraqi or a foreigner,” he said.

See, it’s ok when we do it, but not ok when anyone else does it. The EU is no doubt regretting letting us run willy-nilly for so long because now they don’t really have a whole lot of ground to stand on either. They have been complicate in our antics since 2001 in one form or another. So this plea by Georgia’s president falls on deaf ears to a point, because they have been letting the US get away with much worse for years. Which brings us to another front in this blossoming cold war (let’s hope it’s a cold one):

MOSCOW – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is warning his country may respond to a U.S. missile shield in Europe through military means.

Medvedev says that the deployment of an anti-missile system close to Russian borders “will of course create additional tensions.”

“We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way,” Medvedev was quoted as saying Tuesday by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

Again, what is Russia so concerned about? Not the most trusting bunch, those Reds.

And since this can only get worse with BushCo at the helm, we’re sending in Mr. Personality himself, Darth Cheney. Strangely, he was scheduled to be there any way about this time, which doesn’t make me feel any better about this whole mess. I guess Cheney has the time since his buddy in Pakistan is out of a job.

We still have troops dying in Iraq. That needs to be said everyday so people don’t forget about it.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. Michelle’s speech was nice and all, but……..

billmon brings the smart back

August 18, 2008

For those of you that never read Billmon’s Whiskey Bar, you issued out on some of the best and brightest commentary typed into a computer. But it’s ok, because he’s back (though now posting at DKos) and he brought some interesting little tidbits to share with the rest of us concerning the fiasco that is Georgia:

Our story begins at the end of the last Cold War, when the former Soviet satellites of the Warsaw Pact were freed from their bondage to Moscow and immediately began looking West for protection from a future resurgence of Russian power. They all clamored for admission to the NATO club, the sooner the better. Given their history, who can blame them?

But the realists of the first Bush Administration looked upon this idea with all the enthusiasm of an experienced hunter asked to take care of some lost bear cubs. Mama Bear might not be around now, but when she shows up, you know there’s going to be trouble. Indeed, the Russians later claimed that Bush and Baker had promised them, at the time of Germany’s reunification, that NATO would not be pushed any further east than the Oder River (Germany’s border with Poland). I don’t know if this is true, but the Russians seem to believe it.

Not for the last time, though, the incoming Clinton team showed itself more susceptible to interventionist impulses and began pushing for NATO expansion – with, it should be added, the enthusiastic support of most of our European allies, who saw expansion both as a safeguard against Russian revival and a way to keep the US engaged in European affairs. (It’s hard to remember now that the big worry back then was that the US would disengage from the world, instead of trying to dominate it.)

The main obstacle to the plan wasn’t so much Russia – given the alcoholic pliability of Boris Yeltsin – as US public opinion. There were those (not all of them dirty fucking hippies) who thought the collapse of the Soviet Union had robbed NATO of its reason for existing, and that in any case pushing a US security guarantee all the way to the borders of Belarus was both provocative and unnecessary. Polls showed ambivalence at best, clear opposition at worse, among the voters.

However, NATO expansion was passionately supported both by the neocons and the liberal internationalists (i.e. the old New Republic crowd) – and probably more importantly, by the Eastern European émigré lobbies that had clout both with the GOP and with the hawkish “Scoop Jackson” wing of the Democratic Party. And these passionate interest groups did what passionate interest groups usually do: They used their influence to make a legislative end run around an ambivalent but largely detached majority.

In early October 1994, as Congress hurried to adjourn for the mid-term elections, something called the “NATO Participation Act” was introduced – in the House by Democrat Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut and Ben Gilman of New York; in the Senate by Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Hank Brown of Colorado (a liberal Democrat, a moderate Republican and two conservative Republicans. In the warped context of our political duopoly, you can’t get much more bipartisan that that.) The measure was quickly attached to a bill authorizing international aid for the war on drugs, unanimously passed by both houses on voice votes, and quickly signed into law by President Clinton. There was no floor debate and, as far as I can tell, virtually no press coverage.

This completely non-controversial (and indeed, barely noticed) law authorized the US government to immediately begin treating “countries emerging from communist domination” – and, in particular, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – as de facto allies, even though no formal decision had been made on their applications to the NATO club. This meant the Pentagon could provide them with “surplus” stores and equipment, help upgrade their old Soviet-era military bases, and finance weapons sales under the same lenient terms extended to other US allies. It also authorized the stationing of US “trainers” (read: military advisors) on their home soil. The only thread left hanging was how the US would respond in the unlikely eventuality that our new unofficial allies were attacked.

so we started creeping up on the Russians…..

