Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Gaza slaughter in pictures

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The Gaza slaugther in pictures (click)

Images of Lebanon back to haunt the world; courtesy of a killer rogue nation?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ha ha! Bush the Artful Dodger

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Ha ha! Bush the Artful Dodger

See Knock-out Video here, click

Gabriele Zamparini
the Cat's Blog

December 15, 2008

When Muntazer al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, shouted, "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" to Bush and threw him his shoes during a news conference in Baghdad, the curtain of hypocrisy fell and the ugly emperor stood naked in front of the world.

Those shoes however were not aimed only to a man who should be - by his own standards - hanged, together with his entire junta of mass murderers; the Iraqi hero hit to the face all those responsible for the Iraq genocide and its ongoing denial; an endless army of politicians, diplomats, generals, businessmen, journalists, intellectuals and pimps who've helped to carry out the crime of the century. Shoes for all!

Shoes for the United Nations that instead of protecting one of its members from the supreme international crime that organization has been founded to prevent, collaborated with the occupation and its crimes.

Shoes also for the lib-left intelligentsia, the anti-war movement's politburo, the human rights paladins and the court of eunuchs who have worked as gatekeeper of dissent and helped to sell the products of the crime of the century; the supporters of the "political process", of the sectarian Quisling government, of the militias of drillers and all those who rejoiced for the capture and lynching of Saddam Hussein and his government. Shoes for all!

Shoes for Human Rights Watch that contributed to the propaganda campaign that made possible the invasion of Iraq, rejoiced and praised the US occupation for the capture of its president and still keep denying the Iraq genocide.

Shoes for Iraq Body Count that's made possible the denial of the Iraq genocide by its perpetrators and their propaganda apparatus.

A shoe also for Juan Cole; in his Informed Comment blog the Western anti-war movement's icon and Middle East "expert" presented the al-Zaidi's heroic act juxtaposing two BBC articles:

If you search shoes and Iraq, here is how Google shows two BBC stories on December 14, five years apart (they came up together like this at the top of my search):

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iraqis celebrate Saddam capture
Dec 14, 2003 ... women ululated and crowds beat pictures of Saddam with shoes. ... where the Saddam statue was toppled at the end of the war, ... - 46k

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Shoes thrown at Bush on Iraq trip
Dec 14, 2008 ... President Bush's farewell visit to Iraq is marred by an incident in which two shoes are thrown at him during a news conference. - 8 hours ago

It's really a pity that Cole couldn't find a third BBC article about shoes on Google, The day Saddam's statue fell:

"Down, down, Saddam," said one man, frenziedly interrupting my piece to camera so we should see him use his shoe to repeatedly strike the face of the statue, which had come down a few moments earlier.

Of course in that case even Juan Cole should have explained (to) his readers that that event, the pulling down of Saddam Hussein's statue, was a staged media event organized by the US occupation and its stooges...

Appalling, even for Western propaganda's standards. Appalling but not surprising. It was Juan Cole after all who supported and then justified the vicious military campaign against Fallujah, "there were very bad characters there".

It was Juan Cole who helped to sell the lynching of the legitimate president of Iraq even a few hours before that horror show took place.

Appalling but not surprising; Juan Cole has always been biased against the Sunni Iraqi community and helped to sell his readers the New Iraq.

Back to the brave Iraqi journalist Montadhar Al-Zaydi; he has shown to the world the emperor is naked. He's been now taken hostage in his own country by the sectarian Quisling government of the Green Zone. Not only should he be released immediately; he must be honoured by any decent human being as a hero.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Condi Rice takes to her heels in Auckland

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Condi Rice takes to her heels in Auckland

There was chanting, speeches and an impressive US flag burning outside Government House where Rice was meeting with prime minister Helen Clark and foreign affairs minister Winston Peters. The speeches focused on Rice's support for the illegal and immoral war in Iraq, as well as the wider and more nonsensical 'War on Terror'; her sanctioning of torture and instrumental role in setting up Guantanamo Bay; and on what a bad idea a free trade agreement with the US would be. Then the crowd relocated to the Langham Hotel, where Rice met with leader of the parliamentary opposition, John Key.

Auckland University Students Association had to withdraw the bounty it placed on the head of Condoleezza Rice two days earlier, under threat of legal action. However, the students association at Victoria University in Wellington doubled the price, offering $10,000 for a successful citizen's arrest. Although several people turned up to the demo with handcuffs, the chance to nab Rice didn't present itself. Police refused to cooperate in the arrest of this war criminal, giving the irrelevant excuse that she is a visiting dignitary.

Police had planned to limit protest at the Langham hotel by keeping protesters on the opposite side of the road, behind shiny new barricades that had obviously been bought specially for the occasion. What they hadn't planned for was a busload of protesters being dropped off at the bus stop outside the hotel. After fifteen minutes of chanting and yelling by protestors, the police claimed that standing on the public footpath outside the hotel, was a 'safety risk.' When protesters refused to leave, the police violently forced them off the sidewalk and out onto the road. Protesters were shoved, punched and thrown to the street and pain compliance holds used on several protesters to get them to move. Several were punched in the face, including veteran activist John Minto who was shoved to the ground by several officers, smashing and breaking the megaphone he was chanting through. Two protesters were arrested and one man was left bleeding from the neck and wrist.

Monday, November 24, 2008

GW: The big bully of the class

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GW VIDEO: Nobody will shake hands with the big bully of the class

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes we can, yes we did!

Yes we can, yes we did!

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Hey! That's my Ferrari!!

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Hey! That's my Ferrari!!

A mysterious blonde paid a visit to a petrol station shop in the small eastern German town of Doemitz on Sunday-wearing nothing but a pair of golden stilettos and a thin gold bracelet.

The tall, slender woman strolled into the shop in the town of Doemitz on the warm afternoon and bought cigarettes, petrol station employee Ines Swoboda told Reuters on Monday.

"I wasn't surprised because she's come in naked before -- she's a very nice woman," Swoboda said, adding none of the other customers were bothered. The woman could have faced charges of creating a public disturbance if anyone had complained.

