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Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts

Monday, October 27, 2008

2008 and the Return of the Nation-State

From Stratfor
By George Friedman

In 1989, the global system pivoted when the Soviet Union retreated from Eastern Europe and began the process of disintegration that culminated in its collapse. In 2001, the system pivoted again when al Qaeda attacked targets in the United States on Sept. 11, triggering a conflict that defined the international system until the summer of 2008. The pivot of 2008 turned on two dates, Aug. 7 and Oct. 11.

On Aug. 7, Georgian troops attacked the country’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. On Aug. 8, Russian troops responded by invading Georgia. The Western response was primarily rhetorical. On the weekend of Oct. 11, the G-7 met in Washington to plan a joint response to the global financial crisis. Rather than defining a joint plan, the decision — by default — was that each nation would act to save its own financial system with a series of broadly agreed upon guidelines.

The Aug. 7 and Oct. 11 events are connected only in their consequences. Each showed the weakness of international institutions and confirmed the primacy of the nation-state, or more precisely, the nation and the state. (A nation is a collection of people who share an ethnicity. A state is the entity that rules a piece of land. A nation-state — the foundation of the modern international order — is what is formed when the nation and state overlap.) Together, the two events posed challenges that overwhelmed the global significance of the Iraqi and Afghan wars.

The Conflict in Georgia

In and of itself, Russia’s attack on Georgia was not globally significant. Georgia is a small country in the Caucasus, and its fate ultimately does not affect the world. But Georgia was aligned with the United States and with Europe, and it had been seen by some as a candidate for membership in NATO. Thus, what was important about the Russian attack was that it occurred at all, and that the West did not respond to it beyond rhetoric.

Part of the problem was that the countries that could have intervened on Georgia’s behalf lacked the ability to do so. The Americans were bogged down in the Islamic world, and the Europeans had let their military forces atrophy. But even if military force had been available, it is clear that NATO, as the military expression of the Western alliance, was incapable of any unified action. There was no unified understanding of NATO’s obligation and, more importantly, no collective understanding of what a unified strategy might be.

The tension was not only between the United States and Europe, but also among the European countries. This was particularly pronounced in the different view of the situation Germany took compared to that of the United States and many other countries. Very soon after the Russo-Georgian war had ended, the Germans made clear that they opposed the expansion of NATO to Georgia and Ukraine. A major reason for this is Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian natural gas, which means Berlin cannot afford to alienate Moscow. But there was a deeper reason: Germany had been in the front line of the first Cold War and had no desire to participate in a second.

The range of European responses to Russia was fascinating. The British were livid. The French were livid but wanted to mediate. The Germans were cautious, and Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to St. Petersburg to hold a joint press conference with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, aligning Germany with Russia — for all practical purposes — on the Georgian and Ukrainian issues.

The single most important effect of Russia’s attack on Georgia was that it showed clearly how deeply divided — and for that matter, how weak — NATO is in general and the Europeans are in particular. Had they been united, they would not have been able to do much. But they avoided that challenge by being utterly fragmented. NATO can only work when there is a consensus, and the war revealed how far from consensus NATO was. It can’t be said that NATO collapsed after Georgia. It is still there, and NATO officials hold meetings and press conferences. But the alliance is devoid of both common purpose and resources, except in very specific and limited areas. Some Europeans are working through NATO in Afghanistan, for example, but not most, and not in a decisive fashion.

The Russo-Georgian war raised profound questions about the future of the multinational military alliance. Each member consulted its own national interest and conducted its own foreign policy. At this point, splits between the Europeans and Americans are taken for granted, but the splits among the Europeans are profound. If it was no longer possible to say that NATO functioned, it was also unclear after Aug. 8 in what sense the Europeans existed, except as individual nation-states.

The Global Financial Crisis

What was demonstrated in politico-military terms in Georgia was then demonstrated in economic terms in the financial crisis. All of the multinational systems created after World War II failed during the crisis — or more precisely, the crisis went well beyond their briefs and resources. None of the systems could cope, and many broke down. On Oct. 11, it became clear that the G-7 could cooperate, but not through unified action. On Oct. 12, when the Europeans held their eurozone summit, it became clear that they would only act as individual nations.

As with the aftermath of the Georgian war, the most significant developments after Oct. 11 happened in Europe. The European Union is first and foremost an arrangement for managing Europe’s economy. Its bureaucracy in Brussels has increased its authority and effectiveness throughout the last decade. The problem with the European Union is that it was an institution designed to manage prosperity. When it confronted serious adversity, however, it froze, devolving power to the component states.

