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Georgia, Poland and the U.S.
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As an old guy, and one who has the weekly privilege of telling folks what I think about virtually any subject, I must say that choosing this week's topic has been most difficult. Monumental events are taking place everywhere, all of which would easily fill my allocation of 1,000 words.

Folks who know me understand that I haven't even warmed up in 1,000 words. That's because today there's not enough room for me to clearly set the stage.

If you're going to play, if you've already decided this is your week to write a letter to the editor, then you need to research on your own before jumping into this pool. The subject matter is so deep that although champion Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps might skim over the top, even famed oceanographer Robert Ballard would have trouble getting to the bottom of it.

At issue is Russia's invasion of the sovereign nation of Georgia. Timed to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and just after U.S. National Guard troops completed training assignments and vacated Georgia's capital of Tbilisi, Russia's naval, air and ground forces attacked in overwhelming numbers and surged deep into the interior of Georgia. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, went to Georgia late last week to urge the president of that democracy to sign an agreement calling for Russia to cease hostilities, but allowing Russian troops to remain in Georgia "for peacekeeping purposes."

That is an absolute abomination. Rice effectively said America is either unprepared to come to the defense of Georgia, or - worse - America is unable to help due to being stretched so thin elsewhere.

Either way, Rice's statement is a travesty and an affront to liberty as it comes from the one nation which has defended freedom around the globe since the close of World War II.

Also at issue this morning is the situation in Poland, the long-suffering European nation which just signed an agreement with America for the construction of a missile-defense shield.

These two developments constitute arenas of critical concern because Russia has overwhelmed a democratic state by force of arms, and they've blatantly defied America's call to cease and desist. These actions constitute a revival of the Cold War - or far worse.

The Russian ambassador to America dismissed our government's measured demand for their withdrawal from Georgia by essentially saying Russia will do whatever they want, wherever they wish and America can pretty much just shut up.

Regarding Poland, that same ambassador warned that America risks outright war with Russia if the missile shield plans proceed.

Stop now, please, if you're not familiar with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, for some research. Both programs have been technically over and done for decades, but they're still the basis of our contemporary foreign policy.

I'm here to tell you, that's as it should be.

The situation in Georgia requires an immediate military response from the United States equal to and, if necessary exceeding, our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. This egregious situation calls for every American to sit up and take notice of what is happening, to form a clear and firm opinion, and to instruct their elected officials to set that course of action in motion.

Russia hit Georgia with coordinated attacks. Within 24 hours, Russia had more troops and armor inside Georgia than the bulk of General George Patton's Third Army. Mobilization of that many troops, and execution of such a broad, multi-faceted military campaign, doesn't happen without meticulous planning in advance.

Russia's invasion of Georgia goes way beyond serious, and way beyond of economic sanctions. If the nations of the world quarantined all commercial and business travel into Russia, seized and froze Russian assets around the globe, severed all diplomatic ties and put all NATO forces on the highest alert, history shows Russia still would not readily give back to Georgia what they have already taken.

Regarding the war on terror, pundits have said only America's military is at war, while America is still at the mall.

Well, America needs to get a grip, right now. Russia's aggression may bring about the revival of the draft and I say that with the gravest of concerns for our children.

Harry Truman said it is "the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by...outside pressures." Truman further reasoned such pressures represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States.

Wake up America! Russia just upstaged the Olympics in Beijing, human rights violations in Africa, possible nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea, the deleterious conduct of Columbian drug cartels, and the emergence of China as an economic superpower. Russia's invasion of Georgia and antagonistic language regarding the defense of Poland has changed the geopolitical, economic, philosophical and military landscape of the entire world.

Russia wanted our attention. It says here we must give it to them. If a few naval battle groups are not en route to the Black Sea, they need to be.

Russia now constitutes the single greatest threat to the world's security, and cannot be allowed to swallow up the democratic republic of Georgia. Poland must not be cowed into deferring an agreement to protect its people against missile attack.

The Russians knew exactly what they were doing when they timed this attack on Georgia. They undoubtedly have a plan.

Well, America has one, too. It's called the Truman Doctrine, and there's not another moment to lose.

Nat Harwell is a Newton County resident whose column appears Sundays in The Covington News.