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Calling the Bluff on the Limits of American Power and Influence

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Message Ron Fullwood
The crisis in Georgia is forcing Americans to consider the propriety and efficacy of American power and influence abroad in a context which, for the first time in a while, involves our role in countering another nation's military aggression across sovereign borders besides Bush's own military expansionism in the Middle East. We have seen a variety of responses from the White House and the candidates who hope to assume the responsibility of the presidency.

All three parties -- Bush, Obama, and McCain -- have settled on hard-line responses directed at Russia, demanding they withdraw their invading forces immediately from Georgia's South Ossetia. But, at least initially, it was McCain's bellicose attempt to sound the toughest which made the other equally firm responses seem less demanding. They weren't. It just sounded that way.

All parties have postured as if Russia bears the most responsibility, and perhaps they do, even though the Georgian leadership certainly needs to account for their own actions which have allowed the Russians to claim they were provoked into defending the 'integrity' of their borders. It's just that there is no way that the West can or should tolerate the Russians tearing through these 'friendly' provinces with impunity.

In fact, that expectation of restraint by the Russians toward their 'independent' neighbor is what the U.S. has been counting on from the instance they decided to encourage and support the construction of the oil pipeline which runs through Georgia from Azerbaijan to Turkey. The expectation was that the West could have a potential control over the flow of oil out of the former Soviet state which supplies Russia's allies (like Bush's nemesis, China). That, undoubtedly, is what has the Bush administration so jazzed about the Russian military incursion.

There's got to be a great deal of frustration among those folks who thought controlling Russia's most profitable export outside of weapons sales was going to be as easy as propping up any compliant regime who shared our animosity toward the Russians. The regime in Georgia, though, handed the Russians a ready excuse with their military aggression in South Osssetia. Armed and equipped by the U.S., the Georgian military forces are being systematically dismantled by the invading Russian army as their irregular units ransack and loot as they advance inside of Georgia. The Russians have taken advantage of the Europeans' and the West's reluctance and foot-dragging in inviting Georgia under the NATO security umbrella.

That push by the U.S. to surround Russia with NATO cooperative states, like Poland and the Ukraine, has threatened Russia and forced them to find ways to desperately preserve whatever influence in their region that they can manage. The Bush regime sees the prospect of Russia's alliances with China and Iran as threats to the U.S. 'national security'. The administration would like nothing more than for Russia and China to be regarded as pariahs in the world community, especially now that their UN influence will likely be a determining factor in Bush's scheme to force even more action against Iran out of the U.N. Security Council. Bush and Cheney (and Rice) would be more than satisfied to isolate Russia, and China with a manufactured pall of suspicion and fear, making oil-producing nations reluctant to do business with Iran out of fear of U.S. retaliation and making existing deals with Iran appear sinister and threatening.

It suits the Bush regime's short term agenda to isolate Russia and China in hopes of forestalling the coming shift in energy resources away from the U.S. as Russia and China bargain for a bigger share of the world's oil, and have made multi-billion dollar deals with oil-rich Iran, to the consternation of the U.S. and their Saudi benefactors who are desperate to stifle the influence of the Iranian oil on the world market.

It's not been enough for the U.S. to illegally invade and occupy a sovereign nation in the face of Russian and Chinese objections, now the Bush regime is intent on pressing their aggression and military posturing against Russia and China's economic ally, Iran, to the point of destabilizing the balance of weaponry in Europe which had allowed the decades-old deescalation of tensions and relative peace to prevail. And, they want us to believe that the target of their own destabilizing aggression is the most pernicious threat.

Dick Cheney in Sydney in 2007, took it upon himself to complain about China's 'military buildup' and their shooting down of an old weather satellite. Cheney wasn't really concerned with any actual threat from China. He was just carrying water for his military industry benefactors, like Lockheed and Boeing who are shopping around Europe for governments willing to buy into their 'missile defense' protection scheme they've mapped out with the military industry executives who've infected the Bush regime even before his ascendance to office.

Cheney was well aware of efforts reported underway for years to sell missile defense systems in Central Europe which accelerated that year, including a deal with Britain's lame-duck, Blair, to take his country's defense dollars in return for the false security of hunkering his citizens underneath a U.S. missile 'umbrella', hiding from anticipated reprisals from Bush's continuing and increasing militarism.

The reasoning behind the Bush administration's planned deployment of these 'missile interceptors' to Europe has nothing at all to do with some Cold War threat from Russia or China, according to Secretary of State Condi Rice, who told reporters during a trip to Germany in February that, "There is no way that 10 interceptors in Poland and radar sites in the Czech Republic are a threat to Russia or that they are somehow going to diminish Russia's deterrent of thousands of warheads."

Even General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the beginning of the year in Jakarta that he wouldn't directly tie China's satellite shooting to any threat. "We should not assume anything about the Chinese anti-satellite test (last month) other than they now have the capacity to shoot down a satellite," he told reporters.

What is it then which compels the U.S. State Dept. and the Pentagon to ramp up the peddling of these missile systems to these European countries, unsettling decades of peaceful cooperation with their communist neighbors? There is a familiar theme which accompanies this latest round of fearmongering militarism by the Bush regime. Secretary Rice spelled it out after claiming Russia had nothing to fear from the new, planned expansion of U.S. military influence in their backyard.

"I think everybody understands that with a growing Iranian missile threat," Rice said in Berlin"-- which is quite pronounced -- that there needs to be ways to deal with that problem, and, that we're talking about long lead times to be able to have a defensive counter to offensive missile threats," she said.

Problem with that assessment is that Iran has no intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. continent. Iran's longest range missile is the Shahab-3, which has a target radius of 620 miles. The Pentagon has been claiming for almost a decade that Iran is developing up to three new generations of the Shahab to increase its range. There is absolutely no evidence that Iran even possesses missiles threatening the U.S or has threatened the U.S. with missiles, yet, this entire escalation of concern which has supposedly prompted the Bush regime to step up the hawking of these dubious systems throughout Europe is predicated on their claims of an Iranian threat.

"There are no grounds for deploying the missile defense systems in Europe, Iran doesn't have any missiles with a range of 5,000 to 8,000 kilometers,'' Putin had said.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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