Writing in the Moscow Times Gyorgy Schopflin, formerly Jean Monnet professor of politics at University College London and currently a member of the European Parliament for Hungary, says that Russia has “no place in Europe” because it is too uncivilized and barbaric.
The events of the last few weeks have made it clearer than ever that Russia has no place in Europe. The invasion of Georgia, the disproportionate use of force, the presence of irregular forces, the looting and deliberate destruction of infrastructure and then the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “independent” are all evidence of a Russia that is not European and does not want to be European.
Of course, what it means to be European has varied over time, but Russia has expressly flouted European values as they are understood by most Europeans. Russian spokesmen may insist that they are part of the common European home, but the way in which they want to furnish it is unacceptable to its other inhabitants.
Uh-oh, Russia. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has chosen U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate. Biden is chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and obviously has been selected to give Obama foreign policy chops he was lacking. Here are Biden’s views on Russia’s attack on Georgia, from the Financial Times on August 12th (in another statment on August 18th, he bluntly accused Russia of lying about Georgian atrocities and its general intentions in the country)
Russia Must Stand Down
Despite Russia’s overwhelming advantage in size and firepower in its conflict with Georgia, the Kremlin may have the most to lose if the fighting there continues. It is too soon to know with certainty who was responsible for the initial outbreak of violence in South Ossetia, but the war that began there is no longer about Georgia’s breakaway regions or Russian peacekeepers.
By acting disproportionately with a full scale attack on Georgia and seeking the ouster of Georgia’s democratically elected President Mikheil Saakashvili, Moscow is jeopardising its standing in Europe and the broader international community – and risking very real practical and political consequences.
The Weekly Standard continues its excellent analysis of the new cold war battlefield. First it dealt with tactical issues, and now it turns to strategic matters.
My brief assessment of the military options open to the West in the ongoing Georgian conflict “The Pain Game: A Military response to Russia’s aggression?” provoked many comments both favorable and unfavorable. The most thoughtful criticism accused me of elevating the tactical over the strategic; i.e., of not looking at the “big picture.” To that I offer a qualified “Mea culpa.” The piece was intended as a focused response to numerous commentators, decision makers, and analysts who said the West had no “military options” in Georgia, when in fact there are such options.
But I have pondered at some length a comprehensive strategic approach to U.S. relations with Russia. These ideas can be found summarized in Chapter 9 of Ideas for America’s Future, which I wrote in collaboration with Mr. Jeffrey P. Bialos of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Transatlantic Relations. The strategy described therein was based on the following premises:
The International Herald Tribune reports that, even as it has been ejected from the NATO council, Russia has been effectively booted out of the G-8, with all the other members of the group siding with Georgia against Russian aggression:
The world’s major industrial countries are calling for increased economic support for war-torn Georgia.
The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal lead the way on covering the truth about Russia on this side of the Atlantic, and the Telegraph surely does so across The Pond. Writing on it’s pages former U.N. Ambassador Joshua Bolton tells it like it is on neo-Soviet Russia:
Russia’s invasion across an internationally recognised border, its thrashing of the Georgian military, and its smug satisfaction in humbling one of its former fiefdoms represents only the visible damage.
Russia is Insane
“[South Ossetia and Abkhazia] are a part of Georgia and the international community has repeatedly made clear that they will remain so. There’s no room for debate on this matter.”
— U.S. President George Bush, speaking in Crawford Texas on August 16th
“I expect a very fast, very prompt withdrawal of Russian troops out of Georgia. This is an urgent matter. Georgia is a sovereign state and the territorial integrity of the state must be provided for. Georgia will, if it wants — and it does want to — become a member of NATO.”
— German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at the residence of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on August 17th
Even by Russian standards, the level of irrationality in the Kremlin’s behavior over the past two weeks has been breathtaking. And trust us, that’s saying something.
Russia attacked Georgia without, it appears, reflecting for even a second upon the facts that (a) it would look like a fool after condemning U.S. action in Iraq and crushing the separatists in Chechnya or (b) it would polarize the nations of Eastern Europe to a hysterical extent just at the very moment when it was seeking to get them to reject the proposed U.S. missile defense system, driving them into the waiting arms of NATO or (c) it would provoke the world’s most powerful country and its NATO allies into a new cold war, just like the one that absolutely destroyed the USSR or (d) it could even be helping Putin’s arch nemesis, John McCain, come to power.
And then, believe it or not, it got worse.
Two brilliant op-eds from a trio of lawyers writing in the Wall Street Journal show that it, along with the Washington Post, is clearly on the cutting edge of leadership in the new Cold War.
First, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who served from 2004-2007 as members of the U.N. Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, expose the mafia-style “governance” in Russia that they call “the Kremlin’s Protection racket.”
Russia’s invasion of Georgia will be a defining moment for America’s credibility and global stability. If the Medvedev (or, rather, Putin) regime succeeds in using force to topple a democratic and pro-Western government, based on spurious claims of “protecting” Georgia’s population against its own government, the stage will be set for similar aggression against the other states — from the Baltics to Ukraine — that border Russia but look to the free West. The dangers of the post-September 11 World will be combined with the challenge of a new Cold War.
Writing in the Washington Post Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of The Return of History and the End of Dreams, issues another clarion call of warning that the New Cold War with Russia is at hand:
The details of who did what to precipitate Russia’s war against Georgia are not very important. Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama.
The events of the past week will be remembered that way, too. This war did not begin because of a miscalculation by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. It is a war that Moscow has been attempting to provoke for some time. The man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century” has reestablished a virtual czarist rule in Russia and is trying to restore the country to its once-dominant role in Eurasia and the world. Armed with wealth from oil and gas; holding a near-monopoly over the energy supply to Europe; with a million soldiers, thousands of nuclear warheads and the world’s third-largest military budget, Vladimir Putin believes that now is the time to make his move.
A New Low for Neo-Soviet Russia
The Voice of America reports that “at the rare Sunday session of the [U.N. Security] council, called jointly by the United States and Georgia, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad questioned Russia’s motives in sending some 10,000 troops into South Ossetia in recent days to prevent Georgia from reasserting control over the Russian-backed breakaway region.” VOA quotes Khalilzad: “Russia has claimed that its military operations were intended to protect its peacekeepers and the civilian population in South Ossetia. Yet, its reaction goes far beyond any reasonable measures required to do so. Indeed, its escalation of the conflict has been the immediate cause of increased loss of innocent life and humanitarian suffering.”
THE Russian Carcinogen, Spreading
Two weeks ago Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez visited Russia and held a joint news conference with “president” Dmitri Medvedev, a transcript of which the Kremlin proudly posted on its website. The pair discussed a deal in which Venezulea would spend billions of dollars buying Russian weapons, and Chavez then promptly took delivery on a shipment of Russian-made warplanes. Soon after that he began issuing statements about using them to sink “gringo” ships from the United States. In Moscow, Chavez had stated that “if Russian military forces ever visited Venezuelan territory, they would be greeted ‘by flying colors, drum beats and songs, as this means the arrival of our allies with whom we share the same view on the world.'”