Welcome to the next war:
Georgia's president said Friday that his country is under attack by Russian tanks and warplanes, and he accused Russia of targeting civilians as tensions over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia appeared to boil over into full-blown conflict.
If it's true that generals prepare to fight the next war, it's also true that we elect presidents based on what they say about how (or why) the last war was fought. But there's always a next war, and we can only guess how John McCain and Barack Obama will do when the first foregn-policy crisis of the new administration hits. So we should at least listen very carefully to what they say about Russia and Georgia.
UPDATE: McCain -- "Today news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory."
Obama -- "I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war. Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected."
The Politico's Ben Smith thinks this shows a clear contrast between the two candidates:
This conflict is an echo of the Cold War, and the two are in postures familiar from that era: McCain thinks the Russians will respond only to strength and threats and seems willing to risk escalating the conflict; Obama puts more stock in diplomacy and nuance.
But does either candidate really understand Russia?