Hit Russia with consequences NOW

The first couple of days after Russia went into Georgia, everybody in the West said, How awful! And there’s nothing we can do!

Well, it’s awful, all right, but there’s plenty we can do, as writers across the political spectrum (from Charles Krauthammer to Trudy Rubin) started saying by the end of last week. These bullets come from Krauthammer:

1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension…
2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.
3. Dissolve the G-8….
4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene…

Ms. Rubin used softer language, such as "Under present conditions, it’s hard to imagine holding the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, not far from the Georgian war zone…" But made similar points. She added:

    Europe and America must support, and provide substantial aid to,
Saakashvili, and insist on the need for independent peacekeepers in
Georgia. European countries must finally fashion a joint energy policy
and lessen dependence on Moscow, rather than cutting separate deals
with Russia.

So we had, and have, options. But it hit me this morning that we need to go ahead and act on them, NOW, and not let up until Russian behavior changes dramatically — for the better, that is.

Why? Because the pattern has been clear in recent days: Russians invade. West gets upset. Russia says we’ll be done in a minute. West fumes. Russia says it’s done now. West starts talking (sort of) tough. Russia agrees to cease-fire. West says that’s better. Russia says it’s withdrawing. West says, you’re not withdrawing, either. Russia says we’re ABOUT to withdraw and moves closer to Tbilisi. West says why aren’t you withdrawing? Russia says NOW we’re withdrawing, and blows up a Georgian airfield….

The consequences, to the extent that the West can get them together, need to start NOW. Then Russia is in the position of waiting for US to do something that is completely up to us — lift the consequences — instead of the other way around. Because folks, this current arrangement is not good.

11 thoughts on “Hit Russia with consequences NOW

  1. Lee Muller

    I agree that we should have an immediate and quick debate on HOW to clip Russia’s wings, in order to force Obama and McCain to reveal how they will deal with the situation, since they are both in the Senate right now.

  2. george32

    don’t worry, Putin will land on a carrier and declare things are done. he’s got a nice example. let’s see, the us invades a sovereign nation half the world away and kills hundreds of thousands and Putin reacts to a rebellious province on his border and invades, my gosh, we are shocked. of course, their invadee is on their border and ours is 12,000 miles away. but why sweat the details. go, deficitator-you are ahead of the dittoheads Reagan god and dummies everywhere. no doubt our local dittohead will reply, right LM? in one way, Putin is right, had my confederacy been invaded and crushed quickly, lots of lives would have been spared.

  3. Paul Wolf

    For a minute there, I thought you were going to advocate abolishing the UN. Hey, whatever happened to the UN, anyway? It seemed like a controversial organization back in the days of Kofi Annan. Not sure what it does anymore. One thing’s for sure – NATO is not the UN, nor does it control the world economy. Russia holds the economic cards, and it will be a cold winter in Germany without gas. So all the ranting and raving about taking revenge on the Russians is just what the Russians say it is – empty threats.
    The Russians are so goddamn tough. Finally someone is beating the shit out of George Bush and Condoleeza Rice and those who repeat what they say. I’m sorry if the Georgians are suffering, but they made their own mess, and people all over the world are glad to see the war machine crashing into this brick wall. The Russians won’t move an inch.

  4. bud

    Why in heavens name is this our problem? We should provide humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict and urge both sides to seek a peaceful solution. All this tough talk about sanctions is a bit hypocritical given our imperialism in Iraq. If the Europeans want to impose sanctions fine. But America needs to stay the hell out of this.

  5. Lee Muller

    Russia is run by these socialists that the liberals in America think are so advanced.
    Socialism in theory is far different than socialism in practice – a dictatorship of a gang.

  6. Brad Warthen

    I don’t even know what to say to bud. Isolationists just floor me. They don’t even understand that in a world this interconnected, not doing something is doing something — and generally, it’s doing the wrong thing.
    Strategically speaking, what Putin is doing in Georgia is ABOUT our reaction. He’s banking on our doing nothing, and Ukraine and the rest of the “near abroad” SEEING us do nothing, and acquiescing to Russian will. He’s demonstrating to them the consequences of closer ties to the West. How in the name of all that makes sense can anyone possibly contemplate this situation and ask Why is this our problem? It just floors me.

  7. Olin Sansbury

    There you go again, Brad. Bud offers a realistic assessment of the conflict in Georgia and evaluates US interests in a responsible manner: i.e., is the threat to the US worth the potential cost, and you label him “Isolationist.” You accused those of us who warned against the Iraq adventure of ignoring the new “Hitler.” Your were wrong then and you are wrong now.

  8. bud

    Do we really want to go to war over the province of South Ossetia? That is a proposition that just plain floors ME. Unless we’re willing to do that all are talk is simply bluster. Remember the Russians have oil and NG. Seems like they hold all the sanction cards at this point.
    Why don’t we try to broker some sort of reasonable deal here. Let’s let the South Ossetians decide their own future through a plebisite. If they decide to join Russia wouldn’t that be a victory for democracy?

  9. Lee Muller

    Yeah, let Ossetians have a vote while Russian troops have their little province under martial law. Maybe even give them more than one choice on the ballot.

  10. Harry Harris

    Let’s see, under President Bush we abandoned the anti-ballistic missle treaty a few years ago, planned to deploy missles on the Russian border, and now have signed up to place an ABM site in Poland and a radar site nearby. I think there is a better than 50-50 chance that we will see a natural gas reduction or cut-off and possibly plans to deploy Russian missles in Cuba. Consequences have consequences. Another Cuban missle crisis would not be a welcome one. The so-called experienced foreign policy politicians should let the State Department do their job, which is behind-the-scenes negotiation. Condi Rice and the EU leaders are not showing their hands publicly, which is just the right approach. Threatening loudmouths like Krauthammer promote their narrow agenda (electing neocons) without thought to consequences for the nation or the world.

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