Friday, August 15, 2008

The Silence of the Lambs

U.S. could learn a lot from Putin

What would the world say if the United States invaded a country, like for example Iraq? Indeed, what would domestic socialists, i.e. Democrats, and the news media say about this transgression of sovereign national rights? Oops, we did invade Iraq and we do know what the Democrats and their news media allies said; they said it was dastardly, or words to that effect. For virtually the entire administration of President Bush the Iraq war has been front and center in the battle for political advantage. Never mind that the whole world at the time we invaded Iraq believed that country and its dictator were a threat to everyone, or that Saddam Hussein and his psychotic sons were terrorizing the people with torture and other unspeakable crimes, or that Saddam had a history of aggression against other states; the United States was the villain and that was that.

On the other hand we have the independent democratic country of Georgia with a population of 4.6 million picturesquely located at the foothills of the scenic Caucus Mountains being invaded by a superior world power, killing and destroying in its wake, invading the country with alacrity, and what is the world reaction - it is like the silence of the lambs.

Of course everyone is "outraged" at the transgression. So the world pulls out its collective wet noodle and strikes back at what Ronald Reagan properly called - the evil empire. But to what effect; Russian tanks go merrily along?

What is Georgia's "crime" that warrants such punishment from the Russian bear; Georgia, who only gained freedom from the Soviet Union in 1991, has the temerity to have a democratic government, free elections and is friends with the United States. Georgia has two provinces that would rather separate from the country and seemingly return to the communist orbit of mother Russia. Georgia, like the United States government in the 1800's, didn't like its' states making unilateral decisions like that and sought to exert control to keep these provinces within the country. However, the big neighbor to the north thought this was a good opportunity to accomplish three important objectives and overwhelmed Georgian forces in a short time. Not only did they oust Georgia military from one of the break-away provinces, they kept the motor running until they were deep into the country while destroying infrastructure along the way.

The ultimate goal of Russia is to replace the ruling Georgia government with one more friendly to Russia and that will be an ally against the United States. For that reason, though giving lip service to the idea of a cease fire, terms for concluding their assault include replacement of the democratically elected president with someone else, or they won't pick up their marbles and go home. Naturally they don't come right out and say this so they place a condition of the cease fire that they won't negotiate with the current president; what a clever bear.

I said there were three objectives Russia sought by invading Georgia. One has been mentioned, regime change, but not the good kind. A second objective is to show bordering countries of Russia that things haven't changed much since the 1980's when the Soviet Union was in charge. Lesser states of the former Soviet Union must still toe the mark set by Moscow or they may suffer a similar fate as Georgia; the vision of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia comes to mind. The lesson is don't play footsie with the U.S.; first we are your neighbor and bigger than you and second the United States won't help you resist us.

However the third reason for Russia taking the risk of "disappointing" the world by invading Georgia is oil. Russia has a lock on Western Europe which it can open and close at will. A great portion of oil and gas fueling Western industry and warming western homes comes from Russia. Whenever it suits them for political reasons Moscow can shut the valves and coerce their customers into whatever political outcome they desire; this may not be nice but it's very effective.

A couple of large pipelines pass through Georgia from other energy sources. Neither the pipelines nor the sources are under Russian control so there is a risk that Russia may lose its dominance over energy supplies to Western Europe. If Georgia comes back into the Soviet, excuse me the Russian, orbit, then this threat is removed.

The United States is always terribly worried by what the world thinks of us. To keep on good terms with countries that don't like us anyway, we are willing to subvert our national interest and Democrats are the leaders in this Charge of the Light Brigade. Unfortunately republicans have lost whatever spine they ever had and go along with Democrat efforts to devalue our country in the eyes of the world by passively reacting to national threats, be they Islamic, Russian, Iranian or others.

Certainly we don't want to war with Russia, but mutually assured destruction worked in the past and will work again. When do we play that card, do we wait until Putin decides to place missiles in Cuba again or give ICBM's to Chavez in Venezuela? The United States must do something to make Putin and Russia pay. What can that be; well for one we can take all Eastern Europe countries, including the Ukraine, into NATO as soon as possible? Another thing is to deny Russia entry into the WTO and a third is to reform the "G-8" group of economic powerhouses into a G-7 without Russia. We should also tell Russia we and other Western countries will not participate in the Olympics in 2014 when they will be held in Russia. These steps may seem mild but Putin's Russia wants to remain a player in the international stage and denying Russia that role will have a significant effect on Putin's plans for the Russian future. Furthermore it will at least give our allies threatened by Russia a bit of comfort to know the U.S. is trying to come to the aid of Georgia in ways additional to providing needed supplies and arms.

But the best thing we can do is to learn from Putin. World opinion never won any war and putting it ahead of our national interests is dangerous business which can only lead to our demise. Vladimir Putin doesn't give a damn what the world thinks when Russian interests are involved; and we shouldn't either. If we don't do as the bear does, the eagle won't fly.

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