My multi-year campaign against dangerous and illegal American Presidential precedents has been largely based on the home front, an issue with which only Americans had to deal. Due to the Russian incursion into Georgia, however, the bar is now set much higher. The lethal precedents created by the Bush administration must now be encountered on a world scale.
America has reached the nadir in terms of moral leadership of the Western democracies. No where is this more true than Bush's dilemma in dealing with Russian actions in Georgia. Bush's decisions regarding Iraq make a mockery of any advice he may give the Russians re their decisions concerning Georgia. Everyone knows it, perhaps even Bush. His statements following Russia's military movements in Georgia are obligatory, meaning he had to say something while knowing full well his remarks were totally useless.
Originally, the assault on the current White House came as a result of its assault on our revered Constitution with no small amount of assistance from a compliant Republican Congress. The Military Commissions Act is a law that cancels the right of habeas corpus for foreigners accused of terrorism and for both Americans and foreigners who have been designated as "enemy combatants" by the Executive branch. As any sixth-grader knows, habeas corpus is the cornerstone of a democratic society. The Defense Authorization Act of 2006 (H.R. 1815), passed by Congress on September 30, 2006, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006, empowers the president to impose martial law in the event of a terrorist "incident," if he or other federal officials perceive a shortfall of "public order." The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was amended to make it easier for the President to deploy the military within the United States. One can easily see why the original purpose of my campaign was the home front only. For more information on these issues one can consult The Perfect Storm. As an aside, it is, indeed, problematic that both McCain and Obama have said very little about removing these unconstitutional laws and restoring our Constitution to its original form. The fear is both want to capture these new powers rather than rescind them. That is what precedence is all about, to include the invasion of a sovereign power that posed no danger to us, but does possess oceans of oil.
Unfortunately, underlying all of these issues is the illegal invasion of Iraq based on false premises, a fact known to everyone on the planet save for the most illiterate among us. Which, of course, brings me to my point. There was a time, prior to the Bush administration, that when the American President spoke, he was speaking for the entire free world. He was speaking as the leader of a democratic superpower. Not everyone agreed, but everyone listened. That is no longer true.
In one of Bush's obligatory remarks regarding the Georgian crisis Bush lectured to Putin, "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century." Said by anyone not named Bush that would be a reasonable statement to make concerning Russia's sledgehammer approach to killing a fly. From Bush, at best, it comes across as a weak, hypocritical, ludicrous remark from a lame duck American President who has lost nearly all credibility with Americans, Europeans, and, most notably, Russians. At worst, it is quite simply obscene. A political cartoon says it best. Bush is depicted on the phone saying, "Vladimir, how on Earth can you justify invading a sovereign country and demanding regime change?" Putin quipped, "Ha! Ha! Good one, Georgie."
A little background is provided for those who just arrived from Mars. The New York Times reported, "The story of how a 16-year, low-grade conflict over who should rule two small, mountainous regions in the Caucasus erupted into the most serious post-cold-war showdown between the United States and Russia is one of miscalculation, missed signals and overreaching... [Western diplomats and senior officials] describe three leaders on a collision course. Mr. Bush, rewarding Georgia for its robust troop contribution to Iraq - at 2,000, the third highest, behind the United States and Britain - promised NATO membership and its accompanying umbrella of American military support. Mr. Putin, angry at what he saw as American infringement right in his backyard, decided that Georgia was the line in the sand that the West would not be allowed to cross. And Mr. Saakashvili, unabashedly pro-American, was determined to show, once and for all, that Georgia was no longer a vassal of Russia."
During the night of Aug. 7 and 8, just prior to the opening of the Olympics in Beijing, the adventuresome Saakashvili launched his attack on South Ossetia, a breakaway province whose inhabitants swore more loyalty to Russia than to Georgia. In the way were Russian peacekeepers, so they were attacked, too. Not surprisingly, South Ossetia lies just south of North Ossetia. North Ossetia is a part of the Russian Federation. In a manner of speaking, a miniscule nation, Georgia, launched a de facto war against Russia, whose army of 641,000 troops is 25 times larger than Georgia's, by attacking Russian troops in an area sympathetic to Russia along the Russian border. It is no wonder that Putin was encouraged to put down the uppity Georgians, a thorn in Russia's side for quite some time and home to American troops training Georgian soldiers with new American equipment. One does wonder, what was Saakashvili thinking? The Russian army swept into Georgia with little or no opposition.
The fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia is an unnerving reminder of how quickly the balance of global power can be tilted from unexpected directions with barely a warning. Serge Truffaut writes in his article, "Russia unleashed," "When Clinton was [the] resident at the White House and Boris Yeltsin was in the Kremlin, the former assured the latter that NATO's expansion would be limited to the former European satellites of the Soviet Union. Once Bush took over the controls, that promise was shattered into bits with the notable guidance of Condoleezza Rice, then head of the National Security Council. This former academic specialist of the Soviet Union had composed a document in which she asserted that strategic enemy No. 1 in the short as well as the long term was not China, but, in fact, Russia." In addition, the Bush administration abrogated the 1972 anti-missile defense treaty. As a consequence, during the Georgian crisis, the issues were exacerbated by the signing of an agreement with Poland that allowed American missiles to be positioned within 115 miles of the Russian border.
