Wow. Ukraine looks like they’ve realized that it’s on, and they’re trying to effectively lock up the Russian Black Sea Fleet. (Via Michael Ledeen @ NRO.) Good for them. As Krauthammer argues infra: we have cards; we need to play them.
According to Saakashvili at any rate:
For too long, we all underestimated the ruthlessness of the regime in Moscow. Yesterday brought further evidence of its duplicity: Within 24 hours of Russia agreeing to a cease-fire, its forces were rampaging through Gori; blocking the port of Poti; sinking Georgian vessels; and — worst of all — brutally purging Georgian villages in South Ossetia, raping women and executing men.
Russia will accuse him of lying, of course, but reports from the ground should settle these questions pretty quickly.
…Mr. Johnson, who’s evidently on the same page as the Œcumenical Volgi.
“The Russian invasion of Georgia is a damning indictment of Western, and especially European, diplomacy….If the Russian bluff is ever going to be called, it had much better be sooner rather than later.”
Whatever did we do in the benighted days when we didn’t have lawyers to protect us from evil malefactors? Why, we usually worked the problem out ourselves, without violence, and without need for judicial intervention.
But, to give our attorney brethren credit, they have fought to preserve our fundamental rights as Americans. Like this genius in Kentucky who is protecting a shrinking violet’s right to dress like a prostitute in public. Poor, poor Kymberly (note the one-step-from-pay-to-play spelling of her handle) was tossed out of a mall for wearing a skirt deemed too short by the local mall cop. Rather than simply calling the mall, registering a complaint against the mall cop and probably getting an apology and a gift certificate to the local Waffle House, Kymberly called a lawyer.
I’ve just about had it with Americans, who, when their feelings get hurt over a minor slight, hire an attorney, rather than sacking up and dealing with the issue.
And I wait, with bated breath, to see the magnum opus of a complaint that Eastern Kentucky’s legal solons can craft from this unholy mess of a fact pattern. My bet? Either intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. I hope Eastern Kentucky’s bench is saner than its lawyers, and the first judge who gets the case dismisses it and sanctions the filing attorney.
And, Kymberly, enjoy your skanky 15 minutes of fame. The rest of your dreary, unimportant, meaningless existence is ahead of you.
Lest we get too hung up about the looming destruction of the international system as we know it, here’s some really important news! Now, considering it’s Georgia, I’m sort of betting that this is some unfortunate hazing casualty at GorT’s old frat, but you never know…
More and more frequently we are seeing people leaping to conclusions without applying any reasonable amount of the scientific method. (I could provide a simple chart explaining it to those who need it, but I figure the readers could do some reading). Cases in point: global warming, diets, high heeled shoes causing schizophrenia, etc. What? You actually believe in one or more of these? Probably because there’s fewer people doing good scientific approaches to the issues and the mass media picks up on the early part of the story in their rush to be first on the scene. It’s rarely reported that this is preliminary or that people have dismantled a proposed theory (that’s assuming, of course, that the “scientist” has employed the Scientific Method and started with a theory).
Instead, it is becoming more easy for large groups of people to be led astray by the mass media and poorly executed “scientists”. Surprisingly, USA Today, has covered this here. Once you apply some more science, for example, global warming theories dissolve. Much of the health scares that are out there fade away, etc. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be smart about how we care for the environment or our bodies – but don’t attack those who question the early premises and propose some alternate theories and explanations — hopefully, with some hard backed data.
Note: no benches were damaged in researching this story.
On NRO’s Corner, John Derbyshire argues:
Either you believe the U.S.A. ought to commit — in writing — that we shall go to war on behalf of Georgia (Estonia, the Ukraine, etc.), or you believe we ought not.
Precisely backwards. It’s not the behalf of Georgia on which we will go to war some day—or at least not primarily so. Of course, we can’t be everywhere and catch every sparrow that falls—few Americans have ever heard of, much less called for intervention in, the Second Congo War which wiped out almost four million Africans between 1998 and 2003.