A quick-witted customer did, however, snap pictures of the woman believed to be about 30 years old as she walked back to a waiting Ferrari and climbed into the passenger seat. Several of those photos appeared in the German media on Monday.

Between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi

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Between Tskhinvali and Tbilisi

TSKHINVALI, Georgia — It is not easy for Ireya Alborova to root through the events that cracked this city in half, but one small bright memory stands out from 1989, when she glanced at the building across the street from her high school and spotted a flag.
Ireya Alborova lived in Tskhinvali, in the South Ossetian enclave in Georgia, until 2001. She returned for a visit last month.

Ms. Alborova, talking with friends, grew up in a family of Georgians and Ossetians. Mixed families were common in Tskhinvali until the Soviet Union collapsed, and nationalism swelled.

It was a small Georgian flag, fixed in an attic window. Ms. Alborova was an unruly 15-year-old, preoccupied with her friends and her classes, and she took it in — a small piece of information — and kept walking. But now she thinks of it as the first signal of what was coming.

Most of the world now knows what happened: South Ossetians and Georgians began a drawn-out war to control this sleepy valley, where the main feature is a road that cuts through the Caucasian ridge into Russia. That flared into a global standoff last month, when Georgia pounded Tskhinvali, the capital of the South Ossetian enclave, with rocket fire and Russian troops poured across the border in response.

But for Ms. Alborova’s family, which is partly Georgian but wound up on the Ossetian side of the conflict, the crucial event took place during the last months of the Soviet Union, when the fabric of a multiethnic society tore apart with breathtaking speed. For the past 18 years, in a city encircled by Georgian positions, the family and its neighbors have been reliving the rifts and betrayals of that period.

Her Aunt Fuza’s neighbor, a Georgian woman, crossed ethnic lines to pass on a warning that an attack on Ossetians was planned — and then disappeared. A checkpoint appeared between Tskhinvali and her mother’s ancestral village, cutting the Alborovas off from their Georgian relatives. Construction suddenly halted on a huge supermarket being built near their apartment 18 years ago, and not a day’s work has been done since then.

Its foundation was eventually picked apart to build trenches. And the citizens of Tskhinvali became a resistance.

“It’s not a question of whether you choose to or not,” said Ms. Alborova, who is now 34 and lives in Toulouse, France. “Sometimes you are obliged. In some situations you don’t choose anything.”

Tskhinvali is a city of low-slung, sand-colored buildings suspended between urban and rural life. Roosters crow in the cool of the morning, and almost every house has its own grape arbor, used to make sweet pink wines that are stored in plastic soda bottles and brought out for the slightest occasion. There were also monumental Stalinist-era apartment buildings where the elite lived, and a grand neoclassical theater.

Ms. Alborova practically grew up in that theater. Her mother, Medeya, was Georgian. (Though her mother’s mother had been Ossetian, children in the Caucasus take their father’s ethnicity.) Medeya met Gelim Alborov in a state folk dancing troupe, and when they married in the 1970s, unions of Georgians and Ossetians were still unremarkable.

To a teenager’s eyes, the two ethnic groups were woven together inextricably. Children in Ms. Alborova’s class were given their choice of language for classroom use, and though most of them were Ossetian, 28 out of 32 opted to study Georgian.

“Our teacher was embarrassed,” Ms. Alborova said. “No one wanted to learn Ossetian.”

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, some 50 miles to the southeast, Georgia’s first post-Soviet leader was emerging. Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a longtime anti-Soviet dissident, based his campaign for the presidency on a vaulting Georgian nationalism — an idea powerful enough to fill the vacuum left by Communism’s collapse.

The platform, known as Georgia for the Georgians, cast ethnic Georgians, who made up 70 percent of the population, as the country’s true masters. Mr. Gamsakhurdia derided South Ossetians as newcomers, saying they had arrived only 600 years ago and as tools of the Soviet Union.

On the street in Tskhinvali, small changes began to appear.

Ms. Alborova’s aunt was exasperated to go to the store and see that pasta manufactured in Russia had been put in packages labeled with Georgian script. Her neighbor Emma Gasiyeva kept hearing slogans: “Brush them out with a broom!” and “Who are the guests, and who are the hosts?” a reference to the theory that Ossetians had been brought to the area as agricultural workers.

In 1989, Ms. Alborova was 15, and she saw only shadows. She heard that her Georgian classmates were gathering for some kind of meeting, but she was not invited. “They stopped talking to us,” she said of her Georgian neighbors. “It was done very quickly.”

Over the next three years, Tskhinvali became something like Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The government in Tbilisi established Georgian as the country’s principal language, enraging the Ossetians, whose first two languages were Russian and Ossetian. A few months later, more than 10,000 Georgian demonstrators were transported to Tskhinvali in buses and encircled the city, until they were repelled by Ossetian irregulars and Soviet troops. A true war began in 1991, when thousands of Georgian soldiers entered Tskhinvali. The city was shelled almost nightly from the Georgian-held highlands, and Medeya Alborova recalls holding pillows over her teenage daughters’ heads, as if that could protect them.

When Mrs. Alborova got to Tbilisi to see her relatives, it was like stepping into a parallel universe. She sat with them watching news on Georgian television, as the announcer recited a litany of crimes committed by Ossetians against Georgians. At times, she said, she was not sure she was on the right side of the conflict.

But the years made all of them harder. Even after a cease-fire in 1992, Tskhinvali was isolated from the Georgian territory around it, and accounts of atrocities against Ossetians — rapes and grisly killings — circulated endlessly.

Mothers, who wield enormous power in this society, urged their sons to fight.

But Ms. Alborova found a way to leave, through a scholarship to study in France. She arrived in Toulouse in 2001 and took in the town with amazement; people were so focused on pleasure. She replayed her memories from Tskhinvali, sealed off from the bright world that surrounded her.

“I understood that I had lost 10 years of my life,” she said.

