Ivan, Meet Butch

Did the Russians blow up a train in Georgia this past Sunday?

Russian Air Force Oopsies

Apparently the Russians turned in a less-than-impressive performance in the air, despite the non-formidable opposition.

Experts Talking Past Each Other

Thomas Barnett turns in a less-than-stellar response to an Edward Luttwak op-ed on the long-term meaning of the Georgia/Russia conflict, reading Luttwak as advocating a rallying behind the former republics regardless of the practicalities. Needless to say, Barnett doesn’t agree:

Go ahead and let Georgia declare war between NATO and Russia. Now, any half-wit small-country leader gets to audition for the role of Archduke Ferdinand.

Pithy, and I daresay it’s a useful caution. Only trouble is that Luttwak was trying to say something more limited, and rather different, than what Barnett thinks he was, namely that NATO remains first and foremost a military alliance:

If Ukraine is allowed to enter Nato, all other members must be ready to send their troops to defend its borders — an outlandish notion for most of them. Yet to refuse Ukraine’s admission now would inevitably hand it over to Russian hegemony.

The decision on whether to confront Russia is an enormously tough one. But that decision will have to be made. It means that Europe’s holiday from serious geopolitics is over.

As an observation, I think that’s pretty much indisputable.

Midasize It!

Someone needs a catalytic converter …

Keep Out

Russia quietly ups the ante:

In recent days, several Bear-H bombers have carried out training missions over the Black Sea, according to American officials familiar with intelligence reports. The training flights represent the first time that a Bear bomber has flown over the Black Sea in at least two years, according to American military experts. The Russian bombers are capable of carrying non-nuclear cruise missiles, and government intelligence analysts have told the Pentagon that a recent Bear training flight appeared to simulate a cruise-missile attack against Georgia.

It’s also a not-subtle message to the US Navy that as far as the Russians are concerned, the Black Sea is their lake.

Getting the Point

Thomas Barnett:

The reason why you don’t lose your head over stuff like this is that every time there’s churn in the international security order, there are always new opportunities for re-balancing. Most of that re-balancing has been focused on the United States for the past four years, hence the increasingly sensible stuff out of the Bush administration. After a while, your choices are simply narrowed.

The same will happen with Russia, and if we avoid the calls of the freak-out artists, we’ll find several useful answers regarding future structure along the way.

Purity Has Nothing to Do With It

Matt Ygelsias misses the point entirely in observing that Georgian President Saakashvili is no democrat. The US embrace of Georgia has nothing to do with human rights, democracy or anything so soft and squishy as that. We prefer that Georgia (and the other former Soviet republics) remain independent of Russia because a smaller Russia is a less powerful and less threatening Russia. Period.