Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mr. Bush, tear down this wall (of stupidity)!

Can we swap our current American president -- and the two aspirants to the star-spangled throne -- for a former Soviet leader?

WE'RE IN NEED of someone with a little common sense around here.

In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, Mikhail Gorbachev tries to explain to Americans the cold, hard facts of life about realpolitik . . . and about basic human nature as it collectively applies to great nations:

The problems of the Caucasus region cannot be solved by force. That has been tried more than once in the past two decades, and it has always boomeranged.

What is needed is a legally binding agreement not to use force. Mr. Saakashvili has repeatedly refused to sign such an agreement, for reasons that have now become abundantly clear.

The West would be wise to help achieve such an agreement now. If, instead, it chooses to blame Russia and re-arm Georgia, as American officials are suggesting, a new crisis will be inevitable. In that case, expect the worst.

In recent days, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush have been promising to isolate Russia. Some American politicians have threatened to expel it from the Group of 8 industrialized nations, to abolish the NATO-Russia Council and to keep Russia out of the World Trade Organization.

These are empty threats. For some time now, Russians have been wondering: If our opinion counts for nothing in those institutions, do we really need them? Just to sit at the nicely set dinner table and listen to lectures?

Indeed, Russia has long been told to simply accept the facts. Here’s the independence of Kosovo for you. Here’s the abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and the American decision to place missile defenses in neighboring countries. Here’s the unending expansion of NATO. All of these moves have been set against the backdrop of sweet talk about partnership. Why would anyone put up with such a charade?

There is much talk now in the United States about rethinking relations with Russia. One thing that should definitely be rethought: the habit of talking to Russia in a condescending way, without regard for its positions and interests.

Our two countries could develop a serious agenda for genuine, rather than token, cooperation. Many Americans, as well as Russians, understand the need for this. But is the same true of the political leaders?
THE PROBLEM FACING the Soviet Union's final leader in his effort to persuade Americans is as simple as it is tragic . . . as in America's tragic flaw.

See, the problem here -- and the thing that threatens to lead us to an unwanted superpower conflict -- is that the United States is an empire led by revolutionary narcissists and populated by a navel-gazing people uninterested in foreign affairs. This ignorance isn't just embarrassing, it's dangerous.

Basically, Americans are too ignorant to know when their leaders are acting like bulls amok in the gift shop of the Thermonuclear Hotel. And the Polish Missile Crisis -- or the Ukraine Crisis . . . or the Georgian Crisis -- will catch them completely by surprise.

Only this time, we'll be Khrushchev.

Sadly, I'll bet a lot of folks will have to click on the link to figure out what I'm talking about.

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