So, let me get this straight...on the night of the opening ceremonies, Russia takes a slow stroll across the border and defends South Ossetia...
I know what they are thinking:
1) South Ossetia has been a largely self governing (and ineffectual) government for about 12 years now.
2) Its population is largely Pro-Soviet
3) That pipeline that is bypassing Soviet territory isn't putting rubles into Russia coffers.
4) The world will shrug and do nothing because the only nation willing to stand up to Russia is tied down in other countries.
5) Said country is war wary and tired of seeing its soldiers dying in foreign lands.
6) It holds most of Europe by the balls because it provides it with much of its energy.
On the surface, I won't quibble with points 1 and 2. Had Russian troops just gone into South Osettia and held the territory, I think that we would have seen negotiations and some type of resolution to the entire thing.
And I don't want to jump the gun using anything provided by the New York Times. But if this has any truth to it, then my thinking will change. And this is what I will think:
There are only 3 outcomes to this:
1) We admit Georgia into NATO and then invoke article V. Thus putting Russia on watch against the combined military of NATO. But I don't think this will happen. There has already been some hesitancy from our NATO allies against bringing Georgia into the fold. And those hesitant bastards have no desire themselves to want any responsibility for having to remain true to their word.
2) We don't admit Georgia to NATO, and we steam a couple of battle groups to the Black Sea, and put the Russians on notice. We basically tell them that it ain't over until the babushka sings and put them to the test. We also run a couple of flight groups into Turkey (which has much to lose if the Russians take the pipeline away) and wait for Russia's response.
3) We do nothing.
If you can't understand the ramifications of #3, please Google “Soviet Satellite States.”
The way things are going, if the Soviets don't back down. I see Bush going route #2. Because really, the consequences of not doing so, with 5 months left in office, do nothing for his legacy. I would see us parking a couple of Virginia class subs behind every Russian ballistic missile boat, and at the first sign of Russia bowing up to us, putting them on the bottom of the ocean. A couple of air sorties and a couple of Russian plains down later, a quick call would be made to “encourage” the Russians back to the border.
In all realism, this is the first real militaristic test we have seen between the former Cold War opponents.
Someone will blink.