"It's hard for us to understand what the Russian plan is," said a senior U.S. official who briefed reporters over the weekend on the Russian invasion of Georgia. One must hope that the claimed bafflement at Russian intentions is merely one of those diplomatic lies that honorable statesmen are obliged to recite from time to time.
In fact, Russian intentions are quite clear. Georgia has cozied up to Uncle Sam as part of a nearly two-decades-long effort by the United States to bring the former non-Russian Soviet republics and formerly captive eastern European nations into the American-led sphere of influence -- and out from under Russia's historic suzerainty over the lands just beyond its border.
America's aggressive diplomacy in this regard was heightened recently when -- at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, this year -- it pressed for Georgia's and Ukraine's memberships to the alliance. Moreover, America and Britain have been providing military assistance to the Georgians in the form of arms and training. As the British newspaper The Times noted: "(That) support is aimed at encouraging the rise of Georgia as an independent, sovereign state."
Did our government assume that we could continue to bait the Russian bear in his cave and not eventually get his claw thrashed against our face?
Since the commencement of Russian military hostilities, President Bush has been making loud and emphatic demands for Russia to cease and desist its military assault on Georgia. Of course, with the Russian Black Sea fleet cheerfully banging away at the Georgian coast with no U.S. naval opposition; the Russian air force bombing Georgian cities with no air defense from the U.S.; and Russian tanks rolling into little Georgia with no plausible U.S. Army forces available to give Czar Putin even a second thought, President Bush's words are worse than meaningless. They in fact have the meaning that the weakened statuses of America militarily, diplomatically, economically and on the basis of our negative energy position have stripped an American president's cautionary words of any power. Rather, they encourage others to ignore our threatening words. A nation that threatens without the perceived capacity to carry out the threat is a mockery of a great power.
John McCain, technically correct, said, "Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border." But of course, Russia wasn't looking for a justifiable and proportional act; it was looking to begin to regain power on its western and southern borders.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.