There are those who say that Georgia “miscalculated” by confronting Russia in Ossetia. That is nonsense, for two reasons.
First, it can very well be argued that it was Russia that badly miscalculated. Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Center thinks so. He writes:
Acting under time pressure, Georgia has dramatically upped the ante by mounting a large-scale military operation to recover the separatist enclave in South Ossetia. As expected, its now well-trained and well-equipped forces overran the Ossetian formations and took over their capital town, causing a massive loss of life. This spectacular Act I of the unfolding drama received only muted reaction in the international media.
Not so the following Act. President Saakashvili has succeeded in causing Russia to move in with heavy forces. Immediately, the nature of the conflict has been transformed. It is no longer about an obscure ethnic group tucked in somewhere in the Caucasus mountains. The image reverberating around the world is that of Russia’s recidivist invasion against one of its tiny neighbors. Moscow stepped right into the trap Tbilisi had laid for it.
Pavel Baev over at EDM agrees. If Saakashvili hoped that Putin would react with barbarically excessive force, permanently discrediting himself in the eyes of the world and galvanizing a new cold war against Russia, he may well have calculated perfectly — and indeed this may well be the only way to save his country from Russian conquest.
Vladimir Putin now appears to be the very best friend La Russophobe, and John McCain, and Yulia Timoshenko, ever had. At one stroke, he has validated all our analysis of Russia and galvanized the entire world to our cause, leaving Russia utterly alone. He obliterated every last vestige of Russia’s credibility to speak for a “multi-polar world” by showing that in the former USSR Russia seeks only an absolutely unipolar one. Was that what he planned to accomplish? It seems unlikely.
It’s clear now that the world will reconsider the need to admit Ukraine into the folds of NATO and to shore up Europe’s protections against Russian imperialism. Before, Russia might have had some type of argument that bringing Ukraine into NATO was not necessary. Now, Putin has made it unmistakably clear that it is absolutely essential. What can the people of Ukraine possibly think when they see Russian tanks rolling into Georgia, far outside any disputed territories, other than that sooner or later they will roll into Ukraine too. The leaders of Eastern Europe all clearly understand this, and are rallying strongly to Georgia’s aid.
Second, Georgia’s alternative was to allow Russia to gobble up its territory bit by bit. Was it a “miscalculation” for the Belgians to stand up to the Germans rather than let them waltz through Belgium to attack France in World War II? Surely not. Even though their cause was hopeless, the people of Belgium sent a powerful message to the world about the true nature of patriotism and the horror of Adolf Hitler, and they retained their honor even as they lost their lives. The heroic people of Georgia have made a valiant sacrifice in order to show the world the true nature of the Putin regime, and as our recent pages show the world has heard that message loud and clear.
Read John McCain’s speech on Georgia here. President Bush told NBC that he spoke to Vladimir Putin and said the following: “I expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia, and that we strongly condemn bombing outside of South Ossetia.”