Monday, August 11, 2008

Russian Expansion?

Fire of Liberty

After looking through the various news reports from around the world, I have to say that the Russians are playing a good PR game of placing the blame of their massive land and sea onslaught on republic of Georgia(Russia been at this a long time whether issuing Russian passports to South Ossetia (part of Georgia), aggressive talk, as well as a slowly but surely testing the Georgian military to seek out its areas of weakness) as the fault of the aggression of the military and leadership of the tiny state. To me, this is much like the Nazis invading France during WWII and then blaming the French for provoking Hitler's powerful troops to invade in the first place. In fact, the Russians are going through with this invasion because they-much like Nazi Germany-are a military juggernaut looking to exert their dominance and know that the West is pretty shy on challenging the economic, political and military wrath of the nuclear armed Russian bear. While I'll try to write an argument on the reasoning behind this well planned and timed military action(Russia been at this a long time and slowly but surely tested the Georgian military to seek out its areas of weakness) on Georgia by the Russians, I figured I'd refer to the experts. Thankfully, the always perceptive Robert Kagan, author and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has come to the rescue in his most recent commentary in today's Washington Post. Though I recommend you read the whole piece by Kagan, I believe he hits the nail on the head when he noted the following at the end of the piece:

But the reality is that on most of these issues it is Russia, not the West or little Georgia, that is doing the pushing. It was Russia that raised a challenge in Kosovo, a place where Moscow had no discernible interests beyond the expressed pan-Slavic solidarity. It was Russia that decided to turn a minor deployment of a few defensive interceptors in Poland, which could not possibly be used against Russia's vast missile arsenal, into a major geopolitical confrontation. And it is Russia that has precipitated a war against Georgia by encouraging South Ossetian rebels to raise the pressure on Tbilisi and make demands that no Georgian leader could accept. If Saakashvili had not fallen into Putin's trap this time, something else would have eventually sparked the conflict.

Diplomats in Europe and Washington believe Saakashvili made a mistake by sending troops to South Ossetia last week. Perhaps. But his truly monumental mistake was to be president of a small, mostly democratic and adamantly pro-Western nation on the border of Putin's Russia.

Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia's attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th-century style of great-power competition, complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even -- though it shocks our 21st-century sensibilities -- the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives. Yes, we will continue to have globalization, economic interdependence, the European Union and other efforts to build a more perfect international order. But these will compete with and at times be overwhelmed by the harsh realities of international life that have endured since time immemorial. The next president had better be ready.

If for one hope that the White House will get out of its Olympic euphoria and take a more forceful stand in defending the rights and sovereignty of a fledgling democratic nation against the thuggish and barbarous nature of Putin's Russia. If the freest nation of the world fails to stand behind the small democracies of the world one can only think what greater threats start thinking or doing.

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