Sam Nunn On The Russia-Georgia Conflict

Unlike the hysterics we have seen from John McCain, Joe Biden, Wes Clark, Richard Holbrooke and the Beltway foreign policy Establishment, Ed Kilgore points us to Sam Nunn making some sense:

[C]learly the United States need to pause, look and listen before we rush into making Georgia and Ukraine part of NATO. If we’re going to do that, we have to understand that this is a military commitment. And we have to back it up militarily. Right now, we’re not doing well in Afghanistan. Our NATO allies seem to be reluctant to put in more forces. NATO’s got a lot of credibility at stake in Afghanistan. And the defense spending by most of our European allies is way down.

And if you look at the map, you can see pretty quickly that defending Georgia will require enormous expenditures unless we’re going to go back to a Berlin sort of situation, where we threaten to use nuclear weapons in response to conventional progression by the Soviet Union... A wounded bear is going to defend itself. I think Russia’s made a profound mistake, and they’ve got to correct it. [But] we have a real reason to avoid compounding the problem.

h/t andgarden

< Biden Echoes McCain On Russia-Georgia Conflict | Al Gore to Speak at DNC on Thursday >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    When Sam Nunn (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:47:53 AM EST
    is the voice of reason, we have a problem, IMO.  A big one.  

    Indeed (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:49:21 AM EST
    look, Sam Nunn (none / 0) (#39)
    by jb64 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:25:22 PM EST
    is no paragon of progressive ideals, but he was chairman of the armed services committee for 10 years, and a cold warrior, which i think gives him a hell of a lot more understanding of this situation than most folks.

    You may not like him because he's old, or from Georgia, or because he was resistant to overturn the military ban on Homosexuality, but he knows what he's talking about. Particularly with respect to NATO, or the Russians.  


    Um, what Nunn said was (none / 0) (#43)
    by dk on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 01:18:21 PM EST
    simply common sense.  He does not deserve a medal, and it is not the sign of some vaunted experienced mind.

    The hallmark of someone who isn't running (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:49:12 AM EST
    for anything is making sense.

    I'm lost. I thought Nunn was an advisor (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:52:44 AM EST
    to Obama, or did I dream that?

    And if this is Nunn's perspective, I have to think he said these things to Obama before he went public with them, and that Obama ignored that counsel.

    That bothers me.  A lot.

    Apparently, WAS (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:54:52 AM EST
    Now Biden does the talking.

    I'm waiting to hear about the impending (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:57:32 AM EST
    Iraq partition. . .

    Already fighting a migraine today - (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:58:59 AM EST
    that reminder didn't help!



    Well to be fair.... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by trillian on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:56:50 AM EST
    I never heard Clark say he was in favor of Georgia being part of NATO.

    In fact he was the one who pointed out that it can't happen under NATO rules which state that all conflicts have to be resolved before being considered.

    Finally (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:02:00 AM EST
    Someone who makes sense.

    But, in these elections days, black-and-white pictures with good guys and bad guys are a better sell.

    What happened to that (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:11:55 AM EST
    "progressive foreign policy" we were promised?

    At this point, I am just looking for sane policy.


    It won't do us much good if that (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:22:17 AM EST
    sanity exists outside either an Obama or a McCain administration.

    My money's on Diogenes finding an honest man before we get a sane policy.


    this seems pretty much what Obama (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:12:10 AM EST
    said early in this episode.  all that changed when McCain came out hard and the beltway liked it.
    IMO the only reason for the change was reaction to McCain.

    Precisely (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:13:18 AM EST
    Weak (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:30:18 AM EST
    and as with FISA, this follow the leader crap just makes Obama and Democrats look weak.  Standing up to the big, bad Russians because the media tells them to isn't going to change that.  It's the failure to believe in anything and stand up for it that makes them untrustworthy and weak.  So it doesn't matter what sensible thing they propose or how much better it is that what the GOP is doing - you can't trust them to do what they propose.  So it's all meaningless.

    I've said this before, the American people may be dumb, but they're not stupid.  They have the Democrats' number even if they don't always have their facts straight.


    still (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:35:42 AM EST
    it would help if they did not reinforce it at every SINGLE opportunity.

    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:44:58 AM EST
    It is the one opportunity Democrats never miss.

    Who could have imagined (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by eric on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:13:31 AM EST
    that we'd be here fighting about whether we should be defending Stalin's homeland.  

    Hey, Stalin's statue is still in place (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by oculus on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 01:03:26 PM EST
    in Gori, Georgia, his birthplace.  What a photo-op.

    What's ironic (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by BernieO on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:21:59 PM EST
    is that it was Stalin who granted South Ossetia the status of an autonomous province allowing them to speak and teach their own language in their schools altough Georgian and Russian were the official languages. The Georgians have since tried to stop the use of the language. From what I read the Georgians are all about reestablishing the territory they had under David the Builder (or was it Bob?) Nothing like clinging to the 12th century!

    And Russia, post-dissolution (none / 0) (#49)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:47:53 AM EST
    of the USSR, has provided Ossetians w/Russian passports.

    Incredible isn't it? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:24:09 AM EST
    A little history gives perspective (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Prabhata on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:08:51 PM EST
    One of the main reasons for WWI is the alliances that countries had entered into before the war began.  Alliances offer great protections, but the downside is that minor flare-ups become great wars.  NATO should be limited to countries that have much in common and can define their interests with detail.  Unstable countries, like Georgia, Poland, etc., make NATO dangerous.

