If Georgia had succeeded in its aggression, Kristol would be comparing Saakashvili to George Washington.
By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Published: August 10, 2008
In August 1924, the small nation of Georgia, occupied by Soviet Russia since 1921, rose up against Soviet rule. On Sept. 16, 1924, The Times of London reported on an appeal by the president of the Georgian Republic to the League of Nations. While “sympathetic reference to his country’s efforts was made” in the Assembly, the Times said, “it is realized that the League is incapable of rendering material aid, and that the moral influence which may be a powerful force with civilized countries is unlikely to make any impression upon Soviet Russia.”
“Unlikely” was an understatement. Georgians did not enjoy freedom again until 1991.
Today, the Vladimir Putins and Hu Jintaos and Mahmoud Ahmadinejads of the world — to say nothing of their junior counterparts in places like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma and North Korea — are no more likely than were Soviet leaders in 1924 to be swayed by “moral influence.” Dictators aren’t moved by the claims of justice unarmed; aggressors aren’t intimidated by diplomacy absent the credible threat of force; fanatics aren’t deterred by the disapproval of men of moderation or refinement.