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Georgia On My Mind, Part II

Earlier today, I talked about the reactions of President Bush and Senators McCain and Obama to the Russian invasion of Georgia. At the end of that, I said that I'd revisit the topic, and look at just what can be done about the situation. I think that the best solution would be to handle it diplomatically and politically..

"Diplomacy," though, being defined with the classic definitions. "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie' while reaching for a stick." And "politically," as in "war is the extension of politics by other means."

Dafydd ab Hugh (who was so underhanded as to steal my title, and had the gumption to publish first!) has some ideas about how best to react to Russia's moves in Georgia. I like a lot of his ideas, but I have to disagree with some of them.

First up, I don't think that extending NATO membership to former Soviet slave states is a good idea. It would be seen as provocative, goading Russia into accelerating any aggressive intentions it has towards those nations. I'm sure they have the plans, and they would be right -- it would be provocative. They might even consider jumping the gun, getting the invasions under way before the treaties are signed.

That would be a very, very dangerous situation. It was the beauties of interlocking treaties that was a large factor in triggering World War I. A modern-day conflict, between Russia and the West over its former slave states, would escalate very, very quickly.

For all they've fallen since the Bad Old Days of the Soviet Union, Russia is still a military superpower. A fight with them would be very bloody and very expensive. I also fear that the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson would be borne out: "when you strike against a king, you must kill him." This fight would become a matter of "win or die" for the Russians, much like the Japanese at the end of World War II, and I don't believe we have anything as much of an eye-opener as the atomic bombs.

No, engaging the Russians militarily -- or preparing or threatening to -- is too risky a move. Some of Dafydd's other ideas, though, might work.

Senator McCain has recommended expelling Russia from the G-8, the eight leading industrial and economic powers of the world (the other seven being the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy, as well as the European Union collectively). That would be a good move, I think; Russia put a lot of fuss into admission, and it will be a blow to their pride to cast them out.

Economic sanctions could also be a good move. I don't agree with some people who argue for using grain for this, though -- I find using food as a weapon a bit repugnant. But other imports and exports, as well as financial arrangements, can and should be re-examined and reconsidered in light of Russia's actions.

Support for Georgia is problematic. We've already given them extensive training, and supplied them with some munitions. Giving weapons to resistance forces is a time-honored tradition, and it worked pretty well in helping the Afghans bleed the Soviet bear white in the 1970's and 1980's. (It also ended up with the Taliban taking power, largely facilitated by the US losing interest in Afghanistan once the Soviets lost interest, and that cost us dearly in the long run, but I don't think that would be inevitable here.) It also runs the risk of pushing the Russians into escalating the fighting into wholesale conquest and slaughter, and that could spill over into other former slave states.

An element of an ideal solution would involve a way for the Russians to save face somehow, to back away without having to admit defeat or error. As satisfying as that would be, it would be very expensive in the long run.

Maybe an agreement for both Russia and Georgia to both withdraw from both North and South Ossetia, and bring in some peacekeeping forces (NOT from the UN, please -- they almost always make any situations worse) to keep the areas secure. Both regions would become temporary protectorates of a third party or a coalition of third parties, while Georgia and Russia negotiate -- honestly negotiate -- about their future. And the people of Ossetia would have a seat at that table, too.

In the meantime, though, the fighting goes on in Georgia. Russian troops are killing more civilians, destroying more property, and tearing down a democratically-elected government that is a staunch US ally. That needs to be stopped, and stopped now.

If Russia proves truly intransigent, then we need to threaten with the greatest weapon at our disposal. We should warn them that if they don't start behaving themselves, we will be sending over Code Pink, the International Solidarity Movement, and all those other psycho "peace" groups that have plagued us for far too long.

If that doesn't bring Russia to the table now, nothing short of nuclear weapons will.


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Comments (13)

A reporter from CNN went to... (Below threshold)

A reporter from CNN went to interview four soldiers from the Russian army, asking them what they were doing in Georgia. They were all stinking of alcohol. And in most news footage I've seen Russian soldiers are involved in combat in Georgia firing weapons not wearing helmets.

It's a scary thought that an army this crappy and unprofessional is backed up with nuclear weapons of any type.

It's really not very surprising to me to hear of any Russian attacks on civilians or other unprofessional conduct coming from such a military. Even during WWII, as few as only 5% of some German POWs survived Russian POW camps because the treatment was so poor. And in Afghanistan crimes against civilians by Russian troops were very common such as poisoning of well water in villages. This is one of the worst armies in the world.

The Russian government mandate to Washington to choose between Georgia or international cooperation with Russia is yet another disappointing twist in this international mess showcasing Russia once again at it's very worst of conduct. Depressing indeed.

Paul, a friend of mine was ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Paul, a friend of mine was in the Balkans training Kosovar military police. They were excited to get to the part where the Canadian soldiers would explain to them the internationally acceptable methods of rape-as-psychological-warfare. They were seriously grief-stricken when they learned that that was not part of Western military doctrine.

Consider the part of the world. They drink, they rape, they pound on things with shoes to emphasize their points. How could it be otherwise?, a hypothetical Dr. Panglossnikov might have asked.

