Are They Mad!? Have today’s conservatives lost touch on foreign policy?

Blog / August 11, 2008


Are they Mad!?
Have today’s conservatives lost touch on foreign policy?
by: Tony McDonald
Vice Chairman
Young Conservatives of Texas
**cross-posted from**
Traveling home today I had the radio tuned to the Mark Levin show. (My radio dial rarely deviates from XM’s ‘America Right’ channel – go figure.) Levin puts on what would be considered a pretty edgy, conservative talk show. Of course, the topic of the day was Putin, Russia, and the invasion of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
Call after call I listened to armchair saber-rattler Levin banter back and forth with his equally war-hungry callers on the various ways the United States should come to Georgia’s aide. Levin favored shipping arms to the Georgians – various callers suggested more drastic measures such as a “Berlin Air-lift” type event. (I’m not sure what the caller wanted us to air-lift in — maybe cheap Chinese stuff that Walmart can’t get rid of.) 
The same question reentered my mind after each tirade: “Are these people Mad!?”

How – exactly – does the situation in Georgia affect American security interests? To that end, how does it affect American interests?  While I’m sure a poll of American’s on their support of a war against a Russian invasion of Georgia would get many American’s excited enough to load up their cars with deer rifles and head to Atlanta – I doubt that many Americans know of or even care about the Caucus Republic. Even callers to Levin’s show who purported  to be incensed by the invasion kept referring to it as an invasion of “two provinces” that captured “some major city.” For gosh’s sake – Russia might capture the capitol of Georgia! – whatever it’s called.
I haven’t heard anyone so foolish as to call for direct military action against the Ruskies … yet. Y’ know theres still that little thing we have going in Iraq. But are these so called ‘conservatives’ really so naïve as to think that air-lifting arms shipments into Georgia isn’t an act of war? Alright, chess-masters, let’s think at least one step ahead here.
Let’s accept the premise that we should provide material aid to the Georgians. It’s next week.  We’re flying shipments of M-16s and Missiles into T’bilisi (that’s the capitol of Georgia, just so you know). And, for arguments sake, let’s say that these arms shipments were actually accomplishing something. The Georgian army is routing the Russians with their new weapons. Don’t you think the Russians might consider attacking our planes and ships? So now we have dead American servicemen – and the American public is demanding retaliation…
Great! More war! But this time we’re not knocking down backwards middle eastern dictators; we’re facing one of the largest nations on Earth.
These are the scenarios we must consider before we consider stumble off into this conflict. Is the territorial integrity of Georgia really worth a US war with Russia?
To that end – how would we feel if the shoe was on the other foot? What if the US decided to invade Baja California? Territorially it would be similar to the move by the Russians to support the reunion of North and South Ossetia. (They’re the regions actually being fought over – my poorly informed warmongering friends.) How would we feel if the Russians decided that it was suddenly their business to tell us to get the hell out of Mexico and that if we didn’t, they would start supplying arms to the Mexican army?
Exactly. We’d tell them to take a hike.
That’s the point really. Nations have their spheres of influence. Monroe long ago declared that ours was the Western hemisphere – a pretty big ‘sphere’ if you ask me. If we have the authority to maintain things the way we want them around our country, what business do we have telling Russia what they can or can’t do with or to their neighbors?
Finally, if we’re really that concerned by Putin’s actions – there is a bevy of options available that could never be mistaken for an act of war. We could boot Russian diplomats – heck, we could boot Russians period. Freeze their U.S. assets, default on Russian debts, cut-off all U.S. trade to them… These actions all fall short of war yet pack a mighty punch and send a stark signal.
I know, I know. “Whatever happened to the Reagan idolatry? Isn’t this the second coming of the Evil Empire?”
No. It’s not. Putin may be a megalomaniacal dictator – but he doesn’t have the International Communist Conspiracy at his back. While he may be a real threat to his neighbors, he hardly seems to be plotting the same sort of international takeover that the communists desired. At worst he might threaten European energy supplies though his control of the Caspian oil pipline in Georgia – but again, that’s a problem France and Germany can deal with. Last I recall, they didn’t have troops tied up in our escapade in Iraq.
I hope that cooler heads prevail and the talk-radio saber rattling subsides. We have nothing to gain if the war-agitators convince us to meddle in an affair that doesn’t affect us, and that we can hardly control.