It is hard to fathom such an amount of stupidity on the part of a supposedly “Western leader” like Saakashvili. What was he thinking? There are very few random things that happen in geopolitics. This was a (mis)calculated move by the Georgian president to launch a “take control of the dogs in the backyard” to coincide with the opening of the Beijing Olympics, hoping the Russians would look the other way or at least wait until the games were over. By that time, it would have been very difficult to wrench the Georgians out of South Ossetia. Russia, on the other hand, which has a history of not giving a crap about what anybody thinks of their actions, launched a clean-up and punitive campaign against the Georgians. Was that unforseen by Saakashvili? Really? Now, what kind of gambit was Saakashvili playing? Was he promised an unconditional back-up by the U.S.? (yes, I see Dick Cheney’s and Co. fingerprints in this)? Was he given the green light–not that he needed one, mind you–to launch such an attack on its own rebel provinces? Provinces which, by the way, have been bristling with Russian “Peacemakers” for, what?, at least 16 years. For crying out loud, what was the logic of it? What forced that hand?
Looking at the future, I agree with Debka’s assessment of what’s “next”. The Russians, like it or not, do call the shots in the region. Bear no illusions about it being different. The Cold War never ended; it was paused. The thing is, there many hands itching to press the “Play” button. Perhaps it’s being done already.
After severing South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, four follow-up Russian steps may be postulated:
1. The two separatist provinces will proclaim their independence, just like Kosovo.
2. Russia will continue to exercise its overwhelming military and air might to reduce the pro-American Saakashvili to capitulation.
3. The Georgian president will not be able to face his own nation after losing two regions of his country and causing its humiliation. Moscow will then make Washington swallow a pro-Russian successor.
4. Moscow’s trampling of Georgia will serve as an object lesson for Russia’s own secessionist provinces, such as Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, and a warning not to risk defying Russian armed might.
5. Western plans to develop more oil and gas pipelines to bypass the Russian network to the West, in addition to the Caspian line which carries one million barrels a day from Baku through Georgia to Turkey and out to the West, will be held in abeyance pending an accommodation with the rulers of the Kremlin.