The Huffington Post
Georgia and the Push for Cold War
Posted August 21, 2008 | 06:01 PM (EST)
John McCain said it first: "In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations." George W. Bush said it, too: Russia's way is not the "way to conduct foreign policy in the 21st Century". And Condoleezza Rice on August 19 said it: "Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used whenever it wishes to deliver a message and that's its military power. That's not the way to deal in the 21st century." Outside of the United States, these utterances are greeted with laughter, for they betoken a hypocrisy so ingrained it suggests insanity. The United States looks in the mirror and what do we see? Russia. And what do we say? "That is no way to do things in the 21st century!" And then we go back to reading the interview with General Petraeus on the occupation of Baghdad.
But these statements are a sideshow. The Georgia debacle started on May 4, 2006, with a longer and more considered statement, by Vice President Cheney, in Vilnius, Lithuania. Cheney there threatened Russia with a new Cold War if Russia did not capitulate to American demands of cheap oil for Russia's pro-American neighbors. "Russia has a choice," he said. The same curious locution, with its undertone of parental menace -- the parent who stops payments and knows when to use the whip -- was employed by President Bush addressing Iran in 2007. "Iran has a choice." Has a nation ever talked to another nation in this style? But then, has there ever been a nation that sees itself as America sees itself in the 21st century? "Russia has a choice" -- the language of a man with his hand on his gun, very sure of his moral as well as physical superiority. This is the language of omnipotence, barely disguised. It is ill-adapted for the purposes of social intercourse, yet finely adapted to threats that have a quality at once intimate and public; threats, indeed, part of whose function is to abort diplomacy.( Collapse )