Jack Wakeland writes that Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili (above) has the eloquence, spirit, and ideas of Winston Churchill (below).
We Need a New Warsaw Pact Against Russia
by Jack Wakeland
August 14 2008 – (c) 2008 The Intellectual Activist
I do not agree with the hopelessness and defeatism that has crept into much of the commentary on the Russian invasion of Georgia. America and the rest of Western Civilization have not entered an irreversible decline. All forces inimical to liberty have not forged an iron-clad, unified, and unassailable front against us.
Do not be in awe of evil. Do not tremble when its power briefly rises to equal a fraction of our own. This is an invalid perspective, and it is a betrayal of confidence in what we all know is the deep well of power that the good can always draws from: that we are right.
We should know our own power. Being right matters. If you don’t think so, ask yourself why it is that Russian tanks stopped outside of Tbilisi?
Did the Georgian army destroy Russia’s armored columns? No. The tanks were stopped because the Georgians put up a fierce fight for Tskhinvali, the provincial capital of South Ossetia (and for the Kodori Gorge in northeast Abkhazia Province). Georgia’s brief defense of Tskhinvali served as a deterrent, not because it was successful (it wasn’t), but because it was fierce. The only defense that the small nations of Eastern Europe have ever had against the “big dogs” of Russia and Germany is to make themselves into fierce little porcupines and hope that enough quills delivered into enough noses will cause the dogs to give up the quarry as not worth all the trouble.
The Russians were deterred by the prospect of fighting this same force in a terminal battle in a European capital city of 1.5 million people. Reducing a capital city the way they reduced Grozny in Chechnya is a bit too much evil for the Russians to stomach at this time. Tbilisi is a bit too prosperous. It looks a bit too much like Prague or Vienna or Krakow. And most of all, its people—those who would be murdered in the tens of thousands—are too much like the people walking the streets of Milan, Frankfurt, Manchester, Sapporo, or, for that matter, Chicago. They’re too much like us—the 800 million of us who live in Western civilization. Their murder would draw too many of the people of Western Civilization together in a common and militarily hostile front against Russia.
With the assault on the city on hold indefinitely, Tbilisi has become West Berlin, drawing leaders to impudently protest, in public, under Putin’s guns. The big rally Wednesday night in Tbilisi of as many as 200,000 Georgians (10% of the refugee-swollen city’s population), hosted by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and joined by the presidents of Georgia, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia was a spectacle of besieged liberty. It is as good as one more armored division.
It turns out that Georgia’s greatest strategic asset is the attitude and the eloquence of President Mikheil Saakashvili. In his written essays, TV interviews, and public speeches he is a lion. We have found that he has Winston Churchill in his soul.
President Saakashvili has Prime Minister Churchill’s eloquence and his spirit—and his ideas. Saakashvili proved himself by turning Georgia into an engine of prosperity based on stable republican government, the rule of law, recognition of private property, and the effective suppression of corruption. Georgia’s police forces were rated as one of the most corrupt in Eastern Europe, and that is some achievement. Opinion polls showed that only 5% thought that the police were generally trustworthy. Under President Saakashvili’s leadership, this year 70% of Georgians polled thought they could trust the police.
With Winston Churchill’s good ideas, eloquence, and indomitable spirit came his rashness and his self-promotion. These are traits President Saakashvili shares. As egoists, we Objectivist should find no vice in Mr. Saakashvili’s grandstanding and little in his impetuousness.
Saakashvili is the greatest strategic asset the West has in Eastern Europe.
Russian hesitation at the brink of mass slaughter inside a European capital city and the inspired leadership of President Saakashvili have given the West the opportunity we need to make a mess of Russia’s plans for domination, one at a time, of the former Soviet Republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine.
Enough time, that is, if the US shows decisive leadership.
I am not saying that it is the responsibility of our nation, of our brave young men and women in the military, to go to Georgia to confront Putin’s army and to fight. But Georgia is a nation of people—even as small as it is—so determined to defy dictatorship and fight for their freedom even when the odds are grim, that we must join them and fight on their side in some way. If we are American, if we are men, we must do something substantial, something that materially affects the situation on the ground in Georgia—something that begins to change the strategic advantages that Russia has over all of its smaller, liberal neighbors.
In the past few days, the United States has finally entered the conflict in a clumsy and cautious way—but America has entered the conflict, and America is instantly a central part of everything that is going on.
The interesting thing about the way that the US is stumbling into the conflict zone is that we’re not being led by George Bush and the command structure at the Pentagon as much as we’re being led by the articulate and passionate statements about liberty—a battle cry—by Saakashvili. He is someone we cannot say “no” to without saying “no” to our own identity. Ultimately President Bush, architect of the Forward Strategy of Freedom, cannot say “no” to him either.
Mikhail Saakashvili is our leader now.
Here is the overall foreign policy advice I would offer to the Bush administration on what to do.
Because of America’s deep cultural, political, and strategic connection to it, Poland can reasonably count on a major commitment of US military power—including public acceptance of significant and painful military losses—in the event of a Russian invasion. America should exploit our deep military commitment to Poland by encouraging them to serve as the anchor for a new Eastern European military alliance; an alliance that is independent of NATO.
An independent alliance between Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia, and Ukraine—an inverse Warsaw Pact—would be a tremendous asset to liberty. With Poland at its base (protected by its NATO membership and the US nuclear umbrella), this alliance could be a strong deterrent to Russia’s renewed military expansionism.
(Because Romania and Bulgaria have kept a relatively low profile in the affair with Georgia, their enthusiasm for an anti-Russian alliance is doubtful. The same goes for Hungary and the Czech Republic. The new Warsaw Pact should be made up only of republics that are truly on the edge—the countries that are between NATO and Russia.)
A group of nations in such a difficult place, led by a secure country that is a full member of NATO and assisted by the United States, would be far more willing to use military force than the fratricidal and self-loathing nations of NATO as a whole. Thus, they will produce a far more intense threat, and far more substantial deterrent against Russia—especially if their anchor member, Poland, either had the full strategic commitment of the United States behind it, or their own independent nuclear deterrent.
A core cultural goal right now should be to clear some of the woolly-headed European pacifism from the minds of Eastern Europe’s leadership. They need nuclear weapons. Without them, the Russians will be free to probe their border provinces with strong tank and mechanized infantry forces and bomb any defenders that move against them, destroying towns and cities everywhere along their borders from the Baltic to the Caspian. Without nuclear weapons, ineffective resistance to a series of military incursions will enable the Russians to work themselves up to a murderer’s only concept of self-confidence: that he can get away with it. When that day comes, Russia will invade and occupy its smaller neighbors.
Nuclear weapons proliferation is a good thing when the good guys get nuclear weapons. The good nations that border Russia should get them as quickly as they can. And the United States of America should help them.
(c) 2008 The Intellectual Activist