Why did Georgia, a very small country, provoke a conflict with mother Russia? We simply do not know the answer to this question. McCain was certainly quick off the mark with the Churchillian rhetoric that has defined the crisis for many Americans, boosting his campaign in the opinion polls. It is now evident that the McCain campaign is run by neo-conservative extremists. "Win-at-all-costs" may well be their motto.
Reuters quotes Russian leader Vladamir Putin: "... The suspicion arises that someone in the United States especially created this conflict with the aim of making the situation more tense and creating a competitive advantage for one of the candidates fighting for the post of U.S. president."
Whether or not the Georgia conflict was scripted by Republican Party strategists is beside the point. Clearly, the McCain campaign has succeeded in explaining to the country what the Russia-Georgia conflict means. Moreover, they are begining to articulate -- based on their own constuction of meaning -- what the country ought to do about it.
Barack Obama must decide if he is going to play along with all this. Will Obama follow the Republican Party's script for Cold War II? Is Obama sufficiently independent-mined to write a different script? Will he challenge the Republican's interpretation? Or in the name of pursuing "bipartisanship" in foreign policy, more or less accept it as a given?
Putin can say whatever he wants. Who knows if his claim is true? He has not offered any tangible evidence. As for the big questions, we have a pretty good idea of where McCain stands. Even if, like me, you think he is foolish. But from the other side, rhetorical flourishes alone will not suffice. Obama needs to provide a clear and distinct alternative. He must orient his countrymen to move in a better direction.
Photo: The illustration to an article about the "U.S. Air Force's Land-based ICBM Program" on the website of Northrop Grumman. More about this in my next post.