Saturday, August 16, 2008
KTUU Channel 2 Poll Shows 63 Percent Of Alaskan Respondents Oppose Use Of American Force To Evict Russia From Georgia
In an unscientific poll conducted on Friday August 15th, 2008, KTUU Channel 2 News in Anchorage, Alaska asked viewers if they would support or oppose a U.S. military response if Russia refuses to withdraw forces from Georgia. Here is the official question and results:
Would you support or oppose a U.S. military response if Russia refuses to withdraw forces from Georgia, a U.S. ally?
- Support: 27 percent
- Oppose: 63 percent
- Undecided: 10 percent
While KTUU's polls are "unscientific", they can be considered reasonably authoritative and representative of statewide opinion, not only because KTUU news is broadcast statewide, but because the software permits a respondent to vote only once (although I haven't checked to see if I could vote a second time by clearing my cache and cookies).
There are several likely reasons why Alaskans oppose the use of American military force to evict Russia from Georgia. First, Alaska's proximity to Russia undoubtedly is a factor. In the event that an American-Russian confrontation in the Caucasus would escalate into general war, Alaska would be an early and prime target for Russia.
Second, our troops and weapons systems are so overextended in other parts of the world that we have little left to effectively wage a conflict against a Great Power like Russia. Despite this shortfall, President Bush continues to demand that Russia evacuate Georgia. How do we effectively enforce that demand? Russians aren't easily impressed with words; during World War II, when a Papal delegate told Josef Stalin that Pope Pius XII was unhappy with Stalin's policies, Stalin reportedly asked, "How many divisions has the Pope?"
Third, we have an annual budget deficit in the $450 billion range and a national debt approaching $10 trillion. In addition, bailing on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae along with failing banks will add to the deficit. Foreign debt owners could easily decide to call in their debts or simply refuse to finance our debts any further.
But finally, now that the situation is stabilizing in Georgia, we're finding out that Russia isn't the only "bad guy". Not only did Georgia actually start the active hostilities, but it appears Georgia may have used heavy weapons against civilians in Tskhinvali. So people may be concluding that it's merely a regional quarrel, despite the disproportionate size and strength differential between Russia and Georgia, and fail to see the wider geopolitical implications.
And Russia is wasting little time, not in mending fences with surrounding nations, but in exacerbating tensions further. On August 15th, in response to the sudden agreement between Poland and the United States to deploy defensive missiles on Polish soil, Russian Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn ominously proclaimed that Poland was now "exposing itself to a strike", leaving little doubt that Russia would be the source of the attack. Russian military doctrine permits the use of nuclear weapons against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them. Russia, of course, would be the defining judge as to what constituted "help".
And in Georgia, the Georgian government reluctantly signed a cease-fire on August 15th, despite the fact that Russian forces continue to advance into the country and have now effectively cut Georgia in half. Although Georgia believes is still has technical sovereignty over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has effectively said that Georgia can forget about getting the territories back. Here's an updated report on the Georgia situation from CNN.