Ms. Alborova returned to Tskhinvali on Aug. 24 with butterflies in her stomach. She had expected physical damage, and it was there: bullet holes pockmarked virtually every building. But what surprised her were the people. Not many of them were left, and those who remained seemed damaged.

Soon after her return, Ms. Alborova was taken aback when a friend asked her if she could kill President Mikheil Saakashvili if he were standing in front of her. A family friend, who greeted Ms. Alborova affectionately on Karl Marx Street, turned icy when asked about Georgians.

“They have poison in their blood,” said the woman, Katya Kharebova, 60.

Many in Tskhinvali say they would welcome the return of their Georgian neighbors. Still, it is difficult to imagine how long it will be before these people will live together again, much less intermarry. When history sets down the consequences of what happened on Aug. 7, the death of a neighborhood will not be recorded.

Indeed, in 20 years, it may be hard to find Georgians and Ossetians in this area who can talk to each other at all. Ms. Alborova’s nieces, who live in Russia with her sister, are the first generation of her family that does not speak Georgian. Her mother shrugged, when asked about it.

“Who’s going to teach them?” she asked.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sarah Palin for President

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Sarah Palin for President

In a classic example of self-sabotage ~ John McCain has just disqualified himself from serious consideration for the Presidency with his irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate to the extent that this Republican ticket is not only being laughed at but openly ridiculed ~ especially by women.

John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin raises an important question of not only McCain's intelligence but also his emotional stability at his age of 72.

Peter Wallsten, The Los Angeles Times asks the same question " For a candidate known to possess a quick temper and an unpredictable political streak, the decision raises questions about how McCain would lead ~ whether his decisions would flow from careful deliberations or gut checks in which short-term considerations or feelings outweigh the long view."

Some important questions need to be asked now ~

1. How closely did John McCain vet this choice ?

He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position. " McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008;id=13661-1736303-WOZKpzx&t=8

2. How do the Alaskans feel about McCain's choice ~ particularly women ?

She is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the US in the volatile international scene that exists today. Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

She is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She's a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska. Christine B., Denali Park, AK

As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be. Karen L., Anchorage, AK

Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position. Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She's vehemently anti-choice and doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. Marina L., Juneau, AK

I think she's far too inexperienced to be in this position. I'm all for a woman in the White House, but not one who hasn't done anything to deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John McCain's part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume he'll get our vote by putting "A Woman" in that position.Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

Finally, Katha Pollitt, The Nation, sums up why Palin is the wrong person for the job ~ " Here's the reality: Palin is a rightwing-christian anti-choice extremist who opposes abortion for any reason whasoever, except to save the life of the girl or woman. No exception even for rape, incest, or the health of the woman. No exception for a ten-year-old, a woman carrying a fetus with no chance of life, a woman on the edge of suicide-- let alone the woman who is not ready to be a parent, who is escaping domestic violence, who is already stretched to the limit as a single mother. She wants to force over one million women and girls a year to give birth against their will and judgment. She wants to use the magnificent freedom the women's movement has won for her at tremendous cost and struggle ~ the movement that won her the right to run those marathons and run Alaska ~ to take away the freedom of every other woman in the country.

So, McCain has apparently disqualified himself from serious consideration for President by underestimating the intelligence of not only Republicans but women in particular ~ which leaves him fair game for the ridicule which is now following his grizzly error.

Here is Bill Mayer having a field day with the McCain / Palin ticket as seen in this five minute clip ~


Allen L Roland

Freelance Online columnist and psychotherapist. Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( )

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Counterbalancing a uni-polar world

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Counterbalancing a Uni-polar World

The Trilateral Commission was founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller as an off-shoot of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). David Rockefeller was chairman of the CFR in 1970 and subsequently became the founding chairman of the Trilateral Commission. Soon the membership of the Commission had grown to 300 members, including prominent political figures like Zbigniew Brzezinski. Most members of the Trilateral Commission are bankers, media moguls, or corporate CEOs, primarily from North America, Europe and Japan, while all members of the CFR are U.S. Citizens.

The Commission seeks to extend its influence abroad and is careful to avoid the scrutiny of congressional investigations. The CFR on the other hand, focuses on the control of American media.

When American media discuss globalism, they rarely mention that the Trilateral Commission sets most global economic goals, primary among them being the creation of a one-world system of trade. It is basically a form of fascism in which global corporations and their elite CEOs determine the policies and direction of world governments. The creation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank after World War II was intended to encourage Third World countries to borrow money from wealthy nations, so long as they agreed to the imposition of a wide range of “structural adjustment policies.” Any nation borrowing money from either organization would not be allowed to nationalize its natural resources and would be unable to prevent foreign corporations from buying or controlling those resources.

Shortly before World War II, Hjalmer Schacht, a German banker, toured the United States soliciting American corporate support for Hitler’s new fascist state. U.S. corporations not only agreed to support Germany against the socialist economic system of the Soviet Union, but also declared their opposition to the strong labor movement arising in the United States and Europe.

General Motors was prominent among the corporations that supported the Nazi government, investing $20 million in industries owned or controlled by Herman Goering and other Nazi officials. Other US multinational corporations that profited from and supported Hitler’s industrial war machine included General Electric, Standard Oil, Texaco, International Harvester, ITT and IBM. Today, Standard Oil of New York is unabashed in honoring its chemical cartel that manufactured Zyklon-B, the poison gas used by the Nazi gas chambers. (1)

Among the eminent business leaders backing these multinational corporations were the Rockefellers and Prescott Bush, father of George Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush. Prescott Bush worked with his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, in the family firm Union Banking Corporation to raise $50 million for the Nazi government by selling German bonds to American investors from 1924 to 1930.

Even though the United States helped to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II, many of the powerful elite families continued to support Hitler’s fascist ideology after the war. John Rockefeller III was an uncritical believer in the doctrine of Thomas Robert Malthus, who claimed that population always increased at a geometric rate while food supply increased at the slower arithmetic rate. Malthus therefore concluded that population growth had to be rigidly controlled. Today, his theory is widely criticized for failing to take into account the vast technological advances in agriculture and food production.

