While Alaska Governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin is getting all the attention, the current vice president, Dick Cheney, was able to pontificate about Russia and Georgia with barely any notice from the media. However, while hardly anyone was watching, Mr. Cheney echoed the hypocrisy of his boss, President George Bush. While traveling in Italy, Mr. Cheney decided to become the moral arbiter of Russia’s foreign policies. His incredible remarks are worth studying.
“Recent occurrences in Georgia, beginning with the military invasion by Russia, have been flatly contrary to some of our most deeply held beliefs. Russian forces crossed an internationally recognized border into a sovereign state; fueled and fomented an internal conflict; conducted acts of war without regard for innocent life, killing civilians and causing the displacement of tens of thousands.”
If anyone doubted the vice president’s disdain for those who elected him and kept him in power, this speech should have been an eye-opener. How he could make that statement with a straight face is beyond comprehension. Was he not a major force in the U.S. military invasion of Iraq? Mr. Bush may not have needed much encouragement to embark on this deadly oil grab, but whatever encouragement he may have needed was gladly provided by the vice president.
Did not U.S. forces cross an internationally recognized border into a sovereign state? At least Russia’s incursion was to a country it bordered; the U.S. sent 130,000 soldiers halfway across the world to invade and occupy sovereign Iraq.
Russia, says Mr. Cheney, ‘fueled and fomented an internal conflict.’ It has been some time since people have been talking about civil war in Iraq, possibly because with the increase of 30,000 soldiers, Iraq may have finally, after five bloody, terrifying years, been cowed into submission. The U.S. overthrew the government with nothing to put in its place, disbanded the police, and turned a once peaceful nation into an inferno of deadly, daily violence.
He goes on to decry the idea that Russia ‘conducted acts of war without regard for innocent life, killing civilians.’ When Mr. Bush’s horrific and unspeakable ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign began, residential areas were targeted. The president said he was invading Iraq because it had weapons of mass destruction aimed at the U.S., but since he didn’t know exactly where they were, he would simple practice genocide on the Iraqi people and hope the weapons of mass destruction would turn up eventually (they didn’t). At the time his bombers were dropping death from the air over Baghdad, over half the population of that city was under the age of 15.
As far as conducting acts of war is concerned, could someone point out to Mr. Cheney that the invasion of a sovereign nation is probably the ultimate act of war? Occupying it for years, killing a million of its citizens and terrorizing much of the population for over five years may be business as usual for U.S. foreign policy, but that does not make those actions any less acts of war.
One could also point out that torturing political prisoners, some as young as 15, is an horrific act of war. The torture chamber that the U.S. operates at Guantanamo Bay is only the most famous; the U.S. uses ‘rendition’ sites around the world to torture those it considers dangerous. The supposedly cherished rights, such as due process, that the U.S. is said to stand for are meaningless to those who get in the way of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney’s imperial designs.
The Russian incursion, said Mr. Cheney, caused ‘the displacement of tens of thousands.’ That number pales in comparison to the millions who have been displaced in Iraq due to the U.S. invasion and occupation. At least a million Iraqis are in crowded refugee camps, forgotten by the media and certainly ignored by that master terrorist, Dick Cheney. Perhaps two million more have had to leave their homes, although they remain in Iraq.
“The United States and many in Europe have made clear that Russia’s actions are an affront to civilized standards and are completely unacceptable.” Mr. Cheney did not bother to explain why these behaviors exhibited by Russia are ‘an affront to civilized standards,’ and why they are ‘completely unacceptable,’ but when the exact same acts are perpetrated by the U.S., although on a far larger scale, they are, apparently, just fine.
“For its part, Russia has offered no satisfactory justification for the invasion — nor could it do so.” In over five years since the U.S. invaded Iraq, it has offered ‘no satisfactory justification’ for doing so. All the original lies, including the falsehoods that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was close to developing nuclear weapons, etc., have faded into oblivion, like the blood of millions of Iraqis on the desert sands. Mr. Bush also stated the need for ‘regime change;’ why he and his neocon cohorts felt this was their right has also never been explained.
“Differing views on the status of these two areas, within the sovereign borders of the Georgian democracy, cannot justify a sudden and violent incursion by Russia. This much, at a minimum, should be understood by all people of good will in the year 2008.”
Yet apparently the belief that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S., despite the fact that United Nations weapons inspectors were combing Iraq and finding nothing, could justify a sudden and violent incursion by the U.S. People of good will in the year 2008 understand that that is simply wrong, as they did in 2003.
“This chain of aggressive moves and diplomatic reversals has only intensified the concern that many have about Russia’s larger objectives.” The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, continued threats against Iran and Cuba, and the fact that the U.S. has enough weapons of mass destruction to destroy the entire planet several times over have certainly intensified concern about the U.S.’s larger objectives.
Eight long years ago, Mr. Bush promised to bring dignity back to the White House. In his war-mongering mind the fact that President Bill Clinton had had an extra-marital affair was so disgraceful that the reputation of the U.S. was in tatters as a result. Today, following the Iraqi invasion and occupation that most of the world, including most of the U.S.’s allies, opposed from the start, the U.S. is the most hated and feared nation on the planet. With Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney now prancing around the world, criticizing Russia for actions that parallel in action but not in scope, the exact behaviors they have practiced and continue to practice, another mark of hypocrisy has been struck against the U.S.
As the U.S. plods towards the conclusion of its every-four-year election farce, the race for president is said to be too close to call. The Republican presidential candidate, the elderly Arizona Senator John McCain, the man who is so wealthy he does not even know how many houses he owns (or perhaps it is simply senility), calls for change by offering more of the same. This is the model his idol, Mr. Bush, used following the 2006 Congressional elections. After the war-mongering Republicans were thrown out of Congress, replaced by the spineless but equally war-mongering Democrats, Mr. Bush led the country on a ‘new way forward,’ by escalating the war. Mr. McCain has consistently supported Mr. Bush’s worst policies.
Mr. McCain’s Democratic challenger, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, has inspired many with his call for ‘change we can believe in.’ Whether or not we can actually believe in his idea of change, at the very least he offers a glimmer of the hope that U.S. citizens and the world have lived without for eight long years. He selected as his running mate Senator Joe Biden, a distinguished senator with a thorough knowledge of foreign policy, having served for many years on the senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he currently chairs. Mr. McCain selected Mrs. Palin, an (almost) one-term governor of a state with a population of less than 1,000,000. Her previous political experience was as mayor of an Alaskan town with a population of less than 7,000. She opposes every progressive movement known to man, encourages the shooting of wolves from airplanes, and believes that global warming is a natural occurrence, and not a man-made threat.
One wonders how more of the same will help to rebuild the reputation of the U.S. throughout the world, especially when it is ushered in by a cowgirl brandishing a gun and a chastity belt. Yet that is what change means to Mr. McCain.
The world is watching to see if the U.S. voters will make the same disastrous mistake in 2008 that they made in 2004. There was no excuse for it then, and there will be even less so if they do it again. The consequences of those mistakes grow with each one. It will not be long before those consequences are irreversible, to the detriment of the entire world population.
ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.