When Vladimir Putin, formerly of the KGB, first took control of Russia at the end of 1999, it didn't bode well. Especially after President Bush met him and said, "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."
There is no soul. It was the first indication of Bush's tendency toward self-delusion.
Vladimir Putin is Soviet Union through and through, and he's not to be trusted. His burning desire has always been to rebuild the former glory of the USSR, and his actions of the past several days have proven that.
Hugh Hewitt, on his radio show, has been discussing the invasion of Georgia by the Russian military. Yesterday one of Hugh's guests, I believe it was Frank Gaffney, pointed out what should be obvious. The massive Russian response to Georgia's sending of troops into its South Ossetia region was not a sudden decision. Russia was ready and waiting to invade and only needed an excuse.
There's a pipeline that Russia wanted routed through that country but that the US and other Western countries prevailed in having built through Georgia. The existence of the Georgian pipeline puts a crimp in Russia's ability to monopolize the energy supply into the rest of Europe. And in the past Russia has shown itself willing to use its pipeline to gain the upper hand over Europe in trade disputes. Having control over Georgia and its pipeline would allow Russia to hold Europe hostage to its will.
But of course Russia wouldn't admit that desire. Instead, they couched their invasion of Georgia's recognized borders in terms of "helping" the poor, unfortunate Russian people being oppressed by cruel Georgian troops. It's a defense the world heard in 1938 by Germany about its invasion of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. And just as Germany wasn't content with just one region but invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, Russia has moved its military beyond South Ossetia toward Georgia's capital city of Tblisi.
Never again. We must not let this stand.
But Barack Obama doesn't get it. His first statement equated Georgia's use of troops to quell unrest within its borders to Russia's invasion of Georgia, in a Rodney King-esque "Can't we all just get along?" approach. Then he went back to his vacation in Hawaii.
John McCain, on the other hand, gets it. He condemned Russia and called for its isolation from the world community.
President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice both condemned Russia. And Rice declared, "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it. Things have changed."
She's absolutely right, at least I hope things have changed.
John McCain was spot-on at the end of July, described ironically enough by Pravda (Russia) this way:
The senator still sees three capital letters – KGB – in Putin’s eyes.