Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Commies are Coming!

With the media finally turning from Edwards' love child to the conflict in Georgia, I've been scrambling to get a better idea of why and how attacks in South Ossetia have come about.

Here's a pretty helpful summary from DailyKos.

And an article from today's New York Times.

My caveat: Russia scares me. If you've heard my tales of traveling across Russia and down through the former soviet countries, you have an idea of why. But I'm not willing to go all neocon in order to criticize a country for their power-mongering when we've got our own power-mongering to deal with.

In November of 2006 I was sitting in Athens watching the US elections and Donald Rumsfeld's resignation on TV, the Acropolis visible off my hotel balcony. I was reading Stephen Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley's Rise to Globalism at the time. Here are a few excerpts from that book which I included in an email to family and friends from Athens:

There are limits to the extent that even the most powerful nation can project its influence beyond its borders. In a democracy one of the most important limitations is the mood on the domestic scene, which involves both a general perception of a need to exert influence and a willingness to make the sacrifices required to generate usable military power. (p 75)

To obtain the economic and military resources to carry out an agressive foreign policy, Truman had to convince Americans of the reality and magnitude of the Soviety threat. To do that, he needed a dramatic issue. Greece stood near the top of the list of potential trouble spots. (p 78, re: the domino theory which proposed that one nation's fall to communism would lead to the fall of others)

At 1:00 p.m. on March 12, 1947, Truman stepped to the rostrum in the hall of the House of Representatives to address a joint session of Congress. The speech was also carried on nationwide radio. Truman asked for immediate aid for Greece and Turkey, then explained his reasoning: "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

The statement was all-encompassing. In a single sentence Truman had defined American policy for the next generation and beyond. Whenever and wherever an anti-communist government was threatened, by indigenous insurgents, foreign invasion, or even diplomatic pressure (as with Turkey), the United States would supply political, economic, and, most of all, military aid. The Truman Doctrine came close to shutting the door against any revolution, since the terms "free people" and anti-Communist" were thought synonymous. All the Greek government, or any dictatorship, had to do to get American aid was to claim that its opponents were Communist. (p 82)

Early in the 2000s, about the time Russia realized that her way back to the top of the world ladder was energy, we stopped seeing Putin as a someone we could work with and chose a path of agression toward Russia that included support of Kosovo's independence and building a military base in Georgia. There's still an east/west struggling going on but now its about energy resources. Americans well remember the Truman Doctrine and that "liberate countries from opression" stuff still works too well on us (take Iraq).

Georgians are not the victims here and we are no longer the world's liberators. Now, instead of acting in fear of the spread of communism our government is trying to limit Russia's control of energy resources, but they're still giving us the same Truman song and dance to get us to go along with it.

Update: It's clear that the US (and John McCain) have been outfitting Georgia for a long time. I don't think our gov is fully responsible because of course Russia is in Georgian territory. But try to give the Russians the benefit of the doubt? Read Pravda for a good dose of the Russian position here and a real case of the willies!