Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barack Obama being elected president of the United States.
The line came on the main news of Vesti FM, a state radio station that — like the Government and much of Russia's media — has reverted to the old habits of Soviet years, in which a sinister American hand was held to lie behind every conflict, especially those embarrassing to Moscow. Modern Russia may be plugged into the internet and the global marketplace but in the battle for world opinion the Kremlin is replaying the old black-and-white movie.
The Obama angle is getting wide play. It was aired on Wednesday by Sergei Markov, a senior political scientist who is close to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and power behind President Medvedev.
“George Bush's Administration is promoting interests of candidate John McCain,” said Dr Markov. “Defeated by Barak Obama on all fronts, McCain has one last card to play yet - the creation of a virtual Cold War with Russia . . . Bush himself did not want a war in South Ossetia but his Republican Party did not leave him any choice.” The Americans were now engineering an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Dr Markov added.
Note the warning about Ukraine. The Russians are setting up a pretext to go after Ukraine and then claim "see, we told you the Americans were engineering a conflict in Ukraine."
What is happening in Russia is a great example of why good philosophy is necessary if freedom is to survive. Like other times before in their history, the Russians had a brief window in which to fundamentally alter their government. The West, unable to defend freedom intellectually, utterly failed to export moral or intellectual support for classic liberalism in Russia even as it has become obvious in previous years that Putin was slowly and methodically taking over. Now, the door has closed.
If the U.S. is to avoid a replay of the aftermath of WW II in which the Soviets took over Eastern Europe, the U.S. and its allies must move quickly and decisively to stop Russian aggression now.