What NATO Was And What It Should Be

During the Cold War, I was a Cold Warrior. I believed that the Soviet Union was an "Evil Empire." In that era, NATO's mission as a defense alliance against Soviet aggression in Europe was clear and correct. But what about today? You see, I believe, like Ronald Reagan did, that a real change occurred in the era of Gorbachev and since then. Today, the Washington Post editorial board predictably attacks Russia's actions in South Ossetia while pretending Georgia is a good actor in this situation. Michael Dobbs, ironically writing for WaPo's Outlook section on Sunday, debunks WaPo's mythmaking:

I was there in [South Ossetia in] March 1991, shortly after the city was occupied by Georgian militia units loyal to Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the first freely elected leader of Georgia in seven decades. One of Gamsakhurdia's first acts as Georgian president was to cancel the political autonomy that the Stalinist constitution had granted the republic's 90,000-strong Ossetian minority. After negotiating safe passage with Soviet interior ministry troops who had stationed themselves between the Georgians and the Ossetians, I discovered that the town had been ransacked by Gamsakhurdia's militia. The Georgians had trashed the Ossetian national theater, decapitated the statue of an Ossetian poet and pulled down monuments to Ossetians who had fought with Soviet troops in World War II. The Ossetians were responding in kind, firing on Georgian villages and forcing Georgian residents of Tskhinvali to flee their homes.


It soon became clear to me that the Ossetians viewed Georgians in much the same way that Georgians view Russians: as aggressive bullies bent on taking away their independence. "We are much more worried by Georgian imperialism than Russian imperialism," an Ossetian leader, Gerasim Khugaev, told me. "It is closer to us, and we feel its pressure all the time."

(Emphasis supplied.) These inconvenient facts I expect to be ignored by Fred Hiatt, but not by General Wes Clark:

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Putin believes in re-establishing Russia's power. He wants Russia to be an important factor in every issue in the world. He'd like to regain the empire that Russia lost with the breakup of the Soviet Union. He'd love to see the reintegration of Ukraine. Belarus wants to be reintegrated. The Russians've put that on hold, because it's such a basket case. But with Ukraine and Belarus together, then the absorption of some of these other countries, he believes, that are on the periphery could happen, and Russia would once again be a, a much great- it'd be a superpower - unlike what it is today except through the nuclear capacity of course. And so, Georgia, in Putin's mind is probably the first step. They've long prepared Ossetia, South Ossetia and, and Abkhazia along with other areas on the periphery of Russia as, as, a-as grips into the near, what they call 'the near abroad'. . . .

(Emphasis supplied.) General Clark chooses to ignore the fact that South Ossetia (along with Azhbekia) did not want to leave Russia and go with Georgia. Why he chooses to ignore this only he can explain, but the man who fought and won a war to stop Serbian atrocities in Kosovo against the Kosovar Albanian population is ill positioned to ignore the arguments of South Ossetians. It is a major flaw in his analysis.

But there is a larger strategic question that actually justifies Russia's "ambitions," if Clark is properly describing his views of what NATO should be. Clark writes:

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think we should be very concerned and it's not just the U.S. and Russia. This is really about NATO. It's about the U.S. leadership role in Europe and how European countries respond to the United States. So, we need to be focusing on not just a U.S. - Russia bilateral relationship, but we need to be focusing on Transatlantic unity in- and using that Transatlantic unity to shape the behavior of Russia. That's one of the areas in which I think the administration has frankly not been as effective in the last seven years as it could've been, because there's been a lot of emphasis on U.S. unilateral relations with Russia and elsewhere and not enough emphasis on Transatlantic unity.

