In the Washington Post, Ronald D. Asmus and Richard Holbrooke look at the present situation between Russia and the West. “The West, and especially the United States, could have prevented this war. We have arrived at a watershed moment in the West’s post-Cold War relations with Russia.” Excerpt:
What can we do? First, Georgia deserves our solidarity and support. (Georgia has supported us; its more than 2,000 troops are the third-largest contingent in Iraq — understandably those troops are being recalled.) We must get the fighting stopped and preserve Georgia’s territorial integrity within its current international border. As soon as hostilities cease, there should be a major, coordinated transatlantic effort to help Tbilisi rebuild and recover.
Second, we should not pretend that Russia is a neutral peacekeeper in conflicts on its borders. Russia is part of the problem, not the solution. For too long, Moscow has used existing international mandates to pursue neo-imperial policies. We must disavow these mandates and insist on truly neutral international forces, under the United Nations, to monitor a future cease-fire and to mediate.
Third, we need to counter Russian pressure on its neighbors, especially Ukraine — most likely the next target in Moscow’s efforts to create a new sphere of hegemony. The United States and the European Union must be clear that Ukraine and Georgia will not be condemned to some kind of gray zone.
Finally, the United States and the European Union must make clear that this kind of aggression will affect our relations and Russia’s standing in the West. While Western military intervention in Georgia is out of the question — and no one wants a 21st-century version of the Cold War — Moscow’s actions cannot be ignored. There is a vast array of political, economic and other areas in which Russia’s role and standing will have to be reexamined. Moscow must also be put on notice that its own prestige project — the Sochi Olympics — will be affected by its behavior.