Monday, August 18, 2008

Billmon on Georgia, the US and our dysfunctional foreign policy elite

The pioneering liberal blogger Billmon is back posting sporadically at his Daily Kos diary. His entry for 08/18/08, Anatomy of A(nother) Fiasco, is about the Georgia-Russia conflict and provides some useful background. He reminds us that a lot of the most questionable assumptions underpinning current US foreign policy are shared by most Republicans and many Democrats.

As Billmon notes, our European allies supported some expansions of NATO, e.g., Poland and the Czech Republic. But they didn't share the enthusiasm of Cheney and Bush for incorporating countries like Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Plus, it would be highly problematic to make a formal defense alliance with Georgian at a time when it is not in undisputed control of territory it claims as its own, i.e., South Ossetia and Abkhasia.

Billmon also explains in 2007 that Congress passed the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act, which authorized treatment of Georgia and Ukraine as de facto allies of the United States, at least in terms of providing weapons sales and advisers on similar terms to those received by formal NATO allies. This reckless piece of legislation was sponsored by those famous "moderate" Republicans Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel, along with Democrats Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and that famous Maverick McCain (who Billmon identifies as R-POW). And earlier this year, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden joined with John McCain and Joe Lieberman to sponsored another resolution "demanding that NATO open its doors to the Ukraine and Georgia". There was even a subsequent Congressional resolution passed supporting Georgia and blasting Russia. Both parties need to start being a lot more careful about sending signals to volatile regimes that can be easily misinterpreted, or create openings for lobbyists like Randy Schuenemann (now of the McCain campaign) to make mischief.

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