(Emphasis supplied.) As Clark describes it, one of NATO's missions today is to "shape the behavior of Russia." If that is so, then expansion of NATO into Russia's "near abroad" is truly a provocation. Perhaps it is good policy, but let's stop pretending it has nothing to do with Russia, as Clark does when discussing the placement of a missile system in Poland:

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well no, it's not a direct slap at them, and it's something that's been on the books for a long, long time. We've talked about this for a decade, and they've been consulted on it. They've met with it. They know what the capabilities of the system are. This is just an example of Russian rhetoric aimed at intimidating Europe. . . . This is not something that the Russians have a right to respond on, and their response is unjustified.

This is, in a word, nonsense. For the NYTimes report on the issue:

We have crossed the Rubicon," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, referring to U.S. consent to Poland's demands after more than 18 months of negotiations.

Clark is wrong when he says "this has been on the books for a long time." Clark is wrong in acting as if this were nothing. The POLES call this "crossing the Rubicon." The Poles think it is an important step and no doubt the Russians do too. Clark is either being disingenuous here or is sadly misinformed.

The bald truth here is Clark is endorsing the idea of a NATO whose mission is "to shape Russia's behavior." That makes NATO provocative, in and of itself. But it makes the expansion of NATO even more so. Clark at least recognizes this:

I've been very pleased to see NATO enlarge as it has over the last few years, but every, every step has to be carefully looked at. It has to have the, the backing of all NATO members, and there is some membership criteria that have to be met. One of those membership criteria incidentally is that all the territorial issues have to be resolved. they weren't resolved in the case of Georgia. The United States proposed Georgia for membership. The European allies asked some tough questions. It was decided that to give it a little bit more time. . . .

Unfortunately, in the same passage, Clark again ignored the fact that South Ossetia has no desire to be a part of Georgia:

I think we should've worked for years to diffuse this and protect Georgia's claims on South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Russian encroachment.

What interest does the United State have in "protect[ing] Georgia's claims on South Ossetia and Abkhazia?" Why would Clark, the "liberator of Kosovo," choose to ignore the views of the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians?

I think the answer is clear - in Clark's mind, it is the job of NATO and the West to contain Russia - the underlying grievances notwithstanding. I think it is a wrongheaded view of the situation and frankly, a dangerous view. Clark's responses here are quite disappointing, and the fact that he is expressing the Beltway view of the matter is even more chilling. No doubt Barack Obama will echo these views. To me, this means that the neocons have won another ideological battle, and with far reaching consequences.

Speaking for me only

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    Thanks for this post, BTD (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:16:03 AM EST
    Well said.  I'm really, really, really disappointed in Clark.  I'd like to see someone challenge him on his idea of what Putin wants and how he arrives at that opinion because it makes no sense to me and is counter to everything I know about modern Russia.

    It's also spectacularly cold war/neocon thinking to believe the West has a perfect right to put missile systems next door and sign up all Russia's neighbors to NATO and that Russia has no right to object, when the U.S. would never consider allowing such a thing on its borders.

    Worst I have ever seen Clark (3.66 / 3) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:19:33 AM EST
    Ill informed, disingenuous and unintelligent.

    It was like reading Paul Wolfowitz or Richard Perle.


    Belarus has been talking (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:18:53 AM EST
    about a union with Russia for years. I'm not sure how much of that is bluster, though, and there's no way that the current Ukrainian government would go for it.

    Russia does not want Belarus (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:22:13 AM EST
    That's the problem there.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#9)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:25:27 AM EST
    Belarus has the worst government in europe. If I were Russia, I wouldn't be interested in integration either.

    Russia was not (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:31:25 AM EST
    playing some "moral" game, and neither was Russia. I quarrel with your notion of an "overblown" response. It simply is the wrong way to think about these things.

    Russia took advantage of Georgian madness to punish Georgia and to make gains in it s goals in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    Russia does not care what Fred Hiatt thinks. Whether Russia overplayed its hand in its actions depends much more on how Europe reacts in response.

    The US reaction on this is really almost unimportant.

    Clark needs to take his own advice and listen to Europe here.

