Russian legislator calls for conditions-based withdrawal from Georgia, rejecting artificial timetables:
However, lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said Moscow will withdraw only when it is “assured that Georgians will not continue to use military force” in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russian troops will leave “sooner or later,” Kosachev said, saying the timetable depends “definitely on how Georgians will continue to behave.”
“If I would ask you in response to the same question how fast the American forces can leave Iraq, for example, the answer would be as soon as we have guarantees for peace and security there,” Kosachev said. “The same answer would be toward this situation.”
Now I think it would be silly to think that Putin would be more eager to withdraw from Georgia if the United States were willing to leave Iraq. The people running Russia are assertive nationalists just like the people running the United States, and neither group has any particular desire to do what other people want. It is, however, always worth recalling that it would be easier for the United States to rally an international coalition for the defense of sound international norms (don’t invade and occupy foreign countries on dubious pretexts, etc.) if we ourselves were not flagrant violators of those norms. At the end of the day, a world of universal or near-universal compliance with these norms is much better for the United States — and for justice, and for the world — than is a world of constant violation of the norms.