Sunday, August 24, 2008

Russia and Georgia Redux

Kenneth Anderson, professor at the Washington Law School of American University, knows a thing or two about Russia and Georgia.

He makes four key points in the wake of the Russian invasion of Georgia for current and potential US foreign policy makers:
First, I share unreservedly the belief that Russia is deliberately undertaking a dangerous, threatening, imperial expansion in the “near abroad” and that it must be opposed and rolled back...

Second, NATO is going to undergo a reshaping in two directions out of this crisis...[T]he idea of NATO evolving into some kind of post Cold War ‘legionnaires of the good guys’, into which Russia would eventually become attached in some friendly way, is dead...On the other hand, the idea of NATO as a genuine mutual protection club is back, at least as far as the Eastern Europeans are concerned; since the Western Europeans are much more interested in gas than protection, however, the forward path of NATO as a re-invigorated mutual protection association is cloudy...

Third, it is a grave error to conflate rolling back Russian expansionism with the idea that Georgia should have actual political, security, and military control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is a difficult point, but it is essential...You can tell me about how Georgia is a democracy and allied with the US and NATO and those things wouldn’t happen any more. Maybe. But frankly I doubt it...[Georgia, he says, is guilty of ethnic violence in the effort to hold South Ossetia and Abkhazia and would need to engage in more such violence in order to keep the two provinces within Georgia.]...It cannot possibly be, in other words, in the foreign policy interest of the United States to commit itself to a policy of actual, in fact Georgian political and military and security control over zones that would be in the same general ball-park as suggesting that, in the name of territorial integrity, Serbia could run Kosovo...

Fourth,...US policy must also disentangle “democracy” from what Georgian democracy currently is - which is best characterized not as democracy, but instead as “participatory ethnic nationalism.”
As I suggested here, it will take a subtle hand to deal with Russia. According to Anderson, it will take the same subtlety in dealing with Georgia, encouraging democracy with a fair-minded regard for the rights of minorities there. (See also here.) (TY to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit for pointing to Anderson's post.)

1 comment:

RFYork said...

Somehow, I wonder where George Kennan would be on this whole issue. We tend to forget that Kennan treated the Soviet Union as a continuation of all other Russian states. One which was constantly defensive of its territory.

Kennan was first and foremost a pragmatist with a deep understanding of both Russian history and the unfortunate tendency to self conscious American exceptionalism.

Kennan would, I think, look at the last 8 years with humor and chagrin.

Thanks for the blog.

Richard York
Portland, OR