"I have to admit that I'm beginning to miss George W. Bush," is the way former Republican Senator "Chuck" Hagel responded when being asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer to assess the foreign policy record of the administration of Republican President John McCain. "We probably should have paid more attention to what candidate was saying [on the top of the television screen: McCain declaring "We are all Georgians today!"] or singing [on the top of the television screen: McCain singing "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran"] during the presidential campaign," Hagel said.
Indeed, after occupying the White House for nine months, McCain's historic diplomatic and national security decisions have led to a dramatic transformation of the international system. The U.S. and its allies in the 10-member League of Democracies (LOD) are being drawn into a diplomatic and military confrontation with the Shanghai Treaty Organization (STO) headed by China and Russia in several geo-strategic hot spots around the world -- in the Caucasus (Russia-Georgia), the Balkans (Serbia-Kosovo), the Middle East (Israel-Syria) and East Asia (China-Taiwan), and the Straits of Hormuz (Iran).
A few weeks after his inauguration, President McCain dispatched his Secretary of State and former Senator Joe Lieberman to Europe to lobby France, Germany and Britain in support of giving a green light to Georgia's speedy accession into NATO. "A new iron curtain has descended across the Caucasus," Lieberman declared during an address at Charles University; in attendance were two former anti-Soviet dissidents, Poland Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa and former president of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel as well as representatives of Ukraine and the three Baltic states. Lieberman explained that in face of strong opposition from Berlin and Paris to offering NATO members to Georgia, the McCain Administration was planning to sign a bilateral defense accord with Georgia and deploy U.S. troops to that country. Secretary Lieberman also reiterated the McCain Administration's commitment to install a planned anti-missile shield system in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, who described the U.S. decisions as "only steps away from a U.S. declaration of war against my country," responded by inviting the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Transnistria, to join the Russian Federation. "The fascist clique in Washington, just like Hitler and Napoleon, has misjudged the will of the Russian people to defend their motherland and defeat the aggressors," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told cheering crowds in Moscow, setting the stage for a series of international crises that seemed to threaten world peace.
First, a parliamentary election in Serbia brought to power a nationalist political movement that called for strengthening economic and military ties with Russia. Russia welcomed the outcome of the election and invited Serbia's new leaders to Moscow where a Russian-Serbian defense treaty was signed; it included a commitment to challenge "with all the necessary" Kosovo's declaration of independence.
China expressed support for what became to be known as the Moscow Declaration. Alluding to the separatist movements in Tibet and Xinjiang, the Chinese government explained that Beijing and Moscow were united in their opposition to "the secessionist puppets and their American puppeteer."
At the same time, the growing tensions in Ukraine over a proposal by the leading pro-Western political parties to apply for membership in NATO seemed to be degenerating into a civil war in the country, with Russia pledging to come to the assistance of the "courageous neighbors who favor independence over submission to American imperialism." Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states called on NATO to come to Ukraine defense and "prevent another Munich," a plea that was backed by the McCain Administration.
In Washington, President McCain proposed that the "recent Russian aggression requires America and the great democracies to form a new league of freedom." But most of the West European states with the exception of Britain rejected the idea, with Germany and France warning the Americans the new aggressive U.S. approach toward Russia could return Europe to "the dark age of the Cold War." In response, National Security Advisor Robert Kagan stated, "Old Europe is getting even older and seems to remain stuck in Venus," adding that he was worried that much of Europe would be "Finlandized" and become "a dependency of Russia."
A growing split in NATO and Europe ensued, with the Czechs, Poles, Latvians, Lituinians and Estonians deciding to join the new LOD and take part in its founding session in Washington, on July 4th. Other members of the group included Costa Rica, Colombia, Israel, Mongolia, Kosovo, Albania, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In an opening address, McCain proposed that NATO be transformed into a global security arm of the LOD and recommended that it add Israel, Colombia and Mongolia -- and Taiwan - to its ranks.
The Chinese leaders responded to McCain's speech by recalling their ambassador from Washington and inviting Medvedev and Putin to Beijing. The two governments announced that they were planning to turn the STO into a global defense alliance that would consist of "all the anti-imperialist forces in the world" including Venezuela, Honduras, Iran, Syria, Serbia and Belarus. It also revealed that the STO was planning to dispatch a Russian cruiser and two nuclear missile submarines to the Straits of Hormuz to take part in a planned Iranian military exercise.
And on October 8th after Iran announced that it detonated five nuclear devices, Russia and China convened an emergency meeting of the STO in Caracas, Venezuela, which concluded with a warning to Washington that the members of the organization were ready to help Iran "protect itself from American-Israeli aggression." Adding to the worries about an approaching war, were reports from the Middle East indicating that Israeli military forces were massing at the border with Lebanon and Syria in the aftermath of number of deadly clashes between Israeli troops and Hizbollah guerillas.
"I don't want to sound despairing, and I do hope that I'm wrong, but I fear that we are heading towards a new and costly Cold War, or even - God forbid! - a World War III," Hagel said during his CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer the next day. Blitzer also interviewed noted musician and singer Bono who was just awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to relieve third world debt and promote AIDS awareness in Africa. "I'm very, very sad that our efforts to promote peace around the world are being overshadowed by the gathering war clouds," Bono told Blitzer. "My guess is that if Barack Obama would have been elected as the U.S. president, the lights would not be going out all over the world today," he said, adding: "It's quite possible that President Obama would be the one receiving the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Imagine that."