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Georgian Gambit
August 18 2008

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The conflict between Georgia and Russia provoked by the Georgian military operation in the breakaway region of South Osetia has drawn an international public attention and renewed fears in the West of Russia's "Soviet style" bully-like behavior. The fact that the conflict was started on the eve of the Beijing Olympiad by the Georgian American-sponsored government is consistently omitted in the American media.
At the same time the current American administration and the Republican presidential candidate John McCain have raised an issue of renewed Russian threat.
The facts that Russia was protecting South Osetia, a region aspiring for independence from Georgia, from Georgian military crackdown is never mentioned. Also, most of the people of South Osetia are Russian citizens.
Why would the Georgian president, Saakashvili, make such a bold move knowing that Russians would not take this lying down. He may have been counting on the Olympics and that Russia would hesitate to undertake massive military operation during the games or may be he thought his alliance with the U.S. would deter his powerful neighbour from responding in full force.
A hypothesis of mine, which surprisingly hasn't been proposed yet, is that Georgian move was orchestrated by the Americans. Republicans have a lot to gain from this conflict. John MccCain is trailing Obama in the polls. The current U.S. economic downturn is doing little to bolster American electorate's wish to take a chance on another Republican. What GOP desperately needs is an outside threat so the public would believe they need a "strong" president who can deal with thr renewed Russian threat. They rightfully counted on the newly elected Russian president's need to reassert himself, hence the swift "disproportional" Russian military response. In the face of the Georgian conflict the American administration has an excuse to position their missile shield system in Poland, further deteriorating relationship with Russia, a long time opponent of having American missile bases so close to their borders.
So what do we have now? At a relatively small price for the U.S. (damaged Georgian military and infrastructure and about 300 Georgian military casualties) the current Administration can focus their attention on the new Russian threat. John McCain can use his military background to re-assert the American public that he is the man they need in the White House while Obama with his sensible health care and environmental policies may suddenly appear out of context.
Call it a Georgian Gambit or Wag the Dog, Georgian style, the history repeats itself.
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Comments from Our Readers

  "Very wrong perception of politics indeed...by you, Mr. Slavutsky! The president of Georgia, or any other president of any other country in the world does not act on "hopes" but rather on hard guarantees, in a written form, sealed and signed. There is no such a thing as Mr. Saakashvili started military operations because he "hoped" blahblahblah...Every adult should know better than that. And it's not about WHO started but rather WHY started! When you get Russian troops in your territories present for almost two decades (not counting the Soviet rule) without any indication of them leaving, you can attack them any time you want, and this should be accepted normally. S.Ossetia and Abkhazia are Georgian regions with local autonomy status, which was given to these regions by the Georgian central government itself! If S. Ossetians and Abkhazians desire to become Russian citizens they could do so and they could also go to live in Russia, but they cannot take the land with them, right? There is no such a thing as S.Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s recession without Georgia’s central government direct approval. It's like Bavaria separating from Germany without Berlin's approval, or Chechnya (yes, you remember that right?) doing so without Moscow’s approval. You know very well what happened when Chechnya tried this…or maybe you don’t?" - Roger W, September 9 2008 - reply
  "Roger, I don't know if for S. Osetia to separate from Georgia would require approval of central Georgian government. When Kosovo decided to declare independence from Serbia international community quickly recognized it despite Serbian protest. Mr. Saakashvili would hardly imagine he can poke at Russians if not for the strong American support, furthermore, his government and military are on the U.S. payroll as Georgia has been economically bankrupt since its peaceful separation from former Soviet Union. Don't get me wrong, I have been critical of Russian government about the lack of truly free press in there and some of Mr. Putin's methods to re-establish centralized control of government and economy, however in the case with Georgia I don't see how Russia could just sit there. I don't believe most Georgians want confrontation with Russia. Georgians live and work in Russia and in many cases support their families on money they send home from Russia. Mr. Saakashvili did not have to spoil his relationship with his powerful neighbor, his country would benefit from new Russian prosperity, but the strategic interests of the US and the oil and gas supply lines going through Georgia resulted in American involvement in the region. " - Stan, September 9 2008 - reply
  "I still dont get it. If the Georgians wanted to protect people in the two breakaway states why didnt they phone Putin tell him warn him that action had to be taken quickly then solve the problem together, the situation makes them partners, if not by choice. Obviously life is too cheap East of the Görlitz or Pride comes before Reality " - robert berridge, September 14 2008 - reply
  "Annette, I regret that you had to live through the terrible events you described in your commentary. However the focus of my story (Georgian Gambit) and of the response to Roger's comments was more on the geopolitical situation leading to the August 2008 Georgia-Russian military conflict. By the way, I would really like to read a story about your experience in Georgia on April 9, 1989 if you care to write one." - Stan, September 18 2008 - reply
  ""Dear " Stan! I understand you hardly imagine many things! First, it was not "peaceful separation from former Soviet Union" as you write. It was in fact choked in blood as well as Baltic countries. You can read near history and find April 9, 1989. I was myself standing among the peacefully demonstrating people who were standing with flags and candles in their hands when Russian tanks and "spetnaz" special trained killers attacked them and killed mostly girls and females. Defenseless people! They sprayed killing and poisoning gasses there and many survived people were suffering after that and needed serious medical care. I remember Russian tanks standing in the streets if Tbilisi for a long time afterwords, just like that, in the streets!!!! If you call this peaceful it has no sense to talk with you and I won't start arguing about that last war Russian provoked in Georgia. I do not even know if you will ever read this article. Remember please: 1.Georgians love Russians when it goes to personal bases. 2.Georgians hate Russians when it goes to Solders Boots. And so will be to any one how will come to that land with a sword or a bullets. My last questions are: Why do not leave that country in peace with its Territory as it is! Have you hears about Sochi? Is it not enough? Why don't you take your Russian citizens who leave there without residence permit to mother Russia and leave the land? That so called Apxazian and South Osetian populations were majority Georgians before 1992 ethnic cleansing when more than 500 000 people were kicked off ( others killed) in that areas. Jesus Stan! You sound so naive! I would like so much to tell you....but just wake up please!!! Annette, September 2008 P.S.Lived for a long time in Georgia and Russian know them both " - Annette, September 17 2008 - reply
  "After reading this article, it is quite ovious you do not understand the events that have lead up to the Georgian invasion. Since its break away from Georgia proper, S. Osceitans have been crossing the border into Georgia and committing crimes, such as robbery, rape, and kidnapping for human trafficing. The seperatist governments in S. Oscetia and Abkazia are criminals backed by Moscow, (reference Eastern Europe post WWII elections, its an old trick). These S. Oscetians would retreat to S. Oscetia under Russian protection. Georgian authorities could not persue them. The analogy would be a Mexican Drug gang taking control of New Mexico, or Texas and Mexico recognizing them. Something like this was attempted two times that I can recal. On one occaision, We sent General "Black Jack" Persing in, the other is what drew us into WWI (The Zimmerman Telligram). A large portion of the "Russian citizens" in the seperatist regions were issued Russian passports under force, in order to offer an excuse to "Defend its citizens." Here is a question you should ask your self... Why does a "so called country" have Russian passports and not their own? This war in Georgia was provoked by Russia. I could continue for hours but I will leave it up to you to further educate your self. " - Regan, September 25 2008 - reply


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