In order to reduce the harsh tone, Rice forces Saakashvili to accept Russian military on its territory and, in time, he will be replaced - probably by a new Georgian leader more accommodating to Russia's desire to control the country and gas pipelines in the region.
Pakistan's Musharraf will soon be forced out, Georgia's leader is next. Assisting the U.S., and assuming our commitment to lend support is worth anything, can be dangerous to one's political health and security.
Russia de-escalates its war of words but what Georgia proved is:
a) Russia will act militarily to extend its sphere of influence in the region.
b) Russia will do so at the risk of its relationship with our country.
c) Russia's threat not to co-operate by supplying weapons to Iran and to veto any sanctions against Iran is a powerful card which trumped us and clearly will cause Israel to rethink future Israeli assistance to Georgia and its own relationship with Russia.
d) Putin proved Europe's dependency on Russia energy makes it cower when it comes to European foreign policy and this was most evident by the obsequious actions of Germany's Merkel and France's Sarkozy.
e) Any nation dependent upon its relationship with the U.S and NATO. to provide a shield has to be rethinking what that means.
f) Where was the U.S.'s vaunted intelligence surveillance capability?
g) Europe, as an ally, is not worth "spittle" since they are not even capable of or willing to defend their own interests and thus NATO's value is questionable. The Western Alliance may have better toys and trained personnel but Russia seemingly controls the playground.
h) What has happened in Georgia will have spill-over ramifications in the Middle-East as well. It can only serve to embolden Islamist radicals.
Rice has become a food supplement for crow. (See 1 and 1a below.)
Walker traces why the wall came a tumbling down. He starts with Reagan, ends with Clinton but leaves in question GW's involvement. Much of what Walker writes is correct, his praise of Reagan is credible as is his criticism of Clinton but his over reaching bias undercuts his conclusion as to why the East has been lost. (See 2 below.)
An analysis of the implications of Georgia for The Middle East. Cohen and Glick see the world and the implications of Georgia, as I do. (See 3 and 4 below.)
Peretz asks why the Muslim World, flush with money, is not doing more for victims in Darfur. (See 5 below.)
Goodwin equates Obama's submission to the Clintons as evidence of how he would cave under pressure in negotiations.
Goodwin presents a rational equation but, in time, what happened in Georgia and GW's limp response will prove as disastrous as Carter's actions vis a vis Iran's embassy taking and maybe more so. The pace of the unraveling of our influence in the Middle East has quickened. The only way we can send a message to Russia that we still are a force to be reckoned with is to reduce Iran's nuclear ambitions to ashes. GW will not do so and by abdication simply revalidates Carter's ineptness.(See 6 below.)
Often, as events unwind, immediate commentary and analysis may not stand the test of time. Instant analysis can be myopic. That said, what took place last week in Georgia, Europe's feckless response including our own efforts at pacification will prove very critical as the future unfolds. Below are three more articles that discuss the ramifications of Georgia.
As I have previously written, Georgia can be for GW what Iran's taking of our Embassy was for Carter. In both instances it demonstrates, to the world, the U.S. is a Gulliver. We have Carter to thank for Iran's nuclear ambitions. As for GW, Georgia reflects the emptiness of a foreign policy based on bluster and intentions we could not implement.
Both failures should embolden our adversaries, expose the bankruptcy of Europe and signal our own nation's flawed foreign policy initiatives.
What I find equally interesting is that the markets have yet to comprehend or react to Georgia. Investors will in time, as they come to realize its ominous implications. (See 7-9 below.)
1)Back-door US-Russian contacts to de-escalate war of words - after Moscow threatens to nuke Poland
Both powers have begun acting to cool the rhetoric and review relations, after spokesmen in Washington - and especially Moscow - raised the threat level of their oratory to its highest pitch since the Cold War’s end.
Friday night, Aug. 15, Russia’s deputy chief of staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn warned Poland it was “exposing itself to a strike 100 percent.”
He said any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack. Russian forces would target “the allies of countries having nuclear weapons” to destroy them “as a first priority,” said Gen. Nogovitsyn.
At the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian president Dimitry Medvedev dismissed the claim that the US missile interceptors in Poland were a deterrent against rogue states like Iran as “a fairy tale,” insisting they were aimed against Russia. Warsaw, which will receive 10 batteries in return for American aid to boost its air defenses, later invited Russia to visit the site and see for itself.
President George W. Bush said "The Cold War is over… Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."
He said Russia’s invasion of Georgia had damaged its credibility and the US stands with the people of Georgia and called for the withdrawal of “invading forces from all Georgian territory.”
After meeting German chancellor Angela Merkel, Medvedev said he could not see South Ossetia and Abkhazia living with Georgia in one state.”
Saturday morning, Aug. 16, Moscow was still in no hurry to sign the Georgian ceasefire deal, despite Merkel’s urgings, although US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice persuaded Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili to sign on the dotted line Friday night. Russian troops and tanks, and marauding irregulars in the areas under their control, had still not begun leaving Georgia.
Political sources report that, as in most cases when international tensions and violence reach dangerous levels, the big powers have instituted secret diplomacy to cool the situation before it gets out of hand in order to formulate new modes of conduct and relations.
This process began with Rice’s visit to France and Tbilsi.
In five hours of arm-twisting, she persuaded Saakashvili to accept clarifications to the ceasefire accord which contradict Washington’s spirited assurances for Georgia’s “territorial integrity.”
Russian troops allowed to remain in Georgia would be “very limited to a light patrolling ability, such as a few kilometers outside of South Ossetia, not the right to maintain a presence inside Georgia.”
Furthermore, “Russian peacekeepers” would be allowed to “implement additional security measures” until international security can be put in place.
This clause authorizes on behalf of the US and Europe the narrow security strips, which military sources revealed two days ago the Russians are establishing 300-500 meters deep outside the South Ossetian and Abkhazian borders with Georgia.
This American concession was designed as initial impetus for quiet diplomacy with Russia on a settlement in Georgia.
The other concession, which will unfold in time, is the removal of the Georgian president, another of Moscow’s conditions for ending the crisis. It is hard to see Saakasvhili surviving the outcry at home when the extent of his military and diplomatic failures is revealed to his people.
Furthermore, his highly charged speech Friday was watched with pursed lips by Condoleezza Rice and clearly embarrassed his sponsors in Washington. While Bush declared the Cold War is over, Saakashvili heaped verbal coals on the standoff with Russia to keep it ablaze.
1a) IN DEPTH / The Russian empire strikes back
By Adi Schwartz
Exactly 40 years ago, on a hot August day in 1968, Alexander Dubcek stood looking out his office window as thousands of Soviet soldiers poured into his city, Prague. The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the architect of the "Prague Spring" knew it was only a matter of time until he heard a knock on the door.
In his memoir, "Hope Dies Last," Dubcek wrote, "The main door flew open again, and in walked some higher officers of the KGB, including a highly decorated, very short colonel. The little colonel quickly reeled off a list of all Czechoslovak Communist Party officials present and told us that he was taking us 'under his protection.' Indeed we were protected, sitting around that table - each of us had a tommy gun pointed at the back of his head."
Two days later, Dubcek was taken to the Kremlin, where then Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev explained the prevailing reality to him and cut short the democratic reforms by thumping his fist on the table. Dubcek was sent back to his country, where he spent the next 20 years as a forester in a remote region of Slovakia.
At least for now, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is being spared that fate. He is still the ruler of the small Caucasian state. The outcome of this week's events, however, could prove quite similar to the drama of 40 years ago. The Soviet oppression of Czechoslovakia showed the whole world that the U.S.S.R. would not tolerate democratic adventures within its sphere of influence. The Soviet Union made it clear to Eastern Europe that the West, including the United States, would not lift a finger as Soviet tanks crushed a small sovereign state. The defeat of the Prague Spring truncated a wave of openness and democratization that had washed over both Eastern and Western Europe in the late 1960s.
The two decades that have passed since the fall of the Iron Curtain can now be divided in two. The first 10 years, dubbed the "end of history" by U.S. political philosopher Francis Fukuyama, lasted from 1989 until September 11, 2001, and were characterized by unflappable optimism. The cold war made way for globalization. The Western model trumped all available alternatives. The U.S. became the world's sole superpower, with unchallenged military, diplomatic and economic hegemony. China was taking baby steps toward a free-market economy and Russia was getting its first tastes of democracy.
Then came the terror attack against New York's World Trade Center. Suddenly it turned out that not everyone wanted to join the McDonald's and laptop festivals. The failed U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq caused a deep rift in the Western camp. Russia, which felt severely humiliated over the loss of Eastern Europe and the 15 republics that had made up the Soviet Union, switched gears. Under the scepter of former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, Russia reverted to tricks that were thought forgotten, such as poisoning the Ukrainian president or eliminating journalists and potential political rivals. Instead of human rights, a free-market economy and democracy, we got nationalizations, the imprisoning of rebellious oligarchs and tight supervision of the press.
'History is returning'
This week's events in Georgia are the most obvious manifestation of that shift. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, with inelegant tardiness, that Washington will not allow Georgia to fall, as it did with Czechoslovakia in 1968. President George W. Bush, for his part, promised humanitarian aid and even delayed his vacation "for a day or two, at least," but for now the American response looks hesitant and anemic.
For the first time in 30 years, Russia has initiated a war beyond its borders. For the first time in 20 years, an elected democratic regime is being threatened by force. For the first time in 20 years, the West is standing exposed and helpless, with its stock exchanges, galloping euro, flourishing economy and highfalutin talk of human rights. The planes and tanks in Georgia have returned to Russia its status of superpower.
In a twist on Fukuyama's "end of history" hypothesis, former Israeli ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich asserted that this week it seemed as though "history is returning in a big way, and America has to cope with a new reality." According to Rabinovich, "The Russians' power play succeeded and is likely to have a great many implications."
The most immediate change will be felt in the Caucasus, a region of utmost strategic and economic importance for both Russia and the West. Dr. Brenda Shaffer, an expert on the Caucasus from Haifa University, explains that the region's natural gas reserves are even more important than its oil. "It is too late to be talking about oil as a global weapon," she says. "In Israel and around the world people still think in terms of the energy crisis of the 1970s, but oil is a fluid that can be transported relatively easily. Oil can be purchased from Russia today, from Norway tomorrow and from Saudi Arabia next week. Gas, on the other hand, must be supplied via pipelines that cost billions of dollars to build. Gas pipelines must pass through several countries and are extremely dependent on local political conditions."
