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Russia And The G8

RUSSIA AND THE G8.... I really wish they'd stop doing this.
"We're not going to let Russia, so soon after the Iron Curtain fell, to again draw a dividing line across Europe," said Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut and close friend of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain. "It is simply unacceptable." [...]"The G-8 should become for a while the G-7 until Russia proves that it is capable of being a law-abiding member of the international community," he said.

Look, I'm not about to defend Russia's recent conduct in the Caucuses, but the talk about kicking Russia out of the G8, principally from the McCain campaign and its surrogates, is misguided.

John McCain got the ball rolling in March, in hisfirst major address on foreign policy, stating his intention to remove Russia from the G-8. A few months later, the McCain campaign said the senator no longer believed what he said. A McCain adviser told McClatchy that the candidate's policy on Russia and the G-8 as "a holdover from an earlier period," adding, "It doesn't reflect where he is right now."

In July, however, McCain went back to the "earlier period," saying excluding Russia from the G8 would be "what's best for America" and might "improve" Russian behavior. Lieberman is singing from the same hymnal.

If McCain and his cohorts want to take steps to punish, or even isolate, Russia in the midst of its conflict with Georgia, they can certainly make a compelling case. But this G8 talk is foolish -- given how the G8 works, through consensus, Russia would have to approve its own removal. A senior Bush administration official recently conceded, "It's not even a theoretical discussion. It's an impossible discussion." The official described McCain's idea as "just a dumb thing."

But practicality aside, there's also the issue of what makes McCain and Lieberman think this is a good idea in the first place.