The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Over the past week, I’ve followed the Russian invasion of Georgia and tried to figure out what or who precipitated this dangerous situation. There is little doubt that the Russians made their aggressive move because they felt threatened by Western moves in the region (e.g., the US missile defense system comes to mind), that Georgia’s approach to South Ossetia was unquestionably provocative, and that a changing economic dynamic (their oil, the EU’s need) gave them leverage that enabled their aggressive acts. But their invasion of a country that posed little direct threat to them was, as they say in the UN, "disproportionate" to the extreme.

In the US and the EU, the Left have, of course, taken their pat position on the matter—the US, in particular the Bush administration is at fault because of its invasion of Iraq. John McCain spoke too clearly (provocatively), thereby precipitating aggression and providing a harbinger of four more years of Bush. And on and on.

Gerard Baker comments in the Times of London:
What's more, the argument goes, the US and Europe had already laid the moral framework for Russia's invasion by our own acts of aggression in the past decade. Vladimir Putin was simply following the example of illegal intervention by the US and its allies in Kosovo and Iraq.

It ought not to be necessary to point out the differences between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Mr Saakashvili's Georgia, but for those blinded by moral relativism, here goes - Georgia did not invade its neighbours or use chemical weapons on their people. Georgia did not torture and murder hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Georgia did not defy international demands for a decade and ignore 18 UN Security Council resolutions to come clean about its weapons programmes.

And unlike Iraq under Saddam, Georgia is led by a democratically elected president who has pushed this once dank backwater of the Soviet Union, birthplace of Stalin and Beria, towards liberal democracy and international engagement.

But no matter. When viewing world events that are not easy to control, it’s always easiest and safest to blame yourself. Baker summarizes:
Once again, the Europeans, and their friends in the pusillanimous wing of the US Left, have demonstrated that, when it come to those postmodern Olympian sports of synchronized self-loathing, team hand-wringing and lightweight posturing, they know how to sweep gold, silver and bronze.

Barack Obama's early call for UN intervention did nothing but emphasize his inexperience and naivete. For such a smart guy, you'd think he'd recognize that Russia is a full member of the UN security council and has veto power over any meaningful resolution on the matter.

It's likely that we'll eventually arrive at a diplomatic settlement, but like most diplomatic settlements, the winner is always the country with the biggest guns and the heaviest leverage. In this case, that's Russia. Barack Obama ought to take note, just in case he gains his first position of executive responsibily.

An aside: On the far right, there are calls for US military intervention. These are equally foolish and unnecessarily provocative. True, Georgia is a representative democracy, but a military confrontation with Russia is in no one's best interest, including Georgia's.