Consider the European Central Bank (ECB), an institution created for managing the euro. Its primary charge — and only real authority — is to work to limit inflation. But limiting inflation is a problem that needs to be addressed when economies are otherwise functioning well. The financial crisis is a case where the European system is malfunctioning. The ECB was not created to deal with that. It has managed, with the agreement of member governments, to expand its function beyond inflation control, but it ultimately lacks the staff or the mindset to do all the things that other central banks were doing. To be more precise, it is a central bank without a single finance ministry to work with. Unlike other central banks, whose authority coincides with the nations they serve, the ECB serves multiple nations with multiple interests and finance ministries. By its nature, its power is limited.

In the end, power did not reside with Europe, but rather with its individual countries. It wasn’t Brussels that was implementing decisions made in Strasbourg; the centers of power were in Paris, London, Rome, Berlin and the other capitals of Europe and the world. Power devolved back to the states that governed nations. Or, to be more precise, the twin crises revealed that power had never left there.

Between the events in Georgia and the financial crisis, what we saw was the breakdown of multinational entities. This was particularly marked in Europe, in large part because the Europeans were the most invested in multilateralism and because they were in the crosshairs of both crises. The Russian resurgence affected them the most, and the fallout of the U.S. financial crisis hit them the hardest. They had to improvise the most, being multilateral but imperfectly developed, to say the least. In a sense, the Europeans were the laboratory of multilateralism and its intersection with crisis.

But it was not a European problem in the end. What we saw was a global phenomenon in which individual nations struggled to cope with the effects of the financial crisis and of Russia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been a tendency to view the world in terms of global institutions, from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization. In the summer of 2008, none of these functioned. The only things that did function effectively were national institutions.

Since 2001, the assumption has been that subnational groups like al Qaeda would define the politico-military environment. In U.S. Defense Department jargon, the assumption was that peer-to-peer conflict was no longer an issue and that it was all about small terrorist groups. The summer of 2008 demonstrated that while terrorism by subnational groups is not insignificant by any means, the dynamics of nation-states have hardly become archaic.

The Importance of the State

Clearly, the world has pivoted toward the nation-state as the prime actor and away from transnational and subnational groups. The financial crisis could be solved by monetizing the net assets of societies to correct financial imbalances. The only institution that could do that was the state, which could use its sovereign power and credibility, based on its ability to tax the economy, to underwrite the financial system.

Around the world, states did just that. They did it in very national ways. Many European states did it primarily by guaranteeing interbank loans, thereby essentially nationalizing the heart of the financial system. If states guarantee loans, the risk declines to near zero. In that case, the rationing of money through market mechanisms collapses. The state must take over rationing. This massively increases the power of the state — and raises questions about how the Europeans back out of this position.

The Americans took a different approach, less focused on interbank guarantees than on reshaping the balance sheets of financial institutions by investing in them. It was a more indirect approach and less efficient in the short run, but the Americans were more interested than the Europeans in trying to create mechanisms that would allow the state to back out of control of the financial system.

But what is most important is to see the manner in which state power surged in the summer and fall of 2008. The balance of power between business and the state, always dynamic, underwent a profound change, with the power of the state surging and the power of business contracting. Power was not in the hands of Lehman Brothers or Barclays. It was in the hands of Washington and London. At the same time, the power of the nation surged as the importance of multilateral organizations and subnational groups declined. The nation-state roared back to life after it had seemed to be drifting into irrelevance.

The year 1989 did not quite end the Cold War, but it created a world that bypassed it. The year 2001 did not end the post-Cold War world, but it overlaid it with an additional and overwhelming dynamic: that of the U.S.-jihadist war. The year 2008 did not end the U.S.-jihadist war, but it overlaid it with far more immediate and urgent issues. The financial crisis, of course, was one. The future of Russian power was another. We should point out that the importance of Russian power is this: As soon as Russia dominates the center of the Eurasian land mass, its force intrudes on Europe. Russia united with the rest of Europe is an overwhelming global force. Europe resisting Russia defines the global system. Russia fragmented opens the door for other geopolitical issues. Russia united and powerful usurps the global stage.

The year 2008 has therefore seen two things. First, and probably most important, it resurrected the nation-state and shifted the global balance between the state and business. Second, it redefined the global geopolitical system, opening the door to a resurgence of Russian power and revealing the underlying fragmentation of Europe and weaknesses of NATO.

