Thursday, August 21, 2008

Warm Beer and Cold War

When young Mr. Bush told Vladimir Putin in June 2007 that "The Cold War is over," we couldn't have gotten more surefire confirmation that the Cold War was, in fact, alive and kicking. The recent monkey business in Georgia has been in the pipeline since at least then, probably since much earlier.

Noam Chomsky used the term "Cold War II" in August 2007. I first mentioned it in February of that year (so there, Chomsky, you snoozer). Stephen F. Cohen referred to a "new cold war" in a June 2006 article for The Nation. It's eminently arguable that President Bill Clinton started the second Cold War when he intervened in Kosovo in part to distract the world from his pants-capades.

It has been the Bush administration, though, that has managed to escalate the second cold war by losing the first one retroactively.

Winners and Losers

It's fair to say that the cause of the second Cold War is similar to the cause of the second World War: the stupidity of the victors of the first one. The boot heel England and France took to Germany's neck set the conditions that made Hitler's eventual genesis possible, much as the bird the Bush administration flipped Russia from its first day in office—most notably by unilaterally poop canning the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty—made the bear's angry reemergence from hibernation inevitable.

You have to be looking an ostrich in the eye to imagine that the deal for the U.S. to build a missile defense shield in Poland being closed as the administration tries to pry Russia out of Georgia is a coincidence. Just last month, the Poles turned our missile defense offer down because it was not "satisfactory."

The missile shield issue is a combobulated one and begs a dram of discussion here.

Heroes and Villains

At first blush—which is the blush the neocons want you to see—a missile shield is an air defense system that, as its name implies, is "defensive" in nature. Ballistic missiles, conversely, are a means of bombarding fixed positions on an adversary's territory, a seeming function of offensive warfare. These things are largely true at the tactical level, but at the strategic level the roles reverse.

Ballistic missiles aren't an effective part of an offensive strategic arsenal. If you're looking to invade and occupy your adversary, or blockade his shipping, or interdict his trade routes or what have you, you'll only use your ballistic missiles if your missileers whine loudly enough about being left out of the reindeer games to get on your nerves.

Ballistic missiles are deterrence weapons, and, depending on your perspective, not especially good ones. They belong in a category I call "you should see the other guy" weapons. If the other guy decides to drive into your capital city and change your regime for you, he'll need a nose job and some dental work and he may walk funny forever because of the punch you managed to land on him before your lights went out. The problem is that by the time you have to use your BMs, they're almost not worth bothering with because you're already on a collision course with the canvas and they've already failed to perform their mission, which was to keep you and the canvas apart. This explains in part why the mutually assured destruction theory worked during Cold War I, and why ballistic missiles didn't do Saddam Hussein a burp's bit of good during Gulf War I.

The U.S. claims the missile defense system in Poland won't be for defending it from Russia's ballistic missiles but from Iran's. Well… You don't need an advanced degree in geography to figure out that Poland can't do squat to Iran that Iran needs ballistic missiles to deter it from doing. Russia, on the other hand, has much to fear from Poland and the rest of the NATO newbies who used to be part of the Warsaw Pact if the U.S. bullies them into, oh, say, cutting off Russia's oil pipelines.

In that light, America isn't being the good guy offering Poland defenses against Russia's offensive weapons. America's being the aggressor by neutralizing Russia's deterrence.

It's so hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys in these post-modern times, isn't it? Here, one second, you're thinking Russia is being a bully to Georgia until you stop and think that Georgia was being a bully to South Ossetia and Abkhazia until the Russians stepped in and set things right, kind of like we did for Kuwait in Gulf War I. And don't you just wonder who told Georgia Peach Mikhail Saakashvili that we'd back him if he goaded Russian into invading him?

War and Peace

By whatever corrupted logic system they used, guys like Hitler and Stalin all arrived at the conclusion that they were doing the "right thing," so it's probably moot who's a good guy and who's a bad guy in the present Georgia malarkey. The major players got what they needed. Putin's Russia is a major player again and the American neocons have a new boogey man they can use to either get their boy elected president or to stick in the other guy's eye.

One occasionally despairs at ever figuring out the neocons. How could a group of such theoretically smart people keep getting themselves—and us—in one quagmire after the next, entangled with nations and other political entities whose measurable power amounts to a slight fraction of ours? Fortunately, someone has already cracked their code:
To understand the nature of the present war—for in spite of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always the same war—one must realize in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive.

