Georgia is on my mind. Although the facts are in dispute—they always are when Moscow is involved—it seems clear that a Russian plane entered Georgian airspace on Monday night and fired a missile at a radar station. The Kremlin, absurdly, is suggesting Tbilisi attacked itself. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe confirms there was an intrusion, and there is no evidence supporting Moscow’s version of events. If this sounds familiar, don’t be surprised: Russian helicopters flew over and fired on another part of Georgia in March of this year.
The State Department calls the more recent incident an “attack against Georgia” and says there was a “violation of Georgia’s airspace.” Then it suggests that Georgia and Russia work it out peacefully.
How’s that for an inspiring response from the final guarantor of the world’s democracies? I will skip the if-we-don’t-stop-them-in-Georgia-we-will-only-have-to-fight-them-on-the-Potomac argument and move on to the broader point. Our belief that we need the assistance of other great powers to solve the problems of the world inhibits us from confronting an aggressive Moscow. Yes, in a strict sense, we do need others’ cooperation; unfortunately, we’re not getting it. The last few years show that Russia, China, and their friends do not want to become “responsible stakeholders”—if I may use the State Department’s optimistic term—in the world as it is.
Call it what you wish—World War III, World War IV, or the Long War—but the existing international system is disintegrating. We have to confront the reality that we are already involved in destabilizing competition with other great powers. Not supporting Georgia and other democracies under attack will only hand victory to the aggressors.