The Corner

Subject: Russia

A friend e-mails a suggestion: 

Rich — one more suggestion to consider regarding Russia/Georgia:  the Russians are very pleased with the existence of the NATO-Russia Council, which gives them a seat at NATO HQ and an ambassador to NATO.  (Much easier to have an official ID card to get into NATO HQ for the purpose of causing mischief than to have to get their FSB agents to sneak in.) But the creation and continued existence of the NATO-Russia Council was based upon good Russian behavior, to include non-interference in the affairs of their neighbors.  Seems that either these conditions are no longer operative, or NATO hasn’t quite realized that Russia is engaged in consciously violating the very reasons for the existence of the NATO-Russia Council.  The Russians should be put on notice that immediate and full withdrawal of their troops, along with appropriate reparations to the Georgians, will be necessary if the NATO-Russia Council is to continue.

 ME: Here’s my take today.  Good pieces on the crisis today are, of course, Peters and Will, noted in the web briefing. Also, this piece by Svante Cornell in the New York Times and John O’Sullivan’s piece in the Globe and Mail. John makes an important point for those pointing to Kosovo’s independence as a provocation: 

Moscow apparently calculates that its brute seizure of another country’s territory can be disguised as a “peacekeeping” operation to prevent “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” by the Georgians. A sophisticated press operation to popularize this mendacious “narrative” is being mounted internationally and at home. Initially it found a hearing among those Western commentators for whom any enemy of George Bush or his friends must be in the right.

It has been widely argued, for instance, that Putin’s recognition of South Ossetia was a response to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the US and the EU. Since Russia has been helping the secessionists for sixteen years, this would make Russia’s response a unique event in the history of the Universe: the first occasion on which an effect preceded its own cause.

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