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Is NATO What It Once Was?

George Will says that if Georgia were in NATO, Russia would never have attacked. I have to admit I’m not at all sure about that.

Discussions - 12 Comments

Right, what could NATO have done? No more than we have under present circumstances. Russian is saying we control our periphery, we are capable of militray operations, and lay off Ukraine. Is this really an unexpected thing? All of us agree there's no end to History.

Nato does nothing without the US leading it and the US was awol here. There were lots of options. Hitting the tunnel with cruise missiles (both sides of the tunnel is Georgian territory and if the Georgians oked, and the Georgian commandos could have taken the credit). US and Turkish planes could have flown into Georgian airspace patrolling and interfering with the Russians, and if the Russians locked on them.. self-defense allows you to take the pains out. The military options were numerous and varied, but instead State and the doves ruled and we instead had lots of talk and little action.

Peter, NATO membership is a promise by the US that in case it is attacked, we will defend it as we would defend ourselves. Presumably with nuclear weapons if neccesary. That, and not the threat of NATO's conventional forces is what truly deters. The question of whether Russia would have been deterred is a question of whether Russia believed that we the US were willing to live up to that promise. The case of Georgia was a gray area. Georgia had helped us in Iraq, we helped train the Georgian military but we had made no explicit security guaratnees to Georgia. Russia exploited that ambiguity.

For reasons that Free Frank pointed out, there was never a chance that the NATO alliance would take serious action against Russia over Georgia. Germany is too economically beholden to Russia. Any action (by which I mean resupply of Georgia and sanctions) will have to be taken by the US and a "coalition of the willing", if it is undertaken at all.

Clifford Bates, what you say about NATO is certainly true, but in fairness, America seems not to have been ready for Russia's attack on Georgia. Maybe it should have been or maybe it couldn't have been, but it just wasn't.

Robert Jeffery, if NATO would be doing nothing, or could do nothing, what good is NATO?

Well here is one blog the nashi have yet to find or dont bother with. Everywhere else on the web they are there spreading their lies and Putinesque party line. Heck even Gorby.

Why have conservatives become so enraptured with Bush's imperial presidency that they can't see the utopian character of his foreign policy as manifested in the Georgian debacle? Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is an ambitious man who satisfied his ambition by seducing the neoconservatives in Washington, D.C. He has been praised by President Bush as the model of democratic leadership in the former Soviet provinces. Bush has encouraged him to challenge the power of Putin's Russia.

In response to this encouragement from Bush, Saakashvili launched a massive military assault on the town of Tshkinvali in the region of South Ossetia, which has been separate from Georgia for many years. This military attack was a clear violation of international law. Russia responded with military force, moving its forces into Georgia. Bush and Dick Cheney have condemned the Russian moves as "disportionate" to Saakashvili's aggression.

Undoubtedly, Putin was happy to use this provocation from Saakashvili as an excuse to vindicate Russia's military power over its traditional sphere of influence.

But isn't there something utopian about sponsoring someone like Saakashvili as a model of democratic leadership, without realizing that his reckless pursuit of his own ambitions is not in the interests of the Georgians or of his American allies?

Last November, Saakashvili showed his tyrannical dispositions by declaring a national emergency in which his police brutally suppressed his political opponents. Isn't this what one should expect from ambitious political leaders who are told by their American sponsors that they represent the wave of history?

Doesn't this show the utopian character of Bush's foreign policy and his imperial presidency? Why aren't conservatives calling for a rejection of Bush's Wilsonian utopianism and a return to realism?

Larry, you are surely right that there has been a utopian element to the Bush administration's policies. That is one reason why Iraq has caused the US so much grief and why the US miltary is in no position to even plausibly threaten the world's rogue regimes.

But it is not realism to stand by as Russia seizes control of central Asia's oil supplies whether through direct conquest or the installation of puppet regimes. It is not realism to allow one's allies to be extiniguished without lifting a finger - unless one does not care to have allies.

