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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Nunn on the Other Georgia

As Barack Obama prepares to announce his running-mate (insisting, characteristically, on a “no-leaks” policy until the decision is revealed to supporters via text-message, probably tomorrow), one name has dropped out of contention: former Sen. Sam Nunn of GA. Indeed, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway yesterday, Nunn said the Obama campaign had not vetted his finances, which means he’s definitely not on the final short-list.
But in that same interview, Nunn shared some thoughts on the Georgia-Russia crisis that Obama and others should listen to carefully. In the bipartisan rush to identify with beleagured Georgia, support for expanding NATO to include Georgia and other eastern European nations has become reflexive. That’s a bad idea, Nunn suggests:

[C]learly the United States need to pause, look and listen before we rush into making Georgia and Ukraine part of NATO. If we’re going to do that, we have to understand that this is a military commitment. And we have to back it up militarily.
Right now, we’re not doing well in Afghanistan. Our NATO allies seem to be reluctant to put in more forces. NATO’s got a lot of credibility at stake in Afghanistan. And the defense spending by most of our European allies is way down.
And if you look at the map, you can see pretty quickly that defending Georgia will require enormous expenditures unless we’re going to go back to a Berlin sort of situation, where we threaten to use nuclear weapons in response to conventional progression by the Soviet Union….
A wounded bear is going to defend itself. I think Russia’s made a profound mistake, and they’ve got to correct it. [But] we have a real reason to avoid compounding the problem.

With John McCain running around the country demanding immediate NATO expansion in combination with promises to “defeat evil” wherever it arises, consequences be damned, it’s good to know that someone with Nunn’s credibility is willing to talk about those consequences. It was the failure to do so that led to the invasion of Iraq, which McCain continues to champion as a model for U.S. foreign policy in the future.

One comment on “Nunn on the Other Georgia

  1. ducdebrabant on

    There’s nothing particularly exceptional in that statement, coming from a Democrat. And it’s hardly a seminal article or major address. Somebody is going to have to provide that, at some point, and do full justice to all the facts of the situation. There’s not a lot of of reliable stuff right now about:
    (a.) What an off-the-rails nutcase the “American-educated” Saakashvili turned out to be.
    (b.) Exactly how much persecution there has been of Russian minorities in Georgia by Georgians, or of Georgian minorities in the enclaves by Russian separatists.
    (c.) How provocative (and impractical) Bush’s breakneck drive to put missile defense systems in Eastern Europe actually was.
    (d.) How far Putin really intends to go to re-establish the Russian empire, and how many more heads of state and journalists he is willing to poison.
    (e.) How much the Europeans will let themselves be blackmailed over oil.
    (f.) Whether a European boycott of Russian oil (however unthinkable for Europe) would even hurt Russia.
    (g.) etc., etc., etc.
    For somebody of Nunn’s resume, “look before you leap” isn’t the sort of sage counsel that makes my eyes glaze with admiration. Not that I had much for Nunn anyway. I’m delighted the Obama people haven’t asked to look into his finances.
    Nunn wasn’t around when Clinton finally decided to help Kossovo, and I don’t happen to know his position on that (it was the right thing to do, in my opinion, but it did help plant the seeds of the current crisis — especially when we recognized Kossovo’s independence much later).
    I do know that he opposed the First Gulf War, and so I’ve never been sure that Nunn isn’t — not merely a walk softly type — but an actual appeaser. If it had been up to him, we wouldn’t just have Vladimir Putin sitting on a huge part of the world’s oil reserves, we’d have Saddam Hussein controlling those of Iraq, Kuwait, and maybe even Saudi Arabia.


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