Russia is not a superpower.... (Below threshold)
LenS:

Russia is not a superpower. It's a demographically dying state with an army of bullies who'd fare worse than the Republican Guard did against our forces. Like the Serbs, they're at their best against defenseless civilians. It's surface navy is rusting away. It's air force is no match for ours. Most of it's subs are radioactive disasters. All they've got are a decent small anti-tank weapon, a handful of decent ICBM's, pipelines to blackmail Europe with, and some experienced Special Forces.

It's time to destroy those ICBM's and finish off this nasty remnant of despotism. But the more we cave, the more likely they'll provide nukes to our Islamic enemies. Diplomacy is a waste of time that buys time for our enemies to weaken us. True peace only comes through total victory on the battlefield.

Don't know if anyone saw th... (Below threshold)
Wordygirl:

Don't know if anyone saw this on Fox News, but Shepard Smith was interviewing a 'brave young 12-year old' caught in the crossfire while on a family vacation in Georgia. Well, some intern at Fox News didn't do their job, and it turned out this brave young 12-year old girl and her aunt were Russian sympathizers and promptly denounced the Georgian government and blamed the violence on Georgian soldiers and praised the Russians for coming to their rescue. You could just smell poor Shepard Smith sweating through that interview....

First step: Stop the millio... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

First step: Stop the millions of dollars in 'welfare' the U.S. provides to Russia.

I love it. Russians blamin... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

I love it. Russians blaming Georgia for the violence. How many Georgian troops are there in Russia? Anyone else notice the Russian tanks use reactive armor. We should supply the Georgians with M1A Abrams tanks. It would not take many to defeat the Russian equipment. There is president for the claims the Russians are making. Hitler made the same claims on territories he wanted to annex.

Unfortunately, Georgia is a... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Unfortunately, Georgia is a lost, but in taking it, Russia has tipped it's hand. The next move belongs to the west if we have the guts to stop Russia taking any more small nations. If the west doesn't extend immediate NATO membership to the Ukraine and Belarus then we have no one to blame but ourselves if these nations fall to Russia under similar pretense. Assuming the Ukraine and/or Belarus accept NATO membership, then the west needs to poor troops and equipment into these nations as fast as can be done. Russia will protest, and threaten, but the west must stand firm and pointing to Russia's action against Georgia as justification.

However, I doubt the west will take any effective action against Russia, not even diplomatic. The world needs Russia's oil and the money it gets in return will be poured into more weapons. At some point Russia may even challenge long time NATO members. The world is too dangerous a place for the U.S. to elect an inexperienced namby-pamby like BO as President.

In a weird kind of way, is ... (Below threshold)
RicardoVerde:

In a weird kind of way, is this a sign that Putin has called the race for McCain?

I don't think that Georgia is "lost", but it is in a very bad way. It would be nice to know if the Russians have pulled their professional troops back to let the rabble fight amongst themselves. I really don't see how the Russians can maintain such a forward position in the land of a foe determined to fight on. I guess that is a similar situation to the US in Iraq. There are long supply lines with noticeable choke points.
The only video I saw of Russian helicopters in action seemed to be in the foothills of the bigger mountains. Does anyone know if stingers are effective with a mountain backdrop? I know they were effective in Afghanistan, but that is considerably more arid conditions.

It seems to me that countri... (Below threshold)
Saterp:

It seems to me that countries like Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, et al, would do better joining in a joint defense pact of their own instead of depending on NATO. Imagine a coalition of former slaves pledging to attack Russia economically, politically, or god forbid, militarily, if the former slave master rouses out of his drunken stupor to abuse one of his former slaves, now a neighbor....

Actually, I think we've man... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Actually, I think we've managed to come up with EXACTLY the response needed in this case... "Rear Force" support coming in the form of Air Force and Navy delivered "humanitarian aid".

For the uninitiated, when the US Navy typically delivers "humanitarian aid", it does so by way of an amphibious assault unit, usually with a fully equipped MEB to cart things around... Russia now has to deal with the potential of engaging US military units providing humanitarian, not military support, throughout Georgia proper.

I would agree with The List... (Below threshold)
kenny Author Profile Page:

I would agree with The Listkeeper - this is about US military intervention. And with Ricardoverde - this is going to give McCain a huge advantage.

Oveall, the only potential beneficiaries from all of this are the US right. And who encouraged Saakashvili regarding NATO membership? Bush and the current administration. I think they deliberately helped Saakashvili get so puffed up that he got too cocky and so Russia gave Georgia a whacking. Provoking an international crisis with American troops on the ground and the opportunity for the "War Hero" candidate to make political hay.

Wow, so I guess its all Geo... (Below threshold)
epador:

Wow, so I guess its all Georgia politicians fault that the Russian army is slaughtering and raping its citizens. And bush too. Why does this meme sound so much like the apologists for totalitarian aggression for, say, Iraq invading Kuwait, Hitler Poland, USSR Czechoslovakia? Or blaming the rape victim for the crime against them? Oy!

RE: Russia, I think the bes... (Below threshold)
James:

RE: Russia, I think the best explanation I heard is that they're a third-world country with a first-world military. They had the wherewithal to become a first-world country, but Regan made them spend their resources on building a military instead.

RE: Georgia, Russia is *claiming* that the breakaway regions are mostly populated by "ethnic Russians" and that Georgia just started bombing them for no reason, so Russia had to step in. Not too sure I buy their story...




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