You remember that tiresome evangelical favorite: “What would Jesus do?” Well, here’s a version I’m glad I don’t have to think about, concerning the current Georgia crisis: What would Don do?
Following recent disturbing developments in the Caucasus, and after reading the statements from George Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, it got me to thinking how thankful I am that the latter is running defense policy and not his predecessor, Dapper Don Rumsfeld. For if Rumsfeld were still in that chair, there is little doubt that Dick Cheney would be the puppet master working the strings of policy. Who knows what mischief he would work in this tenuous, complex and extremely dangerous moment for U.S.-Russia relations.
As for the role Bush is playing–does this make you feel more or less assured of his abilities?
Mr. Bush went to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency…for a briefing on the situation in Georgia. “Got a lot of folks, smart folks, analyzing the situation on the ground and, of course, briefing us on different possibilities that could develop in the area and the region,” he said…
Does this give you the impression that in acknowledging there are “smart folks” analyzing the situation, he’s excluding himself?
You’ll remember that Bush infamously said after meeting Putin for the first time that he felt he could trust him because he’d looked into his eyes and “gotten a sense of his soul?” I wonder what, if anything, Bush is thinking about that stupid statement now.
When I read the following from Gates, which is an implicit rebuke of such nonsense, I thought: finally we have a defense secretary who has a head on his shoulders:
At the Pentagon, Mr. Gates was asked whether he trusted Mr. Putin anymore, and he paused before responding.
“ ‘Anymore’ is an interesting add,” he said. “I have never believed that one should make national security policy on the basis of trust. I think you make national security policy based on interests and on realities.”
Thank God for realism. We’ve had seven disastrous years of fantasy, lies, and wishful thinking. If I were Barack Obama and I won the election I’d even consider asking Gates to remain in his post.
This post was also just published at Huffington Post.
When Bush met Saakashvili in February 2004 it seems he looked him in the eyes, too.
Bush: “I’m impressed by his vision” (…)
“So the President has got a good vision and this has been a good trip. I believe in his abilities and I appreciate his vision.”
But seriously, I’m not at all convinced that Russia is the bad boy here, as the NYT article assumes. Georgia, Russia, and Ossetia had for years maintained a joint peacekeeping force which seemed to have been doing its job. Last week Georgia first attacked Tskhinvali, killed thousands of civilians and sent tens of thousands fleeing into Russia. Not reacting to this wasn’t an option.
Of course the USA has a stake in Georgia in the form of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, the US’ European NATO partners OTOH have a vital interest in good working relations with Russia on whose natural gas we depend.
Kudos to the WaPo for printing Mikhail Gorbachev’s article. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR2008081101372_pf.html)
Richard Silverstein says
I realize you have the best of intentions but you are repeating Russian propaganda. I listened to PRI’s The World yesterday and they featured a reporter who visited the main hospital in S. Ossetia’s capital. The chief doctor in the hospital said a TOTAL of 300 people had visited the hospital during the Georgia assault & that many of these were military personnel. Thousands were clearly not killed during the assault & you should be careful before you repeat such nonsense.
In fact, S. Ossetian militias are entering Georgian villages & sacking & burning them & forcing the inhabitants to flee. This IS ethnic cleansing & it is permitted & dare we say encouraged by the Russian forces.
Benjamin Bratt says
One could even guess that the Russians escalated this entire thing with the militant separatists in South Ossetia bcs they have been planning for and wanted this conflict… as shown by their infrastructure build up on the border over the past year…
You encourage realism of Gates when dealing with Russia is quite surprising?
Yet when one encourages even 1/10th of the realism when Israel is dealing with a Russian pupil or satellite, Syria – which has done its own violence and murdering in Lebanon directly and indirectly via Hezbollah –
you instead condescend about only a “hard right wingnut” (that poignant descriptive adjective) would think as much… and anyone that would not take any Syrian “words” planted as the latest fig leaf as a means to heavily and serioulsy negotiate in the open (since communiques have been going on under the table for years) is and out of touch wingnut!!!@#@!# (to put it mildly) LOL!
When all Syria is after is the public approbation of such and these “out front” (photo ops) negotiations would be no different than communiques going on in private under the table for years…. though such photo ops would surely make you kvell almost as much as the state run Mukharat Syrian media would.