The American angle

Let’s take a moment to consider this para from Doug’s (the Doug in Tbilisi, that is) first post.

Second, what will the Americans and EU do? A senior State Department figure was here in Tbilisi last week, and I would expect that the Georgian side at least hinted very broadly about what was up. He would have to deny that, of course, in the way of these things. We can assume that the Americans did not warn them off.

(My emphasis).

If true, this has to be one of the most indefensible things the Bush Administration has done in the last few years. Saakashvili took a reckless gamble, and it didn’t work out.

The Americans have more or less encouraged Saakashvili’s dangerously confrontational approach to Russia, and have given them hopes of NATO membership, which was never going to happen. They may also have had unrealistic expectations about US support in the event of a war. This war would likely never have happened if the US had discouraged the Georgians [update: in the last few years. Not saying the low level visit last week was crucial, rather than telling.] The result is an probable own goal by the Bushies. In Rob Farley’s words:

Hegemony or no, the United States will have been unable to give significant military aid to an Iraq War ally facing the prospect of interstate war.” More seriously. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not great.

But for the people of Georgia, it’s a lot worse than “not great”.

…8th Circle disagrees.

22 thoughts on “The American angle

  1. The AMERICANS didn’t warn them off? Where do you get this crap? There is no American angle here. Oh, right. You got it from the Truman is a war criminal gang of Rob Farley, Dave Moon, Paul Campos where everything is America’s fault.

    That stuff will rot your mind if you aren’t careful.

  2. Well, I’ve always liked LGM, so I suppose my mind is already rotted.

    The US culpability is obviously smaller than the warring parties, and only a small part of the story, but esp. since we have many US we have many US readers, it seems worth noting.

  3. I think this is like Saddam going into Kuwait. He had the idea he would have US blessing. Um . . . not.

    Lithuania and Poland have the same misunderstanding. Waving the NATO free nuke card at Russia is very satisfying. But they don’t understand the difference between sabre rattling and realnost.

  4. Bob: the term “Bushie” was coined by Norman Podhoretz, a staunch conservative. It came into current popular usage as part of a memo written by (Bush-appointed) Justice Department official Kyle Sampson, who used it in a memo to refer, approvingly, to employees he considered loyal to the president.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushie

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled geopolitical disaster in the Caucasus.

  5. Bob: the term “Bushie” was coined by Norman Podheretz, a staunch conservative. It came into popular usage as a result of a memo by Kyle Sampson, a Bush-appointed Justice Department official, in which (writing to his boss, John Ashcroft) he approvingly described certain DoJ employees as “loyal Bushies.”

    I’ll refrain from judgement on whether this demonstrates that Norman Podheretz, John Ashcroft and Kyle Sampson have “infantile minds”.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled geopolitical disaster in the Caucasus, already in progress.

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  7. I agree that you are giving a bad rap to the Bush administration. It isn’t even close to “one of the most indefensible things the Bush Administration has done in the last few years”. Any other administration, sure, but these guys are in a class by themselves.

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  9. The Bush Administration would not have given the green light to the conquest of S Ossetia by Georgia. Military, it is very difficult to support Georgia, The closest airbase for the US in in Turkey and Turkey/US relations are not the best right now due to the new admin being Islamic and the arrest of secular military and civilian in Turkey that supposedly were trying a coup.

    Russia is a nuclear power and any conflict that directly faces US and Russia forces have a chance of escalating to a nuclear exchange.

    US did want Georgia as a trading ally and the BZC pipeline is for Europe gas and oil not the US. Georgia has trained it small military with the US since it had placed 20% of it’s miltary armed infantry in Iraq.

    Georgia fell for Russia trap. Russia has every intention of making Georgia subservient to Russina desires. If Russia gains control of the BZC pipeline then it gains nore monopoly power over Europe gas supplies.

    The question is whether what Europe is willing to do to safeguard its oil/gas supplies. My answer is not much.

    US may want to help Georgia but it cannot since there is no access to Georgia by land,sea or air

  10. All world does not know the truth. Please rescue my children. We die for famine in cellars. Go here and learn(find out) the truth about that as the Georgians scoff at us! RESCUE US!!! http: // southosetia.wordpress.com

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  12. This is to to keep the Russians occupied and distracted to keep their involvement down and ruin their moral authority when a well known oil producing country in the axis of evil gets bombed in the next few weeks.

