In the past few days, the United States has finally entered the conflict in Georgia in a clumsy and cautious way-but America has entered the conflict, and America is instantly a central part of everything that is going on. The interesting thing about the way that the US is stumbling into the conflict zone is that we're not being led by George Bush, the State Department, or the command structure at the Pentagon as much as we're being led by the articulate and passionate statements about liberty-a battle cry-by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. He is someone we cannot say "no" to without saying "no" to our own identity. Ultimately President Bush, architect of the Forward Strategy of Freedom, cannot say "no" to him either.
With the assault on Georgia's capital on hold indefinitely, Tbilisi has become a new West Berlin, drawing leaders to impudently protest, in public, under Vladimir Putin's guns. The big http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSLC7201620080812?sp=true rally Wednesday night in Tbilisi of as many as 200,000 Georgians (ten percent of the refugee-swollen city's population), hosted by Saakashvili and joined http://www.cnn.com/video/savp/evp/?loc=dom&vid=/video/world/2008/08/12/sot.
georgia.rally.ap by the presidents of Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, was a spectacle of besieged liberty. It is as good as one more armored division.
Russian hesitation at the brink of mass slaughter inside a European capital city, and the inspired leadership of President Saakashvili, have given the West the opportunity we need to make a mess of Russia's plans for domination, one at a time, of the former Soviet Republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine.
Enough time, that is, if the US shows decisive leadership.
It is not the responsibility of our nation, of our brave young men and women in the military, to go to Georgia to confront Putin's army in battle. But Georgia-even as small as it is-is a nation of people so determined to defy dictatorship and fight for their freedom even when the odds are grim, that we must join them and fight on their side in some way. America must do something substantial, something that materially affects the situation on the ground in Georgia-something that begins to change the strategic advantages that Russia has over all of its smaller, liberal neighbors.
The one biggest piece of advice we would offer to the Bush administration is to form a new Warsaw Pact-this time as an Eastern European alliance against Russia.
Because of America's deep cultural, political, and strategic connection to it, Poland can reasonably count on a major commitment of US military power-including public acceptance of significant and painful military losses-in the event of a Russian invasion. America should exploit our deep military commitment to Poland by encouraging the Poles to serve as the anchor for a new Eastern European military alliance; an alliance that is independent of NATO.
An independent alliance between Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia, and Ukraine-an inverse Warsaw Pact-would be a tremendous asset to liberty. With Poland at its base (protected by its NATO membership and the US nuclear umbrella), this alliance could be a strong deterrent to Russia's renewed military expansionism.
(Because Romania and Bulgaria have kept a relatively low profile in the affair with Georgia, their enthusiasm for an anti-Russian alliance is doubtful. The same goes for Hungary and the Czech Republic. The new Warsaw Pact should be made up only of republics that are truly on the edge-the countries that are between NATO and Russia.)
A group of nations in such a difficult place, led by a secure country that is a full member of NATO and assisted by the United States, would be far more willing to use military force than the fratricidal and self-loathing nations of NATO as a whole. (The same holds true for John McCain's idea of a "League of Democracies.") For proof of how little Western Europe has the stomach for, see Nicolas Sakozy's capitulation http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/world/europe/14document.html?_r=4&hp&oref
=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin to Russia, which casts him in the Neville Chamberlain role in this new Munich crisis.
An Eastern European alliance will produce a far more intense threat and a far more substantial deterrent against Russia-especially if its anchor member, Poland, either has the full strategic commitment of the United States behind it or its own independent nuclear deterrent.
A core cultural goal right now should be to clear some of the woolly-headed European pacifism from the minds of Eastern Europe's leadership. They need nuclear weapons. Without them, the Russians will be free to probe their border provinces with strong tank and mechanized infantry forces and bomb any defenders that move against them, destroying towns and cities everywhere along their borders from the Baltic to the Caspian. Without nuclear weapons, ineffective resistance to a series of military incursions will enable the Russians to work themselves up to a murderer's only concept of self-confidence: the sense that he can get away with it. When that day comes, Russia will invade and occupy its smaller neighbors.
Nuclear weapons proliferation is a good thing-when the good guys get nuclear weapons. The good nations that border Russia should get them as quickly as they can. And the United States of America should help them.