Saakashvili: Inglorious Democrat?


Saakashvili and Bush.jpg
Belgravia Dispatch‘s Gregory Djerejian publishes one of my favorite blogs. He wrestles issues down to their core and exposes the idiocy and nakedness of the foreign policy arena’s blunderers. Today he writes about the Georgia-Russia conflict and comes out largely where I do.
He writes:

A few quick points, in no particular order. First, let us disabuse ourselves from the notion that Mr. Saakashvili is some glorious democrat (the election he barely won in January included irregularities, and there continues to be endemic corruption in Tblisi).
Second, let us recall that many south Ossetians and Abkhazians are not particularly keen to live under Tbilisi’s yoke, indeed some prefer Russian influence to predominate there for the time being.
Third, if there is any truth to Russian allegations that there are some 1,500 fatalities in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali–and they were caused by a major initial over-reach by the Georgian military (we will need to wait for more details to emerge)–expect many more brutish bombardments like the Russians apparently have conducted in the Georgian town of Gori, alas.
Fourth, some context: ever since the overly hasty recognition of Kosovo went live, Putin has been very keen to intimate what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, having personally threatened Saakashvili that Russia would formally recognize as independent states Ossetia and Abkhazia. Unfair and inconvenient, at least to Georgian ‘sovereignists’ (or, to others, irrendentists)? Yes, to a fashion, as the perils of too breezy analogizing among these different situations is quite clear. Still, the Kosovo precedent was going to be used to Putin’s purposes, of course, humiliating as the events in Pristina were to Moscow, and with the barely concealed breezy cheerleading from Brussels and DC adding insult to injury.

Tomorrow, Nixon Center president and US-Russia policy expert Dimitri Simes is going to send some comments over on the crisis for readers of The Washington Note.
In addition, while I can’t yet quote from it, my colleague Anatol Lieven has a very useful background brief, “The South Ossete Conflict,” that will appear in Monday’s Times of London.


15 comments on “Saakashvili: Inglorious Democrat?

  1. BloodyWerewolf says:

    Saakashvili is fucking cowardly bugger.
    USA should not help to that freak. Instead it they must help Russia in seek and eliminate him and his damned government.


  2. Sergei says:

    Mikheil Saakashvili is not the first one, Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussein has been before him. Story lines are almost identical.


  3. Robert M says:

    This is beyond surreal. There is no question Georgia made a really bad move(historically they seemed to have forgotten the British Empire didn’t intervene to far from the sea-supply lines and after Afghanistan not through hostile territory). The response from the financial markets is what disturbs me. It seems to me they have completely divorced themselves from geopolitical risk. On Friday markets went up everywhere-the dollar I can understand as a safety trade; but oil collapsed $5.
    Does anyone understand that a pipeline runs through Georgia(granted it was shut down because it was bombed)? Does anyone understand that the next move, which has happened before, is that the Ukraine-the transit point for gas to Europe- is likely to be the next point of contention? Did anyone notice that the Ukraine may not allow the Russian fleet access to bases in Sevastopol? Did anyone forget there are Russian soldiers on the Turkish Border?


  4. bob h says:

    The Georgians see how hollow the American promises are when they see President Bush in Beijing signing a beach volleyballer’s fanny as the Russians roll over them.


  5. addme says:

    wow. funny, the russians are not even having all these anti-
    human splitter bombs and chems like white phosphore bombs
    the us uses in afghanistan and iraq and yet they still are better
    fighting than the fat lazy western cowboy. time is over georgia.
    for me another example that this american law student,
    sakhasvili, is too stupid to be head of state. this also proves
    how bad american universities are as well.
    well, i think he won´t go to the den haag tribunal, this
    aggressor. but well, if he be german, or a serb or a non-muslim
    at all he might would have get a chance to see the tribunal.
    wow, i hope the united nations breaks apart and the real new
    world order seizes power again, having people like sakhasvili
    doing jobs they are capable of: pigfarming.
    hail the war god! hail!


  6. jonst says:

    Zathras wrote:
    “…..whether his is closer to the Clemons/Djerejian view (the Georgians had it coming; screw them!)”.
    Karl Rove could not have drafted that simplistic and misleading nonsense any better Z.


  7. Don Bacon says:

    What Carroll said.


  8. syvanen says:

    Steve, thanks for a breath of fresh air on this issue.
    This problem has been brewing for a number of years. Kosovo is clearly the proximate cause for today’s crises. But it is the outcome of US and Nato provocation of Russia. It bagan when Nato expanded into Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Then with the incorporation of former Soviet Republics — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuanian — into Nato. Then continuing with Western backed political “revolutions” in the Ukrain and Geogia. Next, most provocatively, entertaining these last two nations as Nato members. The Nato missile defenses going up in Poland and CzechLand were not helpful. On top of this there were joint US and Georgian military exercises this year. Rice going to Tbilsi and giving verbal support for these ongoing US policies had to encourage Saahavilli even if he misread the US’s real level of support. He had reason to believe that Nato would come to his support.
    Russia has now thrown down the gauntlet. They are asking the West: are we really willing to go to war to further the humiliation and encirclement of Russia? Are we ready to risk all to put another Nato base on Russia’s border? This war is a direct outcome of US policy. It seems clear that the US can only back down now and, yet again, Bush policy looks inept and ineffectual.