There has been alot of talk this week about Russia's "sphere of influence" with the implication that the US should shrug off Russian violations of the sovereignty of its bordering countries (and thats alot of borders). Presumably China has its own shere of influence, as does Iran. A policy that follows these presumptions is just isolationism by another name.

Your point on the folly of Georgia's gambit in South Ossetia is mostly sound but there is something very off in the tone. Central Asia and eastern Europe are not threatened by the ambitions of Georgia's president as Clifford Bates seems very eager to attest. And the supposed to be menacing phrase "imperial presidency" pales in the face of the brutal real world imperialism practiced by the Putin regime. It is amazing how many of the same people who were harshly critical of Bush over the invasion of Iraq, now look at the Russian invasion of Georgia, and their first instinct is to be harshly critical of Bush. This isn't even moral equivalence.

Professor Arnhart, so next thing you will damning Lincoln and defending the confederacy????? The irony of being on the opposite side of this issue is rather painful. Why? Because from my 10 years of living in Central and Eastern Europe, I have seen things that made me rethink much of what I used to think and believe. Remember I was the Pat Buchanan fan in 91 and 92... now you echoing his and Ron Paul's stance here, and I went all Wilsony.... Perhaps what I saw in Kosovo and Serbia in 99 made me rethink some of my niece isolationist thinking. Remember what Stanly Greenstreet said to Bogart in Casablanca. And with power comes responsibility, as Burke was reputed to say, evil triumphs in our world because good men did nothing. Conservatism is about being a good man and doing what is right and standing up to evil in all its forms. Yes of course one ought to be prudent about this, but all too sadly what calls itself prudence these days is little more than excuses for cowardice and the unwilling to pay the cost of doing the right thing. This is what Mel Bradford taught me and this is why I still respect his memory.

As for your cry about an imperial presidency is laughable, especially if one has had nearly 10 years pf day to day experience seeing our state dept and other agencies abroad at work, or more correctly avoiding work, constantly playing congress against the president in order to secure comfort and great pensions.

And your comparison of Bush/Chaney to Putin is all so Andrew Sullvanny. And is what the nashi all shout loudly in the Times and the FT. If you are going to toe the line, perhaps you should get some of the cash Putin tosses about. I am told from some friend in Prague his proxies paid some journalists up to 100,000 euros. But as Vic Hanson as said, “From what the Russians learned of the Western reaction to Iraq, they expect their best apologists will be American politicians, pundits, professors, and essayists — and once more they will not be disappointed.” And they do it for free to boot!!! More money for the chicks.

Several points.

1. The comparisons between the late 1930s and the the Georgia crisis can be misplaced, but Larry's post does show a revival of one of that era's qualities. Those who wished nonintervention often blamed the victims of the agression for provoking the predator.

2. Larry's point does have a certain plausibility. The US's security commitments are at best overdrawn, possibly bankrupt. Conservatives should realize that there have been some very grave errors (mostly in the period 2001-2006) and that those errors have undermined what has been good in Bush's foreign policy.

How can we even discuss in this who shot first. It is common knowledge that Georgia made the first move in all of this and considering the rather obvious fact that Mikheil Saakashvili is another CIA plant. Now, the question remains, is he another in a long line of boomerang plants or was the CIA behind this entire thing? BTW, anyone else know another name for the National Bank in Georgia? I'll fill you all in: Galt and Taggart Securities. If there is still anyone there that catches the refrence I would love to hear some thoughts on why the bank is called this. Or for that matter why the John Galt Corporation got fired in a cleanup job of the bank building that was damaged during 911 when a they let a fire break out during their demolition in NYC this month.

Kate, in partial answer to your question, see the analysis of George Friedman that Peter has linked to above. All eyes now should be turning to the new states on Russia's western periphery.

Robert Jeffrey, I see that Russia might think of NATO as a threat, but surely not such a great threat because of the leverage of oil supply to Europe. European dependence on Russian oil makes them vulnerable. I have read elsewhere in the threads that the US should not purchase Russian oil. Could Europe manage without it? I doubt that.

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