I hope my six-decades-long reputation as a redoubtable Cold Warrior will protect me from the suspicion that "Rusher has gone soft on Moscow" if I confess that I am considerably less worried by Russia's recent move into Georgia than many American observers seem to be.
I say "seem to be," because there are all sorts of political reasons why the two major American parties find it in their interests to profess deep concern over this development. Bush, early in his presidency, professed to have looked deep into Vladimir Putin's eyes and descried there something not far short of a soulmate. He cannot afford to open himself to the charge that he was simply taken in by a wily Russian. He must, therefore, be seen to respond firmly -- even belligerently -- to Moscow's move.
And certainly the Democrats, who suffer from a lurking suspicion among many voters that they are "soft" on Russia, must equally avoid affording any credence to that accusation.
So both parties are going to go out of their way to condemn Russia's action. And certainly, in purely technical terms, it deserves condemnation. Georgia is a sovereign country, with borders that are (or ought to be) theoretically inviolable. For Russia to move tanks and troop carriers into that country with no legitimate excuse is an outrageous violation of international standards, even if (as seems likely) it soon withdraws them. At first blush, one might be forgiven for concluding that the Cold War is back.
Georgia could hardly be expected to be pleased with this -- nor could the Western powers, including the United States, that have long encouraged Georgia's separatist inclinations where Russia is concerned. But Moscow's move fell far short of a full-scale invasion and occupation of Georgia. It is clearly concentrated on the two pro-Russian enclaves. It looks like a firm reminder to Georgia that there are limits to what Moscow will tolerate and (far more important) limits to what the Western powers can prevent.
Thus regarded, it is an unpalatable but nevertheless useful reminder of some cold facts. The West cannot prevent Russia from exercising considerable influence over Georgia, nor could it, short of precipitating and winning a Third World War, liberate Georgia if Russia invaded and occupied it. Since we are certainly not going to risk any such thing, Russia is going to continue to be a major factor in the affairs of Georgia.
In reaching this conclusion, I recognize that there is an inescapable element of risk. But if Russia has indeed embarked on a new policy of aggression, there will be plenty of time to recognize that fact and respond accordingly. Meanwhile, I recommend staying cool.