I have to say it and no one will be surprised to hear it from me. It's ironic (but not at all unexpected) to hear this administration admonishing the Russians for something that they (the Bush cabal) are just as guilty of doing. Invading and occupying.
I think it's just one more huge bit of evidence as to the complete lack of leadership that exists in the Bush administration, and the total and absolute failure this administration has been on both the domestic and world stages, especially since March of 2003. They had no credibility with the rest of the world before this week and they have none now that the Russians have waltzed into Georgia. Now Bush - and by extension, we - look like self-righteous demigods telling other nations they can't do what we do. No damn wonder we're called Ugly Americans. At least November will bring a change - a real change - and we can start to put the past and old ways of thinking about things behind us....hopefully for good.
As for the Russians, don't think for a minute that the music has stopped and the Russians are content to sit the next one out. That tune will keep playing now that we're, a) spread so thinly militarily and more importantly, b) have practically no allies left on the geo-political stage. You think the Russians are happy about what's happened over the last 20 years? Do you think for one minute that their "success" in Georgia isn't green-lighting them for the rest of the Balkans, the European "divider" states of Ukraine and Belarus, the Baltics, along their southern borders in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and their pseudo-ally, Iran?
It won't happen tomorrow, but I think it will happen. The Russians, under Putin, are going to try and reconstitute their USSR-era place of prominence on the world stage. Make no mistake, Putin is the real Wizard of Oz controlling Russian actions from behind the curtain. We shouldn't expect anything less than the start of very some serious chilling in American-Russian relations.
And what are we going to do about it? What can be done? Rattle our saber.....rally world support.....economically isolate the world's 7th largest oil reserve (http://www.worldalmanac.com/blog/2008/01/world_oil_reserves_and_consumption.html)? I don't know, but I'm not optimistic considering the failed state of domestic and world geo-politics left behind by Bush.
I think our best chance to influence Russia and other misguided political leaders the world over is to flush our neo-conservative leaders and their failed belief systems and policies, especially as they manifested themselves over the past 7 years. It seems to me that neo-cons just refuse to think in big-picture mode, and recent incarnations of that political mindset seem truly incapable of really and sincerely engaging the world. "Bring it on" schoolyard thuggery has gotten us nowhere.
McCain is pretty much more of the same - a losing approach at being nothing more than the world's bully. If Obama is to be believed, at least he's willing to accept the social and political realities of the world - that not everyone wants to be an American, nor should they be - and that talking is the first step toward peace.
I know what some of you are thinking. I'm talking about globalism or giving up our form of government for some U.N.-led world society....kumbaya, eh? Wrong.
As a student of leadership, I can tell you that every single expert I've ever read on the subject agrees that the true mark and measure of a great leader is one who leads only by virtue of the authority and support granted him or her by their followers. Strong-arming like Bush's tactics are doomed to failure.
People only become true followers by choice, not by coercion or force. They expect their leaders to acknowledge and embrace the skills, experience, and knowledge that followers have as the real foundation of power. That means leaders can't do everything themselves, aren't always right, that they need to sincerely engage their followers in the decision-making process, and that when mistakes are made they are addressed openly and truthfully. None of this seems to be very well understood by Bush and now McCain. More of the same for the next 4 years? No thanks.
How refreshing it would be for the next American president to acknowledge that the last 5 (if not 8) years of American leadership have been a failure. I'm not suggesting a mean-spirited, throwing-under-the-bus of Bush and Company, but an open and sincere change in leadership principles to demonstrate that, as a true leader of world affairs, we are going to do things very differently. No more dictating terms and pretending we never make mistakes and, instead, more willingness to take the wants and needs of other country's and the rest of the world into account. No more thinking like some kind of medieval fiefdom or a conquering nation.
The next president will unfortunately inherit a complete lack of political and moral credibility for the U.S. with the world community thanks to the last 7 years of this failed Bush administration. The blame is not all Bush's. For most of that time he enjoyed a rubber-stamp Republican Congress which has now, regrettably, turned into a gutless one that still has no visible or viable Democratic opposition unity or leadership.
The Russians aren't stupid. They know that we need them and that we really aren't in a position - perhaps even can't if we want to - stop whatever it is the Russians want to do along their borders. Think about it. This administration has all but bankrupted this great country on every level - political, financial, and moral. As for the options that were and may be still open to us regarding the Russian incursion into Georgia, I think we did and are doing all that's possible considering that this administration has no moral authority or credibility left in the world, the lack of military resources notwithstanding.
Bush is leaving behind a geo-politically scorched earth. He's squandered every bit of credibility we had with the rest of the world, and it should come as no surprise when equally-backward thinkers like Putin take advantage.