Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

George the Weary. Not a great President but not the villain some would have you believe. None the less, his political vanity is a detriment, however much it is in accordance with human nature.

Which means any issues that arise and require breaking something in order to put back together again in a more functional fashion will be side stepped and talked at. The recent Russia/Georgia "conflict" is evidence of this as the US response was late and anemic. If ex-Soviet states have learned one valuable lesson in the aftermath of this debacle it's that close ties with the US have limited benefits.

The Russian's should fly a "Mission Accomplished" banner. They've succeeded in painting US hegemony as a paper tiger (which in reality, it isn't) and showing the world they can expand their sphere of influence in violent fashion with little negative consequence.

The Bush Administration is likely focused much more on future history books than in heaping any new and complex issues onto it's already crowded plate. Hold course on Iraq and hope the trend of success continues, frantically cast about for a reverse course in a deteriorating Afghanistan, liberalize it's policies regarding Iran (a little bit) and finally engage the obligatory Arab/Israeli drama. No time or willingness to step into a mess like Ossetia, to throw American strength behind an ally we've long been behind in attaining NATO membership. Though I'm sure the people of Georgia were happy to know President Bush was "behind them" before he headed off to his ranch to hog some brush.

13 comments:

Jeff said...

I really like the new look to your blog.

EB said...

Is Georgia worth a full-scale war?

Indeed, is the mistaken stupidity of the Georgian president grounds for America to risk anything at this point?

Everyone has been reckless on this. That Bush has sobered up (seemingly realizing he helped put Georgia in a terrible spot and gave the Russians a golden opportunity to make us look weak) and is taking his time gathering up the allies (Germany now supporting Georgia's NATO admission, Turkey making noises) is not necessarily a bad thing.

Or we could just run in with little regard like McCain wants us to. Why not risk another war? Why not Iran as well? That way we can fight the new Soviet Union and the new Nazi Germany at the same time!

Dan tdaxp said...

eb's comment is a good demonstration of all that is wrong with political discouse wrt georgia.

The mix of substance ("Everyone has...") and rhetoric ("Or we could") does a great job at destroying meaning, and submitting this crisis to another reason to vote for his candidate of choice.

Jay@Soob said...

Thank you, Jeff. The transition was painful but long in coming.

Jay@Soob said...

eb, why do envision full scale war?

There are other aggressive measures beyond waging WWIII. The Presidents initial response may as well have been sending Vladimir Putin a fruit basket and a thank you card for all the teeth it had.

How did Bush put Georgia in a "terrible spot?"

I suspect Germany would have supported Georgian membership even had the Russian's not invaded. Merkel is no Shroeder politically speaking. And further she was raised in East Germany. I suspect she has little patience for an aggressive Russian state.

As for that last bit, I claim no expertise nor genius but I will say I simply don't have such a generalized vision of the world. How we deal with Iran is an entirely separate issue.

Jay@Soob said...

Dan,

"good demonstration of all that is wrong with political discouse wrt georgia."

Or political discourse in general. Logic and critical thought take a back seat to partisanship. I'm certainly not without my own ideological prejudices (right leaning, libertarian perhaps) but I'll never restrict my perspective by purposefully thinking within the lines of a particular party.

Eddie said...

I am frustrated with the ? of the leadership classes. So many look at history and want to repeat it, by choosing differently via projecting the past onto the present choices.

What Bush is doing is right. Merkel actually has gone farther than him by pushing fervently for Georgia to join NATO, seemingly Sarkozy as well. Would any of us have seriously expected such a leap just a few months ago? The next president will have a good opportunity to help the Germans and Eastern Europeans make tough choices about energy and military reforms & investment. The French arguably are accomplishing both already under Sarkozy. These steps lead to a Europe less dependent on Russia's bad word.

Then you have McCain... who has spoken of Iran as another Hitlerseque regime, who is surrounded by advisers who view this is vindication a new Soviet Union or a sick imitation of it is on the rise and cannot begin to understand the new world they're in.

ZenPundit has described our long-term problem well; we lack a Russia policy and have for years.

McCain & Obama seemingly don't get this. Our foreign policy elite does not get it. That is not me arguing for the candidate of my choice, that is me lamenting the limitations of our so-called leaders.
That McCain earns my ire the most is because he was not on vacation last week but was well in his element, acting like he's President already sending Senators overseas to cavort with an idiot leader in Georgia who played into the Russians' hands, making empty statements such as "We are all Georgians" that betray a fundamental misreading of the American people's feelings about the world right now and only giving Georgians false hope.

Why are We all Georgians? Does McCain speak for all Americans? Who elected him? Who authorized such policies that align us with countries so ill-led and that put larger, more important issues, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. on the backburner or imperil progress on them.

Dan tdaxp said...

Is there a cliche that Eddie's post doesn't repeat?

Is there a substantive point that it makes and backs up?

I get that Eddie's points are all cool and hip -- certainly by disdaining both parties he is more l33t than EB -- but it doesn't boil down to anything meaningful.

Eddie said...

Is there an ounce of sense in Dan's original albeit irrational ideas for policy regarding Russia?

Cheering terrorists who kill Russians?

Willing conflict with a country that can sell enough advanced weaponry to America's real enemies to kill countless Americans?

My points are not cool and hip.. they are attempts at reflection and thought.

That McCain has not done this (and indeed is advised by someone who was in the employ of this country in question for several years) and Obama blindly copies him is dreadfully unimaginative and beneath the needs of our country.

We desperately need a Russia policy. We really have to think about and actually debate the merits of formally aligning ourselves with a country that has an ages-long conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary.

Dan tdaxp said...

Eddie's rhetorical approach of asking vague and topical questions is interesting (and more useful than his original cool & hip comment), but the downside is that it doesn't assert anything. Cynicism is all well and good if you fear any conceivable course of action, including the present one, but it doesn't provide a way forward.

Eddie said...

My cynicism would seem well-placed.

Am I confident Obama or McCain can manage US-China relations effectively?
That they could navigate the tricky domestic and foreign terrain necessary to even attempt a "Nixon to Tehran" moment?
That they can handle the potential dissolution of Pakistan?

I am worried that the answers to all these questions is no. I don't mind the men themselves, but their advisers. Neither team inspires much confidence.

I see no need for such rhetoric about Russia when the Europeans are yet to show how they can wean themselves off Russian natural gas and still refuse (aside from France) to reform and invest in even rudimentary 21st century expeditionary military capability.

I also will ask are the American people willing to risk war with Russia over Georgia or Azerbaijan? How willing are the European citizens?

Asking questions when most others are rushing to conclusions would seem to be useful.

That does not mean I think I am 100% right or you are 100% wrong. I just want questions like that at least considered.

Dan tdaxp said...

I should clarify that I did not mean well-founded distrust, but rather a fashionable attitude of opposing all conceivable courses of actions, including the present one.

Jay@Soob said...

It doesn't have to come to war.

NATO meets and hashes out diplomatic avenues... With no reinforcing presence in the region. No wonder the Russians sign cease fire agreements and then leap through the nearest loophole. The Russians are eating their cake and having it too. And NATO is acting in a pure political fashion with no regional firepower to bolster their finger wagging.

I'm not suggesting engaging Russia in a kinetic fashion (Dan speaks of "priorities" but I'm a bit more concerned about consequences and a rather shallow pool of contingencies to deal with them) right off the bat. But whatever decisions NATO members make they'll carry much more gravity with some show of force (US Carrier fleet, perhaps) present.