…No Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of the entire world… Their lives are dedicated to world conquest, but they also know that it is necessary that the war should continue everlastingly and without victory.

-- George Orwell
The Inner Party members of 1984 operated with a critical factor that does not apply for the New American Century neocons. Oceana, Eurasia and Eastasia were empires of roughly even strength, and "everlasting" war was fueled by their balance of power.

America, as you hopefully know by now, spends as much on "defense" as the rest of the world combined. Russia and China, the closest thing we have to peer military competitors, spend about a tenth as much on arms as we do. Iran, the nation that young Mr. Bush and his echo chamberlains would have us believe presents our greatest "challenge," has a defense budget less than one percent the size of ours. And as I've said a time or two, the terrorists have no defense budget at all, and no navy and no air force and no proper army to speak of.

That the neocons have managed thus far to keep us in a "generational" war against phantasms that consumes over half the federal budget through two presidential terms is a testament to their ingenuity, I suppose. How much longer they can fool enough of the people enough of the time to keep their agenda in play is yet to be seen. I hate to express too bleak a view of my fellow citizens, but I worry that as long as the beer at 7-Eleven is cold, America will stay tuned to the fear factor rather than reach for the remote.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.


  1. That was great Jeff.

    The only thing I would add is that it was common knowledge that we promised the Russians/Gorbi that only East Germany, as part of united Germany, would become part of NATO. The Alliance was not suppose to have crossed the Oder, and now we have Georgia and Ukraine? Madness.

  2. Good call, SD. Do you by any chance have a link to that info handy?

    Also, I'm looking around for any reports that indicate someone in the administration told Georgia Peach it was okay to invite war with Russia because we'd back him.


  3. No Name; FBI watching (kidding)12:07 AM

    Commander Huber: If you find such a link, please post it. I have been searching and reading everything I can about the Georgian attack against South Ossetia, but lacking a definitive source I have come up with my own scenario. It might be a bit extreme but given past actions of the characters in my scenario, I might not be far off.

    After reading until my I am on my way to blindness, this is my scenario (sorry it is so long):

    Condi Rice met with Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia on 7/9/08 for a private dinner.

    Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s foreign advisor, was (?) a lobbyist for Georgia until 5/15/08.

    John McCain claims a long time friend of Saakashvili. On 4/12/08, Scheunemann set up a phone call with Saakashvili after which McCain issued a statement in statement of support of Georgia, prepared by Scheunemann, warning Russia over Georgian sovereignty in South Ossetia. Also on 4/12, Scheunemann's firm was rewarded with a new $200,000+ deal to represent Georgia.

    Karl Rove participated in a conferennce at Yalta on 7/12/08, as a panel member and a speaker, thus skipping out on his summons to appear before Congress.

    Karl Rove is a shadow adviser to John McCain.

    Karl Rove served on a panel on 7/11/08, to discuss "Elections in Russia and the USA: Impact on Ukraine and Europe".

    Panel members also included:
    Sergey Glaziev, Dir, Institute for New Economy, and a member the Russian State Duma AND
    Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, Ambassador to the Russian Federation & First Deputy Sect National Security & Defense Council of Ukraine.

    Saakashvili was a Keynote speaker on one of the panels on 7/12/08.

    Randy Scheunemann is a signator to the The Project for the New American Century which is just a plan for the corporate takeover of the world's resources using the military.

    John McCain is a signator to PNAC.

    Now, as I read all of this info, I asked myself several questions.

    1) Did Condi make any promises to Saakashville on 7/9/08?

    2) Did McCain make any promises to Saakashvili on 8/12/08?

    3) Why were Saakashvili, Rove, Scheunemann and the Russians, Sergey Glaziev and Kostyantyn Gryshchenko all conferencing together at Yalta discussing the American elections less than a month prior to Georgia attacking South Ossetia? Why would the Russians care if they are the enemy?

    4) Who gave Mikheil Saakashvili the greenlight to launch an attack on South Ossetia? Condi, Rove, Scheunemann or McCain (with approval from George Bush, of course)? Did this guy really think that John McCain was going to send the American military to fight a war her started?

    5) Was this a false flag/cooked deal worked out by Bush/Cheney/Condi/McCain with the Russians? Which the Russians really had no plans to honor?