    Idle threats (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:23:03 PM EST
    Threats are no good unless they can be backed up. We're in no position to thrreaten anyone right about now. Russia supplies Europe with a lot of natural gas and oil. So any form of sanctions is out of the question. We have two wars going on right now so the military option is moot. So what are we threatening them with?

    And we have no business even attempting to try and take the moral high ground! If it's acceptable for us and Israel or other allies to protect their national interest, why isn't the same standard applied here. (Maybe Putin read the Bush Doctrine).

    Please note... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:13:25 PM EST
    ...that Nunn also characterized Russia's actions as a "profound mistake". Which, of course, it is. The notion that Russia has scored some kind of a foreign policy coup is quite unfounded.

    Hear hear. (none / 0) (#1)
    by JoeA on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:46:24 AM EST
    Unfortunately I'm not sure that "nuance" or being sensible is playing well in the beltway.  

    A Case, (none / 0) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:55:34 AM EST
    maybe, of even a stopped clock being right twice a day.

    Well (none / 0) (#12)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:02:53 AM EST
    I certainly didn't see Biden advocating for military involvement.

    Nunn's statement may be correct as far as tone, but he gets there only by considering the most extreme option - admitting Georgia to NATO and defending it militarily - and then rejecting it.  So it's not as though his position is appreciably more dovish, it's just presented that way.

    Biden (none / 0) (#13)
    by CST on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:07:13 AM EST
    Advocated "punishing Russia".  It was in the latter part of his speech if you clicked on BTD's link.  Now, he didn't specify HOW he would punish them, but that sounds like military involvment to me.

    I am confident (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:09:48 AM EST
    that there are lots of ways to punish a country that don't involve military force.

    I am not ready for yet another round of "such-and-such is a warmonger."  I endured enough hysteria over Kyl-Lieberman.


    Watch and learn (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:12:42 AM EST
    I disagree (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:09:19 AM EST
    The implication is very much "we stand by our ally, including militarily."

    I think you are quite wrong on the import of Biden's statement. Biden's statements pre-Iraq War were proprerly caveated and yet he voted for the war.

    BTW, the next question Obama and Biden will be asked is "should we expand NATO to the Ukraine, Russia, etc."

    You MUST know this. Biden's statement was awful.


    Well (none / 0) (#17)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:11:43 AM EST
    I hope that is the next question and that they give the correct answer, which is "not now."

    I won't condemn them yet for statements that haven't been made.


    You should and everyone should (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:24:51 AM EST
    because that might help stop the wrong answer.

    After the fact is no good.


    Seems to me (none / 0) (#16)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:11:10 AM EST
    it's a simple, straightforward statement of reality:  can't do it.  

    Sure (none / 0) (#44)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 01:52:29 PM EST
    So why don't we just admit every country into NATO?  Problem solved.  Pax Americana.

    The thing is that the US and Europe are actually not even close to willing to protect Georgia with military force, which is why Georgia will not be getting into NATO.  You are suggesting that we ought to bluff because there's no way Russia will call it.  Even if true, there's a limited number of times we can run that particular play, and I'm not sure there's a compelling reason to waste it on Georgia.


    And still no acknowledgement (none / 0) (#45)
    by BernieO on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:00:51 PM EST
    that maybe the people of South Ossetia should have the right to self-determination the way like we have championed for the now indepedent Kosovars.
    We really should try standing on principle for a change.

    Need to Pause (none / 0) (#23)
    by koshembos on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:17:01 AM EST
    Before we ever say that Sam Nunn makes sense we need to listen to Sam himself and pause. San Nunn is an extreme right wing Democrats that forgot to do what others Phil Grammm, Selbey and others did. That is, become Republicans. Don't ever forget his fierce objection to gays in the military (many countries have no such problem) and other nonsense he brought on us.

    The problem is that military should not be our response to anything. NATO is an asynchronism that should be abolished. We should try and build a strong alliance of countries that unite in non-military/moral response to Russia or anybody else.

    When he's right (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:26:05 AM EST
    he's right.

    While Nunn is certainly a hawk, I do not think he's an adventurer or a fool.

    His reputation is all the more reason for his voice to matter on this subject...cautioning the right wing (and the left), calm down and don't make things worse.  And focus.  We still have loose nukes to worry about, folks (not to mention 2 wars we can't seem to end).


    Read the words (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:23:49 AM EST
    Stop with the personalities, think about the words.

    Reagan, Nixon, and Kennedy (none / 0) (#29)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:26:19 AM EST
    Those are the Presidents whose foreign policy Obama promised to emulate and, hey, who hated the Russians more than those three?

    Me?  When I want to get a fix for my Cold War nostalgia, I root against the Russians at the Olympics.  Highly recommend it.  It's free and nobody dies.

    I think Putin and Medvedev, (none / 0) (#31)
    by Edger on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:35:26 AM EST
    and many others, would partly disagree with Nunn. From Russia's point of view they made no "profound mistake", and they would likely agree with the rest of what he says.

    Scoop Jackson... (none / 0) (#34)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:53:53 AM EST
    I find myself wondering what my former senator would think of all this...would he side with Sam or...?  Maggie would have.

    Based on the board, Pat Buchanan nailed it! (none / 0) (#35)
    by Pianobuff on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:05:16 PM EST
    Buchanan's take here.  This sounds the most consistent with many of the poster's views.  Think he's available for the VP spot?

    Yep (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:38:03 PM EST
    The old-school foreign policy skeptics of the GOP knew their stuff.  It's a shame they gave their party over to cheap demagoguery.

    yup pat makes more sense than biden (none / 0) (#37)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:22:31 PM EST
    that's for sure. talking too much with too much faux passion is boring and dangerous.