Mikheil Saakashvili's Achievements
Paris, August 26, 2008 – The overwhelming reaction in American and European comment on the Russian riposte to Georgia's attack on Russsian "peacekeeping" forces in South Ossetia has been that Russia showed too much of its claws. It should now be ostracized or penalized for "overreaction" to an attack on its soldiers.
This response evades acknowledgement that the real damage Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili has done has been to the United States and NATO, and to Georgia itself, which for the foreseeable future will now remain a nation of limited sovereignty, and an awkward embarrassment to its western allies.
It will have Russian troops indefinitely stationed on its territory to protect South Ossetia and Abkhazia, henceforth self-declared independent entities under Russian protection (or eventually annexed to Russia at their own request). The Russians, at this point, prefer the first solution, because as they like to emphasize, it follows the precedent of Kosovo's self-proclamation of independence from Serbia in February of this year, under American sponsorship.
The crisis has been a turning point in current international relations because it demonstrated that the United States could not or would not defend Georgia, despite the widespread international impression that Washington, after having trained Georgia's troops and showily displayed the Saakashvili government as its protégé, was in some way implicated in the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, and on the Russian soldiers legally there under international mandate.
Those Russian soldiers had been there for 16 years under an international agreement following a first Georgian attempt to "recover" the linguistically and historically distinct South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of them autonomous Russian -- and subsequently Soviet -- protectorates or regions since 1810.
Now U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney says he is going to visit Georgia next week, after visits to Azerbaijan and Ukraine -- which no doubt are in need of some bucking-up after this display of Russian fury and of American "diplomatic restraint" (meaning lack of a rational alternative). American naval vessels are in the Black Sea, and one of them, a destroyer, has delivered some humanitarian supplies to a southern Georgian port.
Another U.S. vessel, an unthreatening Coast Guard cutter, is scheduled to make another delivery Wednesday [August 27] to the port of Poti, patrolled by Russian forces and with nearby Russian check-points.
The Russians have darkly declared their suspicion that American vessels have been delivering arms to Georgia at other places along the coast. Even though the Russians destroyed all that was left of the new American military equipment and installations recently given to Georgia, even Saakashvili is unlikely to want to start up the war again. At least just now; unless Cheney is going to bring with him the 82nd Airborne Division and the Sixth Fleet. That of course is what Saakashvili seemed to expect the night when his invasion turned into a debacle. "Where is America?" he cried out, "Where is the Free World?"
He has since received reassurances from presidential candidate John McCain and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, both fans of the unsuccessful Georgian liberator.
This has been an inane and stupid affair, except for the unfortunates who got killed or maimed, or lost their homes, or have been ethnically cleansed by one side or another during the past days and are now grieving refugees.
The United States left Saakashvili and the Georgians twisting in the wind, after telling them they were going to belong to NATO and help spread democracy in the Caucasus. Ukraine and the Baltic states have been given the lesson that great powers do not go to war against other heavily armed great powers in order to fight the ancient sectarian or linguistic grievances of client countries, even when those are prospective NATO members.
Poland and the Czech Republic had thought it prudent to humor the obsession of Washington and its arms manufacturers with building a missile-defense system ostensibly against the threat of Iran's committing suicide. Now they find that Russia is furious about a project that is no more than an industry-pleasing and money-making boondoggle to Washington politicians.
Israel now finds Syria talking with Moscow arms suppliers. Russian cooperation with the U.S. is now expected to cease on such matters as Iran, Hamas and Hizbollah; counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, and oil and gas supplies to Europe.
Why? As far as one can make out, because a certain number of policy types in the Clinton and Bush II administrations, and in the Pentagon, decided that it could be a cost-free demonstration of American power and intimidation to build NATO right up to Russia's front door. They might even detach some of Russia's historical dependencies and protectorates – just to show who's Number One.
© Copyright 2008 by Tribune Media Services International. All Rights Reserved.
Thiis article comes from William PFAFF
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