As I argued here, the reason one goes to war for a far-away people of whom you know nothing in a case like this is to hinder a powerful, aggressive, revanchist power from upending the international economic and political order by slaughtering its way to territory and imperial aggrandizement, all the while encouraging like-minded despots to do the same. If this becomes unchallenged precedent, and the West proves supine, authoritarian countries around the world will feel free to kill their way to their goals—many of which involve damaging the United States and its interests.
Consider Taiwan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, the Baltics, South Korea, Israel, etc., protectorates of necessity. It’s not them in their particulars that is in our interest to save, but the international order that keeps them safe that we’re attempting to protect: the idea of war as a last option, open trade between nations, and the promotion of consensual government. That is our interest. It’s partially practical, partially moral, as American foreign policy has always been forced to be. Israel is a tiny, democratic land established by international consent whose authoritarian neighbors have tried to annihilate it with some regularity. South Korea was a fairly squalid, if nominally pro-Western dictatorship when we saved it. Many Americans found a way to rationalize their distaste for the government of South Vietnam into a strategic judgment that we and the South Vietnamese were better off with their abandonment to the tender mercies of Hanoi and its Soviet masters. Taiwan has only become a legitimate multi-party democracy in the last few years, yet its liberties relative to the People’s Republic and its manifest desire not to be swallowed up by a totalitarian empire and its emergence as a mercantile power, have made it worth American efforts (however inconstant) to retain its independence.
In any event, we will not go to war against Russia in Abkhazia or South Ossetia. We can assist the Georgians with military as well as diplomatic aid, however, and we can punish Russia in various ways short of war. I would argue that it’s in our national interest to. Moreover, a credible threat of war (and whether we or NATO can make that threat credibly is a good question) can deter an aggressor. Si vis pacem, para bellum, as some neo-con once said; and you don’t always get to set the terms of every war in your interest.
I may be wrong, but to argue that the only reason to commit American power to the defense of countries on the periphery of a revisionist Russia—run by the people who ran the Soviet Union whose neighbors we were committed to defend—is the “behalf” of those countries about to swallowed up is near-sighted, if not deceptive.
Derbyshire’s Little America First myopia seems at least based a very narrow definition of American interests (and perhaps fatalistic indifference). Derbyshire’s friend Steve Sailer, whom linked to several times approvingly in connection with the anthrax investigation, here makes a smarmy anti-Semitic insinuation that somehow American sympathy for and interest in Georgia derive from an anti-Russian bias in American politics ultimately deriving from Israeli-influenced American Jews in media and politics. This is flatly despicable. Sailer plays cute and says, “Hey, this isn’t a conspiracy, just Jews being Jews,” like, one presumes, reflexively anti-British Irish-Americans in government are constantly undermining the Special Relationship due to their dual loyalties to the Emerald Isle. But there’s a reason one is careful and exact in speaking about the influence of prominent Jews* on public life—like 300 years of conspiracy theories accusing the Jews of manipulating gullible, innocent goyim governments for their own nefarious ends. Polite, careful frankness about ethnic groups can be praiseworthy and illuminating, but trading in this kind of venom is vile, especially in the utter absence of evidence—oh wait, there are some Jews in the Georgian government with ties to Israel, and, er, one part of the Israeli government has had ties to Georgia even though another wants to cut off rearming them.
Why would one small country menaced by its vastly larger neighbors be sympathetic to another in a similar position? Doubtless merely to rip them off on weapons sales. Just like John McCain’s full-throated denouncement of Russia must be due to his advisor who’s lobbied for Georgia in the past (named Scheunemann—Jew or No Jew, tune in to find out!), not an clear-sighted abhorrence of sleazy, warmongering tyrants earned in one’s dungeon. Sailer’s either too clever to state his obvious belief that Jews are at the root of much foreign-political evil, or too autistic to realize that that’s what he’s saying. Either way, it’s beneath contempt.
