Monday, July 20, 2009

Americans on Georgia's Border

The New York Times reports:
Georgian leaders hope the United States will join the European Union’s monitoring effort along the boundary with two breakaway Georgian enclaves, a step they believe could deter aggression from Russian or separatist forces, a senior Georgian official said Monday.
The Georgian evidently believe that the inclusion of Americans on their border with Russia would deter any further aggression from the Russians. That is probably an accurate description, though the unarmed EU-monitors already there likely provide a similar deterrent, as is. The most likely outcome of the Georgian proposal is the continued frosting of Russian-American relations to say nothing of stoking Russia’s already acute fears of American encroachment in its near-abroad. Georgia’s proposal would represent needless provocation and would be a strategic mistake. Russia has communicated its red-lines clearly.

Clearly, managing an assertive Russia requires assertiveness on the part of the United States – but it must be intelligent assertiveness, and not indefensible line-in-the-sand drawing. Georgia's proposal fails this test. It is also not very likely to come to fruition.

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