Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now We Have a Post-War Problem

The Russians have pulled back from their forward positions where they could threaten to renew the war quickly; but are still dug in way beyond where we think they should be:

Georgian troops were back in control of the country's main East-West highway on Saturday after Russian forces pulled back, but Washington condemned the Kremlin for keeping a force in Georgia's heartland.

Russia says it will permanently station what it calls peacekeeping troops deep inside Georgia -- a step it says is to prevent new bloodshed and which the United States has branded a violation of a ceasefire deal.

Russian forces would continue to patrol the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti, a senior defense official said, potentially giving Moscow a stranglehold over trade.

Now we start to rebuild the Georgian military to resist Russian conventional invasion, bolster their people and political institutions to stand up to Russia, and work on pressuring the Russians to get out of their outposts deep in Georgia.

The objective is not to move the troops in Abhazia and South Ossetia, of course. Those regions are beyond hope and it would be foolish to encourage Georgians to believe they can regain them by force. Just refuse to accept the legality of the move and hope that in the fullness of time, these breakaway regions will understand why it is foolish to try to get into Russia when so many are trying to get away from Russia.

Russia is now a problem, but don't inflate their power. We can manage them as long as we aren't confused by the purported souls of the Russian leaders.

And as an aside, can't we stoke some grievances in nominal President Medvedev over the obvious leadership role that Prime Minister Putin has shown in the war?