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Better known as Anne Applebaum. Not her greatest fan, but my impression has always been that she takes care not to write stuff that would put her husband in an awkward position, though not necessarily reflecting his views. Still for a topic like this she's worth reading, if only for the (possible) insight into Sikorski's thinking.

A Threat Explodes In Georgia
[boilerplate threats, dangerous Russia, China poor Georgia, background] The summing up:
Still, the bottom line is this: Georgia should have stepped back from the brink -- and should still do so if it has a chance -- but Russia's deployment of such a large and carefully prepared force, not only in South Ossetia but in the rest of Georgia as well, is totally unacceptable. The other indisputable conclusion? Wherever the blame for this week's escalation is finally laid, the West has very little influence on the outcome. Saakashvili's appeals for help and moral support -- " This is not about Georgia," he told CNN, "this is about the basic values the U.S. has always preached" -- aren't going to amount to much unless Russia wants them to.

Everyone is trying very hard, of course: Even as I write this, a dozen or more diplomats and heads of state are crowding the telephone lines between Beijing and the Caucasus, trying to get both sides just to stop fighting now and to worry later about who started it. Perhaps they'll succeed -- or perhaps those who wanted this battle to start also want it to continue.

In any case, the time to deal with this conflict is not now but was two, or even four, years ago. For a very long time it has been clear that there was a security vacuum in the Caucasus; that this vacuum was dangerous; that war was likely; that Georgia, an eager ally of the United States, would not emerge well from a confrontation; and that a successful invasion of Georgia, a country with U.S. troops on its soil, would reflect badly on the West. Cowardice, weakness, lack of ideas and, above all, the distraction of other events prevented any deeper engagement. And now it may be too late.

by MarekNYC on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 01:32:34 AM EST

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