August 11, 2008

PROF. KENNETH ANDERSON fact-checks The New York Times’ C.J. Chivers on Georgia. “Look: what you’ve offered us is an argument, masquerading as a narrative news story. I’m very interested in arguments, especially on a policy topic as difficult and fraught with risks as this, and I don’t doubt that you have important things to say. But if you want to offer an argument, then, well, argue it. Make claims and then explain the evidence for your premises. You offer us a narrative story that is, let’s be honest, very Moscow-centric, backed by a couple of unnamed US government sources. . . . Mr. Chivers, I don’t doubt you have important things to say about the Russia-Georgia war. So why don’t you report the facts, unadorned, and if you want to argue your opinions, then do so in a plainly stated, argumentative way?”

UPDATE: Okay, I don’t like the Russian invasion of Georgia, and I very much hope that it turns out badly for Putin and his satraps. But in light of people calling for massive U.S. action, it’s worth noting that there isn’t — and never has been — very much that we can do. Look at Georgia on a map, and you’ll see that there’s no easy way to get troops in except by air even if we wanted to, and we can’t fight a war against the Russian Army with only air supply. At any rate, a shooting war with the world’s second biggest nuclear power seems bad — I don’t think we’d have done it even if Georgia had been admitted to NATO, though it’s possible that would have deterred this. If it hadn’t deterred it, though, it would have left NATO in a pretty pickle: Betray the alliance’s key purpose, or . . . start a shooting war with the world’s second biggest nuclear power, over Georgia.

Some thoughts — which I don’t necessarily agree with, but which are worth mentioning — from Jerry Pournelle:

I continue to thank God that Georgia is not yet yet a part of NATO. NATO is an entangling alliance of the sort that George Washington warned us against, and guarantees our involvement in the territorial disputes of Europe. We have no national interest in the independence of Georgia or any portion of it, and we should have no permanent alliances in Europe to begin with. We have as many good reasons to become friends with the new Russian Republic ( Empire if you like) as we do with most of the continental nations; and none of them need an American alliance. If the balance of power in Europe is out of balance, it is due to the new European nation being built there; and that certainly doesn’t need US blood and treasure to defend it.

Russia remains a major nuclear power, and that should not be forgotten. They no longer are part of a criminal conspiracy to take over the world. Their rivalry with China is great and deep, and they have a number of common interests with the United States. Going to war with Russia would be egregiously stupid.

Over at the CounterTerrorism Blog, Walid Phares says something similar.

Of course, if Russia controls the Georgian pipeline routes, it will have more leverage against Europe. But, let’s face it, Europe hasn’t been showing all that much backbone anyway. But hey, if you want decisive action, there’s always the option of making Poland a nuclear power. We can spare some nukes. It’s kinda risky, though . . . .

MORE: Some thoughts from reader Curt Johnson. Click “read more” to see them.

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