The conflict between Russia and Georgia gives us some idea of things to come.
It shows, more than conflicts in Eastern Europe, the extra costs of the Iraqi Imperial adventure.
For America, though it would dearly love to intervene, hasn't the troops nor the material to engage the Russians on Georgia's behalf.
Instead, it is relegated to the sidelines while French President Nicolas Sarkozy mediates a cease fire between the two sides, while the US issues press releases.
The US media has, once again, echoed the administration line, which points Russians as the side which provoked the conflict. But most media can only do so if it ignores news reports from early August, which stated that Georgian troops attacked rebel fighters in South Ossetia, an impoverished mountainous region which won independence from Georgia after a bloody war in the early '90's.
The Russian incursion also shows that the country, now flush with cash, is a far cry from the debtor nation of a decade ago. This was a demonstration as much to Georgia as it was to the world, of a new Russia, aggressive, armed and willing to enter its former territories of the Soviet era.
Russian aggressiveness was made possible in part by its recent oil wealth. As a major oil power, it has profited from the rise in prices since the Iraq invasion, which sent prices soaring worldwide.
The actions of one state influences the fate and actions of other states.
And where was US outrage at military attacks on neighbors when Israel bombed Lebanon from coast to coast? When the Arab League begged the US to mediate peace between the two warring sides, America's Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, said what people in Lebanon were seeing weren't bombs, death and destruction, but "the birth pangs of democracy."
But that was then -- this is now.
Russia saw an opportunity, provided a justification; and seized it.
[Source: Schwirtz, Michael, "6 Die as Georgia Battles Rebel Group," Sun. New York Times, 8/3/08, p.12.]
(c) 8/13/08 Mumia Abu-Jamal