Back to the future with Vladimir Putin’s new Cold War

Herald Sun (Au)
Alan Howe
August 21, 2008

IF the French ever host the Olympics again, they should introduce a new sport – running away.

They’d be world champions. Germans, on current form, would come second.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was at it again the other day. In an unlikely display of faith, he has also been entrusted with the presidency of the European Union and in that capacity involved his entire continent in a round of synchronised toadying as the most powerful nations on earth sold out the Georgians.

Sarkozy and his gutless European colleagues are so afraid of Vladimir Putin that they “negotiated” an imbalanced “peace deal” for Georgia that, in any case, Russia ignored.

The poisonous Putin is the most dangerous man on the planet, and now is not the time for our allies to be so contemptibly weak. Putin must be confronted, challenged and defeated.

Global warming is nothing like the threat Putin poses to your children with his new Cold War. He’s our generation’s Adolf Hitler.

Western liberal thought, emboldened by the Mother Russia rantings of Mikhail Gorbachev last week, has it that Georgia’s president, the Harvard educated Mikheil Saakashvili, taunted his bigger neighbour with military actions against separatists in South Ossetia. That’s as untrue as it is shallow.

Putin was interested in Georgia because we were. Already Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have joined NATO and pro-Western Georgia and Ukraine have secured in-principle agreements for membership.

Two years ago, a Nato summit was held in the Latvian capital of Riga, for the first time on soil that was once part of the Soviet Union.

An oil-empowered Putin was humiliated by democracy’s spread, free countries now almost encircling the western rump of Russia. So he set out to destabilise Georgia, orchestrating some cross-border troubles and offering Russian passports to all Ossetians.

Putin plans on destroying free Georgia and probably killing President Saakashvili, although his foreign minister has only gone as far as saying

“the elected President of Georgia must go”.

Many of Putin’s enemies — journalists and dissidents — are dead. Some have been shot, another famously poisoned in London, while others cannot overcome the urge to leap from their apartment windows.

In the modern era, energy is power and Russia — a huge natural gas and oil exporter — uses the former to exercise the latter.

So while he feeds Europe’s expensive energy needs, Putin is overseeing a massive increase in Russian “defence” spending.

Russian strategic bombers fly over northern Europe, 30 warships are on order, along with aircraft carriers and nuclear armed submarines, and Putin says his new intercontinental ballistic missiles employ stealth technology that the US systems cannot identify.

Notwithstanding the shopping malls of Moscow, and the tourism of newly wealthy locals — they’ve just discovered Italy, apparently — Putin wants Russians to once again be a captive society; the BBC World Service was effectively banned last year.

When Russian soldiers invaded Georgia they told the Georgians that they had orders from Putin: Leave or be killed.

Ossetian paramilitaries, on Russian orders, knocked on Mrs Vardo Babutidze’s door demanding weapons. Vardo, 79, had none. The soldier shot her husband twice through the chest.

“We didn’t have any guns,” Vardo said. “So they shot Georgi in front of me without saying a word. A neighbour helped me bury him and then I just fled.”

With disappointing predictability, the French and Germans this week are opposing Nato military monitors in Georgia as Moscow pushes on into the past.

The first Nato Secretary-General, Lord Ismay, said its role was to “keep Russia out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.

But for such common sense today.

Posted by: Renato Alessio of Noble Park 5:24pm today
How about you report a little more on Bush and his so called democracy rather than criticizing a man that defended his own people when they needed it? Russia had every right to come and whoop Saakashvili’s bottom for attacking russians in the first place. That’s right, Georgia was the agressor, but the media didn’t tell you that. And that g** example you did with the old guy shot in the chest? How about a whole town of civilians bombed by the Georgians?

Posted by: Bob Teder of 3:22pm today
Georgia started this war, by shelling a separatist state, killing Russian peacekeepers and committing ethnic cleansing, they thought they would get away with it, wrong. Alan your are a warmonger, people like you should not be in journalism, your as bad as Bush and McCain, you would lead the world to it’s end just for ‘Democracy’ or in reality the American Empire. Pathetic

Posted by: Heath of Adelaide of 3:21pm today
But weren’t all the right-wingers bragging about how Nicolas Sarkozy was their man when he became president? Now apparently he’s just a cheese-eating surrender monkey like the rest of the French.

Posted by: Seamus of 3:11pm today