Foreign policy excellence

The Republicans are known for their foreign policy excellence. The Democrats suck at that stuff.

Who says so? Why, everyone does:  that’s the conventional wisdom.

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is wrong. Consider this article in Slate, which argues that the Bush Administration is partly responsible for Russia’s invasion of Georgia:

Regardless of what happens next, it is worth asking what the Bush people were thinking when they egged on Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s young, Western-educated president, to apply for NATO membership, send 2,000 of his troops to Iraq as a full-fledged U.S. ally, and receive tactical training and weapons from our military. Did they really think Putin would sit by and see another border state (and former province of the Russian empire) slip away to the West? If they thought that Putin might not, what did they plan to do about it, and how firmly did they warn Saakashvili not to get too brash or provoke an outburst?

It’s heartbreaking, but even more infuriating, to read so many Georgians quoted in the New York Times — officials, soldiers, and citizens — wondering when the United States is coming to their rescue. …

Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly called Saakashvili on Sunday to assure him that “Russian aggression must not go unanswered.” We should all be interested to know what answer he is preparing or whether he was just dangling the Georgians on another few inches of string. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the Security Council, “This is completely unacceptable and crosses a line.” Talk like that demands action. What’s the plan, and how does he hope to get the Security Council — on which Russia has veto power — to approve it? …

The sad truth is that — in part because the Cold War is over, in part because skyrocketing oil prices have engorged the Russians’ coffers — we have very little leverage over what the Russians do, at least in what they see as their own security sphere. And our top officials only announce this fact loud and clear when they issue ultimatums that go ignored without consequences.

Note the last phrase:  “ultimatums that go ignored without consequences.” Isn’t that how the Republicans typically pillory the United Nations?

The Telegraph comments:

Mr Saakashvilli may also have banked on support from his closest ally, US president George W Bush, whose administration is said to have given tacit support for a Georgian assault on South Ossetia in the belief that the territory could be recaptured within 48 hours. (emphasis added)

But the mess in Georgia can’t be the Republicans’ fault! The Republican party is known for its foreign policy excellence! It must be the Democrats’ fault.

I know:  let’s blame that unamerican celebrity, Barack Obama, for the mess in Georgia!

Andy McCarthy at NRO suspects that Russia is reconstituting the Soviet empire. And why wouldn’t they, since Americans “are thinking about turning our country over to the second Carter term — or the first McGovern.”

In other words, America is signalling its weakness by flirting with electing Obama. If Russia has been emboldened to act against Georgia, it’s Obama’s fault.

The alternative explanation is this:  the conventional wisdom is wrong. Maybe the Republicans used to be the party of foreign policy expertise, but things have changed since the neo-cons seized control of the government.

And remember, John McCain is everybit as bellicose as George Bush — maybe even more so.

Sadly, all this sabre rattling has real-world consequences for real men and women. The Telegraph reports:

Up a small flight of steps in a nearby courtyard, a young man, bare-chested and kneeling on the ground, cradled the head of his brother in his lap. Shaking off hands offered in comfort from neighbours, he moaned in agony and begged — in ever more frantic tones — for his brother to live.

Still wailing, he was hauled away from the body by Georgian troops who bundled the corpse into the back of a Lada. His face streaked in his brother’s blood, the man raced to keep up with the car, his hand repeatedly pawing the rear window.

Slowly, his legs buckling beneath him, he began to fall behind. Giving up the chase, he knelt unmoving in the middle of the road, his face staring in the direction of the receding car.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, George Bush is playing frat boy (well said, Bridgett) with the women’s beach volleyball team.

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