The Russian/Georgian Conflict and the Neo-Con Lust for War
As I write this, tanks are rolling into Georgia from the North and people are dying. So far, something along the lines of two or three thousand civilians are known to be dead and there is no telling how many Russian and Georgian soldiers. It is easy to forget, after years and years of fighting irregulars in the desert, how fast and bloody total war is. Even more so than the intial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom, simply because both sides are similarly equipped and equally motivated.
I find neither side very sympathetic. Years of the United States military arming and training the Georgian Army so that they could fight in Iraq obviously emboldened the Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, in his belief that the U.S would come running to his aid in the event of Russian intervention. Having American aircraft fly the Georgian troops back to Georgia from Iraq is likely not what Saakashvili expected from his growing alliance with the West.
Russia is certainly no victim here. A military operation of this scale requires logistics that can not be planned and executed overnight. The Russian Army had been building up strength along the Georgian border for months and waiting for an excuse to exercise their muscle. Since Putin came to power the myth of a democratic Russia has been shown as fallacy. With tremendous power over Europe's supply of natural gas, Russia is as large an influence on the world stage as it has been since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It is no coincidence that the initial Georgian attack took place on the eve of the Olympics. With the international community's focus on Beijing, it was a good time to perform some quiet housekeeping. What Georgian and glaringly, U.S., intelligence seemed to miss was the massive Russian response to any Georgian attack on South Ossetia. This is another in a seemingly endless string of CIA miscalculations regarding the Russians.
It is telling that the neo-conservative movement is calling for Russia's head. As a philosophy the neo-conservatives desire conflict. Every war is an opportunity for the advancement of their personal beliefs. These are the people that brought us Iraq and had been planning it since long before September 11. Their great fear is that every diplomatic gesture is the equivalent to Chamberlain's appeasal of the Nazis before World War Two. What they do not seem to grasp is that the world has become so much smaller since then. That since we can talk to each other in ways that we never could, we can delay and avoid bloodshed like we never could in the past.
The war between Russia and Georgia will hopefully end soon. The most likely outcome is Georgian capitulation and the loss of an American ally with influence in Southeast Europe. We can only hope that the architects of our current debacle in Iraq will keep American troops as far from the fighting as possible. The next two weeks should be telling.