It seems clear they done it; for God knows what reason – arrogance, hoping beyond hope, misjudgment – Georgia started something it couldn’t finish. The Russians, for their part, were playing for it for years; the harassment campaign, the motor-rifle regiments parked up on the southern road. But however wrong they were, I’m saddened by it; they believed in the European dream, in joining Sweden and Venice, far more seriously than they did in America in any practical sense.
Russia has Ledeenised the situation – they picked up some crappy little country and threw it against the wall to show they meant business. Vladimir Putin, who presumably spent the autumn of 1989 cursing in the mess at Yasenevo, turned up to take pseudo-charge in the field; the US advisors exited via the pool at the Sheraton. Isn’t it always the pool, at the Sheraton?
As with Ledeenisation 1.0, we didn’t really offer an alternative nor any resistance. Worryingly, a range of other ex-Soviet states lined up to offer their support to Russia; not that they needed Kazakh divisions, but it’s not hard to see which way this is going. Nicolas Sarkozy would have come off this the worst – he flew in, at last, the Western support, and recommended surrender on terms the Prussians of 1870 would have considered tough, but not before making profile with jet, grin, grip etc as the war went on. Worse, he doesn’t even seem to have checked that the terms were sufficiently humiliating before setting out. He didn’t even deliver that. Carlo Levi’s remark that nothing came from Rome but tax collectors and speeches on the radio comes to mind.
It’s a tale of ugliness and failure, all right. I said Sarkozy would have come off this the worst, but then….Bush administration bungling/stupidity/callousness is nothing surprising any more. But this is truly impressive. One of the good things about NATO, after all, is that it’s a lot harder for two member states to a) not tell the other the Russians are coming or b) not tell the other they’re coming for the Russians.
What now? Well, every wind turbine is a vote for independence. And perhaps Hezbollah should start offering military advisors; after all, they know a thing or three about dealing with an enemy on the other side of a hilly border with many tanks.