Posted by Peter Lawler
It does seem as if Russia can and probably will occupy all of Georgia over the next day or two.
If a country like Georgia disapears and few in the United States notice, did it ever exist?
Isn't this more or less the true reason the US is hated in Europe. If the Russians had invaded Georgia(the real Georgia that has Atlanta, you know the one with Coca Cola and a quaterback that did some bad things with dogs(that generated considerably more news, and conversations)...well then the Apocolypse would be upon us.
America is hated because it has the power to selectively decide what is newsworthy. In this sense things that happen in america are like assasinations while things that hapen in the outside world are like murders. Georgia getting invaded by Russia is like a thug robbing a liquor station in the bad side of detroit, it is likely to be back burned for the Brett Favre press conference.
If you people want to really understand why there are divisions between "elites" and the "common man" one need only reflect upon the entire accumulated differences in what has counted as news/knowledge in a typical lifetime. The elites are hypothetically elite because they have accumluated a broader and more ballanced sense of what is actually newsworthy and great, but I am starting to seriously doubt this possiblility to include the ideal of a liberal arts education. I don't simulataneously doubt experts, I simply doubt that one can transition from expertise in a narrow field to speak of politics broadly in any way. We are stuck with experts, experts that we will tune in and out in accordance to our preconceived notions of what is newsworthy.
A lot of the hatred of capitalism is thus properly more along the lines of what Ortega called "the curse of specialization", a great majority of men are simply reduced to making sure the trains run on time, and for the most part in foreign affairs it seems as if in so far as the World is concerned what happens there is worth whatever someone in America will pay for it.
With sufficient power, the question of what reality is can become almost exclusively phenomenological, which most americans can only understand comparatively in complaints about celebrity culture and Hollywood.
We aren't going to do anything but talk. Russia , well, Putin, accuses the US of cynicism. 'It is a shame that some of our partners are not helping us but, essentially, are hindering us,' said Mr Putin. 'The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing.'
Can't one can acquire an education in who to turn to to better understand the invasion of Georgia and its consequences--such as many of the fine folk on this blog?
What to do is another thing. I've read others speak of several alternatives: Send in troops (not gonna happen). Supply the Georgian military with arms (already happening?). Boycott the Russian economy (oil)(possible). Fastrack Georgian entry to NATO (unnecessary if Georgia ceases to exist). Get a UN resolution (impossible). Talk, talk talk (definitely).
And if Europe hates the US for selectively acting on what it considers to be a crisis in the news (and ignoring Georgia), it seems that Europe only provides talk for the same crises that their news allegedly covers so well.
John Lewis, So Europeans hate us for not intervening in Georgia but apparantly don't hate the Putin regime for the actual invasion of Georgia? By this interpretation, the Europeans are insane.
If Georgia is fully subjugagted by Moscow (regardless of whether Georgia formally disappears from the map)it will be more than a disgrace. It will reveal the bankruptcy of much of American security policy. The world will have been revealed as a more predatory place than many believed. Perhaps getting in touch with reality will be to some eventual good. We are presently unable to maintain our commitments. In fact we are having trouble keeping up with our two shooting wars. Putin probably won't be the last predator to act on that reality.
By the way, when President Bush saw Putin in China, did Bush look into Putin's soul again? What did Bush see?
Here are my responses, in no particular order.
First, as I understand it, the Germans basically blocked Georgian entry into NATO. Georgia's blood is on their hands.
Second, we probably can't do anything to save Georgia, other than provide a home for a government-in-exile.
Third, we surely shouldn't recognize as legitimate any puppet regime the Soviets--er, I mean the Russians (or is it the Nazis?)--set up. We surely should resist any attempt on the part of a puppet regime to occupy Georgia's U.N. seat.
Fourth, we should boot Russia from the G-8 (Charles Krauthammer's suggestion).
Fifth, we should fast-track Ukraine's NATO membership and offer genuine military support to any former Soviet republic that seeks it. And the missiles should go ASAP into Poland and the Czech Republic (if memory serves).
President Bush should be put on notice that failure vigorously to pursue these and similar steps will seriously compromise what's left of his international legacy. Like his father before him, he could fritter everything away.
