Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Gaffe in Georgia's Gamble

World leaders were celebrating peace, unity and sportsmanship at the grand opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but deceit and betrayal were foremost in their minds. In the remote Eastern European state of South Ossetia, sinister plots were initiated as the world's attention was focused on the games; conducted by the minions of treachery and orchestrated by the congenital aggressors masquerading as defenders of human rights and democratic ideals. This duplicity wasted many lives and brought untold suffering to thousands more, but the unspeakable intent threatens to create tensions beyond the intensity of post war conflicts, that may cause irreparable damage to the fragile fabric of peace.

Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered an attack on South Ossetia last August 7, in a bid to retake the largely independent but internationally unrecognized state. Georgian forces, trained and equipped by America, were ferried from their posts in Iraq by US ships - where they were given battle experience - to form the Georgian frontline. The attack elicited a response from Russian troops stationed in South Ossetia, whose presence as peacekeepers was ordained in 1992 by Edward Shevarnadze, and who subsequently assumed Georgia's Presidency in 1995. At the time, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were embroiled in widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars; with Russian support, both regions achieved de facto independence from Georgia.

The South Ossetians are hostile towards the government of Georgia, where differences in language, culture, and way of life are wide and deep. Their long violent history against Geogia reached its tipping point in 1989, and since then, tensions have always been at fever pitch. In 2004, Georgia under Saakashvili reasserted its authority in the southwestern autonomous Republic of Ajaria. This success encouraged Georgia to intensify efforts at taking back South Ossetia; but with Russia's open assistance, the effort failed. South Ossetians have embraced Russia and have been issued passports as Russian citizens. The attack therefore on South Ossetia on August 7, gave Russia the moral authority and obligation to intervene not just as peacekeepers - but to defend its citizens from hostile acts of war and annexation - and to cripple the enemy's capability to launch another offensive.

It is believed that Georgia would not behave so audaciously without the blessings of the west and its benefactor the United States. The Georgian military was strengthened through a series of reforms after the Rose Revolution, which deposed Shevarnadze in 2003 and elected Saakashvili as President. Of its 45,000 strong force, 12,000 were trained and equipped by America and fielded in Iraq as part of the coalition forces. But these forces were no match for the Russian presence which destroyed Georgia's military hardware and facilities in the 5 day battle; and severely weakened the morale of its soldiers. More than this, President Saakashvili may have lost all credibility in reasserting Georgian power in this Eastern European enclave.

Mikheil Saakashvili and his western backers grossly misjudged Russia's response to this aggression, and miscalculated the extent of the very thorough trashing of its forces and military equipment. He overplayed a weak position to begin with by attacking "Russian citizens", hoping the shadow of the US-NATO alliance would bluff Russia to acquiesce. He was dead wrong. He also failed to read the mindset of Russia's leaders where since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine resulting in that state's alliance with the west, Moscow made preparations to strengthen its political structures and systems - expecting this event to be exported to Russian soil. Moscow also saw fit to deem Ukraine and Georgia as hostile influences.

The West's response was to call a halt to "Russian Aggression" and flashed news of "1,500 deaths as Russia Bombs Georgia". The biased and slanted reporting and delicate formulation of stories creates impressions of Russia as the one taking the offensive. Photos of a burning apartment block that was missed by a bomb targeted for a military facility adds credence to the slant. But no photos of the devastation of South Ossetia's capital has been shown. The orchestration of the media has long been prepared by the west for this act of aggression, but the results on the ground are a lot different from what they expected. Russia rightly delayed accepting the ceasefire until they were in a stronger position from where they could dictate the terms. The US-Nato ploy has backfired.

Russia was very displeased when the US-Nato supported and recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence a few months back. The west celebrated the right of Albanians to declare their freedom and seek their own path of development away from Serbia. This event was in the back of Moscow's mind, and it bolstered its own argument for intervention in South Ossetia by using the wests's policy of allowing smaller ethnic groups to declare their freedom from a larger state, where ethnic differences and a long history of violent conflicts have no possibility of merging or consolidating as one. In addition, Russia sees the series of interventions by the west as encirclement of its own country, with the alignment of Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo to the west, as well as the pincer approach to Iran from Afghanistan and Iraq - effectively cutting off the Caspian Sea - where oil supplies from the middle east by-pass Russia.

The US-Nato combine can move to expel Russia as a peacekeeper because it is a participant in the conflict, and acted as an aggressor. Moscow can counter that it did its job as peacekeeper by pushing back the real aggressor into the former boundaries prior to the conflict. If that fails, Russia can always claim to have defended its citizens from attack. The end game may result in a diplomatic stalemate but Russia has won this exchange. It has effectively demolished the Georgian military whose backers are still fighting on two fronts and cannot afford to antagonize a positioned bear ready to strike. Russia has also weakened Saakashvili, whose opponents may demand his resignation for the heavy price they'll have to pay for this mis-adventure.

