It will take US leadership to bridge divisions over what to do about Russia and Georgia.
This week President Bush promised to "rally the free world in the defense of a free Georgia." But will America's European allies fall in line? Troubling divisions on the continent show just how difficult it may be to present a united front against an overly aggressive Russia.
Moscow's invasion of Georgia one week ago, including its bombings, naval presence, and tank incursions in democratic Georgia proper; and its shaky cease-fire and dawdling over a withdrawal – all this presents the greatest test of US-European unity relating to Russia since the cold war.
For the sake of democratic and economic freedom in Europe and beyond, and for the integrity of international organizations that support such freedoms, the West must stand together.
And yet, European leaders can't agree on how to respond to Russia's calculated crush.
The division breaks along familiar lines. Several "new" member states in the European Union, as well as Britain, are arguing for a tough stance against Moscow (though realistically and wisely, no one wants a military one). "Old" influential members such as Germany and France express restraint.
The reasons for the divide are not easily brushed aside. The EU's eastern critics – Baltic newbies (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) and Poland – sit within easy reach of the bear claw, and have the Soviet empire fresh in their minds.