Thoughts on Georgia War, U.S.-Russia Relations
The late Free Congress Foundation CEO Paul Weyrich speaking on CSPAN
Writing about Paul Weyrich over at the National Review Online website on December 18, 2008, Michael G. Franc of the Heritage Foundation wrote:
Paul Weyrich possessed the unrivaled ability to take public stands on behalf of his (and our) core principles, even when doing so created a breach with the conventional wisdom that reigned inside Washington at any given moment. Personal relationships with Washington's power brokers (and he knew them all, because they all quietly and respectfully sought his counsel) were irrelevant if the broker in question was contemplating a policy that violated one of his core tenets. He would patiently explain his point of view, counsel adherence to a timeless principle over a strategic feint that might (but usually didn't) yield some transitory political advantage, and then go public with his principled view if the quiet conversation proved fruitless.
Besides taking strong positions on moral, human life, and family issues, Weyrich was not afraid to criticize what he saw as misguided foreign policies, particularly those advocated by his fellow conservatives and within the Republican Party. Whereas others simply accepted the expansion of NATO into the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine as a given, Weyrich pressed the hard question to his fellow conservatives of whether these steps would actually advance the cause of freedom worldwide, or if they would needlessly antagonize Russia without making America or Europe the slightest bit more secure.
For the sake of educating the public and press about what Weyrich believed and advocated, Russia Blog has republished two of his final op-eds about the future of U.S.-Russia relations.
Click on the extended post to read Weyrich's op-eds from December 2 and August 20, 2008
In contrast to other Washington conservatives and Republicans that simply accepted NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia as a given, Weyrich asked why it was necessary
Georgia v. Russia
December 2, 2008
By Paul M. Weyrich
On December 9 my good friend Ed Lozansky, president of the American University in Moscow, will show a documentary at the National Press Club. [Note: This film screening has been rescheduled for January 2009]. The film purports to vindicate Russia in its recent war with Georgia. While quickly winning military battles with Georgia, Russia lost the propaganda war with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. His excellent English skills and Western public relations consultants portrayed Georgia as a helpless and blameless victim of unprovoked Russian aggression, with the Russians out to destroy Georgian democracy.
The very Western media which bought Saakashvili's side of the story now is challenging the way in which he successfully rallied Western support for his regime. Recent reports from the Caucasus question Georgia's account of the origins of the war. Two veteran Western correspondents say they found that shelling of civilian areas in Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, began far earlier than Georgian authorities contended. A BBC documentary exposed the rampages of Georgian forces in South Ossetia's capital. A Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report accused Georgian forces of deliberately targeting civilians and using cluster bombs in populated areas.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) military monitors, comprised of veteran British military officers, told Western media outlets that Russian forces entered South Ossetia eight to ten hours after Georgian forces began shelling Tskhinvali. The allegation is that Georgian forces attacked Russian peacekeepers. At this point Saakashvili successfully exploited America's statements that Georgia's path toward consolidated democracy and NATO membership was guaranteed. Mixed messages from the United States, especially from Vice President Richard B. Cheney's office, contributed to the Georgian government's sense that a successful war would receive US approval.
In view of the OSCE reports, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called the Georgian Government "reckless" for its military actions. The European Union has formed a commission to investigate Saakashvili's behavior to determine if international laws were violated.
So now, as Lozansky wonders, has Russia truly been vindicated? He further asks if Saakashvili has been exposed as an aggressor and even a reckless gambler who for his political gain exploited the goodwill of his Western allies and tried to set them up for a confrontation with Russia. Lozansky wants to know if the US and EU will withdraw their support for Saakashvili, which might allow Georgian opposition forces to remove him from power. He asks how the West will view Russia now that its claim that it was responding to Georgian aggression conflicts with Georgia's earlier accounts. Will Russia be more respected as a responsible world power, Lozansky asks, or will it continue to be viewed with suspicion and fear as an aggressive and unpredictable power? That is the correct question.
In any war there probably is no 100%-0% situation. If this documentary is correct, and if Georgia is now on the defensive, won't there be a huge lesson for President-elect Barack H. Obama about jumping to conclusions in foreign policy?
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of GOPUSA.
Russia Should Have Been Part of NATO
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 9:22 AM
By: Paul M. Weyrich
Surveying the wreckage in Georgia where more than 100,000 people are without homes, running water and food, the question remains: What could have been done to avert this disaster? There was a solution promoted by a number of us soon after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Knowing that historically Russia has been nervous about its borders, we foresaw the possibility that not only Georgia but Armenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine would be vulnerable to Russian aggression. A number of us proposed that Russia be made a part of NATO. If Russia were in NATO it would not be in a position to attack its neighbors. But just as important, if its neighbors tried to provoke Russia, NATO would be required to put down any such provocation.
The first to broach that idea was Edward (Ed) Lozansky, president of the American University in Moscow. He discussed the idea with me and my colleague, William S. (Bill) Lind, who thought it was an excellent idea which would solve a myriad of problems.
In Moscow, the director of the interregional group in the old Soviet parliament, Arkady Murashev, also supported the idea. In due course it was put to Boris Yeltsin, the first freely elected president of Russia. He was open to the idea. So why did it go nowhere? Because cold warriors, who have made careers of fighting the Russians and justified ever increasing defense budgets accordingly, put an end to it.
If Russia were in NATO and bound by its requirements, it no longer would be considered our enemy. That was not useful to those who had spent a lifetime in Cold War activities. President George H. W. Bush's advisers were absolutely against this idea. If he had had the foresight to disregard their counsel and push for our idea how different history very probably would be today.
I recall visiting with Bush in the Oval Office after Dr. Robert (Bob) Krieble and I returned from Moscow, where we had found that Mikhail Gorbachev, the political rage at the time over here, was not popular in Russia. Yeltsin was much more popular.
I told President Bush that if Gorbachev were replaced, his replacement could be someone more to our liking. Bush said he wished he could have believed that, but told me, "I live every day in fear that Gorbachev will be replaced by a Stalinist-type figure." That information was incorrect. And when the idea of admitting Russia to NATO came up the advice Bush received continued to be incorrect.
What now? Clearly, not just Georgia but the Baltic states and Ukraine are worried. They all are concerned because they have democratically elected governments, which Moscow doesn't regard highly. Are we to rush to make Georgia and Ukraine a part of NATO? Could American soldiers be sent to defend Georgia against Russia?
In the long run, I don't think this would work. Is it now impossible for us to start over? Must Russia be our enemy? If it were, would we be prepared to fight another war? I don't have the answers but it seems to me we must begin to think outside the box. Surely we must have new advisers with new thinking. The alternative is to risk sinking into the abyss of a new war with Russia. Do we need this? No.
Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.