Russias brutal invasion of Georgia is seen by some as a cry for respectlike a shout in the darkness, The Bear is not dead, it was merely hibernating. But now that the dastardly deed is in progress, how the world deals with Russia will set the tone for future imperialist schemes.
Georgia is a small nationabout the size and population of South Carolinain the Caucasus region of Asia. It became independent during the breakup of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) following the Cold War. Since then, Russia has supported two break-away regions within Georgia: Abkhazia on the coast of the Black Sea and Ossetia in the middle of its northern border with Russia.
On August 7, the fighting started in Ossetia. Well, at least the shooting and killing started then. Georgia had been under an intense cybernetic attack since July. While its difficult to prove, much of the attack appears to have come from Russia. It was the cyber-equivalent of a blockade of Georgia. No cyber-business or commerce in or out of the cyber-portsthe government was cyber-crippled. Then kinetic shots were fired, a few people died, and Georgia reacted.
Their reaction against the Ossetia separatist forces was the moral high ground Russia needed to launch their invasion of Georgia. They just happened to have hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers ready to roll. Probably just a coincidence.
The Georgian forces were chased out of Ossetia but the Russians kept coming across into the rest of Georgia. They quickly took control of the air and their invading army was free-to-attack and free-from-attack by the diminutive Georgian air force. The United States has officially denounced the invasion, telling Russia to return to their August 6 positions.
Russia has sent various mixed messages. They said they would stop, but they didnt. They said they had stopped, but they hadnt. They said it was just like 9-11, but it wasnt. They say theyre merely defending the independence of Southern Ossetia. Defending as they leveled buildings across Georgia, bombed airports and pipelines. They call their forces peacekeepers. Theyre acting a bit like the old USSR did, invading any of their occupied nations when resistance stood-up. Hungary in 1956. Chechoslovokia in 1968. But our Secretary of State reminded the world today that things had changed.
This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it.
Wow! Smart, beautiful, and tough.
But the toughest stuff is yet to happen. If the world is not shown that those words she spoke are true, millions of people could suffer. If Russia can invade and gobble up Georgia, why not the Ukraine? If Russia can have Georgia and Ukraine, why cant China invade and conquer Taiwan? Once Taiwan goes, the United States will no longer be creditable as a superpower. Our allies would never take a chance on siding with us, because we will be seen as hollow and worthless.
Now, theres a change we dont want.
So what do we do? We need solutions not just criticism.
First of all, every member of NATO needs to publicly denounce Russias action. They need to make similar statements as our President and Secretary of State have. In an election year everyone seems to have some words to say but this challenge will either be fixed or brokenmaybe beyond repair before January 2009. The official opinions of the NATO members need to be congruent with the official opinion of the United States.
That opinion must include, “[We] stand with the democratically elected government of Georgia. We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.”
If the members of NATO cant do that one simple thing–and do it quickly–then NATO has outlived any usefulness. NATO would need to either expel the dead weight or the United States would need to resign. I think NATO can belly-up-to-the-bar on this in the next day or at the most two.
That might be all it takes. But maybe not. What if Russia calls the bluff? What then?
Well first of all, its not a bluff. NATO would need to declare a no-fly zone over the entire country of Georgia. The Russian ground force would no longer be protected by an airpower umbrella. They would be subject to attack. Georgian forces defending their towns would have the freedom to maneuver for positional advantage. The Russian response would determine what would happen next. Columns of T-80s are no match for what could come their way. And if Russia pushed NATO in the air, there would be a new generation of Aces to put on playing cards for years to come.
NATO would only have to press as hard as was required, remembering the objective would be to stop Russian aggressionnot kill them all. Ironically, we would be teaching the Russians how to respond with appropriate force. Some lessons are tougher than others.
But could this lead to a nuclear war? Would the Russians respond with nuclear weapons, forcing NATO nations to depopulate the Russian homeland? It could. But it wont.
Vladimir Putins job pays a lot better than most. Hes the richest man in Europe, maybe the world. Hes also the Russian decision-maker. And he cares about himselfdoesnt smoke or drink to excesshas two well-educated daughters, has a lovely wife, and a little poodle named Tosca. Life is good for him. He doesnt want a big war between Russia and NATO anymore than America does. But he does want more.
We just have to convince him that less is more. The less Russia invades its neighbors the more airplanes Russia will have.
What about the people of Southern Ossetia? Russia is just helping those people to have their liberty and independence, right? Okay, lets solve that problem too.
The people of Southern Ossetia are said to have a culture tied to the people of Northern Ossetia (a province in Russia). What do you say we have Georgia and Russia let all the Ossetia people have their liberty. The two regions could be united and allowed to be a sovereign, independent country. Maybe after a while they too, would like to join NATO.
It just makes sense.
I said just an old sweet song,
Keeps Georgia on my mind