By Alan Caruba
I had the odd thought while watching the news coverage of the Russian invasion of Georgia that Vladimir Putin had locked up the election for John McCain.
Earlier I thought that President Bush had partially handed over the Oval Office when he announced in effect that U.S. troops would begin to come out of Iraq in the foreseeable future. That pretty much took that issue off the table for Barack Obama.
Obama had shot to the top of the Democrat heap of candidates by emphasizing he had been against the Iraq war from the days before he was elected Senator. Then, after that, Barack managed to find it in his heart to vote for every funding bill involving the war. This has come to be called “refining” his views. Indeed, one can witness Obama refine his views on almost any issue between breakfast and dinner.
I am pretty sure that Vladimir Putin wasn’t thinking “This is a sure way to remind everyone we live in a dangerous world, filled with people like myself who actually want to go to war if it involves a very small nation that can’t fight back.”
The net effect of the Russian invasion of Georgia was to remind anyone over the age of 65 that the United States, following World War Two, was locked into a Cold War with Russia for nearly fifty years. During that time, there were a number of hot wars as well.
I have an older brother who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and, in 1962, I can remember being in Fort Benning, Georgia, getting ready to don full battle gear in the event the Russians tried to run the Cuban “missile crisis” blockade that President Kennedy had imposed. You don’t forget stuff like that.
And, of course, you don’t forget seven years of the Vietnam War stretching from Kennedy to Nixon. That was a proxy war, albeit a civil war. Even I participated in peace marches around the Washington Monument to get an end to that confrontation.
I have a feeling that Americans have mostly forgotten the fear that gripped us all on 9/11. If you lived or worked in New York, you were always scanning the sky for another wayward jet airliner. Soon enough we were laughing at the Homeland Security alert colors. The problem, however, is that we are still locked into a war with Islamic fundamentalists and are likely to be for a very long time to come.
Yes, there actually is a reason we have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the conflict in Georgia is occurring someplace most Americans could not find on the map, the video coverage of the long convoys of Russian troop carriers and tanks are a vivid reminder of the ugliness of war and the potential for an attack from anywhere at any time.
Ever since it became obvious that the U.S. had finally begun to win the war in Iraq, all coverage of that conflict disappeared from our television screens and the front pages of our daily newspapers.
The Georgia conflict is the kind of thing that influences voters; as well it should. Somewhere in the back of our minds we all know that McCain is an Annapolis graduate who fought in the Vietnam War and survived brutal treatment as a prisoner. Some of us may even know he comes from a family whose men served our nation in war going back to World War I.
The contrast between the statements issued by McCain and Obama was significant. McCain’s was clearly a strong denunciation of the Russians while Obama whimpered about the importance of the Russians and Georgians sitting down over a cup of tea to work things out.
So, thank you, Vladimir Putin. My guess is you just got John McCain elected.