Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia, Russia, USA and NATO; what's next?

What is America expected to do? What can it do, and why is it important? Joshua Trevino looks at these questions and more at the Brussels Journal:

Georgia’s Defeat and America’s Options

[...] The postwar settlement remains thoroughly opaque, even if, as the Russians report, the conditions of a ceasefire are agreed. The Russian war aim was never announced — or rather, it only announced itself on the ground — and its political end remains obscure. The formal disposition of the Russian-occupied secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia must be decided; the mechanisms of reparation, if any, must be agreed upon; and, most troublingly, the Russians are making noises about extraditing Saakashvili to the Hague. Here, a definitive settlement is to everyone’s advantage — not least the Georgians, who are ill-advised to act as if they are anything but beaten. Absurdities like putting Saakashvili in the ICC dock should be rejected, but otherwise, it is almost certainly best to let the Russians dictate their terms — and let resistance to those terms emanate from sources able to make that resistance count, like Europe and the United States.

With this in mind, the first task of America’s postwar policy in the Caucasus is distasteful in the extreme: pushing the Georgians to understand and act like what they are, which is a defeated nation in no position to make demands. This does not square easily with American sentiment — nor my own — nor with the Vice President’s declaration that Russia’s aggression “must not go unanswered,” nor with John McCain’s declaration that “today we are all Georgians.” Russia’s aggression and consequent battlefield victory will stand, and as the last thing the volatile Caucasus needs is yet another revisionist, revanchist state, it befits a would-be member of the Western alliance to make its peace with that. However inflammatory the issue of “lost” Abkhazia and South Ossetia are in the Georgian public square, it is nothing that the Germans, the Finns, and the Greeks, to name a few, have not had to come to terms with in the course of their accessions to the first tier of Western nations. We should not demand less of Georgia.

The second, and more enduring, task of our policy must be the swift containment of Russia. I use the term deliberately: to invoke another Cold War-era phrase, we’re not going to “roll back” any of Russia’s recent territorial gains, nor should we attempt to reverse what prosperity it has achieved in the past decade. (That prosperity, being based mostly upon transitory prices for natural resources, will itself be transitory in time.) Russia’s leadership has declared that it seeks the reversal, de facto if not de jure, of the “catastrophe” of the USSR’s end. Though not marked by any formal decision in the vein of Versailles, this is nonetheless a strategic outcome that America has a direct interest in preserving. That interest has only gone up with the admission of former Soviet-bloc states — and former Soviet states — to NATO. Inasmuch as Russian revisionism threatens the alliance that has kept the peace in Europe for generations now, it must be confronted and deterred.

The obvious question is how this may be done with the tools America has at hand. It is a media commonplace over the past several days that the United States has no leverage over Russia. This is false. American policy can and does tremendously affect several things of tremendous importance to Moscow. A brief (though not comprehensive) list of available pressure points follows: [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Yes, we do have leverage, but it's a delicate dance we have to do. Do read the whole thing, it makes a lot of sense.

Russia may not be our friend, but it's not our enemy either, and we don't want to needlessly make it into one. We have mutual interests, and reasons to form alliances on many issues. What leverage we have, we need to use carefully.

Related Links:

Georgia on my mind

Georgia Map at

Russia, Georgia, and the Western Alliance

Russia, Georgia, and the Russian Question

Russia is a bully but Georgia is not blameless


MAX Redline said...

The Georgia invasion has been planned since April. The plans all but ensured that fighting would break out before the end of August, though the exact timing depended on how readily the Georgian government could be provoked into starting it.

It is generally agreed that the spark for the war was the Nato summit meeting in Bucharest in April at which Georgia was promised eventual membership of the western alliance, in the teeth of opposition from the Russians.

Moreover, for agreeing to be part of a missile defense system, Poland faces the possibility of nuclear attack from Russia, according to Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn.

It seems clear that Russia, under Pootie-Poot, is determined to halt Westernization of its former states and those countries formerly within its sphere of influence.

Chas said...

Yes, it was planned. And the Georgian president foolishly took the bait, and will have to take the consequences.

There will be consequences for Russia, too, as the politicians play politics now. It will be interesting to see what, if any, effect is has.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was planned by the neocon military advisors to the Georgians. They planned it as a blitzkreig on the South Ossetians, that would take the tunnel and only access from Russia into South Ossetia. They didn't figure on the bravery of the South Ossetians, however. Ossetians are a people descended from the Sarmatians who had the highest percentage of heroes of the Soviet Union during World War II. 300 Ossetians stopped the Georgians in the capital city and a larger force ambushed and cut off the Georgians trying to take the tunnel. They took prisoner american and israeli advisors. The neocons are spouting propaganda now.

Chas said...

If you are a conspiracy theorist, the neocons are behind everything.