  9. David says:

    I seem to remember some snide remark from the Bushies about creating their own reality. The hubrists have indeed done their part in shaping the current realities in which we find ourselves, but that is a far cry from creating one’s own reality. They are apparently clueless that reality is something over which no one has an exclusive franchise. Actually, they are simply clueless.
    The only thing they knew how to do well was take elections, and now even that is gone from their playbook.


  10. DonS says:

    So who’s the paper tiger now? Can you say U.S.? How many countries is it that hold the marginal well being of the fragile US economy and stature within their grasp, notwithstanding the establishment’s virtual denial of the mess we’re in.
    Here’s an interesting (European I believe) take from Moon of Alabama—for-n.html


  11. Zathras says:

    I look forward to hearing what Dmitri Simes has to say about the Georgian crisis. In particular, I’ll be interested to hear whether his is closer to the Clemons/Djerejian view (the Georgians had it coming; screw them!) or the view that the architect of the Second Chechen War saw an opportunity to repeat what he evidently regards as a great success, and teach a lesson to former Soviet peoples not to think of themselves as “former” quite so much.
    While holding no brief for the prudence of the Georgian government’s recent conduct, I believe regard for internationally recognized borders is actually a highly useful thing in that part of the world. I suspect a number of governments of nations bordering Russia might agree, and might think it a shame if this regard should be suspended on so feeble an excuse as Russia’s humiliation that Serbs were once restrained from massacring Kosovars. If that can be done with respect to Georgia, it can be done elsewhere in the region. It might even be done to a former Soviet republic that some pundits in this country, having grown disenchanted with the Bush administration, were not able to persuade themselves deserved to be invaded.


  12. Mr.Murder says:

    Rep.Rangel’s effort to resinstate the draft looks prophetic.


  13. JohnH says:

    “Russia’s emerging aggressiveness is now also timed with America’s preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan, and the looming confrontation with Iran. These counterbalancing considerations mean that Moscow is in the driver’s seat, administration officials acknowledged.”
    Russia’s involvement has been quite restrained in all three countries. Imagine what it would look like if they decided to return the favor for their defeat in Afghanistan and began to surreptitiously arm the Taliban with surface to air missiles, etc.
    Deputy national security adviser, James Jeffrey said, “We’ve made it clear to the Russians … that this will have a significant, long-term impact on U.S.-Russian relations.” Indeed! Looks to me like cowboy diplomacy already had that long term impact…


  14. Carroll says:

    I don’t find Russia’s new assertiveness scary. I welcome it as stonewall for the US neocons and the neoliberal interventionalist.
    I had read before that the US was funneling money to Georgia and providing training for their troops. Neo’s like Richard Perle have been a cheerleading for Georgia and it seems some politicans just can’t refrain from poking the bear.
    ” Senators Hilary Clinton and John McCain have nominated Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili for the Nobel Peace Prize”.
    Anyway here are some snippets from the NYT’s today that for once probably bear some relation to reality.
    ….the Russian message was clear: This is our sphere of influence; others stay out.”
    “What the Russians just did is, for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, they have taken a decisive military action and imposed a military reality,” said George Friedman, chief executive of Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis and intelligence company. “They’ve done it unilaterally, and all of the countries that have been looking to the West to intimidate the Russians are now forced into a position to consider what just happened.”
    “And Bush administration officials acknowledged that the outside world, and the United States in particular, had little leverage over Russian actions.”
    “There is no possibility of drawing NATO or the international community into this,” said a senior State Department official in a conference call with reporters”
    “For the Bush administration, the choice now becomes whether backing Georgia — which, more than any other former Soviet republic has allied with the United States — on the South Ossetia issue is worth alienating Russia at a time when getting Russia’s help to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions is at the top of the United States’ foreign policy agenda.”
    “Russia’s emerging aggressiveness is now also timed with America’s preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan, and the looming confrontation with Iran. These counterbalancing considerations mean that Moscow is in the driver’s seat, administration officials acknowledged.”
    “We’ve placed ourselves in a position that globally we don’t have the wherewithal to do anything,” Mr. Friedman of Stratfor said. “One would think under those circumstances, we’d shut up.”
    “One senior administration official, when told of that quote, laughed. “Well, maybe we’re learning to shut up now,” he said. He asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.”
    US statement:…..
    “Russia wants regime change in Georgia.”
    LOL..well that is the pot calling the kettle black isn’t it?


  15. JohnH says:

    One of the scariest aspects of this situation is Russia’s newfound assertiveness. Russia’s foreign behavior over the past twenty years has been quite restrained, particularly compared with previous Soviet sponsorship of national liberation movements during the Cold War.
    If the West chooses to conduct military exercises on Russia’s borders, why wouldn’t Russia in turn show that it has the potential to create mischief along the West’s extended oil supply lines?
    Oh sure, Russia still has that soft Chechen underbelly. But any damage to the natural gas pipelines passing through Chechyna would hurt Europe as much as Russia, so any Western mischief in Chechnya is unlikely. As a result, Russia may well feel that it now has an opportunity to create a low cost, asymmetric deterrent capability to counter the West’s assertiveness along its borders.
    I fail to see how NATO’s getting into Russia’s face in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus helps Western security or its energy security.


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