In case current events in the nation of Georgia haven’t made the fact crystal clear, yr (justifiably) humble svt is unhappy to inform you that the U.S. military hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory over the past nearly 20 years since the end of the Cold War.
And the diplomatic corps has similarly shown itself to be overstressed and undermanned.
Nicholas Kristof made the point this past weekend: the U.S. has more musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats!
And what Kristof’s story omits, due to rapidly breaking events, is the failure of both U.S. diplomacy and U.S. military strength during the Russian invasion of Georgia this past week.
Military strength? Well, we can’t simultaneously put sufficient boots on the ground to meet our objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, much less come to the aid of a strategically critical ally, Georgia.
Diplomacy? A strong diplomatic corps might have foreseen (yes, hindsight is always 20:20) that Georgia was simultaneously taking U.S. and NATO support as more than words, while underestimating Vladimir Putin’s urge for regained empire, and warned Mikheil Saakashvili away from his adventuristic invasion of South Ossettia.
Or a diplomatic arm with some heft might have been able to forestall, or at least mitigate, Russia’s response. Putin may now be emboldened to exercise his brand of “diplomacy” over other, West-leaning, former states of the old Soviet empire, and the U.S. will be hard pressed to protect them, diplomatically or militarily, if it even figures out that this would be a useful strategy.
But George III is a happy warrior, as befits a civilian who took giant steps to avoid substantive military service, and diplomacy apparently doesn’t mean much to him, or it appears, to Congress.