Sunday, August 10, 2008

Putin Went Down to Georgia

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm sure I'm not the first to make that joke.

I realize I'm uncharacteristically slow to comment on the "situation" developing in Georgia. Namely, you know, the Russian invasion and air campaign against a sovereign neighbor. I seem to think there's a term for a high-speed armored invasion with overwhelming close air support: oh yeah, blitzkrieg. In any case I'm not hugely read up on Russian and post-Soviet geopolitics, much less on Caucasian studies, so it's taken me a few days to pull together enough to make some informed comments.

In light of Russia's bombing of civil infrastructure, and particularly the attempted bombing of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that connects the Caspian oil fields to world markets, circumventing Russia's regional petrohegemony, I think it is difficult to see this invasion as anything but blatantly imperial. Russia's transparent excuse to be protecting Russian citizens in South Ossetia from Georgian aggression, well, that one's sort of been used before. True, there's a strong separatist streak in South Ossetia, but the Ossetians in Russia have little more interest in being part of that country, either. So Russia's claim to the moral high ground is pretty difficult to accept.

I'm pleased (and unsurprised) to see Senator McCain's unequivocal condemnation of Russian aggression and his support for our Georgian allies. I'm also saddened (and similarly unsurprised) by Senator Obama's refusal to take sides. Initially, his campaign completely refused to place blame: "It’s both sides’ fault — both have been somewhat provocative with each other." This from his foreign policy advisor Mark Brzezinski. Later, Obama toughened his line. He now "condemn[s] the outbreak of violence in Georgia". Well good for you, Senator Obama, give that outbreak a stern talking-to! Maybe invite the outbreak in for talks, or threaten the outbreak with sanctions. Maybe, if push comes to shove, our military strength might be used to influence the outbreak of violence to behave itself. Senator Obama also says that "Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected." Does he fail to realize that this statement is completely meaningless to a party that has disputed what constitutes Georgia's territory since that country's independence? Yesterday, Obama finally got around to sounding a little bit less like a Kremlin stooge and more like an American President, or in this case more like McCain's initial (and impromptu) statement. Taking 48 hours to reach the same position your elderly opponent came to when questioned on the airport tarmac doesn't really engender confidence for the proverbial 3:00 A.M. phone call.

2 comments:

elephantschild said...

Oh, Blunder Wonder Boy thinks he's all that, does he?

I wonder, did he suggest that the outbreak simply inflate its tires to the proper pressure? ::snort::

Shane said...

Not entirely relevant to the topic of your post, but in the future, I request that you link to this page when you mention 3AM phone calls:

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2008/08/3am_calls.php

Yes, it's by a liberal blogger, but the sentiment expressed in the post transcends party or ideology.