11 August 2008

John McCain on the Russia-Georgia Conflict

I used to lean toward voting for McCain because I thought he'd be a better foreign policy president than Obama. I've begun to doubt that, and now there's this:
Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations, withdraw all forces from the sovereign territory of Georgia," McCain told reporters in Iowa.
Well, yes, we all wish that would happen. But does McCain not realize that Georgia chose to escalate the fighting in South Ossetia? And more importantly, does he not realize that it was Russian citizens in South Ossetia who were being attacked by Georgian forces? Would McCain, as president, unconditionally withdraw if American citizens were being targeted?

Here's Barack Obama's comment on the issue:
Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected. All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.
I think he misses the point that Georgia's territorial integrity is quite a debatable issue, and like McCain, that it was Georgia that ratcheted up the level of conflict.

The quotes are from Foreign Policy Passport, which argues that the war is Russia's way of keeping Georgia to unstable to join NATO. Given how little enthusiasm Russia has for NATO expanding not just to its doorstep but into former USSR territory-- of which Putin, et. al, probably hope to eventually regain control--I'm inclined to agree. That's why it was particularly stupid move for Georgian president Saakashvili, who seems to have belatedly figured that out.

Bush, fortunately, said he was "firm" with Putin, when they spoke at the Olympics. The crisis hasn't taken up too much of his time, however, and I imagine he was firm in this Olympic encounter as well.Does anyone else get the impression that he's not taking this conflict seriously? Does he not realize the significance, or has he already checked out of the job of America's foreign policy leader?


Scott Hanley said...

As if further radicalizing the Middle East isn't a bad enough legacy. But where are the Europeans standing on the Russia-Georgia war? They have a pretty huge stake in this, too.

James Hanley said...

The Europeans are appalled, but, as always, waiting for American leadership. Being still a collection of only semi-organized states without a continental foreign polic leader, they are institutionally too weak to do much more than protest.

But with U.S. leadership, their size and relative unanimity becomes considerably more formidable.

At least that's my shoot-from-the-hip analysis.

James K said...

Its also worth remembering that Europe can't do anything without American assistance anyhow. The European armies rely on American logistical support, without it basically none of them can project power far beyond their own borders.