I had no intention or desire to write about Georgia’s Olympic War for the second week in a row until I stumbled upon the YouTube video of Mikhail Saakashvili chatting on the telephone while munching nervously on his tie just before an interview with the BBC. Thank you, British Broadcasting Corporation, your blatantly biased reporting on the Georgia-Russia conflict for the past two weeks on the side of… guess who?… has just been totally exonerated. However, enough of Mr Saakashvili already. There’s a larger conundrum to consider ever since this jolly little war was air-dropped into our living rooms… what’s the real reason that the US is so bitterly enraged over the Russian military kicking up dust down in Georgia? After all, Russia was clearly acting in self-defence, and the defence of its charges, when tiny Tbilisi decided to bombard the South Ossetian capital of Tshkinvali, a presently smashed town that was once home-sweet-home to 30,000 people. There are some obvious reasons for Washington’s disproportionate fury. Georgia is insanely “pro-Western”, and, thus, yet another possible outpost for NATO, or the US Army, or, as Poland and the Czech Republic have just discovered to the dismay of about 50 percent of their populations, that some US missile technology that’s supposed to make Europe safer is being based there; Mr Saakashvili, when not chomping on expensive Italian accessories, speaks with a not completely absurd English accent (a very crucial point in these media-saturated days); the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which stretches across the vast expanse of Georgia, pumps 1 million barrels of Caspian crude into the open artery of the junkie Western markets. Finally, I’m sure it didn’t go unnoticed in military knitting circles that the Georgian Army seems to have gained little or nothing from riding shotgun with the US cavalry both at home and abroad. Let’s face it, Russia boasts a dazzling military history, but, routing an enemy in five days does not sound like the traditional script. And so on. However, none of these explanations seemed to warrant Washington’s hysterics over Russia’s “aggressive” response to being bombed in broad daylight. Moreover, the lame argument that Georgia is small, and therefore de facto innocent, is very poor logic. The Sicilian Mafia, for example, is a relatively small outfit, and since I like my little fingers exactly where they are, let’s just leave it at that. Then, I watched a round-table session of the American Enterprise Institute, a warmongering horde of balding belligerents if ever there was one, and the reason for America’s wrath became a bit clearer. Meet Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, who is, it’s important to note, safely retired from military duty. Colonel Peters, after referring to the Russian people as “drink-sodden barbarians”, did his best Orwellian stand-up routine by arguing that Russia “stage-managed the conflict on the opening day of the Olympics in a calculated, unprovoked aggression”. For more sober commentary of this sort see: http://www.aei.org.
US Army M1 Abrams main battle tank knocked out by Iraqi insurgents. Is the cost worth it?
Essentially, in addition to the abovementioned, America is convulsing over Georgia for two reasons. Firstly, only the US has the right to militarily intervene in the world’s hotspots. The God-blessed land of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet is the only nation, it believes, that has the moral authority to convene military operations, or “pre-empt” suspected attacks, anywhere in the world. Apparently, it even denies other countries the right to act in self-defence, as was clearly the case with Russia in South Ossetia. As for Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, well, do as we say, not as we do. The US National Security Strategy states, “The United States must defend liberty and justice… for all people everywhere”. However, who will guard us from the guardians? America, or at least the mad dogs now in office, has fallen prey to the white powder of absolute power, and this is glaringly evident in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. What America needs is a 12-step recovery programme, maybe Superpowers Anonymous, to deal with its heady hubris. Here’s the second reason for America’s pent-up rage. Washington hasn’t had a real good old-fashioned enemy since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, thus dragging Uncle Sam into World War II. Yes, there were the attacks of 9/11, allegedly orchestrated by 19 hijackers brandishing nothing more than brass balls and box cutters. At the very same time (Warning: What follows is so deliciously rich in irony there should be a calorie count included), Osama bin Laden’s extended family was being whisked quietly out of Dodge on an airplane (yes, sweet Jesus, on an airplane!) in an otherwise locked-down American sky. Nevertheless, al-Qaeda, the last time I consulted Wikipedia, is no nation. It doesn’t even own a basketball team. So, now, the US military is left with the vacuous-sounding “War on Terror”, as it shoots at shadows across the Middle East, while slashing civil liberties and social spending back home.
Furthermore, this is what is annoying America the most about Russia’s actions in Georgia. Russia got exactly what America, a land that was forged in the fires of war and violence, misses most… a battle with a bona-fide nation that we can observe with our cool satellite equipment, with a tangible capital, tangible factories, and a tangible army. It’s almost as if America is crying, “Why won’t a non-virtual enemy attack us?” The last thing I want to do is glamorise warfare; all war is insanity. however, if America really insists on its War on Terror, is isolating Russia a good idea? The US, which still suffers from a Cold War hangover that even the Russians have shaken off, continues to rely on mean-spirited “Soviet experts” to deal with Moscow. This strategy means one of two things. The Islamic threat is being intentionally exaggerated, or Russia, in the minds of the present US administration, which could worsen should crazy Mr McCain get the royal nod, is secretly believed to be the real enemy. This outmoded way of thinking has even gripped the European imagination, which allowed Mr Rumsfeld (remember him?) to rhetorically carve up Europe into the New and the Old.
C’est la vie.
21 August 2008
An American in Moscow
The Bear in the air! The Mikoyan MiG-15, in the hands of the VVS, the “Sabre Killer”.
One should note that the last time that the US faced a peer-force as an opponent was in the Korean War, where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army fought the US Army to a stalemate (the PLA’s superiority in motivated and battle-hardened infantry was matched by the US Army’s superiority in the application of firepower), and the Russian VVS (Voenny Vozdushny Sil: “Military Air force”) showed itself superior to the USAF in this conflict, racking up a 2:1 kill ratio against the F-86 using the MiG-15 (the kill ratios of the USAF against MiGs flown by the PLAAF and the NKPAF were far higher due to the inexperience of their pilots). The Russian pilots capitalised on the better dog-fighting ability of their mount and their cannon armament allowed them to open fire outside the range of the F-86’s machine guns. Indeed, the USAF moved to automatic cannon for its fighters after this débâcle. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery! The fact that the Russian fighter divisions were led by such experienced aces as Ivan Kozhedub and Aleksandr Pokryshkin didn’t hurt either. Therefore, the bloviating of the neocons must be viewed with grave suspicion. The last time that the US forces faced a peer-force, the most charitable conclusion is that the American forces gained a draw (the ceasefire line was practically the same as the jump-off line of the NKPA at the start of the war). Indeed, the initial defeats of the US Army by the PLA in North Korea (which led to a temporary capture of Seoul by the PLA) were caused by an almost fatal overconfidence and hubris, an attitude that was almost identical to the one shown by the neocons toady. Please, note well which countries fought the USA to a standstill in Korea… Russia and China. These two states are being targeted by the neocons in the USA today. May we be spared another war… God willing.