Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain’s selection as his vice-presidential running mate, was interviewed this morning by ABC News’ Charles Gibson. One of the featured “teasers” on ABC’s website — the full interview is scheduled to air in part during the evening news, and the entire interview ostensibly during their prime-time “20/20” — had Mr. Gibson asking the governor whether she advocated admitting the former Soviet-bloc states, now fully independent countries, of Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO.
The Alaskan governor didn’t hesitate a moment to say that in fact she did very much.
Then, Mr. Gibson reminded Governor Palin that under the terms of NATO membership, membership that by the way composes a treaty with the United States, treaties which, under Article 6 of the United States Constitution, become automatically the “supreme law of the land,” if Russia invaded or in any other manner attacked either Georgia or the Ukraine, we would be called upon to defend them every bit as much as if Russia attacked the US itself. Gibson then asked whether she was prepared for that.
The governor didn’t flinch. “Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon to help.
“And we’ve got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable.”
Not really a part of the extraordinarily grave question I want to get into, but Palin’s pronouncement that Russia “invaded a smaller country unprovoked [emphasis mine] simply is not the least accurate.
Yes, Russia had been looking for a fight; any excuse to make its move into the oil- and gas-rich spigot between Europe and China. The nasty sticking point that makes Palin’s statement so dangerously false, however, is that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, working under some guise of assurances — due in part to his long-standing friendly relationship with Senator John McCain, perhaps even reinforced by McCain advisor and lobbyist for Georgia, Randy Scheunemann — that the United States would back him, quite recklessly decided to tweak the nose of the salivating Russian bear. On August 8, Saakashvili ordered an artillery barrage of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, then followed it with an armored invasion. For those who do not know, South Ossetia is to civil rule what the old wild West was during its most violent and lawless days. It is an area run by thugs and gangs who have no allegiance to Georgia, and most strenuously want none. If they have any inclinations, it is to Russia, not Georgia.
The invasion was hardly "unprovoked."
But, as I said, that’s not what I want to really get into. There are very grave matters here that need to be thought of thoughtfully; not in any jingoistic casual machismo bravado.
Less than half the US population was alive during October, 1962. When White House Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked a question that related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the press secretary perkily chirped, “I knew it had something to do with Cuba and missiles.” Sarah Palin is not old enough to recall how the entire world held its breath, all hoping, the believers praying, that President Kennedy would somehow find a way to defuse the civilization ending drama that was being played day to day. Soviet Premier Khrushchev had put himself in a box wherein he could not back down. Thus it was left to the 35th president to locate the key.
As to nuclear capacity, neither the US nor Putin’s Russia are any the less equipped. If anything, two factors give the leverage to Putin. One, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have so drained our capacity to react (Both DoD and the VA have reported a surge in suicides, more than during any conflict for which we have records, that the VA finally acknowledged can be traced to the repeated deployments of our combat forces.) that we truly have no capacity to fulfill the sort of treaty obligations Palin glibly refers to. Second, most of Europe’s oil and natural gas flow through pipelines that Russia would command. Putin is fully aware his hand is on the spigot.
August 19, in Asia Times, Spengler remarked that “Russia is playing chess, while the Americans are playing Monopoly.” By that, he meant that the Americans have always seen strategy as placing as many hotels — military bases, missile silos — on the board as possible, until the Soviet Union, now Russia, has gone bankrupt. Russia, on the other hand, plays the game as one of finesse; moving pieces from here to there, until the opponent has been de facto captured. Although I adore the analogy, I disagree: today, with its oil and gas wealth and influence, and with the US military rather eviscerated, Russia is playing both chess and Monopoly . . . on the same board!
That any candidate for high office — US representative, senator, vice-president, or president — could so quickly and easily quip “perhaps” when the question was to war with Russia, over anything, betrays a hazard that every voter needs to ponder more soberly than any other criterion.
Would we accost Russia, were it to attack Kansas? Absolutely, and that is why it will not. At that point, the Doomsday Clock moves to midnight. But we need to decide what, short of retaliating against Russia — And make no mistake, it would very rapidly and inevitably lead to a nuclear confrontation!!! — because of a direct attack on our soil, would we also push the world to the brink over? To answer that essential question, we need to inquire deeply of ourselves about where our interests truly lie.
THE question, paramount to all others, as a consequence of Governor Palin’s response, is whether Georgia and the Ukraine are equal in value to, say Alaska, or Hawaii, or Texas . . . ? Because, without thinking it over, that is absolutely what was being rather flippantly tossed about by Sarah Palin. War with Russia? “Perhaps . . .”
— Ed Tubbs
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