In an rational world, in which leaders balance competing priorities against limited resources, the 9/11 attacks might have led to a rethink of NATO’s expansion plans. But amid the weird euphoria (or at least, delusions of omnipotence) that seem to have grabbed the Cheney Administration and the entire US foreign policy establishment by the brain stem after 9/11, the campaign to add a baker’s half dozen weak, ethnically divided states to the NATO club actually picked up steam.

By now, though, there was a different, considerably more sober, Russian leader on the other side of the chessboard. And yet, once again, the Russians conceded the game. Putin reportedly later claimed he traded NATO membership for the Baltic trio (plus a ticket to Moscow’s old stomping grounds in Central Asia during the invasion of Afghanistan) for a free hand in the Ukraine and the Caucasus. Maybe so – although if so it was a bad deal, based on the flawed assumption that the USA, waist deep in its war against Islamic terrorism, wanted to be Russia’s strategic partner, or at least was no longer a strategic rival. Even Henry Kissinger now seems to realize this was never really in the cards.

In any case, the MO followed in the first NATO expansion round was redeployed in Congress. Another bill (the Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act)authorizing the president to treat the expansion candidates as if they were already NATO allies, was introduced and quickly waved through the usual Democratic niceties. And in November of 2002, this fait accompli was duly ratified by NATO, which gained another seven members – in the process moving the US defense umbrella to within 150 miles of downtown St. Petersburg. Ronald Reagan used to raise alarms about the threat of a Sovietized Nicaragua just a day’s drive – a long day’s drive – south of the Rio Grande. And here was NATO, in theory at least, asserting a right to park its tanks within commuting distance of Russia’s second-largest city.

ok, so we really kinda walked up…

It is (or at least used to be) an established principle that countries with unresolved border disputes make bad candidates for NATO membership – since it creates a risk the alliance will be dragged into grubby territorial disputes under the guise of collective security. It doesn’t exactly help that in Georgia’s case one of the disputed borders was actually drawn by home boy Josef Stalin, who arbitrarily incorporated Abkhazia into the Georgian Soviet Republic in 1931. (In a similar fit of socialist fraternal generosity, Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimea – Russian territory since the 18th century – to the Ukraine in 1956.)

In any case, French and German securocrats dug in their heels, and even Bush-friendly political leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel decided that planting NATO’s flag on the crest of the Caucasian mountains and the banks of the Dneper River was an expansion too far – at least for the moment.

Same Verse, Third Refrain

Once again, the US enlargement lobby sprang into action. In February of last year, with the newly born Democratic Congress still waiving its little arms and spitting up mucus, Dick Lugar (the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Joe Biden (the committee’s nominally Democratic chairman) introduced the “NATO Freedom Consolidation Act”. Like its predecessors, the bill authorized the President to immediately begin treating the Ukraine and Georgia as full-fledged NATO allies in all but name – with weapons sales, military advisors, etc. Senate cosponsors included Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Gordon Smith of Oregon, and, naturally, John McCain (R-POW).

Also like its predecessors, the bill was whisked through both houses of Congress with about as much deliberation as a resolution praising the Future Farmers of Benton County for their fine showing at the Iowa State Fair – with no hearings, no debate, no roll call votes. President Bush signed it into law on April 9, 2007. The White House put out an official statement marking the occasion. It was one sentence long.

And so, with an absolute minimum of democratic process, the United States of America committed its full prestige and power (if not, just yet, a legally binding guarantee) to the defense of the two former Soviet republics, even though the Russians have repeatedly stated that they regard NATO membership by either country as a direct threat to their own vital security interests. As others have already noted, this is as if China had unilaterally announced a military alliance with Mexico and Cuba. Actually it’s worse: Imagine the US reaction if China announced a military alliance with Mexico, after which the president of Mexico started dropping public hints about taking New Mexico back – by whatever means necessary. (And if that comparison seems unnecessarily paranoid, consider the history of Russia in the 20th century. Even paranoids have real enemies.)

um, we ran at them shaking a fist…..

