U.S. Strategic Interest in Georgia and a New Cold War
The supposition that the US more or less provoked Georgia into war with Russia is the likely truth, given Dick Cheney’s recent statements blaming Russia entirely, and swearing that Georgia will enter NATO no matter what.
Tony Wood, who wrote a very good recent book on Chechnya, has this to say in part in the September 11, 2008 issue of the London Review of Books.
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.
–>Read the Rest: “What Condoleezza Said”, September 11, 2008. London Review of Books. Tony Wood.
The US leadership now finds a return to cold war type tensions something of a relief, because it at last makes explicable the adversarial approach to Russia that the US has always pursued and with which the leadership is most comfortable.
If the rhetoric about encouraging freedom in the post-Soviet states were to be taken at face value, then the US would have permitted the democratic upsurge of the 1990s to take its course and restrained itself from directing the meltdown of the Russian economy (a long process lasting throughout the Clinton presidency).
Instead, the US has dogmatically pursued free-market solutions within Russia and encouraged the growth of autocracy to that end. Putin was viewed favorably so long as he did not overly oppress the oligarchs.
Putin would never have come into power in the first place without the continued US support for his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. Who knows where we’d be now if Yeltsin hadn’t suppressed the Duma? Its impossible to say, but its easy to see that the US and Russia have had their first proxy war since 1991 and that is a disastrous development.
Putin and the Oligarchs, Marshall I. Goldman, From Foreign Affairs, November/December 2004
Billionaires boom as Putin puts oligarchs at No 2 in global rich list: Super-wealthy Russians enjoy golden age – as long as they stay well clear of politics, Tom Parfitt in Moscow, The Guardian, Tuesday February 19 2008
Posted on September 5, 2008, in Uncategorized and tagged Cold War, Dick Cheney, Mikheil Saakashvili, NATO, NATO expansion, Russian economic crisis, shock therapy, Tony Wood, Vladimir Putin. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.