Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Fairbanks on Georgia and Its Invasion

Here’s some realism from a famous scholar who actually spends lots of time in Georgia. The real cause of the invasion was Russia’s incredible resentment toward the West; they thought of themselves as really striking against us. The Georgian government has become, for all practical purposes, just as nasty and authoritarian as the Russian one. We told Georgian leaders repeatedly not to do anything provocative, and they did anyway. And now the people of Georgia really hate us too. Maybe we should nuke them both (Charles doesn’t really say that, nor do I).

Discussions - 8 Comments

What the Col said at the AEI briefing was clear, he only trained the Georgians to work on what we wanted and only those things. We did not train them to be able to defend themselves, because we did not want to piss off the Russians. I smell the state dept and Condi. No wonder the Poles are demanding a refit of their army to take up the missile defense system that is made to deal with Russian missiles!!!

Gee I am really ashamed of my country and disgusted of this administration over this.

I don't understand. I thought everyone at NLT was saying that Georgia was a great model of democracy that had to be defended against Russian aggression.

This comment by Fairbanks suggests this is not the case--that once again the neoconservatives have led the U.S. into another foreign policy debacle.

Would this have happened if U.S. foreign policy was based on a realist conception of American national interests and a calculation of the balance of power rather than a Wilsonian idealist conception of idealism based on an "end of history" scenario?

Is this what comes from Harvey Mansfield's "manly nihilism" following the model of Teddy Roosevelt?

Larry, your method could work on any case of international predation that occurs outside of the Americas. What about the negative aspects of the Kuwait government(much uglier than Georgia's) and Iraq's natural sphere of influence? Was Poland in Germany's sphere of influence? Was Afghanistan in the USSR's? Bush can be called alot of things but he is no kind of nihilist.

The AEI briefing yesterday made it clear that Russia provoked the war. The revisionist history that places the majority on the blame on the Georgian government is sick. After all it was only a case of uncontested Georgian territoy being shelled from a breakaway province. Nope, no provocation there. The invasion of Georgia was clearly a case of premedidated international predation. An agressive imperialist Russian regime (even one that contents itself to directly dominating its current "near abroad") is by nature hostile to any but an isolationist America. Unfortunatly, nothing spurs an ambitious authoritarian regime like the seeming success in predation.

Clifford, on an earlier thread you made a favorable reference to Rumsfled as the real brain and spine of the post 9/11 response. Several points on Rumsfeld.

1. He refused to expand the size of the American military in the wake of 9/11. He insited on fighting a war with a peace time military.

2. He supported going to war in Iraq while continuing to resist any major increase in the size of the military. Thats fighting two wars with a peacetime military along with all the other security agreements (formal and informal) that US power underwrites.

3. He adopted a failed strategy for dealing with the Iraqi insurgency, and when the evidence of the failure became clear HE STUCK TO HIS FAILED STRATEGY. He defended his strategy with sophisms worthy of a Gus Hall defending the economic record of the USSR.

The price of Rumsfeld's errors were a wounded military, military commitments that barely leave the US enough troops to maintain operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, shattered presidential credibility, and a cynical, war wearly public. Putin knew all this before he went into Georgia, and Georgia is only part of the price the US is paying and will continue to pay for Rumsfeld's ideological mania and selfish arrogance.

To paraphrase a Union soldier commenting on John Calhoun: Georgia is Rumsfeld's monument.

Pete, I know that is the standard line on Rummy, but I disagree. Rummy took on the DOD bureaucracy and made important changes. As for increasing the military, what needed to be done was to change priorities in the DOD and restructure to do more with what we had and do it more effectively before going on to go to a congress who will not be that willing to expand military spending without clear case being made it had to be done.

Clifford, facts are facts. When the pinch came there was not (and is not)enough military to go around. Rumsfeld wanted a smaller more effective military. Ok, it was a plausible theory at the time (though military experts like Robert Kagan and John Keegan poked holes in it even before Iraq). But it failed the reality test. The adaptions of the enemy have made military operations much more manpower intensive than Rumsfeld imagined and Rumsfeld imprudently left no margin for error. By the standards that ultimatly matter - winning wars and deterring our enemies and rivals - Rumsfeld failed and with horrible consequences. The two first (likley not last)exhibits were Iraq in late 2006 and Georgia now.

Wasn't Rumsfield's problem a political one? He was trying to make a smaller, more efficient military because that was what was politically possible at the time. After Desert Storm and the Bosnian expedition, didn't it seem like America's military could rely on technology and air power to overwhelm any enemy? Didn't it seem as if war would be different than it ever had been? I read article after article about the truth of that --- except it isn't true. Or it hasn't been true in Iraq and Afghanistan, at any rate.

Your conversation also makes me think about America relative to the rest of the world. I do not even know if it true, but I keep reading in other applications that America has less than 5% of the world's population. What percent of our population is actively serving in our military? I can't find that statistic. Wikipedia tells me there were 1427546 people are on active duty in the military with an additional 1458400 people in the seven reserve components which looks like a lot of people, until you consider what they are trying to do in the world.

I don't know that it Rumsfield's fault that our military is not all that is needed. I don't know that it can be all that is needed. Maybe we want too much?

Pete, I love the Gus Hall line!

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