Dan and Peter knew me a bit before I came to Central Europe, and I was rather in the post-cold war world an isolationist, and one who wanted no part of Bosnia,it was a European problem let the Europeans fix it. That all changed when I came here and came to realize that Europe (and by this I mean mostly Western Europe) can't do shit without the US doing it for them. They are too divided, too soft from their welfare state societies which were basically security free riders in the cold war. That without US power, Europe will be so divided by either Russia or anyone who had a weapon they could point at them, and they would sit in their pants unable to act.
If the US does not so something, Europeans will sit on their hands as they did in Bosnia. I am despressed and know how Churchill felt in 1938.
By the way, when President Bush saw Putin in China, did Bush look into Putin's soul again? What did Bush see?
I am more worried about what Putin saw in Bush's soul.
Yes, this depressing. While I feel for Georgia, I think what Pete says above is true, that if we don't respond to protect Georgia, then American foreign policy is a sham. But I also expect that the Bush administration will be able to do what Joe suggests above at the outside.
I would also suggest that if the UN does nothing in this, we ask what it is good for and why we should bother sheltering it on American soil. I read this and this and know they will do nothing but "tut-tut" and send blankets.
If one looks at the Russian situation, one response is clear: the immediate blockade of Cuba. As with the Cold War, one sees that the United States will not go to war directly with Russia over a satellite proxy. Therefore, as an appropriate response to the Russian attack on an ally of the United States in the Russian sphere of influence, it becomes essential that the United States re-exert its dominance over its own sphere.
A few weeks ago, you remember that Russia was going to resume the shipment of arms to Cuba, so it seems like an appropriate response to their aggression against Georgia. With Congress in recess and Bush not up for reelection, there is very little political fallout possible, and the gains of such an exertion on our own power should help to deter future incursions against the allies of the United States in the Russian sphere. (Note that an attack on the Ukraine may provoke a much larger war).
One has to wonder about the "why" of Russian aggression. Aside from being a complete affront to the world (i.e. Putin sitting at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics whilst Russian tanks rolled into Georgia), this may be an attempt to, first, intimidate western Europe into submitting to Russian economic dominance (i.e the trans-Ukrainian pipeline), or second, to create dissent in deeply divided nations, like the Ukraine into starting civil wars, allowing for Russian "peacekeepers" to extend their reach into Western Europe.
It remains essential that the United States take immediate action in its own sphere to combat the aggression against Georgia. Thus, the blockade of Cuba seems to be the most expedient way for the United States to express its disdain for the aggression of Russia.
Just a suggestion.
Isn't this the predictable consequence of what conservatives have promoted by supporting Bush's presidential government?
How can conservatives criticize the Russians for doing in Georgia what the U.S. has done in Iraq?
After all, isn't this what Harvey Mansfield and other neoconservatives have advocated in praising Bush's "imperial greatness" in the exercise of "one-man rule"? Is this an expression of what Mansfield has praised in Teddy Roosevelt's "manly nihilism"?
I came back to post this
piece about cyberwar.
Having dropped that, Larry Arnhardt, are you also suggesting that Mikhail Saakashvili is the equivalent of Saddam Hussein? I do not see the equivalence and cannot imagine how you do. Do you really think Putin's intentions in Georgia are the same as GWB's in Iraq? I do not, which is why I criticize.
If what you say is true, then I will hope the West is more manly than Russia and is as aggressive and ruthless as you suggest. I think we aren't. But I would rather live in a world not very well ruled by an America than a world more efficiently and ruthlessly ruled by the alternatives of Russia or China or Taliban-style Islam. What about you?
Kate, Bush's problem is less one of the weakness of his soul than of the weakness of existing American military capablities. The much dicussed Bush "turn" toward "diplomacy" (so beloved of the Fareed Zakarias of the world and so despised by the John Boltons) regarding Iran, North Korea and now Georgia is based on he recognition that American military resources were being stretched to the limit in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the world's predators knew this, and that the US could not credibly threaten violence in its strained circumstances. The various diplomatic games are just ways of covering the various American retreats. If we know that the "five party talks" aren't going to get North Korea to give up their nukes, its a fair bet that President Bush knows it too.
