Getting Real on Georgia Troop Training

Thom Shanker reports that “The United States is resuming a combat training mission in the republic of Georgia to prepare its army for counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, despite the risks of angering Russia, senior Defense Department officials said Thursday.”

This strikes me as very, very, very silly. If we want to decide, as a matter of foreign policy, that we want to train Georgian troops in order to bolster Tblisi’s efforts to stand up to Moscow despite the risk of angering Russia, then fine. We should look at the costs and benefits of that strategy and maybe decide to adopt it. But it’s mighty dumb to be pretending that the reason we’re training Georgian troops is so that they might be prepared for counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. It’s perfectly clear to everyone that Afghanistan is being used as a pretext to provide training, and that Georgia is participating in the Afghan operation in order to obtain the training. The only people who we could possibly be fooling with this gambit is ourselves, and fooling yourself is a dangerous thing in foreign policy.

Meanwhile, before condemning Russia’s anger over this sort of thing as representative of Russian evil and irrationality, people should give some consideration to how our government would likely react if China started training the Mexican military as part of preparation for Mexico to join a formal defensive alliance with China. I think you’d see a massive freakout.