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Moscow Rules

August 12th, 2008 - 8:25 am

With all respect due to Jerry Pournelle, it is never in America’s interests to let a pro-Western, pro-liberty, pro-capitalism democratic republic fall prey to a bigger bully. This, after all, is the main reason we’ve always stood by Israel, and always will.

No, we won’t be sending American soldiers, or even warplanes, to fight the Russians in the Caucasus. As others have noted, you don’t — can’t — fight continental powers with small numbers of aircraft and air-transportable troops. But there are things we can do, and should.

Forget the UN. Russia has a veto, making that institution useless for a major crisis like this one. Or any major crisis, for that matter. Diplomatically, there isn’t much, or maybe anything, we can do. We could kick Russia out of the G-8 (about time!), but that kind of action makes tokens look valuable. Even hawkish French President Nicolas Sarkozy has caved in record time — no mean feat for a Frenchman. Europe will be of no help, what with Moscow controlling their access to oil and natural gas. The lights are going out all over Europe, indeed.

So what’s left? C’mon, you know the answer. We’ve played this game before, after all. The last time we played was nearly thirty years ago, in the mountains of Afghanistan. We supplied the missiles, and the locals supplied the dead Russians. In the end, a Russian government — an entire empire — dissolved into nothing.

And unless Russia wants to widen the war to Armenia, we’ll always have a route to get supplies in to Georgian freedom fighters.

And if we don’t help? The message is clear: Armenia will fall next, followed by Kazakhstan. And eventually, Ukraine. Meanwhile, Western Europe will learn first hand what “Finlandization” means.

Georgia stood by us in Iraq. Now it’s our turn.

UPDATE: My weekend analysis was totally off. I honestly didn’t expect Putin to be so nakedly aggressive. Why? It seemed that cowing Georgia would be enough. Instead, Vlad the Bad seems intent on restoring Russia to its imperial borders.

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