With the war in Georgia fading from the headlines, it may seem to some that a minor European conflict has flared up and gone away. However, it appears as though the gravity of the situation is far heavier than I and perhaps others thought while it was going on. Since learning a few things about the history of the conflict, it appears that the United States through the Georgia conflict and our interference in the region has resurrected the cold war at a potential intensity that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.
Back in 2002, the US dispatched troops, arms, and supplies to Georgia as part of the "War on Terror" supposedly to help Georgia fight terrorism in an area called the Pankisi Hills. Sounds perfectly coherent with the aims of the mythic "war on terror," except that there's evidence that the US is not in the region solely to fight Islamic terrorism, but moreover to protect an oil pipeline. From the Observer back in 2002:
Kakha Katcitadze, a senior government adviser, told The Observer that the gorge would not create 'vital dangers for Georgia'. America has other goals. 'There are some problems in Pankisi, but I think it is mostly a social issue. I am not so worried about it. Anti-terrorism is not the only reason for the relationship between the United States and Georgia. Georgia is also the shortest route between the [oil reserves] of the Caspian Sea and Turkey.'
When you consider that Condoleeza Rice's job at Chevron was Central Asian projects, and that the war in Afghanistan was threatened before 9/11 as part of a pipeline deal, to me the conflict in Georgia takes on a different light. It is also the case that Georgia started the war against Russia as something resembling an anti-terrorist operation in South Ossetia to "restore constitutional order."At around the same time, the US outrageously agreed to begin installing a "missile shield" project in Poland and the Czech Republic where 70% of Czechs are against the project that itself uses ballistic missiles to "protect against terrorist missiles from rogue states." In a serious response to just the preliminary plans for this ABM shield-- about year earlier, Russia stopped its compliance with a key treaty to keep its troops and military hardware out of Europe. This demonstrated Russia's total opposition to the US plan that unbelievably went ahead anyway.
Vice President Dick Cheney apparently sent his zombie double to Georgia to meet with Mikheil "Guilty Kid" SaakashviliMost recently, as a response to the NATO buildup around Georgia, Vladimir Putin has vowed a response though "calm" to the provocation of US/NATO ships in the Black Sea. There are also tiny reports of direct US involvement in coordinating the Georgian military in its assault on South Ossetia, but even if false, moreover, the US arms and trains Georgia's military. Indeed, Dick Cheney visited the region after the war to "bolster western-friendly" countries against Russia. Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who once taught at the US war college describes his opinion of the apparently dire situation in Georgia on Democracy Now:
COL. SAM GARDINER: Let me just say that if you were to rate how serious the strategic situations have been in the past few years, this [the Georgia conflict in August 2008] would be above Iraq, this would be above Afghanistan, and this would be above Iran.
But most worrying is his explanation of the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used in a conflict between US backed forces and Russia:
On little notice to Americans, the Russians learned at the end of the first Gulf War that they couldn’t—they didn’t think they could deal with the United States, given the value and the quality of American precision conventional weapons. The Russians put into their doctrine a statement, and have broadcast it very loudly, that if the United States were to use precision conventional weapons against Russian troops, the Russians would be forced to respond with tactical nuclear weapons. They continue to state this. They practice this in their exercise. They’ve even had exercises that very closely paralleled what went on in Ossetia, where there was an independence movement, they intervene conventionally to put down the independence movement, the United States and NATO responds with conventional air strikes, they then respond with tactical nuclear weapons.
The US has itself climbed on the unbelievable nuclear aggression bandwagon. In 2002 as part of the "War on Terror" the US withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty we said in order to develop this insane missile defense system planned to be deployed in Europe. Also to develop new nuclear weapons. Finally, on August 20th of this year, after the US signed the deal to put the missile defense shield in Poland, Russia's foreign ministry said that Russia's response to this if it goes forward will "go beyond diplomacy."
And in the middle of this is Condoleeza Rice saying at the missile shield deal in Poland that "Freedom can be denied for a while, but it cannot be denied forever." Sounds right from the "War on Terror" playbook, "they hate us 'cause we're free." She was apparently baffled at Vladimir Putin's announcement of ceasing the arms control treaty over fears of the ABM shield saying he reaction was "bizarre." From the prior encounter in 2007 between "Russian expert" Rice and Moscow in Der Spiegel:
"Rice, speaking before Putin's speech, dismissed Russian concerns that the missile shield could pose a threat to Russia, calling the idea 'ludicrous.' She also accused the Russians of being stuck in a Cold War mentality -- even as she herself mistakenly referred to Russia as 'Soviet.'"
It appears that the phantasmagorical zeitgeist of the cold war is still looming over the Earth. And with diplomacy like this, with policy like this, I think it could possibly still mean nuclear war.