Day By Day

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Indecision Reigns Triumphant

Responding to Russian threats, including an amazing outburst of insults directed against our Secretary of State in the pages of Pravda that would shame even a left wing loon [here], the United States has concluded an agreement to build a missile defense base in Poland. Representing the U.S. at this historic meeting..., why it's Condi!

Seriously though, this confrontation is rapidly heating up. President Bush took to the podium to declare that the breakaway provinces currently occupied by Russian troops were "part of Georgia" [here]. At the same time Russia was taking steps to formally recognize the independence of the breakaway regions [here].

Meanwhile Russian military officials declared that there would be no withdrawal of forces from Georgia while witnesses on the ground gave conflicting accounts. Some insisted that there had been no pullout of troops, while others said that the withdrawal was already underway [here].

The fog of incessant talk has begun to descend upon and to obscure the entire issue of Russian-Georgian relations.

The first response to Russia's aggression from the US and NATO was strong, and the American response continues to be so. President Bush's clarity regarding Russia and its intentions is matched in Eastern Europe where nations are feverishly working to strengthen ties to the United states. But Old Europe, and consequently NATO is going wobbly rapidly.

Throughout the west political battle lines are being drawn, between leftists who toe the Moscow line and blame the crisis on Georgia, the United States, and the West; and conservatives who place the blame on Russia. And of course the issue is dividing American domestic politics. Democrats are rushing to find some anti-Obamanite to blame. Tom Friedman in the NYT blames Bush and Clinton's policy of expanding NATO [here], while the Obamination directly blames John McCain, one of whose advisors is a registered lobbyist for Georgia [here].

Putin took a huge gamble in attacking Georgia. He counted on the weakness of the West. At first, it seemed that he had lost the bet. President Bush stood strong against aggression and still does. But his support in Europe and among American policy elites is rapidly draining away. Perhaps Putin has won after all.

Stay tuned.


Victor Davis Hanson, noting the Western penchant for finger-pointing, writes:
Putin keeps counting on us either to be confused, contradictory or angrier at ourselves than at Russia over his latest aggression. And given our inability to speak with one voice, he seems to be absolutely right.
Read it here.