Russia gets its act together
The question of responsibility for the hostilities in the
One hypothesis deserves another. If, on the day of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, somebody else than Saakashvili, a graduate of
History is easier to follow when goodies and baddies are decided in advance. The goodies, such as
On 16 August President George Bush, speaking with gravity, rightly invoked the "Security Council resolutions of the United Nations" including the "sovereignty and independence and territorial integrity" of
Two Pentagon position papers have indicated a desire to prevent the resurgence of Russian power ever since 1992, when it was in ruins. To ensure that
So can we chide Russian leaders for bristling against western help for the "colour revolutions" of Ukraine and Georgia, the inclusion of former members of the Warsaw Pact in Nato and the prospect of US missiles on Polish soil - all of which were elements of the old US strategy to weaken Russia, whatever its regime or its politics? "Russia has become a great power, that's what's so worrying," admitted Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister (2).
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the architect of the US' risky strategy in Afghanistan, recently explained the other part of the US grand design: "We have access through Georgia... to the oil and soon also the gas that lies not only in Azerbaijan but beyond it in the Caspian sea and beyond in Central Asia. So, in that sense, it's a very major and strategic asset to us" (3). He can't be accused of inconsistency: even in the days of Boris Yeltsin, when Russia was still floundering, he advocated driving it from the Caucasus and Central Asia so that energy flows to the West could be guaranteed (4).
Nowadays Russia is doing better, the US is doing less well and oil prices have taken off. Victim of its president's provocative actions, Georgia has just been hit from three directions.
(1) Bernard-Henri Lévy and André Glucksmann, Libération, 14 August 2008, and Robert Kagan, Washington Post, 11 August 2008.
(2) Interview in the Journal de Dimanche, Paris, 17 August 2008.
(3) Bloomberg News, 12 August 2008.
(4) Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Basic Books, New York, 1997.
Translated by Robert Waterhouse