The recent troubles in the Georgia, with the Russians invading what is supposed to be a sovereign country, have very disturbing geopolitical implications.
The reason is that, the day after the attack started, Iran announced that it would, essentially, ignore any efforts to make it slow down or stop its centrifuging of weapons-grade uranium. And make no mistake, that is indeed what it is doing.
The Russian movement is aimed at destroying the pro-western and pro-US regime in Georgia, the purpose of which is to prevent the US from using bases in Georgia for an attack on Iran. The Turks probably will not allow the use of their bases by the Americans, as they did not during the early phases of the Iraq war. So Georgia was going to be a crucial staging point.
The United States will not unilaterally attack Iran. George Bush is too weak politically. He must either attack jointly with as many of our traditional allies as possible, or use Israel as a surrogate. However, the Russian move is not meant to do anything to slow Israel down. If anything, it will force Israel's hand, goading them into early action on the theory that the US will now never be able to support them openly, and the longer they wait, the more dangerous Iran becomes to them.
And make no mistake: Iran does want to destroy Israel. It is not bluster. What they want to do is to attack Tel Aviv with a small nuclear weapon that will devastate the city, destroying Israel as a coherent state for the foreseeable future. Ideally, they will do this in such a way that their involvement will not be possible to prove. They will use a terror surrogate to actually deliver the bomb.
It's really a very problematic goal, in large part because it takes a lot of U-235 to make a bomb. Smuggling the substance into Israel would be very, very hard, but not impossible if you were patient, sending it in bit by bit. The advantage is that the substance, contrary to popular belief, is not terribly radioactive in its raw form, which makes it quite hard to detect.
Nevertheless, the Russian invasion of Georgia is not entirely to serve Russian interests. It is to serve Iranian interests, also.
There are many people on the left in the US--you can easily find their websites--who have abandoned Israel because of a dislike for the Jewish state's aggressive efforts to preserve itself. At the same time, it has unhealthy allies on the American far right, who support it in hope that a radical regime there will start a war that will turn into the Battle of Armageddon and thus induce the rapture.
Obviously, the right wing religious allies, while powerful, are insane, and the left wing ones, while rational, also unwilling to face the truth, which is that the destruction of Israel, despite all of the country's flaws, would be a catastrophic blow to the power and prestige of the west.
Israel represents the deepest penetration of the first world, with all its promise for the human future, into the world of our past, which seeks to return to an ideal that never existed and is deeply and profoundly bankrupt. The failure of western democracy, western ideals and the western economic system will lead only in one direction, and that is to a new dark age, darker and longer than the last, that will emerge, gradually through uncounted years of repression into some kind of sputtering future renaissance, but one that none of us living now, and not our children down however many generations, will know.
Of course, Israel is hardly a paragon of the west. It is, however, the best front-line defense we have against the primitive cultures and brutal tribal societies that, for the most part, surround it, and its ruin will lead to the same sort of destruction in the west that followed the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which was the precursor to the destruction of the age-old Byzantine Empire by the Turks. (I might add, here, for those who don't know much history, that western Christiandom never invaded any Muslim countries, but only sought to re-establish itself in areas that had been Christian until they were conquered by Muslims, such as the Levant and Palestine, and, in fact, most of the northern part of the middle east.)
Make no mistake: the Russian Bear is on its way back to the center of the world stage. Fortified by vast oil wealth, Russia has the potential to re-estabilish itself as a superpower, and Vladimir Putin does not intend to miss that chance. I will never forget how horrified I was when I heard George Bush say that he had looked into Putin's eyes and seen his soul. These were the words of a dreamer and a child, and must have given Putin quite a burst of confidence, to know that his American adversary was such a simple man.
It's no wonder that Russia feels no need to restrain its aggression. It has no effective counterforce anywhere in the world. The United States has exhausted itself on a vastly expensive but geopolitically trivial war. It should have pacified Afghanistan first, then worried about developments elsewhere. Instead, it viewed Afghanistan as a secondary theater of war, and made its own progress there impossible by attempting to interdict the poppy trade instead of buying the poppies to make into much-needed morphine, which is in short supply worldwide.
So desperate Afghan farmers are forced to support the Taliban because they will, at least while NATO is present, allow the growing of poppy which, like it or not, is the foundation of the Afghan economy. (Of course, if they take over again, they will forbid its growth, just as before, you can be sure. But hungry children are here now, perhaps not tomorrow.)
An additional reason the Russians have for taking over Georgia, either by outright invasion or by imposing a pro-Moscow regime on the country, is to gain control of the pipelines that are snaking through the country, bypassing Russia itself and ensuring both a degree of autonomy for the new states in the region, and giving Europe some sort of alternative to buying its oil from a dangerously imperialistic and despotic Russia.
Of course, it is also true that the Georgians fired first by attacking South Ossetian rebels. But they were rebels, not citizens of a foreign state, and Georgia had been attacked in an odd way last July, with a massive denial of service attack that had destroyed its government websites, and was apparently orchestrated by a criminal group out of St. Petersburg.
Even so, the Georgian attack was odd, and certainly appears to have been a miscalculation, especially given that there were Russian troops in South Ossetia at the time. Any fool could have seen how Russia would respond.
Now is the ideal time for the Russian strike. It hammers the US in the region, it changes the balance of power in the area, and there is little NATO dares do about it, for fear of losing Russian oil.
The situation can only deteriorate for the Russians from here, and their pragmatic and intelligent foreign minister, and their canny prime minister (the president is a cipher) have seen this quite clearly.
I have a novel coming out in January called "Critical Mass" about nuclear terrorism, that will make quite clear the role that Vladimir Putin is playing on the world stage. He is, arguably, the most dangerous world leader presently in power. He is to be watched, but who will be the watcher? We find ourselves in a power vacuum created by the man who saw into his soul. He saw nothing, which says everything.
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