Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Russia or Georgia?

Here’s the Belmont Club’s take on Putin’s claim that we must choose. If Russia really intends to bring the independent nation of Georgia to a real or virtual end, then we have to make it clear it wasn’t because we chose Russia (for help with Iran or any other reason) over our democratic ally. With Rice’s visit and our mini-"Berlin Airlift" we’re trying to tell the Russian leader that he’s the guy who has to choose.

Discussions - 21 Comments

One of the few upsides to all of this is that the combination of Russian thugishness and Russian intransigence (in Iran above all) has made the choice easier. If the trade was the US betrayal of Georgia in exchange for meaningful Russian heip on Iran, then a coldblooded choice in favor of a Russian "partnership" would be defensible in realpolitic (not moral) terms. But the US will not get Russian help on Iran, so abandoning Georgia would be betraying an ally and getting nothing in return.

This recognition actually frees up American policy options. We no longer have to worry as much whether Russia is happy with us. As the Russian foreign minister made clear, they want us to submit and will accept no less in exchange for... nothing as far as I can tell. So there is little reason to avoid making the Russian regime's life less comfortable. Some suggestions in no partucular order.

1. A generous rebuilding package to Georgia.

2. A commitment to Georgia's democratic regime. The US should make it clear that the only change in government in Georgia that we recognize is throught the election process that brought the current one into power.

3. Publicly humiliate the Russian regime by mocking the democracy defecit in their own system. As AS taught us the truth is a weapon in the fight against evil. If Russian President Medvedev again demands that the Georgian President abdicate, the US government (maybe in the form of Rice) should point out that of course President Medvedev would like to see the Georgian President deposed by thuggery, fraud, and contempt for the rights of the people that being how Medvedev got his current job. Thats probably too strong a formulation but something along those lines would be both long overdue and let them know that their actions are caausing us not to fear them but to have contempt for them.

4. Ship anti tank and anti aircraft missiles to Georgia and expand training of Georgia's troops. Make it plain that the next Russian invasion of Georgia will be very costly in Russian lives.

5. Make it clear that the next invasion of Georgia will precipitate a complete breach of economic relations, and the banning of Russian government officials from travel to the US.

Clifford, I don't think your C-SPAN link works. It doesn't on my computer.

President Bush seems to have chosen a bold but balance approach today in ordering a U.S. military cargo plane to deliver food and medicine to Georgia. It’s a good way to put pro-democracy Americans between the Russian invaders and the democratic Georgians.

If Russian Prime Minister Putin is serious about his intentions only to protect ethnic (and passport-holding) Russians living in Ossetia and Abkhazia, then U.S. troops carrying in food and medicine to the rest of Georgia shouldn’t matter. If Putin was tempted to conquer all of Georgia, the U.S. troops should discourage him.

Sending U.S. and European leaders to Georgia is a good move, too. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on her way. Other democratic leaders have been there, and more are going. It would be a huge risk for the Russians to bomb Tbilisi if world leaders are sitting under the bombs.

I also liked a point made by Rice today when a reporter asked her about Russian leaders’ threats they might stop helping the U.S. on matters like Iran. Rice said it was odd the Russians thought they were “doing the U.S. a favor” by opposing Iran’s illegal nuclear program.

What does it say about the nature of the Russian regime that, every time it opposes a dictatorship’s threats and abuses, it thinks it’s doing us a favor? Why wouldn’t the Russians be doing themselves a favor?

You need real player to view.

Just to amplify one point - and as a presumptive response to those who might argue that mocking the current Russian regime is childish. Claiming "outrage" is in one sense counter productive. The Russian regime wants to flex its muscles. American outrage in one sense reaffirms this sense that Russia is now respected and feared. Pointed public mockery is better for puncturing the pretensions of authoriatrian elites. This was another lesson to be learned from Reagan's example. He was the cold Warrior most adept at mocking the soviet system. They want us to fear them. Show that they have gained no measure of fear, but have lost our respect. Of course words alone are not enough.

I see now that the most important effect of the U.S. military cargo plane delivering medicine to Tbilisi is that it will guarantee the Tbilisi airport remains under democratic Georgia's control.

If this works, it will have been one brilliant stroke.

What constitutes "help" on Iran? How would Russia help - even if they were willing? What? Vote for some toothless resolution in the UN? Yeah - that'll stop the mullahs.

How many times must we see this same ridiculous dance play out?

Nothing will stop Iran from pursuing the bomb. Nothing. Why would they? Not sanctions. Not economic hardship. Nothing short of military action.

So...either the USA and/or Israel is prepared to launch a military strike against Iran - or Iran will get it's nukes. The rest is all infuriating and childish nonsense. And even if there is a military strike, it'll only set them back a limited amount of time.

Welcome to our future, folks. Sooner or later a rogue group or state will acquire nukes and detonate one or more in Israel or a Western country. It's only a matter of time. Let's stop pretending, please. There will always be enemies, and as technology and knowledge spread throughout the world, there's just no way to prevent these enemies from acquiring WMDs.

We should be working on things like detection, striking back, minimizing casualties, emergency preparedness, etc.

True, the Russians have little "help" to offer, except a U.N. vote. Funny, they didn't ask for a U.N. vote before they went in and destroyed four or five Georgian towns.

Rice's point reveals something else. What the Russians are saying, and the world understands subconsciously, is that the Russian regime normally stands for danger and dictatorship, and when it votes for peace and human rights, it's a painfully unnatural stretch for which the regime expects compensation.

