Georgia, Russia, mutual restraint, and Scheunemann

What advice did Randy Scheunemann provide his client Mikheil Saakashvili, and did that advice help lead to war?

Once again Jonathan Kulick provides us with the sort of grown-up analysis of the Georgian situation we can’t expect from the public press.

Two comments:

1. When Obama called for mutual restraint, he was precisely echoing official statements from Washington. Unlike his opponent, he seems to understand that he’s not President yet.

2. Perhaps the advice Scheunemann offered McCain wasn’t problematic, even though he was doing so as a paid agent of a foreign government whose interests, though they run with those of the United States, are not identical. But what about the advice Scheunemann offered Saakashvili? Something fooled Saakashvili into thinking either that the Russians would be restrained or that the U.S. would intervene. Was Scheunemann hyping his own influence, as lobbyists often do to keep the checks rolling in? And did that lead Saakashvili to discount the warnings he was getting from the State Department?

Note that from a neocon viewpoint, the outcome in Georgia wasn’t bad: the bogey-man value of Russia just went up. Yes, a bunch of Georgians died, but neocons have always been brave when it comes to shedding other people’s blood.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: