Support of Georgia Incompatible with Good Russia Relations?

Today the New York Times has published a “Last Call” for a number of people to pose op/ed questions before the candidates as the debate approaches tonight. It’s interesting that the Democrat Bill Bradley has chosen to throw out the Russia-Georgia bone. He appears to fallen into that classic left-leaning trap we have described on this blog in the past (a trap that Obama has so far resisted), by which Democrats may accidentally find themselves cornered into the pro-Putin corner, finding themselves in the business of manufacturing excuses for unilateral war and producing legitimacy for Russia’s claim to a sphere of influence and the irrelevance of national sovereignty – at least for former Soviet nations. Logically, anyone opposed to the unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq should also be opposed to the invasion of Georgia … in practice, we see that the opposite tends to be true. It’s easy to see why people are tempted to question support for Georgian sovereignty…

… it helps to differentiate themselves from what could gently be described as the Bush-McCain hyperbole and the painfully cheesy attempt to make Georgia seem like a cause célèbre or modern day Prague Spring. “After all,” the conventional Democratic mind must think, “If McCain goes for it, that must mean we are against it.”But what Bill Bradley gets wrong, or would do well to expand upon, is the assumption that U.S. support for Georgian sovereignty is mutually exclusive from cooperation with Russia, and respectful and efficient diplomatic relations on other key issues of mutual interests. Why assume that this has to be a trade-off?

During the crisis between Russia and Georgia, John McCain said, “We are all Georgians.” But aren’t we all Americans? And doesn’t America have worldwide strategic interests? Are Georgia’s interests more important to our long-term security than a Russia that genuinely works with the United States to eliminate nuclear weapons, control nuclear proliferation, safeguard nuclear materials and assist in the war against radical Islamic terrorism?— BILL BRADLEY, a Democratic senator from New Jersey from 1979 to 1997