ANSWERS FOR COMMENTERS ON THE PREVIOUS POST: WHAT WILL WE DO ABOUT GEORGIA?

In the previous post, I was visited by three commenters.  When it became apparent the response would be lengthy, I decided to make it a post.

Response to MB’s comment – My biases are what they are, but anyone who reads your post can figure out the reference to old men.  The first post provided as recommended reading Georgia: A Reality Check for the Left because it is addressed to the left.

Response to James’ comment – I read your post.  Usually I find what you write well informed and interesting, and that was the case with this post.  Unfortunately, the post sounds to me like an argument for moral relativism.  While I suppose Putin’s invasion of Georgia could be easily construed as an exercise in Realpolitik, that hardly justifies it.  Realpolitik is essentially amoral.

Wrong is wrong.  Allowing Putin to engage in cold blooded and calculated exercise in Realpolitik is wrong.  So long as Putin wants to enforce dictatorship, I don’t give a hoot if what he wants is Realpolitik.  Even when power mad dictators are guided by the “ethics” of Realpolitik, any belief they will behave in a manner we might regard a reasonable is worthless.   Their goal is power.  The influence of such men must be fought and contained.

We must be guided by our ethics, not Putin’s.  Acceding to Putin’s demands means allowing him to stifle any democracy in Russia’s sphere of influence.    After all, would not any such democracy be a natural ally of the United States? 

Consider your definition of luck, Russia falling back and just keeping Abkasia (Sp) in addition to South Ossetia.  If Putin falls back and just keeps Abkasia (Sp) in addition to South Ossetia, it will not be luck.  It will because we choose to resist and make Putin pay for his attempts at conquest.

Response to Sam’s comment – It is apparent you did not like what wrote.  Why is unclear. 

Your comment about about the Indians was uninformed.  Early settlers untentionally wiped out larged numbers of Indians with disease.  The rest they overcame with guns and steel (See Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, a 1997 book by Jared Diamond.).  So the situation is not analogous.

I found your suggestion about calculating Georgia’s and Russia’s annual military spending more interesting so I decided to take your advice.

  • Georgia‘s military spending = ( %GDP x GDP ) / 100% = ( 0.59% x $10.29 billion ) / 100% = 0.061 billion
  • Russia‘s military spending = ( %GDP x GDP ) / 100% = (3.9% x $1286 billion) / 100% = 50.2 billion

Given the relative differences in military spending are much greater than the population differences, I concede the amount spent does contribute to a better understanding of why Georgia is unable to halt Russia’s military advance.  Obviously, Georgia never seriously considered the possibility of throwing its military weight around.  On the other hand, it is obvious that Russia has.

Your suggestions about maps and such is nice, but there are blogs specifically dedicated to strategic-level warfare and detailing the geopolitical consequences.  I am not trying to compete with those blogs.  This a local blog is dedicated to politics, and my suggestion was political.  I want to motivate everyone to write their congressman. 

Although Georgia is a small nation, the consequences of its overthrow by Russian tanks is no small matter.  If the smaller natiions around Russia cannot count upon world support, they must acquire the means to defend themselves.  What means will they seek?  I think the likely solution they will seek is nuclear weapons.

WHAT WILL WE DO ABOUT GEORGIA?

Russia invaded Georgia the day before a weekend. Russia invaded Georgia the day before the 2008 Olympic Games. Russia invaded Georgia when 80 world leaders were in China and far away from their home nations (see here). Coincidence? Not likely.

Imagine being a world leader and far away from most of the people you rely upon for advice.  Even communicating with other world leaders is awkward.  Even though everyone is in the same place, private communications are difficult.  So what do you do?  Even though time is of the essence, you hesitate.   

What does this say about the situation? It says Russia cares what we think. As much as possible, Russia wants to mug Georgia without interference.   Consider, for example, how the Russian stock market reacted.

Russian stock markets fell further today as traders reacted to the continuing conflict in Georgia. Two benchmark Russian share indexes hit their lowest levels in nearly two years.

In the first 15 minutes of trade, Russia’s benchmark RTS index fell 4.24pc to 1,649.75, its lowest level since November 2006. The MICEX index hit an intraday low of 1,282.38, its lowest level since September 2006.  (see here)

What we are looking at is a lopsided contest.  Georgia has about 4,630,841 (July 2008 est.) people whereas Russia has about 140,702,094 (July 2008 est.).  Georgia‘s only hope is the support of other nations.   Georgia has every right to expect the world to support its claim to sovereignty. 

There is, of course, the immorality of other nations watching a bully behave as a bully and doing nothing.  We can say there is nothing we can do, but we know that is not true.  Isn’t that why Russia invaded when they hoped to catch everyone off guard?   Keep in mind that our stock market is climbing.  It is the Russian stock market that got cold feet.

There is also a matter of self-interest.  Consider that the Russia we know today came into existence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As a result Russia is surrounded by a bunch of smaller nations, the former victims of the Soviet Union.  These are new nations just now learning how to govern themselves as independent entities.  These nations include: 

  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Moldova 
  • Georgia 
  • Armenia 
  • Azerbaijan 
  • Kazakhstan 
  • Uzbekistan 
  • Turkmenistan 
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan 
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia 

Most of these nations directly border Russia.  In fact, many nations border Russia.  If Russia gets away with invading Georgia, what lesson do you think Russia‘s neighbors will learn?  Do think that they will find nuclear weapons far more attractive?

So what can we do?  There are ideas and blogs discussing them.  I suggest you consider what you are hearing and then write your congressman.  Tell him or her to get to work.  When all is said and done there is only one question.  Do we have the will to act?

Other Views

The right-wing liberal has several posts on this subject.  Here he reviews What America can do for Georgia.

Bear Drift’s Chris O explains Why Georgia Matters.

Blacknell warns against a military confrontation (here).  He seeks to rally the Left against old men starting wars.

Rick Sincere News and Thoughts offers an odd observation (here).

The Armchair Generalist blames the victim, the Bush Administration, Cheney, and perhaps Putin (see here).

QandO observes The Bear Resurgent while SWAC Girl asks Is the old U.S.S.R. returning?