Many saw the SCO as an organization that may one day rival NATO. Regardless of whether that assessment was accurate, more evidence against it has come in the form of China and the SCO’s recent joint statement from Tajikistan in which it calls for Georgia’s territorial integrity to be respected. While the language was clearly not as critical and aggressive as that from America and Europe, the message was clear: we don’t support you. While some treat this development as an additional ‘blow’ against Russia, this blogger finds it unlikely Russia counted on any real support from China. Indeed China has Taiwan and its restive Muslim provinces to worry about. Beijing knows better than to take sides on an issue like that. While Medvedev had indeed been quoted as saying he expected the SCO to back Russia, the organization seems to not be as inherently anti-Western as they expected, hence their polite but clear statement as noted above.
Yet, for all the talk of Russia and Georgia, I’ve seen little discussing what America’s overall policy goals should be in dealing with Russian aggression. Is the primary concern defending Georgia itself, or our image which would suffer were we to appear weak in defending an ally? Are we more concerned with Georgia in the first place, or rather with Russian. And indeed, if Russia is our main concern, which I believe it is, does the United States wish to punish or ‘rehabilitate’ Moscow? To be sure, Georgia is not an important strategic interest of the United States, which this blogger says despite being an avid Georgia supporter. Both Zenpundit and Galrahn at Information Dissemination correctly point this out. With that in mind, and in the mind of Moscow, Georgia’s strategic value does not warrant escalation and the taking of high risks by the US and Europe. Thus, wading through the war mongering and Cold War rhetoric, we arrive at the aforementioned question: punish or rehabilitate?
The Europeans have, for example, voiced interest in sanctions against Russia while others have discussed ejecting Russia from international organizations like the G8. Thomas Barnett is in the rehabilitate crowd as he noted today
his fusion model of Russia’s is not that different from China’s–just coupled with Russian political paranoia. Both need to be housebroken by the global economy/Core in coming decades. China’s moving in that direction nicely, Russia’s system far more slowly. But now Georgia gives us a great “teachable moment” here, assuming we don’t go overboard or militarize the response unduly. All levers, my friends, all levers.,
Dan at tdaxp simiarly describes the situation, namely that Russia is a Gap state acting as such against new Core states. That being said, US and European policy must focus on punishing Russia and damaging its economic and political interests while at the same time, opening new and more acceptable routes for Russia to achieve its foreign policy goals. American and European politicians must make the most of this opportunity or “teachable moment” as Barnett calls it lest we leave Moscow with no other route than to remain a repeat offender.