Day By Day

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Peters, Putin, and Bush

The always excitable Ralph Peters writes that by invading Georgia, Vlad Putin "has won" and has "changed the world" [here]. Well, maybe.

Col. Peters is a bright guy who knows a lot and is capable of writing sharp and often perceptive commentary on the events of the day. He, for instance, is absolutely right in describing Putin's ruthlessness and determination to assert control over the former Soviet republics. And he is dead on when discussing the despicable reaction of so many in the West to the rape of Georgia. Western journalists, in their ignorance, simply parroted the Moscow line and blamed Georgia for being the target of Putin's malignant ambitions; leftists and many Democrats immediately sought for ways to blame the catastrophe on President Bush; and Western governments were pathetically weak in their response to Putin's aggression.

But, as in the case of the Iraq war, Col. Peters is far too quick to write off the Georgian conflict as an unmitigated disaster. In both cases what Peters fails to take into consideration is the ability and determination of the man who sits in the White House. At a time when Peters was loudly proclaiming Iraq to be a disaster, President Bush and his new cadre of military talent was forging a strategy that has transformed our effort there into a success. So, too, the Bush administration is implementing a strong response to Putin's criminality. America has loudly proclaimed its support for Georgia's democratically elected government and has warned Moscow against trying to overthrow it. A token amount of humanitarian aid has been sent to Georgia, carried [and this is the important point] by the American military. This means that there are now a number of American troops on the ground in and around Tiblisi. More, and more significant, aid will be coming in the future. Condi is now in Tiblisi to make plain the strength of American support for President Shakaasvili. Meanwhile, Poland has concluded a deal to place U.S. defensive missiles on their soil in defiance of Russian threats and now Ukraine has offered to join a coordinated missile defense system designedby the U.S. Elements of the system are already on the ground in the Czech Republic. Poland even has asked for the creation of an American military base on its territory.

What is taking shape in Poland, in the Czech Republic, in Ukraine, in Georgia, and in Washington is a coherent anti-Putin alliance not unlike the Old European alliance against Stalin. And the response from Old Europe has been favorable. Angela Merkel, in a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Medvedev, insisted that Georgia's territorial integrity be preserved and demanded that an international peacekeeping regime be established there. Medvedev also backed away from the threat made by a Russian general of a nuclear response to Poland's missile shield. Most significantly, Chancellor Merkel then flew to Tiblisi where she announced her support for Georgia's membership in NATO.

Things have changed in the past few years. Pro-American regimes are now in charge not only in Britain, but in Germany, France, and Italy. The Eastern European republics have united in common opposition to Russia's aggression, and all look to President Bush for leadership in this crisis. All indications so far are that he is rising to the occasion, just as he did in the wake of 9/11.

Col. Peters and Vlad Putin are making the same mistake Osama bin Laden did in assuming that President Bush is weak and/or incompetent. He is neither. The world is changing, but the direction of that change is in America's favor, and the future is being shaped by Dubya, not by Vlad.


Appearing on FOX News, Condi reports that Russian President Medvedev has promised to start withdrawing troops on Monday. Also, French President Sarkozy has warned Russia that there will be "serious consequences" if the troops are not withdrawn.

Unnoticed by the MSM over the past few years President Bush has been creating alliance systems in Asia, in the Middle East, and now in Eastern Europe that promise to shape international relations for the forseeable future. We are now all living in the world that Dubya made and will be doing so for some time. Whether you agree with him or not [and I think that he has been absolutely right on all the big issues] you must begin to realize that President Bush has been the most consequential Western leader since Ronald Reagan, and probably since Franklin Roosevelt.