The Œcumenical Volgi has been on the road and, due to a dodgy wifi connection, unable to blog at any length. Ensconced in an airport with all the modern conveniences, he can finally address the horrific events in South Ossetia and Georgia. This vicious war is the West’s reward for treating Vladimir Putin as a trustworthy interlocutor and ostensible member in good standing of “the international community.” The revanchist, neo-Soviet imperialist writing has been on the wall for some time, and the West’s irresolution and wishful thinking has now cost Georgians lives, and possibly their nation’s independence. Having sent in the tanks, unless stopped, Russia will at the very least install a puppet government, or simply annex Georgia outright.
From Bush’s looking into Putin’s eyes to Merkel’s deciding that extending NATO membership to Georgia was too provocative, the West has done nothing but tell Russia implicitly and explicitly that we have no will to oppose them, but will try and appease whatever demands they care to levy. The Russian government, a bunch of Chekist gangsters, has been understandably emboldened, and flush with oil money to rearm their military, are now getting serious about avenging the wound to their pride from the dissolution the criminal empire they once served with bloody hands.
Georgia’s fate will be a bellweather. There are significant Russian populations in the Baltic states, in Kazakhstan, and above all in Ukraine—in the east and the Crimea—on whose behalf Putin can gin up “genocide” accusations like those spewn out this week. If Georgia falls to Russian might, she will start advancing on the “threatening” frontiers of the West elsewhere. Like Hitler building his Greater German Reich, Putin has a longer-term imperialist goal. If the West doesn’t find the stomach to face him down now, on behalf of the Georgians—a small, helpless democracy (however flawed) that has sent thousands of troops to Iraq out of idealism and solidarity with the U.S. and the West—we will see this again, and again, and again, and perhaps, as with Hitler, face an even greater, more horrible military confrontation down the road, or see the free peoples on the Russian periphery swallowed up by a tyrannical hegemon.
UPDATE: The Volgi forgot to mention Moldova. If you’ve got a bookie who’ll take odds on “What country will Russia go after next?” put a bunch of dough on Moldova. The Russians have perpetuated the same type of extraterritorial meddling in Transdnistria as in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moldova’s a poor, weak country with fewer friends and a lower international profile than Georgia. I suspect the Bear considers it low-hanging fruit. Is it in the U.S. interest to spend blood or treasure defending these faraway peoples of whom we know nothing? Many will say no, reasonably. The Volgi suspects, however, that it’s not the merits of saving Georgia or Moldova or Latvia per se that’s in the U.S. interest, but rather stopping the Russian-imperial revanchism which could result in bloody borders across eleven time zones and a massive and signal retreat from the general democratic-liberal trend in the world over the last twenty years of which we’ve been the greatest exponent and supporter. (Also, good luck in getting Russia to coöperate on Iran or anything else if she feels she can spit in your eye with impunity.)
The Volgi’s not saying American troops should go to Georgia—other than the Special Forces advisors who are already there. That’s a recipe for escalating this into a World War—perhaps finishing the unfinished (Soviet) business of the Second as the Second concluded the (German) First.