The hard power comes in the form of tanks and Russia's control of other countries' energy supply.
Finlandisation is back. During the cold war the term described those states which had a formal independence but existed in barely disguised servitude to Moscow. Finland, Jean-Francois Revel noted in his 1983 book. How Democracies Perish, "preserved the inviolability of its territory, what was left of it, and the right to live privately in a non-totalitarian society" but was forbidden to accept Marshall Plan aid, join the EEC or sign trade agreements with Europe. It took its orders from Moscow in foreign policy.
This is the fate Putin (and some in the west) now seek to impose on Georgia. And now, as then, Russia hopes to impose Finlandisation by a mix of hard and soft power.
And the soft power?
That, says Johnson, is supplied these days by the anti-American left. He rightfully takes issue with a shameful article published on Comment is Free on Thursday by Seumas Milne.
Johnson takes fire at Milne here:
The trouble is that elements of the left in Britain are so consumed with the Bush administration that they will support anyone who opposes it. Even a hard-line Russian government intent on holding its 19th century empire together.
The conflict in Georgia "is not a story of Russian aggression, but of US imperial expansion". Georgia is no fledgling democracy to be defended but a "fully-fledged US satellite". Its government came to power in a "western-backed coup" don't you know, and western support for Georgia meant "conflict was only a matter of time". And after all, "'unipolar domination of the world has squeezed the space for genuine self-determination and the return of some counterweight has to be welcome".
Milne here manages something quite extraordinary: he "forgets" the mass escape from the prison house of nations that was only made possible by the collapse of Communism, while supporting the resurgence of an authoritarian Russia as the very means to open up "genuine space for self-determination". Astonishing.
Johnson also links to a valuable article by Ronald D. Asmus in The New Republic which analyses the West's failure to support Georgia.
Next week: Resist the Georgiaisation of Finland.