Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hot Peace

Please forgive the uncharacteristic foray into talking shop; I should return to the regular trivialities shortly.

Today, discussing foreign policy and Russia, Matt says:
There's an obvious deal to be cut here [...]we can return Russia's "near abroad" to Russia in exchange for Russian cooperation on Iran and North Korea, or else we can have a series of standoffs across a wide Eurasian arc.
While we can’t return anything to anybody, we can certainly dilute our support of Georgia and thereby remove one of the vanishingly few obstacles between that small nation and Russia’s heavy hand. Our support is less key to Ukraine, and with Yanukovych grasping at foreign policy reins in Kyiv, Russia can play a very different game there. Ukraine and Russia may work out an accommodative relationship, Georgia and Russia cannot. Gas prices are the latest weapon of choice, winter is coming, and if we’re lucky it will be cold, not hot.

Obviously, my sympathies rest heavily with Georgia. They’ve been given every reason to believe that they have Western—and specifically American—support. We have been the premier cheerleaders of their democratic reforms, we have funded, we have trained-and-equipped, we have lavished high-level diplomatic attention. They reportedly have the highest per-capita troop involvement in Iraq, and (as every cab driver in Tbilisi will point out) they even named the highway from the airport to the city after George W. Bush.

But Russia can stonewall on Iran and North Korea. As Russia continues its punishing policies designed to break Georgia, we can push back to a certain extent—throw some mid-level diplomats over to issue a tongue-lashing—but we will not antagonize them to a degree that would threaten our broader interests in nuclear sanctions. Nor should we, I am very sorry to admit.

We’ve already had a taste of the US inclination to accommodate Russia, in the latest UN Security Council resolution on Georgia. The language was a joke, practically printed on Kremlin stationery, placing the blame for recent escalation squarely on Georgian shoulders and cautioning them sternly to tone down activities in the Upper Kodori Gorge—which is on uncontested Georgian territory. I can understand the necessity of these concessions, and there will be more to come, but I don't have to like it.

There’s much, much more to say but I’ll restrain myself. A depressing situation to be sure – our driving interests as a nation must be elsewhere, but Russia domination of the energy transit corridor across Georgia (transporting Azeri and ultimately Central Asian oil & gas to Europe bypassing Russia) is, let’s say, not what BP is angling for. On a human scale, if sentiments from my friends there are any indication, there is a growing sense that the chance of this generation will be lost, and perhaps this winter.


Post a Comment

<< Home