Russia has announced that we, the United States, are the ones that provoked the Georgia incident. Putin said, in an interview that we
"sought to present the military operation as a response to brazen, cold war-style provocations by the United States. In tones that seemed alternately angry and mischievous, he suggested that the Bush administration may have tried to create a crisis that would influence American voters in the choice of a successor to President George W. Bush."
He said that, for one candidate (who he carefully didn't name) to win, the administration needed a "small, victorious war."
The thing is, this is the tactic that the Russians seem to be using. They are, after all, now admitting that they plan to absorb the breakaway regions from Georgia.
Keep in mind: we didn't fight. We didn't provide troops. We've been aiding Georgia in updating their military training and equipment, yes, but not necessarily for this purpose. Actually, I doubt that this particular use for our training and the equipment occurred to most of the administration at all. I mean, "Only last spring, Putin, the president at the time, held a summit meeting with Bush in which the two expressed personal affection for each other and sought to smooth over tensions in the bilateral relationship." Personal affection--real, at least, on the part of President Bush, who probably can't lie effectively to save his life--has blinded our current leader to the fact that Putin has been lying to the world for as long as he's been in the government in the Soviet Union, and then Russia.
Our current POTUS does not have the personal judgement to be able to discern the difference between real and feigned affection.
Another...interesting...development is that Russia has announced that it has new nuclear weapons, despite the treaty they signed banning nuclear proliferation. Granted, all they've said is that they've tested a new delivery system, but everyone who remembers the Soviet Union knows what they're carefully not saying. "Moscow’s military chiefs revealed their Topol intercontinental stealth rocket had been fired successfully." Stealth rocket?!? Wonderful. They're already trying to get around the missile shield we're setting up in Europe, despite the fact it's not aimed at them!
And now, they're threatening other allies. "The RS-12M Topol, designed to dodge defence systems, has a range of 6,125 miles — enough to reach Britain — with a 550-kiloton warhead capable of devastating a 14-mile wide area."
I wonder if NATO will say more about that. I certainly doubt they'll do any more about it than they've done about Russia's threats to its former provinces of Poland and the Ukraine, or even than they've done with the outright attack on Georgia, despite the disturbing parallels between current Soviet aggression and past Nazi Germany actions.
Victor Davis Hanson, writer for the National Review reminds us that NATO has been largely ineffective since the initial collapse of the Soviet Union: "We saw NATO’s paralysis in the European inaction over Serbia’s ethnic cleansing in the 1990s. When NATO finally acted to remove Slobodan Milosevic in 1999, the much-criticized intervention proved little more than a de facto American air campaign." He says that, since the disappearance of its initial mission, it's become less and less useful, and more of a liability to the United States. His suggestion? Withdraw our support--and membership--from NATO.
He may have a good point. After all, if we did,
"Europe will at least receive a much-needed reality check. It might even re-learn to invest in its own defense. European relations with America would be more grounded in reality, and the United States could still forge individual ties with countries that wished to be true partners, not loud caricatures of allies."
Non-NATO allies, like Australia and India, are doing more to work with us against Islamofacism (as opposed to the peaceful, largely ineffective parts of the religion and its state appendages) than our old NATO allies, who are discussing withdrawal from our efforts to protect ourselves and the rest of the world.
I don't know, though. If Russia does much more, the NATO nations will begin to see that they're still under threat, and that they have to defend themselves from what they thought was an ally. Same dance, same tune, same partners.
Update: Not that this is surprising, but "European Union leaders at a summit next week are not expected to impose sanctions on Russia but may name a special envoy to Georgia to ensure that a cease-fire between there is observed, officials in Paris and Brussels said Friday." It's especially not surprising, at least to me, that the French are the ones leading the charge behind the white flag.
Georgia has done what it should have done as soon as the first Russian soldier stepped foot across their borders into South Osettia, and the other rebel region of Abkhazia: cut diplomatic ties with Russia. Russia is clearly uninterested in diplomacy with its former satellite states. Georgian diplomats leave Russian territory tomorrow.