Superblogger Matt Yglesias thinks that we should start calling a spade a spade in terms of U.S. military training for Georgia – why bother pretending like it is for operations in Afghanistan? That first point is well taken (clearly the training has more to do with the fact that they were steamrolled by invading tanks about a year ago), but where they go from there is a bit nutty (like comparing Georgia and Mexico, and other classic U.S. liberal pitfalls and faulty thinking on Russia).
Isaac Chotiner at TNR has already posted a sharp response to this one, but I think we can already point to how Washington is dealing with Russia’s burgeoning military relationship with Venezuela – which despite the growing proof that Caracas is leaking these Russian weapons to FARC, the yanks are still relaxed, sober, and laissez-faire. If the Russians and Venezuelans want to have a military relationship, no need to make a big deal out of it. Russia has in the past showed a desire to have their Venezuela relationship be perceived as identical tit-for-tat meddling in a sphere of influence, but not everybody is still living in the 19th century (the calm result may have even been disappointing).
I don’t get it: American liberals are always terrified of anything that would be perceived as upsetting or challenging to the authoritarians in the Russian government, while American conservatives seem only to crave more and more confrontation and disrespect toward the Kremlin. Common sense and actual strategic consideration to these policy critiques seem a distant second behind scoring political points, and reinforcing the tired script.