Commentary Magazine


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Russia’s Winning

Russian has turned away international aid convoys carrying flour, pasta, and sugar to Georgian villages. Russian forces have also stopped the ambassadors of Sweden, Latvia and Estonia from going past Russian “peacekeeping” checkpoints into Georgian territory. Most worrisome, Russia has just announced plans to base anti-submarine aircraft and a nuclear warship in Venezuela “temporarily,” before the end of the year. Putin and Medvedev are ratcheting up their rogue behavior at lightning speed, while NATO and the EU are still struggling to formulate an effective response to the initial invasion of nearly a month ago. And has anyone even seen our President lately?

If you think the international community can handle things, consider this:

“We tried to do a preliminary humanitarian assessment mission. It didn’t work out today as we would have hoped, and we will make every effort to continue to conduct such missions in the future,” David Carden, who was leading the interagency mission by the World Food Program, UNICEF and the U.N. refugee agency, told The Associated Press.

Which is practically a declaration of war compared to this:

“Unfortunately they sent us back, so we will try something else,” [Wolfgang Gressman, an emergency response adviser to CARE International] told AP.

A strange and counterproductive psychology continues to prevent the U.S. from taking bold action against Russia’s move to reestablish itself as a global threat to freedom and democracy. There is a fear that if we respond decisively to Russian aggression, Russia won’t lend us much-needed support in various crises, particularly Iran’s quest to build nuclear weapons. I’ll say it again: Russia has just announced plans to base anti-submarine aircraft and a nuclear warship in Venezuela “temporarily,” before the end of the year. For doing nothing we’re already suffering the consequences we feared would come from acting. The only historical analogy to our state of denial I can think of comes, actually, from Russia. As Hitler’s troops got as close as fifteen miles away from Moscow, Stalin still refused to believe such an attack could ever really take place. Here’s Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Fried sounding like some social worker brought in by Dr. Phil to resolve a household spat:

The first order of business should not be some sort of punishment. Russia has to decide how much it wants to isolate itself from the world. We don’t want to have a bad relationship with Russia. We’ve never wanted that.

What has he been watching? Russia isn’t isolating itself from the world; it’s spreading out, putting up its feet ,and making itself at home in several hemispheres. Iran, Syria, its own neighbors, and now Venezuela: We should be so isolated. Who do we have in this match-up? Europe, who begs for our help but is too petrified to receive it.

It’s worth noting that when the first American destroyer, the USS McFaul, loaded with aid for Georgians, docked in the Black Sea port of Batumi two weeks ago, Russians whined and postured – but they didn’t turn us away. That’s American power, and we need to use it. When ships show up from the “International” this or the “World” that, you can bet Putin’s thugs will turn them around and get back to demanding food and drink of terrified Georgian civilians. It’s easy to act like a big shot when you don’t have to stand up to the U.S. Why are we making it so easy on Russia?