The most important manifestation of this is Europe. In the face of Russian power, there is no united European position. In the face of the financial crisis, the Europeans coordinate, but they do not act as one. After the summer of 2008, it is no longer fair to talk about Europe as a single entity, about NATO as a fully functioning alliance, or about a world in which the nation-state is obsolete. The nation-state was the only institution that worked.

This is far more important than either of the immediate issues. The fate of Georgia is of minor consequence to the world. The financial crisis will pass into history, joining Brady bonds, the Resolution Trust Corp. and the bailout of New York City as a historical oddity. What will remain is a new international system in which the Russian question — followed by the German question — is once again at the center of things, and in which states act with confidence in shaping the economic and business environment for better or worse.

The world is a very different place from what it was in the spring of 2008. Or, to be more precise, it is a much more traditional place than many thought. It is a world of nations pursuing their own interests and collaborating where they choose. Those interests are economic, political and military, and they are part of a single fabric. The illusion of multilateralism was not put to rest — it will never die — but it was certainly put to bed. It is a world we can readily recognize from history.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Georgia's Defeat and America's Options

From The Brussels Journal
By Joshua Trevino

What Mikheil Saakashvili began at his discretion, Vladimir Putin ends at his pleasure. The Russians have called a halt to their offensive in Georgia, and none too soon for the Georgians. What remains is the postwar settlement, and the American part in it.

A look at the situation on the ground speaks to the Russian dominance of the little Caucasian republic: the Russians have near-total freedom of movement in the western plain, with soldiers in Poti. Georgia’s only meaningful lifelines to the outside world are the port of Batumi, and the long road to Yerevan. Neither of these are significant corridors for supply, and the port is free only at Russian sufferance. Further war would have seen a battle for Tbilisi in the coming 36 hours. The Georgians would have lost, and the war thence would probably have devolved into guerrilla actions centered about a sort of Georgian national redoubt in the south — in regions populated more by Armenians and Azeris than by Georgians. To be spared all this is a mercy that Georgians, rightly inflamed by what’s been done in mere days, may not fully appreciate.

The postwar settlement remains thoroughly opaque, even if, as the Russians report, the conditions of a ceasefire are agreed. The Russian war aim was never announced — or rather, it only announced itself on the ground — and its political end remains obscure. The formal disposition of the Russian-occupied secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia must be decided; the mechanisms of reparation, if any, must be agreed upon; and, most troublingly, the Russians are making noises about extraditing Saakashvili to the Hague. Here, a definitive settlement is to everyone’s advantage — not least the Georgians, who are ill-advised to act as if they are anything but beaten. Absurdities like putting Saakashvili in the ICC dock should be rejected, but otherwise, it is almost certainly best to let the Russians dictate their terms — and let resistance to those terms emanate from sources able to make that resistance count, like Europe and the United States.

With this in mind, the first task of America’s postwar policy in the Caucasus is distasteful in the extreme: pushing the Georgians to understand and act like what they are, which is a defeated nation in no position to make demands. This does not square easily with American sentiment — nor my own — nor with the Vice President’s declaration that Russia’s aggression “must not go unanswered,” nor with John McCain’s declaration that “today we are all Georgians.” Russia’s aggression and consequent battlefield victory will stand, and as the last thing the volatile Caucasus needs is yet another revisionist, revanchist state, it befits a would-be member of the Western alliance to make its peace with that. However inflammatory the issue of “lost” Abkhazia and South Ossetia are in the Georgian public square, it is nothing that the Germans, the Finns, and the Greeks, to name a few, have not had to come to terms with in the course of their accessions to the first tier of Western nations. We should not demand less of Georgia.

The second, and more enduring, task of our policy must be the swift containment of Russia. I use the term deliberately: to invoke another Cold War-era phrase, we’re not going to “roll back” any of Russia’s recent territorial gains, nor should we attempt to reverse what prosperity it has achieved in the past decade. (That prosperity, being based mostly upon transitory prices for natural resources, will itself be transitory in time.) Russia’s leadership has declared that it seeks the reversal, de facto if not de jure, of the “catastrophe” of the USSR’s end. Though not marked by any formal decision in the vein of Versailles, this is nonetheless a strategic outcome that America has a direct interest in preserving. That interest has only gone up with the admission of former Soviet-bloc states — and former Soviet states — to NATO. Inasmuch as Russian revisionism threatens the alliance that has kept the peace in Europe for generations now, it must be confronted and deterred.