Rockefeller also accepted Hitler’s concept of an Aryan race, leading him to propose population control on the poor and people of color, whom he believed were producing children of inferior intelligence. In an effort to support such views, the Rockefeller family became involved with Eugenics, a fascist doctrine that advocated breeding a superior race by eliminating the mentally ill, physically handicapped, and racially inferior.

During the 1920’s, anthropologist Franz Boaz helped to combat racial prejudice more than any of his contemporaries. Following in his steps was his young protégé, Margaret Mead, who went on to establish that nurture, not nature, was the primary determinant of human health and mental development. Their work showed that Eugenics was based on ideology, not science. The legitimate science of genetics emerged from the ashes of Eugenics, but even today, many geneticists are members of Eugenics societies.

Despite the demise of Eugenics, the theory of over-population remains a common political argument. It has been suggested by Henry Kissinger, a stout member of the Trilateral Commission, that countries that do not control their population should suffer sanctions and the human misery that accompanies them.

The US Congress has supported these early population concepts introduced by Rockefeller’s Foundation. In March 1970, Congress set up a “Commission on Population Growth and the American Future.” The commission included representatives from USAID, the State Department, and the Department of Agriculture, but CIA and Pentagon officials drew up the agenda. “Their objectives were not to assist developing countries, but as promoted by the Trilateral Commission, to curb world population with a view to serving US strategic and national security interests,” notes author Michel Chossudovsky.(2)

In 2007, more than 100 million tons of grain were used to make ethanol, which contributed to high global food prices and subsequent hunger and starvation. During this same year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stated that there had been a record grain harvest, suggesting that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. Indeed, over the last twenty years, food production has risen steadily at over two percent a year, while the rate of population growth has dropped to 1.4 percent a year. Access to food should be viewed as a fundamental human right, but corporations regard it only as a commodity to be sold for profit. No amount of technological progress or increase in food production can overcome corporate greed. The corporations ignore basic human needs, seeking to control world resources by encouraging the US government to build more and more military bases around the world. Presently, the US has 1000 such bases.

Under the Clinton administration, Yugoslavia was dismembered in order to advance American interests. In particular, the former Serbian province of Kosovo was occupied by U.S. troops in order to build Camp Bondsteel, among the largest military bases ever created by the United States. It will double as Kosovo’s largest prison, where prisoners can be held indefinitely without charges and without defense attorneys.(3)

Another major reason for building Camp Bondsteel was to provide protection for an oil pipeline to be built to the Caspian Sea. The Caspian holds some 50 billion gallons of oil, tempting foreign intervention in the Balkans. In an attempt to control Caspian oil, NATO and US troops have been sent to the Georgia.

As Latin America asserts its independence from the odious Monroe Doctrine, its progressive leaders face increasing American pressure and overt threats. These new leaders no longer rely on the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic have become members of the Bolivian Alternative for Latin America. This organization emphasizes local energy development and has become the bank of the South. This bank will not operate as a profit driven institution, but as a financial organization that will consider the economic needs of each borrower country.

In an effort to break up this new political organization in Latin America, the US has provided six billion dollars to Alvaro Uribe, President of Columbia, with the understanding that a US military base would follow. The base would be placed in La Guay, a region spanning Northeast Columbia and Northwest Venezuela, a clear threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.

As in the Caucasus and Latin America, Africa is faced with American military expansion through AFRICOM. AFRICOM is the acronym for the US military command post planned for Sub-Sahara Africa. As pointed out by the members of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), AFRICOM will infringe on the rights of African states and will violate international law that protects the sovereignty of nations. African leaders are well aware that AFRICOM is intended to exploit Africa’s national resources.

It has become increasingly clear that the US military has been stretched thin, with insufficient forces to fight simultaneous wars and maintain the vast military bases it is establishing around the world. Responding to this problem, Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, and Vice President Dick Cheney have turned to private military forces. Blackwater, a well-paid mercenary army, has become the world’s most powerful private military corporation. Troops for Blackwater are recruited from countries like the Philippines, Nepal, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Chili. Some 60 former commandos have been recruited from the remnants of the army of former Chilean dictator Augusta Pinochet. They now serve as part of Blackwater’s fighting forces. Other mercenary armies available to the highest bidder include Amo Group, Eunyo, Hart Security, and the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI). (4)

In early August 1995, under former President Clinton, the MPRI mercenaries were sent to Croatia to train and assist the Croatian military in expelling ethnic Serbs from their villages in the Krajina, an area in Croatia.

American military bases are proliferating around the world like mushrooms. Among the more recent are the bases in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Pakistan, India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.(5) New bases are presently under construction in Eurasia along the borders of Russia and in areas close to China. The earlier Clinton Doctrine proclaimed that the United States has the unilateral right to use military force to protect markets and resources. Author Michael Swank says the Clinton Doctrine is taken for granted today. He explains, “With markets and resources we have a right to make sure that we control them, which is logical on the principle that we own the world anyway so of course we have that right.” (6)

Dr. Sheldon Wolin, emeritus professor of politics at Princeton University, states that under George Bush the United States has finally achieved an official ideology of imperial expansion comparable to that of Nazi Germany.(7)

The US policy of dividing up countries like Yugoslavia has caused concern in the Middle East, Russia and China. Today, Russia is well aware that the US and NATO hope to divide Russia into three regions, as described in Zbigniew Bryzinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard: Western Russia would be integrated into Europe; Siberia would be separated from Russia; and the Asian republics would be given independence. Both Russia and China are concerned about the relentless expansion of NATO toward their borders.

The military bases spread out over the world have done very little to aid the growth of markets for the US. Taxpayer money funds not only America’s military bases, but the corporations that run them. The current economic depression and the steadily growing public debt, now exceeding nine trillion dollars, has harmed the US social infrastructure in areas like public education and health care. It has also caused the US to lose its competitiveness in manufacturing products to meet civilian needs. Simultaneously, the US has lost international markets to China, India, Russia, and some EU countries.

