Thursday, August 14, 2008

Russian Cease-Fire in Georgia: Duck and Cover

B eware a Russian Cease-Fire

With Russian tanks rolling down the roads of the Republic of Georgia, and tepid marks from the vacationing Hawaiian candidate, this would seem to be a bad time for “change you can believe in.” There is something of a yesterday smell to the tactics employed by KGB leader become president become prime minister, Vladimir Putin. Putin is a sophisticated but fiendish character, steeped in KGB intrigues, and he is young enough yet to enjoy his dreams of hegemony.

Where once there were whispers and insinutations about Russian motives in the wake of the radioactive murder of Alexander Litvinenko and other convenient sudden deaths (journalist shot at the entrance to her apartment), there is now the roar of jet bombers, the drumming of artillery, the march of Russian troops along the roads of a democratic republic. Vladimir “Raz” Putin has distinguished himself before by strong-arm tactics, threatening oil supply lines in Ukraine, squeezing foreign oil companies, gangland tactics, and a form of diplomacy perfected in Troy.

Surely, Saakashvili miscalculated, the line goes. The U.S. did warn him not to taunt the bear, but the brash Georgian president heeded no one and tried to push the Russian buildup out of South Ossettia.

Yet, I would submit that the Russian former president could well hope for “change you can believe in, especially when it equivocates, as Barack Obama did early on, making invasions of democratic countries equal to resisting one.

It wasn’t only Obama who was caught napping (or golfing in Hawaii). President Bush was sitting on the sidelines of a volleyball match. The amnesiac press was caught off guard, and seemed to be trumpeting the line of Moscow in rationalizing the madness of Russia’s latest violent escapade. Only John McCain understood immediately what was happening. McCain was outspoken and clear in recognizing the Russian play for what it was, and yet restrained, a man much different from the image his liberal opponents have tried to frame in order to defeat him.

Obama and his coterie of sycophants are too feckless to believe that there are countries which tell outright lies. They are accustomed more to fibs, half-truths, partial truths, omissions, slanting, spinning, “interpreting” rather than to outright deceptions. The Pollyannish view prevents them from seeing that Russia baited the Georgians and planned the invasion for months in order to be rid of the despised Saakashvili. The Russians, as McCain said, do not want to restore the old Soviet Union; they wish to restore the Russian Empire, and I would add, with a KGB installed aristocracy.

Thousands of Russia tanks moved into Georgia proper, according to plan, moving well away from the contested South Ossettia area. They occupied Gori; they choked off Tblisi. The meaning is clear: this is what we can do to you if we want. They make no secret of their strong desire to depose Saakashvili, perhaps to kill him. It’s likely that Russian thugs attacked Goergian communications with cyberattacks and, as always, the Russians launched an old Soviet-style propaganda campaign which used words like “genocide” but produced no bodies. It is likely that they will produce bodies, or photos of bodies, but it is also likely that some of the bodies will be staged, that is, the same bodies in different uniforms. Just as Hitler dressed up Polish soldiers in German uniform and shot them as a provocation, it will be impossible to tell who is the victim and who the tyrant. The Russians know more about the American media than the American media does, and they are more perspicacious with regard to American public opinion. They know it to a purpose.

It is unlikely the Russians will be thrilled with an American president who knows as much about Russian tactics as Russian tacticians know about American attention deficit disorder.

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