August 15, 2008
Despite significant U.S. and Georgian culpability in the crisis in Georgia, most U.S. politicians and media painted Russia as the diabolical “evildoer.” As if the Russian military incursions into Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia—the latter two are autonomous regions of the former that do not want to be part of that country—happened out of the blue, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice implied that Russia was attempting to bring back the Cold War.
Because Georgia is a U.S. friend, however, U.S. politicians, in a huff to heap blame on the resurgent Russian bear, forgot to mention that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili recklessly first invaded South Ossetia to try to reclaim one of the two regions, which both have had long-standing autonomy and populations who want it to stay that way. He did this in part because the U.S. had helped build up his military, leading him to overestimate U.S. backing in any crisis.
U.S. friend Georgia is hardly on the unambiguous right side of this dispute, was recklessly aggressive (in part because of U.S. military aid and friendship), and is not strategic to the United States. As bad as this crisis is, it could have been worse if Georgia had already been admitted to NATO. This crisis should be a wake-up call that admitting Georgia, Ukraine, or other non-strategic nations in the Russian sphere of influence into NATO could needlessly make Russia even more hostile and start a new, dangerous, and unnecessary Cold War.