Monday, August 11, 2008

The Same Dog

I had not intended to start this effort out by discussing anything as portentous as International Affairs, but the situation in Georgia is so tragic, so alarming, and was so avoidable that it demands a moment of my attention. By far the best, fairest and least sentimental commentary that I have seen has been that emanating from Daniel Larison.

I do not believe that any intervention on the part of the United States or NATO would be wise or even possible in any meaningful way. Bluntly, it seems to me to be a foreordained the Manifest Destiny sense....that Russia will continue to dominate Georgia and the Ukraine politically, just as they dominate them economically and militarily. For the West to dictate to them with respect to these Nations seems as foolish and as unproductive as bidding the seas to recede (with apologies to Senator Obama).

Should our State Department decline to follow my wise counsel, which is usually likely, they have an opportunity to try to draw a bright red line around Ukraine, Georgia already being a fait accompli. This would be dangerous enough, as I suspect Russia's designs on the Ukraine are non-negotiable. However, we might be able to delay Russia for a moment. American law has an unofficial canon of application called the "First Bite Rule"whereby a dog of no known vicious propensities need not be destroyed upon it's first attack. Well, Russia is not quite "a dog of no known vicious propensities" but we might follow this logic a bit and give them Georgia "on the house" as it were, while warning them that similar conduct respecting Ukraine would be regarded more seriously.

In this context, I note that Russia is already accusing the Ukrainians of providing materiel support to the Georgian armed forces....obviously, I have no idea whether this is true or not, but the allegation certainly provides a convenient plotline for Russia....the notion that they are only employing their Military power in response to armed aggression on the part of their former Republics. Our time to influence even a Ukrainian scenario may be very short.

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