Russian tanks and airplanes invaded the South Ossetia region of Georgia today. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili refused to tell CNN that his pro-Western nation is at war with Moscow, but it is.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the attack was intended to protect Russians in South Ossetia. The Kremlin’s troops have been stationed in the breakaway region pursuant to a 1992 agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow. Georgia, in the last few days, has launched military operations in the area, which had declared independence early last decade. The international community does not recognize the declaration.
“All sides should bring an immediate end to the violence and engage in direct talks to resolve this matter peacefully,” said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe. I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough. The history of the underlying dispute is exceedingly complex, but the key to understanding what happened today is not. Russia has committed an act of aggression. The West has to force the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops. By now, we know what happens when aggressors are allowed to run free.
President Bush and Prime Minister Putin are, at this moment, in Beijing for the Olympics. So it should be easy for our leader to tell the Russian, in public as well as in private, to get out of Georgia. And this as well: the United States is prepared to cut off diplomatic relations, end trade, and use military force to protect this young democracy.