Ostensibly these are defensive missiles to prevent an attack upon Western Europe by ... Iran? Iran is a big fish in a small pond (the Mideast), but, in the end, she is a fourth-rate power. She would no more attack Western Europe than blowing up her invaluable oil wells to spite the West. Actually, the latter would provide less harm to this Islamic republic. Moreover, how would Americans react to Soviet missiles within 115 miles of our border, like say in Cuba.
Adding insult to injury, or, in the category of Bush-inspired affronts to Russia, is the issue of Kosovo, a breakaway Serbian province. The West insisted upon independence for Kosovo. Russia insisted that independence for Kosovo would be a serious insult and begged the West to back off. In February, the U.S. and E.U. recognized Kosovo's independence over Moscow's vehement appeals not to do so. It is no wonder Putin drew a line in the sand. If the American-led West could redraw boundaries within Russia's sphere of influence against the wishes of Russia and her ally, Serbia, then Russia could redraw boundaries in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the other breakaway Georgian province with strong Russian sympathies.
Truffaut continues, "A strange, even paradoxical, thing is that Washington pushed the envelope even though it can't do without Russia on the subject Bush and his circle consider the most critical, the most delicate, of the hour - that is the Iranian nuclear question. Without Moscow's complicity, Washington will never succeed in stifling Tehran's ambition. It goes without saying that had Bush been less stuffed with ideology, if he had stuck to the lessons of Realpolitik rather than adopting the marks of posturing, the world would not be facing its umpteenth conflict. One last remark: Russia deployed its offensive in full awareness that the American is within a few months of his departure; he is a lame duck. In short, Moscow even harnesses Washington's political agenda," put a different way, Washington's weaknesses. America is currently engaged in two winless wars that are being fought at enormous costs, human, material, and financial. The American economy is weakening. The dollar is losing its value, and the national debt is in the stratosphere and growing. The Russian economy, by contrast, is prospering, largely due to energy sources. By way of an example, Russia is the second-leading exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia, and Russia provides much of the oil and natural gas to Europe, home to a number of our reluctant allies, reluctant, that is, to America's two elongated wars that appear endless. The best for which we can hope is Jan. 2012.
Robert Parry writes, "Apparently, context is everything. So, the United States attacking Grenada or Nicaragua or Panama or Iraq or Serbia is justified even if the reasons sometimes don't hold water or don't hold up before the United Nations, The Hague or other institutions of international law. No one points out that Bush should have zero standing enunciating such a principle. Iraq also was a sovereign nation, but Bush invaded it under false pretenses, demolished its army, overthrew its government and then conducted a lengthy military occupation resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. While major U.S. news outlets may be comfortable wearing blinders that let them see only wrongdoing by others, the rest of the world views the outrage from Bush and the neocons over Russia as a stunning double standard. It has been as if the rules moved on separate tracks, one set for the United States and one set for everyone else - and it was impolite to notice."
In a letter written in 1648, Swedish statesman Axel Oxenstierna, chancellor to both King Gustavus Adolphus and Queen Christina, counseled, "Know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed." In other words, why, in the name of heaven, would Putin listen Bush's lecturing, a very lame lame-duck, hypocritical leader whose words lack substance.
There is a sharp contrast between the Russian incursion into Georgia and Bush's war in Iraq. Actually, the difference between Russia's short, little war in Georgia and Bush's invasion of Iraq is a virtual chasm. There are no similarities. Iraq - everyone knows the drill now. I will not belabor the point. Upon the orders of our Commander-in-Chief, Bush, America's military traveled halfway around the world to invade a sovereign country on the basis of bogus causes and micro-managed intelligence, and embarked on regime change That statement is not subject to conjecture. Moreover, our invasion had little to do with promoting democracy in the region. It had more to do with Iraq's oil reserves and the profiteering of America's huge oil corporations. There is not much conjecture in that statement, either. We are still there, 5 1/2 years later.
Russia's incursion into Georgia came as a result of Georgia's attack on its own province, South Ossetia, a province with common borders with Russia, with loyalties to Russia, and containing Russian soldiers with the permission of South Ossetians. It would appear that Putin is more aware of 21st Century realities than Bush. Notwithstanding South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both with loyalties to Russia, Russia is withdrawing after a very short period of time with Georgia's foolish government still intact. It should be noted that residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are more fearful of Georgian imperialism than Russian imperialism and desire rapprochement with Russia. As poor as Georgia is, as prosperous as Russia is, can anyone blame them.
At the risk of repeating myself, the statement by Bush requires added emphasis. "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century." The statement caused one to wince at every word. It is the pre-ultimate example, a classic really, of the pot calling the kettle black.