On Friday (August 8, 2008 ) Russia invaded Georgia. The Russians have been using strategic bombers and missiles in their attacks, thus showing that they are rather serious.
The general consensus is that Russia is taking this action primarily because Georgia intends to join NATO and the Russian leadership is opposed to this. This most recent invasion is consistent with one of Russia’s main goals: to create a buffer between itself and Western Europe. This desire, which is historic in character, is understandable. After all, Russia has been invaded numerous times. While these invasions cost invaders such as Napoleon and Hitler a great deal, they also did immense damage to Russia and seem to have clearly shaped her national character and goals.
In light of their history and psychology, it is clear that the Russians would consider a NATO country on their border to be a serious threat. Hence, they did exactly what the United States did when Iraq was presented as a threat: invade. While Georgia is obviously not the same sort of state as Iraq was, the justification is quite similar. From a practical and moral standpoint, the Russians could easily draw a parallel between the American invasion of Iraq with their own invasion of Georgia. Naturally enough, those who regard the invasion of Iraq as morally questionable will also clearly regard the invasion of Georgia as questionable as well.
Laying aside ethics, there are practial matters to consider.
As I have argued in other posts, Russia is showing clear signs that she wants to get back to being a significant world power. This means that she feels the need to establish her security (which is understandable) and to act in a belligerent manner (which is dangerous). The invasion of Georgia is simply a return to the sort of behavior Russia exhibited in the Cold War. This is just another such act in a string of Cold War reruns: Russia has been testing American airspace near Alaska and also threatening to re-target Europe with her nuclear weapons.
The obvious question for Americans is this: what should we do about Russia? They seem to really miss being our main enemy and perhaps they wish to step back into that role. That should concern us. After all, our military is bogged down on the seemingly endless war on terror. Perhaps this time around, the Russians will wreck our economy (with our help).
Thanks to the rising price of oil, Russia can spend much more on its military. However, it remains to be seen if they can sustain their military machine for very long. The Cold War largely devastated the Russian economy and it would be a poor choice on their part to leap back into ruin once more.Of course, perhaps they have seen the state of our economy and think they can bring us down.
I do hope that the Cold War taught us the price of such conflict. When the Cold War ended, I immediately began asking when Russia would be back to her old ways. It seems that my question has been answered.