Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bush and Georgia

The condemnations are coming in:
Miriyan Gogolashvili, of Tkviav, said: “The Russians will be here tomorrow. They want to show us and the world how powerful they are. Tomorrow it will be Ukraine and nobody in the West is doing anything to stop them. Why were our soldiers in Kosovo and Iraq if we don’t get any help from the West now?” he asked.
The Georgians are now retreating and begging their western friends for mercy. This could quickly turn bad in the court of public relations.

Putin surely knows it. He is displaying a lethal calculus consistent with a former KGB leader, probably figuring Bush is politically diminished and the American public has no stomach for engaging with Iran, much less some place they can't even locate on a map (I had to look it up on Google Earth, not realizing North Ossetia is where the Beslan massacre occurred). This is a win-win for him--he gets territory back while the neighboring countries realize western leaders aren't willing to risk world war III to defend them.

Something creative needs to be done, and soon. Cap'n Ed thinks Bush is doing enough by cranking up the empty rhetoric:
Former Soviet republics will learn to to fear Russia and to gravitate to the West for protection — as long as we stand firmly for Georgia. Fortunately, the Bush administration is now following John McCain’s lead on this issue and sending exactly that signal.
Actions speak louder, but apparently we can't act yet. But actions may come whether we want them or not. Oil is still a major player in all of this with major pipelines crossing Georgia to consider.

We've also got a presidential transition coming soon and with that worldwide terrorism antennae are already raised. AQ has struck somewhere around every transition since 1992 and Zawahiri's evidently still alive and speaking in English. Hopefully world leaders can refrain from gross stupidity and focus on stopping the extremism.

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