    There are no "good guys" and no one (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Jjc2008 on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:53:20 AM EST
    has the moral high ground.  Seriously.  I was a kid in the era of good vs evil....the 1950s.  We (the Americans) were good and the Geris (Germans), Japs and Russians were evil.  I spent every Saturday as a little kid listening for the Air Raid Alarms so I could try to convince my parents to practice hiding in our basement in case they (Russians) dropped the A-bomb.  I ducked and covered in school and at some point wanted to be a nun so I could go to Russia and save their souls (that changed in high school when I discovered I liked boys and that a life without them was not probably going to be a choice I'd make).
    Then came the sixties and coming of age and learning that we (the USA) were not always good guys; that people all over the world were not inferior beings needing or wanting to be saved.
    I learned then and believe to this day, that governments (ALL OF THEM) lie to get the masses to do their bidding.

    My friend's son works for the PR firm that represents the government of Georgia.  He was there when Russia invaded (but fortunately got out).  Russia has their own PR firm.  All governments do. Like candidates, it's all about the spin.  I am not sure any of us will ever understand this conflict at the level the people who live there do...in terms of passions, wants and needs.  But on the government level, I suspect Russia fears the "spread of alignment with the west".  I will not say the "spread of democracy" because that has become pr spin. I am not sure the west has the democracy that people pretend it has.  We sure don't here.

    I would imagine if any of us had the chance to talk with non-government Georgians, non-government Ossetians, non government Russians all could make a legitimate argument for their beliefs.  Their governments?  Not so much. Somewhere there is oil/energy resources in this puzzle.  

    Religion, people's freedom, the right to self govern will all be pitched as ways to justify the actions on all sides. In the end, it's always about resources and who gets control of them.

    If that is the case (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by cawaltz on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:54:45 AM EST
    I wonder why our government doesn't call Israel's actions overblown regarding Palestine? Basically, what Russia did is exactly what Israel has done when it responds(sending in troops and tanks etc, etc)to acts of terror and attempts of encroachment.

    This is about a land dispute. Ironically, we are rooting for the side who basically wants to ignore the wishes of the citizenry in the disputed area. Personally, if the citizenry of Ossetia wants to align themselves with Russia(and it appears they'd rather that then allying with Georgia) who are we to tell them they can't?

    Georgia did not write the Bible and does not (none / 0) (#60)
    by Christy1947 on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 08:14:30 PM EST
    have so many voters and contributors in the US. think Florida.

    Another Voice (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Donna Z on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:12:17 PM EST
    Writing in the Aug. 25 issue of the New Yorker,"Boundary Issues," David Remnick offers another voice about the intentions of Putin:

    While American triumphalists were still indulging in clichés of how Ronald Reagan had won the Cold War, Solzhenitsyn anticipated the persistence of the old and unrepentant élites, the former Communist Party chiefs and K.G.B. officials who so easily transformed themselves into "democrats" and "businessmen":

    We were recently entertained by a naïve fable of the happy arrival at the "end of history," of the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that something very different is coming, something new, and perhaps quite stern. No, tranquility does not promise to descend on our planet, and will not be granted us so easily.

    None of the players are blameless or without ulterior motives. Putin is not the nice guy with God on his side; our government is broken and filled with undesirables, and the break-away republics are a mix of mediocore to outright criminals. And so it is in Ossetia:

    But Putin's war, of course, is not about the splendors of South Ossetia, a duchy run by the Russian secret service and criminal gangs. It is a war of demonstration. Putin is demonstrating that he is willing to use force; that he is unwilling to let Georgia and Ukraine enter NATO without exacting a severe price; and that he views the United States as hypocritical, overextended, distracted, and reluctant to make good on its protective assurances to the likes of Georgia.

    During the 04 primaries, General Clark gave a speech calling for an organization that would compliment NATO without having a military arm. It would not replace NATO but rather it find a way of bringing the emerging states into the fold. But no military.

