Washington Post advarer på lederplass Vesten mot å svikte Georgia. Prisen kan bli høy.

It’s doubtful, though not unthinkable, that Russia plans to conquer all of Georgia. But its objectives are no less cynical for that. Simply by keeping the country in a constant state of territorial division and conflict, it hopes to show NATO that Georgia is too unstable for membership — thus giving Georgia no choice but to submit to Moscow’s «influence.» Probably Russia intends to administer a quick military «punishment» (as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described Moscow’s war aim) to Mr. Saakashvili, and then restore some version of the unstable status quo ante.

This is a grave challenge to the United States and Europe. Ideally, the U.N. Security Council would step in, authorizing a genuine peacekeeping force to replace the Russian one that has turned into a de facto occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But a Russian veto rules that out. Thus, the United States and its NATO allies must together impose a price on Russia if it does not promptly change course.

The principles at stake, including sovereignty and territorial integrity, apply well beyond the Caucasus. To abandon Georgia and its fragile democratic Rose Revolution would send a terrible signal to other former Soviet and Warsaw Pact republics that to Moscow’s dismay have achieved or are working toward democracy and fully independent foreign policies. The West has made that sort of mistake before and must not do so again.