When you clear the smoke from the battlefields in Georgia you can clearly see a truth missed by a lot of the Western mainstream media: Saakashvili started this sorry episode himself, hoping that the Russians wouldn’t retaliate against an attack on their legitimate peacekeepers in the region, or that his newfangled Western friends would come to the rescue. The Georgians would do right to kick him out of office as the man who brought them to the brink of an unwinnable and probably very dirty war.
The media in the West have switched to Cold War rhetoric surprisingly quickly, and not a few American politicians of the older generation – among which Presidential candidate John McCain – are more than happy to follow suit. This can only please the likes of Russian prime minister and de facto leader Vladimir Putin, since he seems to have decided long ago that a return to the Cold War is the only way to give Russia it’s Soviet-era feeling of importance back.
It’s not surprising that in Russia nationalists wave the sickle and hammer – once the symbol of the international brotherhood of Communists, it has become the symbol of rightwingers who feel robbed of their glory. Putin is all too happy to comply, first by going just a bit too far in response to the crisis in South Ossetia and then by threatening troop movements into (independent!) Belarus and the Kaliningrad region in reaction to an American defense program in Poland. The old Soviet sphere of influence is still an issue in Moscow. Even European Union membership of former client or Soviet states is always a bone of contention – and the EU is not a military alliance at all.
Putin knows he needs an enemy – like any autocratic ruler does – and he knows that the Russians, fed on a diet of seventy years of relentless anti-western propaganda, are ready to believe that the enemy is still NATO or the US. And it’s as if our media and politicians have breathed a sigh of relief: finally, back to the good old days of right and wrong, black and white, friend and enemy.
We, however, had better not go along with Mr. Putins scheme.