The US-NATO combine will certainly pull back and limit themselves to diplomatic sound bytes on peace and liberty in an attempt to picture Russia as a hegemonist - then will scheme at a later date to orchestrate another offensive - all in the name of democracy and the western way of life. When in fact, it's oil that has always been the issue, and the control of supplies and reserves globally; to the point of waging war and induce savage acts of cruelty on hapless populations, all in the name of freedom, human rights and democratic ideals.



SheR. said...

Thanks for the wonderful writeup. Now I know who was in the wrong.

Over in Croatia, Georgia was portrayed as the victim. Telecasting images of the demolished buildings and weeping women.

The power of the media is so scary that it can make the wrong look right. Sighs..

Kim said...

thanks for this account Durano..
it can be very confusing when you hear the stories in the media...
this one sounds like the old story of greed and the need for power...
I am sure that neither the Russian or Georgian citizens would have wanted this war....
and at a time when we are supposed to be promoting peace with the Olympics...

JD Cruz said...

What started as an internal matter within Georgia became a full blown war because of two countries who wants to show which one has the bigger bladder. US machinery and tech support made killing in Ossetia much easier and Russian ambition to be known as a force to recon with, like the old days, prodded them to make an bombing demos out of Georgia. At the end of the day, the civilians are the ones who suffered.

Zhu said...

Georgia is mostly portrayed as the victim but I don't know what to think. Once again, the philosophical question: what defines a nation, and should people be allowed to separate if they think they have a different culture.

Tommy said...

I think JD's comment is right on. This isn't a NATO endgame. You were correct earlier in the piece when you laid this misadventure straight under the nose of the calculating fool who took it Saakashvili. He ought to go and the FREE people of Georgia ought to make it happen...Of course I suppose in the same name of freedom the US has generated constant criticism for, the Russians will evade in the name of "protecting their people" It's still an attack on a sovereign nation (not terribly unlike Georgia's which started the whole thing--other than South Ossetia is not a recognized Country--not that I think that matters). Georgian citizens (like South Ossetia's) no more deserved the Russian aggression than any other people attacked for political consideration. It cuts both ways D. I'm a little surprised you cast Russia in such a favorable light. It's not a degree of wrong that we ought to support. Was Georgia wrong? Hell yes. Was Russia AS wrong? Probably not. But in getting back to JD's comment, who paid the price?


Jena Isle said...

Hi Durano, world affairs are sometimes despondent that I would rather stay in my creative write very well, I cannot write a factual post as polished as this one. Kudos to you..kabayan..

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

Georgia initiated the attack and it was wrong. Russia countered after seeing the devastation of South Ossetia.

Yes, media can be scary. This has been the power of the press since it became a party to colonialism.

However, Russia's response was overly done, perhaps to make sure there is no recurrence from Georgia in the immediate future. But their occupation of parts of Georgia is also wrong, and constitutes territorial invasion - especially if they stay longer than necessary - as they already have.

This is geo-politics of the most dangerous kind. Pray it doesn't escalate. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

No citizen of the world who would eventually be affected by this war, especially if it escalates, would want this war.

World leaders sometimes think or believe that they are doing these things for the benefit of their countrymen and their future. In most cases, these politicians do it only for their personal interests.

This war is only about the oil that flows in the pipelines of the Caspian sea - its control could starve other nations from the oil and render their economies inoperable - making those who have control the most powerful nation who can blackmail the rest into submission.

A look at their locations in a world map would give you a clear picture of the blockade of supplies. You're right about the old story of greed and power.

Peace is still out of reach, and the Olympics is also being used as a show of power, to elevate their images in the eyes of the world.
Take care. :-) -- Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi JD,

I think it's more than an internal matter.

As` I mentioned, the support given by the US and some Nato countries to Georgia has given that country a lot of temerity to attempt a re-annexation of South Ossetia - especially after his success in Ajaria.

This is all about the big powers and the control of oil in the Caspian Sea. If Russia is cut off, it would be oil starved and less able to become a world power. I don't think the Russians will take this sitting down.

Georgia was used in a proxy war. You're right about US` tech equipment display versus Russian desire to be known as a power to reckon with. But it's more than that, there is greed behind it and the need to control sources of wealth while eliminating competition.

You're right again about the civilians paying the price. It is always the case. All wars are economic, and the poor soldiers dying for their country are the one's sacrificed for the benefit of the industrialists and their politician partners. It's the story of the world and all it's wars. All in the name of freedom, democracy and all the noble ideals they can think of.:-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

Georgia was the aggressor, now after the Russians have overstayed, they are becoming the aggressors.

