Friday, August 22, 2008

Republic of Georgia Crisis: 7 different responses

Victor Davis Hanson observes X different schools of thought and X different corresponding responses to Russia's aggression vs. the Republic of Georgia:

(1) The neoconservatives: We must make Russia pay a terrible price for subverting a democracy. Our policy of promoting liberal governments among the former Soviet republics, with integration into Europe and relations with NATO, was sound, and it cannot be allowed to be aborted by Putin.

Bottom line: Form a ring of democracies around Russia until it sees the light and likewise evolves into a constitutional state.

These principles are wonderful, but at what price? How much of the world can we realistically police? Shouldn't we bolster our economy at home first, especially given how broke we are? How much blood and treasure would this cost?
(2) The paleoconservatives: Putin is only protecting his rightful national interests in his own backyard, which don't really conflict with ours. You have to admire the old brute for taking care of business. Neocons — and no doubt Israelis in the background — provoked that Georgian loudmouthed dandy Saakashvili to stick his head in a noose — so he deserved the hanging he got.

Bottom line: We should cut a deal with our natural ally Putin to keep out of each other's proper sphere of influence — and let each deal as it wishes with these miserable little third-party troublemakers.
The ghost of Charles Lindbergh, 1938-1941. How well did *that* work out?
(3) The realists: Don't poke sticks at the Bear. We should define what our strategic interests in the region are. Maybe we can protect Eastern Europe, the Baltic republics and the Ukraine — but only if we accept that Georgia just isn't part of the equation. We need to back out of the saloon with drawn pistols, and save as much face as we can.

This is a reminder that we forgot the role of honor and fear in international relations when we encouraged weak former Soviet republics merrily to join the West and gratuitously humiliate Russia.

Bottom line: Don't get caught again issuing promises that we can't keep!
This would be my own approach, or better yet, my approach would be the neocons of (1) above tempered by the realists of (3) here. We should do what we can for freedom abroad with what we have, but we must realize our limits and keep the cost-benefit analysis in mind.

Georgia now, like Somalia in 1993 and Rwanda in 1994, is just too far away from American interests, too logistically difficult to effectively project American power at a low cost, and above all, not worth the American blood and treasure required to effectively do the job.
(4) The left wing: Putin's unilateral pre-emption was just like our own in Iraq. His recognition of South Ossetia's independence was no different from our own in breakaway Kosovo. So America is just as bad. Russia's attack is the moral equivalent of America arbitrarily removing the tyrant Saddam. It's all about Big Oil and pipelines anyway — along with Bush, Cheney, Halliburton et al.

Bottom line: Another long overdue comeuppance for the American Empire.
These Commiecrat traitor scum, who are entrenched in academia and the media, need to be tried in front of a revived Committee On Un-American Activities.
(5) The liberal mainstream: Both sides are at fault. We understand Georgia's plight, but also sympathize with Russia's dilemma. We should consult the United Nations, involve the European Union and encourage European diplomacy. We can learn from the multilateral NATO teamwork in Afghanistan.

Bottom line: Make sure that international institutions don't confuse an empathetic America with cowboy George Bush.
In other words, fall back and punt, and essentially go along with (4) above, while not explicitly saying so. Gutless wonders.
(6) The Europeans: Prioritize! 1) Don't jeopardize gas supplies from, and trade with, Russia; 2) Avoid any confrontation in any form; 3) Make sure that Bush does not do something stupid to draw us too far in, but at least does something to avoid leaving us too far out.

Bottom line: Luckily, Tbilisi is still a long way from Berlin and Paris!
In other words, European "Soft Power" is really helplessness and *no* real power. If the Euros want to criticize American foreign policy and really think they have a better approach, then they had better man up and be ready to bring real firepower when needed. They can't even police the Balkans which are in their own backyard.
(7) The rest of America: My lord, Putin is acting just like Brezhnev! But they told us that he just wanted to democratize and reform Russia, integrate with NATO and the EU, and help fight radical Islam! So why did he get angry with Georgia when it just wanted to do the same things he was supposed to be doing? That backstabber wasn't honest with us!

Bottom line: Now what?

To the extent the American people think about foreign policy at all, VDH says they have naive idealism. I am not so sure about that, Vic. But Vic is right about this:
The more Russia promises to leave Georgia, the more it seems to stay put. One reason may be that Putin keeps counting on us either to be confused, contradictory or angrier at ourselves than at Russia over his latest aggression. And given our inability to speak with one voice, he seems to be absolutely right.

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