Tags: russia | georgia | war

Cold War Redux

Monday, 25 Aug 2008 08:29 AM

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“Where do consequences lead? Depends on the escort.”

— Stanislaw Lem

So, Russian forces began to pullout from “parts of Georgia”. However, a top general said hundreds of soldiers would remain deep inside the country along the main strategic highway. Hmmmmmmm?

As the United Nations failed (yet again) to agree on a resolution on the conflict, Russia finally (begrudgingly) began to withdraw.

Even the Michael Phelpsian media tsunami and Olympic madness was insufficient to mask the military excesses of the Russian strategic “whoops.” There are consequences to the things we do and don’t do.

In the wake of Russian excesses, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart signed a deal to build a U.S. missile defense base in Poland. Hell-o!

The agreement (which was a diplomatic slap in the face to Russia) prompted an infuriated Russia to warn of a possible attack against the once-upon-a-time Soviet satellite.

Despite Russian saber rattling and leaders who say Warsaw's hosting of 10 U.S. interceptor missiles just 115 miles from Russia's westernmost frontier exposes the country to attack, Rice discounted the blustery comments as bordering “on the bizarre.”

"When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988," Rice said. "It's 2008 and the United States has a . . . firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland's territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it's probably not wise to throw these threats around."

The diplomatic game is no longer foggy bottom chess, but Texas hold ‘em.

Russia now says its response to the further development of a U.S. missile shield in Poland will go beyond diplomacy?

The U.S. says the missile defense system is aimed at protecting the U.S. and Europe from future attacks from states like Iran.

Rice told reporters, "The Russians are losing their credibility." Which is diplomatic-speak for “Your momma!”

Even 16th century feudal warlords understood "MAD." The old cold war military doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction worked to preclude nuclear war precisely because the consequences were so horrific. “MAD reflects the idea that one’s population could best be protected by leaving it vulnerable so long as the other side faced comparable vulnerabilities. In short: Whoever shoots first dies second.”

Will Rogers once observed, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

Russian Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn warned that Poland is risking attack, and possibly a nuclear one, by deploying the American missile defense system.

Many Poles consider the agreement a form of protection at a time when Russia's invasion of Georgia scared the spit out of eastern Europe. Poland is a member of the European Union and NATO, and the deal is expected to deepen its military partnership with Washington (and exacerbate already tense relations with Russia).

Maybe I have been premature in previously suggesting NATO is an anachronism and had outlived its mission?

Western leaders are still struggling to extricate a massive diplomatic wedgie as they try to convince Russia to (really) withdraw troops from Georgia. Russia meanwhile poured gasoline on the smoking embers of regional tension when a Russian general engaged his mouth before his brain and warned that Poland could be attacked in the wake of its missile defense deal with the United States.

Another former Soviet satellite state, Ukraine inflamed the growing East-West tensions by offering a Soviet-built satellite facility as part of the European missile defense system. Ouch!

The Ukranian offer, made in the wake of growing indignation among Russia's neighbors over its military campaign in Georgia, is a diplomatic flipping off of Russia that could see Ukraine added to Moscow's naughty list.

Ukraine’s once upon a time Russian early warning missile tracking stations have now been offered to Western allies. Both Europe and America have been granted access to the Ukranian missile warning systems in the wake of Russia having annulled a 1992 cooperation agreement.

"The fact that Ukraine is no longer a party to the 1992 agreement allows it to launch active cooperation with European countries to integrate its information," a statement from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. That declaration came in the wake of Ukraine's pro-Western president, Viktor Yushchenko, stating the Russian naval lease of the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sebastopol would be scrapped if any vessels joined the conflict in Georgia.

A bunch of former soviet satellites are way hinky over Russia's saber rattling in Georgia. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, all of which maintain bitter memories of Soviet occupation, have expressed solidarity with the Georgian position.

The conflict erupted after Georgia launched a massive barrage to try to take control of South Ossetia. The Russian army quickly overwhelmed its neighbor's forces and drove deep into Georgia, raising fears that it was planning on a long-term occupation.

Russia views the growing relationship between the U.S. and Georgia as an encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence and a threat to its clout. And they don’t like it…

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