From the one semi-non asshole at Slate, Fred Kaplan:
In the long term, the best way to take Russia down a notch (along with Iran, Venezuela, and other hostile powers overflowing with oil money) is to pursue policies and fund technologies that slash the demand for oil. The Georgia crisis should make clear, if it isn’t already, that this is a matter of hard-headed national security.
That’s practical. It doesn’t involve us dehumanizing the Russians (isn’t it easy to just slip back into hating them?) or calling everything they do terrorism. It’s coordinated with energy policy, and has many moving parts. The GOP can’t handle that.
I don’t think Russia should be allowed to snuff out fledgling democracies just because they happen to be next to them any less than the United States should snuff them out, as we have, in Latin America. But this brings us to our next point:
Not only is the US incapable of running a practical foreign policy based on achieving something practical and meaningful, but we are now incapable of using moral suasion to do so. For whatever reason, we were able to keep our moral leadership through Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Viet Nam, Grenada, and Chile. But not this time. This time, the world lost its trust in us—with Iraq.
So, what to do? As I suggested below, we might want to fast track other eastern European states entry in NATO. Contrary to what Kaplan suggests, the Russians will not invade a NATO country. Georgia wasn’t in yet. If it had been, this would have been a negotiation.
But other than that, and defanging the oil nations, I would recommend that it’s finally time for the European Union to take some leadership on its own regional security. Sarkozy apparently did negotiate the cease fire here. Good. But instead of being mediators, they need to quit relying on the US and Israel to cover their asses.
Israel has its own problem and eventually will stop being such a focus and work something out. The US is overextended. We protect Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Israel again, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Japan.
South Korea has taken some steps toward self-security. But could Europe alone repel a Russian invasion? Just barely. And “just barely” in wars between nuclear states is extremely dangerous, because the urge to go there and tip the balance is greatest.
It’s time for America to stand down, and start taking care of itself. But if there is such a think as “Europe” it needs to stand up.