The Gauntlet Thrown

It’s quite clear now that Russia is intent on reconquering Georgia, and that their decision to do so is a brazen and flamboyant test of Western power and resolve. What is less clear is how we can respond. We have many good reasons to support Georgia, a staunchly pro-Western nation and participant in NATO’s Partnership for Peace. But we are not likely to be inclined to go to war with Russia over Georgia, and Russia, which still considers the country part of its empire, knows it. Its action calls to mind Germany’s annexation of the Rhineland in 1936.

This is a major event.

In today’s New York Times, William Kristol considers our options. Have a look here.

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3 Comments

  1. eugene says

    Mal,

    To be honest, maybe everyone now should just exchange nuclear war heads and reboot the history of mankind like we restart the Windows XP.

    Posted August 12, 2008 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  2. the one eyed man says

    I don’t think Kristol really considers the options, besides declaring that should “insist that normal relations with Russia are impossible as long as the aggression continues, strongly reiterate our commitment to the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, and offer emergency military aid to Georgia.”

    We’ve done #2 and #3 (if you count airlifting Georgia’s troops from Iran back home to be military aid) and we’ve probably communicated #1 to them (although you never know — Bush was seen a few days ago with his arms around Putin at the Olympics, after the military action had already started).

    I don’t think we should go to war with Russia, but I don’t think Kristol’s suggestions will achieve much. My suggestion would be to kick Russia out of the G-8 and tell them they can forget about WTO membership for a very long time. Maybe freeze assets or take other actions which inhibit trade. I don’t know if this would work or not, but it’s all the leverage we have these days.

    Posted August 12, 2008 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  3. JK says

    One Eye,

    For the most part, albeit due to somewhat different reasons, I agree with your final paragraphs’ conclusions. But I’m uncertain whether totally excluding the Bear from either the G-8 or the WTO would work out as neatly as some in the, well I call them, “the sanctions crowd.” As to “freezing assets?” That might be counter-productive as well. Russia has demonstrated a certain willingness to cut off both oil and natural gas supplies at the most inconvenient of times. And winter is walking up the driveway intending to knock on Europe’s door. That might give new meaning to “freezing one’s assets.”

    I suspect that when Putie and Georgie were arm in arm, Putie might have been whispering, “Well George, it’ll take you 72 hours to mount any sort of effective response, by that time it’ll be over.”

    As to sending the signals you mention in your leading paragraphs?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/washington/13diplo.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp&adxnnlx=1218626860-HqR181xaocoxuBcBS1cNqA

    Posted August 13, 2008 at 7:47 am | Permalink