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Statement on the Situation in Georgia


Location: Washington, DC

Statement on the Situation in Georgia

Once again the world watches in horror as Russian tanks trample over freedom, this time in Georgia. As in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1978, Russia has brutally attacked a small neighbor for daring to act independently.

Once again the world condemns the action only with words, leaving the defenders of liberty to their own devices.

Who believes Russia's stated reason for attacking the sovereign nation of Georgia? Vladimir Putin's rationale for the attack—ethnic affinity for separatists in a Georgian region known as South Ossetia—is no more believable than George Bush's claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The common denominator (and perhaps the real reason): oil.

The Russian bear did not simply wake from 17 years of hibernation and decide to maul tiny Georgia. Georgia's strategic position adjacent to oil-rich Azerbaijan likely drove the decision to invade. Putin wants to deny Azeri oil a southern route that is beyond Russia's control. And with Poland and Hungary already members of NATO, Putin realized he must not allow Georgia to align with the West. Also, the proposed NATO missile defense in Poland—too fast and too soon—might have been a tipping point for Putin as well. Feeling threatened on the west, he might have elected to move south instead.

And what better time to invade than with the United States bogged down in Iraq and losing ground in Afghanistan? Blocked in one direction, Putin took advantage of America's myopic military focus on two fitful wars. The United States now has 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, with the total growing weekly, and will face the same fierce resistance that proved to be the undoing for one of Putin's predecessors, Leonid Brezhnev, and triggered the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Putin knows well the brutal will of the Afghan resistance. He also knows the price America will inevitably pay in a nation that at one time respected U.S. intentions but now increasingly views it as an unwelcome enemy.

And what better time to terrorize a tiny nation than during the Olympic Games in China, when the entire world is perfecting the art of looking the other way in the face of totalitarian repression?

While Putin astutely and cynically picked the opportune moment to crush the Rose Revolution in Georgia, President Bush is all but abandoning one of America's strongest allies, a nation that committed 2,000 troops to his escapade in Iraq.

The real issue here, of course, is strategic positioning, control of a vital asset, and the power that goes with it. As America becomes energy weak, with only two percent of the world's remaining oil reserves, Russia rises with hers. America's goal should be domestic development of new energy systems to restore energy independence, not foreign adventurism. Yet, incredibly, this Administration extended our military halfway around the world while making our nation ever more dependent on foreign energy supplies.

The Bush Administration has also failed miserably on the diplomatic front. In the first Persian Gulf War, the world community, at the behest of the United States, stood united to drive Iraq out of the sovereign territory of Kuwait. The world community now has no such inclination to assist in Iraq as the United States has lost standing among nations as an aggressor itself. Pre-emptive strikes do have consequences, not the least of which is setting an example that other powers then copycat. And now Russia has.

Meanwhile, many former Soviet republics hang out there: Azerbaijan has energy resources, Moldova has agricultural assets, and Ukraine is also an oil transit route to Western Europe, along with key ports along the Black Sea, such as Sevastopol. What better time, indeed, for Russia to shore up its resource-rich, southern underbelly?

Once again U.S. intelligence proved less than up to the task of forewarning, leaving one of our best friends exposed to a foreign invasion.

So now, very sadly, the great powers have led the world into Oil Wars rather than a new energy age for a sustainable earth.

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