But there was just one problem: NATO admission for the Ukraine and Georgia was most emphatically not a done deal. Despite all the pressure from the Cheney Administration (which, we now know, was being played hard by pro-Georgian lobbyists, including John McCain’s current campaign manager) the French and Germans stuck to their position in the run up to last April’s NATO summit in Bucharest.

This led to another flurry of activity by the congressional expansion lobby. In January of this year, another resolution was introduced, again demanding that NATO open its doors to the Ukraine and Georgia. This time the list of cosponsors included Biden, McCain and Joe Lieberman – as well as both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It was passed by unanimous consent. And when the NATO summit nonetheless elected to pass on the Ukrainian and Georgian applications (promising, vaguely, to revisit the issue at a later date) the Demopublicans quickly came back with yet another resolution blasting the Russians for a long list of alleged violations of Georgian sovereignty and praising the NATO summit for “stat[ing] that the Republic of Georgia will become a member of NATO” – when, in fact, the summit had made no such promise. Up is down. Black is white.

Ok, so we actually punched them in the face and called their sister a whore, and now we can’t understand why they don’t like us very much right now. This is the diplomacy we get with BushCo in office. No it’s much worse then that; this is the kind of foreign policy we get as a nation when most of us can’t find any of the countries we’ve invaded lately on a map.

So, to sum it all up:

Looking at this dreary legislative record (which reads like something out of the old Supreme Soviet) is it any surprise Georgia’s president felt he had a virtual carte blanche from America to challenge the Russians – up to an including the use of military force in a disastrous bid to reconquer South Ossetia? Why would he think otherwise – that is, until the moment when he discovered that America had written him a check it had no real intention of honoring?

There’s not much more to say – except that it’s a pretty strange world where the sworn goal of US diplomacy is to put the country in a situation where it may have to go to war with another nuclear power (or back down ignominiously) to defend the sanctity of borders drawn by Josef Stalin and Nikita Krushchev. Leaving aside the raving hypocrisy (Kosovo, Iraq) it’s an alarming sign that the national security and foreign policy elites of this country – in both parties; and not just among the lunatic neocon fringe – are totally out of control. British analyst Anatol Levin (one of the more perceptive of the realists) describes it a case of “profound infantilism”:

In the United States, the infantile illusion of omnipotence, whereby it doesn’t matter how many commitments the United States has made elsewhere—in the last resort, the United States can always do what it likes.

Personally, I see it more as a case of the bureaucratic imperative run amok: The national security state is doing exactly what it was designed to do, but without any of the external checks and counterbalances that existed during the Cold War – the war it was originally created to fight. The domestic political system, meanwhile, has atrophied to the point where it’s simply an afterthought – a legislative rubber stamp needed to keep the dollars flowing. With no effective opposition, the machine can run on autopilot, until it finally topples off a cliff (as in Iraq) or slams into an object (like the Russian Army) that refuses to get out of the way.

This guy gets it

August 16, 2008

A former head of the British armed forces, Sir Mike Jackson, sums up the Russia-Georgia situation with a dose of reality:

“The ‘Near Abroad’ — the countries bordering Russia — are strategically vital to its security,” said Jackson, who commanded the NATO-led KFOR troops in Kosovo and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

“Rightly or wrongly, Russia sees this as a zero-sum game: Putin has criticised Western leaders for being still locked into a Cold War mentality, but the reverse also seems to be true — at least in part.”

In Kosovo, “NATO relied for its justification on the emerging doctrine in international law that the prevention of humanitarian disaster — of ethnic cleansing — being perpetrated by a government on its own people can be more important than sovereignty itself.

“Whether we like it or not, this is precisely the justification advanced by Moscow for its intervention in Georgia,” said Jackson, who headed Britain’s armed forces from 2003 to 2006…….

…….”Putin is determined to rebuild Russia’s stature, and he is being much helped in this by the surge in energy prices.

“There is also evidence that after a decade and more of decline, the Russian armed forces are starting to rebuild and modernise.

“For me, the right course for the West — without compromising its own position and values — is to show a greater understanding of why Russia behaves as it does, to accept more willingly Russia’s concerns for its Near Abroad.

“While there are actions that we cannot condone, Russian perceptions exist and will take time to change.

“This is the challenge for politicians and diplomats: strategic military hostility and confrontation must remain a thing of the past.”

