Names in the American foreign policy establishment have already publicly announced that we are living in an a-polar world. Others speak of multi-polarity, and still others speak of a post-American era. The United States, they say as one, continues to be an economic and military power without equal, but it has lost relative power.
It was evident that, under such circumstances, the American advancement into regions that the Russians consider part of their security zone would be not go unanswered, even if only in the form of yet another war by proxy, like the war in the Caucasus.
But a good part of the American press and the vast majority of its so called opinion-makers seem not to have been informed of this. From the New York Times to CNN, there has been continuous pressure on the Bush administration to take forceful action against Russia.
The anchors and journalists are excited to have found in Vladimir Putin a less ubiquitous enemy than Bin Laden. The return, as if it were possible, to the simple bipolarity of the Cold War is a perspective met with undisguised enthusiasm.
Cornered in a press conference, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, veteran of the fight against the evil soviet empire, had to end with was I clear? when asked for the third time if he would send troops to remove the Russians from the country to which the U.S. promised NATO membership in exchange for sending 2,000 soldiers to Iraq.
The person who tries to take advantage of this climate the most is John McCain. He elevated his rhetoric to the point where he had to release a statement saying that he would not send American soldiers to fight against the reborn Russian bear.
An online article from the leftist magazine The Nation, which has marginal readership and supports Barack Obama, raised the possibility that McCain, whose principal foreign policy advisor was a lobbyist for the Georgian government, had encouraged the small country to provoke Russia, knowing that the return of the Cold War ghost could favor him against the Democrat.
This is, in fact, the same conspiracy theory that runs through the Georgian opposition, which is preparing to strike against the pro-western president. From Moscows point of view, it would be like closing with a golden key the operation that mimicked the USA offensive against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in the 90s.
Confronted with the analogies of Iraq and Serbia in a debate on CNN, neoconservative Robert Kagan and moderate conservative Michael OHanlon, of the Brookings Institute, quickly argued that both Saddam and Milosevic were despots, while Georgian Mikhail Saakashvili is a Democrat who graduated from Harvard.
The imprecision of this complement to the Georgian, who has been affirming himself as yet another autocrat, confirms that resorting to moral imperatives to justify power games is murky territory. Russia alleges that it advanced on Georgia to protect the South Ossetian and Abkhazian separatists from the actions of lunatic Saakashvili. Who would believe in this much unconditional benevolence?
It is true that it is possible to find in the American press coverage reflections on the eventual unavailability of soldiers to fight in the Caucasus, when there are 200,000 in Afghanistan and Iraq, or about opposition by France and Germany to a confrontation with Russia. But they get buried by the medias hard line.
The war in the Caucasus transformed into dust the idea that the end of the Bush administration would bury the more messianic instincts of an era of unipolar illusions, which he used until the brink of their existence.