Saturday, August 16, 2008

Georgia's Fallout - The Good And The Bad

"It's not a ceasefire until we say so, Condi, no matter what we signed or agreed to."

That's essentially what Putin and his hand puppet Medvedev are saying, loud and clear.

Not only have the Russians and their Ossetian and Abkhazian 'militias' not pulled out of Georgia, they've advanced further into the country and have essentially cut it in half. They've refused to remove their forces and instead are digging in and fortifying their positions in spite of the signed deal Condi was waving around.

They've also continued to pour troops in Ossetia and Abkhazia and continue to occupy Gori and the Georgian Black Sea port of Pori. And while they're there, they've been totally destroying Georgia's infrastructure, wrecking roads, power stations, civilian dwellings and government buildings as well as anything even remotely connected with Georgia's ability to defend itself. There has been widespread looting and theft,even of reporters attempting to cover the carnage. Human Rights Watch has reported widespread ethnic cleansing of Georgians living in or near Ossetia and Abkhazia, and there are numerous reports of rapes and shootings of civilians. The Russians have even kidnapped Georgian citizens, forcibly taken them to the Russian zone of occupation and put them to forced labor .

What they're after of course, is to leave Georgia destitute, powerless and unable to defend itself, ideally with Saakashvili out and a Russian stooge in charge. Russia's goal is to send a message to the old parts of its empire that the Bear is back and they are its vassals...and to wall off the last link between Europe and the energy producing areas in Central Asia not under Russian control.

Along with this obscene aggression, the Russians have done a typical job of attempting to come up with some myths to justify what they're doing, like 'Ossetian genocide', and 'Russia's humanitarian peacekeeping mission. I've already explained why most of this is sheer horse manure, and the Washington Post also does a pretty fair job debunking most of this mythmaking coming from Moscow. However, expect the Russians to continue their propaganda efforts with inflated casualty reports of 'Ossetian civilians' and films of Russians or Ossetians using some of the Georgian uniforms and military equipment the Russians captured as 'Georgian soldiers' performing 'atrocities.'

Hitler used exactly the same kind of tactics in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and they will no doubt be effective here as well with the more gullible. The Left in Europe and America still, after all these years has a soft spot for Russia that has increased as Putin has reverted back to his KGB roots and become more Soviet-like and anti-American.

The response of America and the West to the rape of Georgia has been incredibly feeble so far. The Western European part of NATO, particularly Germany have been incredibly craven. The Europeans are the ones chiefly to blame for this defeat - and I won't characterize it any other way - by refusing to allow Georgia and the Ukraine to enter NATO out of fewar of Russia , as the US wanted. And aside from some tough rhetoric, a ride home for 2,000 Georgian troops stationed in Iraq and some humanitarian aid, little has been done by the US except to negotiate a ceasefire agreement...which the Russians obviously intend to interpret in their own way and in their own good sweet time. They may very well get what they're ultimately after...a Georgian puppet state and de facto control of the pipeline routes into Europe.

However, there are also some signs the Russians may have overplayed their hand.

The nations of what Donald Rumsfeld presciently called 'New Europe' reacted to the Russian invasion, not with fear as might have been expected but with resolution. The leaders of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the Ukraine were quick to make common cause with President Saakashvili of Georgia, traveling to the embattled capitol of Tbilsi to stand with him and condemn the Russian aggression. This is historic..through the centuries, these countries have never before united against Russia in this way, which is why they became part of Russia's empire. Look for them to put together a formula for their common defense and integrate their forces.

Moreover, they've realized that the Old Europe members of NATO like France and Germany cannot be depended on for any kind of concrete support against the they've turned to the US. The Poles quickly signed an agreement with the US that had been hanging fire for 18 months to put a US defense missile shield there and also signed on to massive US aid for its armed forces, while the Ukraine has offered to link up its missile warning system with Europe and has limited the Russian navy's use of the Black Sea port of Sevastapool The Ukrainians and Poles know full well they could be next on the chopping block, and Russia's crude violation of Georgia has reminded them of their history in a way nothing else could have.

Another bit of positive fallout from the Russian invasion has been the discrediting of Condaleeza Rice, arguably the worst Secretary of State in US history.

President Bush went to Bei-jing for the Olympics having been assured by Rice and her minions in the US State Department that there was no chance of the Russians making a power play in the Caucasus.And even after the Russians went into Ossetia while he was still in China, Rice assured him that she had 'talked to Putin' and that the Russians would never invade Georgia.So President Bush didn't rush home at the beginning of the crisis, relying on Rice and the State Department's assessment that it was something fairly minor and containable that could be worked out with the Russians.

So when the fit hit the shan and Bush realized that the Russians were in fact running rampant in Georgia, he reportedly got fairly irritated, not only with Putin but with Condi Rice.

Rice made her bones in the State Department as a Russia expert, yet the Bush Administration was caught completely by surprise when Russia invaded. Her entire modus operandi with the Russians has always been to engage with them as 'allies' in the belief that Russia's imperialist nature had changed and that Putin was trustworthy, even when every sign showed that Russia was reverting to its autocratic past. Like her dealings with Lebanon, Kosovo,Syria, the Arab-Israeli conflict and North Korea, this latest fiasco simply underlines exactly how ineffectual and agenda driven she really is.

The beneficial part of this is that more sensible voices like Dick Cheney and ex-US Ambassador John Bolton have been vindicated...and that might just change a few things in the Bush Administration's waning days, especially where subjects like dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons program are concerned.

Another positive development, and perhaps the most significant is that many Americans awoke from their stupor and realized that it's still a very dangerous world out there.

Comparing John McCain's quick and forceful response to the crisis compared with Barack Obama's waffling, a lot of Americans were reminded of the need to have someone experienced, tough and forceful in the White House when the crunch comes.


Anonymous said...

the last part of ff essay ties into something i have thought about these last few days.
something ff said a few days ago about the currant occupant of the white house being perturbed at the small part he would be playing in the republican convention. that the purse strings of his buddies were closed. i wonder if this will loosen them somewhat. i wonder how this fiasco will effect his convention address. will it even be mentioned? will the currant occupant of the white house finally realize the damage he is doing to this country with his appointments/policies, or will he call daddy and ask what to do next?

Anonymous said...

If the Republicans are smart, they would not even let Bush speak at the convention. In fact, don't let him come at all. Even last year I was wondering what the Republicans would do with Bush at their convention but I really did not expect it to be a problem. I expected that the Democrats and a few Republicans would impeach Bush and he would be out of office right now. I was wrong.

Ymarsakar said...

It doesn't matter who is in charge of the DoS. The DoS makes its own policies these days.

All they need is their own private military force and they might as well be another sovereignty.

Anonymous said...

Louie, what is the currant occupant? Is it in any way related to a raisin?