All the more reason for the US to step back and let the EU and the UN deal with this. Bush thinks diplomacy means calling a country evil before you bomb them. The main EU countries seem reluctant to escalate this, unlike McCain who seems annoyed he can’t order the bombers to hit Moscow himself.

I don’t know if Russia or Georgia started this for sure, but I do know that Russia is stepping up in the international arena, and that while our dear leader has been busy killing brown people and alienating everyone, Putin has been building an alliance consisting of almost half of humanity. Russia is in the energy game to win, and this move on Georgia cuts off a major western route for Caspian oil. Putin is declaring Russia’s dominance while America is loosing it’s.

Georgia is the new Iraq

August 15, 2008

What we are experiencing here is cognitive disconnect. One the one hand, we have the Secretaries of State and Defense chastising the Russians for invading Georgia, a sovereign nation, and unleashing its military might in an extremely uneven fight. On the other hand you have the same two people working for a government who’s military invaded two sovereign nations with shock and awe campaigns, and is still occupying those two countries; one that never posed a threat to this country and one who’s crime was harboring some people who attacked us, but who have long since moved their operation into a neighboring country that is supposed to be our ally.

Where was this outrage when Israel was bombing Lebanon in the summer of 2006? Hell, for that matter, where was this outrage when we invaded Iraq? For us to try to call out Russia on this is like the pot calling the kettle black; we invaded Iraq for two reasons, neither of which had anything to do with spreading democracy or defending Iraq’s sovereignty, or our own for that matter.

No, we invaded Iraq to steal its oil and give George Bush and the conservative machine political cover to systematically dismantle the Constitution, period. Now we are trying to act like we care about Georgia, when in reality the only reason we are getting our feathers so ruffled is because of, wait for it, oil. Or more specifically, oil pipelines. George Bush and his ilk want Georgia on our side so they can bypass Iran and Russia and run pipelines from the Caspian to the Black Sea. They have been pissed at Russia since Putin re-nationalized Russia’s oil industry and kicked the western companies out. And along with China, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, they have been beating us out of petroleum deals from South America to Asia to Africa. In other words, a large part of this is about resource control.

The other side of this coin is that the neo-cons would like nothing more then to re-ignite the cold war. Terrorism doesn’t justify nuclear subs and aircraft carriers, and the Iranians are not living up to the hype. But a re-energized Russian Bear, well, now we can scare the public into approving trillions of dollars of defense spending; new subs, new ships, new jets, star wars weapons, more nukes, you name it. Just think of all the wonderful new weapons of mass destruction we can develop at the tax payers’ expense.

The right wingers are eating this up. You have the warmonger John McCain all but screaming for World War IV. Even Barack Obama, who everyone keeps claiming is anti-war, is starting to cave in. We could return to the days of nuclear annihilation near misses, of covert operations to topple democracies that we deem too friendly to the Russians (I’m looking at you Chavez). What a grand ole’ time it could be. And the RNC would love nothing more then the opportunity to scare the public into voting for McCain come November. After all, terrorism has lost out to the economy; even trotting out Bush’s buddy Bin Laden in October wouldn’t win it for John Boy. But you watch, McCain’s campaign videos are going to look like cold war propaganda from this point forwards. This is just what Karl Rove dreams of at night.

That aside, what it all really comes down to is this: America has absolutely no ground what-so-ever to tell another nation what it can and cannot do. Remember how we called out any nation who challenged our “god given right” to murder as many Iraqis as we liked? Surrender monkey, terrorist appeaser; the name calling, the threats of cutting off aid to those that wouldn’t join our coalition of the bought; any of this ring a bell? We even told Germany to go fuck itself while German forces were fighting the war we don’t care to remember in Afghanistan.

Never mind our history from the Monroe Doctrine forwards. Or the fact that we basically stole this land in the first place. Hey, we’re America, we get to kill and plunder the world. Besides, this is supposed to be the New American Century, a time of unparalleled economic and military power expansion. How dare those damn Russians challenge our right to become the new colonial super-power. We have been working this game since before WWI; when all those nice Europeans started loosing their death grip on their colonies, we saw our chance to show them how we Americans subject natives to our will. We even pretend to care about democracy when anyone is looking.

