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Am I A Georgian?

By Matthew Yglesias

"Am I A Georgian?"

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Common sense indicates that, no, I am not a Georgian. But John McCain says “today we are all Georgians.” But does he mean it? Suppose Russia was bombing Atlanta and threatening to advance to Savannah. In solidarity with Georgia (the state) Americans from all fifty states would band together and fight the Russians off. Now I don’t think we should go to war with Russia. And I hope John McCain doesn’t think we should go to war with Russia. But insofar as he doesn’t mean that we should go to war with Russia on Georgia’s behalf, what’s the meaning of the claim that “we are all Georgians”?

On one level, it’s empty political sloganeering. But on another level it’s not empty — it’s downright irresponsible, and an example of the sort of irresponsible behavior that got us into this. But this stuff isn’t a game — Putin, Shakashvili, the Ossetes and the Abkhaz are all playing for keeps. We shouldn’t imply guarantees that we don’t intend to keep, which means the public statements of our officials have to be driven by realistic assessments of the situation and of American interests not by mawkish sentimentality.

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