We opine the following about the crisis in the Republic of Georgia, much of which can be found elsewhere but which nevertheless resonates with the SWNIDish worldview.
First, Putin's Russia has clearly intended to destabilize Georgia for some time. Most obvious in this regard was freely distributing Russian passports to Georgian citizens in Abkhazia and South Ossetia well before the alleged Georgian military provocation. Can one imagine the United States in wholesale giving US passports to citizens of New Brunswick and not creating a stir? That their intentions are so have been reinforced by every move thereafter, including the atrocities committed by its soldiers in the invasion, the indiscriminate destruction of the Georgian infrastructure, the continued occupation, the insistence that President Saakashvili resign, and now the call for an embargo against Georgia.
Second, all this is clearly a revival of the way Russian nationalism has been expressed since Peter the Great: to make Russia a Great Nation by making it an imperial overlord. Georgia's future is as a dismembered vassal of Russia (something that NATO probably cannot prevent), and other former Republics of the Soviet Union can expect the same if no action is taken.
Third, what motivates this imperialism is not primarily the need to restore national pride after a period of decline. It is the need of the fascist kleptocracy that runs Russia to justify to Russians its stranglehold on the Russian nation. Fascists always justify their domestic extremism with adventurism abroad. Fascism always needs a crisis.
So the question is whether Russia's will be more like Germany's fascism or more like Italy's. We suspect the latter. Russia's economy depends entirely on the bubble in prices for raw materials, especially crude oil, that is probably already bursting. Its army demonstrated significant flaws in Georgian operations, suggesting that it could not sustain a campaign in a less isolated corner of the neighborhood. Russia's population is in a decline of historic proportions. Russia cannot be a superpower.
Still, the world's citizens don't need an imperialistic, fascist petrostate, no matter how hollow, making war against its neighbors. So . . .
Fourth, here's the SWNID program. Strengthening NATO is vital, if it's possible to get the feckless Western Europeans to join with the intrepid Poles and others to provide a firm, modulated response. We're not for Georgian membership in NATO right now, which is clearly impossible, nor even for Ukrainian membership, which would be unduly provocative. We are for strengthening logistical preparations to resist Russian intervention in NATO member states and their nearest neighbors, mostly as a warning.
But here's what we'd like to see that no one seems to be talking about: the thoughtful, deliberate infiltration of alternative voices to connect with the Russian people. Right now our back-channel sources tell us the ordinary Russians think that their army went to Georgia to save actual Russians from American genocide. The yet-again-ironically-named Pravda is filled with such propaganda these days (along with tabloid-style nonsense about Bigfoot creatures and asteroids set to crash into Planet Earth any day). But there's this thing called the wireless, and the television, and the internet, the older of which were once successfully exploited against even more ruthless totalitarians. Such organs can and should be employed to give Russians a different perspective.
There is another deep tradition in Russia besides Peter the Great's. It belongs to such luminaries as Tolstoy and Dostoyevski. Profoundly informed by the christocentric theology of Russian Orthodoxy (sadly the Orthodox Church in Russia seems now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Putin's fascist nationalism), it reckons with the fundamental flaws in human nature and with the call to a different life embodied in Jesus Christ. Many Russians will listen if they are told that evil people have, in the name of their own might, done evil to the weak. Their best traditions tell them how to listen.
So we call for a quiet, deliberate, thorough campaign to bring information to Russians, laced with appeals to the better angels of their nature. If Georgia and Ukraine could have internal, peaceful revolutions toward democratic liberty, so can Mother Russia, if the impulses are nurtured.