So today John McCain let me know that we are all Georgians - especially the guys on his staff being paid by their government, I guess. Now, Russia and Georgia set conditions for a cease-fire and withdrawal, under a French framework (French!?), so I guess by "we are all Georgians" McCain means that "we are all losers of brief wars where we belligerently try to take over breakaway regions by force using indiscriminate violence and suffer the consequences." There are no noblemen in this conflict, but to signal some kinship with the Georgians is tantamount to allying with them in a dirty war against the Russians, which is just a fair bit of madness. Josh Marshall details just how dangerous this is.
The people that are pulling McCain's strings are the people who want to push us into a new Cold War with the Russians -- and ironically and a bit improbably with the Chinese too. But the Russians are probably more willing to oblige us since their power remains limited to oil reserves and military power. In other words, they're people McCain's folks can understand and vice versa.
McCain is going out of his way to cast this as a replay of 1938 and 1939. Is it really in our interest to get into a renewed Cold War with Russia right now? Do we have the military resources for a proxy/advisor war in the Caucasus at the moment? Should we find ourselves in the situation where the Russians want to reassert their sway in Eastern Europe, we would have some very serious and consequential decisions to make. But this just is not that. The key is that McCain, both in terms of policy and temperament, wants to court that result.
Not only that, they're wrong on the facts. Russia has no interest in holding on to Georgia - their history in the Caucasus is one of much pain for their prestige and military power. They sought to teach a lesson, but an occupation would never have served their interests. So acting like this is 1938 when Russia has no designs on an iota of territory is just crazy. Putin is not a good leader and our failures in US-Russian relations have made him more dangerous, but there are ways to deal with him that are not military. The bluster, the belief that all problems have a solution with a bomb attached to it,
Matt Yglesias has more.
...it's also completely absurd for Obama to suggest NATO membership for Georgia, which is a subtler way of saying the same nonsense as McCain. There's some dispute on this, however; apparently a Membership Action Plan for NATO is not necessarily an endorsement of their entry.
Labels: John McCain, neoconservatives, Republic of Georgia, Russia, South Ossetia, war machine