Thanks to the Boy-Who-Would-Be-King and his merry band of lunatics our country has become the bad guy in international politics. I was just reading in the paper that the US is “reconsidering” its relationship with Russia, and that our government is looking for ways to punish the Russians economically. Ok, but what should be our punishment then for invading Iraq? Or for supporting Israel’s war on Lebanon? Or for threatening Iran with total annihilation even though we can’t prove they are doing anything wrong? Or for all the governments we overthrew during the last cold war?

This is why our international image matters so much. If we really want to influence other nations and share with them the ideas of liberty and freedom, we have to show through our actions both here and abroad that we walk the walk. Which brings us to why no one cares what we think or say anymore; our president is our face to the world. And we as a nation have been putting out the worst possible image of our Republic for at least seven years now, yet we still expect the world to do our bidding. This is why so many unions have been formed around the world; to counter our lust for control of everyone else and their resources. They read our papers, they know Bush doesn’t care about democracy here, doesn’t care about it in Iraq or Afghanistan, why should anyone trust him?

What has been keeping me up at night for the past week is that this is how world wars start. You have two very ego driven leaders sitting on huge piles of nuclear weapons. You have troops from both sides and a bunch of angry armed citizens in a relatively small space. Throw in a tangle of international alliances, and we are one bullet away from things getting out of hand. The US has to do something to save face, Russia has nothing to loose, and the poor citizens on both sides are being used as pawns.

I firmly believe the EU needs to handle this one. For starters, a ground war will be fought on their soil, and many of them still remember the last couple of times they tried that. France is currently holding the EU presidency, and that actually kind of works out because they opposed the war in Iraq, and until recently were reluctant to press harder on Iran. They are also not militarily affiliated with NATO, though Sarkosy has vowed to change that. The European leaders seem to show less bravado then our cowboy commander. And last time I checked Georgia was in Europe. We need to back up and let them take the lead on this.

There is a call to quickly get Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO. I think this is a bad idea, first off because NATO was designed to counter something that no longer exists and second because we are only pushing for it to further agitate Russia. It’s no different then Russia having Iran on the fringes of the SCO to put a thorn in our side.

We cannot let a conflict in Georgia become a proxy war between us and Russia. It would be unfair to the people there and it would only heighten tensions around the globe. A new cold war or world war is not in anybody’s best interest. Besides the obvious argument that we are not the world police, there is the notion that maybe, just maybe, if we actually talked to our adversaries and actually did some good in the world for once, maybe, just maybe we might be a nation others turn to for advice.

I know, that sounds crazy. Calling for more war, more death, and more destruction on the other hand, well, what could be more American?

It’s called Hypocrisy

August 15, 2008

I just watched our Secretary of State blather on about international relations and how Russia has violated many stated and unstated rules when it comes to the invasion and occupation of another country. Well, Madame Secretary, you should give that same lecture to your boss. In case you forgot, Madame Secretary, we invaded, destroyed, and are still occupying a country that never posed a threat to us. So thanks for the speech, but you have absolutely no ground what so ever to stand on. You, Madame Secretary, are the representative of a government who has imprisoned and tortured people without ever proving them guilty of a crime. You represent an administration that stole two elections, who pushed some of the most undemocratic legislation ever concocted, an administration who not only looks down on freedom an liberty, but who works to systematically dismantle our government and turn it into a fascist dictatorship.

So thanks for the speech bitch, but your words are a waste. Go home and try to explain your outrage to the asshole you worship. As for Georgia and Russia, this is the EU’s problem. Make those sons of bitches finally do something. It’s their lands that will be destroyed in a land war if this escalates. The President of France has already stepped in, and he needs to be the one who deals with this. We can’t afford to be the police of the world. This is not our war.

You know, had anyone in our government bothered to work with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, had we actually tried to help them rebuild and prosper, we might have some real leeway with them. But instead we were too busy in the 90’s worrying about where Bill Clinton put his cock. And instead of working to make the world a little safer over the past 7 years, we have instead tried to surround Russia with missiles, with NATO countries and now we find that they won’t do as we tell them and we act surprised? Really? Well go figure.

Sorry Madame Secretary, but your words ring hollow. If you really give a shit about freedom and democracy, if you really care about sovereignty and liberty, fly your ass to Crawford and lecture your boss. Let the EU fix this mess.