Shaffer notes that in the past few years, European countries have been trying to develop direct supply lines from Central Asian states holding large natural gas reserves. Europe's growing dependency on Russian oil and gas spurred the continent's efforts to find alternatives, which is irritating Russia. "Natural gas, which the Europeans find very attractive because it is more environmentally friendly than oil, has so far traveled from Central Asia to Europe only via Russia," continues Shaffer. "Of course oil also has its problems: The fact that a Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jet 'almost' hit the oil pipeline running from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea is interesting. The SU-25 is a very sophisticated plane that could easily have bombed the pipeline. Indeed, this doesn't seem like a miss but more like a message to the West: Don't mess with us."
This means that Europe is becoming increasingly dependent on Russia for energy. "Massive projects have been planned in recent years," says Shaffer, "such as the Nabucco Pipeline, to bring Central Asia's natural gas by way of the Caspian Sea and Georgia to the Mediterranean. We can forget about that project now. Russia has made that very clear. Russia did not invade Kazakhstan, but rather a small country that is a bottleneck between Central Asia and the West. No one will want to take the risk of angering the Russians again."
Beginnings of a new world order?
But Russia's message is not merely economic. "Several regimes in this region are wondering about where they are headed," says Shaffer. "America's blatant abandonment of its best friend in the region, President Saakashvili, will certainly prompt a policy reevaluation in countries like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. If until now these states were certain that it was in their best interest to befriend the Americans - and we saw how they responded to the war in Afghanistan - now they may think it more worthwhile to befriend Iran or Russia. Maybe these two states can protect them where the Americans have failed. From the point of view of U.S. foreign policy, this conclusion has very negative repercussions. The Russian invasion of Georgia exposed the Europeans and Americans' bluff, and left the Georgians on their own. I would even go so far as to say that maybe the presidents of Afghanistan and Iraq are already considering their next steps." This week's unprecedented support for Saakashvili by the presidents of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Estonia indicates that the picture extends beyond the Caucasus. Alexander Rahr, a member of Germany's Council on Foreign Relations and author of a biography of Vladimir Putin, believes this marks the beginning of a new world order. "Bush's legacy is a foreign policy disaster," says Rahr. "The dream of democratizing the Middle East has been shattered. As his final months in office approached, he was at least trying to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO, and now that won't happen. He tried to install missiles in the Czech Republic and in Poland, and that won't happen either. It turns out that American influence has its limits, and that Russia has regained a sphere of influence. This is no longer the Russia of the 1990s, beaten and bruised, unable to act on behalf of its own interests. Russia is now in a position to respond, and that is exactly what it did.
"A very similar crisis could develop in the Crimean peninsula, which now belongs to Ukraine, but used to belong to Russia, and has a large Russian population. Now everyone realizes that the Russians are serious. The same thing could also happen in Azerbaijan. Public opinion in those countries could change - from pro-Western to not wanting to rankle the Russian neighbor." Rahr also feels this week's events could affect a possible military campaign against Iran, too. "America's space for maneuver has shrunk," he says, "both strategically and logistically. Now it will be much harder for America to operate in Russia's southern part. Diplomatically, too, Russia's voice will increasingly be heard."
Twilight of U.S. hegemony
The roaring of the Russian artillery near Tbilisi, which clearly revealed that the issue was not South Ossetia but rather Russia's status in the world, also prompted a reevaluation by Sovietologists and Russian historians.
"This is without a doubt a founding moment," says Anne Applebaum, a historian and author of the international best-seller "Gulag: A History." "This week the Russians set an example. Just like when they killed journalist Anna Politkovskaya. There is no need to kill all the country's journalists. One is enough, and all the rest get the message. That's what [Russia] did this week: There is no need to invade all the countries in the region, but they will all get the message.
"In recent years we have seen a deterioration in the human rights situation in Russia," Applebaum continues. "Now it is clear that rising Russian nationalism will extend beyond the country's borders. This week's events also made it clear that the belief that only the U.S. can flex its muscles is mistaken. They marked the end of an era in which the U.S. behaved like the only superpower. It was interesting to follow the events on a split-screen television, showing both the amazing spectacle China organized for the opening of the Olympic Games and pictures from Georgia. We saw two new superpowers, evincing different behavior, of course, but which completely undermine America's global hegemony. We saw history in the making, right before our eyes."
Historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, author of two biographies of Josef Stalin, believes this is "the start of the twilight of America's sole world hegemony.
"The retaking of Ossetia is a minor part of the Russian campaign," says Montefiore, who has visited Georgia many times and is personally acquainted with the three presidents who have headed the country since the Soviet Union's disintegration. "More significant is the attack on Georgia proper, which reasserts Russia's hegemony over the Caucasus and defies American superpowerdom.
"The prospect of encirclement by triumphant America infuriated Russia," he continues. "Imagine if newly independent Wales joined the Warsaw Pact. This war is really a celebration of ferocious force in the realm of international power, a dangerous precedent. Russia has demonstrated the limits of U.S. power and Moscow's historic destiny as regional and world superpower. The Empire has struck back and shaken the order of the world."
2) How the East Was Lost
By Bruce Walker
Today, China is a brash, tough power -- unfree, undemocratic, enthused with nationalistic self-importance, and hosting the Olympic Games with fake-smiles hiding feral teeth. Today, Russia is a cynical authoritarian state, rallying behind a former functionary of the KGB as its "leader" and pushing around smaller nations, like Georgia, to show who is boss. Today, Moslems believe overwhelmingly that America, the liberator of tens of millions of Moslems from godless Communism, is the "Great Satan." What happened?
Ronald Reagan won the Cold War almost without firing a shot. He defeated Soviet power with moral fortitude, with strategic alliances in the Vatican and Number 10 Downing Street, and with American dollars instead of the American blood. Reagan and the men around him knew the horrors of war; they knew the nightmare of totalitarianism; they grasped the reality of weapons of mass destruction in evil hands; they understood lives of hardship. They were real men.
President Reagan brought victory but more than that, he brought hope. He brought hope not only to America, but he brought hope to the whole world. The work undone at the end of the Second World War was completed. For one brief moment, the whole world stared over the cliffs of ancient tyranny and saw the sweeping vistas of human liberty. Young people in Beijing saw these vistas; old men in Moscow saw them too; brave Moslem freedom fighters in the wilds of Afghanistan saw them; comfortable West Berliners saw them too. What Reagan did was more than just complete the Second World War: He completed the dreams of the American Revolution.
The Battle of Yorktown in 1781 and the Treaty of Paris in 1783 did not complete the miracle of America. These military and diplomatic victories simply made America possible. Washington could make the dream possible, and his leadership guided the new nation through difficult times, but the nation needed men like Jefferson, Mason, and Madison to work the dream into form. After our revolution, America was admired by much of the civilized world. That seems odd to us today -- we are so accustomed to being hated by the world -- but it was true: Latin Americans consciously modeled their new states after our new state (which is why there is a "United States of Brazil" and a "United States of Mexico") and the French consciously modeled much, though not all, of their revolution after us. Washington and those who completed the work he began made America the recognized hope of the world.
Ronald Reagan brought America back to that image of hope. But after Reagan, the candle glowed brightly, then it flickered, then it died. Why? The Old World has always been torn between the remnants of its ancient empires and the bold promise of human liberty. Its elites, its sophisticates, its nationalists have always whispered that America and its promises are lies. German culture, Japanese uniqueness, Chinese civilization, Islamic greatness, French grandeur and Russian tsars of myriad denominations -- these were truth, and liberty was a lie.
For a few brief years, the East no longer believed the tale of its political and ideological bosses. Hong Kong, not Beijing, was the future of China. Bricks of the Berlin Wall were solid souvenirs of Marx's folly. Russians dreamed of a joyful future. Reagan had been Washington again, and when Madison and Jefferson did their work, the world would be well, so it seemed.
Then nothing happened. When Reagan left office, it was like when Lincoln was shot. The keen mind and the wondrous soul which endured everything to emancipate men was gone. Small minds and smaller hearts scurried in. George H. Bush, famously, sacked the men of Reagan and replaced them with more sensible functionaries. He could "talk" to leaders, unlike Reagan, who talked to ordinary people.
Still, Bush tried hard. He knew war and hated war, which is hardly a fault -- Reagan, too, hated war: All morally sensible men do. He fought Saddam Hussein, and then considered a diplomatic victory equal to liberation, failing to do with the whole world behind him to do what his son would do largely alone. Bush Sr. knew the leaders of China and was comfortable working with them, but when the people of China rose up, the President seemed at something of a loss.
Worse, much worse, followed this president. George H. Bush was an honorable man. He loved his wife and children. He volunteered to fight for his nation as the youngest pilot in the Pacific Theater. He came from an old American family committed to public service. As vice president, he served President Reagan loyally. The Soviet Union disintegrated under Bush Sr., not under Reagan.
The president who followed Bush may even have thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a bad idea. He had, of course, visited Moscow during the Vietnam War and, far from volunteering to fight totalitarianism, had dodged the draft with deceptions.
Clinton was the antithesis of Reagan. God was at the center of Reagan's life, while Clinton was at the center of Clinton's life. Reagan adored Nancy and would never dream of hurting her (ditto for George H. Bush and Barbara), but Clinton used Hillary like he used everyone in his life: a chess piece, in her case a queen and not a pawn, but a chess piece nonetheless and not a person. Most of all, Clinton despised liberty. Governments, cultures, genders, races, international organizations and every other manacle of the human spirit were his most precious possessions.
No one could have been worse for America and worse for the world than this pampered, vain man-child. America and the world needed, at least, a Truman to take over after Reagan. Anyone who cared about posterity could see that our first priority was to see that Russia after the Cold War became like Germany after the Second World War; whatever the cost to us, Russia must become a prosperous, peaceful, free democracy.