The obvious question is how this may be done with the tools America has at hand. It is a media commonplace over the past several days that the United States has no leverage over Russia. This is false. American policy can and does tremendously affect several things of tremendous importance to Moscow. A brief (though not comprehensive) list of available pressure points follows:

First, the Ukraine. First and foremost, there is no former Soviet state that Russia wishes to have in its orbit more than the Ukraine. Not coincidentally, the Ukraine was also the only nation besides the United States to render Georgia material assistance in this war, when it threatened to deny Sevastopol to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. European reluctance to antagonize Russia scuttled the Ukraine’s potential NATO membership at the NATO Bucharest summit this past spring. In light of Georgia’s fate, issuance of a MAP, or even outright NATO membership, to the Ukraine, is an appropriate riposte to Russia’s war. Unlike Georgia, the Ukraine has no territorial or secessionist issues, nor an unstable leadership apt to launch unwinnable wars. It does, though, very much need the sort of guarantee that NATO exists to give.

Second, Russia’s G8 membership. The G8 is purportedly the group of the world’s largest industrial democracies. Russia, with a GDP smaller than Spain’s and a per-capita income lower than Gabon’s, was admitted in 1997 as a means of supporting its integration into international economic institutions. It’s a privilege, not a right, and it should be conditioned upon responsible membership in the community of nations. Expulsion of Russia from the G8 is a longtime policy favorite of John McCain’s, and it’s time to consider his preference.

Third, Russia’s client states. This is a short list, though Russian revisionism would wish to see it lengthen. Belarus is by far Russia’s premier client, followed by varying degrees of Russian influence over Armenia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, and the central Asian states. (We’ll exclude here clients like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, all of which have statuses that are dubious at best.) We’ve already seen that Russia reacts to defend Belarus when the latter is criticized. An available pressure point, then, is to turn up the heat on the Belarusian regime — specifically with support of dissidents in Belarus — and link it explicitly to Russia’s behavior elsewhere.

Fourth, Russia’s dissidents. Russian public life is nowhere near Soviet depths, but it is nonetheless notable that the Moscow regime places a premium upon the control of journalistic institutions and media. (A great, English-language example of the slick and statist nature of modern Russian media may be found at Russia Today — note the stories on Georgian “spy rings” and refugees from Georgian aggression fleeing into Russia.) Divergence from the Putin line is a good way to end up unemployed or dead, and so we ought to lend what support we may to independent media personnel — and their means.

Finally, Russia’s Internet. A major tool of Russian foreign policy in the past few years is what may only be described as cyber-warfare. We saw it when Russia wished to punish Estonia [pdf], and we saw it again this week against nearly all of Georgia’s .ge-domain sites. This is a tremendously thorny problem, both because cyber-war by its nature affords the perpetrators plausible denial, and because it is quite easy to respond to a wrong with a wrong — in America’s case, by using its leverage over Californa-based ICANN to invalidate .ru domains from which Russian attacks emanate. Here, the basic functionality of the Internet must be balanced against political concerns — and there must be some mechanism for determining when political concerns from nations like Russia damage the basic functionality of the Internet.

Beyond applying pressure to Russia, American policy must focus upon reassurance to the NATO nations that expressed alarm at Georgia’s subjugation. NATO allies Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic all know quite well what it means to be crushed by the force of Russian arms, and all were therefore demonstrative in expressing their dismay at events in Georgia. If NATO and the American connection in particular is going to retain its meaning for them, it is up to us to provide the necessary reassurance. Although NATO is no longer a formally anti-Soviet (and therefore anti-Russian) alliance, we cannot pretend that it does not hold precisely that meaning for several of its member states. A failure to recognize this would concurrently weaken the alliance.

The war in Georgia is done but for the details, and the occasional sniping. Georgia lost on the first day, and Georgia has mostly — though not wholly — itself to blame. But if Georgia is prostrate, America and the West are not. If some good is to come of this, and if Russia’s adventure in its “near abroad” is to be its last, we must act decisively — and now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgia's Freedom Loving President

There has been a great deal of discussion about the motives behind Russia's dastardly invasion of Georgia, the message it sends about Russia's return as a world power, the implicit message to other former satellites of the Soviet Union, and its drive to corner the oil and gas supplies on which Europe is especially dependent.