    6) Was this an early October Surprise (or a Gulf of Tonkin Style Event that went wrong) to give John McCain a platform to bluster, act tough and shoot from the hip against the evil Ruskies and to attack Barack Obama?

    7) What were McCain's Frick and Frack going to do once they accessed the situation Georgia?

    My belief:
    1) Saakashvili was given the impression that it was ok to attack South Ossetia and that the Russion had agreed to take no action. Being Russians and looking to gain an upperhand in that area and show up George Bush, since we don't have the capability to take action (other than drop a nuclear bomb)they did not adhere to the plan.

    2) This an early October Surprise that went wrong) to give the cold-war warrior John McCain a platform to bluster, act tough and shoot from the hip against the evil Ruskies and to attack Barack Obama?

    Don't believe The Bushies would do such a thing?

    Remember Iraq.

  4. I thought in light of earlier comments you might find this article interesting:

    Between the Seas : Międzymorze and the Nature of Polish-Ukrainian Relations

    In a classic case of not understanding our allies, Poland has designs for a close relationship with Ukraine that don't necessarily align with ours.

    Thus the re-alignment of NATO with an Eastward expansion can be seen as doing more to facilitate Polish ambitions in the region than anything else. Moreover, placing a missile defense system on Polish soil is a mixed blessing for the Poles if it endangers their desired close relationship with the Ukraine. To the Poles, the Russians don't matter as long as the Ukraine is squarely in the middle.

  5. "The recent monkey business in Georgia has been in the pipeline since at least then, probably since much earlier."

    Heh-heh. You said, "pipeline."

    (Sorry, coundn't resist).

    Russian-American writer Dmitri Orlov has an intersting take on the Georgia fracas, although I notice he also doesn't bring up the, er, pipeline-thingy.

    Here's an article that does.

  6. NN,

    We'll save your post here and see how much of it comes true. I didn't see much I'd call a klinker on your list.


    Thanks for the link, and for the info. I'm sure we'll be wanting to catch up on the background in the coming months.


    I was going to make more of "pipeline" but let it go for now.

    However, the oil factor makes the whole thing a coherent part of the goals of CWII.


  7. Commander,

    I've said before. I'm not a military type person. But, even I know you don't decide "on the spur of the moment" to start a war. There has to be at least a "tish" of planning involved.

    What I found interesting in the post by "noname" was that he doesn't mention any involvement by the Israelis. I'm finding it hard to believe they were left "out of the loop."

    (a) on August 10, had an article which detailed that "for the past seven years Israeli companies have been helping Georgian Army prepare for war against Russia, through arms deals, training of infantry units, and security advice."

    Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli, fluent in Hebrew. Georgia had a large defense budget with which to purchase arms. Israel had many former Georgians, who had immigrated to Israel, who were arms brokers.

    (b) Since the attention span of Americans is short, all the maps are down from all the news sites. However, I recall (unless the halves-heimers has kicked in) that there was a big energy pipeline that was to, in effect, by-pass Russia, and run through Georgia, down to Poti. From which oil and gas could be supplied to directly Israel. I remember seeing something about the BAKU-SUPSA Pipeline and the SUPSA oil terminal.

    Meanwhile, the Israeli aerospace industry had deals going with Russia, to improve fighter jets produced in the former USSR.

    We may have encouraged the same thing in Georgia, that we have done in a lot of places around the globe. Clearly Georgia thought they would have U.S. and Israeli support, as well as NATO support, after they leveled Tskhinvali. (Sure, go ahead start the war - we got your back.) Hah!

    Now, to gloss over this failure, we rush to sign a deal with Poland for a "missile defense system." According to our girl wonder - a deal which will most certainly be upheld by whoever succeeds Bush.

    (c)As far as defense spending. has an interesting article in the current issue about our defense spending. Seems we obviously are following the "Rumsfeld Doctrine" or the PNAC doctrine -- or whatever, in that we can have four or five wars going at the same time from --- what the author describes as "lily pad" bases --- all around the globe.

    I know who made this mess. I cannot for the life of me fathom who may have the intestinal fortitude to clean it up.

    My great grandchildren maybe.

  8. Before I forget. I very much appreciate the "Painting of the Day" you have added to your website.

    Today's offering is particularly restful.

