Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were asked during Tuesday’s debate if they regarded Russia as an “evil empire” and both responded with the Bush line that Russia’s behavior was terrible in Georgia. Both either were unwilling or unable to provide a nuanced response that recognized how Georgia was partially responsible for events leading to a Russian invasion of Georgia. Yesterday, in accord with assurances given by Russia to President Sarkozy, the last of its troops moved out of Georgia and headed back to South Ossetia. They bulldozed any checkpoints and even swept for mines to ensure no Georgian people would be injured after their departure.
Mari Khokhashvili watched the Russian troops depart and told a reporter, “now I feel safe. I hope that life will improve.” She observed dozens of Russian trucks and armored vehicles moving down the road and heading north out of her country. Hansjorg Haber, who headed European Union monitors, said: “We always proceeded from the assumption that the process would be completed by Friday and this is confirmation of the assumption.”
Russia is not an “evil empire” and was not completely at fault in events in Georgia. The initial attack was by Georgian troops who miscalculated and thought they could get away with a swift take over of South Ossetia. It failed and their nation paid the consequences of such rash behavior. It was simply another consequence of Bush policies to threaten Russia.