Georgia: In the “Better Late than Never” Category…

Seven years and six months into his administration, President Bush seems to have realized that Vladamir Putin isn’t always such a nice guy.  The Wall Street Journal reported today that the administration is putting all bilateral contacts with Russia under review.  This occurred after a near face-off between a Coast Guard cutter and the Russian navy.  As I have written previously, we are at least in part to blame for the fiasco in Georgia, and so this can be seen as corrective at best, and palliative at worst.  Just like his father, had President Bush sent strong messages (perhaps with soldiers) before the invasion, perhaps there never would have been one to begin with.

This was a win/win/win for Russia.  They managed to demonstrate to the west and elsewhere that they will have their views taken seriously, they invaded the portion of a neighbor that has many Russians, and they may well have destabilized alternative energy transmission paths that the U.S. proposed, demonstrating the old axiom that all war is over wealth.

President Clinton reminded us at the Democratic National Convention this week that we as a nation cannot go it alone, that it is not in our best interest to go it alone, and that cooperation amongst nations is best for the United States.  I am glad we are standing by Georgia, even if it is very late, and I hope that other countries will send stronger messages than they have until now.  I am referring in particular to Germany and France.

Russians in Georgia? Blame us.

As I wrote not so long ago, The Great Bear has awoken and the Soviet Union is alive and well.  According to CNN, Russia used cluster bombs to kill civilians in their attack on Georgia.  This represents a war crime that could be taken to The International Criminal Court (ICC).  Of course, Russia is not a member, and as it turns out, neither is the United States.  Stepping away from the ICC was one of President Bush’s first activities, which means that in a (yet another) way, we are complacent to the crimes committed by the Russians.  It also means that now is a good time for us to revisit signing and ratifying the Rome Statute that established the court and its jurisdiction.

The ICC exists because any country can go too far.  It is not meant to usurp power from functioning democracies that enforce their laws, but is meant instead to provide redress to agrieved individuals and countries against dicatorships.  Does this include Russia?  I believe so.  Russia has not yet demonstrated an impartial judiciary and prosecutorial service that provides oversight over the central government functions.  Does it include the United States?  I wouldn’t have said so until we began holding captives in Guantanamo Bay, and not providing due process.  Torture at Guantanamo is particularly troubling.  But it is nothing like the abuse currently going on in Georgia.