Wednesday, August 20, 2008


What a gross mistake for the United States to sign a missile defense pact with Poland today. Everyone knows (wink, wink) that any American missiles placed in Poland target Russia. The American technology might be rudimentary today but tomorrow the missiles probably will be far more accurate and lethal. What do Bush, Cheney and Rice think they are accomplishing? Do they think that Russia will pull its troops out of Georgia as a result? They are tragically mistaken. Russia sees Georgia and its president Mikheil Saakashvili as aggressor and war criminal respectively.

Consider Mikhail Gorbachev's op-ed in today's The New York Times. Writes Gorbachev:

"THE acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces’ assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves?

"Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war. Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction. "

In truth it was Saakashvili who ordered Georgian troops to shell and shoot missiles at civilian enclaves in South Ossetia. Because many Ossetians consider themselves Russians and not Georgians, Russia intervened and sent in its troops. What would the U.S. expect Russia to do? Stand by and do nothing while Russians were being killed by Georgian missiles? Is this what the U.S. under Bush would do if Americans in Mexico were being shot at and bombed by the Mexican army?

Continues Mr. Gorbachev:

"Mr. Saakashvili had been lavished with praise for being a staunch American ally and a real democrat — and for helping out in Iraq. Now America’s friend has wrought disorder, and all of us — the Europeans and, most important, the region’s innocent civilians — must pick up the pieces.

"Those who rush to judgment on what’s happening in the Caucasus, or those who seek influence there, should first have at least some idea of this region’s complexities. The Ossetians live both in Georgia and in Russia. The region is a patchwork of ethnic groups living in close proximity.
"Therefore, all talk of “this is our land,” “we are liberating our land,” is meaningless. We must think about the people who live on the land.

"The problems of the Caucasus region cannot be solved by force. That has been tried more than once in the past two decades, and it has always boomeranged."

Saakashvili and Georgia tried to settle loyalties by brute military force. As Gorbachev says, nothing will be settled militarily in the Caucasus.

It is pathetic to hear George Bush today blithely and ignorantly state that South Ossetia and Abkhazia "belong" to Georgia and are part of Georgia's sovereignty. Howe about telling that to the people who live there and see what they say?

And how come Bush, Cheney and Rice did not suggest to that rash and reckless Saakashvili that he try holding a plebiscite or referendum instead of raining down fiery missiles on Ossetian civilians? Oh no, that would have been too "democratic," although I thought that word was Bush's mantra.

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