August 18, 2008

Well you're a wild horse
On a collision course
With the sun

Richard Misrach, Untitled 696-05, 2005

* Don't know much about history. excerpt:

"They obviously don’t teach cold war history at the law schools at Columbia in New York or George Washington in the nation’s capital, otherwise Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who attended both institutions, would have thought twice about encouragement from the US for his ill-fated attack on South Ossetia a week ago. Saakashvili could have read vivid accounts of broadcasts, via the CIA-controlled Radio Free Europe, encouraging the Hungarians in 1956 to believe that if they rose against the Soviet occupier NATO troops would race to their aid.

"Hungarian-language programs broadcast news of the unfolding political and military drama in Budapest as the radio station advised on tactics of armed resistance. The CIA’s director of operations, Frank Wisner, had promoted Hungarian hopes for intervention, but President Eisenhower never had the slightest intention of doing so. Wisner was devastated and suffered a severe breakdown, ultimately committing suicide.
"I don’t believe for a moment there was a carefully rounded US plot to lure Putin into his foray into South Ossetia, maybe as cover for an impending attack on Iran. That’s nonsense. But there are obviously American players with an identifiable motive for encouraging Saakashvili to believe that his onslaught on South Ossetia would receive support more substantial than some pro forma quacks of protest from George Bush, dragging his eyes from comely volley ball players in Beijing to the anodyne text placed in font of him by his advisors. Republican contender John McCain needs bare-knuckle confrontations with America’s enemies. In such eyeball-to-eyeball crises he can strut before the cameras as the seasoned warrior with 'experience,' unafraid to lead America to the very brink of nuclear Armageddon. Ever since Harry Truman in 1948, it’s been a reliable way of getting elected as President.

"McCain’s chief foreign policy advisor, a rabid hawk called Randy Scheunemann, has until recently worn two hats, acting as McCain’s lead foreign policy man and also as a lobbyist for Georgia. Filings by the McCain campaign and reports to the US Department of Commerce required of all lobbyists acting for foreign governments show that between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the McCain campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 and, across the same period , the government of Georgia paid Scheunemann’s firm,Orion Strategies, $290,000 in lobbying fees. Scheuneman has since quit the lobbying firm, a 2-man operation.

"So Scheunemann indubitably had the ears of both Saakashvili and of McCain. What advice he tendered his patrons is a matter of speculation, but any advisor to McCain would certainly regard a vintage cold-war era confrontation between the United States and Russia as potentially a huge plus for McCain. The Republican candidate certainly seized the opportunity for manly bluster about Russia’s conduct.

"Equally rabid is Zbigniev Brzezinski, a sometime advisor to Obama and a veteran cold warrior from the Carter presidency of the 1970s. Brzezinski has publicly boasted of his role, as President Carter’s foreign policy adviser, in luring the Russians into their ill-fated intervention in Afghanistan in 1979. A year later the US boycotted the Moscow Olympics of 1980, accompanied in this gesture by China. Brzezinski, a Pole, is fanatically anti-Russian and has been thundering on the TV talk shows about the era of darkness that will descend of mankind if Russia is permitted to put Georgia in its place.
"So is the electorate ready to be pushed into McCain’s column on the grounds that he can stand up to the Russians? It could happen. As noted above, no politician here ever lost a race by overplaying determination to face down supposed threats to national security. President Saakashvili is goading McCain to put his money where his mouth is and McCain is well on his way towards re-fighting the Cold War. Let’s see how that plays with the electorate in October.

"Obama is certainly having a bad month, eerily reminiscent of John Kerry’s bad summer four years ago. As McCain seizes headlines with ringing calls to stand by plucky little Georgia, Obama is captured on videotape trying to surf in Hawai’I and being tossed about in the waves. I imagine the Republicans will not be reluctant to run this footage in campaign ads in a few weeks. Meanwhile Obama has meekly surrendered his Convention to the Clintons.

"For the moment, a big slice of the US electorate is glued to the TV, watching the Olympics. Their mind is not on Russia, but on China. They couldn’t care less about Georgia or South Ossetia. As for the Bush administration, it is too late to be playing some complicated piece of poker along Brzezinskian lines. Back in May, so Ha’aretz is now reporting, the US specifically warned Israel not to attack Iran and denied that country weapons and equipment it might use for such an enterprise. Bush doesn’t necessarily want to go out in a blaze of guns."

* Bush administration prepares to
gut endangered species act.

* "Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long." -- Leonard Bernstein


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