On June 15, 2001, China, Russia and four of their central Asian neighbors, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, established the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a new regional group pursuing security and cooperation. The SCO is gaining influence internationally as more and more nations seek to join the group. Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran and India hold observer status, and nations as diverse as Bangladesh, Belarus, Nepal and the Philippines have expressed interest in affiliating with the SCO. (8)

Yevgeny Primakov, head of Russian trade and industry, has declared that the global economy no longer has a single undisputed leader. Russia and China, under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, have worked to create a multi-polar world.

In May, 2008, Russia hosted the first meeting of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), bringing together four nations that are home to forty percent of humanity and representing the fastest growing emerging economies in the world. BRIC is being built on the foundation of a successful trilateral collaboration known as RIC (Russia, India and China).

Anthony Ling, managing director of Goldman Sachs International, noting the rising power of the four BRIC countries, characterizes them as “the new economic tigers.” The US is now lagging behind them in terms of the percentage of energy companys world wide. (9)

The new economic power exercised by BRIC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has created a new balance in world politics. The SCO has fostered economic and investment cooperation, including joint projects in the fuel and energy sectors, agriculture, and other spheres. The nations within the SCO have established relations with international bodies, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), and the Islamic Conference.

In October, 2007, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), consisting of the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhatan, Ky7rgistan, Russia, and Tajikistan signed an agreement with the SCO to broaden cooperation on issues of security, crime, and drug trafficking. The major purpose of this agreement was to reaffirm that all participating states will be protected from the foreign threats. “Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states, while aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.”(10) The CSTO, an observer organization of the United Nations, offered aid and assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, but NATO refused, indicating that they would rely instead on an expanded military presence. (11)

Russia and China feel that their union with SCO, CSTO and BRIC proves that a uni-polar world is out of date, and that a multi-polar world, based on cooperation and mutual support rather than competition and intimidation, will become the world’s standard.

Congratulations Obama... but I worry.

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Congratulations Obama... but I worry.

Well, Obama has just won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and there may be quite some, that'll love to drive a knife through his back. I consider recent events a dress rehearsal-flying a kite, as Americans are wont to say. We are being sensitized for some major event in the course of American history, I smell so much gun powder. The charismatic Senator from Illinois, just made history and Jessie Jackson wasn't part of it but look how 'you-can't-say-I-did-it' sweet the Clintons are. The man, Jessie, let his pettiness exclude him from history as Hillary made cock-sure her name glowed in legend. Don't think it, say it-JEALOUS! Worked all my life towards that apex and some toddler crawls out of the woodwork...

A lot of people uncertain about Obama do know, deep in their hearts, come what may, there'll probably never be another like him. That there are interesting times ahead for America. In so many ways, I'm happy for him, happy for America... but sad. Sad because I worry. I worry for Obama's longevity and I worry for America's unpredictability.

Still, I pray that Obama gets it right, for America to heal itself... now just sit back and listen to Bill Clinton's taste-the-sugar speech.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Morality of Power Politics

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The Morality of Power Politics; between a political buffoon and realpolitik

About a year ago, the Bush administration and the neocon babble-ocracy began touting Vladimir Putin as America's next Man We Love to Hate. This is odd, since by nearly all standards, Mr. Putin is the most successful neocon on the planet. Or perhaps it's jealousy. Since taking power in 2000, Mr. Putin's Russia has dodged chaos, seen its GDP increase six-fold, its poverty fall by half, average monthly real wages rise by 150% and, with the invasion of Georgia, demonstrated to the world that it can no longer be baited, humiliated or ignored without consequences.

In politics, international politics especially, the standard is not perfection, it's the alternative. Putin's no Stalin, either at home or abroad. Nor is he the new tsar. He's a Russian authoritarian, in some ways an autocrat, who is leaving his country better than he found it.

Would that the accomplishments of Mr. Bush and his (and Rupert Murdoch's) neocon minions and shills might receive the same evaluation. But they can't. Mr. Bush will go down in history as our worst president ever in terms of what he squandered, and among the worst in terms of criminality. The neocons have been proven wrong so often that, were they physicians or attorneys or plumbers, they'd have their licenses revoked. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is currently the most successful leader around and in one very important way, among the most moral and humane.

For in power politics, it is extremely moral to know when to stop and profoundly immoral to posture and preen and make promises you can't keep and issue threats you can't back up.

We shall return to Mr. Putin in a bit. For now, it's necessary to review neoconservatism in its American context, then show why and how they've brought us only ruin...while Russia begins a resurgence that, if properly understood and acknowledged, can only benefit the world.

The present generation of American neocons believes, like many of us, that America is the greatest country on earth. To them, however, the greatest country on earth has to have an empire and a Purpose sufficient to justify whatever we want to do. In fact, for them, without a Mission, America isn't even America. Let's go thump someone and call it spreading democracy, "benevolent hegemony" or whatever. It'll be great fun and they'll thank us later. Or so the neocons told us.

American neocons have a long relationship with Russia, a viscerally hostile relationship that goes back to the Cold War. Sadly, it's a relationship they'd like to revive, now that Saddam's no longer available, Osama's gone missing and bombing Iran lacks popular sizzle.

It's a hostility few Americans have ever shared. Throughout the 20th century, the vast majority of Americans believed that we had no beef (or borscht) with Russia per se, and certainly not with its people. When the Romanov monarchy collapsed in 1917, we cheered Russia's ascent to democracy...and then did nothing to help. When the Bolsheviks took power, we began eighty years of proclaiming that Russia was not the problem. All they had to do was get rid of communism and everything between us would be copasetic. After all, we'd never fought each other (few Americans today know that we landed troops in the Russian far east in 1918, ostensibly and ineffectually to aid Bolshevism's enemies, and kept them there for two years). We'd even been allies during World War II. Nor did we have any obvious geographical or economic conflicts. It was just that darn Communism.

