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Monday, August 18, 2008

Hypocrisy watch: Georgia edition

Because of Iraq, American officials are having a hard time explaining their opposition to Russia's intervention into Georgia.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, quoted by CNN on August 11:
This is completely unacceptable and crosses a line...The days of overthrowing leaders by military means in Europe -- those days are gone,"
Watch it here. As Jon Stewart pointed out last week on The Daily Show, the entire war would apparently have been OK outside Europe.

Secretary of State Condi Rice, August 13, 2008:
I am not going to sit here and judge each Russian military operation. I am going to say that when you start bombing ports and threatening to bomb airfields and bombing a city like Gori and bringing troops in a flanking maneuver on the western flank of Georgia and tying up the main roads between Georgia – between Tbilisi and Gori, that’s well beyond anything that is needed to protect Russian peacekeepers. And that is why Russia is starting to face international condemnation for what it is doing.

This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten its neighbors, occupy a capital, overthrow a government, and get away with it. Things have changed. And so, what Russia, I think, is seeing is that to the degree that this is about South Ossetia, about even Abkhazia, let’s accept that it is time to move the forces back. Let’s accept that it’s -- first to end the fighting, move the forces back to August 6th, and then have an international mediation to try to resolve these conflicts within the context of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia.
Watch it here. Rice almost seems to be implying that Russia could not justifiably attack Georgia simply because Russia is too weak in the post-cold war world.

President George Bush, August 15:
The days of satellite states and spheres of influence are behind us. A contentious relationship with Russia is not in America's interest. And a contentious relationship with America is not in Russia's interest.

With its actions in recent days Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century. Only Russia can decide whether it will now put itself back on the path of responsible nations, or continue to pursue a policy that promises only confrontation and isolation. To begin to repair its relations with the United States and Europe and other nations, and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must respect the freedom of its neighbors.
Watch it here. Again, was the behavior only bad because Russia attacked a neighbor?

John McCain, August 13, 2008 (via Yglesias):
"In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations."
Watch it here.

Back in 2002 and 2003, a lot of critics (pdf alert) warned that states like Russia, India and Israel might take the logic of "preemption" from the Bush Doctrine in order to justify wars that would otherwise be seen as illegitimate.

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