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Throughout this election we were all waiting for the big October surprise to hit. Endless discussions went back and forth on what was going to happen, and when. With more evidence coming forward, it sure appears like the famed "October Surprise" was launched in August, and simply failed.

I am, of course, talking about Georgia.

And Randy Scheunemann is back in the middle of it.

Tom Hayden @ TPM has a great article detailing some of the new information, as well as Scheunemann's Money Trail. Quote:

New revelations about Georgia's August war with Russia should send a warning to president-elect Barack Obama about how a commander-in-chief can be manipulated into war.

It now appears that the same neo-conservatives who manipulated the US into the Iraq war on false evidence were directly involved in backing Georgia's ill-fated operation on August 7-8, which eyewitness military observers have described as indiscriminate attacks by Georgia on Russian and civilian positions. The observers reports, first made in August and then October to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, were disclosed in the New York Times three days after the presidential election. [NYT, Nov. 7]

The new evidence increases the likelihood that the August 7-8 clash between Georgia and Russia was an "October Surprise" that would highlight John McCain's greater foreign policy experience at the height of the presidential election.

...

The trail of evidence stats with Randy Scheunemann, McCain's top foreign policy adviser and former director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which secured some $90 million in federal funds to lobby for the fabricated agenda of Iraqi exiles like Ahmed Chalabi leading to the Iraq invasion.

Scheunemann became a registered foreign agent for Mikheil Saakashvili's Georgian government when it came to power in 2004, making $800,000 in fees for his lobbying firm, Orion Strategies, until the relationship on May 15 was formally terminated under McCain's 2008 campaign rules.

Remember that this attack occurred while Obama was on Vacation, and McCain was immediately in front of cameras with prepared speeches and statements, even before Bush. Now with the information that the US was aiding and training Georgian troops since 2002:

Since early 2002, the U.S. government has given a healthy amount of military aid to Georgia. When I last visited South Ossetia, Georgian troops manned a checkpoint outside Tskhinvali -- decked out in surplus U.S. Army uniforms and new body armor.

The first U.S. aid came under the rubric of the Georgia Train and Equip Program (ostensibly to counter alleged Al Qaeda influence in the Pankisi Gorge); then, under the Sustainment and Stability Operations Program. Georgia returned the favor, committing thousands of troops to the multi-national coalition in Iraq. Last fall, the Georgians doubled their contingent, making them the third-largest contributor to the coalition. Not bad for a nation of 4.6 million people.
Leaving aside the question of Russian interference (see below), the larger concern has been that Georgia might be tempted to use its newfound military prowess to resolve domestic conflicts by force.

As Sergei Shamba, the foreign affairs minister of Abkhazia, told me in 2006: "The Georgians are euphoric because they have been equipped, trained, that they have gained military experience in Iraq. It feeds this revanchist mood... How can South Ossetia be demilitarized, when all of Georgia is bristling with weaponry, and it’s only an hour’s ride by tank from Tbilisi to Tskhinvali?"

And with the knowledge that McCain's close advisor was also in tight with the Georgian Government, it isn't too hard to make the leap that a wink and a nod were given to go ahead with their shelling of Ossetia, with the mistaken belief that the US would come defend them against the Russians.

Doing it with Obama on Vacation was probably just a convenient bonus, but it worked out well for the McCain campaign to get their message out first and define the debate: Russian Aggression into Georgia. We all must arm and defend our allies!

Except that that didn't happen. The US stayed out of Georgia, the Russians cleaned up, and McCain looked like he was jumping ahead of the election and playing president. He did succeed in painting Obama into a box however, and only now are we getting to the truth of what happened.

There is a good reason why they used to say "Politics ends at the water's edge," had US troops come running to Georgia's defense, we would have had yet another potential war started; based on manufactured, misleading information and lies. It could have thrown the election, and none of it was in this nation's interest.

We dodged a bullet here. It would be good if we could get the folks at the Project for a New American Century (like Scheunemann) to quit shooting at our democracy.

Originally posted to Cognitive Dissonance on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just when I think the corruption can't get any (5+ / 0-)

    worse, they top themselves in a way that is staggering. How can one administration be staffed top to bottom with so much pure scum?

    It is November 4th. David did, indeed, beat Goliath.

    by voracious on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:09:08 AM PST

  •  Hope we can pencil in January 21... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dryfoo, Sarea

    ...as the day the Grand Jury convenes on this...

    The McCain-Palin Campaign: a transitional medium through which Monty Python skits are transformed into SNL skits

    by Minerva on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:11:10 AM PST

  •  come on (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, HarlanNY, Downpuppy, Sarea

    There was no chance in hell, under any possible interpretation of events, that American troops would have been sent into to directly fight the Russians. It didn't happen during 40 years of Cold War, it's certainly not happening now. Nobody with any understanding of US policy or just general common sense could have believed this possible.

    I just don't see it. Foreign wars don't work in American politics. If it was a sex scandal or a domestic attack, that's one thing, but a minor war across the world? McCain's been long around to know what the impact would be - exactly what it was, nobody gave a shit.

    Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

    by Marcion on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:11:38 AM PST

    •  Of course it was a crazy idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edg, Futuristic Dreamer

      not that that has stopped them before.

    •  well... (7+ / 0-)

      Nobody with any understanding of US policy or just general common sense could have believed this possible.

      We are talking about McCain and his Neocon "we make our own reality" handlers, remember?

      Listen to the chair leg of truth! It does not lie! What does it say?

      by mhanch on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:18:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  so there may be others? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Downpuppy

        There are probably several more crazy October Surprises that McCain carefully planned and we never heard about, like the time McCain wore mismatched socks or the time he sacrificed a pure white ram facing northward, or when he said My Friends ten times fast into a mirror.

        Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

        by Marcion on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:22:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  More likely it was to start a new "cold war" (7+ / 0-)

      with a defined enemy but no actual combat.  They could keep it going through the presidential campaign, and then hopefully coast on it to victory, all the while getting Bush to stall on it.

      All propaganda and b.s.  Except it didn't work out that way... (especially not after Colin Powell announced during an event covered by the media, that Georgia had "started it.")

      "None are more enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

      by Sarea on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:23:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Defined enemy, no U.S. involvement in actual (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sarea

        combat (although there have been reports that some of the people killed while fighting with the Georgian soldiers wore U.S. uniforms,) and lots of juicy contracts for the U.S. military-industrial complex.

        The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

        by lysias on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:39:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  you have a good point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mhanch, Marcion

      and I disagree with the diarist that US troops were to be involved.

      To me, the prefered outcome was a standoff, with Russia being slow to react and leaving a situation where they would be issuing threats to intervene.

      The longer you have the "evil empire" threatening war against an "ally", the more you pass jingoism aka nationalistic farting as foreign policy experience.

      Russia reacted swiftly (the dorks thought Putin being at the Olympics made a difference) and made a clean sweep of the situation.

      Whatever the truth maybe, the fact remains that these people have no scruples and are willing to play with fire to advance their sick ideology.

      "It takes two to lie. One to lie, one to hear it." Homer Simpson

      by Euroliberal on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:56:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bush almost started WWIII to win McCain the (4+ / 0-)

    election, and sadly, I'm not suprised.  I expect no better from Republicans these days.  I though the way truth about Georgia (or half of it anyway) came out a few days after the election was suspicious.

    Wow.  I should have seen this before, not that anyone would have believed me.

    I saw through all the ACORN shit weeks before it hit the news, and in trying to prevent it from hitting the news like it did, I kept my mouth shut.  Then the FBI leaked what I knew for me.

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

    by Futuristic Dreamer on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:19:13 AM PST

    •  I think this was a Cheney deal, and I'm not sure (4+ / 0-)

      Bush was in on it.  I think it's significant that this happened while Bush was out of the way in Peking and Rice was on vacation at some undisclosed location, leaving Cheney in charge to issue statements in Washington.  Bush acted at the Olympics as though he had been blindsided.  Obama, on vacation in Hawaii (when we now know he was visiting his sick grandmother,) was also caught off guard.

      McCain, on the other hand, promptly issued a bellicose statement.  If we want to be charitable, the hypothesis is possible that it was only Scheunemann who knew about this in advance and who had a statement prepared that McCain dutifully read.

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:43:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Bush administration is what I mean by Bush (0+ / 0-)

        Bush is too stupid to pull off most of the shit his administration does.  I've gotten in the habit of shortening it to "Bush" when his administration does something fucked up.

        Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

        by Futuristic Dreamer on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 12:57:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bush Blew it for them when he sat with Putin (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lysias, mjd in florida, revgerry, Krate

    at the Olympics.  And I think he shook his hand, didn't he?  He also gave an interview to Bob Costas in the same week, in which I remember he was relatively reserved on the question of Georgia / Russia.

    I think that, because it was obvious to the media and viewers that Bush and McCain weren't on the same page, it ended up making McCain's behavior look foolish.

    "None are more enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

    by Sarea on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:21:21 AM PST

  •  For a real-time analysis of this issue (6+ / 0-)

    See my diary of August 11 and of August 13

    For which I was then ridiculed as "paranoid" and a "tin hat" wearer.

    Good to see that the the glorious experts are now catching up to those portions of the Netroots with real Russia experience.

  •  Remember Rick Warren after his Faith Forum? (5+ / 0-)

    Warren told Sean Hannity that Saakashvili had called him Sunday to inform him that he had seen the Faith Forum Saturday night and it made him cry and that he appreciated everything Warren had done for him by mentioning the war and the poor Georgians.  According to Warren, Saakashvili mentioned that it is the great awaking of "The Bear" and that we cannot forget about the Georgians.

    Warren then proceeded to go into a request to Sean Hannity that we find a way to help the Georgians and to not stop talking about them.  Hannity of course agreed to this request and went into his own dissertation about "The New Cold War".

    Now I'm not a foreign policy expert by any means, but 2 questions came to mind after I heard this.

