Russia is aggressive, China despotic and Iran messianic — but none is as dangerous as the 20th-century totalitarian states.
Okay. But then he carries on with all sorts of 1930s, pre-World War II, Hitler and Churchill and appeasement-type analogies. Which is it Bill? He spends most of his column drawing a picture of a dark and evil world united against the forces of "freedom and democracy," only to acknowledge that well, it isn't all that bad. Diplomacy is an utterly hopeless and useless option, but it's not as if The West is in a fight for its very survival.
First off, Bill displays the usual right-wing misconception as to why diplomacy exists. We can debate the late 1930s European example (and we have, ad infinitum and ad nauseum), but leaving that example aside, we can see that diplomacy is not and never was an attempt to "be nice to the bad guys" in the vain hope that they will be nice in return. It was always an attempt to find common ground, to find areas where we could agree and to build upon those areas of mutual interest. The US and the Soviet Union decided they had a mutual interest in survival in the face of many tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Ipso, facto, ergo, sum, we engaged in diplomacy to try and defuse the struggle, to try and lower the temperature, to try to find a mutually satisfactory accommodation. The Soviet Union eventually collapsed from its own internal weaknesses, diplomacy prevented the two adversaries from blowing up the world in the meantime.
And I'm sorry, but If the United States "...seem[s] oddly timid and uncertain" in the face of this existential/not so serious threat, it might be because, from President Bush on down, the right-wing side of the political spectrum in this country refuses to call for any real sacrifice for this melodramatically-named "War on Terror." The right-wing screamers and pontificators refuse to call for either higher taxes or for a draft, making a complete joke out of their picture of it as a "generational struggle" of allegedly huge significance.
The problem with Kristol and all of his chickenhawk fellow travelers is that their rhetoric and their actions are in completely different worlds, where one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. As to this:
But Georgia, a nation of about 4.6 million, has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty.
Erm, I'm sorry, but there is no mutual, nationwide "we" that invited Georgia, formerly a province of Russia, to send 2,000 troops to Iraq. "We" peaceniks and hippies and people who felt that the unprovoked invasion of Iraq was a really bad idea never supported the war to begin with. Much less did we support other nations joining in on the fight. From the very beginning, the invasion of Iraq was what we considered to be an unwarranted war of aggression, illegal under international law. Yes, concerning Georgia, "Russia has sent troops and tanks across an international border," but on March 19, 2003, so did the US.
The US looks upon the invasion of Georgia, not as a country that is morally superior to Russia, but as one that is their equal.