Writing on Pajamas Media Hans A. von Spakovsky, a visiting scholar at the Heritage Foundation and formerly a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice bemoans the world’s cowardice when faced with the ramaging Russian bear:
The Russian invasion of Georgia came up in the first presidential debate and both candidates expressed their support for Georgia. Obama said we must “affirm all the fledgling democracies in that region” and give them money to “rebuild” their economy, while McCain said that “we need to bolster our friends and allies.” Both of them mentioned Georgian membership in NATO, but neither Barack Obama nor John McCain made any serious proposals to punish the Russians now through economic and diplomatic sanctions — like expelling them from the G8 — or by providing active military support to the Georgians.
The Russian dictatorship is destroying and occupying a country that had established a budding democracy. Yet we are doing almost nothing to stop it — other than sending humanitarian and economic aid — and the presidential debate shows that is not likely to change.
Writing in Commentary magazine (one of our family of commenters tipped us to the piece) Arthur Herman, the author most recently of Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age, blows away the neo-Chamberlainian cowards who recklessly seek to rationalize Russian aggression in Georgia. There’s much more to the extended piece, click the link to read the rest. The critical point is that we here in the West have people are are willing to take Russia’s side in this dispute, and who can do so in the most lofty public venues. But where are the Russians who are able to take Georgia’s side in the mainstream Russian media? You will not find them, because they are censored and because they would be killed if they were not and dared to speak. Thus, Russia like the USSR before it languishes in ignorance, unable to reform and doomed to failure.
On September 1, the leaders of the European Union, having already warned Moscow several times of its obligation to meet the terms of the cease-fire agreement with Georgia, held an emergency meeting in Brussels and decided to—issue another warning. If Russia continues its non-compliance, the leaders threatened, another warning may yet follow.
Such are the pitiful realities of international diplomacy, and of an all too familiar Western pattern of response to acts of blatant aggression by powerful dictators. It is embarrassing enough when governments, with responsibility for the security of millions, resort to such hand-wringing hesitancy. It is worse when analysts and critics who are free to speak their minds on everything under the sun start looking for reasons to avoid placing blame for aggression squarely where it belongs—on the aggressors—and instead strive conspicuously to spread it around among the bystanders and even the victims.
Reuters reports (hat tip: TakeYourCross):
Russia hopes to deploy a new nuclear missile next year designed to penetrate anti-missile defenses and will build eight submarines to carry it, defense officials said on Thursday.
The latest statements underline Moscow’s determination to upgrade its nuclear strike forces on land, sea and air. They are regarded by Russian commanders as the cornerstone of the country’s defenses.
Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin, head of armaments for the Russian armed forces, told the Defense Ministry newspaper “Red Star” that Russia’s recent war with Georgia “compels us to rethink the current state of the armed forces and how they should develop further.”
Annals of Russian Hypocrisy
It’s the kind of thing that can only emerge from Russia.
On the same day, the media reported on Russia complaining that the U.S. was “stonewalling” a nuclear arms reduction negotiation and also that Russia had announced plans to help Venezulea develop nuclear technology, just as it has done for Iran (which, thanks to Russia, experts now report is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons — an event which could cause the tinderbox of the Middle East to go up in flames — and which Russia is aggressively shielding from Western sanctions).
We have a separate category in our sidebar devoted to recording instances of breathtaking Russian hypocrisy, and it’s already loaded with material. But this one is something special, it may just take the cake.
Newsweek interviews the President of Poland:
During the war between Georgia and Russia, no European leader denounced Russia as strongly as Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski. He has also been a fervent backer of U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles on Polish territory. U.S. and Polish officials signed the agreement for the missile shield soon after Russian troops crossed into Georgian territory. While visiting the United Nations last week, he talked with Andrew Nagorski, a former NEWSWEEK senior editor and now director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. Excerpts:
NAGORSKI: What lessons did we learn from the conflict between Russia and Georgia?
KACZYNSKI: First, Russia wanted to carry out an annexation of two provinces. Second, there was an attempt to topple the government. The West was capable of one thing: not allowing this toppling of the government. Third, this has huge strategic importance for Europe. I’ve been pushing for years for building alternative routes for oil and natural gas on a big scale from Azerbaijan—and, maybe in the future, from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan—that would bypass Russia. The attack on Georgia has made this more difficult.
NAGORSKI: You ‘ re convinced the Russians wanted to depose the Georgian government?
KACZYNSKI: Yes. My intervention and that of the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and some engagement of the United States, forcing the engagement of NATO and, the least willingly, the European Union caused the Russians to not go for that. They always act with different options in mind, and that was the optimal one for them. They left the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to occupy part of Georgia. The Russians showed a certain helplessness on the part of the West. That’s terrible because the West is much stronger than they are.
What do you see when you look into HER eyes, Mr. Putin?
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, writing on the Polish website Gazeta:
For much of the past month, the world’s focus has turned to Russia. We took up the urgent, initial challenge of supporting Georgia after the Russian attack – a challenge that Poland was instrumental in meeting. The main question going forward – which I addressed at length in a speech last Thursday – is, what do the events of the past month mean for Russia’s relationship with the world, especially the United States and Europe?
The circumstances surrounding last month’s conflict are well-known. Mistakes were made on both sides, but the response of Russia’s leaders – invading a sovereign state across an internationally-recognized border, and then seeking to dismember it by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia – was disproportionate. And the responsibility for this behavior lies not with Russia’s neighbors, not with NATO enlargement, and not with the United States, but with Russia’s leaders.
Democracy, Russian Style
Lord only knows where the Western world’s understanding of Russia would be without the brilliant reporting of the Jamestown Foundation’s tireless Russia analyst Vladimir Socor. This knight in academic armor labors thanklessly on a daily basis to document the atrocities occurring in neo-Soviet Russia, and we cannot praise him highly enough. History will record his proper place among Russia journalists.
One of his most recent reports dealt with Russia’s truly obscene behavior before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (“PACE”), where “a motion is pending to ‘reconsider the Russian delegation’s credentials, on grounds of serious violations of the basic principles of the Council of Europe.'” In other words, they are thinking of booting Russia out, or sanctioning it in some other manner for its barbaric aggression against tiny Georgia.
Russia’s response? It’s “diplomats” say that if PACE dares to vote any negative measure against Russia regarding Georgia, it will simply withdraw from the organization and take its $30 million per year annual funding with it. It’s also threatening to launch retaliatory attack on Georgia’s credentials and drag the whole council into a bureaucratic standstill.