Receiving little notice is the extraordinary leader of Georgia, President Mikheil Saakashvili. American educated, he is in the mold of the leader America longs for, Ronald Reagan. And the Georgian President's accomplishments are no less impressive. He transformed a corrupt and impoverished nation by getting government out of the way, protecting individual freedom, and creating an environment that rewards initiative and investment. I wish we had someone of his caliber running for the presidency of this country. The following interview with Glenn Beck provides a good introduction and makes clear what is at stake in this conflict.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russia, Georgia, and the Western Alliance

Unconfirmed estimates suggest between 40,000 and
50,000 of South Ossetia's 70,000 inhabitants have fled.

From The Brussels Journal

The Russian war aim in Georgia, inasmuch as it may be discerned after a bare 48 hours of full combat, appears to be what I said it likely is: “the Russians [will] fully occupy South Ossetia, along with the other secessionist region of Georgia, Abkhazia; declare them both independent or somehow annexed; and thoroughly punish the Georgians with a countrywide air campaign targeting what meager infrastructure there is.” As if to swiftly confirm the hypothesis, we see today that the Abkhazians have joined the war, thus opening a second front against the Georgians. Quite nearly everything that can go wrong for the Caucasian republic has: Georgian forces have been fully ejected from South Ossetia; Russian troops are landing on the Abkhaz coast (it’s unclear whether at Sukhumi or Ochamchira); Russian air power is hitting strategic targets throughout Georgia; and at this writing — just after dawn in the Caucasus — a general Russian offensive may be underway.

Mikheil Saakashvili’s government may have declared war and sued for peace in the space of a day, but events are in motion that render its wishes, contradictory as they are, wholly irrelevant.

Georgia’s American-trained armed forces may make it a fight, but there are only two things that will save the little republic now: it’s enemies’ forbearance, or America (and by extention, NATO) itself. It’s the latter that Saakashvili and the Georgians are appealing to now: the latter march in the Tbilisi streets to demand Western intervention; and the Georgian president somewhat histrionically declares, “If the whole world does not stop Russia today, then Russian tanks will be able to reach any other European capital.” Herein lies the tragedy of this war, not just for Georgia, but for the United States and the West in general. Help for Georgia is not on the way, and it will not be. The NATO countries are bound to inaction by their existing commitments and the logic of their own actions — in Serbia.

The Russian assault upon Georgia is justified — inasmuch as it is justifiable — on the same grounds as the 1999 NATO assault upon Serbia. A national minority desired secession, pursued that end with violent means, and called in a foreign protector when its struggle went bad. That foreign protector had its own agenda, of course: naivete, ignorance and self-regard fueled the Western intervention in Kosovo; and Machiavellian revisionism fuels the Russian intervention in Georgia. It must be remembered that the former led directly to the latter. In this space several months back, I warned that Kosovar independence would provide “a pretext for Russian action against American allies,” specifically in the Caucasus. And so it did, with Vladimir Putin retaliating for Kosovar independence by setting in motion the events that led to the present war. The Clinton Administration architects of the original Kosovo policy in 1999, and the Bush Administration architects who acquiesced to its logical end in 2008, bear a heavy responsibility for the blood shed in Georgia now.

Still, the ultimate responsibility is Russia’s, which is now a plainly and violently revisionist power. No amount of Western naivete, ignorance and self-regard, nor Georgian blundering, could create this war without Russia’s will to strife. That will springs from multiple causes, some rooted in the nature of autocracy, and some rooted in the nature of the Russian national character; and it is directed toward the overturning of what is, for Russia, the central strategic outcome of the Cold War’s end. The late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, quoted in Wayne Allensworth’s The Russian Question, expresses the Russian sense of that outcome clearly:

The trouble is not that the USSR broke up — that was inevitable. The real trouble, and a tangle for a long time to come, is that the breakup occurred mechanically along false Leninist borders, usurping from us entire Russian provinces. In several days, we lost 25 million ethnic Russians — 18 percent of our entire nation — and the government could not scrape up the courage even to take note of this dreadful event, a colossal historic defeat for Russia, and to declare its political disagreement with it.
Here, then, the source of the popular resonance of Moscow’s claims that it attacks Georgia to protect its own, with the concurrent surge of Cossack and faux-Cossack volunteers into Ossetia.

