Brutality to Make a Point - Richard Cohen, Washington Post
It would have been an easy thing for the Russians to throw the Georgians out of the two disputed enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia is mighty; Georgia is not. Russia is huge; Georgia is tiny. The whole thing is a mismatch from the word go, and the Georgians - when it is appropriate to do so - have to be reminded that you do not poke a sleeping bear with a stick. Little nations ought to know their place. But the bombing, including areas near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, is not merely disproportionate, it is purposely, studiously, coldly atrocious. It is meant to punish -- not as a deterrent, the Israeli approach to such things, but as a way to show the world that the old Russia is reasserting itself. This is the Russia that looks at Georgia no differently from the way the czars did or, for that matter, the way of that most infamous of Georgians, Stalin himself. This is a Russia that wants a friendly leader on its border. It wants Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to go.