Another cold war…or a hot one?

The bullying and wholly disproportionate Russian response against Georgia seems aimed as much at the United States and Western Europe as protecting the rights of ethnic Russians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And Moscow is clearly counting on the Baltic republics and Ukraine to pay attention to the fate of Georgia.

Whatever Georgia’s provocation — and these territorial and ethnic disputes are both complicated and ancient — Russia was clearly spoiling for a fight, and the size and speed of the incursions by air, armor and naval power indicate that this brutal attempt to humble and cow a small, pro-Western, democratic nation had been in the planning for some time.

Russian assertiveness has become increasingly unsettling. It was needlessly belligerent over Kosovo and a proposed NATO missile defense system. Critics of the Kremlin, including journalists, have been assassinated both in and out of Russia. The increasingly rapacious regime has made investment risky for Westerners and their Russian partners. Former Russian president and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has nurtured a national nostalgia for the less savory aspects of the old Soviet system.

The ideal situation would be for a ceasefire, a pull-back by the Russians, talks between Tbilisi and Moscow on a long-term settlement, and perhaps international peacekeepers similar to what worked in the Balkans.

But Putin’s Russia may be like the Red Army of old in Eastern Europe: Once they’re in, they’re not inclined to get out. Militarily, there’s not much the West could do about it, but it doesn’t mean the European Union and the United States has to accept it.

Out of undue sensitivity to Moscow’s sense of being aggrieved, Russia has been given positions in organizations like the G-8 disproportionate to its actual place in the world economy. This deference should be an early casualty of Georgia. The threat of detaching Russia from the world banking system would certainly give Russians pause because they don’t trust their own banks and government with their money. Long-term, Europe should make it a priority to reduce its exposure to Russian energy black mail.

Russia’s invasion — for that is surely what it is of Georgia is dragging Europe and Russia in a direction they really don’t want to go.

Comments

  1. almandine

    Has anybody noticed that Dale McFeatters is a neocon nutjob too? Read this piece again and pay close attention to his emotionally-provocative phrases…

    The bullying and wholly disproportionate Russian response,

    Russia was clearly spoiling for a fight,

    this brutal attempt to humble and cow a small, pro-Western, democratic nation,

    The increasingly rapacious [Russian] regime,

    Putin has nurtured a national nostalgia for the less savory aspects of the old Soviet system,

    there’s not much the West could do about it, but it doesn’t mean the European Union and the United States has to accept it,

    Out of undue sensitivity to Moscow’s sense of being aggrieved, Russia has been given positions in organizations like the G-8 disproportionate to its actual place in the world economy,

    The threat of detaching Russia from the world banking system would certainly give Russians pause because they don’t trust their own banks and government with their money,

    Russia’s invasion — for that is surely what it is…

    GET REAL DALE !!!

  2. woody188

    This is an entirely fictional conversation between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games:

    Putin: Good to see you George. How are the wife and kids?

    GWB: Just fine Vladimir, and thanks for asking. Hey whats this I hear about you sending your army into Ossetia?

    Putin: Yes we just entered there, and thank to you for propping up Georgia so we could justify our new higher military budget. Our people were starting to complain about us spending so much on the military again. But things are going too well, and this conflict won’t last a week.

    GWB: Happy to oblige. Say, we could fly some of those Georgian soldiers back from Iraq. Maybe they could help stretch this conflict out for you guys so your buddies can make more money. Worked out great for us in Iraq.

    Putin: Da, that would be most excellent for us.

    GWB: Don’t forget I’m going home Monday to condemn your actions. I know GE, Boeing, and Halliburton will be happy for another cold war.

    Putin: Da, we miss our old conflict too. Beriev, Irkut, and CKB Rubin will be most relieved. It will be good to have a foreign enemy to blame again. These smaller regional conflicts just don’t pose the threat we need to enable our huge military budgets.

    GWB: Great, so oh wow look at the screen in the floor!

    Putin: Most impressive!

    Well it could have happened that way!

  3. adamrussell

    Now Georgia and Russia have signed a cease fire, both sides have withdrawn and the borders have not changed from what they were before the conflict, I think no more political hay may be gained. McCain would like to use it to seem like a tough guy against Russia, but what can he say? Stop fighting? They already did. Guess Sarkhozy didnt make any friends amongst republicans today. heh.

  4. jwritesel

    McCain does not speak for me when he says we are all Georgians. I happen to think the Russians had good reason to kick some Georgian tail. Georgians have been antagonizing the Russians for years by every so often going into Ossetia and the other province and killing thousands of Russians while all Russia could do was sit back and watch its people get wiped out. Well it looks like the Georgians finally got some of their own medicine. Also there is no need to be threatening the Russians. They are not impressed. I know because I am married to one and get my information first hand from people who live over there. Finally I think the time for Cowboy diplomacy should come to an end.

  5. Hoosier_CowBoy

    It’s well known that Russia is one of the nations that is financing America’s account deficit. Should they and the Chinese decide not to show up at the next T-Bill auction, our economy is toast.

    McCain spouted off about “Today, we are all Georgians”. Unfortunately we are also partly owned by Russia and China.