Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Iraq and Georgia: Only the names have changed

On July 25th 1990, Saddam Hussein summoned hapless US ambassador April Glaspie to a meeting. He wanted an official opinion on an eventual American reaction to his planned invasion of Kuwait, or as he later put it, his reclaiming of Iraq’s 18th province. Ambassador Glaspie gave him the textbook answers: "We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflict" and "the issue is not associated with America". She was under direct instructions from GHW Bush and Secretary of State James Baker to seek a warmer relationship with Iraq.
But Saddam’s long-time allies and supporters in the Reagan-Bush Whitehouse did not react so well to his invasion of Kuwait, launched just a few days after the meeting. On September 11th 1990, GHW Bush told an extraordinary joint session of Congress that the new war in Iraq, now known as Gulf War I, was "a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times...a New World Order can emerge". By January, a half million coalition troops launched an air and later ground assault to drive the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. By doing so, they eliminated one of the most powerful and destabilizing military forces in the region, and ensured American dominance in the Gulf for the following two decades. That dominance was recently reaffirmed, and the American presence increased, in Gulf War II.
I very much doubt that Glaspie was Saddam’s only way of getting the Godfather’s blessing for his venture. She was likely the last check, just a way of confirming officially and on the record what the backchannels had been carrying for months, if not for years. The Soviet Union was in an advanced process of decay, and Saddam had just finished soaking up huge losses as the front man in America’s ten year proxy war on Iran. It only made sense that his friends in Washington would now reward him and allow him to recoup some of those losses.
Instead, they double crossed him in a move worthy of the best Noir scenario. They used him one last time to justify their invasion of the Persian Gulf and their grab at China’s and Russia’s oil future.
On August 7th 2008, US aligned Georgian President Saakashvili launched a military operation to regain control of South Ossetia, a more or less autonomous and pro-Russia Georgian province. The Russians, it seems were just waiting for the word Go, and they responded by over-running northern Georgia within two days.
On August 7th 2008, Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama began his vacation in Hawaii, leaving the stage open to Republican candidate John McCain. Obama has been criticized for his lack of experience in international affairs, and was universally condemned for being on vacation in paradise while an international crisis was unfolding. Following a cue from a popular electoral advertising campaing, McCain asked where Obama was when his 3 AM moment came.
The result, documented today by Bill Schneider on CNN, is an avalanche of new polls, showing Obama in a dead heat with previously distant McCain. The main factor in McCain’s comeback: Foreign policy experience.
It seems the totalitarians on both sides of the Atlantic have an interest in swinging the US election. They are using old MOs: The strategy of tension, by creating an international crisis and conditioning the voters through fear, and the ruthless sacrifice of minor allies, like pawns in a gambit. In both cases, the only winners are those who run the military-industrial complex.

No comments: