Well, let’s start off slow, and take a look at the latest example of brain damage from La Russophobe. Note for further reference that the supplied links in these “editorials” often don’t say anything like what the hyperlink suggests. For example, the link that suggests Russians “scurried and mumbled and tried to cover their shock and pain” actually says nothing of the kind. In fact, you don’t have to look further than the title to see that Russia shrugs off the criticism. The Russian reaction, we are told, is “astonishingly calm, even muted”…. a “model of restraint”. Does that sound like scurrying and mumbling? I asked that you note this technique because you will find it a common one at La Russophobe. Links she cites in support often say nothing at all as she infers. Perhaps she hopes you’ll just take her word for it, and not bother to check the reference.
In fact, Russia behaved exactly as you might expect seasoned politicians to behave, because Russia’s goal in this situation is to prevent the inclusion in NATO of Georgia and Ukraine. In this, Saakashvili is a cooperative partner; the reference cited analyzes this possibility as “increasingly unlikely”. This begs the question, “what’s the champagne for?” What is there to celebrate in a political whistle-stop that didn’t achieve anything? Similarly, Russian statesmanship is evident in the conversation offered in the first linked reference; Prime Minister Putin “responded by chiding Georgia for involving Washington rather than negotiating directly with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two breakaway enclaves at the center of its 2008 war with Russia”. To do otherwise would imply an acknowledgement that they still belong to Georgia. The NYT reference also reports “Poland and Russia are in the midst of an unprecedented warming after the catharsis of this spring’s plane crash, which killed Poland’s president and other top officials.” Scurrying and mumbling there? Nope, not so much.
Just before we leave these bogus references, my favourite quote from the NYT reference; ““If you want to eat hamburgers with the president of America somewhere in a civilized place, it means you have to behave in a civilized way,” Mr. Saakashvili told Georgian television last weekend.” Georgia has attacked South Ossetia or Abkhazia, in attempts to either stamp out secessionist movements or reclaim the territories by force of arms, three times – 1991/92, 2004 and 2008. On the first two occasions, according to the print edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, “the ragtag Georgian Army was beaten back by a combination of local fighters, irregulars from the Russian Federation and stranded ex-Soviet soldiers who found themselves in the middle of someone else’s civil war and chose to fight on behalf of the secessionists”. More recently, of course, the Russian military became formally involved. In this case, agreements negotiated between the two governments as a condition of the cease-fire provided for Russian peacekeepers to remain in place, and their numbers are balanced by numerically equal forces from South Ossetia and the Georgian Army.
But let’s take a closer look at Georgia under Saakashvili. First, for the doubters who still maintain Russia started the war in 2008, note that Saakashvili bragged of his intentions for South Ossetia and Abkhazia before he was even re-elected. And how about that Georgian judicial system; how’d it rate? Well, according to the International Republican Institute – an NGO which specializes in state start-ups and promotes the rule of law – only the mafia rated lower for corruption.