Demanding Justice in Georgia
A monstrous horror is unfolding before our eyes in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, now struggling to become a member of the democratic fraternity of nations and to free itself from decades of Russian-Soviet oppression. How the West responds to this challenge will decide in large part the way in which our children and theirs will live their lives. We must not fail them, as we have done before.
As Reuters reported last Wednesday:
Georgia wants to join NATO but the alliance's constitution says a country cannot become a member if there are conflicts within its borders, and Tbilisi has two. The breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions fought wars against Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Their declarations of independence have not been internationally recognized but Moscow gives them moral and financial support.Once Georgia becomes a member of NATO, Russia will lose all hope of launching a military action to seize it back as a slave state, as it was in Soviet times, and it will become much more difficult, if not impossible, to use economic means to destabilize it. In order to block Georgia's ascension into NATO, Russia is actively fomenting upheaval in both Abkhazia and Ossetia -- doing things in those regions that it specifically demanded other countries not do in Chechnya. To put it simply, peace in Ossetia and Abkhazia is not in Russia's interests, and Russia has done everything it can to make sure it does not occur -- no matter how much hypocrisy it commits in the process. To put it even more simply, Russia is trying to use NATO's own constitution against it. That must be stopped.
Russia has routinely reached into Abkhazia and Ossetia in order to stir their boiling pots, but most recently its actions escalated dramatically, beyond the point of no return.
As shown in the map at left, on August 8th Russian planes not only plunged repeatedly into Ossetia but, when they came under fire from Georgian partisans, flew out of Ossetia and into the heart of Georgia, jettisoning a missile as part of their evasive maneuvers that landed near the Georgian hamlet of Tsitelubani.
In a characteristic display of brazen dishonesty and craven cowardice, eerily reminiscent of what occurred in the aftermath of the Litvinenko killing (and at many other times during Russia's sordid history), the Kremlin tried to deny any involvement, claiming the Georgians had bombed themselves in order to make Russia look bad. Their pathetic Keystone Cops display would have been humorous if so much were not at stake. Laying to rest all doubt, as if Russia could possibly be trusted, as we reported last week, when an international team of experts was dispatched by Europe to investigate, they quickly made mincemeat of the Russian lies and formally concluded that the warplane was Russian and had made multiple incursions into Georgian airspace. Still, no apology from Russia.
If Georgia had a NATO base, then sophisticated American fighter jets would have been scrambled to meet the Russian incursion based on sophisticated radar warning systems, and the Russian pilot would never have made it back to his "rodina." He would have been blown of out the sky, as he should have been, as Russia would do to any plane that attempted such actions in Russian air space. But Russia feels it can act with abandon against Georgia because it is small and relatively helpless country that the West has not yet fully brought within its protection. How Russia, the largest country in the world by far, could be so desperate to get even more territory is something that only a Russian can possibly understand (though it may have something to do with the fact that Russia knows full well it can't possibly defend its Siberian territory from Chinese incursions).
In other words, Russia is a craven, cowardly bully. Everyone in the world with the least bit of horse sense knows there is only one way to deal with a person like that. Serve him a knuckle sandwich. A whole plateful, if necessary.
So Georgia must have a NATO base, and that means it must have NATO membership. Right now. NATO was not created to implement a set of arbitrary rules and regulations about what sort of country is "fit" to join. It was created to protect us from the threats of our enemies -- most specifically Russia (in its former guise as the USSR). NATO must do whatever is necessary to bring Georgia immediately within its fold of protection and to tell Russia, in no uncertain terms: Hands off, or else. Turkey is a member of the 26-nation NATO contingent. Turkey, as shown above, shares a long land border with Georgia. It's militarily insane to leave Turkey's flank unnecessarily exposed in this manner. The Olympics are scheduled to be held in 2014 within walking distance of Georgia's northern border. Are we going to send our young athletes into a meat grinder?
Any other response than to immediately bring Georgia into NATO would be tantamount to the way the Allies handled Hitler in the early going of World War II, just after he grabbed Czechoslovakia. The Allies thought Hitler would be satisfied with this burnt offering, and then suddenly there was Poland.
When compared to the vital, vibrant democracies of Europe and North America, Russia is a pathetically weak and disorganized country with a ridiculous sham for a military and a cosmic joke of an economy. It's political system is nothing short of medieval. But it can still wreck havoc in a small country like Georgia if nobody stops it, and it might grow stronger if left unfettered before, as the USSR did, it ultimately and inevitably destroys itself. If we choose not to stop the neo-Soviet Union in Georgia today, then we'll more than likely have to stop it someplace much closer to home tomorrow.
Those are just the practical considerations. They say nothing about the simple morality of allowing a small country struggling to overcome years of Soviet oppression to be swallowed up by a large aggressor nation. If we allowed that, how would we sleep at night?
It's time for the citizens of the West to call their leaders to account for this issue. It's not only our leaders, but we ourselves, who are responsible to put things right in Georgia. If our leaders lack the intelligence or courage to do what is necessary, we must replace them with those who can. America is right now in the early stages of a presidential election cycle, and the question of Georgia ought to be foist upon every candidate, and often.
After all, they hold our children's futures in their hands.