Saakashvili Must Go
Pushing world to the brink, Georgia’s 40-year-old President Mikhail Saakashvili badly miscalculated when he sent his army to annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Little did he know that the Russian response would be swift and massive, cutting Georgia like hot knife through butter. If his amateurish blunder weren’t bad enough, Saakashvili continues to inflame the situation running his mouth at a joint press conference in Tbilisi with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signing a truce. “It is obvious . . . the Russian invasion had been planned for months and months and months. The time of this intervention has been chosen deliberately [with regards] to the Olympics,” said Saakashvili, displaying the kind of paranoia that doesn’t bode well for Gerogia. Instead of apologizing to Moscow over his reckless attempt to annex Russian-backed provinces, Saakashvili vented his spleen.
Nothing good can come to Georgia as long as they're governed by an emotional wreck. Choking back tears, Saakashvili blasted Russia with Rice at his side, simultaneously signing a truce. “It is so clear what happened. We are in the process of invasion, occupation and annihilation of a democratic, independent country," begging the U.S. and NATO for military help. Saakashvili showed not one shred of contrition for his unprovoked attack with the Georgian army on South Ossetia. “Accordiong to information from peacekeepers in South Ossetia, Georgia continues to use military force and in this regard we cannot consider this document,” said an official Kremily communique Aug. 10. At Saakashvili’s Aug. 15 truce signing, Saakashvili continued his tirade. As long as the Georgian president antagonizes the Kremlin, little good can come of peace agreements.
Russian officials were dumbfounded by the West buying Saakashvili’s inverted account of events. “It is a shame that some of our partners are not helping us, but essentially are hindering us,” said Russian former president and Prime Mininster Vladimir Putin, referring to statements from the White House. Since the crisis broke Augh 8, the U.S. blamed only Russia for using excessive force. Putin has no problem spewing propaganda, alluding to U.S. meddling in Georgia and Eastern Europe. Throwing gasoline on the fire, Poland announced Aug. 14 that it had signed a missile defense pact with the U.S. against Russian objections. While Saakashvili begs the West for military help, Russia announced possible repercussions should the U.S. go ahead with missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. “Poland, by deploying [the system] exposes itself to a strike—100% said Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn.
Russia’s response in Georgia was provoked by Saakashvili’s attempt to annex Russian-backed provinces. Whether or not Russia had contingency plans in place is anyone’s guess. Saakashvili’s contention that Russia would have attacked unprovoked is pure speculation. He warned Western nations and former Soviet republics that Russia was a clear and provocative threat to all free nations. Nogovitsyn’s warning to Poland reflects Moscow’s renewed bravado and deteriorated relations with the West. Bush cited worries about terrorist and rogue regimes like Iran for prompting his missile defense plan. Russia sees missile defense as neutralizing its ICBM arsenal, something the Kremilin uses as its main deterrent. With the invasion of Georgia, the West has a new worry that the U.S. and NATO have no answer for Russia’s conventional forces. U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t helped matters.
U.S. and NATO must rethink plans to deploy missile defense in Eastern Europe or face another Cold War-like arms race. “The Cold War is over. The days of satellite status and spheres of influence are behind us,” Bush said at the White House before heading on his summer break. “A contentious relationship with Russia is not in America’s interest, and a contentious relationship with America is not in Russia’s interest,” said Bush, ignoring his decision to move forward with missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin warned Bush on several occasions that his missile defense plan would harm U.S.-Russian relations. Whether admitted to or not, Russia felt it had to make a statement in Georgia, firing a warning shot to the U.S. and NATO that it will act, like the U.S. claimed in Iraq, to defend its national security. More gunboat diplomacy makes a bad situation worse.
Saakashvili reminds the West that immature leaders sometimes make big
mistakes and expect others to bail them out.
His decision to annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia by force demonstrated
dangerous incompetence, resulting in thousands of deaths and even more innocent
refugees. Trying to suck the West,
especially the U.S., into a military confrontation with Russia demonstrates the
kind of recklessness warranting his immediate removal. Whatever happens with Russian
troops, Saakashvili’s joint press conference with Rice proves he’s unfit for
office, spewing paranoia and rage over his own incompetence. It doesn’t mend fences and relax
tensions to accuse Moscow of Soviet-style hegemony. Moscow showed far more restraint in
Georgia than the U.S. showed in Iraq.
Before events get out of hand, Saakdashvili should step aside and let
more mature leadership take over.
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