It's tragic.

Its time to hurt Russia. Hurt them where it counts. Hit their financial institutions, credit system, companies, the US ought to Freeze ALL RUSSIAN ASSETS EVERYWHERE ASAP. How, first declare Russia a terrorist state and act under the law to any terrorist state. It ought to Round up any Russian passport holder (many are now little more than a 5th column attacking American blogs!!!).

By what Putin has done here is right out of Hitler's playbook and if we don't act the consequences will be damming. Of course the voices of appeasement will cry, of course voices for moderation and talk will come from any good and honest men, but the people who let Hitler and his regime ride roughshod over the world were also good and honest men. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. We tolerated too much of Putin for the past decade for all sound reasons, but his actions now has now turned our actions and the actions of those who counseled toleration and inaction to now be conspirators with a regime that threatens the whole security regime of civilized society. As Ralph Peters aptly said, the Soviets were subtle and restrained in comparison to the brutality and ruthlessness of what has transpired. Action and resolute action now is the only course of action that any decent human being can stomach, unless he be a collaborating agent, a stooge, or a fool. Our resolution here should be as was in WWII and on Sept 11.

Gee since making posts here and adding my email, I was attacked by SPAM, the nashi are here watching and attacking those who oppose the great Leader!!!

Check out Charles Krauthammer on the Cards in America's Hand

Victor Hanson has this new article out on the current situation.

I think Jean-François Revel's Why Democracies Perish is more relevant now then when it was written, I hope someone thinks to reprint it.

The Milblog Argghhh!!! has some rather good info on whats going on.

At the AEI panel, Kagan argued that we ought to stop "subcontracting" our security policy on matters like Iran and North Korea to dictatorships (Russia and China respectivly) that do not share our interests. He is right.

But thats not the whole story. Maybe liberal internationalists like Fareed Zakaria and Obama actually believe that the kind of multiparty talks currently involving North Korea will succeed. I doubt President Bush is that naive. The "subcontracting" that Kagan refers to is a function of current American weaknesss. We know that we lack the resources to credibly threaten North Korea and Iran. North Korea and Iran know that too. The various multiparty talks are ways for Iran, North Korea and the US to stall pending some kind of change in the fundementals of power. The US is stuck in the bad postion of both being able to do little in the present and having time not be on the American side.

And another point. The current strain on the US military exists in large measure because the President followed the advice of Kagan and others to increase the US commitment in Iraq rather than withdraw in defeat as most advised in late 2006 (they didn't call it that of course). Bush made the brave, noble and correct choice. But it had consequences. The US military was and is tied down and everybody who matters knows it. Averting American defeat in Iraq has, by draining US military resources, reduced US leverage with Iran, North Korea, and as Georgia demonstrates, Russia too.

Thats not Kagan's fault. An American defeat in Iraq would have had even worse consequences. In late 2006 there were only bad choices. Be defeated in the field or strain the military. The fault lies with Bush and Rumsfeld, who sent the military to war and expanded our alliance system without expanding our military. I believe Kagan himself was one of Rumsfled's earliest critics on just this point.

Weakness often means having to face hard choices. The mistakes of 2001-2006 meant that the US lacked the resources to be strong in all the places it might be needed. When people castigate the Bush administration for "cowardice" in Georgia, they should keep in mind that American retreats in Georgia, Iraq and North Korea are needed in order to preserve the very brave American effort in Iraq. It is not moral weakness, it is prudence. And that a lack of prudence put us in this sad situation.

Foreign Policy has this article about the role of Russian Bloggers as an important weapon in Russia's hands. This is why we need to treat what most of the ProRussian stuff on on the net as that of agents of Russia and the 5th Column.

Mr. Bates, I've got to invoke Godwin's Law on you.

I hope you meet a bunch of nashi on a street and you will know first hand and intimately that I am making no logical fallacy here.

Medvedev made the crucial point last week when he stated that as Russia's president, he was obliged to protect the "security and dignity" of all Russian citizens, wherever they may live. This is right out the Hitler's play book regarding Austria, Sudatenland, Czech, Danzig... Russia. I don't think I am making any fallacies Craig, its your blinders to what is going on.

Oh by the way, Hitler did not go gasing people till after 38 and did not create the death camps til after Wansee in late 41, after the Invasion of Russia. So give Putin and his cronies time and continued sucess, who knows what greater crimes will happen?

Craig if you are going to pull a fancy fallacy, perhaps you ought to know what it means and how it applies. Cause even your link said that "It does not apply to discussions directly addressing genocide, propaganda, or other mainstays of the Nazi regime." And given that has been the point of my posts and comparisons, it does not apply. Nice try though.

Clifford, Godwin's Law is not a "fancy fallacy" but a rule regarding internet discussions. I didn't know that this thread - which necessarily follows the originl post and its subject matter - directly addressed genocide, propaganda, or other mainstays of the Nazi regime. Perhaps it was the point of YOUR posts, but then, again, I would be justified in calling Godwin's Law on you for inserting the Hitler comparison in this thread.

"Obliged to protect 'the security and dignity' of all Russian citizens, wherever they may live" - replace Russian with American and I'd bet I could find a very similar or nearly identical quote from GWB. Especially a post-9/11 quote. Would you then liken Bush to Hitler? I wouldn't do that, and I'm no Bush fan, certainly.

Craig, I'll call your bluff... find the quote... and not something vaguely like it but following the logic of what the Russians demanded.

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