Larry the difference between the US operation in Iraq, and the Russian operation in Georgia is as big as...the difference between the Saddam regime and Georgia's liberal democracy.
And one other thing. As Peter Lawler wrote in an earlier post, all the most despicable accusations hurled at the Bush administration over Iraq are actually true when applied to the Russina operation in Georgia. Its a crowning irony that discussion of Georgia becomes another forum for those same false accusation, and to use it to excuse the Russians. "Isn't this the predictable consequence of what conservatives have promoted..." Oh, Please. The pathology of it all.
Well, Clifford and Joe and Pete, you give me pause, but here goes. This will be my last NLT comment for a while, because I face a major deadline soon--sorry I won't be able to respond. Conservatives are talking much too tough and too panicky about Georgia. This is bad in the short term for McCain’s election, and it is simply bad for all of us in the long term.
I think there is only a slight chance that Russia will accept the cease-fire, contrary to what Putin reportedly implied (bald-faced lie!) to Bush in Beijing. Rather, Russia will soon make a final decision, which we will be powerless to stop, whether Georgia will either become an outright puppet state, or whether its govt. will be left intact with S. Ossetia and that other province Azabakania(sp?) annexed. In the latter case, many will say we should offer the remaining Georgia NATO status or an equivalent US alliance-status, as a way of drawing a line in the sand. This would be a mistake. Iraq’s Kuwait invasion directly threatened the biggest oil supply and middle-east stability. What does Georgia becoming a puppet state directly threaten that is of comparable US interest? And, if the Russians then attack our new ally we will have just sworn to defend, we at best might be able to perpetually keep them from fully conquering it, but we could not push them out or keep them out. Moreover, we would be at war with Russia! A safer bet would be to grant Ukraine NATO status. Safer, but still probably unadvisable, since the same logic ultimately applies. Ready to send our soldiers to fight Russian ones in the Russia-majority areas of the Ukrainian East? How’s that ten-year deployment on the Ukrainian border gonna go? Ready to count on the Europeans to be there in force? Ready to count on the now-Russia-denouncing Democrats to remain steady? Ready to see if the two major nuclear powers can fight without turning to the nukes?
If we thought we could get Russian cooperation on Iran by threatening to grant security guarantees to Georgia/or Ukraine, and then making a deal (i.e., not granting the guarantees after implying we would) in exchange for that cooperation, it would be ugly, but maybe a good thing. Such a deal is unlikely, however, because Putin has become stubborn about his Iran-enablement. And maybe it is simply too morally problematic a thing for us to do. Maybe threatening weapons-sales would be a better way. In any case, my case for not unnecessarily antagonizing Russia for the sake of “It’s Iran, stupid” has less to do with rectifying the situation with Iran NOW, which despite the media silence is dire, but the with the situation that comes after a) they test or attack, b) Israel attacks, or c) we attack. We cannot afford a Russia convinced it is backed into a corner wherein it might seriously consider military alliance with an Iran that has acquired nukes. Not to mention China and North Korea.
We should let the Europeans, led by the eastern ones, take the lead on this. We American Conservatives were SCREWED by the western Europeans on Iraq. Our president did the right thing on the key decision, despite later errors in implementation, but early French and German intransigence gradually emboldened the American left to a) castigate Bush for “alienating the world,” and b) to oppose the war in highly unrestrained manner, even if wise Dem leaders knew in their guts that it almost-could-have-been Gore’s war. As a result, dangerous polarization on foreign policy issues in the US, a total emasculation of any teeth-baring action by the UN (adios, Darfur), and highly diminished political fortunes for conservatives across the board, even when the war is now being won. Only Obama’s sheer arrogance is between us and certain defeat. These trends of common opinion began for us in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, cities we made safer by taking out Saddam. If you read the history of the Cold War, you realize that quite often it was we who had to be CONVINCED BY THE EUROPEANS to contain the Soviets in Europe, at least for the first fifteen or so years. Which makes sense. Why risk life and limb to defend allies who won’t defend themselves?
