Thursday, August 14, 2008

Medvedev to World: I'm just imitating Bush!

One thing you might learn about in Law School is a little something called 'precedent.' According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "Precedent" is an act or instance that may be used as an example in dealing with subsequent similar instances and according to it is any act, decision, or case that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations. This isn't an English lesson though, its just a clarification. When you do something and declare that it is legitimate then in the future when someone copies you it is difficult to object without looking hypocritical. Case in point: Georgia/Russia and Iraq/US.

Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are claiming that the invasion into Georgia and the subsequent bombing campaign are very much in line with the international precedent created by President Bush in Iraq because they claim they are only protecting the people of provinces South Ossetia and Abkhazia from "oppression and tyranny" of the Georgian government. Hmm... at least those two are sticking to that story instead of concocting some intelligence about a nuclear program. What can President Bush say to that? Not much.

President Bush, along with political leaders and thinkers from the Right and Left, are very worried about this military strong-arming into the Caucuses Region by Russia. The problem paritally contributed to the fact that the United States has always been looked at as a progressive leader in Human Rights and International diplomacy (which was good) and then now it seems that even with diminishing global reach we have created a precedent in a world that we are less able to control. Twenty or even ten years ago when the US wanted something to be stopped.. I mean seriously wanted an international action to stop, it could have its magic hand and threaten beligerants with something that would really hurt. Nowadays the US is mired in two international conflicts, talking about a third one, has a housing/banking crisis, dealing with record high oil prices, and has seemingly lost its grip of international organizations. Reapetedly discrediting the UN in 2003, the Bush Administration unwittingly shot itself in the foot, losing one of the best legitimizers of American power and instruments of Western foreign policy.

While the US stagnates its power (and loses some as well) the rest of the world are racing to get just a little closer to the hegemonic level the US has achieved. Russia is resurgent, China is booming, India is growing, the EU is consolidating and expanding, but still there is no greater power than US foreign policy... unfortunetly we have set a terrible precedent and it will take at least five years to undo the damage.


Georgia-Russia: Medvedev speaks to the world - CNN
Overview of Georgian Conflict - Wikipedia


Chris said...

The moral equivalence argument doesn't hold water.

There is a vast difference between a democracy which deposes a murderous dictator and a dictatorship which invades a sovereign democracy.

Precedent has nothing to do with it.

Anthony Fuller said...

Ah, so when you disagree with the Iraq war it's bad, unless you are doing the same thing. Makes sense Putin.

Strong Moderate said...

Chris! Anthony! I'm glad you joined the debate. I couldn't get back to you as quickly as I'd have liked to because I was traveling.

Chris, The moral equivalence and precedent arguments do hold, here's why. Russia has painted the Georgian President as a murderer who wishes to commit genocide against the poor people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. So they have created a reality of their own where they (a so-called "democracy") have swept in to protect the people from a crazed 'killer'.

A very big problem with your logic is that you don't create any kind of dichotomy with your terms. You say that the Iraqi War was democracy vs. dictator and that the Georgian conflict is dictator vs. sovereign democracy however those terms aren't opposites or necessarily even in the same category. All of the countries involved in your analogy are (or were until invaded) sovereign. So to say that somehow because a country is ruled by a dictator not a liberal democracy that country has lost its sovereignty you have made a grave error in judgment.

In conclusion, remember the term "precedent" means that you act based on an example with similar instances. Russia has made the claim that the instances are similar (the protection of a people from "genocide") and thus believe they have the right to take similar action (invading and leaving troops to create buffer zones). The two conflicts are different in so many ways.. but as long as Russia has the opportunity they will call both conflicts similar.

Anthony, when Putin first opposed the Iraq War he was scared. Very scared. If the US could just pick any damn dictator it pleased and plucked him out of power at the drop of the hat Russia has a lot of stooges to loose. Putin though.. is a smart, clever and cunning man. He decided to turn the War on Terror(ists) on its head and use the exact same reasons and excuses to do something he'd been wanting to do for a decade: punish breakaway Soviet republics that sided with the US after a half century of Soviet oppression instead of embracing Mother Russia and installing puppets. The problem is that we here in the US are too distracted with the elections, Olympics and the fact that our President is a lame-duck with almost zero pull left in the State Dept or the World to do much... Also, now any criticism from the Bush Administration looks like hypocrisy.. it's a sad state that the neo-conservative movement has put our foreign policy in. Very, very sad. We can't even stand up for the little guy anymore.

WebbieStuffs said...

The damage cannot be undone. How about the lives of thousands? What can you say about it? Talking about USA, I think it is a shame for Americans to have these foreign policy that USA ALWAYS BUTT IN in anything the world is doing. It is making a business of something that is not his own.

In fact, what I can say is, sometimes, many just hate USA for being so, a sad reality to the americans for NOT all of them are the same as their leaders' attitudes.zxv

Wanderer... said...

Precedence? That is something like 'History repeats itself'... I dunno if I am still alive and see when US lose th epower it is holding now. But actually, i think its people are suffering.. it is just wearing a mask showing to the world its power. How about those people losing houses? Your dollar sinking? I think it's time to wake up. People first e├Črather than spend billions for armaments and amunitions!