Saturday, August 30, 2008

Better to Be Feared than Liked?

Explain to me again how Russia has won the Russia-Georgia War of 2008?

The Russians are even alienating autocrats who have usually been friendly to Russia:

China and several Central Asian nations rebuffed Russia's hopes of international support for its actions in Georgia, issuing a statement Thursday denouncing the use of force and calling for respect for every country's territorial integrity.

A joint declaration from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also offered some support for Russia's "active role in promoting peace" following a cease-fire, but overall it appeared to increase Moscow's international isolation.

I'm sure it was the Chinese pushing the Central Asian members of the SCO, who responded by siding with China over Russia. Way to go, Putin!

Why would China stiff arm their Russian semi-client state?

But China has traditionally been wary of endorsing separatists abroad, mindful of its own problems with Tibet and Muslims in the western territory of Xinjiang. The unanimously endorsed joint statement made a point of stressing the sanctity of borders — two days after Russia sought to redraw Georgia's territory.

Yes, those regions are sore points. But the real reason is Taiwan, the main region China considers a separatist problem and a region that China does not now control. I didn't think that China would approve of Russia's action.

The Russians have won a costly tactical victory and are being defeated at the strategic level.

The Russians and their Soviet predecessors acted on the theory it is better to be feared than liked. Russia is finding that without conventional military power, the fear option is not readily available.

And the charm and grace of Putin isn't enough to make up for that lost power.