Georgia and the Right

GEORGIA AND THE RIGHT….Matt Yglesias, blogging from his ultra-leftist new digs at the Center for American Progress, takes a shot at sensible moderate Bill Kristol over his column about the war in Georgia:

If Kristol really thinks we should go to war with Russia, he’s being crazy and irresponsible. If he doesn’t think that, then he has no business busting out these Munich analogies. Nowhere in his column does he propose a single concrete step with any meaningful chance of altering the situation — it’s all dedicated to mocking doves, but utterly lacking in viable alternatives.

It’s sort of a weird coincidence that Matt mentions this. Last night it occurred to me that the denizens of The Corner had said virtually nothing about the war, and a quick check confirmed this. Why? Basically, I figured they were in something of a bind: their instinctive reaction was probably pretty simple (Russia = bad), and as the war unfolded, that reaction became more and more justified. At the same time, they knew perfectly well that the only meaningful measure we could take to help Georgia was military assistance, and none of them were willing to go there. So they were left silent.

Still, it was a weekend, and maybe they’d have more to say about Georgia today. And they did. Surprisingly, though, what we get is Jonathan Foreman telling us directly that “We don’t have to go to war for her” and James Robbins telling us that “There is not enough at stake to risk direct conflict with Russia.” And over at The Corner, in practically the only comment so far today, Andrew Stuttaford actually offers some “wider context,” which, under more normal circumstances, would be a code word for mocking leftist appeasement. Today, though, he’s serious.

To add to the confusion, both Foreman and Robbins appear to think that one way of showing solidarity with Georgia would be to fast-track their application to join NATO. So they don’t think we should go to war on Georgia’s behalf now, but they do think we should commit to going to war on her behalf sometime in the nebulous future. Very strange.

In a sense, I don’t blame conservatives for their mixed reaction to events. As egregious as Russia’s actions have been, there really is some “wider context” that makes it hard to fully sympathize with Georgia. But as Matt points out, that just makes the bellicose rhetoric even harder to take. If you favor war and think that liberals are a bunch of neo-Chamberlains for objecting, fine. Go ahead and make your case. But if you don’t think we should go to war, the implications of treachery are a little hard to take.