Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Obama on Georgia — Simply Lost

Original Link: http://noquarterusa.net/blog/2008/08/12/obama-on-georgia-%e2%80%94-simply-lost/

By Charles Lemos

Let’s see if I got this right, Obama is calling for:

1) United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning Russia. Problem: Russia is a Permanent Member of the United Nations with Security Council and thus has veto power over any resolution. Sure you can have a debate at the Security Council, actually there already have been, but it isn’t going to go anywhere. Obama does not seem to understand how international politics is played. While Obama talks, Russian tanks have severed Georgia in two. Gori has fallen and Russia seems to have set its sights on the capital, Tbilisi.

2) Replacing Russian peace-keeping troops in South Ossetia with a multi-national force. Problem: Russia is a Permanent Member of the United Nations with Security Council and thus has veto power over any UN peace-keeping force. And does Senator Obama really think that Russia is going to allow a United Nations peace-keeping force made up of foreign troops, albiet under UN command, on its southern flank? Proposing non-starters is a waste of time. Try being realistic.

3) Condemning Russian actions in the court of world public opinion. Problem: Does Russia care what the world thinks at this point? Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with US President Bush in Beijing the day the crisis erupted. President Bush issued stern warnings to both sides. Putin then flew off to North Ossetia to direct the Russian campaign. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is off to Moscow tomorrow. The Russians have already stated that the French peace proposals are DOA (dead on arrival).

4) Sending an objective and neutral International Mediator to the region. Problem: There’s nothing to mediate at this point. I wrote earlier that Russia will accept a cease-fire when Russia achieved its war aims. I was mistaken to believe those war aims were limited to ousting Georgian forces from South Ossetia but it is now increasingly clear that Russia aims to take control of Georgia. Georgia is an imperfect democracy but it is a democracy. It won’t be one much longer. A puppet government is on its way and I expect right now that President Mikhail Saakashvili will form a government in exile. What is there to mediate? And between whom? Russia will redraw the borders in the Caucusus because it can. We are powerless. I wrote earlier that we lost this round, let’s not lose the next. The next one is the Ukraine and Moldova.

Obama’s assertion that Russia has escalated this war beyond South Ossetia, while factual, misses the whole point. This war is not about South Ossetia. South Ossetia may have been the casus belli but this splendid little war for Russia is a message to the United States, to Europe and to NATO that Russia is a player. Call it a greeting card from a resurgent Russia.

The West made many mistakes. We pushed for Kosovar independence and recognized a state that has no business being a state. When Brazil and India note that they would only recognize Kosovo when Serbia did, that was the right path to take. Furthermore, the Bush Administration pushed for missile defence systems in the Czech Republic and Poland to protect Europe from an Iranian attack. I am not sure how putting such a shield in Poland protects Europe from Iran. No matter the intent, the Russians clearly felt that these were directed at them. With the prospects of Georgia and the Ukraine becoming NATO members, Russia was clearly unhappy at that. Georgia is paying the price of Western mistakes plus its own miscalculations. Much is yet unclear how this war was orchestrated but it does seem that Russia goaded Georgia into an armed intrusion into South Ossetia. It was a trap. The West now faces tough choices.

Obama’s calls seem more of his kumbaya oh lord kumbaya rhetoric that simply shows how out of touch the very junior Senator from Illinois is. The joke is that when Obama found out that Georgia had been attacked, he asked if Atlanta was okay. The corollary is that when McCain found out, he promised to send to General Sherman.

Georgia is lost. Let’s not lose the Ukraine. Putin has run circles around Bush, can you imagine Obama? At least with McCain, he has been sounding the alarm for a decade. Experience does count. So does realism and Obama on Georgia shows a fatal flaw. He is divorced from reality.

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