Monday, August 11, 2008

We cannot be responsible for the whole world

Michael Rubin, on National Reviews blog The Corner, like many other commentators is decrying President Bush's apparent inaction as Russia is beating up on a little country named Georgia which is just north of Turkey on the Black Sea. Rubin, correctly I think, points out that many other small countries around the world will no doubt draw a lesson about our likelihood to come to their aid based on what they see us do in this situation.

One problem I see with his post is that he compares the situation of Russia versus a very small country right on its border with other situations, like Taiwan and Poland, where the defensive tactical situation is not nearly as stark, and other situations where the relative power of the potential aggressor to the potential victim is not nearly as great, like Israel and other Middle East countries vs Iran and like Colombia vs Venezuela.

The stark fact is that Russia can apply heavy conventional military power against Georgia, which is right on its border at relatively low cost, while we, and all of the NATO allies for that matter, simply can't apply equivalent power in Georgia without a major mobilization. And there is no way our citizenry is going to support a major mobilization right now even if that were wise.

Another aspect of this situation is that it was perfectly predictable by countries who have a lot more fat in this fire than we do and who could have prepared themselves to oppose it. The Russian action primarily threatens Europe, so any action against it should be lead by the European nations and they should do any heavy lifting with us at most acting in support. T he fact that none of the European powers, separately or together, have the military capability to confront Russia is a problem that the Europeans should have done something about years ago. If this Russian action frightens them they can easily afford to increase their defense budgets and build up their military cababilities to forestall any future Russian conventional movement further west.

We cannot and should not take responsibility for the safety of the whole world.

Michael Rubin's post is here :

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