Russia Invaded Georgia: Payback Time From the Orthodox World
to the West
As Russia sees it, Bill Clinton turned the American Air Force
into air support for an Islamic revolution against the Orthodox
world. The attack against the Serbian homeland was an exercise
of naivete' equivalent to bombing Vatican City then wondering
why Roman Catholics might be upset and stay upset. Then George
Bush decided it would be a good idea to place a missile defense
system in Poland, disregard Russia's advice and invade Iraq
and further insult and encircle the heart of the Eastern Orthodox
It takes a special breed of a-historical American president
who is steeped in the Protestant idea of denominationalism;
wherein Methodists, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists etc.,
all do their thing and somehow get along, to so thoroughly
misunderstand the fact that Russia is reemerging first and
foremost as a country reconnecting with its Orthodox historical
imperial roots. We just have no concept of blood ties, soil
and holy tradition in America. Since we don't take tradition
seriously we can't believe that anyone else does.
For us the bottom line is always expediency and "what
works." But in other parts of the world national pride
is tied to a continuity of historic tradition (as was just
demonstrated so beautifully in the opening ceremonies at the
Beijing Olympics steeped as they were in Confucianism, and
In Russia's case its public humiliation at the hands of the
United States, following the Cold War, could not have been
designed better to have produced the invasion of Georgia.
What's going on is the slow-motion counterattack of the Orthodox
world against the West's latest crusade. Georgia is just a
symbol for the counter-punch to the modern version of the
West's sack of Constantinople in 1204.
Bill Clinton bombed Russia's closest and oldest Orthodox ally
into submission and did so to send a half-baked and ill-conceived
(utterly useless) message to the Islamic world that while
we might favor Israel 99% of the time, once in a while we
would throw the Muslim world a scrap. Note: America's actions
in Serbia never were about halting ethnic cleansing. If that
had been our motivation the same president that was bombing
bridges in heart of Orthodox Europe while taking sides in
a civil war, would have bombed Rwanda then (and we'd be in
Darfur now) and have stopped those actual genocides. And now
Russia is sending a message too, by attacking the pro-Western
Georgia. And, yes, Georgia is also an Orthodox country, but
it too is being used to send a message: we will hit back.
Europe may see itself as wholly secular these days but George
Bush is your typical American Protestant evangelical exporting
his version of Jesus as the Lord-Of-Consumerism and "democracy"
to the world. In defense of his war on Iraq, Bush said that
he believed that God wanted all people to be free. His idea
of freedom is the interdenominational Protestant/American
President Bush was willing to impose this vision by brutal
force of arms. Clinton and Bush both bought into the
idea that America is specially called by God to "civilize"
the world by imposing our version of Protestant/Western norms
and/or to use an Orthodox country as cannon fodder to "send
a message" with. Bush also wanted to send a message by
attacking Iraq. Sure, they had nothing to do with 9/11 but
hey, lets beat up an Arab, any Arab will do.
The United States and the West have been busy insulting and
humiliating the Orthodox world since the end of the Cold War.
We have missed every opportunity to show magnanimity as victors
of the Cold War. American evangelicals invaded Russia with
missionaries, because they said the Orthodox aren't "real
Christians." We bombed Serbia. We treated the other global
nuclear power as a younger dumber cousin. We attacked their
friends. We lectured them.
Now we expect Russia to be logical about these matters and
do what is good for business. But we have forgotten that not
everyone in this world is ready to forgo their heritage for
a fast buck. We also failed to discipline our energy consumption,
and decided to have fun instead of going green while the cheep
gas lasted. Thus we've been empowering Russia and all the
oil states, by transferring our wealth to them in order to
fuel our weekend junkets to Vegas and Disneyland.
We have forgotten that ties of faith and history have not
been overwhelmed by modernity elsewhere, as they have been
in America. The world is not a melting pot. Nor is every culture
as frivolous and forgetful as ours.
We shop for church experiences as we shop for everything else
folding religion into our consumer culture. The average American
(who is religious) changes churches six or seven times during
a lifetime, even changes religions. (Disclosure: I was raised
in the evangelical right wing, left and in 1990, converted
to the Greek Orthodox Church and also changed from a lifelong
Republican to an Independent voter, who is an Obama supporter.)
No wonder that Bush and Clinton just didn't get it. Religion
is a game we play.
As Russia flexes her muscles we're reminded that history and
religion are serious matters for some people, not just products
to try then discard. We are also learning (again) that we
had better know what we're doing before we interject ourselves
into other cultures, say by bombing Serbia, or invading Iraq,
or putting missiles in former Eastern Europe.
Apparently we still don't get it. All we can come up with
is hand wringing and/or more bellicose smart ass -- "All
I see is KGB in his eyes" -- posturing by the discredited
likes of John McCain. Idiots like McCain have amused themselves
by posturing about Russia, as if we are in any position to
"do something" about a country with more nuclear
weapons than we have when we can't even "fix" pitiful
ragtag little Iraq in 6 years and still can't find bin Laden.
McCain is talking tough on Russia as is his mentor Bush. And
these are the same men who have led the way in starting the
wrong war in Iraq thus stretching our military so thin that
we probably couldn't repel an attack by Canada these days.
And they want to talk tough?
So why is Russia invading? It's payback thumb-in-your-eye
time. Clinton attacked Serbia. Bush and NATO have humiliated
the resurgent Orthodox Russia. The West has further humiliated
the Orthodox world by recognizing the breakaway Muslim state
America bombed Serbia and invaded Iraq using weaponry developed
for the Cold War. Now Russia has taken its tanks out of mothballs
and is doing the same thing on its doorstep. Someone said,
"if you live by the sword you will die by the sword."
Instead of more hot air McCain-style, what we need is to admit
we have been very stupid about dealing with post-Soviet Orthodox
Russia, and look for ways to repair the damage that Clinton
and Bush have done and that McCain promises to exponentially
Frank Schaeffer is coauthor of HOW FREE PEOPLE MOVE MOUNTAINS-A
Male Christian Conservative and a Female Jewish Liberal On
A Quest For Common Purpose and Meaning. He is also author
of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped
Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost
All) Of It Back