Political statements do sound truer if they come identical from actual or potential enemies. Is there therefore a high chance that Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia a month ago, has been “encouraged” by people trying to support McCain, as Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin has recently suggested to CNN (Aug 28)?
In an interview in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.
Putin said his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate — Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush — although he presented no evidence to back it up.
“U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict,” Putin said. “They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader.”
Just listen now to Thomas Rath, “leading Republican strategist in the swing state of New Hampshire” according to Bloomberg news and the IHT (Sep 7):
“If in October we’re talking about Russia and national defense and who can manage America in a difficult world, John McCain will be president,” predicts Thomas Rath, the leading Republican strategist in the swing state of New Hampshire. “If we’re talking largely about domestic issues and health care, Barack Obama probably will be president.”
In other words, as explained by article’s author Albert R Hunt:
If Russia invades another country on Oct. 20 or Iran detonates a nuclear weapon, advantage McCain; if there’s another Bear Stearns meltdown, or a stock market crash, put a few points on the Obama side.
A similar point is made rather more forcefully by leftist Tony Wood in the pages of the London Review of Book (Sep 11):
So why would the US approve a military adventure it had no intention of materially supporting? Not every development is part of an infernal neocon conspiracy, but it is nonetheless clear that the White House would make palpable gains from the Georgian crisis, whatever the outcome. If Saakashvili succeeded in retaking South Ossetia, he would have faced down Russia and demonstrated Georgia’s increasing readiness for Nato membership. If, on the other hand, Russia defeated Georgia, it would re-emphasise to Eastern Europe the need for US security guarantees. Sure enough, within two days of the start of fighting in Tskhinvali, Poland and the US finally reached agreement on the missile shield. Georgia itself appears all the more in need of US backing, and several politicians and commentators have suggested that the crisis is grounds for the country’s immediate admission to Nato. It could also justify the US increasing its military presence in Georgia, from a mere 100 Special Forces troops to, say, a long-term base. Moreover, the war has created ample opportunity for ramping up the discourse of a New Cold War – considerably improving the electoral prospects of John McCain, whose foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann worked for Saakashvili until May this year. All this, in exchange for a short war the US didn’t have to fight.
“All this, in exchange for a short war the US didn’t have to fight”.