Today, the West’s very will is tested. The main thing is if the West fails now, then it will have tremendous consequences for the world for years to come.” So says Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilli.
If he’s right (and I think he is), all indications are that the will of the West has been found wanting. The Bush administration has limited its reaction to a few statements of disapprobation while State Department derriere-coverers rush to assure The New York Times that they counseled Saakashvilli against any military action in South Ossetia, making it seem as if he’s to blame for the Russian invasion of his country.
The administration looks to be debating how it can make its displeasure more manifest. The early signs aren’t hopeful. From the Times: “The Bush administration is expected to cancel a scheduled naval exercise with Russia and to press NATO to prohibit a Russian warship from joining a separate alliance exercise. A cancellation would be the first concrete reprisal against Russia for its military actions in Georgia.”
If we want to make the hard cases in the Kremlin think twice before invading any more countries in the future, we’ll have to do better than that. But many actions we should take (such as kicking Russia out of the G-8 or inviting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO) depend on the consent of our European allies—who, as usual, haven’t been profiles in courage. They’re all too willing to sell out the pesky Georgians to ensure that their homes will be heated in the winter with natural gas from Russia.