What makes Georgia different? Well, it's got less oil, it's democracy isn't all that stable or fair, and, oh yeah, Russia is waaaaaay more intimidating than Saddam Hussein and his SCUD missiles. But if our American principles mean anything (and admittedly, they don't), shouldn't we be standing up for Democracy, to use a cliche? I actually liked this suggestion by Bill Kristol in today's NY Times:
For that matter, consider the implications of our turning away from Georgia for other aspiring pro-Western governments in the neighborhood, like Ukraine’s. Shouldn’t we therefore now insist that normal relations with Russia are impossible as long as the aggression continues, strongly reiterate our commitment to the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, and offer emergency military aid to Georgia?
If you're a developing nation pondering the pros and cons of establishing despotism, or even if you're well on your way towards abuse of your own citizenry, would you consider reforming your government towards openness in order to reap the economic benefits of a free market if you didn't believe you could be backed up by the democracies of the West should a massively powerful neighbor should start to throw its weight around? Of course not. The past and present leaders of Georgia and Ukraine have chosen to take the hard road towards democracy, and they should be rewarded with more than just empty rhetoric.
Am I advocating restarting a Cold War? Not necessarily (although that does seem to be the style of warfare that we're good at, rather than fighting insurgents in urban neighborhoods). But I think we should show a responsive force even if we won't use it, just to show we're serious. Maybe send an aircraft carrier up through the Bosporus into the Black Sea. That is, if we can spare one from our many other conflicts.
On another note, before this week, the word Osset, unfortunately for lazy crossword puzzle constructors like me, was too obscure to put in a puzzle. But now, I'd bet you could get away with it. So, I guess that's one positive about this whole mess.