*Of whom there are many and whose opinions do carry weight and are often formed by specifically Jewish historical and cultural factors. No one disputes this, and while some Jews can be too quick to allege anti-Semitism, that doesn’t mean it’s always an overreaction.
Read ’em in full.
Having overestimated the power of the Soviet Union in its last years, we have consistently underestimated the ambitions of Russia since. Already, a great deal has been said about the implications of Russia’s invasion for Ukraine, the Baltic States and Europe generally. But few have noticed the direct strategic threat of Moscow’s action to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Kremlin is not about to reignite the Cold War for the love of a few thousand Ossetians or even for its animosity toward five million Georgians. This is calculated strategic maneuvering. And make no mistake, it’s about countering U.S. power at its furthest stretch with Moscow’s power very close to home.
Let’s be clear: For all that US commentators and diplomats are still chattering about Russia’s “response” to Georgia’s actions, the Kremlin spent months planning and preparing this operation. Any soldier above the grade of private can tell you that there’s absolutely no way Moscow could’ve launched this huge ground, air and sea offensive in an instantaneous “response” to alleged Georgian actions.
As I pointed out Saturday, even to get one armored brigade over the Caucasus Mountains required extensive preparations. Since then, Russia has sent in the equivalent of almost two divisions – not only in South Ossetia, the scene of the original fighting, but also in separatist Abkhazia on the Black Sea coast.
The Russians also managed to arrange the instant appearance of a squadron of warships to blockade Georgia. And they launched hundreds of air strikes against preplanned targets.
Every one of these things required careful preparations. In the words of one US officer, “Just to line up the airlift sorties would’ve taken weeks.” …
I lack sufficiently powerful words to express my outrage over Russia’s bloody cynicism in attacking a small, free people, or to castigate our media for their inane coverage – or to condemn our own government’s shameful flight from responsibility.
Just as Moscow has reverted to its old habit of sending in tanks to snuff out freedom, Washington has defaulted to form by abandoning Georgia to the invasion – after encouraging Georgia to stand up to the Kremlin.
Reminds me of 1956, when we encouraged the Hungarians to defy Moscow – then abandoned them. And of 1991, when we prodded Iraq’s Shia to rise up against Saddam – then abandoned them. We’ve called Georgia a “friend and ally.” Well, honorable men and states stand by their friends and allies. We haven’t. …
For the democratic world, there will be no easy recovery from the chilling spectacle of Georgia’s 2,000 or so troops pulling out of Iraq to go join their own country’s desperate defense. The message so far is that America will ferry them home, but while Georgia rallied to the defense of freedom in Iraq, none of Georgia’s erstwhile allies will risk taking up arms to help the Georgians against a Russian onslaught. …
China’s Communist rulers, while basking in the glow of their Olympics bash, are surely checking the tea leaves for what this might presage about U.S. support for another U.S. ally: the democratic Republic of China on Taiwan. If the U.S. will not stand up to North Korea, will not stand up to Iran, will not stand up to Russia, then where will the U.S. stand up? What are the real rules of this New World Order?
Apart from Afghanistan and Iraq, the main rule right now seems to be that while anti-democratic bullies do the shooting, everyone else does a lot of talking and resolving. …
Diplomacy and soft power have their place. The U.S. cannot and should not go to war with every nasty regime on the planet. But when too many thugs cross too many lines and get away with it, the rules of the entire global game start to shift. The diplomacy that has been billed by the administration as such a prudent and successful means these past few years to deal with threats from North Korea, from Syria, from Palestinian terrorists, from Iran, as well as ugly moves from Russia itself, has paved the way for this Russian invasion of Georgia. If, with the exceptions of Afghanistan and Iraq, America no longer dares to unholster its guns to face down real threats, expect to see a lot more shooting, and a lot more casualties on our side.