First, you have Patrick Buchanan, who you could call an "old school" or paleoconservative, and who usually has isolationist principles, linking him to Republicans of the 1930s, and interprets foreign policy from that viewpoint:
[Defense Secretary Robert]Gates says we have been through one Cold War and do not want another. But it is not Moscow moving a military alliance right up to our borders or building bases and planting anti-missile systems in our front and back yards.
Why are we doing this? This country is not going to go to war with Russia over Estonia. With our Army "breaking" from two insurgencies, how would we fight? By bombing Moscow and St. Petersburg?
I think Pat is misleading us here and he's spent too much time on television. NATO's commitment to Estonia is a cakewalk. Estonia won it's war of independence by virtue of two things, 1) keeping enemy warships out of Tallinn harbor; 2) keeping enemy troops out of Estonia which is a flat country about the size of Maine. It's really not that hard to defend Estonia, just like it wasn't that hard to admit a country of 1.3 million to the European Union. It all comes down to will, not strength. Any qualms about Estonian integration into Europe are grounded in a fear of intimidating Russian body language and temperamental shoe banging -- nothing else.
Well, that was Buchanan, here's Tod Lindberg of the Washington Times playing sweet post-Cold War triumphalist music, appropriate for a conservative newspaper founded in 1982. Again Estonia comes up:
The 43-year-old Wehrkunde conference had its origins at the height of the Cold War, when the main security challenge faced by those who came was Russia in its incarnation as the Soviet Union. Czech and Polish foreign ministers used to have to go to drab Warsaw Pact meetings in Minsk, or wherever, rather than the Wehrkunde conference in Munich. Estonia didn't have a president speaking thoughtfully from the dais, or a president at all, Estonia and its Baltic sisters having been occupied and turned against their will into constituent parts of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. We've come a long way since then, all to the good.
Obviously I agree more with the latter article. But Pat does have his points. I personally think it was the plans to create the anti-ballistic missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland that set Putin off. Absent of course from this debate is the Democrats. I have a feeling that most of the leading contenders for the presidential nomination - Obama, Clinton, Richardson, Edwards - will adopt positions closer to Lindberg's than Buchanan's.
We've only had two Democratic presidencies in the past 30 years, so it's kind of hard to gauge Democratic foreign policy. The only gentlemen that seem to be willing to stick their necks out and talk are guys like Wes Clark and Joe Biden, and they aren't very sympathetic to Mr. Putin. Still, I would have liked to see some comments from them as well.