The American people should be eternally grateful
to Old Europe for having spiked the Bush-McCain plan to bring Georgia into NATO.
Had Georgia been in NATO when Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South
Ossetia, we would be eyeball to eyeball with Russia, facing war
in the Caucasus, where Moscow's superiority is as great as U.S.
superiority in the Caribbean during the Cuban missile crisis.
If the Russia-Georgia war proves nothing else, it is the insanity of giving
erratic hotheads in volatile nations the power to drag the United States into
From Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates said,
U.S. presidents have sought to avoid shooting wars with Russia, even when the
Bear was at its most beastly.
Truman refused to use force to break Stalin's Berlin blockade. Ike refused
to intervene when the Butcher of Budapest drowned the Hungarian Revolution in
blood. LBJ sat impotent as Leonid Brezhnev's tanks crushed the Prague Spring.
Jimmy Carter's response to Brezhnev's invasion of Afghanistan was to boycott
the Moscow Olympics. When Brezhnev ordered his Warsaw satraps to crush Solidarity
and shot down a South Korean airliner killing scores of U.S. citizens, including
a congressman, Reagan did – nothing.
These presidents were not cowards. They simply would not go to war when no
vital U.S. interest was at risk to justify a war. Yet, had George W. Bush prevailed
and were Georgia in NATO, U.S. Marines could be fighting Russian troops over
whose flag should fly over a province of 70,000 South Ossetians who prefer Russians
The arrogant folly of the architects of U.S. post-Cold War policy is today
on display. By bringing three ex-Soviet republics into NATO, we have moved the
U.S. red line for war from the Elbe almost to within artillery range of the
Should America admit Ukraine into NATO, Yalta, vacation resort of the czars,
will be a NATO port and Sevastopol, traditional home of the Russian Black Sea
Fleet, will become a naval base for the U.S. Sixth Fleet. This is altogether
a bridge too far.
And can we not understand how a Russian patriot like Vladimir Putin would be
incensed by this U.S. encirclement after Russia shed its empire and sought our
friendship? How would Andy Jackson have reacted to such crowding by the British
As of 1991, the oil of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan belonged to
Moscow. Can we not understand why Putin would smolder as avaricious Yankees
built pipelines to siphon the oil and gas of the Caspian Basin through breakaway
Georgia to the West?
For a dozen years, Putin & Co. watched as U.S. agents helped to dump over
regimes in Ukraine and Georgia that were friendly to Moscow.
If Cold War II is coming, who started it, if not us?
The swift and decisive action of Putin's army in running the Georgian forces
out of South Ossetia in 24 hours after Saakashvili began his barrage and invasion
suggests Putin knew exactly what Saakashvili was up to and dropped the hammer
What did we know? Did we know Georgia was about to walk into Putin's trap?
Did we not see the Russians lying in wait north of the border? Did we give Saakashvili
a green light?
Joe Biden ought to be conducting public hearings on who caused this U.S. humiliation.
The war in Georgia has exposed the dangerous overextension of U.S. power. There
is no way America can fight a war with Russia in the Caucasus with our army
tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor should we. Hence, it is demented to be
offering, as John McCain and Barack Obama are, NATO membership to Tbilisi.
The United States must decide whether it wants a partner in a flawed Russia
or a second Cold War. For if we want another Cold War, we are, by cutting Russia
out of the oil of the Caspian and pushing NATO into her face, going about it
exactly the right way.
Vladimir Putin is no Stalin. He is a nationalist determined, as ruler of a
proud and powerful country, to assert his nation's primacy in its own sphere,
just as U.S. presidents from James Monroe to Bush have done on our side of the
A resurgent Russia is no threat to any vital interests of the United States.
It is a threat to an American Empire that presumes some God-given right to plant
U.S. military power in the backyard or on the front porch of Mother Russia.
Who rules Abkhazia and South Ossetia is none of our business. And after this
madcap adventure of Saakashvili, why not let the people of these provinces decide
their own future in plebiscites conducted by the United Nations or the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe?
As for Saakashvili, he's probably toast in Tbilisi after this stunt. Let the
neocons find him an endowed chair at the American Enterprise Institute.
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