So let’s let ourselves be the indispensable nation of last resort on this, not first resort. If we place ourselves on the front-line of condemnations and ultimatum-issuing, we are adding major fuel to the already-stoked fires of anti-Americanism burning in the Russian populace. Let’s tell good allies like the Poles, “We will never, ever, let one iota of your territory be taken by the Russians. We will risk all to prevent that. But if you want action against the Russians for this Georgia invasion, like serious economic sanctions, or security guarantees to the Ukraine, or big-time weapons sales, then first, you must convince your fellow EU and/or NATO members, and convince them to come, hat-in-hand, to ask what they will of us. And do not be shocked if we expect something from them (and you) in return. Our troops risk life and limb in Iraq and Afghanistan at great benefit to Europe, and the political party that 70% of these troops support is wildly calumnied for these military actions in the world press, following the lead of (or at the explicit behest of) western European political elites. If we are going to put these same troops on the very borderline of potential war to defend Europe from an expansion of Russian power, we need certain things in place, especially the open and unequivocal commitments of major European political parties, to keep us from getting burned again. The western Europeans and our own Democratic defeatists taught us ALL TOO WELL the only slightly-true lesson about the arrogance of our trying to ‘lead world opinion.’ They must step forward with actions if we are to do likewise, and they must step forward first. If you find, as we have some reason to fear you might, that the western Europeans prove unreliable allies in their EU or NATO capacities, then see if you can get a coalition of the willing together on your own. If a solid block of say, the Baltics, Poland, Czech Rep., Romania, Finland, and perhaps one major Western nation is willing to act in unison on a policy that directly confronts Russian policy, then we will seriously consider joining. Otherwise, we have too much to lose beyond affirming and backing the standard international condemnations, beyond trying our usual diplomatic bargaining with the Russians. Some of our Western allies have become contemptibly dependent upon our security provision and diplomatic leadership, so that it seems they do not know how to fight nor how to speak with international seriousness; we are your ally, but we do not want to see you becoming like them. Show the world and yourselves that you have backbone and strategic intelligence.”
The above is not isolationism, but a George Washington-style approach to geopolitical reality. The choice is not: leave-Europe-to-its-fate OR confront-the-Russians-right-now. Rather, this moment of Russian assertion should be properly utilized by us as a moment that can provoke European self-reflection, IF we stand momentarily aside.
But if we get caught up in the automatic moralism of “Democracy Crushing!” and “Russian Political Poison!” and “Have you seen the latest footage?!” if we refuse to signal any calculation of our own interests, then we will encourage the worst habits of our allies to continue. And, the worst cost militarily and diplomacy-wise will be paid by us. This was a price we could afford to pay in the former Yugoslavia when W. Europe dropped the ball; we simply cannot with Russia. We have a couple of wars to win right now, and with so precious little real help from our established allies that we suffered the indignity of accepting help from a weak state like Georgia that was clearly making a strategic bet upon our gratitude, in hopes that we would forget Washington’s sober words that “it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another.” So, no, we cannot fight another war now, or even contemplate doing so. And when you contemplate expanding NATO to nations like Ukraine and Georgia, you had better know that you are contemplating a potentially war-bringing pledge, and one far more provocative than pledging to protect the Czechs. You’d better be ready to fight that war that might come from your supposedly magic letters N-A-T-O. When it’s worldwide communism we’re up against, or worldwide Islamism and its terrorism we’re up against, then the high stakes make it worth it to go ahead alone when our allies dither or give us too much of the burden. But to prevent a bullying shell of a state with a gas monopoly from gaining wealth and influence at Europe’s expense? All the high risks we can associate with Russia either come from a) letting its bullying power slowly grow, or b) backing it into a corner, in which its leaders act rashly or are replaced by far worse ones, or c) it falling into civil war/anarchy. We’ve got lots of time before a) becomes difficult to reverse, and all the diplomatic opportunities therein in which to appeal to the senses of the better Russians, and if need be, to those of the soberer Europeans.
