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Georgia war is a neocon election ploy

by Robert Scheer
Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, Inc.

Is it pos­si­ble that this time the Octo­ber sur­prise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave lit­tle Geor­gia strug­gling for its sur­vival from the grasp of the Russ­ian bear was stoked to influ­ence the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion?

Before you dis­miss that pos­si­bil­i­ty, con­sid­er the role of one Randy Sche­une­mann, for four years a paid lob­by­ist for the Geor­gian gov­ern­ment, end­ing his offi­cial lob­by­ing con­nec­tion only in March, months after he became Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. John McCain’s senior for­eign pol­i­cy advis­er.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, Sche­une­mann was best known as one of the neo­con­ser­v­a­tives who engi­neered the war in Iraq when he was a direc­tor of the Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry. It was Sche­une­mann who, after work­ing on the McCain 2000 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, head­ed the Com­mit­tee for the Lib­er­a­tion of Iraq, which cham­pi­oned the U.S. Iraq inva­sion.

There are tell­tale signs that he played a sim­i­lar role in the recent Geor­gia flare-up. How else to explain the fol­ly of his close friend and for­mer employ­er, Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikhail Saakashvili, in order­ing an inva­sion of the break­away region of South Osse­tia, which clear­ly was expect­ed to pro­duce a Russ­ian counter-reac­tion. It is incon­ceiv­able that Saakashvili would have trig­gered this dan­ger­ous esca­la­tion with­out some assur­ance from influ­en­tial Amer­i­cans he trust­ed, like Sche­une­mann, that the Unit­ed States would have his back. Sche­une­mann long guid­ed McCain in these mat­ters, even before he was offi­cial­ly run­ning for­eign pol­i­cy for McCain’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

In 2005, while reg­is­tered as a paid lob­by­ist for Geor­gia, Sche­une­mann worked with McCain to draft a con­gres­sion­al res­o­lu­tion push­ing for Geor­gia’s mem­ber­ship in NATO. A year lat­er, while still on the Geor­gian pay­roll, Sche­une­mann accom­pa­nied McCain on a trip to that coun­try, where they met with Saakashvili and sup­port­ed his bel­li­cose views toward Rus­si­a’s Vladimir Putin.

Sche­une­mann is at the cen­ter of the neo­con­ser­v­a­tive cabal that has come to dom­i­nate the Repub­li­can can­di­date’s for­eign pol­i­cy stance in a replay of the run-up to the war against Iraq. These folks are always look­ing for a for­eign ene­my on which to base a new Cold War, and with the col­lapse of Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime, it was Putin’s Rus­sia that came increas­ing­ly to fit the bill.

Yes, it sounds dia­bol­i­cal, but that may be the most accu­rate way to assess the designs of the McCain cam­paign in mat­ters of war and peace. There is every indi­ca­tion that the can­di­date’s demo­niza­tion of Putin is an even grander plan than the pre­vi­ous use of Hus­sein to fuel Amer­i­can mil­i­tarism with the fear­some ene­my that it des­per­ate­ly needs.

McCain gets to look tough with a new Cold War to fight while Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. Barack Oba­ma, scram­bling to make sense of a more mea­sured for­eign pol­i­cy pos­ture, will seem weak in com­par­i­son. Mean­while, the dire con­se­quences of the Bush lega­cy McCain has inher­it­ed, from the dis­as­ter of Iraq to the eco­nom­ic melt­down, con­ve­nient­ly will be ignored. But it will pro­vide the mil­i­tary-indus­tri­al com­plex, which has helped bankroll the neo­con­ser­v­a­tives, with an excuse for ramp­ing up a mil­i­tary bud­get that is already big­ger than that of the rest of the world com­bined.

What is at work here is a neo­con­ser­v­a­tive, self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy in which Rus­sia is turned into an ene­my that ramps up its large­ly reduced mil­i­tary, and Putin is cast as the new Joseph Stal­in bogey­man, evok­ing images of the old Sovi­et Union. McCain has con­demned a “revan­chist Rus­sia” that should once again be con­tained. Although Putin has been the enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar elect­ed leader of post-Com­mu­nist Rus­sia, it is assumed that impe­ri­al­ism is always lurk­ing, not only in his DNA but in that of the Russ­ian peo­ple.

How con­ve­nient to for­get that Stal­in was a Geor­gian, and indeed if Russ­ian troops had occu­pied the threat­ened Geor­gian town of Gori, they would have found a muse­um still hon­or­ing their local boy, who made good by seiz­ing con­trol of the Russ­ian rev­o­lu­tion. Indeed five Russ­ian bombs were alleged­ly dropped on Gori’s Stal­in Square on Tues­day.

It should also be men­tioned that the post-Com­mu­nist Geor­gians have impe­r­i­al designs on South Osse­tia and Abk­hazia. What a stark con­tra­dic­tion that the Unit­ed States, which cham­pi­oned Kosovo’s inde­pen­dence from Ser­bia, now is ignor­ing Geor­gia’s inva­sion of its eth­ni­cal­ly rebel­lious provinces.

For McCain to so fer­vent­ly embrace Sche­une­man­n’s neo­con­ser­v­a­tive line of demo­niz­ing Rus­sia in the inter­est of appear­ing tough dur­ing an elec­tion is a reminder that a sen­a­tor can be old and yet wild­ly irre­spon­si­ble.


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