Sunday, August 24, 2008

Contending with an Upside-down World

We are often left dumbfounded when we confront some of the leftist views of the world, i.e.: Hamas and Fatah terrorists who set off bombs in crowded marketplaces in the sovereign country of Israel are the “good guys”; President Bush is more of a threat to our freedoms than Islamists who massacre 3000 Americans on 9/11, stone women to death, cut off heads and murder homosexuals; Saddam Hussein was no threat to the rest of us; 9/11 was a criminal plot carried out by President Bush and VP Cheney; and now – Russia is the good guy and Georgia the bad guy in their current conflict.

Nowhere is this upside-down world more apparent than is revealed in Senator Obama’s comments that obviously seek to compare Russia’s rape of Georgia with our removal of Saddam Hussein:

“Democrat Barack Obama scolded Russia again on Wednesday for invading another country’s sovereign territory while adding a new twist: the United States, he said, should set a better example on that front, too.

The Illinois senator’s opposition to the Iraq war, which his comment clearly referenced, is well known. But this was the first time the Democratic presidential candidate has made a comparison between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Russia’s recent military activity in Georgia.

“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.””

I think John Hinderaker said it best: “So our "charging into" Iraq--with dozens of allies, supported by a U.N. resolution, as a last resort after six months of build-up and negotiations, to unseat one of the cruelest dictators of modern times who had twice invaded neighboring states, was in violation of more than a dozen U.N. resolutions and was responsible for the deaths of something like two million people, who was shooting at American aircraft and had tried to assassinate a former President of the United States, in Obama's childish mind, was just like Russia's "charging into" Georgia, which resembles Saddam's Iraq in no respect. And, of course, we invaded a horrifying charnel-house so as to establish a democracy, whereas Russia invaded a peaceful democracy that it wants to re-incorporate into its empire.

Is Obama an idiot? I don't think so, really. But one of the many problems with being a leftist is that it leads you to say lots of stupid things. Today, the Obama gaffe machine went into overdrive. By November, I suspect that most voters will have heard enough to know that Barack Obama is unqualified to be a middle-manager in a well-run company, let alone President of the United States.”

In an informal survey of various sources, it became apparent to me that liberal publications generally seemed to blame Georgia for its invasion by Russia, while conservative publications blamed Russia. I was therefore surprised this morning to read the following report in the normally liberal Washington Post. Is the tide turning?
Who Needs Russia?

The United States should make a clear-eyed assessment of the fruits of strategic cooperation.

August 23, 2008 Washington Post (Excerpt)

"ON THURSDAY, while overseeing his country's continuing occupation of neighboring Georgia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev found time to meet with visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Assad, who is under suspicion of ordering the murder of political opponents in Lebanon, lavishly praised Russia's invasion of Georgia and asked for more Russian weapons. Mr. Medvedev acceded to this request, according to his foreign minister.

This was a small and unsurprising event in the annals of Russian diplomatic history. But it's worth noting as the United States and its European allies consider how to reshape relations with Russia in the wake of its Aug. 7 invasion of Georgia. A common theme of commentary since the war began has been that the United States is constrained in its condemnation of -- or sanctions against -- Russia because it needs Russia too much in areas ranging from counterterrorism to checking the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. But you can't lose what you never had, and it's fair to question how much help Russia has been providing in any of those areas, even before Aug. 7.

Iran provides a useful example. Russia has participated, with Germany, France and Britain, in talks aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its nuclear program and even has gone along with some sanctions enacted by the U.N. Security Council. But Russia's principal contribution has been to slow the process and resist meaningful sanctions, stringing the Bush administration along just enough to convince it that truly effective measures -- sometime, somewhere down the road -- might be possible.

Iran's nuclear program has proceeded without inhibition. Meanwhile, Russian experts help develop Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, and Russia sells Iran air-defense weapons it can use to protect its nuclear sites and anti-ship weapons it could use to menace Persian Gulf shipping traffic in the event of conflict. While the administration blames Iran and its proteges, including Hamas and Syria, for destabilizing the Middle East, Russia sells arms to all of them, and to Venezuela and Sudan." Washington Post

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