Quote of the Day

While America has a legitimate concern in encouraging former Soviet states to develop into market democracies, there is no intrinsic economic or strategic American vital interest in Georgia per se and even less in South Ossetia. Georgia is our ally for only two reasons: Tblisi was enthusiastic to send troops to help in Iraq in return for military aid and it occupies a strategic location for oil and gas pipelines that will meet future European energy needs. In other words, Georgia’s role is of a primary strategic interest to the EU, not the United States. Which is why European and British companies have such a large shareholder stake in the BTC pipeline and why European FDI in Georgia exceeds ours. Yet it will be American troops in Georgia handing out bottled water and MREs, not the Bundeswehr or the French Foreign Legion. Something does not compute here.

Mark Safranski, a/k/a Zenpundit.

Mark has an excellent post on Pajamas Media entitled Let’s Not Rush into Cold War II, which the quote above comes from. RTWT.

See also a post on his site with additional comments and links.

And congratulations to Mark on the Pajamas Media gig. Nice.

13 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. Can’t understand why anybody feels the need to write articles about not rushing into Cold War II or not upsetting Russia. We are in Cold War II and have been for some years and nobody is about to upset Russia.

  2. Russia is very capable of upsetting herself, as in old, tried and true game of “looking for scapegoat” to distract from interior problems.

  3. I will believe we are in Cold War II when the 8th Guards Army is back, ready to roll down through the Fulda Gap, when the Soviet Navy is ready to cut our sea lanes of communication to NATO, when communism, led by and from Moscow, is a major ideological force for Western intellectuals, when the whole world is afraid of major new classes of Soviet ballistic missiles like the SS20, when the Red Army is capable of doing a minor operation like Georgia without exerting itself, when Soviet science and engineering are a major factor in a global arms race, and a factor to be feared, when Eastern Europe is ruled by handpicked Soviet puppet regimes which operate police states.

    This simply is not Cold War II.

    Russia is a bad actor. It is a violent, lawless country. Its leadership are a bunch of thugs. They murder their political opponents at home and abroad. Violence is a first resort for them, whenever they think they can get away with it. These are bad things we need to be serious about. Russia presents many serious problems which we are not responding to coherently.

    But it is not the Cold War all over again. Things are bad enough in the world without imagining things to be worse than they are.

  4. Lex,

    Sorry but that is a very limited way of looking at what the Cold War might be, both geographically and politically. As it happens Edward Lucas was right in his book “The New Cold War”. Sure this is different. History never repeats itself exactly, as you know. But do go on believing that everything is fine and the last Cold War was won and the peace has not been lost. The trouble is, everything becomes much more complicated the further you go along the path of feeling safe, secure and self-satisfied. It all looks very different from this side of the Pond but, I guess, that does not matter.

  5. “Can’t understand why anybody feels the need to write articles about not rushing into Cold War II”

    It’s a relatively simple motivation on my part. Because ntervening in Georgia and ramping up a conflict with Russia over South Ossetia when the United States has other fish to fry – starting with a war in Afghanistan and Iraq – is not in the best interests of my country.

  6. Fair enough, Mark sorry, Zenpundit, but I see no rush to intervene in Georgia in any way. Absolutely nobody is suggesting military intervention but there are many other ways of letting Russia know that this is just a tad unacceptable. The point here, I think, is that a Russia that feels free to bully and beat up its neighbours is not precisely in your country’s interests either. The more one appeases the more difficult future containment becomes.

  7. “But do go on believing that everything is fine …”

    Ah, not fair, Helen.

    Did you read what I wrote?

    Did I say anything remotely like “everything is fine?”

    The world is a dangerous place. Everything is not fine.

    Nor are we in a new Cold War.

  8. Wasn’t it General Petain that complained that the British would defend France to the last drop of French blood? Well we can turn that right around and say that today surly the operative maxim is that the Europeans will defend their interests to the last drop öf American blood–or am I missing something here?

  9. Helen–You say, ” It all looks very different from this side of the Pond…”

    Are town squares all over Britain filling up with alarmed residents demanding that their taxes be raised to finance a bigger defense establishment? How about on the continent?

    How is it the duty of Nebraskans and Tenneseeans and Californians to take the steps you want taken but not Yorkshiremen or Burgundians or Rhinelanders? Have Virginians a duty in this matter that Tuscans don’t have?

  10. I think I have already made it quite clear that I do not think it is the duty or even the privilege of any American to step into the Russia-Georgia imbroglio. Above all, I am saying it for the third time: nobody is suggesting military intervention. I shall not say it again. As it happens, I do not think a Russia that thinks it can bully its smaller neighbours with impunity is that helpful to the United States but that’s not really my problem. And yes, I do think our governments should get a lot tougher with Russia. No need for military intervention, though. I actually said it on the BBC Russian Service as well, so my chance of going to that country are now roughly nil.

    As for people thronging squares and demanding war, the last time that happened in Britain and Europe was in 1914 (America wisely did not get involved till 1917 and, in practical terms, 1918). The outcome of that was a disaster for Europe and, subsequently, other continents, though not North America. So, I hope we shall not see anything like that again.

  11. Oh, come off it Helen! Who said anything about Europe’s populations demanding war? No more was suggested than that they might be alarmed enough to countenance tax increases towards larger defense establishments.

    After all, it is you who claim that “we are in Cold War II…”

    For years Americans have noted the precipitously declining defense capabilties of Britain and the continental nations, and if, as you say, the view of the Georgian matter is more alarming for those of you much closer to it, then how is it inapposite to ask if those Europeans whom you say feel so uneasy about recent Russian moves might now urge their own governments to boost defense spending and fullfill their defense responsibilties to their own citizens?

    I find myself wondering why you think our ancestors left Europe, crossed a large dangerous ocean, and started new lives?

    Could you imagine, I wonder, that we went through such hardship in order to be in a better position to defend the countries we had left? To defray their defense expenditures?

    If we are just going to end up being forever pressed into responsiblity for the regions we fled–or nudged or cajoled or scolded–what was the point of leaving in the first place?

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