Well, I hate being right on some issues, and this is one of them! Russian President Dmitry Medvedev went ahead and did it, he followed the Russian Parliament and announced late Tuesday that Russia was formally recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I am sure Putin is smiling and nodding his head in some dark bunker somewhere in Moscow. Not only did he not blink, he spit in the eye of every sovereign nation to spite the rights of a country to work out its differences itself. Before I get too far down the path I am acknowledging the clear and undisputed facts that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili authorized and sent the Georgian military to put down anti-government militia operations going on in South Ossetia. I will concede that most likely some ethnic tensions and oppression was going on. I will even go so far as to give the other side the argument that they were justified in bombing campaigns to repel the Georgian military from engaging South Ossetia rebels. But, when Russia sent in tanks, armored personnel carriers, troops, and expanded the operation beyond the disputed border regions and into the country itself (right up to the capital), their ports, and Abkhazia and also included preemptive and offensive military strikes that continued well beyond the scope of protecting non-military personnel well, the Russians not only overstepped their authority, but violated more international laws in just 8 days then the US did in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 8 years!
As I stated in my last article, Russia is expanding and looking to rebuild the former Soviet Union. Their blatant disregard for diplomacy, international law, and conflict resolution shows their real intent better then if they had told the world what their intent was before they acted. I had stated Russia was tipping its hand, and now it seems they have done so intentionally and with indifference to any consequences that may come out of this. Medvedev, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, and the Kremlin have all just announced, with actions, words, and threats, they do not care what consequences occur and they are not scared by any that can occur. G-8, or group of eight membership… who cares! World Trade Organization membership, bah its for suckers! NATO and EU scansions… let me see them try! UN resolutions, fffft, we have a veto so nana booboo! Oh, but they are pissed we are using a guided missile destroyer and Coast Guard cutter to ferry relief supplies into Georgian ports as well as place a missile shield battery in Poland to fend off the now RESURGENT North Korean nuclear program (Yes the North Koreans have seen what is going on and are taking advantage of it to once again restart their nuclear weapons program) and any possible Chinese, Iranian, or yes even Russian attacks.
See diplomatic consequences are poo pooed by Russia, but American military assets are drawing strong criticism by them, I wonder why that is? I remember an episode of the Simpson’s where a Russian parade of spring time floats transformed into the old military parades of the 1960’s. Flower floats of cute animals were peeled back to reveal mobile ICBM launchers, tanks, and balloons had Migs fly out of them as goose stepping soldiers transformed Red Square into a familiar old sight. Yes Virginia, the Soviets are on the march again. They only thing they fear is a direct confrontation with the United Stated before they can fully rebuild their military and consolidate their infrastructure to make money and weapons again. Any doubts of these intentions were washed away when two territories were formally recognized as independent countries with no diplomatic measures or precedents being followed. They have just signaled the only thing they respect is force and the use of military assets against them, diplomacy is impotent, but throw in a DDG and they begin to cry foul. If force is all they can hear and see, then I saw we deliver.
"We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War," President Dmitry Medvedev said hours after announcing the Kremlin’s decision and one day after Parliament had supported the recognition. – AP wire. "Saakashvili chose genocide to fulfill his political plans," Medvedev said. "Georgia chose the least human way to achieve its goal — to absorb South Ossetia by eliminating a whole nation." – AP wire. Vitaly Churkin stated "Their use of force against South Ossetia clearly dashed all of those previous resolutions and created a completely new reality." – AP wire. I am not exaggerating here folks. Medvedev also vowed that US missile shield assets in Europe would result in Russian military response, as reported by the AP. All diplomatic responses were received with rejection by Russia, but 1 missile shield battery and 2 war ships delivering humanitarian aid upsets them, hmmmm.
Russia is heading down a path I think they really don’t want to go, hence the allusion to them being desperate in my last article. If they stand firm on the Georgia matter they set a precedent for the same thing to happen to them in a few of their internal states who no longer want to be part of Russia, not to mention erase 60 years worth of international laws and rules to prevent a country from taking territories that they feel belong to them or should belong to them. Russia want to better position themselves as an oil mogul in Europe, and seeing the pipeline runs through Georgia, it is vital they control that country, by any means necessary. Russia also wants to regain lost influence in world affairs and their large nuclear arsenal allows that, a US missile shield will negate that and therefore they want to intimidate all its neighbors to not allow these facilities onto their soil, beating up on Georgia goes a long way into doing this.
