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Russia/Georgia Conflict Requires Hard Diplomatic Choices


For those who, like me, are looking for a more comprehensive but still layman-oriented analysis of the Russian/Georgian military conflict, check out Charles King’s article in the Christian Science Monitor. Basically, we’re witnessing two nations making very poor decisions. I think King hits on the raw truth of this conflict when he writes:

Russia illegally attacked Georgia and imperiled a small and feeble neighbor. But by dispatching his own ill-prepared military to resolve a secessionist dispute by force, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has managed to lead his country down the path of a disastrous and ultimately self-defeating war.

What I believe we’re dealing with is one of those foreign policy challenges where there are no good solutions, just bad solutions with varying consequences. We can’t let Russian aggression go on without condemnation but neither can we afford to get ourselves involved in a war (even a war-by-proxy) with Russia. What we need is a quick end to the conflict. We can hope Russia and Georgia come to a resolution on their own or we can be proactive and make the kind of hard diplomatic choices the situation requires.

George Bush and his administration will have to handle this conflict. But I will be watching closely the comments of Barack Obama and John McCain. So far, Obama has seemed scattered in his response and McCain has seemed bellicose. But they will both have more opportunities to comment on the conflict. It’ll be interesting to see if either are willing to discuss hard, real-world choices or if both are content to speak broadly and avoid details.