The American neocon movement was born in the aftermath of Vietnam. Its founding generation was composed largely of former liberals and Leftists, even a few cafeteria Trotskyites. Some had drifted away from communism in horror at the excesses of the 1930s, or during the 1950s when the full extent of those excesses began to be known. Many were conventional liberals who broke with the Old Left over Vietnam, which they supported, and with the New Left, whose anti-Vietnam antics they found frivolous, self-centered, self-righteous and self-interested. The neocon movement coalesced during the Carter administration and attained its first real influence during the Reagan years.

The neocons were not traditional conservatives. Some remained unrepentant New Dealers, when they bothered to consider domestic issues at all. They were primarily Manhattan and Beltway types, heavily Jewish, with little use for the "paleocons"-the Old Guard William F. Buckley crowd and Die Hard segregationists, or with the rising Sunbelt evangelicals. The paleocons and Sunbelt types, for their part, returned the sentiment.

The movement came of age with Ronald Reagan and it had but one overriding purpose: win the Cold War. A few senior neocons, such as movement "Godfather" Irving Kristol, took a broader view.

His stated purpose was "to convert the Republican Party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy." But foreign policy was always Job One, and the senior neocons included hard liners such as Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington and Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, both Democratic Senators, as well as former Democrat Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Ambassador to the UN under the Reagan Administration. The bipartisan nature of these elder neocons made them very useful to Ronald Reagan, who wisely never got in bed with them, instead keeping them at a distance. As he used to say, "Sometimes the Right hand doesn't know what the Far Right hand is doing." But in private, he and his senior advisers would tell the neocons, "We need you to hold our feet to the fire."

The elder neocons and, increasingly, their junior clique (many of whom were children of the founding generation) were happy to do so. This is because neocons like to play with fire, especially when it's other people getting burned. Throughout the 80s, they agitated incessantly for military action, covert and overt, against the Soviets in places like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola, Afghanistan. They were not always wrong.

When Ronald Reagan came to power, most Americans accepted the "mature Cold War" as a permanent fact of international life. This acceptance was based on the perceived realities of Soviet military power. But it was also based on the belief, carefully nurtured by the Soviets and the American academics and CIA types who studied them, that material life was getting continually better for the average Russian.

How nearly everybody got it exactly backwards is a fascinating story in itself. Suffice it to say: Ronald Reagan did not.

His strategy was cold, it was clear, it was thoughtful and purposeful, and it was very definitely his own. Reagan knew intuitively that the Soviet Union was tottering. But he did not want to fight the Soviets, he wanted to bring them to the negotiating table. To that end, he used little, if any, overt force against the Soviet Union. Instead, he developed what in Pentagonese was known as "competitive strategies." In plain English, this meant, "Spend 'em to death." Reagan's aim was to force the Soviet Union to spend money, allocate resources, and occupy technical talent that they either had better use for elsewhere or didn't have. (The best Soviet scientists and engineers were world-class, but they had no real depth, no bench strength.) Supporting the mujahedin in Afghanistan was one way to deplete them. The Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars-perhaps the most successful weapons system never built or intended to be built-was another.

In short, Ronald Reagan walked the Soviets up to the edge of an economic abyss of their own making, then let them ponder what a revived competition with the United States would mean. Mikhail Gorbachev got the message. He wanted "Perestroika," or "restructuring." He got collapse.

And then we broke our word, which was not so much a set of firm promises as the word that had underlain our attitude toward Russia since 1917. Get rid of communism, call off the global offensive, we'll be friends. We'll even help.

But we didn't. Instead, we pushed them toward their present angry stance. And that is hard to forgive.

We said the right things, from time to time. But as we'd done with Vietnam and Afghanistan, we lost interest and walked away. We got attached to telegenic "celebrities" like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, which was a huge mistake. When they left power, we lost our frame of reference and were unable to sense the positive qualities of other leaders, such as the late General Alexander Lebed. When Russia's early experiments in democracy segued into anarchy, we shrugged it off. We sent them humanitarian aid, not troubling ourselves too much when it mostly ended up on the black market.

We even sent them Ivy League economists to screw up what was left of their economy by advocating extraordinarily premature privatization. Whole industries were looted or otherwise acquired by well-placed apparatchiks, former communists who'd printed up new business cards, while inflation soared. Both economic and political problems in the former Soviet Union were compounded by the fact that for generations, private business was a crime and "profit" was itself a criminal concept. The result was that criminal penetration of legitimate business activities is pervasive and profound; while organized crime in Russia became a huge business-and we didn't particularly care. If anything, trying to get a handle on organized crime kept the Russians busy. And we were pleased when some of the former Soviet Socialist Republics declared independence (like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) or tried to do so (like Chechnya and Dagestan). We could hardly disguise our glee when the Russian Army almost came apart in the First Chechen War.

Democracy, as the neocons liked to gloat, was a' bustin' out all over.

If we'd given a damn, we would have tried to understand this regional fragmentation from their point of view-a point of view that predated communism by five hundred years. If we'd given a damn, we would have helped, seriously helped, the Russians get their economic house in order before making any but the most basic political reforms. We would have understood that a nation with no democratic heritage and no functioning middle class had to go through some messy times, and could not do so on our timetable. We would have understood that a Vladimir Putin had to emerge-because the alternative was worse.

For that matter, if we'd ever cared about our own real greatness, we might have helped the Russians get their own house in order. But America's policy elites totally wasted the 90s with narcissistic navel-gazing. America needed a Purpose, and helping the Russians just wasn't sexy enough. So they were assigned their role in America's New World Order-pathetic, impotent basket case and object lesson-and we left it at that. We had the rest of the planet to play with.

And so the politics of feeling good about yourself came to dominate post-Cold War foreign policy. The "America's Purpose" debate of the 1990s must rank as proof of both the inherent idiocy and the inevitable failure of defining the world as a place for us to administer or save. On one side were the liberal "Muscular Humanitarians," not averse to using force provided we did it "selflessly." On the other were the neocons, the "America's Greatness" crowd, casting about for a lifelong crisis worthy of what they deemed their literary and political talents. They-the younger generation of neocons, especially-had no problem with Madeleine Albright, Clinton's secretary of state, when she asked Colin Powell, "What's the point of having an army if you don't use it?" Indeed, they answered the question General Powell was too furious to address. The neocon response: Let's use force-to turn the Arab world into good little American knock-offs, for starters. And ever since 1991, we've been using our muscle on behalf of Muslims: in Kuwait, in Somalia, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, in Iraq.

