Monday, August 11, 2008

Russia v. Georgia

National Review Online's editorial is right on point.
None of this is or should be about Russia or the Russian people. All of it stinks of Soviet propaganda, Soviet brutality, Soviet morality, and Soviet nostalgia. It is the handiwork of the siloviki clique that currently monopolizes power in Russia through authoritarian politics, kleptocratic economics, and media manipulation. This clique must be shown that war crimes do not pay. The Russian people, too, need to learn that nostalgia for Soviet imperialism is a dead end for Russia. But that means that the West must demonstrate unmistakably that the post–Cold War international order will not be overturned — neither in the world nor in the Caucasus. Not much can be done at present on the ground. We have neither the military means nor the political unwisdom to imitate Saakashvili’s rash adventurism. What the West can do is to use its influence and diplomatic skills to ensure that the conflict ends before more people die or more of Georgia is dismembered. Unless the desire to punish Georgia has driven the siloviki beyond all common sense, they will be content with this de facto annexation. For Saakashvili, a settlement binding Georgia to use only peaceful means in seeking reunification with South Ossetia is probably the best that can be obtained in the wake of military defeat. In effect the conflict would be “re-frozen.”
Putin and his cronies need to be taught the lesson, but the question will be, does the rest of the world have the balls to do anything?

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