Archive for August, 2008
By Randy Evans – Cancer. Just the word sends shivers down the spine. It is a cruel and heartless disease. Both those who survive, and those who do not, are its victim. Every American has been touched in some way by this villain.
Tony Snow was one of those people. His story is one of courage and character. Cancer could not take either away, but, it did take his life. On Saturday, July 12, 2008, the former White House press secretary died after a long and difficult fight with colon cancer.
By Randy Evans – This is not rocket science. To quote a famous line, “they’re back.” This is not good news for anyone in the world except for Russian military officers. Once again, it reaffirms the importance of the United States of America in the world.
Of course, all of this relates to the Russian response to the country of Georgia’s efforts to reestablish control over the breakaway region South Ossetia on the Russian/Georgia border. (When news first broke that the Russians were moving into Georgia, some responded by saying “they will never get down the connector – even with tanks, especially on the weekend.” The Georgians were not so “lucky.”)
No doubt Russia has been itching for an excuse to flex its military might and to send a message to its neighbors and the world that the old Russia is back. That moment presented itself with Georgia’s tepid maneuvers in South Ossetia. Having baited Georgia’s President, Russia mobilized its waiting armed forces in an overwhelming (and punishing) military response aimed at sending a clear and loud message to the rest of the world.
In the face of tanks and arrogant power undeterred by rhetoric and threats, the self described new world power in the European Union shriveled away into virtual irrelevance. In the end, it was once again the Americans who had to stand up and protect its allies. The entire crisis proved some important rules for international situations which seemed to have been forgotten during the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
First, there are some situations where “talking” just does not get the job done. Somehow, in true Rodney King fashion (“can’t we all just get along”), there arose this idea that every crisis can be fixed by sitting down and talking. Certainly, diplomacy is a critical component of lasting world piece. No one questions that. However, there are some situations where talking is not enough.
In the face of the tanks rolling across the Georgia border, this was such a situation. As the European Union whined, and the United Nations convened its emergency meetings, Russian tanks, personnel carriers, and warplanes moved toward Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. If the Georgians had relied on their European friends, the Russians would have been in Paris before anything meaningful happened, and even then it would have likely been a white flag accompanied by a desperate call for American help.
Arrogant power absorbs rhetoric on its way to achieving military objectives.
Second, promises mean nothing to aggressors. One day after Russia agreed to stop, Russian military forces moved further into Georgia taking over the Georgian city of Gori. Words mean nothing in these situations. After all, President Dmitry Medvedev (the President of Russia) agreed in writing to end its attacks in Georgia and to withdraw Russian forces. Just hours later, overwhelming Russian military forces moved deeper into Georgia to within forty miles of Georgia’s capital. No one seriously doubted its objective of capturing and occupying Georgia.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution with the Russians proved worse than meaningless – it was actually detrimental to peace. After all, negotiating from a position of weakness never works.
Taking advantage of the dire situation its disproportionate military response created (basically the Russians used a sledgehammer to swat a fly), the Russians adopted a “take it or leave it” approach to negotiation. The key part of their imposed agreement was a provision that “[w]hile awaiting an international mechanism, Russian peacekeeping forces will implement additional security measures.” President Sarkozy, desperate for an agreement, played along and insisted that the Georgians accept whatever terms the Russians demanded or else. When the Georgians acquiesced, the Russians used the provision they inserted as the justification to further invade Georgia.
Arrogant power plays on misplaced confidence in the words of men.
Third, actions speak louder than words. In the end, it was only the strength to actually do something that caused the Russians to back down. President George W. Bush gave meaning to the commitments that the Russians had so easily disregarded. He placed the United States side-by-side with its ally on the ground through humanitarian aid distributed by the United States military in Georgia. He also dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the capital of Georgia – Tbilisi. If the Russians had plans to capture and occupy Georgia, it would have to do so over a decided U. S. presence in Georgia. This was more than the Russians were willing to bite off.
By Randy Evans – It is not even Labor Day and the 2008 Presidential race has already reached fever pitch. Interestingly, recent polls suggest that Senator John McCain may have fared a little better than anyone could have reasonably expected in these early skirmishes.
In a noticeable turn, the center of gravity in the Presidential race has changed and changed rather dramatically.