When I spent a year (1994/95) studying International Law at Aberystwyth, I remember a lecturer asking students whether International Law was anything more than a case of 'who carries the biggest stick'. At the time, I thought he believed that it was indeed much more. He believed that we had moved into a new world, where international boundaries would be respected. Must admit that I wasn't so sure - never been an idealist. After today's announcement by Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia, that it was recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, there's a case for arguing that 'big stick diplomacy' is back. This looks a fairly straight forward case of the Russian Bear baring its teeth and swallowing a big chunk of its neighbouring independent state, Georgia. I've just watched Newsnight and been struck by the brazen 'doublespeak' of the Russian spokesman, and the apparent impotency of the Western powers. Its the most blatant example of international two fingers that we've seen for a very long time.
Coincidentally, the other big item on Newsnight was the Democrat's Convention in Denver. Not many weeks ago, Obama looked unstoppable - but not now. And the reason that McCain is right back in the game is international affairs. The Americans are famously insular to what's happening overseas, and if it stays that way, the problems with the economy would probably turn many Republicans towards Obama. But the Russians have changed the rules of engagement - and McCain is a war hero. He's been there. And he was right on 'the surge' in Iraq, when most people disagreed. Obama has the glamour, but McCain has the respect. It looks as if Dimitry Medvedev did one hell of a favour for John McCain today