    If we had a worthy government then maybe it would be easier to critique Putin; however, that time is not now. Remnick closes with this:

    At the time I wondered why he was going on about this, and now the water clears. We do need allies and we need to have a working relationship with those we trust.

    Only one with a heart of stone could fail to be moved by the spectacle of the leaders of Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic states standing by Saakashvili last week at a rally in Tbilisi. But Putin is not Hitler or Stalin; he is not even Leonid Brezhnev. He is what he is, and that is bad enough. In the 2008 election, he made a joke of democratic procedure and, in effect, engineered for himself an anti-constitutional third term. The press, the parliament, the judiciary, the business élite are all in his pocket--and there is no opposition. But Putin also knows that Russia cannot bear the cost of reconstituting empire or the gulag. It depends on the West as a market. One lesson of the Soviet experience is that isolation ends in poverty. Putin's is a new and subtler game: he is the autocrat who calls on the widow of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. To deal with him will require statecraft of a kind that has proved well beyond the capacities of our current practitioners.

    Read Krugman's latest (none / 0) (#55)
    by oldpro on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:19:52 PM EST
    for historical perspective as well...his warnings not to be taken lightly.

    No rose-colored glasses there.


    Containment was the Cold War (1.00 / 0) (#41)
    by MKS on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:29:42 PM EST

    The key is to not intervene--this is where we got in trouble in the Cold War, and more recently in Iraq.

    And, another intervention in Georgia?  To make the Republicans feel macho again?  And, if we only send missiles to Poland, have we not recreated the Cold War--every Republican's dream come true?  If McCain and his ilk were in office in October 1962, is there any doubt that they would have dropped the Bomb?

    let's assume that we have a genuine (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:15:48 AM EST
    strategic interesting in continuing to contain Russia (I'm not sure about that, but I think we probably do), would we really want to be antagonizing them in this way.

    Honestly, my feeling is that the best way to contain Russia is to let the EU expand east.

    The EU should NOT expand (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:18:29 AM EST
    to Georgia and the Ukraine imo.

    Not now. Maybe in a decade.

    Unlike some, I believe the terror threat is real and having Russia as an ally against terrorism is more important than South Ossetia, and expanding NATO and the EU into Russia's "near abroad."

    Clark's appearance was awful in my opinion. Just awful.


    What if we worked toward (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:56:58 AM EST
    having Russia as an ally against terrorism alongside working for peace and stability for Georgia and worked with them to make the gains needed for them to join NATO......and South Ossetia.....maybe they should rejoin Russia.  So much of this can be made into a black and white thing when gray is a much more suitable color.  If I have learned anything at all from BushCo it is that isolation breeds insanity, so what if we stayed engaging on all fronts?

    Tell that to Clark (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:01:02 PM EST
    and Bush and McCain etc.

    You are preaching to the choir.

    Clark is who you need to convince, not me.


    I don't think that Clark calling Russia on (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:26:54 PM EST
    its bull is Neocon.  I think his failure to call Georgia on its bull is letting Georgia slide and could be perceived as Neocon.  But I think Russia has been a larger instigator than we have been able to ironclad confirm at this time and I think that is what Clark is responding to.

    What particular bull (1.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:40:40 PM EST
    did you think Clark called Russia on?

    The missiles in Poland? The bull was ALL Clark's on that.

    Franky, just about everything Clark said was neocon bull.


    Well, I know that the EU is already (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:22:44 AM EST
    in Romania, but the former eastern bloc states are not fully integrated yet.

    But it is really difficult for me to imagine Georgia joining the EU ever.

    Of course the terror threat is real, but I think we have to be very careful about how closely we work with Russia. (At least we did when we didn't torture and render. . .)


    Eyes wide open (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:32:47 AM EST
    You work with them when it makes sense. You oppose them when it makes sense.

    Black and white are colors not really a part of foreign policy.


    Fair enough (none / 0) (#18)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:36:43 AM EST
    But I remain a foreign policy idealist--I have too much Wilson and not enough Clemenceau in me.

