Monday, August 11, 2008

Goading the Bear

It looks like the Soviet Union is back.  Not in Communist form, but rather as a quasi-Capitalist bully of nations around it.  They are currently invading former Soviet state Georgia under a somewhat false pretense - protecting Russian citizens in two breakaway Georgian provinces.  These Russian citizens are actually Georgian citizens who were given Russian citzenship, ostensibly to give the Russians pretext for an attack.  With Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili heading the most pro-US government among former Soviet states, it seems like he is being targeted as an example to others to not mess with the Russians.
The way I see it, the US has a couple of options.  1. Jawbone the Russians to death.  This is what the US is currently doing, and it's not doing one thing.  2. Help the Georgians.  This isn't just giving them daily affirmations, this is actually putting bodies on the ground.  We have over 100,000 troops in theater right now, along with USAF squadrons and carrier battle groups.  These are assets that we could use to protect Georgia's sovereignty.  Of course, they would have to have an extremely limited mandate.  We wouldn't want to have A-10 Warthogs attacking troop columns within Russia or else something regional will suddenly turn into World War III.  Because of the current position of the front lines though, that shouldn't be an issue.  I think I would let the Russians know that if they don't pull back to South Ossetia, Russia, and Abkhazia, we would attack their front lines.  Of course, this isn't something that will ever happen because we're not willing to fight Russia to protect Georgia.  Sen. McCain said we should at least take Russia out of the G-8 in a symbolic slap in the face.  In addition, Sen. Obama called for stopping their entry into the WTO, another good step.  I think that's the minimum that we have to do.  We could also immediately add Ukraine and Georgia to NATO.  That should stop them thanks to NATO's mutual defense pact.  That is highly unlikely because it's committing the nations of Europe to a path of possible war with Russia, which would come with some serious complications, but perhaps they don't want to be the 21st Century's Neville Chamberlain.
The other former Soviet nations have another, and far more serious problem.  Georgia is the first, and others will follow.  Will we see a return to the pre-1991 boundaries of Russia?  We'll certainly see those republics fall back under Russian sway, if only in the form of a new Warsaw Pact.  If they want to stay independent, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and the rest should leap to the defense of Georgia by declaring war on Russia.  With that many fronts and that much territory to cover, you can believe that the Russian bear would back down.  It's easy to pick on a small country in the Caucuses, it's another thing all together to fight a war on multiple fronts covering thousands of miles.

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