Progressive activist and former California Senator Tom Hayden’s recent article in The Nation , Warning to Obama on the New Cold War, argues that “the same Republican neocons who fabricated the reasons for going to war in Iraq are back, and now they have been paid to trigger a new cold war with Russia that benefits John McCain.” Pointing out the lamentable fact that we won’t hear such forthright warnings from Sen. Obama “or anyone in the Democratic hierarchy,” Hayden emphatically cautions that “[t]hese are dangerous, expensive unwinnable games being played with American lives to benefit Republican politicians and their oil company friends.”
Haden’s piece provides an excellent overview of the “short-term essentials of the situation,” along with detailed background information regarding McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann, who “was a registered foreign agent for Saakashlivi's government from at least 2004, when Saakashvili came to power.” Scheunemann, having also represented BP America’s oil interests in the Caucasus region, has been at the center of “serious tensions within Republican circles,” according to Hayden, and has as recently as 2006 accused Condoleezza Rice (with her Chevron ties) of appeasing Russia over Georgia. “Now it appears that the Shuenemann-McCain faction has succeeded in pulling the United States into an unwinnable military situation,” Hayden contends, “which is overflowing with political dividends for McCain and the Republicans.”
In terms of progressive actions for combatting what Hayden characterizes as the “conspiracy fact” of the Neo(con)-cold war, he offers that the first step should be for “millions of people to re-educate themselves in the history and perils of the [old] cold war,” and advises persuasion-oriented unity on the activist front:
The initial goal of the principled rank-and-file peace movement should be to devise a persuasive message against the reckless adventurism of the resurgent McCain/neoconservative crusade and bombard the "realist" foreign policy school, from think tanks to editorial boards to senior members of Congress, with questions that widen the current climate of debate.
Hayden’s most imperative recommendation is that those supporting Obama “should step up their criticism of his hawkish mimicry of McCain, and consider lessening their support--though still voting for him--unless he distinguishes himself from McCain on the immediate crisis.”
The pressing need for sending such a signal to the presumptive candidate was made all the more urgent during the past week, when Sen. Joe Biden, “rumored to be very high on Sen. Barack Obama’s list of running mates,” met with the president and prime minister of Georgia. According to Politico, Biden made the trip in the interest of “further burnishing his foreign policy credentials ahead of Obama’s decision.”
Claiming to have seen no evidence supporting Russian assertions “that the Georgian military was engaged in a ‘genocide’ in the region of South Ossetia,” Biden promised $1 billion to "help the people of Georgia to rebuild their country and preserve its democratic institutions." He also used the occasion of his journey as an opportunity to engage in his own “hawkish mimicry” of McCain’s bellicose rhetoric toward the former Soviet Union.
“Russia’s actions in Georgia will have consequences,” Biden warned, as if to illustrate one of the most salient points of Tom Haden’s “Warning to Obama on the New Cold War”:
Because they are still mired in what Obama himself calls "old thinking," the Democratic hierarchy and the mainstream media will have to be challenged by the faithful and clear-headed rank-and-file and the blogosphere to recognize the Georgia Conspiracy.
Tom Hayden is spot-on with this article’s warnings and wise counsul, and I for one plan to take up his challenge. Like Joe Biden , I’m “convinced that Russia's invasion of Georgia may be the one of the most significant event [sic] to occur in Europe since the end of communism.” But the veep hopeful’s oversimplification of the issues and his tough-guy terminology leave me all the more inspired by Hayden’s recognition of the fact that “the peace movement and netroots will have to lead the battle against this attempt to reward the very people who brought us Iraq with another lease on power.”
Warning to Obama on the New Cold War, by Tom Hayden, The Nation, 21 August 2008.