I’ve been quiet on the subject of international affairs for a while now. The Iraq war has turned around so decisively in the past few months that it’s disappeared from the news cycles. I was (and still am) an unabashed supporter of the effort to oust Saddam. I know the Bush Administration had trouble articulating this, but I hoped that a democratic Iraq would destabilize the adjacent dictatorships and effect the kind of change the general public in most middle eastern countries can only dream of. I realize this isn’t a popular opinion these days, because of the loss of life and treasure that we have paid to help people who are half a world a way and wouldn’t even come CLOSE to helping us if the situation were reversed. Also, if we had a time machine and could inform the President and the Defense Department that the “stockpiles” of WMDs alleged by then-CIA Director Tenet weren’t exactly stockpiles…we’d find another way to overthrow Hussein than the method we picked.
I bring this up now because we have a new problem. On the eve of the Olympics, the Russian Bear came back, invading the Republic of Georgia. This event affected me on a personal level, because it cemented in the world’s eye that Vladimir Putin, President Emeritus and de facto leader of Russia, is and has always been a thug with a background in the old Soviet Union’s KGB. He’s been a bad guy for decades and we should have known better than to ever trust him.
So what do we do? I say arm up Poland, Slovenia, Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, etc, and make it ABUNDANTLY clear to Putin that this isn’t 1968 anymore and we’re not going to stand by idly while he tries to rebuild the old USSR. We still have to be the leader firmly standing against tyranny, because we know all too well that most of Europe won’t (I will say that the new President of France, Sarkozy, seems like he’ll be a reliable ally for us, unlike his predecessor). By the way, Wednesday was the 40th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Czechslovakia. History.com has a very good article on it. It serves as a reminder to how far we’ve come, and also how freedom-loving people need to remain vigilant.
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6995 (here’s that article.)