Maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t see the bellicose calls for World War III and / or the use of military force against Russia — that the left is claiming — from anyone who has the authority to execute such a plan.  The Bush administration isn’t offering the use of our military to do any fighting, and even if it were, does anyone expect that the Democratic Congress led by Pelosi and Reid would approve any sort of military action against Russia?  I doubt it.  This is a tough situation for the current administration, and Russia will continue to defy the international community whether they have to deal with a President Obama or a President McCain.

What can we do to punish Russia for their invasion of a sovereign country?  There’s always international sanctions, a strongly worded letter from the UN, and getting them kicked out of the G-8.  Something must be done to show Russia that there are consequences to their actions.   I wouldn’t presume to know what the best way to deal with this situation is, but I don’t think that President Bush intends to take military action against Russia.  I’m not sure there is a way to contain Russia by diplomatic means, but we don’t have any other options.  The challenge we have is how to be a strong ally of Georgia and other allied countries in that region without taking steps toward war with Russia.

Sending humanitarian aid to Georgia is a good idea and we should be supporting them in that way.  But there has to be more we can do to show support for countries like Georgia who have been good and loyal friends to the United States of America.  We will be more likely to get international support for fighting global terrorism and the threat of radical lslam if we show that we can be trusted to defend our allies when it is required of us to do so.  The trick is attempted containment of countries like Russia and Iran without the threat of military force.  History tells us that this is impossible, but if the UN imposed enforceable sanctions with some real bite to them, it might delay any future aggression by Russia for a few years.  That would be a good place to start, but I don’t expect the UN to do this, because accountability for rogue actors is beyond their limited authority and ability.

3 thoughts on “georgia

  1. I think you make a couple good points that I have to touch on just a little.

    First, there are plenty on the right calling for war against Russia. Just because it’s not coming from someone who can actually execute the war is off the mark. Those in charge of the modern conservative movement (Kristol, Hewitt, Malkin, Hannity, and maybe Limbaugh to an extent) have all called for action against Russia. I do disagree with you on that point.

    Secondly, the Democratic Congress doesn’t have to approve any action for the Bush administration to use force against Russia. The War Powers Act has never been challenged in court and could easily be ignored, which I wouldn’t put past King George at all.

    Lastly, and probably most importantly, helping our allies, especially ones who have stood by us in Iraq, should be a priority, I totally agree with that. But wouldn’t you agree that the Bush administration pretty much left Georgia out in the cold on this one? Not only did the U.S. give every indication that we would protect them from Russia we also flirted with them the possibility of NATO membership. To me this is a huge foreign policy blunder. We hang Georgia out to dry, probably our strongest ally next to Great Britain, and barely anything is mentioned about it in the media. Mix that with the fact that McCain’s top foreign policy adviser is a paid lobbyist for Georgia and it sounds like the GOP controlled foreign affairs bunch fed Georgia a load of bull just to get them to go along with Bush’s war in Iraq.

    On the other hand, if McCain’s top foreign policy adviser is a paid lobbyist for Georgia it sounds like to me he did a pretty terrible job and earned a bunch of money to sell Georgia a war for nothing in return. And McCain’s supposed to be a foreign policy guy?

  2. On the first point, I do think it matters to the degree that President Bush is currently paying attention to the advice of Bill Kristol and like-minded Republicans on the outside of elected office. I’m going to take the risk of losing your respect by agreeing with Kristol that it’s not likely that Russia can be contained without the threat of military force. But even he doesn’t make a direct appeal for it. He dances around the point (at least that’s the way I read the NYT op-ed) and only hints at sending the US military to take care of the situation.

    As for your second point, President Bush has no intention of starting another war, and this proposed one is incredibly undesirable for a number of reasons — the main one is that we don’t have the resources to back up any threat of military force against Russia. Sure we are beginning to see success in Iraq, but we still have to deal with Afghanistan, and we are going to need as much help as we can get if we are 100% committed to finishing the mission there.

    I must confess that I am very much out of my element discussing foreign policy, so I really hope that people in power pay no attention to my opinion on these issues. I honestly don’t know what to do in this situation, but I do know that we must reward countries who support the United States — like Georgia and other Eastern European nations — and show that we won’t abandon our friends in their time of need. How do you think the United States should respond to this Russian invasion of Georgia absent threatening Russia with military action — that would change their minds about attacking their neighbors? I’m unclear about what you believe the correct response of the United States should be.

  3. Conveniently left out of Chris’ comment about the McCain lobbyist with ties to the nation of Georgia – he’s on a leave of absence from the campaign.

    To the extent that Bush’s handling/response to the Russian invasion was bungled, I’m wondering how much advance notice Georgia gave the Administration about their plan to provoke Putin?

    That’s an important detail in this conversation. The impression I get is that Georgia acted and then unreasonably expected us to be there within 15 minutes.

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