Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The New (Cold?) War

They're saying we are entering a new Cold War. Don't people have to stop dying for the war to be "Cold"?

Russia agreed to France's cease fire proposal two days ago. Reports of continued Russian aggression in S. Ossetia, Gori and the port city, Poti, are still coming in. To say this is still in response to some peacekeepers in S. Ossetia being abused - reports that are still unconfirmed - is to be generous at best.

To restate our motivation here at Communism is the biggest threat to the free world. Period.

Here is a wrap-up of three WSJ articles from today, the latest from President Bush, reported by Bloomberg, and our $0.02.

Melik Kaylan explains how this is a war for oil, that the conflict in Georgia is the start of pressure on other former Soviet states, that pressure on the Caucasus states and Central Asian states will negatively influence our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and any future pressure we wish to apply to Iran. Opinion article, Welcome Back to the Great Game.

Having overestimated the power of the Soviet Union in its last years, we have consistently underestimated the ambitions of Russia since. Already, a great deal has been said about the implications of Russia's invasion for Ukraine, the Baltic States and Europe generally. But few have noticed the direct strategic threat of Moscow's action to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Kremlin is not about to reignite the Cold War for the love of a few thousand Ossetians or even for its animosity toward five million Georgians. This is calculated strategic maneuvering. And make no mistake, it's about countering U.S. power at its furthest stretch with Moscow's power very close to home.
According to Georgian authorities, Russian warplanes have tried to demolish the Georgian leg of that pipeline several times in the last days. Their message cannot be clearer.
We could walk away from this challenge, hoping for things to cool off, and let the Russians impose sway over the lower Caucasus for now. But no one will fail to notice our weakness. If we don't draw the line here, it doesn't get easier down the road with any other border or country. We would be risking the future of Afghanistan, and the stability of Iraq, on the good will of Moscow and the mullahs in Tehran. This is how the game of grand strategy is played, whether we like it or not.

In the WSJ editorial, Bush and Georgia, US credibility is rightly questioned, and suggestions offered.

President Bush finally condemned Russia's actions on Monday after a weekend of Olympics tourism in Beijing while Georgia burned. Meanwhile, the State Department dispatched a mid-level official to Tbilisi, and unnamed Administration officials carped to the press that Washington had warned Georgia not to provoke Moscow. That's hardly a show of solidarity with a Eurasian democracy that has supported the U.S. in Iraq with 2,000 troops.
The NATO leader also said Georgia's potential membership remains "very much alive" and that it would be a member of NATO one day. Georgia and Ukraine's applications come up again in December, and perhaps even Germany, which blocked their membership bids earlier this year, will now rethink its objections given that its refusal may have encouraged Russia to assume it could reassert control over its "near abroad."
The Georgian people also deserve U.S. support. One way to demonstrate that would be a "Tbilisi airlift," ferrying military and humanitarian supplies to the Georgian capital, which is currently cut off by Russian troops from its Black Sea port. Secretary of State Rice or Defense Secretary Robert Gates should be in one of the first planes.

The front page article, Russia Agrees to Halt War by Jay Solomon, Neil King and Marc Champion offers background on the tensions between the two countries. Here are the comments regarding NATO:

Russia succeeded in its military goals. It punished Georgia's President Saakashvili and demonstrated to its neighbors that it is the sole military power in the region.
President Bush has been a big supporter of expanding NATO membership to include former Soviet states including Georgia and Ukraine. NATO, a mutual defense pact, was started following World War II to contain the Soviet Union. Under its rules, an attack on any single member is considered an attack on all.

Mr. Bush pressed hard after the attacks of Sept. 11, seeing Eastern Europe as a proving ground for the "freedom agenda" he hoped would revamp the Middle East and Central Asia. He reveled in the gains U.S. policy produced, culminating in 2004, when Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were accepted for NATO membership.

The latest: Holly Rosenkrantz at Bloomberg reports President Bush's latest warning to Russia. A US cargo plane is en route and Secretary Rice will be dispatched to Tbilisi. George W. Bush:

Russia's ongoing actions raise serious questions about its intentions in Georgia and the region.
We're concerned about reports that Russian forces have entered and taken positions in the port city of Poti, that Russian armored vehicles are blocking access to that port, and that Russia is blowing up Georgian vessels

Our suggestions:
1) Push for early NATO consideration for Ukraine and Georgia. December is too long of a wait. Threaten retroactive membership if Russia pushes.
2) Return the G-7 to the original seven.
3) Postpone WTO membership one year. Two if Russia pushes.
4) Supply the Georgians with useful supplies. A Russian plane falling from the sky, or several tanks destroyed by a land mine are paradigm-shifting events.
5) Open all US to drilling to bring the price of oil as low as possible for the foreseeable future.
6) Expedite both the missile shield in Europe, and the designs for its larger-scale successor.
7) Begin arrangements to move the US Army Division out of Germany and into Ukraine.

Harsh, you say? Then you haven't been paying attention to Russia's behavior these past few years.

Cartoons found at