I admit the tough conservative talk has some good points. The new NRO editorial, for example, is good on pointing out the disturbing parallels to Soviet practices. And I admit to being scandalized by Putin’s brazenness, on a number of levels. But we need to calm way down. I hope I have at least shown that we have to think this through very carefully, and again, I assume the administration knows of a hundred other significant factors here to be considered. But right now, the potential conservative group-think on this is not simply dangerous for the long-term, but for John McCain, who can get swept up into it. He has the basic American moral sense to be outraged by what Russia has done, and to instinctively side with Georgia the fledgling democracy. I respect that, and the Russians had better as hell learn to respect the brute FACT that a lot of Americans and even Europeans share such instincts. But we conservatives need to face the brute fact that following our undeserved opinion rout on Iraq, a lot of our fellow Americans are made very, very nervous by that “go democracy, down with tyrants!” instinct. Especially right after they feel it themselves. Obama may be on board with Russia-denouncing now, but so far his people have been more plugged-in to realism with respect to Russia than McCain’s have been. If McCain sounds remarkably more hawkish than Obama on Russia, by November this could be the factor that loses him the election. And, he may simply be wrong on this one compared to Obama’s advisors. He’s got to save his and the nation’s outrage for Iran.
There was a difference between the military actions in Iraq and the diplomatic actions taken in North Korea. The difference had to do with consequences rather than the rightness of the cause. Criticisms of Bush often said--if Iraq, why not North Korea? Well, the consequences of Iraq were less damaging--perhaps only economic in that that war took place in the middle of the the global oil deposits. North Korea, however, had Chinese backing. Was it worth fighting against North Korean nukes if that could lead hostilites with China? Perhaps, but restraint was probably the better course--so much for Bush's universalism, or perhaps it's a universalism tempered by consequentialism.
Unfortunately, Georgia is similar in regards to consequentialism. One wonders if the Russians will push this to the Ukraine. Is Putin (I suppose that Medvedev is simply a trope) willing to play the bully? Then Tom's suggestion doesn't seem as absurd. What after Ukraine?
Surely putting in missile defense in Europe. Expansion of NATO. Kicking Russia out of the G8. Establishing a Georgian government in exile. Pushing for UN sanctions. Continued talk, i.e, condemnations. Blockading Cuba? Let's hope that can wait.It seems pretty excessive, but perhaps not in the long term.
Bush should have never gone to the Olympics. He played into the Chinese hands. He is playing on their terms of propaganda (and what excellent show the opening ceremonies were). Meanwhile, he got caught nodding by the Russians. Yet, he waves the flag for Michael Phelps. I too wonder what's in his soul. Did anyone else see the interview with Bob Costas? Bush is now the ameliorator and compromiser. The appeaser? China is so much better nowadays than when Bush was riding his bike through Beijing in the 1970s (when the cultural revolution is still going on). Talk about giving me a break!
The situation appears to have calmed down this morning.
Carl Scott, what does it mean in international politics to have an ally? If a nation allies itself with the US and we accept and even applaud the alliance, doesn't that require something from us?
Anyway, "Speak softly and carry a big stick" never sounded better.
I like this.
Kate's link to Vic Hanson is right on.
As for Professor Arnhart's post, I am sad about it.. because he was my doctoral studies chair and dissertation promoter, but here he speaking utter nonsense.. right out of the pages of Ron Paul. To compare what Putin did here and what Bush did in Iraq is just laughable, not only because common sense would tell us such, but also what Aristotle teaches us about the nature of a thing (here human action), that if you are going to say two things (again we are talking about human action) are identical not only do "means" have to be the same but so too the "ends" and the "degree" and the "how it is done".. and while Bush may have pushed the degree of executive power but he did it within the Framework both the Constitution and Int Law (and no matter what the crazies will claim Int Law is rather vague and allows alternative interpretations unlike positive law made by legislatures). No Professor Arnhart exaggerates to make his libertarian case, one that here is just off base.
I am not upset with Bush for using excutive power, I am mad it him for botching the job. I am mad at him for not acting forcefully putting people in the hotseat (like not publically begging Nagen to evaucate New Orelans after Nagen refused his private request off camara) or not defending his administrations policy, for sitting on his hands while his spokes man who later will stab him in the back botches things day after day, etc.
No I am upset with Bush because he did not keep his word, he let people whom he gave his word to down and THEY WON'T FORGET nor FORGIVE.
I am sad to say that after Bush's failure here in Georgia, Poland will vote against the missile shield (one that is NOT designed to prevent Russian missiles) because how can they trust security promises made by the US?
I like the VDH article.
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