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Foreign Policy Realism and Georgia

putin_economist081708.jpgHere are some collected opinions on the war, which hopefully exhibit clear connections. Anne Applebaum: But if this becomes a long-term conflict, if the Russian military remains in Georgia proper, if this turns out to be only the first of several incursions into other neighboring states, there are relationships we have and meaningful levers we can use, whether over Russian membership in international institutions or Russian leaders’ luxury apartments in Paris — if, of course, we are willing to use them. The critical question now is whether the West is prepared to behave like the West, to speak with one voice and create a common transatlantic policy. In recent years, Russia has preferred to deal with Western countries and their leaders one by one. Just last week, an affiliate of Gazprom, the Russian state-dominated gas company, added a former Finnish prime minister to its payroll — which already includes former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. If we hang together instead of allowing Gazprom to pick us all off separately, there is at least a chance that this mini-chill won’t last another 40 years, too.

Richard Cohen: Both analogies — Hungary and Korea — are examples of the intense interest that foreign governments and other parties abroad show in the subtleties of American policy. In the case of Georgia, the body language of the Bush administration — as well as of John McCain and others — suggested an affinity that was unconnected to America’s national interest. It’s true that the Georgians might have been hearing what they wanted to hear — or possibly thinking that the Russians were hearing something similar — but Washington’s support of NATO membership for Georgia is clear enough: We love you guys.Just as Brent Scowcroft was not dismissing Saddam Hussein’s atrocities, so, too, does wondering about further NATO expansion not take the side of Russia or excuse its inexcusable mauling of Georgia. But realism requires asking hard questions. NATO membership is a solemn commitment granted to stable democracies. Does Georgia fit that bill? How about Ukraine? Will NATO membership for those countries keep Russia in its place? And what if it doesn’t? That raises the second most important question: Will we fight for Georgia? Here’s the first: Can we talk about this? Alan Mendoza: In response, the West must show that violence will be punished, not rewarded. The Russia-inclusive G8 should be sidelined in favour of the G7, and Russian OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] and WTO entry stalled. EU members need to develop a joint approach to alternative energy supply, rather than striking bilateral deals. Crucially, there must be no delay in NATO’s consideration of Georgian and Ukrainian membership. It would be fitting if the issue that underlay Russia’s belligerence could be used to demonstrate the futility of such aggression.Economist: That does not mean the West should do nothing in response to Russia’s aggression against Georgia. On the contrary, it still has influence over the Russians, who remain surprisingly sensitive about their international image. That is why Western leaders must make quite clear their outrage over the invasion and continued bombing of Georgia. Few have done that so far; the Italians and Germans in particular have been shamefully silent.Above all, the West must make plain to Mr Putin that Russia’s invasion of Georgia means an end to business as usual, even if it continues to work with him on issues such as Iran. America has already cancelled some military exercises with Russia. America and the Europeans should ensure that Russia is not let into more international clubs, such as the Paris-based OECD or the World Trade Organisation. Now would also be an appropriate time to strengthen the rich-country G7, which excludes Russia, at the expense of the G8, which includes it.The European Union, which has too often split into camps of appeasers and tough-talkers over Russia, should drop negotiations on a new partnership and co-operation agreement. Visa restrictions should be tightened, and the personal finances abroad of top Russian officials probed more carefully. The EU should work harder at reducing its dependence on Russian energy imports and improving internal energy connections—and EU countries should stop striking bilateral deals with Russia.