EDITORIAL The last time the George W. Bush administration began the saber-rattling that would take the nation into war, the Democratic leadership in Congress was afraid to say a word in opposition. It was that period of fear-driven politics just after 9/11, but even then, the evidence was pretty clear that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had never attacked the United States. And every intelligent observer around the world predicted (correctly) that invading Iraq would be an expensive, bloody, and ultimately counterproductive nightmare.
Now there's talk about sending US troops to Georgia to help the Georgian army fight the Russians. (There are, according to the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes, 127 military trainers and advisors already in that country.) This time, there's nothing resembling a national security threat; it's just Cold War madness bubbling up again. And once again, there's a resounding lack of protest from the leaders of the Democratic Party.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined the two top Republicans in the House, John Boehner of Ohio and Missouri's Roy Blunt, in issuing a militaristic and aggressive statement that reads, in part:
"The bipartisan leadership of the US House of Representatives stands united in condemning in the strongest possible terms the recent Russian invasion of the sovereign state of Georgia. The United States is committed to Georgia's absolute sovereignty."
The speaker herself, according to her press office, has said nothing further on the matter. She has not, for example, said she would oppose sending US troops to the region.
The US news media has done a terrible job of covering the geopolitics of the conflict, but if you read the British press, particularly the UK Guardian and The Independent (London), and you review what progressive think tanks are saying, you get a very different perspective. This isn't simply a case of Russian aggression. As J. Victor Marshall, of the Oakland-based Independent Institute, put it in a piece that's posted on sfbg.com:
"There's no real doubt that Georgia began the latest conflict by launching an artillery barrage against South Ossetia's main city the night of Aug. 7, though it claims to have been provoked by armed militants from the tiny region's 65,000 people."
That's not to say Russia reacted properly, or that the United States shouldn't condemn the invasion. But the situation is a lot more complicated than the simple spectre of Russian tanks attacking a purported US ally.
And the prospect of the United States getting involved in that conflict with American soldiers fighting Russians has the potential to ignite a serious military conflagration.
Pelosi can't be allowed to duck this time. She needs to come out strongly and say that she will not support sending combat troops to Georgia and will work to cut funding for any such military adventure.