[The Telegraph, U.K.]



Novosti, Russia

The Americans Finally Undertake 'Operation Saakasvili's Salvation'


"It took the United States exactly a week to understand the damage that Mikheil Saakashvili's 'Ossetian blitzkrieg' has caused him and his "Rose Democracy' … It's hard to believe that a stateswoman as formidable as 'Teflon Condi' was unable to make it clear to Saakashvili what the White House wants or doesn't want him to do. … Sometimes 'pocket rulers' get out of hand."


By Andrei Fedyashin


Translated By Igor Medvedev


August 15, 2008


Russia - Novosti - Original Article (Russia)

MOSCOW: It took the United States exactly a week to understand the damage that Mikheil Saakashvili's "Ossetian blitzkrieg" has caused him and his "Rose Democracy." Finally it seems, Washington has launched operation "Saakasvili's Salvation" in earnest. At the same time, a diplomatic battle is unfolding to untie the "Caucasian knot." Regrettably, this struggle will be harder for Russia to win than any military clash. On August 14, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Paris to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy, and then immediately flew to Tbilisi for talks with Saakashvili on August 15. Meanwhile, President George W. Bush authorized the beginning of a humanitarian aid effort for Georgia. The first U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes loaded with medicine and food have already arrived. And simultaneously along the Georgian coast, several U.S. naval vessels have arrived from the Persian Gulf to prevent Russia from blocking the "humanitarian aid."




You don’t need to have the keenest insight to understand that the "humanitarian bridge" being erected by the Pentagon' has little to do with the humanitarian needs of Georgia. This is the first concrete step taken to support Saakashvili - steps that were not in evidence in the early days of his invasion of South Ossetia. The Georgian leader even began to complain openly that the initial statements of the Bush Administration to address the conflict were too "soft" and that he wasn't receiving "adequate support." This was clearly not what he expected from those who pushed him into his "Ossetian raid."


It's telling that a week after the event, Washington has only now begun to lash out at the Kremlin. (Specifically, Bush has accused Russia of "not behaving like the kind of international partner that it has said it wants to be)" Normally, the Americans quite carefully prepare their propaganda or military actions in any part of the globe (its enough to recall the invasions of Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq). The flow of inspired leaks and revelations from anonymous high-ranking sources usually mounts for weeks before the decisive blow.


But this didn't happen with Georgia. In fact, the America press has carried post-factum "confidential" reports that Condoleezza Rice, during her visit to Tbilisi over a month ago, warned Saakashvili "not to think about a military solution." But Saakashvili either didn't get it or lost his temper and decided to act at his own risk. Sometimes "pocket rulers" get out of hand.


President Saakashvili: Did he act on his own?


Yet it's hard to believe that a stateswoman as formidable as "Teflon Condi" was unable to make it clear to Saakashvili what the White House wants or doesn't want him to do. After all, this is not Angela Merkel or Silvio Berlusconi, who could well afford "not to hear" the U.S. secretary of state.


All of the recent moves by the White House suggest that it has overcome the initial shock and has embarked on what Washington calls "damage control," through the only remaining method available - aggressive diplomacy. These moves also demonstrate that the Bush Administration made a huge miscalculation assessing Russia's reaction to Saakashvili's military action. Washington clearly didn't anticipate the quickness and forcefulness of the military response from Medvedev and Putin, even less so on the opening day of the Olympics.


The Olympics Games, incidentally, are also key to understanding what happened. Ever since the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics (after the introduction of Soviet troops into Afghanistan), U.S. leaders have become confident that the Olympics are something of a personal obsession for all Russian leaders (which actually, used to be true), and that they would rather accept several hundred dissidents than be subject to a boycott that would be a blow to Russian prestige. It's no accident that one of the measures being floated by Western diplomats is a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


That would certainly be unpleasant, of course. But it's extremely unlikely. Still, six years before the Games, much is likely to change. For one thing, the Bush Administration will be gone. Incidentally, despite all of his outspoken criticism of Russia's "invasion of Georgia," Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on August 14 that as president he, "wouldn't send U.S. forces into a conflict in Georgia."


The United States and its key supporters in London never miss a chance to step on the Kremlin's toes. Both want to respond harshly to Moscow, and impose sanctions that would "hit hardest at its prestige," as The Times put it. Apart from the Olympic boycott, Washington has suggested a whole package of measures against Russia, including blocking its entry to the WTO, denying it admission to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, excluding it from the Group of Eight, preventing talks on a new strategic partnership agreement with the European Union and dismantling Russia's Partnership for Peace program with NATO.



The Alliance's overall position will be worked out when its foreign ministers gather for an urgent meeting in Brussels at Bush's request. The meeting will take place as early as Monday or Tuesday (August 18 or August 19). Among the most painful options that NATO will try to impose on the Europeans will be to provide Tbilisi and Kiev with a "ticket to NATO" - immediate accession to the Membership Action Plan leading to membership. This is exactly what France, Italy and Germany rejected at NATO's April summit in Bucharest. True - France, Italy and Germany are from accepting this idea.


As for the new partnership agreement with the E.U., strangely enough, Moscow has no reason to rush it. Russia is quite content with its current status and Europe needs the agreement more than we do. Western business is much more interested in Russia's WTO entry, because large Western banks need the business. The OECD is more of a club of economic projects of its 30 member countries, and we're in no hurry. Finally, the NATO-Russia partnership long-ago become a fiction.  



The punishment of ousting Russia from the G-8, although it seems like a tough measure, really is not. The G-8 long ago lost its original meaning, and has turned into little more than an expensive talking salon. In order for the G-8 to regain its relevance, its format has to be changed. It's strange that Canada is a member of the club, but huge economies like China, India, or Brazil are not. Nor does it include a single African nation. It has been clear since the end of the last century that this is inadequate. If Russia leaves the club, it will simply be time to bury it.






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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 18, 9:45pm]