Russia’s invasion of Georgia spread into a multi-front war Monday as Moscow’s troops attacked in the west of the country and took the town of Gori in its center, effectively splitting the nation in two. The incursion of Russian troops beyond the secessionist province of South Ossetia represents a direct challenge by Russia to the U.S., the European Union and NATO, and threatens to draw a new line of confrontation between the former cold war adversaries. It is also a test case for the limits of post-Iraq U.S. Power.
But if the stakes are high, you wouldn’t know it from Washington’s early reaction. The administration of George W. Bush has been slow to respond, with the President making cautious statements of condemnation over the weekend at the Olympic games in Beijing, and Condoleezza Rice remaining on vacation and oddly absent from public view.