Stand up to the bully!
by SevenStrings, Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 09:05:26 AM EDT
History offers up a few moments when the world is presented with a choice: someone is committing a naked act of aggression on someone else, and we can choose to ignore it, or we can stand up to the bullying.
Ignoring the bullying is the preferred option ~ who wants to get involved in a messy situation with no end in sight. Standing up to the bullying is the right (morally and strategically) option.
It is time to stand up to the Russian bullying in Georgia.
Let us first consider the motivations for ignoring it:
(a) Georgia provoked the whole thing.
Sadly, a section of the progressive left would have us believe that the whole situation was provoked by Georgia. Sadly, the history of the world is filled with examples of small countries committing naked acts of aggression on larger, more powerful, neighbours, thereby provoking a war in which they get wiped out. Examples of this include this one and this one.
In the present case, it is clear that regardless of actual/perceived/proviked Georgian provocation (and here, I am just repeating an argument made by the Georgian President--it is a compelling argument), the Russians were preparing for an invasion for at least a few weeks. How else do you explain the fact that about 100 Russian tanks rolled into battle within a few hours of the "Georgian provocation". It does not matter how powerful you are, you simply cannot mobilize and move that many tanks that quickly unless you are preparing for just such an event.
It is also clear that regardless of any actual or perceived Georgian provocations, the Russian response has been disproportionate. Can anyone honestly argue otherwise ?
(b) The US has no right to lecture the Russians because it has been less than pure itself
This is an argument offered up by Andrew Sullivan, as recounted in this diary .
This is true ~ the US has been less than pure in this front in the past.
It is also irrelevant.
And it should be irrelevant. "Do not cast the first stone unless you are pure" was a fine argument for Jesus to make ~ it is not appropriate for us to adopt that argument for convenience. And if you disagree, please also promise not to condemnt North Korea, or Iran, or Pakistan, or Israel, or Palestine, or the Taliban, or Al Quaeda.. for anything that they might do.
After all, noone is completely innocent.. so why should anyone have any right to complain about anyone else.
(c) The US cannot do anything
This is another silly argument offered up by those who would prefer that the US (and the rest of the world) sit back and ignore what is going on.
So what can (should) the world do ?
The answer to this question is not as vexing as it seems. History has offered up plenty of similar examples in the past. Using those examples, we know what is the morally right thing to do, and we also know that the morally right course of action is also the strategically most advantageous. In formulating a response, we should keep these guidelines in mind.
(a) always retain the moral high ground.
The response should be deliberate, and measured... with a limited objective of stopping the aggressor, and reversing the aggression. The objective should never spill over into containing the aggressor... where we rapidly squander the moral high ground.
(b) ratchet up the response slowly and deliberately.
The response should be slowly ratcheted up with a view of giving the aggressor a small (but finite) window of time to reverse his/her aggression without the use of force. The use of force should never be ruled out, but should not be the first option on the table.
Along those lines, I support Pres. Bush in his initial calls for Russian withdrawal, followed by threats of isolation (such as expulsion from the G-8) and the more recent promise of sending American aircraft and naval vessels to Georgia.
(c) be prepared to ratchet up the response to a catastrophic war.
Yes, this is the scary part. But absent a willingness to do this, we will fail. Examples of this include John Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis.
Yes, a war with Russia would be catastrophic... for everyone! That is the strongest motivation to ignore what the Russians are doing. But, if history is any guide, ignoring the aggression now will only result in a larger problem down the line. (I will refrain from citing examples in support of this.)
(d) be prepared to accept victory
This, sometimes, is the difficult part. The aggressor will oftentimes look for a way out, and will seek a face saving formula for withdrawal. A wise course is to give the aggressor the time and space necessary for this, without rubbing their nose in. Botched examples of this include the treaty of Versailles, and the aftermath of the Persian Gulf war.
The US is faced with a choice here:
we can either stand up for the people of Georgia, or we can stop claiming to be the leaders of the free world !!