First, Seumas Milne has a very good article noting that the US is no longer the “hyperpower” it was in the mid 1990s, and Russia just showed it in its recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The US military is too overstretched to do anything meaningful there, even if Russia did not have somewhere around 2000 nuclear warheads, and on the diplomacy side, countries now require an indication that it serves their national interests when they are asked to follow the US on a military adventure.
The US is still the only remaining world power, but Russia is one of a dozen or so regional powers who are now able to challenge the us in their regions.
In a very real way, it is the end of empire.
Russia has rebuilt its military into a credible fighting force over the past decade. 10 Years ago, the Georgian military would have still lost by dint of numbers, but they would have held out for weeks, and not collapsed in a day.
I will also note that I think that Putin believes it when he says that United States encouraged Georgia to attack South Ossetia. I believe it too, and I imagine that in a decade or so, we will have historians confirming the fact.
For what it’s worth, we now have evidence that diplomats don’t have to be Bush political appointees to be complete idiots, case in point, Daniel Fried, who is claiming that Russian military actions are a sign of weakness, “But being angry and seeking revanchist victory is not the sign of a strong nation. It is the sign of a weak one.”
So, that would make invading Iraq….What?
Meanwhile, the US military is looking at ways to rebuild the Georgian military, which strikes me as imprudent, at best.
It was the military aid which convinced the Georgians that they could start this military adventure in the first place.
The EU is warning Moscow to stay out of the Ukraine, but I really don’t think that Russia is looking at rolling up the Ukraine.
I could see that situation developing if a Ukrainian nationalist comes to power and starts trying to ethnically cleanse the region, but I don’t see anyone being stupid enough to do this…..At least no one on the scene right now is stupid enough.
That being said, the reaction of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) regarding the recognition of those provinces, where Russia is a member, was decidedly tepid, and the Asian former Soviet Republics who are its members (with China) are among those most likely to be supportive.
And in the comedy as foreign policy department, Georgia is calling for the UN Security Council to take action against Russia…..Ummmm….What part of “veto” don’t you understand?
For what it’s worth, we now have a report, albeit a self serving one from South Ossetia’s prosecutor general on the numbers of casualties from the initial Georgian assault, 1,692 killed.
I would take that with a serious grain of salt. It probably is more than the 130 stated by other sources though.