After Russia’s invasion of Georgia, what now for the West?
At least for now, the smoke seems to be clearing from the Georgian battlefield. But the extent of the wreckage reaches far beyond that small country.
It profits us little to blame Georgia for “provoking” the Russian attack. Nor is it becoming of the United States to have anonymous officials from its State Department telling reporters, as they did earlier this week, that they had warned Georgia not to provoke Russia. This confrontation is not about who violated the Marquess of Queensbury rules in South Ossetia, where ethnic violence has been a fact of life since the break-up of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – and, indeed, long before. Instead, we are facing the much larger issue of how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come. Whether Mikhail Saakashvili “provoked” the Russians on August 8, or September 8, or whenever, this rape was well-planned and clearly coming, given Georgia’s manifest unwillingness to be “Finlandized” – the Cold War term for effectively losing your foreign-policy independence.
So, as an earlier Vladimir liked to say, “What is to be done?” There are three key focal points for restoring our credibility here in America: drawing a clear line for Russia; getting Europe’s attention; and checking our own intestinal fortitude. Whether history reflects Russia’s Olympic invasion as the first step toward recreating its empire depends – critically – on whether the Bush Administration can resurrect its once-strong will in its waning days, and on what US voters will do in the election in November. Europe also has a vital role – by which I mean the real Europe, its nation states, not the bureaucracies and endless councils in Brussels.
As for the Presidential election, Bolton notes
First reactions, before the campaigns’ pollsters and consultants get involved, are always the best indicators of a candidate’s real views. McCain at once grasped the larger, geostrategic significance of Russia’s attack, and the need for a strong response, whereas Obama at first sounded as timorous and tentative as the Bush Administration. Ironically, Obama later moved closer to McCain’s more robust approach, followed only belatedly by Bush.
Go read the whole article.
Reporters are in tremendous danger. During a blogger call with David Kakabadze and Jeff Gedmin of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, we were informed that seven reporters have already been killed. Yesterday Power Line posted this video of a Georgian reporter who continued her report while wounded:
Today Fox News showed both their reporters and a group of Turkish reporters under Russian sniper fire.
Update Video of the Turkish journalists under a barrage of fire – not snipers – here, via Ace, who points out the journalists were at a checkpoint.
However, considering that Russia’s lost at least five planes in this scuffle, maybe they should not be hoping no one calls their bluff, or, as the Russians call it, their peacekeeping mandate. Perhaps Putin’s been hoping Obama will handle it (once he gets back from vacation):
Pro-Western Ukraine vowed on Thursday to make Russia seek official permission for movements of its warships based in the ex-Soviet state despite Moscow’s objections, placing the neighbours on a collision course.
The former Soviet satellites might be the ones, but, as Richard Fernandez said, “Only what the West actually does will have any significance.”