Anyone could see that the pressure which worked on the Soviets would work on the Chinese Communists as well. Students in Beijing begged the world for freedom in 1989, something unprecedented under the Soviets. The theme of liberty should have permeated every transaction between America and China. Not just government, but business should have resonated with the importance of human rights over commercial profits. If Clinton believed that, he might have been able to rally the nation, but Clinton emphatically rejected the value of liberty over comfort.
The Presidency in eight short years went from being occupied by a moral colossus to a moral dwarf. Clinton sold national security secrets for something as banal as campaign contributions. Although Yeltsin was President of Russia during all of Clinton's administration, our clever Clinton was unable to prevent on August 19, 1998 - one decade ago - the collapse of Russian financial markets and the destruction of the hope of a Russian middle class. This was the midpoint between the presidential campaign to elect the successor to Reagan and our grim world today -- ten years ago.
What was Clinton doing ten years ago? He was on national television, the very same day that the Russian economy collapsed and the rise of Putin was assured, explaining that he had an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky and, by the way, he was ordering cruise missiles to hit aspirin factories in Sudan to combat a terrorist threat. Soon he would be waging a politically correct war against Serbia, infuriating ordinary Russians and hitting the Chinese embassy during this "war."
When Clinton left office, the dream of Chinese students was dead -- washed away not just by a morally indifferent American government but also by a patently disgraceful American president. When Clinton left office, Putin became the new Tsar of Russia. When Clinton left office, the image of America as a liberator of Moslems was a memory and the image of a debauched American president was in the minds of every devout Moslem.
Some pundits have compared today with 1938. That is a gross disservice to Neville Chamberlain, Stanley Baldwin and other politicians in the democratic West. Chamberlain was willing to do almost anything to prevent the Great War from again murdering a whole generation of young men in the trenches of France. His heart, if not his mind, was working well. Chamberlain ultimately declared war on Hitler and, after Churchill took over in 1940, Chamberlain, who was dying, provided Churchill with indispensable political support in cabinet so that Britain fought on and did not make peace with evil.
Clinton was not fit to shine the shoes of Chamberlain. The American president in 1993, with a partisan majority in Congress and a reservoir of goodwill, needed only to spend the largess of the Reagan peace dividend on completing the liberation of the world. He needed only to use his influence with Democrats to persuade them to support, with automatic Republican support, a structure of national and international pressure on China to embrace freedom. He needed only to ensure that the proven superiority of American arms in Desert Storm be used as a lever for liberty around the world. He needed only to use his gifts of rhetoric to ennoble and advance, before all else, human rights.
Within months after Clinton left office, the dam burst, the war began, and the hope of Reagan turned sour. The bosses of China quietly maneuvered their rising empire into a geopolitical position that supported genocide in distant Darfur because that hurt America. The new Tsar used natural resources and natural envy to brew venom in the Russian mind and to make America again the "main enemy."
The legacy of Reagan was lost. His peace dividend was wasted on midnight basketball and other shameless pandering. The moral high ground of Reagan tumbled down into the muck of Clinton. The world that watched Reagan with awe now turned away in disgust. It is all gone, or just about all gone. Our nation once elected wise men. It now votes for small children like Clinton and Obama. Panting for power and fame has replaced fighting for principles, often alone.
Can anyone imagine Clinton or Obama doing anything... alone? Government is, to them, a toy, an object of amusement, a super-sized television set. The blood that brave men and women shed for them each day so that we may be safe and free means nothing to immature schoolchildren like Clinton and Obama. Human freedom, served to them on a silver platter all their lives, requires no cost -- they never had to pay for it did they? -- and so it requires no blood, no sweat, no tears.
I fear for my country and the world. Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan left us with nothing but hope -- hope that seemed eight years earlier, in the malaise of Carter and his astonished discovery that Bolsheviks were bad, the hope of an impossible dream -- and since Reagan left his hopeful world has dimmed each year. The Russian people should be happy and free. The Chinese government should be retreating before the banner of freedom. The East, the Old World, was won -- and then it was lost. At what cost to the world, we can only consider with dread.
3) The Russian-Georgian War: Implications for the Middle East
By Ariel Cohen
Interesting thing to consider for those who are convinced that the "solution" for "self determination" for the Palestinians in the West Bank is for them to have citizenship in neighboring Jordan and vote for representatives in its parliament:
"In recent years, Moscow granted the majority of Abkhazs and South Ossetians
Russian citizenship. Use of Russian citizenship to create a "protected"
population residing in a neighboring state to undermine its sovereignty is a
slippery slope which is now leading to a redrawing of the former Soviet
Moscow formulated far-reaching goals when it carefully prepared - over a
period of at least two and a half years - for a land invasion of Georgia.
These goals included: expelling Georgian troops and effectively terminating
Georgian sovereignty in South Ossetia and Abkhazia; bringing down President
Mikheil Saakashvili and installing a more pro-Russian leadership in Tbilisi;
and preventing Georgia from joining NATO.
Russia's long-term strategic goals include increasing its control of the
Caucasus, especially over strategic energy pipelines. If a pro-Russian
regime is established in Georgia, it will bring the strategic
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum (Turkey) gas pipeline
under Moscow's control.
In recent years, Moscow granted the majority of Abkhazs and South Ossetians
Russian citizenship. Use of Russian citizenship to create a "protected"
population residing in a neighboring state to undermine its sovereignty is a
slippery slope which is now leading to a redrawing of the former Soviet
Russian continental power is on the rise. Israel should understand it and
not provoke Moscow unnecessarily, while defending its own national security
interests staunchly. Small states need to treat nuclear armed great powers
U.S. intelligence-gathering and analysis on the Russian threat to Georgia
failed. So did U.S. military assistance to Georgia, worth around $2 billion
over the last 15 years. This is something to remember when looking at recent
American intelligence assessments of the Iranian nuclear threat or the
unsuccessful training of Palestinian Authority security forces against
The long-term outcomes of the current Russian-Georgian war will be felt far
and wide, from Afghanistan to Iran, and from the Caspian to the
Mediterranean. The war is a mid-sized earthquake which indicates that the
geopolitical tectonic plates are shifting, and nations in the Middle East,
including Israel, need to take notice.
Moscow formulated far-reaching goals when it carefully prepared - over a
period of at least two and a half years - for a land invasion of Georgia, as
this author warned.1 These goals included:
Expelling Georgian troops and effectively terminating Georgian sovereignty
in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia is preparing the ground for
independence and eventual annexation of these separatist territories. Thus,
these goals seem to be on track to be successfully achieved.
"Regime change" - bringing down President Mikheil Saakashvili and installing
a more pro-Russian leadership in Tbilisi. Russia seems to have given up on
the immediate toppling of Saakashvili, and is likely counting on the
Georgian people to do the job once the dust settles. Russia, for its part,
will pursue a criminal case against him for genocide and war crimes in South
Ossetia, trying to turn him into another Slobodan Milosevic/Radovan
Karadzic. This is part of psychological operations against the Georgian
leader, of which more later.
Preventing Georgia from joining NATO and sending a strong message to Ukraine
that its insistence on NATO membership may lead to war and/or its
dismemberment. Russia succeeded in attacking a state that has been regarded
as a potential candidate for NATO membership since April 2008. The Russian
assault undoubtedly erodes the NATO umbrella in the international community,
even though Georgia is not yet formally a member, especially if it emerges
that Moscow can use force against its neighbors with impunity. While it
remains to be seen whether Georgia ultimately is fully accepted into NATO,
some voices in Europe, especially in Germany, will see in the war a
vindication of their opposition to such membership. Georgia's chances will
decrease further if the next U.S. president is noncommittal on the conflict.
Ukraine is standing tall in solidarity with Georgia for the time being, and
has taken a strong step to limit the movements of Russia's Black Sea fleet,
but has little domestic support for NATO membership.
Russia's long-term strategic goals include:
Increasing its control of the Caucasus, especially over strategic energy
pipelines.2 If a pro-Russian regime is established in Georgia, it will bring
the strategic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum (Turkey)
gas pipeline under Moscow's control. Israel receives some of its oil from
Ceyhan, and has a stake in the smooth flow of oil from the Caspian.
Russian control over Georgia would outflank Azerbaijan, denying the U.S. any
basing and intelligence options there in case of a confrontation with Iran.
This kind of control would also undermine any options for pro-Western
orientations in Azerbaijan and Armenia, along with any chance of resolving
their conflict based on diplomacy and Western-style cooperation.
Recreating a nineteenth-century-style sphere of influence in the former
Soviet Union and beyond, if necessary by use of force. Here, the intended
addressees included all former Soviet republics, including the Baltic
States. The message may have backfired as the presidents of Poland, Ukraine,
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania came to Tbilisi and stood shoulder-to-shoulder
with Saakashvili. However, without Western European and U.S. support, "New
Europe" alone cannot stand up to Moscow.
Russian Proxies Inside Georgia
Russian relations with Georgia were the worst among the post-Soviet states.
In addition to fanning the flames of separatism in South Ossetia since 1990,
Russia militarily supported separatists in Abkhazia (1992-1993), which is
also a part of Georgian territory, to undermine Georgia's independence and
assert its control over the strategically important South Caucasus.3
Despite claims about oppressed minority status, the separatist South
Ossetian leadership is mostly ethnic Russians, many of whom served in the
KGB, the Soviet secret police; the Russian military; or in the Soviet
communist party. Abkhazia and South Ossetia have become Russia's
wholly-owned subsidiaries, their population largely militarized and
subsisting on smuggling operations.
This use of small, ethnically-based proxies is similar to Iran's use of
Hizbullah and Hamas to continuously attack Israel. Tbilisi tried for years
to deal with these militias by offering a negotiated solution, including
full autonomy within Georgia.
In recent years, Moscow granted the majority of Abkhazs and South Ossetians
Russian citizenship and moved to establish close economic and bureaucratic
ties with the two separatist republics, effectively enacting a creeping
annexation of both territories. Use of Russian citizenship to create a
"protected" population residing in a neighboring state to undermine its
sovereignty is a slippery slope which is now leading to a redrawing of the
former Soviet borders.
