EDITORIAL: Putin’s Miscalculation


Putin’s Miscalculation

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.”

9 responses to “EDITORIAL: Putin’s Miscalculation

  1. Pingback: Cyber Cossack » Blog Archive » Putin Miscalculates

  2. Even if Saakashvili’s primary goal was to achieve the moral high ground, it is questionable whether he has succeeded. Strategically, however, Tbilisi’s campaign so far has been an unmitigated disaster. To quote another recent Trenin article from the RFE/RL site:

    “It is inconceivable that after the murderous assault on their capital the Ossetians will ever revert to Georgia’s fold. Abkhazia, which has opened a second front against Georgia, aims, with Moscow’s military support, to consolidate its own borders. Like Montenegro, it has a chance to use its beaches, villas, and wine to sustain itself economically. South Ossetia, by contrast, is not viable as a state. Its self-determination can only mean joining its northern brethren — i.e., asking for annexation by the Russian Federation. ”

    It is also implausible that Russia has been so completely marginalized as you suggest. Once this blows over, Europe will continue to be a faithful customer for Gazprom’s gas. Indeed, the EU will be even more beholden to Moscow now that the once-faint prospect of a trans-Caspian pipeline has been exploded into smithereens.
    Were the West genuinely taking a firm line against Russia, it would commit to posting peacekeeping troops on Georgian territory – a move that Saakashvili has said he would welcome. Instead, the most George Bush and Gordon Brown can offer are feeble condemnations of Russia’s trangression beyond South Ossetia.
    The fact is they are unwilling to speak in stronger language because they recognize that Saakashvili overstepped his boundaries and handed Moscow a golden ticket to ravage his country in the name of protecting the interests of Russian passportholders in South Ossetia.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: For you to suggest that Putin might have the moral high ground implies that you simply are totally unaware of the worldwide press coverage of this issue and are relying on Russian state-owned media with your neo-Soviet head stuck very deep in the sand. For you to suggest that all is just fine for Russia as long as the world doesn’t stop buying its gas and oil is the height of ludicrous folly. You sound like a lame neo-Soviet propaganda recording! The emptiness of your defense is proof positive of how badly Putin has miscalculated. First of all, Russia needs the West’s purchases FAR more than the West needs Russian oil. Second, Russia cannot survive in a world where all it does is sell oil for a tidy profit. Russia has interests that can be totally undermined by the outside world. Maybe you think the USSR was just fine after Afghanistan? Think again, you benighted and Quixoitic neo-Soviet dupe! Third, Putin has played right into John McCain’s hands. When the new Reagan era begins, you will eat your empty words and they will taste bitter indeed.

    Truly, the longest river in Russia is not de Volga but de Nial.

  3. People of the world, the information, provided by the international mass media is no true. Russia DID NOT ATTACK Georgia!
    07.08.2008 at 22:00 Georgia attacked South Ossetia, the troops rolled in.
    At 3:30 08.08.2008 tanks of the Georgian armies have entered the city of Tskhinvali, the capital of the South Ossetian Republic.
    Whole city was shelling by heavy artillery all day long, there were fights with use of tanks and heavy munition, which were used against both ossetic militia and non-combatants.

    2000 civillians were killed during Georgian attack.

    Russian peacemakers have arrived to South Ossetia in the evening of 08.08.2008 for settlement of the conflict and peace conduction in republic and protection of Russian citizens, living on territory of South Ossetia (approx. 80% of South Ossetian population).
    Georgia has attacked South Ossetia on the opening day of 2008 Olympiad, it is top of cruelty and cynicism.

    Evident photos and video-materials about the conflict : http://www.1tvrus.com/ , http://www.1tv.ru/owa/win/ort6_main.main ,
    http://www.rian.ru/ , http://www.vesti.ru/news , news.ntv.ru/ , http://www.ren-tv.com/ , http://www.newsru.com/

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: You seem to overlook the fact that (a) you are relying on Russian sources and they are all slaves of the Russian state and (b) the only reason Georgian forces moved into Ossetia is to oust Russian invaders who had been firing missiles into Georgian territory for months before and (c) Russia is attacking Abkhazia, which has NOTHING to do with Ossetia and where NO Georgian troops were sent and (d) OSSETIA IS GEORGIAN TERRITORY RECOGNIZED BY THE ENTIRE WORLD and (e) Russia is now bombing Tbilisi and has seized the city of Gori WHICH IS NOT IN OSSETIA.