  13. Pingback: Armenia & the South Caucasus | The Caucasian Knot » Blog Archive » Georgia: U.S. Complicity?

  14. The notion that a Secretary of State whose reaction to receiving a memo in August 2001 saying that al Qaeda was determined to strike within America by hijacking airplanes was to, err, do nothing (this was when she was National Security Advisor) did anything but say huh? Who is Georgia going to war against? Alabama? when she got entreaties from her embassy in Georgia to say something to the Georgians about their war plans…

    I notice that non-Americans ascribe far too much competence to the U.S. government. This is the same U.S. government that, confronted with terrorism in the post-September-2001 era, decided to invade the one and only nation in the Middle East which did not participate in the terrorist attack against the WTC and Pentagon. This is the same U.S. government that, confronted with ragtag militias with no external base of support in Afghanistan protecting the organizer of those attacks, managed to, err, well, lose — Osama bin Laden is, as far as I know, comfortably situated in a cushy condo in Islamabad courtesy of the ISI. Surely by this time even Europeans should have clued in that the current U.S. government is not competent to choose its own breakfast, much less give the go-ahead (or not) to the outbreak of WWIII. I wonder what the deal here is… is it just that people don’t want to consider the notion of a nation ruled by idiots that also possesses nuclear weapons because, well, that’s a disturbing concept?

  15. The world is full of automatons. Only America has Free Will, and thus, only America is to blame.

    Confrontational approach to Russia? Yes, Russia has every right to try to keep the territories it landed while the body and head of the Soviet Union. To say otherwise: confrontational!

    What we’ve got here is a bona fide Imperialistic War of Aggression for Oil. Any minute now, Progressives all over the world will hold demonstrations. Documentaries will make the circuit. Performance artists will run riot. To stop this policy, George Soros will spend incredible amounts of political money with people who normally cry about enormous amounts of political money being spent.

    Any minute now… any minute… wait for it… just… around… the… corner… Godot? Was that Godot?

    Badtux, the government of America – actually, let’s be honest – America authorized its government through a representative democratic process – to invade the one country in the middle east that a) had several casus belli for more than a decade, albeit largely unrelated to the direct attacks of 9/11, b) was at the fulcrum of Arab and Persian Islamic Crazy, c) could, by way of placing a competing meme (pluralistic democracy) right smack in the middle of the Middle East entirely change the rules of the game.

    No, Badtux, what you’re missing is that YOU’RE the one not seeing far enough. The policy of tit-for-tat, keystone cops finding only the perpetrators of an act of terrorism was and is a myopic, amateurish policy. It allows the enemy to dictate the rules and the intensity of the game. It’s policing, which isn’t about stopping crime so much as mopping up after.

    What you’re missing Badtux, the possibility which eats you up at night, is the reality that the Bush administration’s reasons for going into Iraq always was about a radically different plan for the Middle East. Afghanistan was important, but only for punitive reasons. To change the war, we had to go deeper. Saddam’s bad luck he was the best target around. People like you think you have to take the queen (in this case, Saudi Arabia) in order to win a game of chess. No, boy, you don’t.

    You’re looking at the Magna Carta of the Middle East. You don’t know it yet. And it will be years until you are able to admit it. Weeks after that, I’m sure you’ll pretend it was an accident on their part and your idea all along. But there it is.

    Or is it just that you don’t want to consider the notion that you’ve been wrong all along?

  16. People who can see Iran West as anything other than a disaster possess peculiar rose colored glasses that elude my possession. There was of course an opportunity to turn it into an example state. But the administration’s attempt at nation-building as been as incompetent and fumble-fingered as anything else the administration has done. I fail to see how an Iranian client state in Mesopotamia is in the U.S. best interests. (You *are* aware that the “President” of Iraq is an Iranian agent who spent the twenty years prior to the U.S. invasion as a guest of Iran, right? And that his Badr Brigade militia was armed and trained by Iran?).

    Regarding Georgia, I fail to see the relevance, other than that it is very unlikely that the U.S. gave the go-ahead to Saakashvili or understood any notifications that Saakashvili gave them beforehand. That is ascribing more competence to the current U.S. administration than it appears to possess. As for the assistance that Saakashvili is getting from the United States, I’m sure he’s just eternally grateful for the sternly-worded letter that the U.S. Ambassador to Russia just handed to the Minister of State there. Why, a few more sternly-worded letters, and Pooty-poot can start a fire in one of the Kremlin’s fireplaces with them!
    Sad to say, some people just don’t seem to learn from the examples of Lon Nol, Nguyen Van Thieu, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, … U.S. support means nothing, in the end. So it goes.

  17. Since my post kicked this off, I can more imagine this as a case of people talking past each other. Misha goes “We take the territorial integrity of our country very seriously,” thinking he is letting the American side know something is about to happen. And Rice (I think it was) gives the boilerplate US response, “We support the territorial integrity of Georgia.” M then reads this as a green light, while R thinks that the sides have confirmed their existing views.

    If this sort of exchange happened (and we won’t know for at least 30 years until the files are opened, if then), the US error was in not adding, “But Misha, under no circumstances should you do anything military about it right now. Your planning staff if full of siloviki, and Ivan will know what your guys are doing probably before you will. Ivan’s also just finished a big exercise, so there are ten different kinds of trouble just waiting to come down the road. And military help from the West? Ask the Hungarians about ’56. Just saying.”

    Now it’s possible that this kind of warning was delivered and ignored. It’s possible also that Georgian leaders knew or believed that the Russians would follow their recent military infrastructure upgrades in Abkhazia with similar in South Ossetia, making this a now or never play.

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