Friday, August 15, 2008

Strobe Talbott, now a voice of reason

Strobe Talbott, was a correspondent for Time Magazine during the 1980’s. He was an apologist for the Soviet regime and is considered by some to have been a willing dupe of Soviet intelligence, or even worse. In the May 21, 1984 issue of Time he wrote this:

“The Reagan Administration has made a bad situation worse in two ways: first, by convincing the Soviet leaders that the U.S. no longer accepts military parity as the basis for relations with Moscow; second, by challenging the legitimacy of the Soviet regime, calling the U.S.S.R. an ‘evil empire’ doomed to fail.”

He missed the mark about the “evil empire” as subsequent events would prove. It failed when Boris Yeltsin, standing atop a tank in front of the Russian White House (Parliament building) put down a military coup intended to perpetuate the old order. Now in a stunning reversal, Strobe Talbott thoroughly dissects Russia’s reasoning for invading Georgia in today’s Washington Post. The Russians are trying to equate it to NATO’s intervention in Serbia and the establishment of a separate state of Kosovo.

“Russia has been justifying its rampage through Georgia as a ‘peacekeeping’ operation to end the Tbilisi government's "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" of South Ossetia. That terminology deliberately echoes U.S. and NATO language during their 1999 bombing campaign against Serbia, which resulted in the independence of Kosovo.”

He goes on.

This analogy turns reality, and history, upside down. Only after exhausting every attempt at diplomacy did NATO go to war over Kosovo. It did so because the formerly "autonomous" province of Serbia was under the heel of Belgrade and the Milosevic regime was running amok there, killing ethnic Albanians and throwing them out of their homes. By contrast, South Ossetia -- even though it is on Georgian territory -- has long been a Russian protectorate, beyond the reach of Saakashvili's government.”

And finally.

“Yet it now appears that beyond the undisguised animosity that Putin bears toward Saakashvili, he and his government regard Georgia's pro-Western bent and its aspiration to join two Western institutions, NATO and the European Union, as, literally, a casus belli. If that is the case, the next U.S. administration -- the fourth to deal with post-Soviet Russia -- will have to reexamine the underlying basis for the whole idea of partnership with that country and its continuing integration into a rule-based international community.”

Read it all.

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