Saturday, August 16, 2008

Leverage over Russia?

Well, it was a pretty dumb move on the part of Mikheil Saakashvili. I don't know what he expected to happen when he picked a fight with Putin, but he can't be all that surprised by how Russia responded. He should be even less surprised by how the West responded to the Russian invasion. Maybe Saakashvili figured the conflict was inevitable -- and probably it was -- but why he thought now would be a good time to get it going is beyond me.

Western Europe is totally dependent on Russian oil; the U.S. is preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan and economic meltdown, and Bush is a lame duck who's already blown whatever moral authority this country may once have had. So far, Georgia's had no support from the West save a few vague threats about taking the G8 down to G7 again. But wait -- the U.S. does have style="font-style: italic;">some leverage over Russia, come to think of it.

There's that little matter of the $100 billion we owe them. What if we threatened them with default?

Yes, yes, I know -- defaulting on a debt can wreak havoc on a country's credit rating. On the other hand, one could argue that repaying money owed to belligerent, aggressor nations who invade and occupy other countries only serves to encourage them. (Yes, yes, I know -- the description fits us as well as it does them -- but hell, they don't owe us money!)

Am I joking? Maybe -- but considering how much money we owe sovereign wealth funds and powerful corporate players in potentially troublesome countries around the world, why not take this opportunity to use our colossal fiscal irresponsibility to achieve world peace? Think about it -- crazy as it sounds, it might even work.

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