    Don't let me near the State Department!


    I WAS an idealist (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by seeker on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:51:40 PM EST
    until Bush taught me how that approach could be misapplied.  It's hard to retreat into full realism because the Cold War taught us how THAT approach could be misapplied.  

    As usual some kind of balance is probably best.  Of course, applying any abstract concept, especially in international relations, is entirely subjective.  Such abstractions even determine which "facts" are relied upon or created.

    I'm not sure where that leaves theorizing in international relations.  


    No room for idealism in foreign relations (none / 0) (#51)
    by robrecht on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:10:57 PM EST
    Realism is the only basis for diplomacy.  The rest is just rhetoric, which is necessary but needs to recognized as such.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:41:07 AM EST
    Here's the thing, short term, medium term and long term, you have different goals.

    To me it is shocking what Clark has written about this issue.


    I always worry about (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:53:12 AM EST
    the long term consequences of accomplishing short term goals.

    It's a difficult balance.


    It certainly is (1.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:01:56 PM EST
    Nuance is hard.

    Clark tried to make it sound easy.

    Sounded like a neocon to me.


    I thought the intervening theory wasn't so bad, (none / 0) (#59)
    by Christy1947 on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 08:12:15 PM EST
    That is, to engage with Russia so that it would be too economically expensive to do one of these face offs, because they had too many other interests important to them that would be adversely affected. Not that they would be locked behind a fence of nukes or whatever and just left there to hiss.

    And I agree with Clark (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:28:21 AM EST
    I used to be a person who believed that by being passive I could diffuse violence.  After several severe beatings ;) I have learned a new reality through life experience, that some sort of power will always arise in the void of my passivity so pick my power structure that most resembles my beliefs and act within that.  NATO did that for me on many global issues and I BELIEVE like a bot it can again and it can champion a more democratic way of life for those who struggle against tyranny and tyrants.  Funny how you realize and embrace this reality when it comes to D and R American politics while I can't see it that clearly and I'm falling back into a semi passive ticked off role.

    Who are the tyrants (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:33:34 AM EST
    in South Ossetia?

    I really do not understand your comment.


    I don't have a hero in that fight (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:43:13 AM EST
    Sorry I didn't make that clearer.  I don't consider anyone the beaten victim other than the civilians on the ground in this. Another thing I like about Clark is that he understands that when people focus on their dislike of each other you get conflict but when you give people something to work for that betters their lives often the "conflict" will lose enough participants to make a war.  I believe that is what he was talking about pertaining to Georgia and South Ossetia.

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:51:43 AM EST
    he sounded like a neocon.

    Clark's performance here was atrocious.

    I told you folks, there are no sacred cows for me.

    There is no one I admire more in politics than General Clark, but I will rip him too.

    Here is what I would like to know, you read his words, you think they made sense? Forget about the man, think about the words.


    I want to understand what he had to say (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:58:58 AM EST
    that made him sound like a Neocon to you.  Can you tell me what specifics he said or how the sum of his words sounded that way to you?

    I thought my post made it clear (none / 0) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:02:39 PM EST
    I can not explain it better Tracy.

    On Russia and South Ossetia (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:21:42 PM EST
    Much of my current perceptions have been influenced by people who have been part of some of the recent top secret briefings about the conflict.  I'm not saying that anybody shared anything with me at all because nobody did other than their conversations and opinions after having taken part in those events.  Nobody said anything specific though or gave me any hard info.  One administration's top secret and spin on it is also different from another administration's top secret and spin too and I always keep that in mind as well when hearing opinions.  I guess I've been surprised to witness Clark's take on this so in line with the perception's of those around me.  I was self led to beleive that Russia had been antagonizing and attempting to inflame the Ossetia/Georgia situation prior to reading Clark on this, and now it seems that he has confirmed what I have read between the lines of conversations.

    Well (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:38:41 PM EST
    That makes it worse frankly.

