Monday, August 18, 2008

No Time For Newbies

Russia's move into the Caucasian Republic of Georgia demonstrates that a new challenge has started shaping up to American interests around the world.

Russia has restarted its traditional drive to the south, a historical expansion dating back to the 1400s. That country sees the belt of smaller nations to its south as its own national playground, a historical reality that should make Iran, Pakistan, and other nations very nervous. Certainly at one time nations did claim "spheres of influence" and asserted the right to total predominance in those regions and the US was no different. However it is 2008, not 1908. Times have changed.

Some commentators linked the drive against Georgia to the war in Chechnya that Putin prosecuted to success in the beginning of his presidency. The two situations could not be more different. Chechnya is a part of Russian territory inhabited by a separatist ethnic group. The Chechen War was fought to maintain the integrity of Russian territory and to prevent like minded Muslim minorities in Russia from also fighting to leave. Georgia is a sovereign nation invaded by Russia.

Russia through this invasion intends to reassert itself as a Great Power who can project its strength at times of its choosing. The drive by the US to incorporate Georgia into the NATO alliance certainly played a role in Russia's decision to flex its muscles at this point. Now that Russia has been well-fed by oil revenues and is led by a prime minister who desires to bring back Russia's imperial glory, the United States must have experienced leadership to deal with this new challenge.

Now is no time for a neophyte president from a party that sees foreign affairs as issues that distract from social engineering and tax hikes. Russia has issued the world a challenge. Nothing would make them happier than to see a newbie elected to the American presidency.

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