National Commentary

Nicholas F. Benton: McCain’s Neo-Con Rant on Georgia

It must be appreciated that the current Russian military operation in Georgia comes in the context of eight years of a profoundly-destructive Bush administration thuggish, unilateralist foreign policy.

The reckless Bush policy, including its unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq, has heightened tensions throughout the world and driven angry wedges where bridges could have been built.

Now, Russia is reacting to a perceived threat on its border much as it was accustomed to doing in the old Cold War days. They’re not the good guys in this, but it is clear that the U.S. has been the bad guys for way too long.

For Sen. John McCain to react like a Bush neo-conservative cowboy to the Russian operation is to deepen the conviction of the American public that he’ll be more of the same if elected. It has good reason to.

Daring to evoke the Cold War in his “get tough” stump speech Tuesday, McCain was propped up by his top foreign policy and national security adviser Randy Scheunemann, who has direct ties to the same posse of Project for a New American Century (PNAC) “chicken hawks” that originally bum-rushed Bush into invading Iraq.

In fact, Scheunemann is the president of the so-called Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, created directly by PNAC, on whose board he used to sit with the likes of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. He was Sen. Trent Lott’s national security aide and an advisor to Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the Iraq invasion and occupation.

He was deeply involved in the deception that led to the Iraq invasion, including through his ties from the discredited Ahmad Chalabi, who fed false intelligence to the U.S. in advance of the invasion.

His ties to PNAC inner circles run long and deep and he’s been influencing McCain since the late 1990s, including writing a speech for him in 1999 about the core neo-con notion of “national greatness,” global interventionist conservatism.

In addition to being a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, he has been a particularly active operative on behalf of PNAC objectives among nations on the fringes of Russia, including Georgia and the Caspian Alliance, a consortium of oil and gas producing nations from the Caspian Sea region. He is also a lobbyist for BP America, noteworthy because British Petroleum owns the two major oil pipelines that traverse Georgia.

In the context of geopolitics and natural resource control, Georgia is the most forward-deployed of PNAC-influenced nations, the most eager to subject itself to Western natural resource and other forms of looting in the name of free trade and open markets, and to be a base for a potential NATO military buildup if Scheunemann and his ilk can engineer the tiny nation’s membership in that organization.

That McCain is in complete and uncritical lockstep with the PNAC agenda, as evidenced by his full embrace of Scheunemann’s counsel, is a frightening prospect for, were he elected, a continued deterioration of U.S. relations abroad, and the reemergence of a new era of superpower tensions.

The hallmark of the PNAC approach, as seen in the Iraq invasion case, is its American unilateralist character, including a tacit repudiation of the United Nations and a meaningful multilateral approach to global problem solving.

It is a zealot’s insistence that the United States is the only significant so-called “force for good” in the world, and it must assert itself aggressively, advancing under code words of “freedom” and “democracy.”

The American people were hoodwinked into backing Bush’s invasion of Iraq by the very same con job. Once again, in the Caspian Sea region, the real name of the game, behind the shallow platitudes, involves an oil and natural resources grab, and geo-strategic military considerations.

It would be a shame if Barack Obama got sucked into the same delusion, in the name of being a “tough guy,” too. While he may denounce the military invasion for its harm to innocent civilians, he must propose a multilaterally-crafted resolution.

As for McCain, the old adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” McCain supporters appear eager to be fooled yet a third time.