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Krauthammer (and others) whiffs
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, August 14, 2008

Charles Krauthammer looks at the war in Georgia and decides while there's not much we can do, there are some things we should do.
What is to be done? Let's be real. There's nothing to be done militarily. What we can do is alter Putin's cost-benefit calculations.

We are not without resources. There are a range of measures to be deployed if Russia does not live up to its cease-fire commitments:

1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.

2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.

3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin's dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.

4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.
Usually I'm pretty impressed by Krauthammer, but I guess everyone has a bad day. Krauthammer cites "cost-benefit calculations" that Russia might have done and intimates that those 4 things he lists weren't included in it or they wargamed a different outcome than what Krauthammer presents.

Please. When Putin did this he knew full well the worst case scenario included all of the above and he gave the order to "go" anyway. Obviously he wasn't that concerned with any of the above becoming a reality.

Suspend the NATO-Russian Council? For heaven sake, didn't Russia unilaterally do that when they crossed into Georgia? Does anyone think they don't know that?

Kick them out of the G8 and bar them from the WTO? And do what? Stop their economy from growing as it has? Oil and gas are the "in demand" commodity in today's world and Russia is flush with them. Not being able to sit down with the G7 or become a part of an organization which it hasn't been a part of until now simply isn't a particularly tough punishment for what they did.

And, of course, announcing 6 years prior to an event that you're not going to attend the event doesn't quite have the same sting as announcing it the year of the event. Not that Russia would be particularly effected - they survived the Jimmy Carter boycott quite nicely and were able to showcase their athletes without having the troublesome Americans there to steal their thunder.

Frankly, the only way to make the point to Russia that their actions are unacceptable is militarily, and that isn't going to happen. All the rest is so much hand-waving, and barring them or kicking them out of organizations may give the West the satisfaction of saying "so there", but practically will have little effect on Russia now, nor would it restrain Russia in the future.

There's only one thing which will do that, and no one is willing, at this point, to do it.

Given all of that, how then, do you make an impression on Russia?

Well one way is to immediately increase military aid to the Ukraine and the Baltic states. Obviously with the consent of those states, but Russia really can't complain if we do given their invasion of Georgia.

The Ukraine is a much larger state than Georgia. In fact, about 10 times larger. Its military has about 150,000 active duty and a million in reserve (it has compulsary service). So any move by Russia into that area won't be the walk in the park Georgia was (but it points to why Georgia was so perfect for the point Russia is trying to make).

We've got to do something to keep Russia at bay and to me, that's probably the most feasible and visible thing we can do. And my guess is both the Ukraine and the Baltic states would welcome it.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

If russia takes Ossetia and Abkhazia, should that spell an automatic membership of Georgia into NATO, to protect whats left?
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://
I guess that depends on whether or not you beleive Putin thinks NATO will go to war with Russia to protect the rump of Georgia, doesn’t it?

If we bring Georgia in, then we’d better be prepared to invade a nuclear-armed Russia.

You eager to trade New York for Tbilisi?
Written By: Dale Franks
I agree with Jimmy, NATO should fast-track membership for all Baltic states now that Russia has shown aggression.
If we bring Georgia in, then we’d better be prepared to invade a nuclear-armed Russia.
I’m not convinced that we need to invade Russia. A bad move on their part that forces us to respond and push out or ’disappear’ any invading/occupying forces would not only dissipate the influence that they gained this week, it would reinforce to the world that even though it can attempt to pick on much smaller countries, it is no longer the Soviet Union, and is containable.
Written By: Boogs
URL: http://
There’s also dealing with their troublesome middle eastern proxy, Iran to think about.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The issue here is Russian imperialism.

Krauthammer’s list of action items is a good start.

Talk of nuclear exchanges and invading Russia is, to me, kinda crazy talk. The Russians are if nothing else masters of rational self-interest. The only way nukes start flying is if somebody does something very, very, very stupid.

We don’t have to touch an inch of Russia’s current boundaries, and we really shouldn’t—not unless they start another shooting war. All we have to do is make it sufficiently distasteful for them to continue attempting to extend those boundaries that they will consider other alternatives—possibly even a return to economic and security cooperation, rather than the road to confrontation that they have now chosen.

Right now, I think that probably means bringing Ukraine, the Baltic states, and the former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO, arming them to the teeth, while loudly and continuously saying that we’re doing this to defend against Russian imperialism, and if they hadn’t invaded Georgia this wouldn’t be happening to them.

