Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Wag the Dog" in the Caucasus?

My friend Geoff, ever alert for chicanery by the present Administration and the GOP, circulated an e-mail a couple of days ago speculating whether Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili might have been "baited" by U.S. assurances that there would be "strong action" by the U.S., and perhaps NATO, if Russia sent troops to respond to a Georgian military incursion into South Ossetia. By so doing, Geoff reasoned, the Bush Administration would have given the McCain campaign a boost by setting up a crisis with Russia that would appear to warrant electing a "tough" and "experienced" leader. If so, this may be working, considering the most recent poll result reported by Reuters.

Today, Mikhail Gorbachev weighed in on the New York Times, op-ed page. In his column, Gorbachev clearly is carrying water for the Medvedev/Putin government, putting the best face on Russia's actions and the worst on Georgia's and those of "the West", including western media. He observes:

If this military misadventure was a surprise for the Georgian leader's foreign patrons, so much the worse. It looks like a classic wag-the-dog story.
It's interesting that he uses the title of a 1997 movie (see trailer above) in which administration aides manufacture a foreign policy crisis in order to divert attention from a charge of sexual misconduct against the President. This movie, obviously inspired by the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, has since been regarded as oddly prescient in some respects, such as the inclusion of a WMD threat (by Albania!) in the invented crisis.