Columnist William Pfaff suggests that the Russians believe that
Saakashvili “was forced to start this war by Dick Cheney to support the campaign of John McCain. The only possibility for John McCain to win is to have some kind of war.” That is the view of Sergei Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies in Moscow, and undoubtedly it is an opinion widely held in Russia. It is at least logical.
It’s probably too early to speculate about the effect of the war between Georgia and Russia on the outcome of the presidential race. Their admirers are arguing that the tough pro-Georgia stand of the McCain-Scheunemann team could help the Republican presumptidential candidate to demonstrate that he is ready to hit somebody. Or perhaps it could perpetuate his Dr. Strangelove image? At the same time, the fact that the guy who addressed crowds in Berlin (like you know who) refrained from calling for nuking Russia (today!)could make it more likely that he would be seen as the man with the umbrella. Or perhaps the American people are smart and prefer to see a foreign policy realist in the White House?
I’m not sure. But my guess is that the “average” white 40 plus voter who had experienced the Cold War, mostly by watching intelligent movies that portrayed Russians as evil thugs killing the good guys is going to buy into the Georgia-is-Czechoslovakia line and perceive the New Russia as a threat. That would certainly help McCain, especially if you take into consideration the Polish-American vote that is still out there (I think) and members of other Eastern European communities in America who don’t like Russians.
And in any case, unless Obama does provide the voter with a coherent alternative policy agenda on Russia — as opposed to his current me-tooism — I think that all this mess is probably going to get McCain more votes in this very close race.