It also means that we turn loose the oil companies on all available U.S. domestic supplies, and use the foreign oil the U.S. now imports to start weaning Europe off of Russian oil. This also has the added bonus benefit of holding the world oil price down, reducing the funds available to Russia to cause mischief.

Throwing a bunch of money at the Bussard polywell fusion project would be a good idea, too.
Written By: filbert
Well, I’M all for trading new York for Tbilisi...I’d trade Tbilisi for NYC, Boston, LA and San Francisco...I’d pay them to destroy Toledo, probably the net GNP would INCREASE if we were rid of Toledo...and whilst they were about it, if they could launch a small desant raid into Maine and take some hostages, I’d be willing to contribute money for that too.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
whilst they were about it, if they could launch a small desant raid into Maine and take some hostages, I’d be willing to contribute money for that too
Hmm, any specific hostages in Maine you’re thinking about there Joe?
Written By: Marco
URL: http://
"...while loudly and continuously saying that we’re doing this to defend against Russian imperialism,..."
You’re howling into the teeth of a thousand years of Russian history. This kind of action on their western borders has always riled their most defensive instincts, and the facts of Russian aggression over nearly the past century have never deflected that "Rodina" sentiment.

Thinking along these lines — especially with Putin — won’t work out better then just fighting them outright.
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—
You eager to trade New York for Tbilisi?
Are you suggesting that:

1. Russia would respond with a nuclear strike on New York (or other major city), or

2. Russia would arm terrorists, possibly AQ, with nuclear weapons, and this/these terror organizations would detonate a nuke in New York?

#2 may not be outside the bounds of plausibility, but #1 certainly is. If Russia launched a missile against one of our cities, Tbilisi would be the least of their losses. MAD still works.

Even for #2, Russia would be taking an enormous risk that the US would not discover the source of the nukes. Russia has to know that the most effective limit on American military power right now is our willingness to employ it. A nuclear explosion on American soil would wipe out all traces of restraint.

Russia will not escalate this beyond conventional weapons. But they most likely won’t have to. I don’t see Bush sending troops to halt the Russian advance. If they want all of Georgia, they’ll get it.
Written By: cnh
URL: http://
With the new missle agreement, looks like Putin is the one who traded Tbilisi for Poland.

Your move Putin.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Tbilisi for New York is not a good trade. But is Berlin for New York? or Amsterdam for New York? or Antwerp?

We’d defend BELGIUM against the Soviets but not Georgia against the Russians?

I think the only reason we could claim that we should not defend Tbilisi would be that the Russians want it so bad or it would be so hard to defend that the calculus becomes different. The example in my IR class was a game of chicken where one driver chains himself to the steering wheel and starts drinking vodka.

In which case, maybe we shouldn’t have any Eastern European countries in NATO and be careful about the Baltics and the Ukraine as well.

I guess before we figured that if the Soviets attacked in Europe they would be trying for the whole kit and caboodle, but now if they have limited objectives, like say, Latvia, it might make sense to fold the hand as the stakes are too low?

Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Yeah, shark, the people claiming that Russia "is back" and that they are going to show who’s boss, I think forgot that if you are a Russian neighbor now is the time you boost defense spending and try to get into NATO more than ever. Blowback is not just an American problem.

The Chinese saying "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey" works best if you are dealing with monkeys not human beings.

I wonder if we see Iran get nukes, America not preserve Georgia, and Russia keep roaring, then will small nations bordering Russia also try to get nukes?
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Regardless to the displeasure of the tail wagging the dog - the US swan song of supporting, protecting democracies everywhere, including ex-Soviet republics is all but over. It is our, American, reputation is as Condi put it, speaking of Russians - "in tatters". Nothing short of Munchen-38 can compare to this blatant - for the world to see - act of western betrayal. Remains of US world "leadership" that were at the last breath now are finally over and done for. It’s getting very lonely up there...

Russians just called US (and Western ) bluff by bluffing. The only response they and the rest of hopeful little democracies on their borders would understand in this situation - is the military one - like pouring troops into Georgia and navy to Black Sea and establisihing security zones. Russia would back down. But wussy Krauthammer’s finger wagging is just a funny laugh in Russia.

NATO today is a joke and that was major point Russians were making to ex-Soviets iby challenging US-equipped, US-supported and US-security-agreement-having Georgia. Nobody would lift a finger for no one there - against Russia. EU should start counting Russian tanks, rockets, armies on EU borders all by its lonesome. This would quicky change some attitudes. US on the other hand will need to create alternative security instruments if it hopes to survive further challenges.

Another round of globalizm in history is ripe for harvest by new players. It’s time to make sure USA is ready for WW3...
Written By: Alex
URL: http://

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