The Spectacle Blog

Catching Up On the Caucasus

By on 8.11.08 | 8:02PM

I haven't said much about the situation in Georgia, mainly because I've been reluctant to say anything without reading closely. Some of Russia's claims about atrocities that may or may not have been committed by Georgia really would, if true, justify sending in the tanks to protect South Ossetia, and maybe even Abkhazia. But Robert Kagan is right that Putin has been baiting Saakashvili into a blunder like this for a long time, and now that the Russians have gone beyond the breakaway regions and into Georgia proper, the "Kosovo precendent" excuse clearly doesn't wash. It's clear that what's going on is that the Kremlin is scratching the same old expansionist itch that drove Russia policy under both the Soviets and the Tsars.

So, what do we do about it, beyond the ride home from Iraq that we've given to Georgian troops? I have no idea. Ronad Asmus and Richard Holbrooke's invocation of "a vast array of political, economic and other areas in which Russia's role and standing will have to be reexamined" is pretty vague; they mention the Sochi Olympics, but what else do they have in mind? Bill Kristol calls for "emergency military aid"; what exactly would that entail?

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