Commentary: Georgia brings scary reminder of nuclear threatThere is a real war going on in Georgia with Russia (R-E, Aug. 16). It started the same night that President Bush was at the opening ceremonies in China.
By: Richard Johnson, Wacouta, The Republican Eagle
There is a real war going on in Georgia with Russia (R-E, Aug. 16). It started the same night that President Bush was at the opening ceremonies in China.
Bush and Putin conferred for several minutes at the stadium. Putin left the next morning for the Russian/Georgian border. Bush stayed three days. Keep in mind his first response to 9/11 was to stare at the Florida grade school floor for eight minutes.
The problem is that Georgia has a significant place in our foreign policy, along with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and others along the Russian border. They, with Georgia, broke away from the Soviet Union in the 1990s after securing strong support and encouragement from the United States.
This has been a continuing irritant to Russia and didn’t reach the crisis stage until we secured a recent agreement with Poland — over vigorous objection from Russia — to install defensive long-range missiles, supposedly to thwart missiles from Iran.
Further antagonism arose when we encouraged Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, over Russia’s strong objection, earlier this year. The Kosovo decision was principled and morally correct. The problem is we had no clue how important that same decision was to Russia and made no attempt to placate its leaders.
No longer destitute
After the Soviet Union breakup and establishment of democracies in most breakaway countries, Russia was financially destitute, economically dependent, military broken and politically humiliated. Russia had to beg for food, trade dollars and just about everything else.
We and the rest of the western Europe intimidated them. When their oil economy boomed, they no longer felt the need to follow ours, the U.N.’s or NATO’s requests.
Our president needs to refresh his memory that Russia still has thousands of nuclear tipped long-range missiles targeting our country. The same ones that from 1947-90 caused us to spend huge amounts on defense and to build bomb shelters in our back yard, stocking them with five years of supplies.
Those who lived through those years need to refresh their memories of that constant, real nuclear threat of mutual obliteration. We do not wish to recreate this event for our children and our grandchildren. Yet we are close to doing so.
The U.N. is helpless because Russia has the veto in the Security Council. NATO is helpless because as soon as we start dialing their numbers, we will be told their phones have been disconnected. They reluctantly showed up for Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and want no part of Russia, which supplies Europe with 40 percent of its energy needs.
We have 200 Special Forces in Georgia training troops. We encouraged Georgia to gain independence, helped Georgians organize a democracy, gave them military and developmental assistance, (building a pipeline) and told them we would help them in join the western European Block.
We are now helpless to do anything. The Ukraine is making similar sounds of hostility to Russia and it is much larger, with numerous nuclear weapons.
Although Bush may think it is a good thing to have former Soviet Union countries flexing their democratic muscles, the response from Russia could well be heavy handed and overplayed. If we can’t help them without starting World Ward II, we should counsel them to bite their tongues, as to depend on Russia to exercise a reasoned and measured response is risky.
The situation is reminiscent of Bush Sr. following the Gulf War in 1991. He gave encouragement to the “Marsh Arabs,” Shiites throughout southern Iraq, to rise up against Sadam, which effort he would assist. They did and Bush didn’t, resulting in 100,000 of them being killed by Sadam’s helicopters in plain sight of the world and their land being drained of water, resulting in the destruction of their way of life.
Due to our squandered relations around the world, we have little influence to secure a diplomatic resolution. We can only hope that Russia sees the bad relations its may engender around the world and stop.
The difficult lesson to be learned is that a country, even a super power, cannot be arrogant, self-serving and engage in unilateral, unpopular acts without it coming home to roost. I am not talking about Russia, I am talking about us.
I tried to read Putin’s lips at the Olympics, and I am quite sure he told Bush to “stuff it.”
Once again, Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice have humiliated, and embarrassed us, as well as endangered our country. They took us to the edge of the abyss and we are still there. I have no confidence they can lead us back to safety.
Of course, Russia is wholly at fault for creating this crisis, but how did we allow ourselves to become so vulnerable and easy to manipulate? How many more times will this happen before Bush is gone?
More important, how many more chances are we going to give them to do this to our country? Six months is an eternity and it cannot pass soon enough.