27 August, 2008

More

  • Phelps did that eighth gold.
  • Here's a profile of Austan Goolsbee, Obama's top economist, and an interview with him on Charlie Rose.
  • Perhaps the most interesting piece I have read on the Georgia situation by Mikhail Gorbachev. He argues that Saakashvili is baiting the U.S. into sending new arms and U.S. officials are swallowing his bluster hook, line, and sinker. It is apparent that Georgia started the crisis, not Russia.

    Gorby also makes the point that Russia is a large country that has interests, just like the United States, and that it would do the U.S. well to respect those interests:
    There is much talk now in the United States about rethinking relations with Russia. One thing that should definitely be rethought: the habit of talking to Russia in a condescending way, without regard for its positions and interests.

3 comments:

Eremita said...

Well, you have to admit Russia hasn't bothered us about our invasions of sovereign nations. I don't know what that consideration should make us do, in terms of our reaction, but...it can't make us look good.

Cassady said...

It makes us look like hypocrites--there's no two ways about it. Rationalizations aside, we're telling Russia not to do exactly what we as a nation feel morally obligated to do. "This is the 21st century, you can't just invade sovereign nations..." Baloney. Or Bologna, whichever.

Gorby hits on a good point, one that I feel only an outsider would generally come to. The basic attitudes of American relations with other countries are that our interests supercede all other considerations. We're just a bunch of bullies, really, even with out allies.

Elliot said...

This also gets a point that should be made in the context of Iraq as well: namely, that in foreign interventions (military or diplomatic) it is just as possible that we are being manipulated rather than us doing the manipulating. Maliki in Iraq has masterfully cemented his position and his political coalition by reframing his relation with the US as one of opposition. Instead of looking like the stooge, thanks to Bush's lack of a timetable Maliki is now in a position of having the US beg him to let us stay longer - hardly a great bargaining position for the US. This is what the progressive position has meant all along when we argued that we would strengthen our bargaining position vis a vis the Iraqi leadership by setting a clear timetable to withdraw.

In the same vein, Republican disdain for understanding our adversaries and the underlying facts on the ground has allowed Georgia to use our aggressive anti-Russian stance as a chess piece in their dispute with Moscow over a couple hundred miles of borders.

Now what do we do? Live up to our bluster and send "peacekeepers" to Russia or impose some sort of sanctions? That would cut off any hope for Russian cooperation in our campaign against the Iranian nuclear program. Which is more important? Georgia's territorial integrity or preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East?

And on the other hand, if we don't step up to the plate over Georgia, we send the message that we are in the business of making promises we can't keep. A fine pickle.

The lack of any coherent response to this sort of trade-off is a perfect encapsulation of why the current Republican party is fundamentally unserious in its vision for national security. And I can't wait for Biden to get out there making this case.