Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal leader today has a piece on the situation in Georgia, which is most revealing of the rage being expressed in elevated American circles about Putin’s military build-up in Abkhazia. The WSJ says that this is bringing Georgia to the brink of war, a war which Georgia cannot win if she has to take on Russian might.
The part which tells you that this nasty little confrontation has the potential to become a flashpoint for a more serious and widespread conflict is this part –
The White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley, said last week that Russia should ‘back off’. The West can go further. claims the WSJ. Short of offering explicit security guarantees, NATO could make clear it won’t stand idly by, in case of a Russian attack on Georgia.
There you have it from the horse’s mouth. America, according to Murdoch’s WSJ, apparently could and should be prepared to go to war with Russia.
The WSJ then delves into why this situation in Georgia has come about. Putin claims that the unilateral secession of Kosovo from Serbia provides the precedent for Abkhazia and South Ossetia to secede from Georgia. The WSJ challenges this version of events, saying
As if Mr Putin hasn’t made clear his desire to re-establish a Russian ‘sphere-of-influence’ in the energy rich Caucasus and throughout its near abroad.
The WSJ then blames the Europeans who at the last NATO meeting at Bucharest held back from declaring that Georgia and Ukraine would be offered entry into NATO, in an attempt by the Europeans to pacify Putin. This according to the WSJ offered Putin a green light to press ahead with long-intended moves in his near-abroad.
The WSJ’s strategic analysis differs from the one offered by Stratfor, which gave an assessment of US-Russian relations last month, along the lines that Putin had offered, in his meeting with Bush, to back off from Kosovo and Serbia, on condition that the US and NATO would back off from Georgia and the Ukraine. Bush declined his offer, and immediately pressed ahead with trying to persuade NATO to offer membership to these two former Soviet provinces.
At the NATO meeting in Bucharest last month, the Europeans chose not to back Bush’s attempt to secure Georgia and the Ukraine within NATO, but Putin decided to press ahead regardless with his own countermeasures to show the US that he means business, and is prepared to back up his diplomatic demands with military force.
It seems highly unlikely that NATO will be in any position to contemplate a war with Russia over this issue. NATO is already overextended in Afghanistan and could do with Russian help, not the provision of yet another enemy, and indeed one with a fearsome war-fighting reputation.
The situation will inevitably move from where it is now, with the Americans backing down and not Putin. The Americans would have done much better to shake Putin’s hand and accept the deal he offered only a month ago. Now the West looks like losing Serbia, Kosovo, Georgia and the Ukraine, not to mention the tempers of those who think Bush should have been supported in his expansionary moves by unmilitaristic European nations like France and Germany.
Russia will have to be treated more seriously in future, and Europe less so. America might start to see that it is wasting its time giving such high priority to the European alliance. Europe is pretty irrelevant to any strategic calculation, as it has no willingness to engage its armed forces in any danger. Russia, on the other hand, is willing to take casualties with little sentiment. Russia though might be able to move from being a tricky eastern customer into being a reliable US ally. Henry Kissinger who is influential on such matters, was saying as much (about Russia) only this week.
See ‘USA About To Shift Its European Allegiances’ HERE
A war in Georgia shouldn’t really be needed to demonstrate that Russia intends not to be pushed around by the USA. but if that is what the US feels it wishes to engage in, then it betrays an exraordinary lack of wisdom on the part of the Americans – and indeed on the part of the Wall Street Journal, now controlled by the irascible Rupert Murdoch. His WSJ leader shows a lot of emotion, but little in the way of common sense.
Obama might have a better approach to these issues, and has said he would talk to America’s enemies, not out of weakness but out of wisdom. No wonder Murdoch’s titles have taken up a mostly pro-Clinton stance during the Democratic Primaries.