Saakashvili overplays his hand
By Brian Whitmore
In an effort to prod the West to Tbilisi's side in its rapidly escalating armed conflict with Russia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is invoking the ghosts of Cold War battles past - Moscow's suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan in 1979.
The Georgian leader's strategy is clear. Tbilisi's small army is no match for the Russian military machine. Saakashvili's only chance of success in his bid to regain control of the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia, therefore, is to globalize the conflict and turn it into a central front of a new struggle between Moscow and the West.
"What Russia has been doing against Georgia for the last two days represents an open aggression, unprecedented in modern times," Saakashvili said in a televised address on August 8. "It is a direct challenge for the whole world. If Russia is not stopped today by the whole world, tomorrow Russian tanks might reach any European capital. I think everyone has understood this by now."
So far, the West has not taken the bait.
Russia bids to rid Georgia of its folly
By John Helmer
MOSCOW - One word explains why the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union have obliged themselves to sit on their hands, while Russia's defends its citizens, and national interests, in the Caucasus, and liberates Georgians from the folly of their unpopular president, Mikheil Saakashvili. That word is Kosovo.
Russia sent troops into the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia to take on Georgian troops that had advanced into the territory. Four days of heavy fighting have seen thousands of casualties and the Georgian forces withdrawing. Russian troops were reported on Monday to be continuing fighting in parts of Georgia, including around the capital Tbilisi.
Eight hundred years of Caucasian history explain why Saakashvili has brought such destruction and ignominy on his countrymen over the past few days. Queen Tamar, the greatest of the Georgian sovereigns (1184-1213), is responsible for the habit Georgian rulers have displayed for the past millennium of treating neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ossetia and the Black Sea coast of Turkey as protectorates. But as Tamar also taught her countrymen, Georgian ambition always runs out of gas when the neighbors prove to be just as ambitious, richer or tougher.
Putin for US president - more than ever
In January I urged Americans to draft the Russian leader to succeed George W Bush (Putin for president of the United States, January 8, 2008). Putin's swift and decisive action in Georgia reflects precisely the sort of decisiveness that America requires.
Thanks to Putin, the world has become a much safer place. By intervening in Georgia, Russia has demonstrated that the great powers of the world have nothing to fight about. Russia has wiped the floor with a putative US ally, and apart from a bad case of cream pie on the face, America has lost nothing. The United States and the European community will do nothing to help Georgia, and nothing of substance to penalize the Russian Federation.
Contrary to the hyperventilation of policy analysts on American news shows, the West has no vital interests in Georgia. It would be convenient from Washington's vantage point for oil to flow from the Caspian Sea via Georgia to the Black Sea, to be sure, but nothing that occurs in Georgia will have a measurable impact on American energy security. It is humiliating for the US to watch the Russians thrash a prospective ally, but not harmful, for Georgia never should have been an ally in the first place.
Oil in troubled mountains
By Robert M Cutler
MONTREAL - The armed conflict between Russian and Georgia has further exposed the fragile position of the energy links running through the smaller country from the Caspian Sea to developed market economies.
Russian forces are placed to disrupt oil flows through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which has carried Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan across Georgia to Turkey since 2006, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline, which opened last year and exports gas to Turkey, as well as the older Baku-Supsa "early oil" line that runs to the Georgian Black Sea coast.
Russia marks its red lines
By F William Engdahl
What is playing out in the Caucasus is being reported in the United States media in an alarmingly misleading light, making Moscow appear the lone aggressor after it sent troops into the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia following a Georgian offensive on that territory.
The question is whether President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are encouraging Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to force the next US president to back the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military agenda of the current Bush administration. Washington may have badly misjudged the possibilities, as it did in Iraq, and there are even possible nuclear consequences.
The underlying issue is the fact that since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, one after another former member as well as former states of the Soviet Union have been coaxed and in many cases bribed with false promises by Washington into joining the counter organization, NATO
The end of the post-Cold War era
By M K Bhadrakumar
On a day that China showed its firepower and set new frontiers for global razzmatazz, with about 80 world leaders watching and cheering, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games should have been Friday's lead news story. But events in the Caucasus dictated otherwise.
The killing of thousands of people in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia will turn out to be a landmark moment in post-Soviet Russia's relations with the West. Friday's Georgian attack on South Ossetia was intended as a provocation. The attack killed 13 Russian soldiers and injured 150 and took over 2,000 civilian lives, mostly Russian citizens. The South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali has been all but razed. Over 30,000 refugees have crossed the Russian border.
The crisis in the Southern Caucasus has been slowly building since Kosovo, the breakaway province of Serbia, declared independence in February. By August, 45 countries have been persuaded by the United States to accord recognition to Kosovo, including major European powers France, Germany and Britain. Russia was expected to retaliate by fostering secessionism in Georgia and Moldova, but, contrary to expectations, Russia adopted a shrewd policy of garnering worldwide opinion against political separatism.