On August 7, after yet another Russian-backed South Ossetian military
provocation, Saakashvili attacked South Ossetian targets with artillery and
armor. Yet, Tbilisi was stunned by the ferocity of the Russian response. It
shouldn't have been, nor should Americans be surprised. The writing was on
the wall, but Washington failed to read it, despite repeated warning from
allied intelligence services and a massive presence of diplomats and
military trainers on the ground. The results for Georgia are much more
disastrous than for Israel in summer 2006.
"Kill the Chicken to Scare the Monkey"
Aggression against Georgia also sends a strong signal to Ukraine and to
Europe. Russia is playing a chess game of offense and intimidation. Former
president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke last spring about
Russia "dismembering" Ukraine, another NATO candidate, and detaching the
Crimea, a peninsula which was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954,
when both were integral parts of the Soviet Union.
Today, up to 50 percent of Ukrainian citizens speak Russian as their first
language and ethnic Russians comprise around one-fifth of Ukraine's
population. With encouragement from Moscow, these people may be induced to
follow South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Mother Russia's bosom. Yet, Ukraine's
pro-Western leaders, such as President Victor Yushchenko and Prime Minister
Yulia Timoshenko, have expressed a desire to join NATO, while the pro-Moscow
Ukrainian Party of Regions effectively opposes membership. NATO opponents in
Ukraine are greatly encouraged by Russia's action against Georgia.
In the near future, Russia is likely to beef up the Black Sea Fleet, which
has bases in Tartus and Latakia in Syria, and used to have an anchorage in
Libya. For over two hundred years the navy has been the principal tool of
Russian power projection in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
Beyond this, Russia is demonstrating that it can sabotage American and EU
declarations about integrating the Commonwealth of Independent States
members into Western structures such as NATO.
By attempting to accomplish regime change in Georgia, Moscow is also trying
to gain control of the energy and transportation corridor which connects
Central Asia and Azerbaijan with the Black Sea and ocean routes overseas -
for oil, gas and other commodities. Back in 1999, Western companies reached
an agreement with Central Asian states to create the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
pipeline. So far, this has allowed Azerbaijan to bypass Russia completely
and transport its oil from the Caspian Sea basin straight through Georgia
and Turkey, without crossing Russian territory. The growing output of the
newly independent Central Asian states has been increasingly competing with
Russian oil. By 2018, the Caspian basin, including Kazakhstan and
Azerbaijan, is supposed to export up to 4 million barrels of oil a day, as
well as a significant amount of natural gas. Russia would clearly like to
restore its hegemony over hydrocarbon export routes that would considerably
diminish sovereignty and diplomatic freedom of maneuver in these new
A Russian S-300 Anti-Aircraft Shield for Iran?
Russia's Georgian adventure also emboldens Iran by securing its northern
tier through denial of bases, airfields, electronic facilities and other
cooperation in Georgia and Azerbaijan to the U.S. and possibly Israel. At
the same time, in March 2009, Russia is likely to deploy modern S-300
long-range anti-aircraft missiles in Iran. By June 2009 they will become
fully operational, as Iranian teams finish training provided by their
Russian instructors, according to a high-level Russian source who requested
The deployment of the anti-aircraft shield next spring, if it occurs,
effectively limits the window in which Israel or the United States could
conduct an effective aerial campaign aimed at destroying, delaying or
crippling the Iranian nuclear program.
The Islamic Republic will use the long-range anti-aircraft system, in
addition to the point-defense TOR M-1 short-range Russian-made system, to
protect its nuclear infrastructure, including suspected nuclear weapons
facilities, from a potential U.S. or Israeli preventive strike.
The S-300 system, which has a radius of over 90 miles and effective
altitudes of about 90,000 feet, is capable of tracking up to 100 targets
simultaneously. It is considered one of the best in the world and is
amazingly versatile. It is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise
missiles, and ballistic missile warheads.5 The S-300 complements the Tor-M1
air defense missile system, also supplied by Russia. In 2007 Russia
delivered 29 Tor-M1s to Iran worth $700 million.
Israel has been very effective in electronic warfare (EW) against Soviet-
and Russian-built technologies, including anti-aircraft batteries. In 1982,
Israeli Air Force F-16s smashed the Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the
Beka'a Valley and within Syria, allowing Israel full air superiority over
Syria and Lebanon. As a result, Syria lost over 80 planes, one-third of its
air force, in two days, while Israel lost one obsolete ground support A-4
Skyhawk to ground fire.
In 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s flew undetected over Jordan and Saudi
Arabia on their mission to destroy Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor. More
recently, the Israeli Air Force surprised the Syrians when they destroyed an
alleged nuclear facility in the northeast of the country in September 2007,
apparently flying undetected to and from the mission.
However, a mission over Iran, if and when decided upon, is very different
than operations over neighboring Syria. First, if Israel waits until March
2009, there may be a president in the White House who emphasizes diplomacy
over military operations. Even if the George W. Bush Administration allows
Israel over-flight of Iraqi air space and aerial refueling, a future
administration might not, opting for an "aggressive diplomacy" approach
instead - especially with an emboldened and truculent Russia as a
Second, Israel, military experts say, does not have long-range bomber
capacity, such as the Cold War-era U.S. B-1 heavy supersonic bomber, or the
B-2 stealth bomber. Israel, a Russian source estimated, can hit 20 targets
simultaneously, while the Iranian nuclear program may have as many as 100.
Many of the Iranian targets are fortified, and will require bunker busters.
Operational challenges abound. Israel's EW planes, needed to suppress
anti-aircraft batteries, are slow and unarmed, and could become a target for
Iranian anti-aircraft missiles or even fighter sorties. But the most
important question analysts are asking is whether the current Israeli
leadership has the knowledge and the gumption to pull it off. After all, the
results of the 2006 mini-war against Hizbullah were disastrous for Israel,
and the Israel Defense Forces have exposed numerous flaws in its
preparedness, supply chain, and command, control, communications and
The Need to Defang Tehran
Nevertheless, the need to preemptively defang Tehran may prove decisive in
view of Tehran's hatred and intransigence.
As noted by Professor Stephen Blank of the U.S. Army War College:
When one is dealing with a national leadership which is motivated by ethnic
and religious hatred, one needs to remember that such a leadership becomes
obsessed and loses its ability to calculate things. They may risk war rather
than seek accommodation. This was not only the case with Nazi Germany, but
also with the antebellum American South of the 1840s and 1850s, where racial
hatred of the slave owners cause them to lose sight of what was at stake.
Blank goes on to conclude that the Iranian leadership believes that Russia
and China will provide them with protection, of which the S-300 is an
important component, and that the sanctions are not effective.
Under the circumstances, an Israel-only preventive bombing campaign -
without the United States - might be too risky to pull off. If the United
States sits this crisis out, Israel could possibly settle for deterring Iran
by taking its cities and main oil facilities hostage.
This was known during the Cold War as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD),
brought to you courtesy of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President
Ahmadinejad. Going MAD would make the Middle East even more fragile than it
already is, and would make the life of its inhabitants ever more difficult
Clearly, with the renewal of East-West tensions as a result of Russia's
moves against Georgia, it will be much more difficult to obtain Moscow's
agreement to enhance sanctions and international pressures on Iran. The
struggle to diplomatically halt its nuclear program will become far more
Lessons from the War
Lessons for the Middle East and Israel from the Russian-Georgian War abound,
and apply both to military operations, cyber-warfare, and strategic
information operations. The most important of these are:
· Watch Out for the Bear - and Other Beasts! Russian continental
power is on the rise. Israel should understand it and not provoke Moscow
unnecessarily, while defending its own national security interests
staunchly. Small states need to treat nuclear armed great powers with
respect. Provoking a militarily strong adversary, such as Iran, is
worthwhile only if you are confident of victory, and even then there may be
bitter surprises. Just ask Saakashvili.
· Strategic Self-Reliance. U.S. expressions of support of the kind
provided to Georgia - short of an explicit mutual defense pact - may or may
not result in military assistance if/when Israel is under attack, especially
when the attacker has an effective deterrent, such as nuclear arms
deliverable against U.S. targets. In the future, such an attacker could be
Iran or an Arab country armed with atomic weapons. Israel can and should
rely on its own deterrent - a massive survivable second-strike capability.
· Intelligence Failure. U.S. intelligence-gathering and analysis on
the Russian threat to Georgia failed. So did U.S. military assistance to
Georgia, worth around $2 billion over the last 15 years. This is something
to remember when looking at recent American intelligence assessments of the
Iranian nuclear threat or the unsuccessful training of Palestinian Authority
security forces against Hamas. Both are deeply flawed. There is no
substitute for high-quality human intelligence.
· Air Power Is Not Sufficient. Russia used air, armor, the Black Sea
Fleet, special forces, and allied militias. Clausewitzian lessons still
apply: the use of overwhelming force in the war's center of gravity by
implementing a combined air-land-sea operation may be twentieth century, but
it does work.6 Israel should have been taught this lesson after the last war
· Surprise and Speed of Operations Still Matter - as they have for
the four thousand years of the recorded history of warfare. To be
successful, wars have to have limited and achievable goals. Russia achieved
most of its goals between Friday and Monday, while the world, including
President George W. Bush, was busy watching the Olympics and parliaments
were on vacation.
· Do Not Cringe - within reason - from taking military casualties and
inflicting overwhelming military and civilian casualties at a level
unacceptable to the enemy. Georgia lost some 100-200 soldiers and
effectively capitulated. A tougher enemy, like the Japanese or the Germans,
or even Hizbullah, could well suffer a proportionally higher rate of
casualties and keep on fighting.
· Information and Psychological Warfare Is Paramount. So is
cyber-security. It looks like the Russians conducted repeated denial of
service attacks against Georgia (and in 2007 against Estonia), shutting down
key websites. Russia was ready with accusations and footage of alleged
Georgian atrocities in South Ossetia, shifting the information operation
playing field from "aggressor-victim" to "saving Ossetian civilians from
barbaric Georgians." These operations also matter domestically, to shore up
support and boost morale at home.
The Russian-Georgian war indicates that the balance of power in western
Eurasia has shifted, and that U.S. power may be deteriorating in the face of
its lengthy and open-ended commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global
War on Terror, which are leading to a global overstretch.