As Russian revisionism’s armed expression slowly crushes Georgia, the states with the most historical reason to fear Russia look on with mounting alarm. This extraordinary communique from the Presidents of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, prompted by the Georgian war, denounces Russia’s “imperialist and revisionist policy in the East of Europe” with startlingly undiplomatic language. These nations are members of NATO and the European Union, and they look to their putative allies now to provide them with the protection and assurance that they expect. Thus we see the war in the Caucasus evolve into a litmus test for the basic institutions of the West itself. If those institutions fail, especially in the eyes of its most vulnerable members, then the suffering in Georgia will, in the long run, be mere prelude.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

War in Georgia: It’s the 3 a.m. Call in the White House

A warplane drops bombs near the Georgian city of Gori
on Friday as Russian and Georgian forces battle.

Russians are just superb at timing: whenever they do something dastardly, they time it to Friday afternoon when politicians, diplomats and journalists head to the weekend. The attack on Georgia also came at the time, when all the worlds’ attention is on Beijing. Everyone who has paid close attention, however, to the events in Georgia, is shocked, but not surprised.

South-Ossetia is an ancient Georgian territory, which has seen in the last about 100-150 years immigration from neighboring North-Ossetia. The latter has always been part of Russia. It is possible to draw parallels to the Kosovo region in Serbia. During the Soviet Union, Moscow gave South-Ossetia autonomous status under Georgian administration as a reward for Georgia’s loyalty to Moscow. Tbilisi is offering precisely that same status to them now. In the beginning of 1990s, after the collapse of Soviet Union, several regions of Georgia declared independence. A civil war followed where Moscow systematically and openly supported the separatist. Without the military, economical and political support of Russia, the breakaway republics would have soon put under Tbilisi’s control. Some, by the way, where successfully brought back under Tbilisi control.

For the past 12 or so years, there has been a status quo: Abkhasia and South-Ossetia are nominally under Tbilisi’s rule, practically under Moscow’s rule. The status quo is no longer satisfying Russians, who have in the last years become more and more bellicose and revanchist in their attempt to collect the old empire together again. In the past months the South-Ossetian government has abandoned its quest for independence and started to pursue a policy of officially becoming part of Russia. Tbilisi has repeatedly warned that it would be crossing a red line. In the past few days, South-Ossetian paramilitary units attacked Georgian villages, thereby provoking Georgian response.

What the Georgians only now realize, is that they where playing by the Russian scenario. Russia almost immediately crossed the Georgian border, sent in massive amounts of tanks, artillery and armored carriers and started to attack Georgian targets, including targets around Tbilisi. It is possible to send in planes this fast, but to mount a massive army operation with such a scale is simply impossible without a previous operational plan and months of preparations.

This attack is not some faraway tribes shelling each other nor an “internal matter” like Chechnya. Georgia is a NATO aspirant, a democratic country in otherwise totalitarian region. It is directly attacked by Russia. This is the first Russian invasion of a neighboring country since its invasion of Afghanistan. It is impossible for the world to turn a blind eye. And although we can be certain that Western governments will do their best to pressure Georgia into retreat and capitulation in order to avoid the West having to demand that the Russians behave themselves, it will be impossible for Georgia to back down. The survival of the country is at stake.

Remember the Clinton campaign ad in US Democratic primary about the 3 a.m. call in the White House. What an irony that the Russian attack on Georgia came almost at about that time. Clinton is no longer in the race but an international crisis has erupted that will have far reaching consequences and that will not subside quietly and on its own. What is at stake here is a post cold war world order. At stake is the credibility of NATO as a military alliance, the U.S. as a credible ally and, for better or for worse, the EU’s survival. One has to understand, that most people from Eastern and Central Europe joined the EU not so much because of economic reasons – many of the countries had much freer and open economies then we have now under Brussels – but because it was hoped that the EU offers security against Russia. If NATO, America and the EU can/will not pressure Russia into ending its aggression against Georgia, the EU will lose its ultimate value in the eyes of Eastern Europeans. It will have proved that EU’s major countries are so spineless, willfulness and badly dependant of Russian gas and oil that they will allow Russia impunity against all atrocities and all aggressions. If the West allows Russia to have its way with Georgia, next in line will be Ukraine and third in line will be the Baltic countries. We are once again on the firing line with backstabbers behind us. Allowing Russia to continue will invite untold mayhem into international security and global economy.

As for the US presidential elections, the closer you get to November, the clearer it is, that the “citizen of the world” Obama is incapable of answering seriously to any call about international affairs, no matter what time it is. War in Georgia will help McCain. As an Estonian, I hope that the old school cold war politician McCain will help the Georgians, once in office.