Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Well, I did say I was being alarmist

Looks like Russia is settling down and not moving any further. Earlier reports of attacks on Gori seem to have been exagerrated at best.

So in short: Russia won, and it won smart.

The good news is that Russia is not, apparently, being run by madmen posessed by maximalist visions of Russian power. That's also kind of the bad news -- I'd much prefer Russia be run by incompetents rather than people who seemingly learned every lesson the Bush Administration refused to.

Note also that the argument that Ukraine is now in danger seems suspect. The fact that Russia isn't forcing regime change in Georgia makes it clear, to me, that this was as much about signalling to the west as it was smacking around Georgia's leadership. This was, in all, a relatively low-cost and low-risk operation for the Russian military. Any of the other potential targets would seemingly offer way less reward at far higher costs -- Ukraine is an order of magnitude more populous than Georgia, and wealthier to boot.

As an aside, McClatchy is reporting that the Bush Administration tried and failed to warn Georgia from attacking Russia, and in fact expected a strong (though not this strong) Russian response. This implies that either a) the Bushies are currently lying, or b) the State Department under Condi Rice is even more incompetent than I'd believed.

I was joking with a friend a few days ago that somewhere, in the bowels of Foggy Bottom, the handful of competent veterans in the State Dept. huddle in obscurity, knowing each other only by their own shibboleth: "We're all FEMA, now."


Anonymous said...

They are also known to fight and compete each other for influence. Thus, mixed signals are sent. Each try to outdo one another. Understudies become parrots, trying to gain influence or promote their mentors. Take a good look at this link


In the dying days of the Bush Administration, there will be jockeying for 2012, 2016 etc. If not fighting for six figured jobs at the Hudson Institute or the American Enterprise.

bigcitylib said...

What do you think this means long term to the Georgian deployment in Iraq. I heard most of these guys went home. Will they be coming back?

john said...

BCL: I assume those troops won't be heading back to Iraq. With most of the Georgian army in pieces or disarray, the few units they have are more valuable at home than fighting the (suddenly very unpopular) war in Iraq.