Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Georgia and the End of Unilateralism

By Badri Raina, August 18, 2008

Badri Raina's ZSpace Page

"Saddam Hussein, of course, deserved to be hanged
for destroying several Shia villages, whereas Georgian
leaders who have wiped out towns and villages, and sent
tanks rolling over women and children, must be taken under
protection."

--Vladimir Putin

I

As the Soviet Union collapsed under the combined auspices of internal folly and external manoeuvre, the world was suddenly left with but one single dinosaur in the jurrasic park.

Over the last two decades or so, its unbridled big foot has been rampaging beyond land and sea, foraging without let or hindrance.

Recalling its mentor, Nietzsche—rather than the disingenuously invoked Jesus—its maw, full of teeth, has been yelling out to the world how ethics and morality are weapons of the weak, and how the pre-eminently strong must forge ahead to fulfil their "manifest destiny" and rid the world of those that whine but do not win. After all, Dionysus ordained that true justification underwrites only those that have the power to annihilate.

And how indeed this lone dinosaur has been annihilating.

II

It is said that once the devil sat in the front row of a class on moral philosophy. At the conclusion of class, he said as follows to the illustrious speaker: "Thanks, sir, for telling me all about moral philosophy; now I know what to avoid."

Nothing glosses as well what the military-corporate American state has been doing to the farewell lecture that Eisenhower gave to the nation in 1961:

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment
and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. . . .
We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our
toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very
structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must
guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether
sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists
and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination
endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

It is to be noted further that in the penultimate draft of that address, Eisenhauer used the term "military-industrial-Congressional complex," thereby underlining, prophetically indeed, the role the Congress plays in propagating the "military-industrial complex."

For two decades now, the Pentagon, the neo-con White House, and the "patriotic" Congress have been implementing an agenda that has constituted as frontal a reversal of Eisenhower's message as the one voiced by the devil in the moral philosophy class.

III

And much of that has been done as the devil quotes the Bible—namely in the pursuit of "democracy" and "freedom" throughout the world, but chiefly in those parts where the oil and the gas have been the thickest.

It is no coincidence that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the forging of the Washington Consensus should have been closely overlapping events.

All guns now firing without fear of reprisal, all that the neo-con military-industrial state needed to do was to put in place an "international" accord that would allow the freest rein to American corporates to ravage the resources of the world.

Thus "globalization" came to be a sexy euphemism for the unfettered pursuit of American capitalism, construed no doubt as the American "national interest."

The new diktat being that finance capital (but not labour) must have free access to all parts of the globe, nation-states and national sovereignty must be rendered anachronistic concepts, Capital must establish its obliging clients among governments of the world, and wherever resistance occurs, the dinosaur must leap, maim, kill, and gobble. All of which it has been doing with relish.

IV

The faithful can, however, take heart from the formulation that however Nietzsche strives he does run again and again into some likeness of Jesus.

That likeness was first to be brewing among the American people themselves; over the years they have come to recognize that the "military-industrial-Congressional complex" has after all done them no great good. Far from strengthening democracy, security, and prosperity, it was endangering and depleting all three at home, even as it was making a bonfire of all three in the wider world which it was claiming to save.

The final and unkindest fruit: an astronomical rise in fuel and food prices and a full-blown recession in the land of the brave and the free. Thus much for the touted economic fruits of the Washington Consensus and Globalisation.

A further assertion of the moral law was to come forth in the shape of puppet-dictators ("our sons of bitches," remember?) tumbling all over, first in the "backyard" in South America, then everywhere else. Indeed, the last of these next door here to India, a man called Musharraf. Consider that nothing that the neo-con states' satraps could do was to prevent the congenial Hindu monarchy in teeny-weeny Nepal from falling into those hated red hands. And replacements for the falling puppets nowhere in sight either.

Curiously, and with fitting poetic-political justice, these realms were indeed to go over to genuine democracy (unlike the sponsored colour "revolutions' in the erstwhile Caucasian regions)—something that the "complex" had not intended in the least.

