The Corner

Russian Statecraft

Patience…

We are a little more than a week into the crisis, and already Russia has already gotten itself more than just fights with Georgia—but also issued creepy threats to Poland over missiles, and to the Ukraine over naval bases. Putin has galvanized into panic most of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, prompted a radical change of policy in the United States, and embarrassed its once sure support from the appeasement bloc of the European Union. What will next week bring? A Georgian insurgency, replete with stingers, anti-tank guns, and ieds? Increased arms sales to the former republics? Tougher talk from Obama?

Meanwhile who can figure out the politics here at home? Bush—who inherited (and continued a policy) from Clinton of expanding NATO to the east, integrating the former Soviet republics into the West, and isolating Serbia—is to be criticized both for doing too much in poking the Russian Bear while, being mesmerized by Putin’s eyes, not doing enough to help Georgia?

Once again for the Left, if it is a question of supporting Democratic states and those in them from tyrants—or finding new creative ways of blaming the United States first—well, the answer is a no-brainer.

And from paleos one expected a sort of ‘Georgia’s bigmouth stuck his neck in a noose, so let him hang’ , but the near gleeful admiration for the way ‘ole Putin ‘took care of business’ in his backyard was over the top even for them.

Obama initially sounded like the therapeutic high-school principal and his ‘zero-tolerance’ doctrine of moral equivalence ias he expels both the victim and the bully; but his calls for UN solutions, talks with equally at fault parties, and apparent trust in the wisdom of the EU and the power of NATO may not just scare Eastern Europeans but even those 200,000 who deified him at Berlin. (But in fairness, they were warned when Obama lectured them that the “world” had saved Berlin during the airlift rather than the US Air Force.) Nothing is scarier for a Western European than to be praised for his sophisticated dipomacy as a prelude to being asked to lead on his own in times of crises.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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