    1.  Isn't Saakashvili a little busy dealing with an invasion?  I would assume he has better things to do than to sit around and watch CNN and watch a Religious guy like Warren ask our presidential candidates about matters of faith.
    1.  If Saakashvili really had that much time on his hands in a war zone, what interest does he really have in actually calling Warren himself and thanking him personally for mentioning his country?

    This is disturbing on all fronts.  Most of all, I think it is bogus.  So are our news media that hell bent on making this about the next coming of the "Great Bear" Russia and the Cold War? It really blows my mind to think that the media has to fabricate lies in order to conjure up scary images.

    It makes me sick to think of the audiences these people have.

  •  Human Rights Watch documented the start (4+ / 0-)

    of this war and I saw the evidence in a documentary shown at HRW benefit in NYC last week.

    The Georgians started it, very clear.

  •  I hate those guys! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wbr, kaolin, melpomene1

    I am so effing sick of living in a world where, when people write about preposterous crazy shit like this, I actually have to consider it seriously.  Those Neocon bastards have put the Tinfoil Helmet onto all of us with their stupid fucking shenanigans!

    I want to live in a world where it's possible to say, with a straight face, "Oh no, that couldn't possibly be!  No sane person would ever be involved in something that stupidangerous, short-sighted, and counter-productive."  You know, a world where the grown-ups are in charge?

    I want Truth Commissions!  I want Subpoenas!  I want hearings!  I want permanent exile!  I want public stocks with free baskets of federal tomatoes and rotten eggs!

    Apocalypse? I'd prefer Wax Lips.

    by dryfoo on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:30:22 AM PST

    •  This is why we have to watch and expose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dryfoo

      we can no longer afford to ignore fringe groups from the edges of our political shpere, we have just lived through eight years of being run by the fringe right. That did nobody any good. It hurt the country, and decimated the Conservatives.

      The fringe left would likely do the same if they were in charge. Hurt the country and decimate the Progressives.

      That is, if there was much of a far Left Wing remaining. Supposedly this site is the "far left" and we seem to be middle of the road policy wise. but who knows. I just want sanity.

      Listen to the chair leg of truth! It does not lie! What does it say?

      by mhanch on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 02:12:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  TCLOT! I just recognized where that's from! (0+ / 0-)

        Man, I can't believe we're going to see the back end of Bush & Cheney without the mad renegade efforts of Spider J. and his Chair Leg of Truth.  A little bit of miraculous, really.

        All it took was a brilliant, really calm guy and about, what? like about a million dedicated volunteers?

        Anyway, props for the wise and terrible chair leg of truth!

        Apocalypse? I'd prefer Wax Lips.

        by dryfoo on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 05:37:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "We're All Georgians Now" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wilmguy

    What's this "we" shit, Grandpa?  Got a mouse in your pocket?

  •  Remember how Cheney's aide was in Tblisi a few (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wbr, kaolin

    days before the war broke out (allegedly to make arrangements for Cheney's planned trip there.)

    And Rove met with Saakashvili at a conference in Yalta about a month before the war started.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 11:37:30 AM PST

  •  This makes the hair on the back of my neck stand (4+ / 0-)

    straight out.  What a risky position to put MY country in for purely politial reasons!       I dare say that stories of Bush's careless presumptive war doctine will emerge with more horror stories after he leaves office.  The world is now a safer place without a Republican in the White House.

  •  Obama wasn't boxed in, however (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mhanch, Freelance Escapologist

    Perhaps it was a matter of perception -- but I saw his response as measured and responsible, not jumping to conclusions like McCain did.

    A poster in the NY Times said afterward "It took Obama 3 tries to get it right," but in the end, the Bush adminstration pretty much took the same line that Obama did.

    Perhaps that didn't change many minds (because, yes, most Americans don't care about foreign policy), but I wonder if when McCain once again bounced all over the place with the financial meltdown that some voters took McCain's measure and decided he came up short.

    That said, people DIED in that conflict.  If they died so a campaign advisor could get his candidate elected, that is dispicable.  It makes the other horrible things they did pale in comparison.

    And I don't put it past them.

    Republicans love America - they just hate half the people living in it. - Jon Stewart

    by HylasBrook on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 12:19:24 PM PST

  •  I had heard... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mhanch

    ... about the attacks on Russian and civilian positions (I didn't say anything because of my source on this... nuff said) - in fact from what I heard they were worse than just "attacks on positions".  

    They were deliberate provocations, including firing on civilians from South Ossetia who were trying to cross the border into North Ossetia (Russia).  Many died.

    As I commented to my wife when we heard that news, "would the US stay calm if Mexico killed people trying to legally cross the border into the US?"

    We came this close to a shooting war with the Russians.  If that doesn't make you realize just how desperate the Repuglicans were/are, nothing will.

    Thank fuck they're outtahere in January.  Too bad they've got another 70 days to screw around in.

    John McCain's Campaign (or, "How to Lose an Election Without Really Trying")

    by Freelance Escapologist on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 12:46:19 PM PST

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