Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Russia Calls It Off

I am relieved to hear the Russia has called off its invasion of Georgia, although whether actions on the ground will match the words emanating from Moscow remains to be seen. But I am very, very depressed at the pusillanimous reaction to Russian aggression in what used to be called the Free World. Far too many are rushing to blame the victims. A perfect example of this mindset is this column by Newsweek‘s Michael Hirsch. He begins, “There is no excusing Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Georgia,” but then he proceeds to offer one excuse after another. “Since the cold war ended,” he writes, “the United States has been pushing the buttons of Russian frustration and paranoia by moving ever further into Moscow’s former sphere of influence. And we have rarely stopped to consider whether we were overreaching, even as evidence mounted that the patience of a wealthier and more assertive Russia was wearing very thin.”

Andrew Sullivan (as Peter has noted) expresses more fear of supposed neocon warmongering than of actual Russian war-waging. He writes:

My only fear at this point is that . . . we may goad the Bushies and neocons into finding some kind of military escalation that would bring in the US. The US has no rational basis to be as committed to Georgia as Russia is; and has very little moral standing to protest an invasion of a sovereign country.

This is very much the prevailing sentiment in Western Europe, where the elites think the current fighting was the fault of the Georgian government for daring to challenge the Russian bear. This Wall Street Journal article offers telling examples:

“In the minds of the Western European countries, Georgia has been rash “in trying to take control of South Ossetia through military force, said Sergio Romano, a former Italian ambassador to NATO and Moscow. “This will harden attitudes” in France, Germany and Italy.

Georgia’s military move last week was “not terribly wise,” said one U.K. official, who declined to be named.

There is no doubt that Georgia’s president, Mikhail Saakashvili, has made miscalculations. Certainly he did not intend for Russian troops to overrun a good chunk of his country. Perhaps he shouldn’t have responded to Russian provocations at all, but at some point Russian incursions would have become intolerable, with Georgian sovereignty lost bit by bit. The Kremlin clearly was spoiling for war, and it got what it wanted. Blaming the Georgians for not doing a better job of appeasing Moscow is akin to blaming the Czechs for not doing a better job of appeasing Berlin over the Sudeten Germans. Everyone understands the dangers of appeasement–but only in retrospect. In the present day it’s alive and well.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.