News reports about the fighting between Georgia and Russia seldom mention that it was Georgia's recently-elected leader who started it. Nor do they mention the consequences of a major war involving Russia.
It seems that every so often the lesson has to be learned that taunting the Russian bear is more than merely dangerous. Napoleon learned it, Hitler learned it. I hope we don't learn it, but the United States is flying 2,000 Georgian troops home from Iraq and that will stir the pot.
We don't want to get into a conflict with Russia. Aside from the fact that they still have hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at American cities there is the hopelessness of ground warfare when winter comes to the steppes and forests in a land of diehard patriots with a well-equipped military.
The first thing we would have to do is reinstate the draft. Millions of men would be needed. Casualties on both sides would be enormous. The Russians are more willing to endure the loss of life than Americans. The deaths and injuries suffered during five years in Iraq could sometimes be equaled in a single day just as happened on occasion during the First World War.
Months spent as an MP in Germany immediately after the end of World War II included countless hours of talking with former German soldiers, now civilian guards at an ordnance depot. No matter which of them might be talking, the tales of fighting on the Russian Front were chillingly similar. How often I heard, "We could kill a hundred and two hundred more would be right behind them."
I heard tales of spitting or urinating and hearing a loud crack as it froze before it could hit the ground. Both sides used some horse-drawn equipment capable of going where vehicles could not. German horses could withstand cold to 24 below zero, Russian horses to 60 below. Every moving part on vehicles would freeze and tanks and trucks would be frozen solid to the ground. Men would die in November and their bodies remain hidden until spring. And always there were the partisans - members of the underground - ready to kill at every opportunity. Today we would call them insurgents or terrorists.
No, we do not want the last chapter in the legacy of such concern to George W. Bush to be a war with Russia. There would be no winner, just millions of losers. Georgia is not our fight, not our cause. They started it, let them finish it.