The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, August 10, 2008
September 1, 1939?
But even more blatant and consequential. Will we and the rest of Western Europe simply sit by and do nothing? Especially when Iran is threatening us and Israel with Nuclear Extinction, and Russia is helping them do it. We have come to a critical moment. From Ralph Peters:
AS I write, Russian tanks grind into a brave and isolated democratic state.
Assuming that the world's attention would focus on Beijing, Moscow stage-managed an elaborate act of aggression against Georgia.
But the world has changed since Soviet tanks rolled unchallenged into Afghanistan at Christmastime 29 years ago. Global communications now spotlight aggression instantly.
Yesterday, the world didn't watch the Olympic opening ceremonies (the Chinese must be furious at the Russians). Instead, we saw images of Soviet - sorry, I meant Russian - aircraft pounding Georgian territory as Russian armor rolled over the Caucasus Mountains.
The Kremlin is determined to break Georgia's will - and keep the feisty republic out of NATO.
Russia, you see, still believes it's entitled to all of its former empire. And, tragically, "Old Europe" is back: Yesterday, Germany and other nervous European states bought the Russian line that Georgia is the aggressor. Wouldn't want to anger Moscow . . .
The background: When a fellow officer and I drove through the region in 1991, Georgian patriots and Russian "peacekeepers" were already facing off. As the USSR collapsed, its security services leapt to foment separatist (pro-Moscow) movements in the newly independent states. In Georgia's case, that meant instigating rebellions in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and - unsuccessfully - Adjaria (the Caucasus is a crazy quilt of obscure identities). If Georgians insisted on independence, the Kremlin intended to dissect the country.
But then Russia found itself bogged down in a series of botched wars in Chechnya as its military rotted and the Yeltsin government floundered.
Now, however, the petrodollar-powered Russia of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his straight man, President Dmitri Medvedev, is swaggering - and determined to punish Georgia, to make it an example to other defiant neighbors.
What just happened? The Kremlin decided it was time to act, since Georgia was only growing stronger under its democratically elected government. Although NATO has been hemming and hawing about admitting Georgia, the Russians didn't want to take any chances. (Just last month, 1,000 US troops were in Georgia for an exercise.)
Calculating that the media and world leaders would be partying in Beijing, the Russians ordered North Ossetian militiamen, backed by Russian "peacekeepers" and mercenaries, to provoke the Georgians earlier this month.
Weary of the Russian presence on their soil, the Georgians took the bait. President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered his US-trained military to respond.
That was the excuse the Kremlin wanted. Immediately, a tank brigade from Russia's 58th Army (the butchers of Chechnya) crossed the international border into Poland - sorry, I meant Georgia.