Thinking about the hostilities in Georgia, it’s instructive to return to the NATO Summit in Bucharest in April.
If you recall, Bush, along with his Russian-expert Secretary of State, descended on the member heads-of-state driving hard for the alliance to offer membership to both Georgia and Ukraine. In the top image, you can see Bush yukking it up with pre-conference sidekick, Georgian President Saakashvili.
Thankfully the Europeans, led by Germany and France, pushed back and rebuffed Bush. Otherwise, we could well be looking at the U.S. being forced to go to war with Russia this week in defense of a NATO ally — not to mention interjecting ourselves in an ethnic and separatist conflict that is arguably far beyond our scope of interest.
What Bush’s Georgian cheerleading and advocacy (not to mention, McCain’s even more aggressive, compromised and meddling version) can be credited with, however, is emboldening Mikheil Saakashvili to provoke Russia in the first place, accounting for this contrast, between giggles in Bucharest, and Saakashvili hitting the dirt in Gori during a Russian airstrike.
slide show: Troops, Rubble and Grief in Georgia (NYT)
(image 1: Gerald Herbert/AP. April 3, 2008. Bucharest, Romania. image 2: Joao Silva for The New York Times. Gori, Georgia)