Russia vs. Georgia

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 15, 2008

This isn't about the Olympics. This is about what to do about Russia's invasion of Georgia and its attempt to overthrow its democratically-elected government.

Direct military action is something we should avoid, but the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer has some substantive actions we can take that can hurt the expansionist Russians.

We are not without resources. There are a range of measures to be deployed if Russia does not live up to its cease-fire commitments:

1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.

2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.

3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin’s dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.

4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.

All of these steps (except dissolution of the G-8, which should be irreversible) would be subject to reconsideration depending upon Russian action — most importantly and minimally, its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The most crucial and unconditional measure, however, is this: Reaffirm support for the Saakashvili government and declare that its removal by the Russians would lead to recognition of a government-in-exile. This would instantly be understood as providing us the legal basis for supplying and supporting a Georgian resistance to any Russian-installed regime.

This is like 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean -- a good start -- but there's got to be more we can do. Krauthammer has one additional suggestion.

President Bush could cash in on his close personal relationship with Putin by sending him a copy of the highly entertaining (and highly fictionalized) film "Charlie Wilson’s War" to remind Vlad of our capacity to make Russia bleed. Putin would need no reminders of the Georgians’ capacity and long history of doing likewise to invaders.

And for those on the thug-apologistic left who claim that the U.S. has "no moral authority" to decry the invasion of a democracy by a thugocracy -- well, it just confirms how morally bankrupt they are.


The inestimable Victor Davis Hanson had an excellent essay on that touched on this last point.

The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state.

The Russians rightly expect Westerners to turn on themselves, rather than Moscow — and they won’t be disappointed. Imagine the morally equivalent fodder for liberal lament: We were unilateral in Iraq, so we can’t say Russia can’t do the same to Georgia. (As if removing a genocidal dictator is the same as attacking a democracy). We accepted Kosovo’s independence, so why not Ossetia’s? (As if the recent history of Serbia is analogous to Georgia’s.) We are still captive to neo-con fantasies about democracy, and so encouraged Georgia’s efforts that provoked the otherwise reasonable Russians (As if the problem in Ossetia is our principled support for democracy rather than appeasement of Russian dictatorship).

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. We are a culture, after all, that after damning Iraqi democracy as too violent, broke, and disorganized, is now damning Iraqi democracy as too conniving, rich, and self-interested — the only common denominator being whatever we do, and whomever we help, cannot be good.

Read the whole thing.

0 comments on “Russia vs. Georgia”

  1. Russia won the war and I applaud its people, army, media and government. In this war Russia defends its citizens against the Georgian puppet regime, not a democracy. This regime is installed against the will of the Georgian people by the US secret service instructors. You can see the bodies of those guys on the Web all over the place now. Russia fought a NATO trained army on which the Americans spent as much as $5 billion over 7 years, out of pockets of the US taxpayers. Russia had 12000 troops vs 37000 Georgian troops and 100000 conscripts. Georgians hate their president and cowardly US allies.

    Guess what you can do... Nothing. The US is losing its influence in Europe faster than it lost its credibility in the war. Turkey doesn't even let your ships through its straights. And guess what, even if you had power to do something, Russia doesn't care much about it.


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August 2008



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