“I don’t know how they are going to isolate us.”
That is Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, telegraphing that Russia has no intention of returning to the August 6 borders anytime soon, which was also apparent in the recent comments by President Medvedev.
All of which increases the pressure on the U.S. and its G-8 allies to schedule a meeting for the purpose of ejecting Russia from the organization, one way or another. Charles Krauthammer offers these additional suggestions:
1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.
2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.
3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin’s dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.
4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.
All of these steps (except dissolution of the G-8, which should be irreversible) would be subject to reconsideration depending upon Russian action — most importantly and minimally, its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The most crucial and unconditional measure, however, is this: Reaffirm support for the Saakashvili government and declare that its removal by the Russians would lead to recognition of a government-in-exile. This would instantly be understood as providing us the legal basis for supplying and supporting a Georgian resistance to any Russian-installed regime.
I am leery of Olympic boycotts because they don’t work and they don’t work while injuring the athletes, but in this instance a push to have the IOCC remove the Games from Russia would make sense. All of the other measures make obvious sense.
What matters most is speed. History is full of loud denunciations followed by…less frequent denunciations, followed by acceptance of the status quo until the gangster regime makes another grab. State will want to move slowly. The president should push hard now for all of the sanctions available to him.
And Obama might want to come back from vacation and bone up on Russia –a state unlikely to listen to much less allow a U.N. mediator (does Obama know Russia has a Security Council veto?) a recognition that might end Obama’s silly talk of a U.N. mediator being the answer here. As Lindsey Graham said yesterday: “The thing about Sen. Obama, he’s playing catch-up here. His initial statements, quite frankly, didn’t appreciate how bold a move this was from Russia.”
Senator Obama is, and I think this is clearly true, the most inexperienced candidate to run for president in the last hundred years. And his reaction to Georgia is the perfect example of that. First, he talks about a moral equivalent between Russia and Georgia, then he talks about going to the U.N. Well, somebody’s got to remind him that the Soviet Union, or the Soviet Union originally, and now Russia, has a veto power in the U.N.