In Iran?

But what of Russia?

While we were nattering about America's Purpose and getting into war after war, the Russians were slowly putting their internal house in order. But we saw only corruption and crime, suppression and incompetence...when we bothered to look at all. And when we weren't ignoring or dismissing them, we were humiliating them. When the Cold War ended, we congratulated ourselves on how we were too decent to gloat. But we didn't bother to consider the cumulating humiliations we then inflicted upon them both by our indifference and our policies toward others.

We ostentatiously built bases and signed agreements with nations of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. We got bases in Uzbekistan and Kirghizstan in order to access Afghanistan, which we actually occupy, and have emergency landing rights in Kazakhstan that go beyond international treaties requiring any airport to offer landing rights to any aircraft in distress. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization established in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union, now found itself without a purpose. So, with American blessing and prodding, NATO began an aggressive Drang nach Osten, moving eastward toward a nonexistent threat in order to have something to do. Today, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, what used to be East Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are all members of NATO, All except Slovenia, which was part of the former Yugoslavia, were either members of the Warsaw Pact or actually part of the Soviet Union.

And then there was Georgia, still a candidate for membership, along with Ukraine, another former Soviet republic. And today we're busily planning to establish anti-missile systems in these areas, ostensibly to protect Europe from Iranian attack.

We call this expanding democracy and strengthening the "international community." In some ways, it was. But we did it boorishly, rather like a man who flaunts his new mistress in front of her old lover. And we continue to do so today, along with all our threats and admonitions: the empty, ludicrous words of a braggart whose bluff has been called but can't seem to shut up.

The Russians didn't like this militarization of lands near and on their borders. They let us know they didn't like this. They let us know it for a long time, very loudly. That was always the thing about them during the Cold War. If something really bothered them, they let us know, clearly and in a timely manner. This hasn't changed, except-until Georgia-we believed we didn't have to pay attention.

Which brings us to Vladimir Putin, who turns out to be less the Man You Love to Hate than a Russian who intends for his country to be respected...and is prepared to respect us in return. More's the pity that we've given him so little opportunity to do so.

In December 2007, Time Magazine named Putin as "Person of the Year." The magazine described him as "diminutive" (if he is, I'm a supermodel) and "sardonic but humorless. In our hours together, he didn't attempt a joke, and he misread several of our attempts at playfulness." But Time's transcripts of the interview show a man who is unfailingly courteous, even when confronted with outright insolence. Asked if he believed in a Supreme God, Putin replied, "Do you? ... There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease."

Asked how he viewed the relationship with the United States, Putin replied, "Indeed, Russia and the U.S. were allies during the two tragic conflicts of the Second and the First World Wars, which allows us to think there's something objectively bringing us together in difficult times, and I think-I believe-it has to do with geopolitical interests and also has a moral component. ... The ability to compromise is not a diplomatic politeness toward a partner but rather taking into account and respecting your partner's legitimate interests."

Asked for an example, Putin offered the North Korean nuclear issue: "We were thinking about each other's interests and at the same time about the interests of the country in question, the problems, the issues we were trying to address. Based on such an approach, in the end we resolved the issue to a large extent. At the same time, where we fail to be guided by those basic principles, where we push forward some economic or political self-interest, we fail to arrive at solutions that would realistically address the issue. ... Where we try to take into account each other's interest, we achieve lasting results." A back-and-forth exchange between Putin and Time is as follows:

TIME: Do you think the U.S. wants to see a strong Russia, or a weak Russia?
PUTIN: I believe the U.S. already understands and will understand more and more that only a strong Russia will respond to the genuine interests of the United States.

TIME: What is NATO's purpose today? If Russia were invited to join would it do so?

PUTIN: I wouldn't call NATO a putrid corpse of the cold war, but it is a leftover of the past, indeed.... Russia has no intention of joining military-political blocs because that would be tantamount to restricting its sovereignty. But we want to have good relations, both with the U.S. and with other countries, including NATO countries.

Later, after answering a question about chess great and dissident Gary Kasparov's unsuccessful bid for the Presidency, Putin addressed a very large issue: "The bloc system of relations must be replaced by an altogether different system based on common rules that are called international law, and those rules should be strictly abided by. At the end of the day, only this may ensure stability and respect for the interest of small nations and not just large ones and superpowers like the United States."

In a 10,600 word transcript, Putin uses the words interest or interests 23 times. These are not obscurantist subtleties that require a Ph. D. Kremlinologist to interpret. This is a man who has brought his country back from the brink of anarchy, saying in words so plain and simple even a child can understand them, that Russia is a friend and equal of the United States and as such, we must respect their interests-as they respect ours. He was too polite to state the obvious, that it is in the best interests of the United States to respect Russia's interests and that those interests will not be disrespected without consequence. An adult, he did his interviewers the courtesy of assuming they were also adults.

Time Magazine notwithstanding, the US has responded in two ways. First, Putin is increasingly demonized, especially in the Murdoch media apparat. The neocons continue their well-co-ordinated muttering about a new Cold War, and seem quite happy to do so. And why not? For eight years, the Bush administration's acting-out of their fantasies and obsessions have so weakened America, financially and militarily, that only a new threat can justify further expenditures and exertions.

To repeat:

Not so long ago, the neocons wanted Russia to be a basket case, on the verge of famine, corrupt and impotent, so we could have our way in what used to be their empire-and remains their border area. Now, suddenly, the neocons find their resurgence so deliciously alarming that it's already being used as justification for that ultimate indicator of Purpose, increased defense spending.

It's all so obvious, so contrived, so made-to-order, that you feel embarrassed for them.

