The Russian Army, using the excuse of aiding pro-Moscow South Ossetian rebels, invaded Georgia almost a week ago and destroyed the Georgian Army as well as numerous civilian targets. The Russian aggressors now roam freely in the once peaceful nation while their irregular militias loot and torch Georgian towns and murder civilians.
What does the Unites States have to say about this? Not much. Our government leaders have repeatedly chastised Russia and announced sternly that if the Russians continue their streak of lawlessness and terror, there will be (vague but potentially serious) consequences to relations between our countries over the long term. Wow! I bet the Russians are quaking in their boots.
Other western nations have done little better. The bravest people have, as usual, been the leaders of nearby nations, who made a point of traveling to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and publicly standing with Georgia’s president. The leaders of Ukraine and other nations in the region realized quickly that Russia’s aim is to reassert itself over its former empire and that their own nations might be the next targets of Russian aggression. These people cannot afford to stand back and wag their fingers as if the Russians were just a group of kids getting a little out of line. People are dying and a nation is being destroyed and we in the west are sitting by and watching it happen.
Why doesn’t the United States do more to stop the Russians from trampling on a democratically led nation? From a non-American perspective, it’s easy to see parallels between our invasion of Iraq under false pretenses (spun by the U.S. Ministry of Truth) and the Russian invasion of Georgia. It’s even easier to see Putin and his cronies as a more competent and more qualitatively evil counterpart to the Bush administration. The fact that we in the U.S. are currently led by a cabal of war criminals and profiteers certainly diminishes our moral authority in the world’s eyes. But we still have the duty to stand up to Putin’s Kremlin and move with speed and certainty to break off diplomatic ties, apply tough sanctions, champion the isolation of Russia on the world stage, and perhaps even move our own armed forces closer to Georgia to show the Russians that we are prepared to risk our own safety to drive home the message that we won’t tolerate the destruction of a democratically led, peaceful nation.
Instead, those of us who care about the world and the welfare of all its inhabitants must sit idle and voice our frustration on the web, where at least our voices will be heard.