Silence on Georgia

The Left gives Russia a free pass

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Did you see the huge crowd outside the Russian Embassy protesting the war in Georgia?

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio (, 412-263-1476).

Neither did I. Now that we have a genuine war of aggression, the silence on the Left is deafening.

"You might think, at a moment such as this, that the moral calculus would be pretty well understood," The Washington Post said in an editorial Thursday. "Russian troops are occupying large swaths of Georgia, a tiny neighboring country, and sacking its military bases. Russian jets have roamed the Georgian skies, bombing civilian and military targets alike. Russian ships are said to be controlling Georgia's port of Poti, while militia under Russia's control reportedly massacre Georgian civilians. Yet in Washington, the foreign policy sophisticates cluck and murmur that, after all, the Georgians should have known better than to chart an independent course."

It is scandalous to liberals that terrorists at Gitmo don't have easy access to lawyers, but most don't care how many Georgians the Russians kill.

Vladimir Putin is counting on this.

"The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left," wrote the military historian Victor Davis Hanson in National Review. "From what the Russians learned of the Western reaction to Iraq, they expect their best apologists will be American politicians, pundits, professors and essayists."

Columnist Robert Scheer speculated Wednesday that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili deliberately provoked the invasion to give John McCain a boost in our presidential election.

Mr. Scheer is a moonbat. But his charge was echoed by Susan Rice, a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Barack Obama (and the woman who advised President Clinton not to intervene to stop the genocide in Rwanda).

"Barack Obama, the administration indeed and all of our NATO allies took a measured and reasoned approach because we were dealing with the facts as we knew them," Ms. Rice said on MSNBC's "Hardball" program Tuesday. "John McCain shot from the hip, very aggressive, very belligerent statement. He may or may not have complicated the situation."

Ms. Rice was trying to explain away Sen. Obama's initially tepid response to the Russian invasion, in which he expressed a moral equivalence between the aggressor and his victim. Mr. Obama's stance has since evolved into what might be termed "McCain lite."

Other prominent Democrats also are more concerned about the domestic political implications of the Russian invasion than they are of its geostrategic implications.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who's been vetted as a potential running mate for Sen. Obama, ludicrously declared it was Mr. Obama's belated criticism of the invasion that caused the Russians to agree to a cease-fire (which they have not kept).

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said the matter should be left to the United Nations. This caused columnist George F. Will to wonder how Mr. Richardson could have been U.N. ambassador without learning Russia has a veto on the Security Council.

This emphasis on domestic politics is a product of cowardice as well as self-absorption. If blame can be laid on Mr. Saakashvili or John McCain, then maybe there isn't a vicious, hungry, nuclear-armed bear prowling the woods.

Cowardice and self-absorption are unlovely qualities in themselves. Combined, they're deadly. Because in the real world, the United States faces dangers greater than the election of Republicans.

Vladimir Putin wants to reconstruct the Soviet empire. And he won't be deterred by "world opinion" alone.

President Bush, who once described Mr. Putin as a man he could trust, was caught flat-footed by the invasion. His administration's neglect is as egregious as the failure of the Clinton administration to recognize and deal with the threat of al-Qaida before 9/11.

The only Western political leader to understand Russia's geopolitical intentions, and to speak out against them, was John McCain. In an article published March 30, Helene Cooper of The New York Times snarked at a speech he'd made the week before:

"For many Americans, Mr. McCain's rhetoric sounded almost like a trip back in time, to the days of the Cold War, when major foreign policy addresses by American presidential aspirants always included the requisite bashing of the Soviet Union."

But Mr. McCain understood -- as The New York Times and most Democrats did not -- that history didn't end when the Berlin Wall fell.


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