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John McCain's Bay of Pigs

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The McCain camp is asking us to choose him over Barack Obama because McCain has the kind of international/military experience we need in today's evermore complicated and dangerous world. But, even though McCain is still only a US Senator, he played a key role in a recent international crisis. And what happened before, during and in the aftermath of that crisis should give reason for concern.

I am, of course, referring to the recent dustup between tiny Georgia and its next door neighbor, and former owner, Russia. If you are one of those who believes McCain's five years in a North Vietnamese prison and 26 years in the Senate provided him with the right skill sets for the world of today, please take the time to consider McCain's role in the events that led up to Russia's invasion of Georgia in early August.

(No, not THAT Georgia. The other one. The one that's even closer to Russia than, say, Alaska.)

What exactly happened in early August? What prompted the tiny and fragile Georgian democracy to take a swing at the Russian bear? The answer is that the Georgian leadership had been led to believe America was waiting in the wings to back them up if the bear swung back.

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The bear swung back, but the Georgians were left asking themselves, "Where are the Americans?"

Its the same question Cuban counter-revolutionary troops asked back in in 1961, as they were being slaughtered on Bay of Pigs beaches and hunted down in Cuban swamps. They'd been led to believe that, if they moved to dislodge the Communist Castro regime, the US would have their backs.

In the case of Georgia, 2008, the assurances weren't even proffered by the US government, but by a mere candidate for president, John McCain. As his first major foreign policy decision, Georgia demands a closer look. And the closer one looks, the more it looks like McCain's Bay of Pigs.

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Let's begin with the man who has been described as McCain's own Henry Kissenger --  Randy Scheunemann. Understanding where Randy comes from informs us where he'd like to take a McCain administration:

"Scheunemann's lobbying firm is one of three that he has operated since 1999, with clients including BP Amoco, defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and the National Rifle Association.....

Scheunemann is part of the community of neoconservatives who relentlessly pushed for war in Iraq.

In the months before the war began, Scheuenemann ran the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, set up in November 2002 when public support for the looming invasion was eroding.

Before that, Scheunemann was on board with the Project for the New American Century, whose letter to Bush nine days after the Sept. 11 attacks pointed to Iraq as a possible link to the terrorists. The letter said American forces must be prepared to support "by all means necessary" the U.S. government's commitment to opponents of Saddam Hussein.

Scheunemann was among the letter's 37 signers, a Who's Who of neoconservative luminaries including William Kristol and Richard Perle.

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If anything, Scheunemann's duties have been enhanced from McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, when Scheunemann also advised McCain on national security and foreign policy issues. (Source)

Scheunemann, who now serves as the McCain campaign's chief foreign policy guru, has gorged himself on the Bush administration's Johnny Appleseed-of-Democracy agenda.  Not only did Scheunemann's two-man lobbying firm receive $730,000 since 2001 to get Georgia a NATO/US war guarantee, he was also paid handsomely by Romania and Latvia to do it.

McCain, who likes to rant against the evils of lobbyists, burned up the phone lines with his lobbyist-BMF. In addition to the 49 contacts with McCain or his staff regarding Georgia, Scheunemann's firm lobbied the senator or his aides on at least 47 other occasions since 2001 on behalf of the governments of Taiwan and Macedonia, which each paid Scheunemann and his partner Mike Mitchell over half a million dollars; Romania, which paid over $400,000; and Latvia, which paid nearly $250,000.

Scheunemann relied almost entirely on his access to McCain for his work involving foreign clients. He and his partner reported 71 phone conversations and meetings with McCain and his top advisers since 2004 on behalf of foreign clients, including Georgia, according to forms they filed with the Justice Department.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)
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