Back in 2005, speaking before a crowd of more than 150,000 exuberant Georgians cheering “Bushi! Bushi!”, President Bush made a promise to the people of that former Soviet republic: “The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone. Americans respect your courageous choice for liberty. And as you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you.” So where was Bush as Russia launched a major military attack against Georgia? Monkeying around with the U.S. women’s volleyball players — and otherwise amusing himself at the Beijing Olympics. This is not to suggest that Bush should have sent in the Marines. But his impotence in the face of such a gravely destabilizing move highlights not only his personal loss of stature, but how deeply he has diminished American authority on the world stage generally and, particularly, in the eyes of Russia.
Photo: U.S. President George W. Bush prepares to speak to supporters in Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia in a Tuesday, May 10, 2005