    Sometimes, we need all the restful beauty we can get in our lives.

  9. wkmaier9:46 AM

    Another well-written post Jeff. Your "cause of war" -- any war -- is something I've believed and said for quite a long time. I don't get why empathy is such a skill lacking in so many people. Duh, being treated like shit (excuse me) can make one pretty resentful, not happy, whether it's Germany, Palestine, Iraq or Russia. (sigh)

    Anyway, Spencer Ackerman says: "North Korean missiles cannot hit Poland; even if they someday could, they never never would; and Iranian antipathy to the Poles does not exist. It's kind of adorable that Rice expects you to believe this. You will miss her when she's gone, and you promise to visit her in the Hague."

    BTW, the Wash Post had a good timeline on the Georgia HooHah, although the focus was mostly on the military activites, not the political shenanigans.

    To wildly change the subject, any more thoughts on "culture" posts, or a separate blob? I have "The Man Who Laughs", an old (and silent, I think) horror film that needs watching. Thought I read somewhere that this character MAY have been the inspiration for The Joker.

  10. Anonymous2:23 PM

    Hey Jeff:

    The question here is who would cut the pipeline. It would not serve our interests if we were the ones cutting oil and gas supplies to Georgia and Eastern Europe with winter coming on. On the other hand, if we bully or threaten Russia to the point that they cut off the gas and oil, they become the bad guys and our purpose is served.

    Just a couple of thoughts well above my paygrade.

    ADCS USNR-R(ret)

  11. MME,

    I've been pondering that question myself. Spoke with Porter about it earlier today (expect something from him on the subject of Georgia soon), and right now I'm looking for a good map that shows exactly how both pipelines run.


  12. Jeff-

    Let me look for an actual link as to the Gorbi promise. I was a US intel ops officer back in Berlin in the bad ole days and since the question of how to end the Cold War had very much to do with our collective future back then (there were various options possible) we did pay attention. It seems strange in a way that anyone could have forgotten that history . . .

    In the meantime, here's an interesting link as to the background for the Georgian war . . .

    NYT comes across pretty credible in this instance. I would also check this one out. . .

    From a strategic theory perspective, the Russians are following Svechin/Clausewitz as they have since WWII.

    My question concerning the start of the war? Could it be that Shotgun Dick was telling the Georgians one thing and Clueless Condi was telling them (through young Mr. Bush no doubt) something else? What was Karl Rove doing in Georgia last month?

    Here's another recount about the Gorbi promise from someone who remembers, also the deal that Clinton made with Yeltsin . . .

    Is it any wonder that the Russians acted the way they did, especially considering all the warnings they gave us (as mentioned in the first link above)?

  13. Jeff-

    How's this . . .?

    "This account has been cited as proof that Gorbachev was misled by Baker into believing that if he signed on to the "two plus four," the Soviets would not face the expansion of NATO beyond the inner German border or beyond a united Germany. In fact it shows nothing of the sort, and the Soviet leaders fought until the very end against NATO membership for a united Germany. On this score the authors see the real breakthrough coming on May 31 when, in the White House, Gorbachev agreed that a united Germany could choose its alliance affiliation, a right granted every state (in theory) by the 1975 Helsinki Accords. While the Americans could hardly believe their ears, the Soviet leader's aides physically recoiled in disbelief."

    The actual controversy at the time was not whether NATO would expand East, but whether NATO would expand to include all of united Germany. Some of the Germans were willing to let the east, the former GDR, actually remain neutral, that is outside of NATO which would have been the effective end of the alliance since Germany would have had one foot in and one foot out. . . It is amazing to me how quickly we have forgotten our own history, especially when you consider exactly who was involved in US policy in 1990 . . .;col1

  14. There is a decent map of the pipeline here:

    Isn't it amazing how quickly the Russian Army crossed the mountains? Like they were just waiting in North Ossetia. I suspect the decision by Saakashvili was a misunderestimation of Russia's intent to keep control of a region they were already running and that they would not risk starting a war over. Wrong. The US had told Saakashvili we would never support this action but the neocons would use vague phrases about "never letting friends down" and other platitudes to neutralize official statements from Foggy Bottom and the military.

