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Albright and Powell: 'We May Go to War With Russia!'

11:04 AM, Sep 21, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Five former secretaries of state took the stage on CNN last night to discuss the challenges facing the next president. So nuanced were their pronouncements and noncomittal their advice that I'm now anxiously awaiting the day they form the wacky cast of a cornpone sketch-comedy show about world conflicts, tentatively titled "Hem Haw."

Minnie Pearl Madeleine Albright was asked about letting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, and the possibility that doing so would mean the U.S. would have to respond to Russian aggression in those regions:

AMANPOUR: Now you've got Russia invading Georgia. Is the advice to the next president of the United States therefore, you have to go to war against Russia in order to protect your NATO allies?

ALBRIGHT: ...I also think that countries have the right to choose whatever alliance they want to be in. And the main thing, while I fully agree that we can't go back to the Cold War and have a really very bad adversarial relationship with Russia, Russia cannot think that independent countries on its border are a threat to them.

So I think -- I personally believe that we need to go forward with the Membership Action Plan for Georgia and for Ukraine, and keep explaining that it is not a threat.

Amanpour then tossed the question to Colin Powell, saying, "if Russia is (the aggressor) and you have to, you know, keep your NATO allies' security, aren't you then committed?"

POWELL: Under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which is the NATO Treaty, when one member of the alliance is attacked from abroad -- meaning outside the NATO geographic limits -- then all members of NATO treat that as an attack...

We cannot say to the Russians, "We are not going to allow the Georgians or Ukrainians or anyone else to start down the path toward NATO membership." It's not for the Russians to decide that.

Oddly enough, I can find no blaring headlines this morning claiming Albright and Powell want to "go to war with Russia." Nothing along the lines of what we saw after Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin produced essentially the same answer from the vice presidential candidate.

You'll see "Hem Haw" hit primetime before you see anyone in the media point this out.