The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Georgia: Both candidates get it wrong

Posted by Bill Nance on October 1, 2008

As I’ve written in this blog repeatedly, the recent Russian invasion of Georgia is a lot more complicated than most Americans seem to grasp.

But here’s something that’s not complicated to grasp:

Russia invaded in response to a well-telegraphed and poorly carried out attempt by Georgia to wrest back separatist South Ossetia, which was at the time, occupied by Russian “peacekeepers.”

I’m not excusing the Russian response, but let there be no mistake, that response was not unprovoked aggression. To pretend anything else is willful ignorance. The Georgians took military action against what the Russians consider a client state (regardless of the rightness or wrongness of it) and the Russians pounded them in reply.

Now both Presidential Candidates are making noises about making Georgia into a NATO ally.

Are they BOTH fucking insane?

Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty calls for mutual military assistance. Specifically:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakhashvili rolled the dice and lost badly. Had he rolled those dice as a NATO ally, the United States would have been obligated to go to war with a country with thousands of nuclear warheads.

I’m all for expanding NATO. It provides mutual security and helps to bring Eastern European countries into the family of free-market democracies. But potential NATO allies need to first demonstrate that they aren’t likely to start world war three in a fit of pique. To even consider Georgia for membership after the predictably stupid move it made a month ago is beyond foolish and naive. It’s criminally irresponsible.

And for what it’s worth, our NATO allies will politely tell us to get stuffed if we try to railroad them into it. -Thank God.

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3 Responses to “Georgia: Both candidates get it wrong”

  1. Kurt said

    This post is extremely confusing. Everyone knows Saakhashvili made the first move. Everyone knows the obligations of NATO partners. Barack Obama offered a word of caution to both sides, and has steadfastly said Georgia’s inclusion into NATO must not be rushed.
    It was McCain, whose campaign has received monetary support from the Georgian leader, who proclaimed, “We are ALL Georgians!”

  2. Bill Nance said

    Hi Kurt, thanks for the comment.

    I’m afraid at the debate Thursday Obama was right there with McCain calling for Georgia’s membership in NATO. I agree that Obama hasn’t taken the red-meat Neocon line on Georgia, but his response to the situation in last week’s debate was pretty much “Me too,” to McCain’s.

    It was one of the several areas regarding foreign policy in the debate where Obama’s foreign policy expertise was demonstrably lacking. Was it better than McCain? Sure. But it sure as Hell didn’t demonstrate a mastery of the subject matter.
    I hope, I pray, that if elected, Barack will pay very close attention to Joe Biden in these areas. I’d hate to see another situation like we had with Clinton and Bosnia, where he was too afraid to act when it was clearly the right thing to do.
    Frankly I think Georgia isn’t a very good candidate for NATO membership for a whole lot of different reasons that have nothing to do with Saakhashvili, but that’s a subject for another post.

  3. […] finally, anyone who thinks more bellicose language and a refusal to deal with Realpolitik is a good idea hasn’t paid attention for the last 8 years. This is not even mentioning the […]

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