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August 11, 2008
The Left sneers at suggestions for a strong response to Russia
The criticism by the left to some suggestions coming from conservatives that our response to the Russians for their now naked aggression in Georgia is analogous to the reaction to the Sudentenland or some other pre-World War II example of appeasement only shows them to be devoid of any ideas to deal with the crisis beyond the call "take it to the UN."
Matthew Yglesias on Bill Kristol's column:
Now of course Vladimir Putin really is a bad actor. And it should be said that as of today Russia seems to be going beyond anything that could be justified as a response to Georgia's provocation in South Ossetia. But the habit that the Kristols of the world have of deploying this kind of rhetoric is infuriating. If Kristol really thinks we should go to war with Russia, he's being crazy and irresponsible. If he doesn't think that, then he has no business busting out these Munich analogies. Nowhere in his column does he propose a single concrete step with any meaningful chance of altering the situation - it's all dedicated to mocking doves, but utterly lacking in viable alternatives.
Kristol doesn't "mock doves." He chides them for their desire to carry on "business as usual" with Russia while they gobble up a small neighbor:
This is the Obama way: Issue mealy mouthed "condemnations" of both sides while trying to get a meeting of the UN Security Council. Wow. I'll be Putin is sorry he even started this war just contemplating that.
Any suggestions beyond that are invisible to the left. In fact, they see no nuance between "take the problem to the UN" and war.
There are, of course, many things we can do after Putin is done with his aggression - all this to head off what the left is complaining most about; that every time there's a crisis, the right brings up Munich and appeasment.
Joe Klein of Time
To be sure, Russia's assault on Georgia is an outrage. We should use all the diplomatic leverage we have (not all that much, truthfully) to end this invasion, and--as Richard Holbrooke and Ronald Asmus argue in this more reasonable take--help Georgia to recover when it's over. And, to be sure, neither Russia nor China are going to be our good buddies, as many of us hoped in the afterglow of the fall of communism. They will be a significant diplomat challenge.
But it is important, yet again, to call out the endless neoconservative search for new enemies, mini-Hitlers. It is the product of an abstract over-intellectualizing of the world, the classic defect of ideologues. It is, as we have seen the last eight years, a dangerous way to behave internationally. And it has severely damaged our moral authority in the world...I mean, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, after Abu Ghraib, after our blithe rubbishing of the Geneva Accords, why should anyone listen to us when we criticize the Russians for their aggression in the Caucasus?
Russia and China will be a significant diplomat challenge.?" That kind of idiotic understatement is what leads to the left cheering on the UN at its most impotent; when aggressor nations are discussed. We can do a host of things to make life less comfortable for Putin and the Russians - if we chose to do so. But raising our voices and threatening that there would be a diplomatic and economic price to pay for agression just doesn't seem to be in the lefty foreign policy playbook.
Face it. No one is calling for war (despite this ridiculously exaggerated Think Progress headline). But to piously call on the UN time and time again to deal with these thugs only to see them emerge triumphant over the Obama's and Ygleseias's of the world should be obvious enough even to our friends on the left that their "solutions" to these outlaw regimes isn't working.
I would say to our colleagues on the left, do you want the right to stop bringing up Munich analogies every time there's a crisis like this? Start acting more like Churchill and less like Chamberlain for starters.