The Empire Strikes Back

I guess history didn’t end after all. Russia’s appalling attack on Georgia demonstrates how unprepared we are to defend the post-Cold-War independence of former USSR republics. John McCain gave an excellent speech on Georgia; Austin Bay has worthwhile reflections. Melik Kaylan points out the strategic significance of Georgia. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, gives some sensible policy advice:

Much as it respects and owes Georgia, the U.S. is not going to war with Russia over a non-NATO ally. But there are forceful diplomatic and economic responses at its disposal. Expelling Russia from the G-8 group of democracies, as John McCain has suggested, is one. Barring Russia’s long desired entry into the World Trade Organization is another. Russian leaders should also be told that their financial assets held abroad aren’t off limits to sanction. And Moscow should know that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea are in jeopardy. A country that starts a war on the weekend the Beijing Olympics began doesn’t deserve such an honor.

The Georgian people also deserve U.S. support. One way to demonstrate that would be a “Tbilisi airlift,” ferrying military and humanitarian supplies to the Georgian capital, which is currently cut off by Russian troops from its Black Sea port. Secretary of State Rice or Defense Secretary Robert Gates should be in one of the first planes. After the fighting ends, the U.S. can lead the recovery effort. And since the Russians are demanding his ouster, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili deserves U.S. support too.

Putting things in a broader context, this might not be a bad time to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities that have been built with Russian help.

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