    What did you hear? Russia  kicked Georgia's ass? Duh. Russia punished Georgia.

    That has nothing to do with the strategic discussion involved.

    Clark is so wrong here it is not funny.


    No more like the CIA/military operations (none / 0) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:40:33 PM EST
    we were attempting in Iran earlier on.  

    So let's see (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:41:54 PM EST
    Clark thinks it is cool that we play CIA games all over the world but Russia can not act in its interests in a neighboring country. THAT is neocon bull.

    Clark denounced the CIA games (none / 0) (#58)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 08:10:44 PM EST
    that this administration attempted to play in Iran.  He did so several times.

    You've explained it very well I think (none / 0) (#35)
    by robrecht on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:08:05 PM EST
    At least as I attempt to understand these issues.  All of the politicians are merely trying to sound "strong" on military issues but they actually make us sound weaker and dumber than ever.  Hillary would be no different, I'm sure.  If Obama does understand the local and historical issues surrounding South Ossetia and Abkhasia, I've seen no evidence of this, but even if he did, he would probably be afraid to take a stand other than Bush-lite neocon nonsense.  Sadly, it would probably be political suicide.

    Wow, BTD, were you not old enough (none / 0) (#11)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:29:31 AM EST
    to think for yourself during the Reagan/Bush Cold War years? Did you really believe that the Soviet leadership was a more "evil empire" than the Reagan/Bush cabal?

    Sheesh (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:34:00 AM EST
    What a comment.

    Amazingly (none / 0) (#14)
    by Steve M on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:33:15 AM EST
    Some of us still believe it!

    I did but I didn't consider the Soviet people (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:34:34 AM EST
    and the power structure of the Soviet Union to be one and the same.  Mostly because my father was living in Anchorage then and during the end of the cold war Russian freighters would pull into Anchorage.  My father smoked then and would trade American cigarettes with them for the terrible Russian ones and would attempt to have drinks and conversation with them which he always shared with me.  I was young but thanks to my perpetually curious father not so programmed dumb.

    Another person disappointed (none / 0) (#21)
    by cawaltz on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:44:44 AM EST
    That said, I am unsurprised. His position is the safe trajectory that I'd expect the Obama campaign to take(and about typical of our foreign policy which seems to often take the simplistic view that one side is good and the other evil instead of they are both shades of gray motivated by self interest.). If you can't fight the framing then "me too" it seems to be the order of the day from Team O headquarters.

    In 2006 the GOP had screwed up their leadership role in two branches of government sweeping the Democrats to victory. Since giving control of the leadership to Democrats the electorate has little to show for the decision of replacing the GOP. I sure hope that Barack Obama does not he will win by virtue of the fact that he is a Democrat. It would be a strategic mistake imo to expect to coast into victory based on that alone especially when you lookat a 9% Congressional approval rating.

    Hillary is part of that trajectory (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:50:04 AM EST
    Please do not pretend you think she would do differently

    She wouldn't do it a hair different (none / 0) (#31)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:02:29 PM EST
    But because of my beliefs I have nothing to grieve by admitting so.

    I don't (none / 0) (#34)
    by cawaltz on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:05:48 PM EST
    I've said it millions of times my largest differences with Clinton are on foreign policy. This was a double disappointment with me because it appears the Obama campaign was just giving lip service to the concept of a "newer foreign policy"(which other than the government transparency platform was the only area I found myself remotely intrigued by.) The thing I concentrated most on was the fact that Clark mentioned Obama and appeared to be spokesman for Team Obama in this instance.

    I find it interesting that above you mentioned foreign policy is not about black or white but shades of grey. We haven't treated it as such. We always seem to be picking sides. Quite often when we do we act "shocked" when it turns out that our "ally" was acting out of self interest all along. By the way, when I made my comment I wasn't picking on any one particular person or party. Our foreign policy has been this way for a while from how I see it.


