Thursday, April 09, 2009

Where's the Rally Effect?

Georgian opposition forces are united in rallies to intimidate President Saakashvili into resigning:

Thousands of Georgians have gathered outside parliament saying they will not disperse until the president resigns.

Protesters, numbering up to 60,000, blamed President Mikhail Saakashvili for defeat against Russia in August's war and said he had stifled democracy.

The opposition alleged that dozens of members were arrested before the rally - a claim denied by the government.

President Saakashvili urged Georgians to show unity and "work day and night... to finally liberate Georgia".

Look, Saakashvili was a fool to fall into Russia's trap--but he didn't really start the war. Even though his resignation wouldn't result in a pro-Russian government, it would be terrible to hand Putin a victory by cutting short Saakashvili's term short with street protests. Let's defend the democratic process in Georgia despite Saakashvili and not because of him.

But I'm more interested in the rallies themselves, following the August 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. Why haven't the opposition parties rallied to defend Saakashvili? I mean, every time the idea of attacking Iran's nuclear infrastrucutre is raised, a chorus of voices calls out that we'll just get the generally pro-American Iranian people to rally to the mullahs. I've always argued that it is wrong to assume this is true. I've argued that internal dissidents often welcome foreign help if no other help is available. I find it hard to believe Russia isn't helping the opposition somehow even if the opposition isn't actually pro-Russian. Yet having Russian approval or even funding hasn't tainted the opposition. Why is our help to government opponents uniquely tainting?

And as long as I'm on the subject of Iran and their people's view of us, if we refrain from destroying Iran's nuclear programs out of fear of making the Iranian people dislike us--if that assumption is actually true--if Iran nukes Charleston harbor with a container-delivered nuke, are we really going to be comforted by the fact that Iran's people are really, really sad their mullahs nuked us?

There are certainly arguments against striking Iran. But whether that makes the Iranian people hate us isn't one of them.