Georgia is accusing Russia of sending more tanks into the strategically important Georgian city of Gori, despite a cease-fire brokered by France. (Los Angeles Times) Russia pledged to support the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and President Bush demanded that Moscow respect neighboring Georgia’s territorial integrity. (Reuters)
What the commentators said
The U.S. helped push Georgia into this mess, said Rosa Brooks in the Los Angeles Times. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili apparently figured that President Bush’s talk about spreading democracy meant that we would ride to his rescue if he “picked a fight with Russia over the disputed region of South Ossetia." Boy, was he wrong.
“If the charge is that the Bush administration encouraged Georgia's yearnings for true independence,” said The Washington Post in an editorial, “the verdict surely is ‘guilty.’" But if Washington stops encouraging the freedom of the former “vassals” of the Soviet Union to avoid being accused of “egging them on,” it will be making a “radical departure” from traditional American policy.
Letting Russia’s rout of Georgia stand, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, would be a blunder that would announce there is no price for flouting “the civilized world order.” But President Bush is strengthening his response by sending his secretary of state, as well as humanitarian supplies, to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. That might make Moscow “think twice about a further escalation.”