Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | August 12, 2008

Afghanistan 1979!

There is an eerie sense of deja vu in the air as Russia invaded the independent state of Georgia this week.  We have seen this before, namely Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.  Is this the beginning of a new cold war?  Time will tell.

Another similarity between Afghanistan 1979 and Georgia 2008 can be seen in the United States’ precarious position then and now.  In 1979, our military was not in the best of shape.  There were many reasons for this ranging from America’s weariness with war on the heals of the Vietnam War, to Jimmy Carter’s neglect of the military.  The lowest point of the United States’ military readiness since the 1930’s—and the run up to World War II—occurred on Jimmy Carter’s watch and is exemplified in the failed hostage rescue attempt in Iran in April of 1980.

Today, our military is in far better shape than in 1980, but it is stretched thin these days with major deployments around the world, not the least of which are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Deployment of troops to Georgia is really not an option for many other reasons besides lack of available troops.  There are many questions to ask, among them:

-Is Georgia a major security interest for us?  Big enough for us to go to war over?

-Are we looking at a new set of dominoes, the first of which to fall will be Georgia?

-Will we embolden Russia to move into other Eastern European nations if our response to Georgia is weak?

-On the other hand, will we start World War III if we send troops to Georgia?

-And what of the Europeans?  If countries such as Britain and France do not engage this situation, which is in their back yards, why should it fall to us to take the lead?

-Is “policeman of the world” something that we have to accept by default?  Or should we gauge our own involvement based on our own self-interests, and decline to get involved in conflicts where we have no overwhelming security, economic, or other national interests?

At this point, all that we can do concerning Georgia is talk tough and hope some of the talk sticks.  We can also punish Russia economically, which is something that we should do in concert with other nations.

These are certainly tricky times.  I am glad that the decisions don’t fall on me to make.

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