While the Middle East, and especially the Persian Gulf, will remain a top
priority in U.S. foreign policy regardless of who wins the White House,
Israel is heading towards a strategic environment in which Russia may play a
more important role, especially in its southern tier, from the Black Sea to
Afghanistan and western China. Twenty-first century geopolitics is
presenting significant survival challenges to the Jewish state and the
* * *
1. Ariel Cohen, "Springtime Is for War?" The Heritage Foundation press
commentary, originally published by TechCentralStation (TCSDaily), March 31,
2006, http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed033106a.cfm, August 13,
2. Melik Kaylan, "Welcome Back to the Great Game: Failing to Stand Up to
Russia Would Jeopardize Every International Gain Since the Cold War," Wall
Street Journal, August 13, 2008.
3. Simon Sebag Montfiore, "Another Battle in the 1,000-Year Russia-Georgia
Grudge Match," The Times of London, August 12, 2008.
4. Personal interview with the author, Washington, D.C., August 2008.
5. Dave Majumdar, "Israel's Red Line: The S-300 Missile System,"
August 13, 2008.
6. Martin Sieff, "Defense Focus: Underestimating Russia. Russian Army Shocks
West in Georgia Ops," United Press International 20080812-002422-8913,
August 12, 2008.
* * *
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian
Studies and International Energy Security at The Heritage Foundation. He is
a member of the Board of Advisers of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs
at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
4) Georgia, Israel, and the nature of man
By Caroline B. Glick
In their statements Wednesday on Russia's invasion of Georgia, both US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice openly acknowledged that Russia is the aggressor in the war and that the US stands by Georgia.
This is all very nice and well. But what does the fact that it took the US a full five days to issue a clear statement against Russian aggression tell us about the US? What does it say about Georgia and, in a larger sense, about the nature of world affairs?
Russia's blitzkrieg offensive in Georgia this week was not simply an act of aggression against a small, weak democracy. It was an assault against vital Western security interests. Since it achieved independence in 1990, Georgia has been the only obstacle in Russia's path to exerting full control over oil supplies from Central Asia to the West. And now, in the aftermath of Russia's conquest of Georgia, that obstacle has been set aside.
Georgia has several oil and gas pipelines that traverse its territory from Azerbaijan to Turkey, the main one being the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Together they transport more than one percent of global oil supplies from east to west. In response to the Russian invasion, British Petroleum, which owns the pipelines, announced that it will close them.
What this means is that Russia has won. In the future that same oil and gas will either be shipped through Russia, or it will be shipped through Georgia under the benevolent control of Russian "peacekeeping" forces permanently stationed in Gori. The West now has no option other than appeasing Russia if it wishes to receive its oil from the Caucasus.
Russian control of these oil arteries represents as significant a threat to Western strategic interests as Saddam Hussein's conquest of Kuwait and his threat to invade Saudi Arabia in 1990. Like Saddam's aggression then, Russia's takeover of Georgia threatens the stability of the international economy. While Russia's invasion of Georgia is substantively the same as Saddam's attempt to assert control over Persian Gulf oil producers eighteen years ago, what is different is the world's response. Eighteen years ago, the US led a UN-mandated international coalition to defeat Iraq and rollback Saddam's aggression. Today, the West is encouraging Georgia to surrender.
Whether due to exhaustion over the domestic fights about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to dependence on Russian oil supplies, to residual and unjustified belief that Russia will side with the West in a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, or to the absence of an easy option for defending Georgia, it is manifestly clear that today, the West is fully willing to accept complete Russian control over oil supplies from Central Asia.
Notwithstanding the strong statements issued Wednesday by Bush and Rice, the West has taken two steps to make its willingness to accept Russia's moves clear. First, there was French President Nicholas Sarkozy's photogenic mediation tour to Moscow and Tbilisi on Tuesday. And second there was the US's response to Sarkozy's shuttle diplomacy on Wednesday.
Sarkozy's mediation efforts signaled nothing less than Europe's abandonment of Georgia. During his visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Putin's Charlie McCarthy doll "President" Dmitry Medvedev, Sarkozy agreed to a six-point document setting out the terms of the ceasefire and the basis for "peace" talks to follow. The document's six points included the following principles: The non-use of force; a ceasefire; a guarantee of access to humanitarian aid; the garrisoning of Georgian military forces; the continued deployment of Russian forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and anywhere else they wish to go; and an international discussion of the political status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
As France's *Liberation*'s reporter noted, by agreeing to the document France abandoned the basic premise that Georgia's territorial integrity should be respected by Russia. Moreover, by leaving Russian forces in the country and giving them the right to deploy wherever they deem necessary, Sarkozy effectively accepted Russian control of Georgia. By grounding Georgian forces in their garrisons, (or what is left of them after most of Georgia's major military bases were either destroyed or occupied by Russian forces), Sarkozy's document denies Georgia the right to defend itself from future Russian aggression.
In their appearances Wednesday, both Bush and Rice praised Sarkozy's efforts and Rice explained that the US wishes for France to continue its efforts to mediate between Russia and Georgia. Although both of them insisted that Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected, neither offered any sense of how that is to be accomplished. Neither explained how that aim aligns with the French-mediated ceasefire agreement which gives international backing to Russia's occupation of the country.
The West's response tells us three basic things about the nature of world affairs. First, it teaches us is that "international legitimacy" is determined neither by a state's adherence to international law nor by a state's alliances with great powers. Rather, international legitimacy is determined by the number of divisions a state possesses.
After Russia illegally invaded Georgia, European and American officials as well as Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama hinted that Russia had a legitimate right to invade when they wrongly referred to South Ossetia as "disputed territory." While South Ossetia and Abkhazia are separatist provinces, their sovereignty is not in dispute. They are part of Georgia. Georgia acted legally when it tried to protect its territory from separatist violence last Friday. Russia acted illegally when it invaded. Yet aside from the Georgian government itself, no one has noticed this basic distinction.
"We don't have time now to get into long discussions on blame," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Tuesday.
"We shouldn't make any moral judgments on this war. Stopping the war, that's what we're interested in," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner explained adding, "Don't ask us who's good and who's bad here."
Then there is the fact that Georgia has gone out of its way to liberalize and democratize its society and political system and to be a loyal ally to the US. It sent significant forces to Iraq and Kosovo. Far from returning the favor, in Georgia's hour of need, all the US agreed to do was give Georgian forces a free plane ride home from Iraq. That the administration has no intention of defending its loyal ally was made clear Wednesday afternoon when the Pentagon sharply denied Georgian claims that the US would defend Georgian airports and seaports from Russian aggression.
The Pentagon's blunt denial of any plan to restore Georgian sovereignty was one of the first truly credible statements issued by the US Defense Department on the conflict. It took the US four days to acknowledge Russian aggression beyond South Ossetia. Even as convoys of journalists were shelled, civilian homes were bombed, and Georgian military bases were destroyed by Russian forces in Gori, a Defense Department official said, "We don't see anything that supports [the Russians] are in Gori. I don't know why the Georgians are saying that."
The general lesson that emerges from Washington's claims of ignorance is that reality itself is of no concern for policymakers bent on ignoring it. Through its obvious lies, Washington was able to justify taking no action of any sort against Russia or to speak out in defense of Georgia until after Russia forced Georgia to surrender its sovereignty through the French mediators.
The US and European willingness to let Georgia fall in spite of its strategic importance, in spite of the fact that it has operated strictly within the bounds of international law, and in spite of its obvious ideological affinity and loyalty to them will have enormous repercussions for the West's relations with Ukraine, the Baltic States, Poland and Czech Republic. But its aftershocks will not be limited to Europe. They will reverberate in the Middle East as well. And Israel for one, should take note of what has transpired.
In Israel's early years, with the memory of the Holocaust still fresh in its leaders' minds, Israel founded its strategic posture on an acceptance of the fact that the soft power of international legitimacy, peace treaties, alliances and common interests only matters in the presence of the hard power of military force. People like David Ben Gurion realized that what was unique about the Holocaust was not the allies' willingness to sit by and watch an atrocity unfold but the magnitude of the atrocity they did nothing to stop. Doing nothing to prevent an innocent nation from be destroyed has always been the normal practice of nations.
Yet over time, and particularly after Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War, that foundational acceptance of the world as it is was lost. It was first mitigated by Israel's own shock in discovering its power. And it was further obfuscated in the aftermath of the war when the Soviets and the Arabs began promulgating the myth of Israeli aggression. In recent years, the understanding that the only guarantor of Israel's survival is Israel's ability to defeat all of its enemies decisively has been forgotten altogether by most of the country's leaders as well as by its intellectual classes.
Since 1979 and with increasing intensity since 1993, Israeli leaders bent on appeasing everyone from the Egyptians to the Palestinians to the Syrians to the Lebanese have called for Israel's inclusion in NATO, or the deployment of Western forces to its borders or lobbied Washington for a formal strategic alliance. They have claimed that such forces and such treaties will unburden the country of the need to protect itself in the event that our neighbors attack us after we give them the territories necessary to wage war against us.
It has never made any difference to any of these leaders that none of the myriad international forces deployed along our borders have ever protected us. The fact that instead of protecting Israel, they have served as shields behind which our enemies rebuild their forces and then attack us has made no impression. Instead, our leaders have argued that once we figure out the proper form of appeasement everyone will rise to defend us.
If nothing else comes of it, the West's response to the rape of Georgia should end that delusion. Georgia did almost everything right. And like Israel, for its actions it was celebrated in the West with platitudes of enduring friendship and empty promises of alliances which were summarily discarded the moment Russia invaded.
Georgia only made one mistake and for that mistake it will pay an enormous price. As it steadily built alliances, it forgot to build an army. Israel has an army. It has just forgotten why its survival depends on our willingness to use it.
If we are unwilling to use our military to defeat our enemies, we will lose everything. This is the basic enduring truth of international affairs that we have ignored at our peril. No matter what we do, it will always be the case. For this is the nature of world affairs, and the nature of man.
5) Bashir's Willing Accomplices
By Martin Peretz
Why hasn't the Muslim world lifted a finger for Darfur?
There are so many more important issues in the world today than Palestine that I wonder why I am so obsessed with it. Well, of course, what I am obsessed with is Israel, and it's a personal obsession relating to the catastrophe that befell my people in a way that no catastrophe had previously befallen any other people. This fact alone brings the fate of the Jews into the consciousness and conscience of others. It also provokes in a demonic way a wish for the end of the insistent Jewish problem, even if that means the end of the Jewish nation, a goal hoped for by not a few Arabs and their sympathizers.
