Today the New York Times reports that Russia is escalating its war with Georgia, “moving tanks and troops through the separatist enclave of South Ossetia and advancing toward the city of Gori in central Georgia” and even bombing parts of Tibilisi, the Georgian captial.
Russia’s increasing aggression is putting a spark into American neoconservatives. Today on the Times op-ed page, one of their leaders, William Kristol, claims the U.S. must “defend” Georgia’s sovereignty as a reward for its participation in Iraq, while the conservative Washington Times is calling for “maximum pressure” on Russia:
Bill Kristol: [Georgia] has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of — and perhaps destabilizes all of — a friendly democratic nation.
Washington Times: It is in America’s interest to exert maximum pressure on Russia to withdraw its troops and halt the interference in Georgian territory. This latest act shows the need for greater resolve in establishing a European security system that can be an effective check on Russian power
Writing in the Washington Post today, Robert Kagan goes even further, suggesting that the Georgia-Russia conflict may be the start of World War III:
Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama. [...]
The mood is reminiscent of Germany after World War I, when Germans complained about the “shameful Versailles diktat” imposed on a prostrate Germany by the victorious powers and about the corrupt politicians who stabbed the nation in the back.
Matthew Yglesias asks of Kagan’s World War II analogy: “If we launch a war with Russia — which would seem to be the point of busting out the analogy — then how are we going to find the time to launch wars with Iran and China?”