President Bush has proposed sending $1 billion in economic and humanitarian aid to Georgia to help that small country on Russia's border rebuild after its disastrous war with Russia last month. Bush's gesture indicates a certain amount of bravado and a commendable fellow feeling for a country his administration has encouraged. But it doesn't suggest that he has learned anything from the embarrassment to the U.S. that conflict represented.
Having Vice President Cheney travel to the region to assure leaders in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere that the United States really, really cares about them has predictably ratcheted up tension between the U.S. and Russia. To be sure, Russia has turned rather nasty and aggressive under Vladimir Putin and his successor, Vladimir Medvedev, but there is no reason to go out of our way to pick a fight with Russia.
Russia has already seen a serious capital flight and reduction in foreign investment interest since the war with Georgia. A quiet trip to Moscow with warnings that it could suffer further economic setbacks would have been more effective at getting it to tone down its aggressive ways than inviting embarrassment if our bluff is called once again.