Even if not in numbers, the Darfur genocide is of the same order of moral magnitude as the shoah. It will haunt us in whatever day of judgment we face, and it will haunt us when civil and civilized people at last come to bring some just order to the world, including the moment when some court renders justice. I believe Richard Just's desolating essay, "The Truth Will Not Set You Free," will be an exemplary witness and a rare one.
Bosnia was in the same dimension, and I am sullenly proud that we as a magazine were possessed enough to be able to put our quiet and dignified literary post-script to this disaster in what the French would call our témoignage: The Black Book of Bosnia.
I am afraid that only the truly haunted kept Cambodia in their souls. It was easy enough to falsely fault Henry Kissinger for what our (and his) enemies perpetrated, and for Noam Chomsky to exonerate them and still to remain a hero on many college campuses.
As Darfur shows, it is a simple matter for the disasters that befall African peoples to meld into the very darkness of their condition. So it was with the Tutsis of Rwanda, where Kofi Annan was a foul arbiter of life and death in a holocaust that took 100 days. It was like that, too, in the Central African Republic and Chad and in other venues. Was Biafra the first of these? I hardly remember, I whose PhD included African nationalism as a special field. Shame on me.
So let me say outright that what wrongs the Israelis may have done to the Palestinians are, in the contexts of history and of our time, actually ... let me not say "trivial." How about banal? Not that this makes them right. Still, in the grand setting of the past, as well as in the circumstances of Palestine in this century and last, the quarrels between Jew and Arab are minor. Minor, that is, if there were a wish to come to settlement on the part of Arabs. But, for them, every loss (an olive tree, an orchard, an uninhabited hill) is a challenge to the divine order of things. In that sense, the world of Muslim Arabs is unchangeable and untouchable.
But nothing is unchangeable and untouchable, including Palestine. The fact is, of course, that the other Arabs do not care a fig for Palestine, not a fig. Even with their lush surplus of petroleum cash, the oil Arabs do not pay their self-assessed tax for Palestine. The Emirates, perhaps the greatest employment agency for foreign labor anywhere, hire relatively few Palestinians, preferring Malaysian and Pakistanis and, if Arabs, Yemenis and Egyptians. The sultans are not dumb: They saw how the Palestinians behaved when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
To the extent that the Arab states have sustained these "refugees"--that's another matter, better left for another time--in place and through time deep into the fourth generation they perpetuate the wound that, unlike in the Philoctetes myth, never heals. Now, it is something of an accomplishment, a perverse one, to be sure, to have made Palestine the fixation of the United Nations and virtually every one of its agencies. But this has not brought relief to a single Palestinian.
How do I say this? The Palestine national movement is a fraud. Internecine killing has taken far more Arab lives than armed encounters with the Israelis. It is full of pomp but no ordinary circumstance. You can judge the reality of Palestine by the travels of its leaders. Arafat went everywhere. The Palestine Liberation Organization had embassies everywhere, more perhaps than did Israel. The Palestinian Authority is represented in God only knows how many capitals. And it is now Mahmoud Abbas who could collect frequent flyer miles if he didn't have the illusion of being president of a state.
Last week, Palestinian functionaries were in Yemen visiting its president and exchanging complimentary chit-chat. The officials expounded upon the importance of Yemen. How could Yemen be so important? Divided by tribes upon tribes, nearly half of its population is under 15 and one of its primary products is qat, chewed into oblivion by everyone. It is nearly equally split between Shi'a and Sunni. One of its last legislative reforms was to eliminate the age qualification of 15 for girls to marry. This is a joke. What did the Palestinians and Yemenis really talk about? Was the visit worth the gas?
Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the P.A., is a serious economist and a serious man. On him fall the quotidian burdens of real life in the West Bank. (Gaza seems to breathe on delirium, and he has no place in it.) Politics is at best a distraction for him, and so he is distracted by the idea of a different sort of politics. Fayyad wants a Palestinian government made up not of professional revolutionaries, but of non-partisan professionals. It is a dream but, like many well-intentioned dreams, a dream that will not come to pass. Not that there aren't Palestinians who would want it. After all, there must be many men, women, and children, too, who want an ordinary life, who even dream of an ordinary life. It is not just Israel that denies it to them by check-points and other humiliating routines. It is the very perfervid character of Palestinian society that substitutes fantasy for the commonplace. Even the death of a poet becomes an excuse for frenzy. So Fayyad will not have his wish. His country is riven by fanaticisms that divide its people against each other.
How can the Arabs feign such great agitation about the unfortunate Palestinians when they maintain such composure about the truly bitter fate of the Darfuris? It is the blood of their blood who are committing the genocide. It is their diplomats who protect the murderers, pass it all off as if it were nothing when it is the rankest mass blood-letting in a decade. Sudan is the fault line of the Muslim world, the racial fault-line. Whatever standing the African Muslims of Darfur command as pious supplicants before Allah, they have none before his Arab servants. Apparently, this does not trouble the conscience of Islam. They are otherwise engaged in the hyper-drama of Palestine.
6) Barack Obama blinks in Hillary face-off
By Michael Goodwin
Hillary Clinton may not get her party's nomination, but her roll call at the convention means she's stealing the show from its presumtive star, Barack Obama.
Russia rolls over Georgia, Hillary Clinton does the same to Barack Obama. Now we know who's boss.
Obama blinked and stands guilty of appeasing Clinton by agreeing to a roll call vote for her nomination. That he might not have had much choice if he wanted peace only proves the point that he's playing defense at his own convention.
What does he get out of it? Not much and not for long.
The fleeting sense that he is a magnanimous nominee won't get him a single vote he wouldn't get anyway. Ditto for the idea that he's going the extra mile to unify the party. Those who refuse to accept him as the legitimate winner aren't likely to do so just because he caves into her demands.
It makes him look weak and ratifies Clinton's sense of entitlement to share party leadership and the convention spotlight.
It was supposed to be his party. Now it's theirs. His and hers.
The substantive problem for Obama is that he is already underperforming against John McCain. He limped across the finish line in the primaries and, since Clinton conceded in June, his poll numbers have flat-lined.
In the face of that lackluster showing, his choices have been curious. The time spent in Europe and now in Hawaii might have been better spent courting the white, working-class voters who have proved immune to his charms.
Trying to bring them into the tent by agreeing to Clinton's growing demands is a poor substitute for direct appeals. She might not be able to deliver them, even if she tries.
Yet already the list of what Hillary wants and what Hillary gets is unprecedented for somebody who lost the nomination. She gets a prime-time address where she will be introduced by daughter Chelsea. She gets her own team to produce a hagiographic video of her.
Hubby Bubba gets a prime-time speech on Wednesday night. And Hillary gets a platform plank that uses "glass ceiling" language right out of her speech to suggest she would be the nominee if not for sexism.
A few more big-ticket items and she'll be the co-nominee. Maybe that's the point.
It reminds me of a Cold War joke about how the Russians view a compromise. They come to the table and announce the rules: What's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable.
How would President Obama respond?
I think we just found out.
7) History's Back:Ambitious autocracies, hesitant democracies.
By Robert Kagan
One wonders whether Russia's invasion of Georgia will finally end the dreamy complacency that took hold of the world's democracies after the close of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union offered for many the tantalizing prospect of a new kind of international order. The fall of the Communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. Great power conflict and competition were a thing of the past. Geo-economics had replaced geopolitics. Nations that traded with one another would be bound together by their interdependence and less likely to fight one another. Increasingly commercial societies would be more liberal both at home and abroad. Their citizens would seek prosperity and comfort and abandon the atavistic passions, the struggles for honor and glory, and the tribal hatreds that had produced conflict throughout history. Ideological conflict was also a thing of the past. As Francis Fukuyama famously put it, "At the end of history, there are no serious ideological competitors left to liberal democracy." And if there were an autocracy or two lingering around at the end of history, this was no cause for concern. They, too, would eventually be transformed as their economies modernized.
Unfortunately, the core assumptions of the post-Cold War years have proved mistaken. The absence of great power competition, it turns out, was a brief aberration. Over the course of the 1990s, that competition reemerged as rising powers entered or reentered the field. First China, then India,
set off on unprecedented bursts of economic growth, accompanied by incremental but substantial increases in military capacity, both conventional and nuclear. By the beginning of the 21st century, Japan had begun a slow economic recovery and was moving toward a more active international role both diplomatically and militarily. Then came Russia, rebounding from economic calamity to steady growth built on the export of its huge reserves of oil and natural gas.
Nor has the growth of the Chinese and Russian economies produced the political liberalization that was once thought inevitable. Growing national wealth and autocracy have proven compatible, after all. Autocrats learn and adjust. The autocracies of Russia and China have figured out how to permit open economic activity while suppressing political activity. They have seen that people making money will keep their noses out of politics, especially if they know their noses will be cut off. New wealth gives autocracies a greater ability to control information--to monopolize television stations and to keep a grip on Internet traffic, for instance--often with the assistance of foreign corporations eager to do business with them.
In the long run, rising prosperity may well produce political liberalism, but how long is the long run? It may be too long to have any strategic or geopolitical relevance. In the meantime, the new economic power of the autocracies has translated into real, usable geopolitical power on the world stage. In the 1990s the liberal democracies expected that a wealthier Russia would be a more liberal Russia, at home and abroad. But historically the spread of commerce and the acquisition of wealth by nations has not necessarily produced greater global harmony. Often it has only spurred greater global competition. The hope at the end of the Cold War was that nations would pursue economic integration as an alternative to geopolitical competition, that they would seek the "soft" power of commercial engagement and economic growth as an alternative to the "hard" power of military strength or geopolitical confrontation. But nations do not need to choose. There is another paradigm--call it "rich nation, strong army," the slogan of rising Meiji Japan at the end of the 19th century--in which nations seek economic integration and adaptation of Western institutions not in order to give up the geopolitical struggle but to wage it more successfully. The Chinese have their own phrase for this: "a prosperous country and a strong army."
