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28 Aug, 2008 02:20

Georgia wins popularity points for McCain

With U.S. politicians calling for the international community to isolate Russia, talks on a 'new cold war' have become more frequent in the media. The roots of the strong rhetoric go deeper, though, than the recent confl

Tensions between Moscow and Washington rose after President Medvedev recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent. President Bush called the move “irrational”, urging Moscow to reverse it. Tough talk has also come from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

In response, Russia has made it clear it doesn't seek confrontation, but it's ready for the worst.
“We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War. But of course, we don't want that,” said Medvedev on Tuesday.

The cold war rhetoric started long before the conflict in Georgia. The two sides have wrangled over U.S. plans of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. What has only poured oil into the fire is the U.S. now finally signing the agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic to host elements of the system on their territories.

Some experts argue what we see now is in some way the consequences of President Bush’s foreign policy mistakes.

Matthew Duss from the Centre for American Progress said: “The United States could have dealt more productively or helped Russia in Georgia to deal with this issue more productively starting years ago. I think that goes to the kind of weakness of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.”

At the height of the Russia-Georgia conflict McCain has repeatedly attacked Russia much more frequently and vehemently than his rival Barack Obama. Experts say experience in foreign policy and knowledge of Russia, Europe and the Middle East are McCain’s advantages over his rival. And McCain has tried to play this card to cast his opponent as weak when it comes to foreign policy choices.

But the tough strategy might not be a winning one for McCain and the country – given the U.S. already has two wars to deal with.