Surrendering Abkhazia and South Ossetia

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting piece about the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by Daniel Fried and Eric Edelman, debating the U.S. response to the Russian invasion of Georgia. While Democratic Senators are criticizing the government’s weak response, there are indications that the Pentagon is willing to allow Russia de facto control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia Today has already produced a gleeful propaganda piece declaring that Washington is “divided” over Georgia … yes, the inconveniences of democracy are not well known in Russian foreign policy circles, but it would be a mistake to believe that there isn’t consensus on the basic opposition to this war.

Fried dismissed charges that condemnation of Russia’s action was too modest a response, saying the Kremlin was facing diplomatic isolation. “You’re quite right that a couple of communiques that use the word ‘condemn,’ by themselves, if this is all there is, does not constitute a lasting lesson,” Fried said. “But it is a pretty good beginning.” Still, Fried and Edelman remained vague about how the administration might attempt to get tougher, sidestepping several questions from the committee’s Democratic chairman, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, about what measures the administration was actively considering. Fried went so far as to suggest that, though the administration adamantly opposed any Russian move to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it was willing to allow de facto Russian control of the regions. He said that it was a prime American goal to prevent Georgia’s sovereignty from being “crushed.”