Now I know many people, with short memories, who will point out that Russia is doing nothing different then what the US did in ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan or Sadam Hussein in Iraq. First lets look at the reasons and the outcomes. For Afghanistan it was to strike back at the organization that orchestrated the September 11th attacks and had safe haven and support in a country run by radical fundamentalists who were oppressing and killing their citizens for normal human activities (girls going to school, women shopping alone, men watching sports or movies). While we are still there engaged with militant religious fanatics, we are not expanding the US borders, creating a new country, or intimidating the local government into surrender. Second with Iraq, well, there were numerous UN sanction violations, weapons violations, and WMD that was unaccounted for, yes chemical weapons are WMD and they were missing and after the fall of the government were recovered in the desert. While the case of nuclear devices were overstated and wrongly pursued, we again did not expand our national borders, create a new country, or intimidate the local government into surrender. That is what Russia is exactly doing in Georgia. When we invaded both of these countries everyone in the UN and our alleys knew we were doing it, even the enemy knew it. When we invaded these countries we went heavy and hard and then we worked to stabilize the region, place a legitimate government elected and represented by its citizens in place, and have stuck around as long as we were asked to and until the local governments can take over for and protect themselves. Russia is not doing this. They invaded with no warning, pressed on past the boundaries of the disputed area, slaughtered the national military, intimidated the local government and have now created 2 new countries with the expectation to absorbed them into its borders shortly thereafter.
Russia’s argument is very weak at best, Georgia was not practicing genocide. If they were there would have been complete slaughter and not just fighting against armed militias in the disputed territories. If there would have been genocide there would be death squads and mass killings left behind in the disputed areas and Russia would have shown them to the world by know to legitimize their actions. Genocide is what took place in Kosovo, Dufar, Rwanda, Cambodia, Germany, etc. What was going on in Georgia does not come close to these examples. If this was the case then why did they continue beyond the protection phase of the operation? Why not call for UN and NATO peace keepers to intervene and provide an impartial and independent third party force in to maintain the peace? Why not work harder to push through new rounds of sanctions and measures outlined in the UN charter to deal with these exact issues? Why abandon the diplomatic approach and go in heavy and hard and stop just short of an action that would definitely spark war? Russia is smart, the Kremlin and Putin lackies who long for the Soviet era are smart. They know they are not strong enough to act out just yet, they are playing a well crafted game of chess against the rest of the world.
What’s next? We have to be firm, strong, and unyielding. North Korea is paying close attention to this as they are in a similar situation with more to lose then Russia, for this reason we have to act and act decisively and fast. The White House is correct in its strong and blunt replies. The EU needs to step up more forcefully and guarantee scansions and penalties. The WTO needs to rip up Russia’s application and burn it. NATO needs to admit Georgia now and the rest of the former Soviet Union’s satellite countries in very short order. The G-8 needs to hold meetings without Russia and draft up new measures to punish and isolate Russia. Both presidential candidates need to get strong and hawkish on this issue and sound identical in response to nip the problem in the bud, neither want to be the one to be in the Oval Office if a war with Russia breaks out. The Secretary of Defense needs to dispatch a few more war ships to the region and push the Russians away from Georgian ports. The UN and NATO need to send in peace keepers and insist the Russians go back to their international borders. Western countries need to send aid and assistance to Georgia and their military to punish Russia for their arrogance and bullying behaviors. Finally, the break-away regional leaders and representatives need to be brought into the diplomatic process to air their grievances and resolve their issues and formally resolve the situation. If a new country is to be formed it has to be done so diplomatically and without military forces. Then and only then should Russia then be allowed back into the process and back onto the world stage and have their privileges restored, sanctions lifted, and relations reestablished. If we do not do this, we reward the behavior and give countries like North Korea and others a framework to follow when they want to expand.