The big news of this day is that Russian tanks are rolling across the border into the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Vladimir Putin, with the exquisite timing of a maestro, made his move while much of the world is longingly focused on the Olympic Games.
At this point, the (ostensible) causus belli is unclear.
Two Russian planes were shot down in Georgian airspace. The Georgians claim that the planes were bombing villages. The Russians deny this and, for their part, say they are responding to Georgian attacks on Russian peace-keepers and "ethnic cleansing" that is being carried out in the separatist region of South Ossetia. A muddled picture, to be sure.
Now, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is calling on the international community to denounce the Russian invasion and aid his country, while Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, urged the Europeans and Americans to "reach the right conclusions."
This entire incident is but another result of depleted American credibility brought about by the incompetence and malevolence of the Bush administration.
|Like bringing a squirt-gun to a knife fight...|
Well, one has to imagine that Putin was laughing up his sleeve when he heard that. Does it not seem apparent that Putin has calculated the costs of the current military adventure and determined that, with American credibility so low, he has a free hand to do as he will?
Bush and his sycophantic accomplice, the underwhelming Condoleeza Rice, have gravely damaged US relations with nearly everyone, but most especially with our European allies. The list of offenses is long: Guantanamo detentions, extraordinary renditions, flaunting of the Geneva Convention, and, of course, the invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.
With our alliances in such a state, and with our diplomatic corps eviscerated, there is nothing immediately that can be done. The White House response to the invasion was pathetic: "We urge restraint on all sides - that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences," mewled White House automaton Dana Perino.
Meanwhile, Junior yucks it up with Putin in Beijing at the opening of the Olympic games. It is unclear if Junior, who we know has an aversion to reading intelligence reports, was aware of the build up of Russian forces on the Georgian border before leaving for China. But I suppose, if he did know, he calculated it was better not to risk offending our Chinese creditors by snubbing their white-wash party than to stay at the White House and do his job.
Well, if Junior is sitting in the stands in Beijing, he is probably less likely to make things worse. Thank God for small favors.