The rise of these two great power autocracies is reshaping the international scene. Nationalism, and the nation itself, far from being weakened by globalization, has returned with a vengeance. There are the ethnic nationalisms that continue to bubble up in the Balkans and in the former republics of the Soviet Union. But more significant is the return of great power nationalism. Instead of an imagined new world order, there are new geopolitical fault lines where the ambitions of great powers overlap and conflict and where the seismic events of the future are most likely to erupt.
One of these fault lines runs along the western and southwestern frontiers of Russia. In Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and even in the Balkans, a contest for influence is under way between a resurgent Russia, on one side, and the European Union and the United States on the other. Instead of an anticipated zone of peace, western Eurasia has once again become a zone of competition, in which military power--pooh-poohed by postmodern Europeans--once again plays a role.
Unfortunately, Europe is ill-equipped to respond to a problem that it never anticipated having to face. The European Union is deeply divided about Russia, with the nations on the frontline fearful and seeking reassurance, while others like France and Germany seek accommodation with Moscow. The fact is, Europe never expected to face this kind of challenge at the
end of history. This great 21st-century entity, the EU, now confronts 19th-century power, and Europe's postmodern tools of foreign policy were not designed to address more traditional geopolitical challenges. There is a real question as to whether Europe is institutionally or temperamentally able to play the kind of geopolitical games in Russia's near-abroad that Russia is willing to play.
There is some question about the United States, as well. At least some portion of American elite opinion has shifted from post-Cold War complacency, from the conviction that the world was naturally moving toward greater harmony, to despair and resignation and the belief that the United States and the world's democracies are powerless to meet the challenge of the rising great powers. Fukuyama and others counsel accommodation to Russian ambitions, on the grounds that there is now no choice. It is the post-American world. Having failed to imagine that the return of great power autocracies was possible, they now argue there is nothing to be done and the wise policy is to accommodate to this new global reality. Yet again, however, their imagination fails them. They do not see what accommodation of the great power autocracies may look like. Georgia provides a glimpse of that future.
The world may not be about to embark on a new ideological struggle of the kind that dominated the Cold War. But the new era, rather than being a time of "universal values," will be one of growing tensions and sometimes confrontation between the forces of liberal democracy and the forces of autocracy.
In fact, a global competition is under way. According to Russia's foreign minister, "For the first time in many years, a real competitive environment has emerged on the market of ideas" between different "value systems and development models." And the good news, from the Russian point of view, is that "the West is losing its monopoly on the globalization process." Today when Russians speak of a multipolar world, they are not only talking about the redistribution of power. It is also the competition of value systems and ideas that will provide "the foundation for a multipolar world order."
International order does not rest on ideas and institutions alone. It is shaped by configurations of power. The spread of democracy in the last two decades of the 20th century was not merely the unfolding of certain ineluctable processes of economic and political development. The global shift toward liberal democracy coincided with the historical shift in the balance of power toward those nations and peoples who favored the liberal democratic idea, a shift that began with the triumph of the democratic powers over fascism in World War II and that was followed by a second triumph of the democracies over communism in the Cold War. The liberal international order that emerged after these two victories reflected the new overwhelming global balance in favor of liberal forces. But those victories were not inevitable, and they need not be lasting. Today, the reemergence of the great autocratic powers, along with the reactionary forces of Islamic radicalism, has weakened that order and threatens to weaken it further in the years and decades to come.
Does the United States have the strength and ability to lead the democracies again in strengthening and advancing a liberal democratic international order? Despite all the recent noise about America's relative decline, the answer is most assuredly yes. If it is true, as some claim, that the United States over the past decade suffered from excessive confidence in its power to shape the world, the pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction.
The apparent failure in Iraq convinced many people that the United States was weak, hated, and in a state of decline. Nor has anyone bothered to adjust that judgment now that the United States appears to be winning in Iraq. Yet by any of the usual measures of power, the United States is as strong today, even in relative terms, as it was in 2000. It remains the sole superpower, even as the other great powers get back on their feet. The military power of China and Russia has increased over the past decade, but American military power has increased more. America's share of the global economy has remained steady, 27 percent of global GDP in 2000 and 26 percent today. So where is the relative decline? So long as the United States remains at the center of the international economy, the predominant military power, and the leading apostle of the world's most popular political philosophy; so long as the American public continues to support American predominance, as it has consistently for six decades; and so long as potential challengers inspire more fear than sympathy among their neighbors, the structure of the international system should remain as the Chinese describe it: "one superpower and many great powers."
If American predominance is unlikely to fade any time soon, moreover, it is partly because much of the world does not really want it to. Despite the opinion polls, America's relations with both old and new allies have actually strengthened in recent years. Despite predictions that other powers would begin to join together in an effort to balance against the rogue superpower, especially after the Iraq war, the trend has gone in the opposite direction. The rise of the great power autocracies has been gradually pushing the great power democracies back in the direction of the United States. Russia's invasion of Georgia will accelerate this trend, but it was already underway, even if masked by the international uproar over the Iraq war.
On balance, traditional allies of the United States in East Asia and in Europe, while their publics may be more anti-American than in the past, are nevertheless pursuing policies that reflect more concern about the powerful, autocratic states in their midst than about the United States. The most remarkable change has occurred in India, a former ally of Moscow which today sees good relations with the United States as essential to achieving its broader strategic and economic goals, among them balancing China's rising power. Japanese leaders came to a similar conclusion a decade ago. In Europe there is also an unmistakable trend toward closer strategic relations with the United States, a trend that will be accelerated by Russian actions. A few years ago, Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac flirted with drawing closer to Russia as a way of counterbalancing American power. But lately France, Germany, and the rest of Europe have been moving in the other direction. This is not out of renewed affection for the United States. It is a response to changing international circumstances and to lessons learned from the past. The Chirac-Schröder attempt to make Europe a counterweight to American power failed in part because the European Union's newest members from Central and Eastern Europe fear a resurgent Russia and insist on close strategic ties with Washington. That was true even before Russia invaded Georgia. Now their feeling of dependence on the United States will grow dramatically.
What remains is for the United States to translate this growing concern into concerted action by the world's democracies. This won't be easy, given the strong tendencies, especially in Europe, to seek accommodation with autocratic Russia. But this is nothing new--even during the Cold War, France and Germany sometimes sought to stand somewhere between the United States and the Soviet Union. Over time, France and Germany will have no choice but to join the majority of EU members who once again worry about Moscow's intentions.
So what to do? Instead of figuring out how to accommodate the powerful new autocracies, the United States and the world's other democracies need to begin thinking about how they can protect their interests and advance their principles in a world in which these are once again powerfully challenged. The world's democracies need to show solidarity with one another, and they need to support those trying to pry open a democratic space where it has been closing.
That includes in the great power autocracies themselves. It is easy to look at China and Russia today and believe they are impervious to outside influence. But one should not overlook their fragility and vulnerability. These autocratic regimes may be stronger than they were in the past in terms of wealth and global influence, but they still live in a predominantly liberal era. That means they face an unavoidable problem of legitimacy. Chinese leaders race forward with their economy in fear that any slowing will be their undoing. They fitfully stamp out even the tiniest hints of political opposition because they live in fear of repeating the Soviet collapse and their own near-death experience in 1989. They fear foreign support for any internal political opposition more than they fear foreign invasion. In Russia, Putin strains to obliterate his opponents, even though they appear weak, because he fears that any sign of life in the opposition could bring his regime down.
The world's democracies have an interest in keeping the hopes for democracy alive in Russia and China. The optimists in the early post-Cold War years were not wrong to believe that a liberalizing Russia and China would be better international partners. They were just wrong to believe that this evolution was inevitable. Today, excessive optimism has been replaced by excessive pessimism. Many Europeans insist that outside influences will have no effect on Russia. Yet, looking back on the Cold War, many of these same Europeans believe that the Helsinki Accords of the 1970s had a subtle but eventually profound impact on the evolution of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc. Is Putin's Russia more impervious to such methods than Brezhnev's Soviet Union? Putin himself does not think so, or he wouldn't be so nervous about the democratic states on his borders. Nor do China's rulers, or they wouldn't spend billions policing Internet chat rooms and waging a campaign of repression against the Falun Gong.
Whether or not China and Russia are susceptible to outside influence over time, for the moment their growing power and, in the case of Russia, the willingness to use it, pose a serious challenge that needs to be met with the same level-headed determination as previous such challenges. If Moscow is now bent on restoring its hegemony over its near neighbors, the United States and its European allies must provide those neighbors with support and protection. If China continues to expand its military capabilities, the United States must reassure China's neighbors of its own commitment to Asian security.
The future is not determined. It is up for grabs. The international order in the coming decades will be shaped by those who have the power and the collective will to shape it. The great fallacy of our era has been the belief that a liberal and democratic international order would come about by the triumph of ideas alone or by the natural unfolding of human progress. Many believe the Cold War ended the way it did simply because the better worldview triumphed, as it had to, and that the international order that exists today is but the next stage in humanity's forward march from strife and aggression toward a peaceful and prosperous coexistence. They forget the many battles fought, both strategic and ideological, that produced that remarkable triumph.
The illusion is just true enough to be dangerous. Of course there is strength in the liberal democratic idea and in the free market. But progress toward these ideals has never been inevitable. It is contingent on events and the actions of nations and peoples--battles won or lost, social movements successful or crushed, economic practices implemented or discarded.
After the Second World War, another moment in history when hopes for a new kind of international order were rampant, Hans Morgenthau warned idealists against imagining that at some point "the final curtain would fall and the game of power politics would no longer be played." The struggle continued then, and it continues today. Six decades ago American leaders believed the United States had the ability and responsibility to use its power to prevent a slide back to the circumstances that had produced two world wars and innumerable national calamities. Reinhold Niebuhr, who always warned against Americans' ambitions and excessive faith in their own power, also believed, with a faith and ambition of his own, that "the world problem cannot be solved if America does not accept its full share of responsibility in solving it." Today the United States shares that responsibility with the rest of the democratic world, which is infinitely stronger than it was when World War II ended. The only question is whether the democratic world will once again rise to the challenge.
8) But What Does it Mean for NATO?
By Robert Farley
The conflict between Georgia and Russia has reignited a long-standing debate over NATO expansion.