    Depends on how far Russia goes ... (none / 0) (#33)
    by robrecht on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:02:40 PM EST
    From what I've read, Georgia (and we) are wrong not to recognize South Ossetia's democratic choice for independence.  We're all so ignorant of these historical and local issues that all most politicians are capable of is a knee-jerk fear of Russia and Cold War posturing.  On the other hand, if Russia's goal is destabilization of Georgia, that is a legitimate concern, as is control of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.  I will at least credit Clark with seeming to concede that the European members of NATO were correct to oppose the US-backed entry of Georgia into NATO until these territorial issues are resolved.

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:17:58 PM EST
    today's statements from Russia make clear what its goals are - no Georgia in NATO, South Ossetia and Akhbazia out of Georgia.

    It will move back to South Ossetia WHEN a framework for having South Ossetia and Akhbazia out of Georgia is agreed to. Bush will have to eat his words about there being no debate about SOuth Ossetia and Akhbazia. He should never have said them.


    I hope you're right ... (none / 0) (#56)
    by robrecht on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 04:37:44 PM EST
    but I was just listening to an NPR reporter on the scene to whom it seemed clear that Russia's objective was regime change and said that they were dismantling the core of the Georgian army and police forces.

    And when the Ossetian militias (none / 0) (#57)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 06:58:44 PM EST
    have raped the looted all of the areas in Georgia they are occupying.

    Obama started out sounding highly rational about (none / 0) (#36)
    by jawbone on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:13:56 PM EST
    the Georgian mess; then, when chastized by the MCM, began to move closer and closer to McCain's statements, but with somewhat less overt bellicosity.

    I feared Gen. Clark was going to play the good soldier for Obama's new stand. And he did, rationalizing it as best he could. But I am embarrassed for him: I'm sure he knows the actual situation, but seems to be parroting the MCM in it's Narrative about what's happening. It's the Big Bad Bear going after Sweet Democratic (huh!) Innocent Georgia.

    Alas. Dems dare not appear fully rational lest the MCM and the Repubs call them sissies.


    A foreign policy (none / 0) (#42)
    by oldpro on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:31:15 PM EST
    that still makes it about US vs 'the Rooskis?'

    A NATO whose job is now to contain Russia, defining them as a wannabe Soviet Union?

    This is nuts.  They have nukes.  They also have loose nukes.

    Clark is inexplicably wrong, I agree.  Scary as Hell, coming from the smartest guy in the room.

    I find myself wondering what the 'other smartest guy in the room, Bill Clinton, thinks...maybe he could give a speech about it Wed. night...sigh...

    As if I weren't depressed enough already, now this from Clark.

    Both Bill and Hillary (none / 0) (#53)
    by seeker on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:13:29 PM EST
    probably have thoughts similar to Clark"s.  He is not the only ex-Clinton admin official who has expressed such views in the past week.  Richard Holbrooke and Strobe Talbot have been very vocal and have made similar arguments.

    I am still donating to Hillary, but I would expect little different out of her.  

    All of the above says much about the current state of the Democratic party.  But it is not extremely surprising.  Except during part of the Viet Nam era, Democrats have been quite militaristic.


    The MSM is incredibly biased against (none / 0) (#47)
    by rjarnold on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:41:21 PM EST
    Putin and Russia. I've seen many reports on the situation from all the major channels, but I didn't find out until 2 days ago that Ossetia doesn't even want to be a part of Georgia. In fact 99% of them want full independence. There are so many other basic facts that are just being left out of reports.

    And they showed video of Georgian troops firing at foreign journalists and said that it must have been confusion. If it were Russian troops that would have been a story for days.

    The MSM (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:42:41 PM EST
    is our equivalent of Russian state television on this issue.

    Especially Fox News.. (none / 0) (#54)
    by rjarnold on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:17:03 PM EST
    I just found this diary which shows an Ossetian girl blaming Georgia's leader and then getting cut off.