Monday, August 11, 2008




To be sure, I am not particularly enamored with Georgia's President, Mikhail Saakashvili. There's a couple of good observations over at The Brussels Journal, and I would wager they pretty well hit the mark. Most of the articles come to the same basic conclusions. Yes, Saakashvili has himself to blame for Russian retaliation. Yes, Saakashivili is a bad gambler and an even worse strategist. Yes, several hundred people may have died in the initial attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia's capital Tshkinvali - and these people are dead because of Saakashvili. Yes, despite his charm and good looks the Georgian president was unable to hide his dictatorial traits, notably last fall. All that is true.

Another good observation is that Georgia would have done far better to concentrate on attracting foreign investments and creating a favorable environment for companies, using whatever financial means it had to that purpose. If the Georgians had really wanted South Ossetia back, which is a dirt poor 3,600 square kloms "big" stretch of land draped on the southern side of the Caucasus, inhabitated by perhaps 70,000 people - then they would have stood a far better chance to get their house in order and wait for the South Ossetians to come begging to join them again. Douglas Muir of A Fistful of Euros gives a very apt description of the breakaway republic's economy: it’s populated by peasants who drive sheep uphill in summer, and downhill in winter. But instead Georgia raised its military expenses from 30 million US$ yearly to 1 billion (more than a thirtyfold increase) for... what? To end up with a military that is STILL by no means a match for the Red Army. A leader of a country with 5 million people should have known better. So far, it is safe to say that Saakashvili does actually not deserve to be supported - were it not for his people and for the West's strategical interests.

But no matter the many faults and shortcomings of Georgia and its government, it is clear that none of that takes away the quintessential guilt of Russia and the Medvedev/Putin government. If you take into account the massive scale of the Russian response, it is clear that they actually wanted Georgia to try to take back South Ossetia by force - and Saakashvili stepped into the trap. Saakashvili may, apart from his looks, not be your ideal son-in-law. He may even be an operette dictator. But compared to the Kremlin tandem he's a choirboy. One should not forget that in Putin, Russia's "new" Prime Minister who used a trick so obvious that we all have to call ourselves fools to once believe he'd really disappear from the political scene, Russia has an evil, megalomaniac head of state who is prepared to literally go over the dead bodies of thousands of his compatriots to bring back USSR "glory". Putin's Russia is not interested in a handkerchief of land inhabitated by a handful of goat herders. It wants Georgia to become a docile satellite republic again - at least. And at the same time it wants to send a stark message to other NATO flirters that playing time is over. This scenario means regime change in Tbilisi. Saakashvili must hang, and if that is not possible, make him wet his pants so much that for the rest of his tenure he will limit himself to cutting ribbons and frolicking with his Dutch wife. And that is why we are currently witnessing a show of force not seen since Afghanistan. TBJ's Joshua Trevino nails it when he writes:

Still, the ultimate responsibility is Russia’s, which is now a plainly and violently revisionist power. No amount of Western naivete, ignorance and self-regard, nor Georgian blundering, could create this war without Russia’s will to strife. That will springs from multiple causes, some rooted in the nature of autocracy, and some rooted in the nature of the Russian national character; and it is directed toward the overturning of what is, for Russia, the central strategic outcome of the Cold War’s end.

It would be tempting to limit this post to the subject of the Left's abysmal hypocrisy. But that would be too much honour for leftozoid loons. Is it better then to ask oneself how the West should react to the looming crisis? I don't know. The picture is so chaotic that it makes as much sense to assess the situation by reading "informed men" as by trying to gauge the outcome by upturning coffee puss. We have already seen and heard the answer from the Left. A big fat ZERO. That is not to say that any force, party or personality on the Right has the correct answer or attitude - so fraught with uncertainty and dangers is the Georgia conundrum. But at least we rightwingers have the satisfaction to once again being able to conclude that it's OUR SIDE coming up for Freedom. One sign among many? Poland's President, Lech Kaczynski, lent his own personal website to the Georgian government to bring the world news and photos of Russia's latest invasion - after Russia blocked Georgia's online portals. Kaczynski is of the Polish conservative party Law and Justice. When it comes to your freedom, always trust a rightwinger. Americans should think about that in November.


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