Two opinion pieces from the Wall Street Journal today. The first from Garry Kasparov. He is now leader of The Other Russia coalition and spoke to how the West has been a source of Putin's "sense of impunity." He raises the point that though Sardozy went to Moscow to broker the first ceasefire agreement Tuesday, it was France that opposed America's push to get Georgia into NATO last April.
The war between Georgia and Russia has some gray areas, such as the past movement into South Ossetia but the leader, Saakashvili is embracing Western style democracy and reaching out to the free world for support. His is an interesting personal story. Educated in American universities and after practicing law in NYC, he returned to his country to work for freedom.
"The conflict also threatens to poison Russia's relationship with Europe and America for years to come. Can such a belligerent state be trusted as the guarantor of Europe's energy supply? Republican presidential candidate John McCain has been derided for his strong stance against Mr. Putin, including a proposal to kick Russia out of the G-8. Will his critics now admit that the man they called an antiquated cold warrior was right all along?"
Kasparov ends with this: "The blood of those killed in this conflict is on the hands of radical nationalists, thoughtless politicians, opportunistic oligarchs and the leaders of the Free World who value gas and oil more than principles. More lives will be lost unless strong moral lines are drawn to reinforce the shattered lines of the map."
Our next President must be a man of sound, timely judgement. Not one who starts out meekly and moves to the moral, right stance. Even President Bush was slow off the mark on this one.
Another good read was one by David Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, The Kremlin's 'Protection' Racket. "Moscow's sudden embrace of a "limited sovereignty" for Georgia doesn't square with Russia's own previous protestations about the sanctity of its sovereignty and stubborn insistence that it was free to act on its own soil as it saw fit. Moscow's concern about alleged atrocities and genocide is also preposterous in light of the Russian government's callous indifference to the very real genocides conducted by its allies in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, and in Rwanda and Darfur -- not to mention Moscow's own exceptionally brutal military campaigns in Chechnya."
Let's not forget Georgia had 2,000 soldiers in the U.S. led coalition when the fighting broke out.
I watched the press conference held by Secretary Rice and President Saakashvili after both Russia and Georgia signed off on the latest agreement - a 6 part ceasefire accord. Rice called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and equipment from Georgia. Hasn't happened yet and may not if Russia continues on with this plan. It must have been strange for Rice to get in the middle of all this. She's a Russian expert and now finds her position as one of supporting the other nation in this conflict. The days of President Bush looking into the eyes of Putin and seeing a friend are long gone. They are now the days of what John McCain has said all along - when he looks into Putin's eyes he sees KGB. With the Russian nation flush with oil profits the leadership no longer feels the need to show a congenial facade.
In Tbilisi today, Saakashvili said, "Freedom's light will never die here. 1921 will never repeat here." "I thought former KGB was gone; I was wrong." "I want my country to shine and go back on its feet like never before."
Rice said, "We need international observers here fast." "This is no longer 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia."
The American administration so frequently criticized for unilateral action - seen by supporters as strong leadership and by detractors as Imperial actions - is firmly leading a multinational accord in support of Georgia's continued existence as a free country. Humanitarian missions led by the U.S. military are underway. Who was the first nation called upon by Georgia in their time of need? Yes, it was the United States.
It's always the United States, despite the non-stop declarations of bitter partisans that our country is so 'hated' by Europe and the world. Nonsense.
Rivkin and Casey conclude; "American credibility is very much at stake here. If a true friend of the United States -- an ancient country already twice annexed by Moscow in the past two centuries, a democracy that has enthusiastically reached out to NATO and the European Union, and even sent troops to fight in Iraq -- can be snuffed out without concrete action by Washington, America's friendship will quickly lose its value and America's displeasure would matter even less. The repercussions would be felt world-wide, from the capitals of New Europe, to Jerusalem, Kabul and Baghdad."