Russia is never going to be an exemplar of democracy and human rights, no more than Iraq or Afghanistan. But that does not mean that Russia cannot be a decent and humane country. The neocons and the administration do not desire that for Russia, and that is the gravamen of all the verbiage about keeping Russia out of the "international community."

It helped the demonization process that Putin was former KGB. But even if he'd been a former dissident or priest, it wouldn't have mattered. We prefer our Russian leaders evil or, failing that, incompetent. Putin is neither. He is, to borrow a favorite neocon phrase, "tough-minded." And tough-minded people understand that patience is not a limitless virtue.

We brought him to the end of his patience. For a decade, we had been oblivious to Russian humiliation by our ham-handed pursuit of our interests in their own back yard. Then we began to deliberately bait them in a way we would never have dared to do to the old Soviet Union. The final straws were our recognition of Kosovo, part of the former Yugoslavia, as an independent and sovereign state back in February, over both Serbian and Russian protests, the attempt to extend a US anti-ballistic missile shield into the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine, and an offer of membership in NATO to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, a US-supported drama queen of a democracy that was engaged in some very unwise provocations of its own.

In terms of the morality of power politics-a harsh morality that tolerates neither fantasy nor stupidity forever-there are three things wrong with baiting the Russians like this.

First, we didn't just humiliate the Russians; we angered them over their vital interests when there was no reason to. Anger can be very motivating. For over a decade, we humiliated them when they were really in no position to respond. It's when you can't respond that, when you have to just take it, that you are humiliated. When you can engage in the hard, purposeful pleasure of taking action, the humiliation is over. Time's transcript of the Putin interview was read by people who matter in DC-as Putin, a former professional intelligence officer, meant it to be. Putin was saying, clearly and publicly, the time for this nonsense was over; it was time for America to come to an adult understanding of its real interests and act accordingly.

We ignored that message by threatening Russia's very real interests. They didn't like it-they really didn't like it-when former Warsaw Pact nations join NATO, even if it is not quite a putrid corpse. And no one is stupid enough to think that an Iranian missile attack is going to come through Poland or Ukraine. Not even the neocons, and that was a gratuitous insult to Russian intelligence. But offering NATO membership to parts of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia, threatens Russia's right to control its own borders and no nation can tolerate that. Nor should any nation tolerate the hostile and threatening militarization of its neighbors. China didn't in 1950 when US troops approached the Yalu River in Korea. We didn't in 1962 when Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba.

In the end, nations who tolerate threats on their borders pay for it. Israel knows about this. So does the United States with-dare we be honest?-Mexico.

In sum, we have violated a basic tenet of the morality of power politics. Do not threaten the vital interests of others when you yourself have nothing vital to gain. Neither we nor the rest of NATO-including former Warsaw Pact countries like Poland and former Soviet Republics like the Baltics-has anything to gain by admitting Georgia (or Ukraine) to NATO over Russian objections. Rather the opposite. In fact, we've gone out of our way to ignore their positive actions and our commonalities of interest elsewhere. Russia supplies oil and natural gas to Europe and has been quietly very helpful and cooperative to both America and Europe when dealing with terrorism, Islamic and otherwise. Russia could be of enormous help in dealing with the Iranians, if we gave them any reason to be (the Iranians know better than to bait the Russians; doing so to us is safe). Russia also has a dwindling ethnic Russian population and a 2,600 mile border with China, which has a growing population, including a huge surplus of military-age males; in fact, the natural eastern border between Russia and China is the Ussuri River. Nevertheless, Russia holds lands east of the Ussuri, including the major port of Vladivostok, denying China access to the Sea of Japan. Prudent people wonder how long those lands can remain Russian, and the Russians, who are nothing if not prudent, remember the 1969 Ussuri River fighting. Currently, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and Russia have all signed a treaty limiting troops along their borders, but all those nations know that treaties only last as long as they are in the interests of the signatories.

America might also consider that the United States is for the foreseeable future imprudently dependent on oil, and begin cutting deals with Russia as we wean ourselves, first off Middle Eastern oil, then off of oil itself. America and Europe more generally have an enormous amount to gain from cooperating with Russia, and Russia knows very well it has an enormous amount to gain from cooperating with us. In return for infuriating and alienating the Russians the Georgians offer us-what? Two thousand troops whom we have to equip, transport, and train, to maintain the pretense that our Iraq war is really a "coalition" operation.

And then, unforgivably, our encouragement of Mr. Saakashvili's delusions of democracy and NATO membership got ordinary Georgians killed for nothing.

There has never been the slightest chance we would sacrifice Peoria, or anything else, for Georgia. Even if we had the money and conventional military forces available, any American President who would militarily challenge the Russians for part of their own nation would be justifiably considered certifiable. All we did, all we could have done, by offering NATO membership to Georgia, was get Georgians killed-conscripts, women, children, old men. For nothing. Not even in unilateral American interests. All we can do to the Poles by permitting them, as we have, to sign our missile defense treaty, is endanger them-for nothing, not even our own selfish interests. We have no intention of defending them, and this travesty of a treaty can only further convince the Russians (and anyone else who happens to be watching) of our President's lack of basic common sense and decency. At this point, Russian policy makers are probably less angry than deeply concerned about the collective sanity of the Bush Administration.

Of course, the United States is going to be around long after the neocons-who, not content with having wrecked our military and looted our treasury, are apparently trying to alienate our most powerful potential ally-are gone. We're going to have to fix the mess.

So how should we deal with the Russians?

For a start, look at a map. Russia's real enemies are to the south and east, and none of those folks, Chinese or Islamist, wish us well, either. Second, take a page from the Russians. Our foreign and defense policies have to take a back seat to fundamental economic restructuring because it is our wealth that enables us to implement our policies. Then let's start acting like adults: adults make foreign policy based upon a realistic assessment of their interests and capabilities, and the interests and capabilities of those around them. They don't pick fights they can't win and have nothing to gain from, with people who don't want to fight them.

The real world is a nasty place and America needs friends and allies. Why are we making an unnecessary enemy of a power that by all rights, as well as by logic and morality, ought to be our friend?

by Erin Solaro