Thanks, Mr. Putin
We have to deny Russian strategic objectives, which are clearly to undermine Georgia’s democracy, to use its military capability to damage and in some cases destroy Georgian infrastructure and to try and weaken the Georgian state. We are determined to deny them their strategic objective. We are not going to allow Russia to draw a new line at those states that are not yet integrated into the trans-Atlantic structures. This is a very dangerous game and perhaps one the Russians want to reconsider. This is not something that is just cost-free. Nobody needs Russian strategic aviation along America’s coast.
– U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, en route Monday to an emergency session of NATO to address Russian aggression in Georgia.
We are making a list, and checking it twice. So many people need to express their heartfelt thanks to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Georgia. Here’s our top-ten list.
1. NATO. There was the world thinking NATO’s hour had passed, that it was obsolete. Russians were arguing this most furiously, of course. Then along comes Putin, and proves how indispensable it really is. The missile defense shield for Eastern Europe has a whole new life. Dreams can come true.
2. Ukraine. The pro-West majority in Ukraine was grappling with the pro-Russian minority over the issue of turning to the West. Now, Yulia Timoshenko and Victor Yuschenko have no difficulty convincing their country what the right direction is. Russian tanks have a wonderful way of concentrating the mind.
3. John McCain. One minute dismissed as “overreacting” to Russia’s threat, he’s now a soothsayer. Putin has breathed a whole new life into the McCain campaign, and made challenger Barack Obama look exceedingly out of his depth, weak-kneed and pathetic. Putin very well may have influenced the course of the next U.S. election, helping elect the man who is Russia’s worst nightmare.
4. Georgia. For all the world, it looks like Georgia’s Western-educated ruler suckered Putin into a grandstand play that polarized the entire world against Russia. In hindsight, it appears this was Georgia’s only hope of holding on to the Ossetia and Abkhazia territories; though small, to a tiny country like Georgia they are enormous. Within hours, he had the U.S. Secretary of State and the Germany Chancellor on Georgian soil, flouting the “might” of Russian tanks, expressing solidarity with his country. That’s assuming, of course, that Putin didn’t have the stones to march on Tbilisi — and so far (knock wood) he hasn’t.
5. The United States of America. Just when the world was getting really hostile to American power and there was talk of a pullout in Iraq, along comes Putin. He reminds the world what a really scary country looks like and suddenly the U.S.A. looks pretty good by comparison.
6. The European Union. Suddenly the naysayers must think again. Europe is suddenly very, very relevant, and European unity even more so. Europe has crossed the Rubicon by admitting many ex-Soviet slave states, but it was losing focus as Russia ratcheted up the pressure on the energy front. Putin seems to have overlooked the ability of his tanks to focus and unify his opposition, even to the extent of making common cause with the U.S.A., just as was the case during the first cold war.
7. The Russian Opposition. Suddenly, the illusion that Putin was respected around the world has exploded. From every corner of the world, Putin receives nothing but content. Sure, Russian access to this information is limited, but the opposition knows it all and some trickles everywhere. Suddenly, Putin is a war dictator — first Chechnya, now Georgia. That’s not the stability Russians crave. It’s a chink in the armor. It gives the opposition hope, something to work with.
8. Mikheil Saakashvili. First he weathers a massive Russian PR blitz to win reelection and a landslide mandate in parliament. Then Putin makes him a martyr, gives him the chance to be photographed with bombed-out children and old women, the world’s most important leaders at his side. He’s published on the op-ed pages of major newspapers, he’s a hero fighting for his tiny country’s survival against a thuggish bully, against overwhelming odds. He’s an underdog. The world loves him. Putin couldn’t have given him a better Valentine.
9. The U.S. military-industrial complex. There they were, all those folks talking about the cold war being over and the lack of any need for a dominant American military, a peace dividend, and so forth. Then along comes Putin with his tanks, and suddenly the world remembers that a proud KGB spy governs a dictatorship with 11 time zones and bristling with nuclear weapons. The Evil Empire lives! And nobody could have made the case half as well as Putin.
10. La Russophobe. Our traffic has exploded since the Georgia crisis began. Kim Zigfeld’s post about it on Pajamas Media collected a record number of comments for the author, over 100. Our message from day one has just been ratified loud and clear. We were right all along, and now we have the proof. And we owe it all to Putin.
Meanwhile anyone, like U.S. President George Bush for instance, whoever said Russia could be trusted or treated like a civilized nation now looks like a totally hopeless fool.
Thanks Vlad! We owe you a big one!