    Can’t you at least make some vague attempt at telling at least a tiny bit of the truth?

  4. 1) I didn’t say or suggest Putin had the moral high ground. This is some kind of playground argument, as you wish to see it. Whether the international press is lending support to Saakashvili or otherwise (and it is not universally, by your admission in featuring the Lieven article) is neither here not there as to whether his actions will be vindicated.

    2) What I said (not suggest) is that for all the West high-minded words and criticism of Moscow’s conduct, it will still tone down the rhetoric to ensure a steady supply of energy resources. That is what matters most to the majority of European governments at the end of the day, whether you like it or not. Trying to downplay this with childish accusations of propaganda-mongering just makes you look foolish, unrealistic and immature.

    3) As for your pathetic salivating at the “new Reagan era” (whatever that means), this demonstrates quite clearly that your interests are in a crude reversal to stalemate international diplomacy as opposed to the interests of the people involved in this latest conflict. You are such a blinkered lunatic, that you fail to realize that your critics have no interest in doing Moscow’s bidding, but that they favour a path of moderation that does not end up with the death of thousands of people.
    What is evident is that you take pleasure in watching the death and destruction of people and homes from the safety of your couch a continent away because it somehow validates some primitive racial-ideological mindset about the Russian people as a whole.
    If that isn’t true, I would really like to see you formulate some kind of practical and realistic short-term measure Western governments could take to detoxify this nasty military dispute. I would propose the U.S., EU, NATO combined put their money where their mouth is and commit to a long-term peacekeeping contingent in Georgia and negotiate robustly for their presence in a successor framework to the Joint Control Commission.
    Will they do either of these very simple things? No. Would McCain? No. Why not? Have a guess…

    P.S. De Nial? What are you, five years old?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: So, um, let’s see . . . in your view, accusing us of being five years old shows your MATURITY? And we are “blinkered lunatics” because WE DISAGREE WITH YOU, the sole force of truth in the world (who knows the mind and future of John McCain)? And Ronald Reagan, one of the greatest figures of the 20th Century, was “pathetic,” and the fact that Putin, the aggressor now in Georgia, doesn’t have the moral high ground is irrelevant?

    Dude, your head needs serious work.

  5. Neither Montenegro nor Kosovo have exterminated half their population at the behest of an imperialistic neighbor.
    This propaganda is aimed at the ignorant, who do not know how minuscule the “south Ossetian people” is and how many Georgians have been ethnically cleansed by the Russians and their puppets in Abkhazia.
    No one can believe Moscow’s propaganda accusing tiny Georgia of “aggression” on its own sovereign territory.

  6. I commend LaRussophobe on its restraint. Actually I think Pat’s head is stuck in the sensative part of his body that he sits on.

  7. I love when the term Russian “Peacekeepers” and “Peacemakers”.
    How many millions have been murdered by these flowerchildren over the centuries; perhaps Russian “Terminators” is a better description of these Little Ukrainians

  8. Iranian Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith outlined God’s plan for human collective security over a hundred years ago now, when He wrote:
    “Should any nation arise against another, ALL OTHER NATIONS must arise against the aggressor!”

    Whether or not people today recognize the Lord of Hosts, we can see that the Russian aggressor stands alone, and collective security is the only hope for tiny, legitimate nations bordering Russia…

  9. Only history will decide who miscalculated. Of course, a lot depends on what was the “calculation” in the first place. If Putin’s calculation was to strengthen the power structures, then having a war and subsequent “rebuilding of war-torn South Osetia” might be exactly what he was looking for.

    In the end, Russia retains S. Osetia, Putin retains power, and “joint venture of FSB colonels and S Osetian-based gangs”, as Latynina calls then will retain money. (None of the government there is Osetins, everybody made career in Russia). What’s miscalculation. And Russian national interest? That wasn’t part of calculations to begin with; hence can’t be miscalculated.
    Makes me sad to think that I am probably right.

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