Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cold War Flashback

I try to remind my readers that there are things happening in foreign countries. True, nothing nearly as important as John Edwards having an affair, but interesting nonetheless.
For example, Russia has recently invaded parts of Georgia, and bombed targets around the country.
It's clear that Georgia miscalculated, badly, by attempting to retake South Ossetia, even though the realize Russia could easily step in. Why was this? It's unclear, perhaps they were under the false impression that the US was ready to go to bat for them. After all, the United States supported Georgia's bid to enter NATO (you may recall Bush pushing this at the last NATO summit), you might expect America to go to bat for Georgia on principle. You'd be wrong.
As it is, this is a loss for both the US and Georgia. The US because has to stand and watch as a strategic rival bullies an ally, Georgia because it appears to have lost militarily, and it chance of getting into NATO, however small before, a zero. No one in NATO wants to be dragged into a fight with Russia.
From Foreign Policy
But, coming on the heels of Kosovo's February declaration of independence, this was practically an invitation to Putin to do his utmost to ensure that Georgia wouldn't ever be stable enough to be a NATO member.

Here's the basic logic:

* Georgia can't join NATO until it is stable
* Russia doesn't want Georgia to join NATO
* Ergo, Russia will destabilize Georgia

The policy had the added bonus of revenge for the Western powers' recognition of Kosovo and it cast doubts on the wisdom of using Georgia as an energy corridor. Plus, it puts the United States in an awkward position and exposes American backing of Georgia as not worth a damned thing. For Putin, it's a quadruple play.

While Georgia miscalculated, it's clear that Russia is the real villain here.It's worth pointing out Russia's utter hypocrisy brutally crushing independence movements while bullying it neighbor into accepting similar movements.
Anne Applebaum looks at the Russia and China side by side, and thinks that Russia is ultimately more dangerous, geopolitically. Say what you want about China's monster-state, but at least they seem to be committed to a "peaceful rise". Russia, on the other hand, has increasingly become more aggressive, using resources as a weapon, and now bullying its neighbors. I worry this crisis is but a foretaste of what is to come.

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