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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

History redux

I assume that most of you know me as a historian. Mainly war and especially WWII. I happened across an article today from the WSJ written by two mediocre Senators who garner great headlines amongst the press and Republicans: namely Lieberman and Graham.
They've just returned from a trip to Georgia and scribed an article issuing a warning about Russia and Russian intentions. I agree with the premise that "
Russia's invasion of Georgia represents the most serious challenge to this political order since Slobodan Milosevic unleashed the demons of ethnic nationalism in the Balkans. What is happening in Georgia today, therefore, is not simply a territorial dispute. It is a struggle about whether a new dividing line is drawn across Europe: between nations that are free to determine their own destinies, and nations that are consigned to the Kremlin's autocratic orbit." However, what caught my eye and is now sticking in my craw was this sentence two paragraphs down:"The first priority of America and Europe must be to prevent the Kremlin from achieving its strategic objectives in Georgia. " I stopped at the end of that sentence. What's the population of Europe again? What is the EU's GDP? How strong are it's armed forces? Didn't America rescue Europe twice in the twentieth century? Didn't we preserve it for fifty plus years during the Cold War? And yet the armed forces of Britain, Germany and France couldn't handle the Balkans without the U.S. Air Force? And now, once again, there is the suggestion that Europe can not/will not act in its own long range interests?
In the early 80's, Ronald Reagan strongly urged the Germans NOT to have or accept the Russians building a natural gas pipeline into Germany. His concern was that the Germans would become dangerously dependent on Russian largess and mercy should the Russians ever need to have Europe back down. Germany now receives a worrying percentage of its energy from Russia. This Russian hammer over Germany and the EU is reminiscent of the first OPEC oil embargo in 1973: the Japanese received a majority of their oil from OPEC. OPEC told Japan to either denounce Israel of face a total OPEC embargo. Japan denounced Israel.
And so the only nearby armed forces that can respond to Russian aggression against say Poland or the Ukraine are based in countries that need Russian natural gas to function.
Not a lot of forward thinking in Europe. Matched neatly by the lack of any forward thinking in Washington as evidenced by $4.00/gal gasoline.
Victor Davis Hanson always has particularly sharp insight. Go here and pick out some of his articles on Russia and Georgia.


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