�War prosperity is like the
prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.�
�War . . . is harmful, not only to the conquered but to the conqueror.�
�To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main
thing is to discard the ideology that generates war.�
�The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons. It
is the spirit of conquest.� --Ludwig
von Mises (1881-1973)
people in charge who think that provocation and aggression can be acceptable
government policy. The sudden conflict between the former Soviet province of
Georgia and Russia in the Caucasus in Eurasia is a good case
What�s behind this conflict that erupted last Friday at the
outset of the Beijing Olympic Games? First and foremost, let us keep in mind
that the real and first aggressors in this
conflict is the belligerent government of Georgia, led by an impulsive
politician named Mikhail Saakashvili, who is openly
supported by the governments of the U.S. and of Israel.
Early Friday, August 8, Georgian tanks and infantry,
assisted by American and Israeli military advisers, launched an early morning
massive artillery and rocket barrage on the capital of breakaway South Ossetia,
Tskhinvali, thus directly provoking Russia, which had soldiers in that province.
At first blush, most people could easily arrive at the
conclusion that Saakashvili is completely out of his mind for having declared
war against its neighbor Russia, a country more than 50 times larger, with the
goal of reoccupying the Russian-speaking province of South Ossetia, de
facto independent since 1992. The only logical explanation would seem to be
that the Georgia president believed, or had some form of assurance, that the
Bush-Cheney administration would side militarily with him. Did he really
believe that the Bush-Cheney administration, already deeply involved in two
military conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan, would risk a world war to
salvage an oil pipeline and a newly acquired
colony in that far away part of the world? This would seem to be another insane
It is a little known fact that the U.S. and Israel have been training and
arming the Georgian military since 2002. This situation is tantamount to
risking a restart of the Cold War with Russia. It has also
sown the seeds of a much larger conflict in that part of the world by
encouraging Georgia to embark on military manoeuvres. Little Georgia (4.5 m.
inhabitants) even has 2,000 troops in Iraq, soldiers that the U.S. is now
quickly flying back to Georgia. This goes a long way towards explaining how
involved the Bush-Cheney administration and its Israeli surrogates have been in
sticking it in the eyes of Russia. And now, the Russian bear is reacting. This
is brinkmanship at a high level.
In the summer of 1914, a similar miscalculation resulted in
igniting World War I.
This was a conflict that started with a single death (the
assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June
28, 1914) but which resulted, in the end, in 40 million deaths. The catastrophe
was the result of a chain
reaction of war declarations by various countries involved in the affairs
of other countries. This remains an example of how relatively minor regional
conflicts can escalate into conflagrations when hotheads are in command.
The Georgia-Russia spat represents a good opportunity for
Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, to show leadership and not to
let things degenerate. Indeed, there is always the possibility that one
politician after another will try not to lose face by escalating things. For
example, the U.N Secretary-General should obtain from the Security Council the
mandate to visit immediately the two capitals directly involved, and he should
attempt to broker an immediate face-saving end to the hostilities. He should
persuade the Russian leaders not to overreact to the Georgian President�s
provocations. As for the latter, he has demonstrated that he is not worthy of
occupying his functions.
Time is of the essence in such circumstances, because there
are always some interests that stand to profit from a worsening situation.
For one, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who never met a war he didn�t like, has already tried to stoke
the fire of conflict by calling for the 26-country NATO to get involved in what is essentially a local ethnic
conflict. On the campaign trail, John McCain said: �We should immediately call a meeting of
the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia�s security and review measures
NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation.�
Incredibly, the Republican candidate is attempting to profit
politically from this faraway crisis by advancing the frightening prospect of
turning a small regional conflict into a world war. This could have something
to do with the fact that Mr. McCain�s main foreign policy adviser is a former lobbyist for the
government of Georgia and is a former neocon lobbyist for the
U.S. military invasion of Iraq. This would seem to be a direct conflict of
interests and reason enough for Mr. McCain to refrain from throwing oil on the
I have said it before, and this incident confirms it; this man would seem to be unfit
to be in charge of a heavily armed country.
Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is the author of the book ��The New American Empire.� His new book,
�The Code for Global Ethics,� will be published in 2008. Visit his blog site at thenewamericanempire.com/blog.