It’s not worth wasting time to debate whether the U.S. or Israel, separately or combined, played a major role in encouraging the government of Georgia to begin the hostilities in Ossetia last week. It was a stupid, unnecessary thing to do, and any American official who had even an inkling in advance that it was going to happen should have made an all-out effort to prevent it. Whoever bears responsibility for allowing the original Georgian actions to be set in motion carries a heavy guilt for the hundreds of civilian lives already lost.
The U.S. does not have many cards to play that can easily solve the mess that has developed in Georgia. However, unless you are part of that U.S. leadership group that simply wants to wage more wars to enrich itself, and at the same time wishes to strengthen the elderly Israeli-U.S. partnership that forms a powerful nucleus within the same leadership group, there is one thing you might think of doing. You could join with those of us who are working for an actual reversal of present U.S. foreign policies in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The first step toward such a reversal — a step that we should advocate immediately and as loudly as possible — is that the U.S. government should publicly announce that it will no longer support membership in NATO for Georgia. This would clearly be a specific U.S. policy reversal that the leaders of Russia want very much, and it is probably an absolute sine qua non for a satisfactory resolution of the situation in Georgia.
BILL CHRISTISON was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence officer and as director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.