Sunday, August 10, 2008

First Ossetia, Next Abkhazia? Georgia Reels.

Poor Mikheil Saakashvili. The Georgian president truly opened a can of worms when he launched a military attack on South Ossetia earlier this week.

What was he thinking? By firing an artillery and rocket barrage on the Ossetian capital, he brought Georgian forces into direct conflict with Russian forces monitoring a ceasefire between the Ossetians and Georgians.

It was a pretty blatant provocation of the Russians and was bound to inflame separatist fury among the Ossetians. It was also pretty obvious that Georgia's armed forces had no chance of holding their own against the Russian army.

Georgia has long had problems with two minority regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, problems that have seen periodic armed clashes. Now, with South Ossetia in open revolt and Georgian forces driven out by the Russians, Abkhazia is also ratcheting up its separatist demands. With Russian fighters and bombers in support, Abkhazia is moving to drive Georgian forces out of their territory and it appears to be succeeding.

When Milosovich sent Serbian forces against Kosovo, NATO responded with a bombing campaign against the Serbs. When Saakashvili sent his forces to seize Ossetia, Russia responded with a bombing campaign against Georgian targets.

Did Saakashvili gamble that his attack on Ossetia would bring NATO or American military backing? If so he showed himself to be naive and dangerously naive at that. It was a reckless stunt with far-reaching consequences.

To several European nations, Saakashvili's rash actions will be seen as clear justification of their objections to Georgia's admission into NATO. They've already had their fill of "shoot'em up" cowboys in the White House and have no appetite for a mini-Bush in Tbilisi who could trigger a NATO/Russia showdown. Bush's warm embrace of Saakashvili won't cut much ice with the Europeans.

Will America send the cavalry to Georgia's rescue? It's hard to imagine Washington doing that. With its forces bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan the last thing the Pentagon needs is any military action that could ratchet up tensions with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Iran, maybe. Russia and China? Over Ossetia or even Abkhazia? Forget it.

I expect the best Washington can do at this point is to extract Georgia from this silliness as intact as possible. That may mean yielding sovereignty to South Ossetia and perhaps even to Abkhazia.
As for Saakashvili, it may be over for him, both at home and abroad. He precipitated an armed conflict with a resurgent, regional superpower that no one wanted and, worse, he lost, crying "uncle" within two days. He acted without the knowledge or support of his Western backers. He has severely undermined Georgia's prospects with NATO. If he loses even South Ossetia, Georgian opposition politicians will serve him up for dinner.


Anonymous said...

with the bombing of civilian targets and a military incursion into a breakaway province isnt it the same reason we sent milosovick to the hague, I wonder if this applies only to people we dont like, and people we or the u.s. likes are imune? after all the russians do have a u.n. mandate to be in south ossetia.....we will see if international laws are for every one....

LeDaro said...

Anon, you hit the nail right on the head. Nope it won't happen in this case. No Hague for Bush or Geogia dummy.

Anonymous said...

This is closser to the truth as to what is happening in Ossetia:

The Mound of Sound said...

Well Anon 12:36, I checked out your link to Radio Free Europe. Yulia Latynina's piece had every hallmark of a propaganda piece but I suppose it'll be convincing to those who want to hear that sort of thing. I think there are much betterm less blatantly biased sources of information, including the CIA.

Anonymous said...


It describes the conflicts witin Russia but Yulia got the points wrong. Siloviki is winning the war and Putin's decisive action shows that he is not going anywhere soon. Since Russia now controls Georgia airspace, good luck.

Cheney may have to send the US fleet into Georgia just to break the Russian naval blockade.