The long history of violence and ethnic cleansing in this part of the world makes it impossible to unite them as one nation.

This is the same argument that Nato and the US used in supporting the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo from Serbia, and I don't see the difference in this case. What I see is that if the separatists are not allied with the west, it's called hegemony, when it's allied with the west, it's called liberation.

South Ossetians want to be Russian citizens today. Perhaps when they have tried thier Vodka and don't like it's taste, they can switch to Bourbon. Then the US can liberate them. But that would be a bigger war.

For now, it was Georgia that was used as a proxy for the US-NATO. Why Georgian President Saakashvili agreed to it or perhaps why he did it must involve a huge amount of promises to him personally. Perhaps his timing was off or he thought once he initiated it, he would get immediate assistance. he also miscalculated the Russian Response.And the civilians on both sides suffered the most because of his foolish adventurism. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tommy,

I hope I am not misunderstood here. I am no great fan of Russia nor Putin. As a matter of fact, I wrote a post several months back about the posturings of Putin and what his potential intentions are.

What I dislike is the media's portrayal of the battle as if it attacked Georgia without reason or provocation. Condi Rice's statement about warning Russia to stop its aggression is another reinforcement, as with the statements of President Bush and the rest of Georgia's friends.

The unfair reporting in the media would only isolate the Russians and South Ossetians and their allies, and would reinforce their distrust of the west - thinking they would never get a fair and balanced reportage of events. It is comparable to history's treatment of the American Indians. When they were decimated, it was called a victory, but when they won, as in Little Big Horn, it's called a massacre. But what was Custer doing there in the first place if not to look for indians to kill? This kind of media treatment should stop. The William Randolph Hearst type of slanted reporting will not wash any longer because of the internet. The new photos also showed pictures of Georgians being scared and one apartment block damaged by an accidental bomb drop. But the devastation of South Ossetia was not immediately shown.

The ousting of Shevarnadze that paved the way for the entry of Saakashvili and the subsequent declaration of independence by Georgia and Ukraine would be naive for us to think that it happened without western prodding.A look at the map would also tell you that the blocking of Russia to oil supplies in the Caspian sea is an act of hegemony. That is why I feel that the US could declare war on Iran, or use Israel to start it. Iran sits between Iraq and Afghanistan, and all three have access to the caspian sea. Once Iran is taken too, that's the end of Russia's oil supplies and it will have to use its reserves.

Russia will support Iran and that could trigger another cold war, or worse, a third world war. And the whole world and all its citizens will pay the price. These are geo-political strategies that endanger the lives of all citizens of the world.

I had no intention of putting Russia in a favorable light. The point of the post is to present the event on the basis of how Russia thinks and what their mindset is like, to better understand how they will respond to the actions of the west. But the west has to be fair in reporting and its leaders to be more balanced in their statements, unless they want the people of the world to alienate Russia and induce another cold war.

But obviously, Russia won this round, because of the stupidity of Georgian President. As always, the biggest loser are the civilians. That's the saddest part of all. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

HI Jenaisle,

I agree with you. The literary world is a much prettier and nicer one to contemplate about.

Thanks for the kind words, but I write only from my perspective of how it will affect the citizens of the world and how I personally feel about its repercussions.

Also about similar attempts and tactics in the past that have brought untold suffering to so many, yet they still do the same things with the same rotten intentions.

I don't know if these world leaders think peace is so dreadful that they would rather foster hatred and war. It boggles the mind, really :-) -Durano, done!

SheR. said...

Hey Durano.
You are so right about the Russian mindset. Most of the world can't see what we in the Eastern Europe do.

You will see that all the Eastern European countries either take sides with the big Russian brother or the EU gang (unfortunately no more USA).

So whenever a conflict arises between two countries and thing starts to get a little out of control, the countries will start calling for help from the big brother and usually Russia will be more than willing to jump at any opportunity to prove its new power.

Scary. Let's pray for peace.

Tommy said...

Whether or not you meant to cast the Russian's favorably....ya did.

"But the west has to be fair in reporting and its leaders to be more balanced in their statements, unless they want the people of the world to alienate Russia and induce another cold war."

I'm not sure you can put reporters west, east, south or north on the same plane as world "leaders" acting out this screen play..especially as reporters and the like do tend to contribute to policy..Spin happens at so many different levels. I'm sorry the west is hated. Truly I am. But it's the card Bush and friends have dealt to the world and whereas more than 50% of this great Country of ours doesn't support Bush and his games, sadly the world cannot know, and only sees what it is we're doing geopolitically, and we are forever relegated to "hate" posts from you and others. Ya dance with the broad ya brought I guess, and although I think you're wrong on this one (Nato and the west's role)...history and hatred aren' que sara sara...


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