Friday, August 15, 2008

An American Pot Calling A Kettle Black

Woe to those currently held captive in the fighting taking place through Georgia and South Ossetia, this cannot be a happy time for anyone unsure of what the next hour let alone the next day will bring.

Russia took umbrage at Georgia's flagrant intrusion into the disputed territory of South Ossetia. Its response was to repulse the thinner, weaker Georgian army and then intrude on Georgian territory. Neither side claims any moral high ground here and much like two brothers in the back seat of a car, the response "he started it," doesn't resolve the matter one whit. That blood is being spilled is always the end result is the true tragedy of such events.

Yet here is the United States of America stepping up and calling out Russia with vigor and passion. President Bush has had a great deal to say on this matter of one country invading another, let us see what insights he might have:

"In the years since it's gained independence after the Soviet Union's collapse, Georgia has become a courageous democracy. Its people are making the tough choices that are required of free societies. Since the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Georgian people have held free elections, opened up their economy, and built the foundations of a successful democracy."

Courageous enough to strike upon a bold, utterly catastrophic move of raising the hackles of the Russians in South Ossetia. If I were a native Georgian, I might be seriously mulling other candidates to lead my democratically elected government other then President Saakashvili. That ineptitude might be rewarded in the United States circa 2004, but this is the real world and bad decisions can have terrible consequences for your country.

It may be slightly disingenuous to point out here that Russia also has a democratic process, just one that elects the same person perpetually. Just to be fair here, the current Russian gate keepers aren't that fond of multiple parties.

"With its actions in recent days Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."

Just a touch hypocritical, no? Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable? Except when a "lone superpower" does it to a country whose military was a ghost of its former self. It appears the one fault of Russia was to not take their grievance to the UN Security Council and then ignore the vote and move ahead with the invasion just the same. President Bush has very little political capital (to use his cliche) here to criticize this exercise. As has been pointed out in numerous articles in print and on the web, President Bush's own policy towards the Hamas victory in January of '06 was to close the door on almost all forms of cooperation with the new Palestinian government and conspire with the leaders of the old Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel to choke the nascent Hamas government. Democracy is bliss, so long as the American rubber stamp officially says "Approved."

So to summarize, President Bush laments that a country (Russia in this instance) would belligerently march into another country and cause harm and damage to said country. That is not how we do things in the 21st century of course. Ignore though that A) Georgia provoked the incident by invading a territory that was not under its sovereign control, B) South Ossetia actually is touching the border of Russia and could be perceived as an actual military threat (unlike a perceived threat, an example of which is a country's theoretical attainment of sophisticated weaponry). 

I don't think Russia is doing itself any favors by remaining in Georgia even if irregular forces were still contesting towns and cities - their point of, "We can punish you and no one is coming to save you," was settled in South Ossetia. With a truce now signed, it would be a benefit for all Russian troops to disengage and find their way back to their side and let the rebuilding begin and possibly hope that such a conflict does not rear its head once more - but that may be hoping for too much.

It is still astounding the hypocrisy of the U.S. government to criticize foreign invasions when it employs and has employed far more bellicose actions on the world stage and completely at the behest of the leader making these criticisms.

Only a few more months though. Of course one of the choices in our contest really sounds like he wants a new Cold War. Invoking a bizarre moment at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Senator McCain said, "I speak for every Americans when I say ... we are all Georgians." Can you imagine sending your son or daughter off to fight for God, country, and Tblisi?

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