Daily Archives: June 19, 2009

More Kremlin follies: Russia vs. Georgia, redux?

Today’s New York Times has a harsh editorial castigating Moscow’s latest exercise in stupid self-assertion:

In a depressing sequel to its petty and destructive war against Georgia last summer, Russia has now cast a petty and destructive veto in the United Nations Security Council, compelling the abrupt withdrawal of 130 badly needed international military monitors from Georgia’s secessionist region of Abkhazia.

It was petty because Russia’s larger interest lies in calming, not stirring up, secessionist ambitions in the Caucasus, a violently fractured part of the world that includes other restive regions like Chechnya. And it was destructive because whatever hopes the Russian-backed Abkhazian separatists might still retain for a semblance of international legitimacy vanishes with the withdrawal of the United Nations mission.


Moscow’s heavy-handed meddling has isolated Abkhazia, and Russia. Only Russia and Nicaragua recognized the “independence” Abkhazia proclaimed after the Russian incursion last summer. This month Russia voted alone in the Security Council to evict the monitors.

They could have added that Russia suffered an embarrassing setback in its quest for recognition for Abkhazia and South Ossetia when former pal Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus took the first half a $500 million loan that was a tacit bribe for recognition, and then didn’t come through.

The Times is quite right that further destabilization and growth of separatism in the region would be detrimental to Russia more than anyone else; hardly a day goes by without deadly violence, including assassinations of high-level officials and military officers, in places like Ingushetia and Dagestan.   But of course, for the Kremlin leadership, muscle-flexing and ego-tripping counts for a lot more than such practical considerations.

Meanwhile, Russia is planning large-scale military exercises near the Georgian border; not only will these exercises take place in “independent” Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but they are pretty clearly directed at Georgia — at the very least, to send a signal.  Adrian Piontkovsky, writing on Grani.ru (Russian text), speculates that Russia may be preparing for Georgian War II.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Dmitry Medvedev, Russia, Russia-Georgia conflict, Vladimir Putin, War

Sotomayor: the right’s great white whale?

Richard Viguerie, one of the lions of conservative activism, thinks the Sonia Sotomayor nomination could invigorate conservatism.  Viguerie  writes:

President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sotomayor has so far managed to unite all wings of the conservative movement — economic, foreign policy, social, traditional and libertarian — in a way we haven’t seen since the early Clinton years.

Is this true?   Most conservatives aren’t thrilled with the nomination, but I also don’t see a whole lot of passionate opposition (except among those who would passionately oppose any Obama nominee, even Mother Teresa).  For an example of not-exactly-thrilled but muted conservative reaction, see, for instance, these posts by Jonathan Adler on The Volokh Conspiracy.   Adler writes:

Looking at the race-related cases in which Judge Sotomayor has disagreed with her colleagues leads me to the following conclusion (although it does not convince me to oppose her nomination).  Compared to the other judges on her Cirucit, Judge Sotomayor appears more inclined to accept aggressive and innovative use of equal protection arguments in race-related cases and seems to be more accepting of the use of race to achieve diversity in the workplace. This does not make her an “extremist,” and it certainly does not make her a “racist,” but it does suggest she would fit comfortably on the “liberal” side of the current court on such issues, and is consistent with the inference one could draw from her speeches. Insofar as one disagrees with this approach to race-related cases, this could be cause for concern.

A new article by The New Republic‘s Jeff Rosen, who has caught flak in the past for his criticism of Sotomayor, argues that she would be a liberal-but-not-too-liberal, and definitely not knee-jerk  liberal or hardcore ideological, presence on the Supreme Court.  It’s unlikely that any Obama appointee would be “better,” from a conservative/libertarian point of view.

Meanwhile, rallying around opposition to Sotomayor would be unwise for conservatives for a few reasons.   It would be hard to paint her (convincingly) as an out-of-the-mainstream radical.  Also, the right would be investing a lot (scarce) political capital into attacking a Hispanic woman; giving her impressive credentials, trying to paint her as a less-than-competent “affirmative action baby” could easily come across as sexist and racist, particularly given some of the nasty rhetoric already directed at the judge.

This does not mean that conservatives and libertarians should not criticize Sotomayor.  There’s plenty to criticize.  This is not, however, a wise fight to pick as the mother of all battles.

(Cross-posted to RealClearPolitics.com)

1 Comment

Filed under law, left and right