What we’ll think of is the country of Georgia and we’ll realize that August 8 was the date when Russia began reassembling the former Soviet empire in earnest. ~Roger Kimball

Via Tom Piatak

Yes, just as Iran is poised to revive the Achaemenid Empire!  It’s not just that I find the charges of Russian imperialism a bit tired coming from people who have insisted for years that invading other countries, toppling their governments and setting up puppet states is not imperialism, but I find them very boring.  I mean, how unimaginative can one be to say, “They’re bringing back the Soviet Union!”?  That’s the sort of thing an eccentric Bond villain would try to do.  There are no more workers’ councils, and there is no more USSR.  In every sense of the word, the Soviets are gone and their empire is dust.  No one–not Putin, not Medvedev, not anyone–is bringing it back as it once existed.  Now if Kimball had said that Moscow is trying to reassemble parts of the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire, at least in terms of its territorial dimensions, I would still say that he is grossly exaggerating what’s going on, but at least he wouldn’t be embarrassing himself by saying completely nonsensical things. 

The fact is that Russia has yet to advance its ground forces beyond the separatist regions, and it has given no indication in its movements or its rhetoric that it intends to do anything in the way of “reabsorbing” or annexing Georgia.  This is irresponsible alarmism.  While some suspect that the endgame is to overthrow Saakashvili, we cannot know that, either.  As hard as it is for some people to believe, Russia still seems to be defending the status quo ante and exacting punishment on Saakashvili’s government for his blunder.  When that starts to change, I will be among the first to acknowledge it, because at that point Russia’s fairly limited response will have mutated into something else.  There are parallels with the war in Lebanon two years ago: Israel could have waged a limited, focused campaign against Hizbullah that would have had the backing of most other countries, or it could engage in the wholesale wrecking of an entire country and lose international sympathy, and it chose the latter.  To the extent that the Russians are already starting to imitate Israel’s response in targeting public infrastructure, I think they are making a mistake.  The indiscriminate nature of the fighting so far is very troubling, seeing as it has already killed 1,500 people. 

Note well that the same people who are warning desperately that Russia is trying to get its hands on the BTC pipeline are the same people who will deny to their dying breath that oil had anything to do with the invasion of Iraq.  It might be that they have a point about Iraq, but just watch how they attribute the most mercenary ambitions to other powers that they absolutely refuse to contemplate when thinking about our policies.  Note also how keeping the BTC pipeline from falling under Russian control or influence has become the most frequently-cited reason among Westerners why we should help the Georgians (i.e., they are urging us to back Georgia in a war for oil, or at least access to oil). 

Update: I said I would acknowledge that something has changed when Russian forces advanced beyond the separatist areas, and here is that post.