Well, President Bush has gone beyond words in regards to the United States’ response to the Russian-Georgian conflict, and taken action that declares just where our sympathies lie: US military forces are heading into Georgia now — but for purely humanitarian aid.
This, I have to say, is a stroke of genius.
In the past few years, the American military has earned a tremendous reputation for humanitarian relief. Having learned from the disaster that was Somalia (from the CNN live-broadcasted initial landing through the “Blackhawk Down” fiasco), we’ve gotten considerably better at it. Indeed, it’s become de rigeur to see the US Navy and Marines on the ground before international aid organizations get there.
They have quite a few advantages over groups like Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross. Things like earthquakes and tsunamis tend to devastate infrastructure, and the US military specifically trains to go places where they don’t have infrastructure they can depend on — so they bring and make their own.
This move, as a purely humanitarian action, is a good thing for the people of Georgia.
More importantly, it also puts US forces on the scene, symbolizing our commitment to Georgia.
Most importantly, they are there in a purely non-combatant role, in areas that the Russians themselves have said they have no interest in going to.
It’s a balanced, measured, and deliberate move, designed to prevent further escalation. As I said — genius.
As is normal, Austin Bay has some of the best thoughts on the situation. A lot of what he says makes a lot of sense.
And I’m going to go along with the thoughts others have put forth — we should seriously consider helping the former Soviet slave states set up a “mini-NATO.” They have the common interest — staying the hell out of Russian domination — and, together, they can pose a significant challenge to any Russian ambitions.
The danger there is that Russia — I think they might have invented the concept of paranoia — might see that as not a defensive alliance, but an offensive one, and react accordingly.
It’s an ugly situation, and getting uglier. I don’t know what the ideal solution is, or even if there is one.
But I do think that so far, President Bush is taking the right tack. I just hope he’s right.