And small thanks from the Iraqis and the Afghans for neo-con labours of love. So much for gratitude.

And now, news from Georgia reads to say that the good St. George may after all have turned coat and gone over to the "enemy" as well. But didn't we say that the gods desert the losers as much as sundry rats do? So no surprise there too.

V

This practitioner of quotidian concerns had vouched some two years ago that the safety of the little man is perhaps best guaranteed when the jurrasic park remains inhabited by at the least two Dinos instead of just a prodigal one. (see my "Give Us Back the Manichaean," Mainstream, Vol. xliv, No.28, New Delhi, July 1, 2006). Say what you like, but democracy flourishes only when there are two sides to a question. After all, to be human means to be racking one's brain in some perpetuity between God and Satan. Were there to be more sides in course of time, how much better that would be.

It now seems that the Russian Federation, studiously avoiding any relapse into an erstwhile Soviet Union, has nonetheless acquired again the size and shape of that second Dino. A steady happening that seems to have left the other in Washington rather in the dark as to its newly-confident proportions.

The Georgian event suggests that it now answers not as the mating call of a "strategic partner" but rather more gruffly to recall to its other that day in Yalta when the big three had agreed to divide the world into "spheres of influence." And to say that the Caucasus was indeed too far from Washington to be construed any part of the latter's sphere of influence.

Thus, poor Saakashvili has been discovering that not only was it a folly to undertake the shenanigans that he did in South Ossetia at the behest of a mentor far far away, but that the European Union that falls in between will not as much as criticize Russia for giving him such a bloody nose in double quick time. Here is how Stefan Steinberg was to report on the meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels:

"Despite intense pressure from a number of Eastern EU states, supported
by . . . Great Britain and Sweden, the declaration issued by EU foreign
ministers meeting in Emergency session in Brussels on Wednesday to
discuss the conflict between Georgia and Russia refrained from any
criticism of Russia." (World Socialist Web Site, 15/08/08)

Indeed, the German foreign minister, Steinmeier, made it clear that "stability in the Caucasus" could be achieved only through cooperation with Russia.

And a good reason too why the EU says what it says; after all, close to 40% of all its Gas and Oil supplies now come from Russia through the Caucasus pipelines. Unable or unwilling to do an Iraq in Georgia, the EU sensibly decides that it is best to co-exist with things on the ground.

VI

On its part, the Russian Federation seems to have made up its mind to stand up to the Dino in Washington. Remembering Kosovo, it justly argues that the very same cookie crumbles in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And if the Washington Dino dares send its brood into those parts then so be it. Music indeed to helpless ears.

What we say is how lovely that some balance of terror is back in reckoning after two decades of unmitigatedly one-sided loot and mayhem. A renewed cold war anyway better than a unilateral neo-imperialism gone berserk. And as Medvedev and Putin get ready, Hu Jin Tao cannot be far behind, since they do have in place that thing called the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

All this, of course, must leave that belated neo-con adulator in New Delhi somewhat out on a limb. Imagine that the Dino in Washington should be losing its teeth just when the whiz kids in New Delhi were hoping to emulate something of its bite. Johnny come too late, it transpires.

But what we say to the good man, Manmohan, is, think again. Never too late to retract a folly.

As nation-states are set to be back in contention, as globalization crumbles from within and without, as masses of people everywhere, including in America, see through the neo-imperialist smoke-screen and resolutely gather in revolt (all you need to do is to look around any Indian city or state to know the truth of that), the wise man is one who backtracks and returns to safe and acceptable ground.

Georgia after all has proved the messy marshland in which the Washington Dino's big foot is now caught many fathoms deep.

If Hindu philosophy teaches a Spenglerian lesson—that the Cartwheel turns and turns, and each time returns to where it had touched ground—then the bright minds in New Delhi's South Block may have that lesson awaiting them from the Georgian event.

And no one as bright as the one who learns in time.
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badri.raina@gmail.com

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