Friday, August 15, 2008

There is a bear in the woods

In a preemptive strike against some who read this I respond: You care correct. There is virtually nothing happening in the world that I don't blame, at least in part, on George W. Bush and his administration of arrogant, foolish scoundrels.

To the matter at hand: Russia's aggression against Georgia. I think it was Jon Stewart who said the other day that international conflicts are the way Americans learn geography. Suddenly we've been forced to run to look up South Ossetia, as our former Cold War adversary looks to be intimidating neighbors and prodding the West with a flex of muscle that says, "The Big Bear still matters."

As far as I can tell the Russians are the aggressors here, but the Georgian president was playing a dangerous game of provocation with his giant neighbor. This leaves the US and its NATO allies walking a fine line of condemnation but restraint. We don't want to send American soldiers into an unstable place to square off against Russian soldiers on the other side of a murky border. If Georgia had been accepted into NATO as the US has been advocating, would we have been obligated to? Even short of that, the Georgians are one of the few countries that sent actual troops to help us in Iraq. Do we owe them?

And here, on the subject of Iraq, is where the bigger points are to be made. Our illegitimate, ill-advised invasion of that country has left American leaders looking a little disingenuous when they say, as Bush did, "It now appears that an effort may be under way to depose [Georgia's] duly elected government. Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."

OK, so Iraq wasn't a democracy and isn't our neighbor, but that is parsing the statement a little too closely, no? The Bush doctrine of preemptive war has left the US with little moral authority on the world stage to say, "Hey, you can't do that," to aggressor nations. And further, the condition of our military after five years in Iraq has weakened our ability to do anything even if we wanted to. Of course, I'm not suggesting that we should, only that the Russians might have considered American moral and military, as well as economic, abilities when deciding to send soldiers and tanks into Georgian territory.

Did Bush see that when he famously looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes in 2001 and got "a sense of his soul"?


Anonymous said...

You are so correct!

Joseph Moroco said...

The Georgians started it. There is absolutely no chance they would have fired first without a nod or a wink from us.

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Jimbo said...

From what I've been able to gather this situation is much more complex than the Russians suddenly invading Georgia. As the previous comment notes, the Georgians did provoke their neighbors with, at best, mixed signals from the US, if not worse.

Also, Russia said recently that Western support for an independent Kosovo would not go without consequences, as Russia and Serbia have close ties, and American efforts to put weapons and other military facilities in countries that border Russia is bound to make that country nervous. Finally, Russia is concerned about Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO.

I am not saying that this justifies any of Russia's actions, only that the issues are, as usual, much more complex than our politicians would have us believe.