(Rome) The old adage according to which time is the great equalizer holds sway in a special way in contemporary totalitarian America. Unlike the old-horse-beaten-until-it-drops-dead knows it is being beaten, our people are beaten in such a horrendously clinical manner that they do not even realize they are being beaten. Though aware of their mortality, gently beaten human beings however have come to resemble the whipped horse in that they do not seem to realize they are dying from the blows. The problem is there is little or no public opinion. And that collective memory is dead.
A second old horse adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink no longer applies to Americans. We drink and drink and drink without even looking up at our tormentors. Without an iota of curiosity even as to who they are and what they are doing to us.
Vladimir Putin must have been astounded at how Georgia and its American puppeteers fell head over heels into the Caucasian trap. Ingenuously, facilely, Saakashvili, America’s puppet leader of Georgia, sent his US armed troops into South Ossetia shooting wildly at anything moving and challenging Moscow on its home territory. What could be crazier? On that first day European media showed the Georgian “invasion” of South Ossetia, just as the NEXT day it showed the crushing Russian response that reduced Georgia to the virtual reality of the US proxy state it has become.
For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia went on the offensive. Its victory accomplished in a few hours rewrote the global balance of power. Yet, the American public knows little or nothing of these earth-shaking events. The NYT and Washington Post, CNN and Fox, speak only of a Russian invasion of Georgia, a country of wine growers and tourism operators. Don’t American people even wonder why this sudden outburst of military operations in peaceful Georgia which all of a sudden decided to challenge powerful Russia and invade territories inhabited by Russian citizens? Don’t people wonder why and how come Russian tanks are in no hurry to leave “independent” Georgia?
The result of these events is that two decades after the fall of Soviet Russia, the heart of Europe—I refer to Germany, France and Italy—despite their warnings to Moscow to withdraw have never been closer to Russia. If the most pro-American European leader, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, must choose between Bush and Putin, he will unfailingly choose Putin. This European heart is not about to build the anti-Russian alliance Bush and Cheney dreamed of. Washington doesn’t grasp the elementary fact that Russia is an integral part of Europe which today is overflowing with Russian tourists, replacing in many places such as Venice the missing Americans. Maybe this unpleasant combination of events is why the NYT and Washington Post, CNN and Fox, didn’t tell the people the reality of the two-day military action—the first day, the Georgian incursion into South Ossetia, and the second, the crushing Russian response. That was the war! Instead the US media described in Cold War terms the fiction of an unprovoked Russian imperialist invasion of peaceful Georgia.
Only America, its tiny allies of the Baltic region, Georgia, to a certain extent Ukraine and pliable right-wing Poland, believed Russia would do nothing. Poland and Czech Republic, and most probably the Baltic states too, today still intent on pushing Russian borders back to the gates of Moscow, will soon come to terms with their European history and their rightful place in it. They will soon realize that their future is Europe, not the America that considers them territory for military installations.
The break between the heart of Europe and these temporary American satellites splits NATO, the European Union and the West in general. But it draws the heart of Europe and Russia nearer. The “war” in Georgia makes this tendency explicit. As soon as Moscow’s victory was evident, French President Sarkozy, current rotating President also of the Europe Union, flew to Moscow, then to Tbilisi, as Europe’s representative. Not a peace mediator, his mission was in effect to ratify the Russian victory, to recognize its sphere of influence in the Caucasian region and to seal America’s defeat. Georgia can now forget South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as its ambitions for NATO membership. Who wants America’s satellite in NATO anyway?
This real Europe of Germany, France and Italy are not what imperialist neocon America dreamed of. Most certainly New World Order America didn’t count on a resurrected Russia capable of the re-conquest of lost territories of the Russian Empire and of a new relationship with Europe. Moreover, not even in its worst nightmare did America dream of exchanging its alliance with real Europe for a string of powerless satellites on the Baltic, or happy-go-lucky romantic Georgians.
Official reactions from Brussels are NATO reactions, that is, US-dominated NATO. And even NATO words are unexpectedly mild—“firmness” and demands for Russians withdrawal. Russia answers facetiously that its peace-keeping mission in Georgia may last a few more days. Meanwhile in Rome, without haste Berlusconi plans a trip to Moscow too, in early September. Georgia is not to interfere with the vacation period.
Saakashvili is known to be more American than Americans, his nation armed and supported by the USA. But armed and supported for what? Only for its oil and gas pipelines, of dubious value and a dubious future? Not at all.
The sad truth for Georgia is that its leader over-estimated American support for his stupid attempt to re-take the disputed territory of South Ossetia peopled by Russian citizens. In a way, this was also a case of the tail wagging the dog, As if the USA, already bogged down by Iraqis and Afghans, would seriously go to war with Russia over Georgia! Something about this reminds me of the American-instigated Hungarian uprising of 1956, crushed then by Soviet tanks.
Russia today is confident. It is not afraid as it was of the multi-colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia and NATO’s advance up to its borders. US humanitarian aid to Georgia or talk of Russia’s exclusion from the G8 do not disturb Putin. He now knows he can count on the real Europe. Russia is not about to surrender to American demands and threats. NATO-USA accuses Russia of invading small countries, Russia charges NATO for supporting the criminal regime of Georgia. While NATO and Russia both claim that their relations will never be the same again, Russian tanks roam around the Caucasus region as they please. Europe has received Putin’s message to the world loud and clear. The Russians are truly back.
The question is, has the American public, busily drinking from the fount of NYT and Washington Post, CNN and Fox News, grasped the trap-like situation their arrogant, unrealistic, self-absorbed, narcissistic leaders have lead them into? For it is clear as day that a huge bill is falling due and the American people will ultimately have to pay it.
Gaither Stewart, Senior Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal/tantmieux, is a novelist and journalist based in Italy. A longtime student of Russian culture he maintains particular interest in developments affecting Russia also after the overthrow of Communism. His essays and dispatches are read widely on many leading Internet venues.
By Gaither Stewart