Even if the Russians wanted to have an empire again, they would not wish to run it directly. They will of course have influence on their neighbors, just as the United States does in the Western hemisphere. The brutality of the Russian response is a function not just of their own regained self-confidence thanks to oil and gas money, or of their propensity for dominance, but also of misguided Western -- particularly American -- policies. If the United States cannot control a two-bit client such as Saakashvili (who turned out to be no better than the person he replaced, Eduard Shevardnadze) and keep him from taking this utterly destructive step, then what good is American policy? Would any self-respecting power tolerate the kind of 'in your face' attitude the Russians were expected to digest? When the United States supported Kosovo's independence and recognized the government in Prishtina, did it not think what would follow next or listen to what Putin had to say?The situation is the Caucus is not the cause of America's international helplessness. It merely demonstrates it. The Cheney/Bush/NeoCon strategy of meeting every international situation with extreme bluster and frequent (and often illegal) military force is the cause.
I support the independence of Kosovo. I find the Russian assault against Georgia illegal and disproportionate and I think the Kremlin's regime is brutal. But then again, would anyone take seriously Paris, whose complicity in the Rwandan genocide was recently reiterated, or Washington, which invaded a country (illegally and illegitimately by the judgment of most of the world) and made torture legal, when they accuse Russia of anything? [Snip]
Arguably the American moment in the Caucasus is gone. It is time to go back to the drawing board; to come up with a new policy that will speak to the Russians' better natures and bring them closer to Western policies, even if they are unlikely to become model democrats in the immediate future.
By the way, I am sure that in Tehran everyone has an irrepressible smile on their face, too.
[Bolding added to text by Editor]
The situation in the Caucasus has merely demonstrated the severe weakness demonstrated by the Bush "bluster and bomb" effort to control other nations.
[H/T to Laura Rozen at War & Piece.]