    My take on this:

  15. I am not surprised by the time the Russians took the cross the mountains. One mot. rifle regiment (+) was obviously on the ready - which is not so surprising given the recent bombardment back and forth, and the Georgian movements were seen by neutral observers.
    So with the bombardment of South Ossetia the Russians sent their first company down the Poti tunnel road (got ambushed, sat for 90 minutes) and then got reinforced. The RAF seems to have responded somewhat slow too.
    The Russians never had any major numerical superiority

  16. Thanks for the info, FK. Yeah, I haven't looked at the numbers, but I'm pretty sure we didn't have numeric superiority over Iraq when we invaded either.


  17. Whoever was in charge of "fossil fuels" in the stone age, or the seven days of earth's creation, or whatever age it was --- messed up big time.

    Not only did "they" put a lot of "our" oil under the sands and deserts of the MidEast, they went and dumped a bunch of "our" oil in the Caspian Sea.

    So..... here we go again.

    Being the benovelent beings that we are, we got ships equipped with cruise missiles --- delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia. Bottled water and diapers delivered by your neighborhood USN warship.

    What happened to The Red Cross?

  18. I'm afraid the Red Cross simply doesn't have any cruise missiles.


  19. Numerical superiority only matters at the point of contact (where soldiers and weapons platforms operate the "meat grinder"). We no longer live (although many pretend we still do) in an age of phalanxes pressing against each other). We now live an age of tidal waves of steel splinters, transonic blast waves, and superheated air. More often then not, he/she who shoots first, wins--or at least survives.

  20. "The Russians never had any major numerical superiority" which makes the rout of the Georgian military even more embarrassing for Georgia (and their foreign advisers).

  21. John and OB,

    An old War College prof of mine contends that the "mass" principle now refers to "mass effects," which gives a certain amount of credence to the shock and awe theory, at least at the tactical and perhaps operational levels.


  22. Was reading a column by Professor Bill Quigley, (who has been a voice for New Orleans, for the last three years,) in Op-Ed News this morning. On the "Shock" theory.

    I don't think they have seen either the U.S. Navy (with or without cruise missiles) or the Red Cross with any humanitarian aid. According to Professor Quigley:
    (a) 6,982 former residents of NOLA still live in FEMA trailers (complete with fermaldehyde)
    (b) 12,000 NOLA residents are still homeless.
    (c) 39,000 have applied for federal assistance to repair or rebuild, but have received no FEMA assistance.
    (d) $1.9 Billion FEMA dollars, have not yet been delivered to the City of New Orleans.

    I think this is what Naomi Klein, in the "Shock Doctrine" would describe as "shock and awe".

    Maybe GWB, Cheney, Condi, and Gates, figure that the people in Georgia are more important, than the people in New Orleans.

  23. I call it shameful.

  24. I nominated you...

    Here's the gig, I think ....

    I nominate 5 blogs/bloggers, and once nominated, you have to follow the link and put YOURSELF on the list by accepting it and putting your name/link into it.

    1: M_A of One Wing Left

    2: Ed_Encho of Station Charon

    3: Gottlieb of The Wild Wild Left

    4: Jeff Huber of Pen and Sword

    5: Nezua of The Unapologetic Mexican

    Now picking 5 was excruciatingly hard, so forgive me if I had to leave you out by numbers, but these 5 are my favorites ass-kickers of the moment.

    Now each of you can go to and sign in and nominate your own 5.....

  25. Maybe if the labels on the beers show the true Horror of the carnage we Americans generate there might be some real hope. Just to note, nothing of the Grief we have inflicted on the Iraqi people has been depicted on the tv as the few weeks of the bloodbath in Georgia has been.

  26. Human,

    I watch the 60 Minutes interview with the Marine Sergeant who's taking the fall for Haditha last night. I could just be sick. That poor kid's life is ruined. Dick and Don and Dubya will retire to multi-million dollar homes.

    And my favorite general, Geoff "Mad Dog" Miller is collecting two-star retirement pay and God knows what kind of MI complex blood money.


  27. wkmaier2:26 PM

    Human and Jeff,

    Just last week there was a letter to the editor of my local paper in which the gentleman claims that not only did we NOT destroy Iraqi infrastructure, but things are peachier than ever. Guess stories about electricity and water shortages (among other benefits to society) don't penetrate certain skulls.

    That being said, there's enough blame for these commonly-held misperceptions to be spread around.

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