It is perhaps true that there is little America or any of its European allies could do to oust Russia from South Ossetia. And thus many have remarked that since against a nuclear-armed Russia, NATO can do nada, why extend the false promise of alliance to Georgia? Let’s save that debate for another time.
What is obvious is that NATO’s reaction, has flummoxed Russia. The evidence for that is Russia’s response of an undeliverable threat:
“Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike—100 percent,” [General Anatoly] Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff, was quoted as saying. He added, in clear reference to the agreement, that Russia’s military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons “against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them.”
Russia is not going to launch nuclear missiles at Poland and the Czech Republic. To even threaten such an action exposes how few cards they have to play. Initially, I was afraid that the West might cower in the face of Russia’s attack of Georgia. I was especially concerned how the our new allies in Eastern Europe might respond to America’s lack of action in direct defense of Georgia. It would appear that my concerns were misplaced. The plan to emplace missile defenses in former Eastern Bloc countries is a right and proper response to Russia’s renewed bellicosity. And Nogovitsyn’s hyperbolic reaction to the announcement is evidence that they weren’t expecting NATO to play the missile defense card. It is a bluff, which is what you try to play when you’ve run out of cards.
At least for now it’s a bluff. Vladimir Putin, as Glenn Reynolds notes, has “bitten off more than he can chew.” It was his mistake to underestimate NATO’s response in other regions on Russia’s periphary. However, it will be our mistake if we don’t remember this episode as evidence that the there is still a bear in the woods.
Power Line has a good roundup.
There was once an eagle who loved flying high above the forest. From up in the skies the eagle surveyed all that was below. The other animals looked up to the eagle. They liked it when he flew overhead and felt safe when he was in the air above them. They would wave to the eagle, and be thrilled when, with a tilt of his wings to one side, and then back to the other, the eagle would wave to the animals below. Oh, how they wanted to be like him, the eagle thought. And oh, how that made him feel good.
But there was one animal in the forest who did not like the eagle. The bear. He was the biggest animal in all the land and he hated that the eagle was loved. “Why do they not look up to me?” he grumbled. “Do they not know how I am the strongest animal in all the forest?”
One day the bear had cornered a field mouse and was about to pounce on the tiny animal at his feet. It just so happened that the eagle was flying above both animals at that very moment, and the eagle thought to himself that it would be great fun to make the bear leave the field mouse alone. And so the eagle swooped down from above forcing the bear to flee.
The eagle was very pleased with himself, for he enjoyed chasing off such a large bear without even a fight. The eagle was also pleased that all the animals of the forest had been looking on and saw that the eagle defeated the bear. And oh, how that made him feel good.
The field mouse cried out to the eagle, “Thank you.” He added, “How can I repay you for saving me?”
The eagle laughed, “How can you repay me? You are just a field mouse.”
The mouse answered “Just you wait. Yes, I am just a mouse, but I will think of something to repay you for your kindness.”
The next day, just as he was preparing to soar into the heavens the eagle spied the field mouse scrambling up toward him with what looked like a stick in his mouth. “What do you have in your mouth?” the eagle asked.
The mouse cheerfully answered, “It is a stick so that I can help you to build your home.”
The eagle laughed heartily, “An eagle’s nest is very large and weighs many hundreds of pounds. You are just a mouse. How can you bring enough sticks to help me build my home?”
The field mouse replied, “Just you wait. Yes, I am just a mouse, but I will think of something to repay you for your kindness.
The next day, just as he was preparing to soar into the heavens the eagle again spied the field mouse scrambling up toward him with what looked like another stick in his mouth. Just when the eagle was about to ask why the mouse had another stick in his mouth, he saw the other animals. The squirrel and the rabbit, the deer and the moose, the frog and the salamander, each of the animals had a stick in their mouths.
The field mouse spoke up, “Yes, I am just a field mouse, but I am not alone. You saved all of the animals of the forest when you scared away the bear, and we have thought of something to repay you for your kindness. The eagle was speechless.
For many years after that the eagle was free to spend even more time flying over the forest because he needn’t trouble himself to take care of his home. The small animals of the forest did that for him out of thanks for his kindness. And so from up in the skies the eagle surveyed all that was below. The other animals liked it when he flew overhead and felt safe when he was in the air above them. They would wave to the eagle, and be thrilled when, with a tilt of his wings to one side, and then back to the other, the eagle would wave to the animals below. Oh, how they wanted to be like him, the eagle thought. And oh, how that made him feel good.
Until one day the bear had cornered the field mouse and was about to pounce on the tiny animal at his feet. It just so happened that the eagle was flying above both animals at that very moment, and the field mouse thought to himself, “Surely, I will be saved . . .
BAGHDAD – Last night in the mess hall two Georgian officers sat down at the table opposite me. The one facing me was a bit disheveled; his uniform top was misbuttoned. It was the kind of mistake you could make if you were in a hurry. Both ate quickly and silently.
I wanted to say something, but what do you say at a time like this? And I thought, what did I say to my friends in New York on 9-11? I rose from my chair, walked over, and asked if they had spoken with their families. They had. And they were alright.
The tiny Republic of Georgia, which straddles the land bridge between the world’s largest lake and the largest inland sea, is home to five million people. Both in population and in size, it is smaller than the other Georgia most Americans know. And yet, that miniscule country has provided 2,000 soldiers to assist our mission in Iraq. Why?
The answer to that question is obvious when you look at a list of countries who have forces here. Among the thirty nations are all three Baltic Republics, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhistan, and the Ukraine–each one a former Soviet Republic–along with several former Soviet Bloc countries including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. These are all countries who knew oppression. They knew fear. And they knew death at the hands of dictators.
They knew one other thing too. They knew the power of America to transform a hopeless situation. They knew that America didn’t abandon them. Sure it took a while, but they knew that America would persevere. And that they would persevere. And that they would win. And they did win.
That’s why, when in the sixth year of this war, when much of the rest of the world has abandoned America, when even many Americans have abandoned America, they who know best the horror of oppression, and the strength of the American spirit, have not abandoned us here in Iraq.
Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, and all the rest who have been allowed out out from behind the Iron Curtain are now looking at America to watch what we do for Georgia.
I have noticed an unusually high number of pro-Russian comments on blog posts like this one. There are also reports of possible Denial of Service attacks on Georgian internet sites.
Makes make me wonder if this is part of an orchestrated information-operations campaign by the Russians. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Nineteen years after Germany’s loss of the First World War, the defeated European nation reasserted itself in Czechoslovakia. European powers, tired of war, forced the Czechs to cede the German-speaking Sudetenland to Hitler.
Nineteen years ago the Soviet Union was defeated in Eastern Europe . . .
If you want a brief primer on a scary potential parallel, start here.
I will be on the Steve Gill Show (1510 WLAC in Nashville and other stations around the state) today (Saturday) during the 9:00 am (Central) hour. Ben Cunningham of the Tennessee Tax Revolt is guest hosting.