The war between Russia and Georgia, on the heels of a NATO refusal to “fast track” Georgia’s application for membership, has reignited the debate over the wisdom of extending NATO to Russia’s borders. Realists on both the right and the left suggest that the war is a predictable reaction to NATO’s intrusion into Russia’s sphere of influence. Neoconservatives and their allies respond that the war could have been avoided if NATO had agreed to include Georgia this year, as the Bush administration desired. (This debate has reopened a discussion strategic theorists have been having about the continued relevance of NATO for more than a decade.)
The war has clarified this hypothetical debate by bringing the costs and benefits of the alliance and its expansion into relief. The controversy over NATO comes down to four questions. In answering them, I start from the premise that the United States and Europe have a strong interest in maintaining good relations with Russia but that this interest has limits and shouldn’t prevent the expansion of the NATO alliance to qualified members.
Was Russia's bad behavior caused by NATO expansion?
While there's plenty of rhetoric to this effect, there's not much evidence.
The case that NATO expansion was to blame goes something like this: If NATO had not extended to Russia's borders (the inclusion of the Baltic countries -- Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia -- is the push most often cited, although some people also feel that Poland should not have been included), then Russia would be more agreeable and less likely to abusively coerce its neighbors. I doubt that for several reasons.
First, Russian abuse is the No. 1 reason why most states seek NATO membership. The Poles, Baltic countries, Ukrainians, and Georgians want to get in because of Russian behavior. It's possible that the leaders (and in most cases, the populations) of these states are simply crazy and that NATO entry will make them more vulnerable to Russian coercion, but I'm pretty far from convinced.
Second, there are compelling reasons to believe that Russia rejected international norms regarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries in its near abroad in the early 1990s, and that it continues to reject those norms today. As Henry Farrell of Crooked Timber has argued, Russia proceeds from a different set of assumptions about appropriate relations between great powers and their small neighbors.
This is not to single out Russia for criticism; there are (believe it or not) some good reasons to question those norms, and other states (the United States, for example) challenge norms of sovereignty on a regular basis.
And Dan Drezner, a professor of international politics, has made clear that Russian rejection of the norms of territorial integrity and sovereignty, through actions such as economic sanctions and the support of irredentist groups, preceded either the attack on Serbia or the inclusion of the Baltics in NATO.
It is possible that if NATO and the United States had not expanded, Russia would gradually have accepted territorial norms that would have limited the tools it uses in relations with its neighbors. But possible is not the same thing as likely. Why would allowing Russia to evade territorial norms in its neighborhood make Russia more likely to respect those very same territorial norms?
While a Russia that felt more secure might feel less need to coerce, I'm not at all convinced that assuring Russia of its capability to violate norms of sovereignty and territorial integrity in certain areas is conducive toward winning eventual Russian acceptance of those norms.
It's also important to note that there are two variants to the argument about NATO causing Russian bad behavior. The liberal internationalist argument against expansion is more or less what I describe above; Russia would have become a good citizen if (strangely enough) it had been allowed to act badly toward its neighbors. The realist case against expansion rejects the norms argument, accepts Russian bad behavior as endemic, and essentially concedes Russia's sphere of influence on the grounds that Estonia isn't worth the bones of a Pennsylvanian grenadier. The realist argument makes logical sense, and represents simply a choice between different values.
What’s the case for NATO expansion to Eastern Europe?
I believe that NATO has had a strongly positive impact on Eastern Europe, and that the expansion undertaken so far was well conceived. NATO and the European Union are the two major institutional components of the post-World War II European peace. This institutional settlement has been remarkably successful, as Europe has enjoyed intra-continental peace and substantial economic growth. Although NATO has included non-democratic members in the past, both NATO and the EU now place democracy high on their list of values and thereby pushed prospective members to adopt democratic reforms.
The expansion of both to Eastern Europe has helped to solidify economic and political gains in the post-Cold War era. The European Union may have played the larger role of the two, but NATO has substantially accomplished two critical goals. The first is securing the states of Eastern Europe from external coercion and attack. This assurance has allowed the former Warsaw Pact states to moderate their defense spending and to pursue political reform without the threat of outside interference.
The second accomplishment of NATO has been to acclimate the military institutions of Eastern Europe to Western norms of civil-military relations. The militaries of the Warsaw Pact, unlike NATO, were designed primarily to protect the government from the people. The ability of NATO to facilitate a shift away from this model has helped make stable democracy in Eastern Europe possible. Stable democracy is good both for the people who live in it and for the national interest of the United States.
Should the West respect a Russian "zone of influence?"
No one in the West thinks, or at least says, that Russia should have a veto over NATO membership. NATO admission should instead depend on the desires of the country in question and the wisdom of extending a security guarantee to that country. To the extent that Russian interests matter, they affect the latter variable. NATO should not grant entry to countries it would be unwilling to defend against Russia.
But NATO should grant entry to those states that it can and will protect against Russian coercion. Protection against such coercion is a net positive for democracy, stability, and economic growth. This leads to the unsurprising conclusion that some, but not all, expansions of NATO are good -- even in the face of Russian threats. As the blogger Hilzoy has argued, unwise expansion in the face of Russian threat would serve to undermine, rather than to strengthen, the credibility of the organization.
What’s the practical case for NATO admission for Ukraine and Georgia?
Even before the war, the practical cases for admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO were very weak, weaker even than for the Baltic states. Neither Georgia nor Ukraine have stable, pro-Western democratic governments. The Saakashvili regime has made strides beyond previous Georgian governments but has been reluctant to allow full freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Moreover, Georgian control over its own territory (including areas not part of Abkhazia and South Ossetia) is often suspect.
In Ukraine, the presence of a substantial Russia population means that a shift in geopolitical orientation (away from NATO and toward Russia) is easily conceivable through democratic means. It hardly makes sense to allow Ukraine to join NATO in order to defend it from Russia, then watch Ukraine adopt a pro-Russian stance after the next election.
The Baltic republics represent the weakest cases for entry into NATO, but their applications were nevertheless much better than Georgia's. Each was more democratic than Georgia when negotiations for entry began, and each had maintained that democracy for over a decade prior to entry. Georgia shares a border with Turkey (a longtime NATO member), but the Baltic states are geographically much closer to the NATO core. While all three have substantial Russia minorities, none were likely to see the rise of a pro-Russian government, and none had outstanding territorial conflicts with Russia.
Timing also matters. While the Russia of 2002 wasn't the basket case of 1994, it wasn't yet enjoying the oil boom, either. To the extent that Russia's practical ability to make trouble for NATO matters for deciding whether to accept a new NATO applicant, accepting new members to NATO made much more sense in 2002 than in 2008. To take the argument to its logical extreme, allowing Hungary to join NATO in 1999 was responsible statecraft, while allowing it to join in 1956 would have been reckless to the point of criminality. Moreover, the commitment acquires credibility over time. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have become deeply integrated in the institutions of NATO -- refusing to defend them now would throw the alliance into crisis. A membership invitation to Georgia today wouldn’t just be a slap in the face of Russia; it would be a slap lacking believability.
The Russia-Georgia War has already had a balancing effect. Poland, which had been playing hardball with the United States over a missile defense system on its territory, struck a deal yesterday allowing the deployment of the interceptors. The reaction of Ukraine to the war will be particularly interesting to watch. Ukraine made noises about refusing to allow Russian Black Sea Fleet naval vessels deployed against Georgia to return to their base at Sevastopol (within Ukrainian territory) but did not prevent the return of four ships from combat operations earlier this week.
NATO membership remains a declared Ukrainian goal, but the country’s great size, its huge Russian minority, and the presence of Russian military bases on its soil make an invitation risky. NATO membership has been a hot topic in the Finnish strategic community for the last several years, with key members of the Finnish government challenging the Cold War commitment to neutrality and arguing for the alliance. Finland's small population and modern military make it an excellent candidate, and the Russia-Georgia War may push it to pursue membership more vigorously. NATO should continue to cautiously expand, mindful of both the benefits of extending the alliance and the costs that new expansion will produce.
9) RUSSIA'S GEORGIA WIN: THE DARK LORD'S 'DESTINY'
By RALPH PETERS
AS the Russian Dark Lord's shadow falls across the shires of freedom once again, the response from the West has been confused, belated and inadequate: fear eclipsed courage; ignorance masqueraded as wisdom; and, in "Old Europe," greed vanquished justice.
Russia won. Diplomacy failed. No state or alliance will reverse the decision. When President Bush spoke out strongly on Friday, Moscow ignored him: Words mean nothing to Prime Minister Putin, a man who regards all compromise as weakness.
Instead of backing down, Russia suggested that Poland might become a nuclear target for agreeing to host our defensive missile system.
Georgia will never be whole again. The democratically elected government in Tbilisi may be forced out, despite all the cease-fire agreements Western diplomats can draft. And Moscow won't surrender the stranglehold it's gained over Georgia's economy.
Georgia has been raped. In the West, journalists and politicians rushed to blame the victim, suggesting that the hussy deserved what she got for brassy talk and bare knees.
Knocked off balance politically, American leftists rushed to blame both America and democratic Georgia. Their hypocrisy rivals Putin's.
Our media revealed their fateful ignorance (expensive haircuts don't add brains). When Russia's invasion began, commentators who knew nothing of the issues and less of the region nonetheless felt the need to leap on a mike or rush into print.
Heartbreakingly, they parroted Moscow's line about Georgia's alleged misdeeds - under deadline pressure, they couldn't be bothered with research or serious analysis.
The greatest allies Russia has had in this savage invasion have been Western journalists eager to say something. While Russian-backed Ossetian death squads executed Georgian civilians and looted Georgian cities, the press continued to argue for moral equivalence between tiny Georgia and the Russian Moloch.
What does Moscow's Dark Lord seek?
* Putin intends to dismember Georgia, create a vassal state and take personal vengeance against President Mikheil Saakashvili for defying him. (Putin and President Bush share one trait: They both personalize diplomacy - but, while Bush has a Texan confidence that he can make a friend of anyone, Putin sees enemies everywhere.)
* Putin is sending an unmistakable message to all other independent states that once belonged to Moscow's empire: Russia will not tolerate true democracies or Western orientations on its "eternal property."