Russia is Insane
“[South Ossetia and Abkhazia] are a part of Georgia and the international community has repeatedly made clear that they will remain so. There’s no room for debate on this matter.”
— U.S. President George Bush, speaking in Crawford Texas on August 16th
“I expect a very fast, very prompt withdrawal of Russian troops out of Georgia. This is an urgent matter. Georgia is a sovereign state and the territorial integrity of the state must be provided for. Georgia will, if it wants — and it does want to — become a member of NATO.”
— German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at the residence of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on August 17th
Even by Russian standards, the level of irrationality in the Kremlin’s behavior over the past two weeks has been breathtaking. And trust us, that’s saying something.
Russia attacked Georgia without, it appears, reflecting for even a second upon the facts that (a) it would look like a fool after condemning U.S. action in Iraq and crushing the separatists in Chechnya or (b) it would polarize the nations of Eastern Europe to a hysterical extent just at the very moment when it was seeking to get them to reject the proposed U.S. missile defense system, driving them into the waiting arms of NATO or (c) it would provoke the world’s most powerful country and its NATO allies into a new cold war, just like the one that absolutely destroyed the USSR or (d) it could even be helping Putin’s arch nemesis, John McCain, come to power.
And then, believe it or not, it got worse.
After Poland announced its decision to join the missile defense program, how did Russia respond? Did it work to give Poland assurances that it meant no harm, that Russian military assets do not threaten Poland?
Of course not. Instead, it threatened Poland directly with brute force — even though the indirect threat of the Georgia invasion was what prompted Russia to act in the first place. General Anatoly Nogovitsyn stated: “Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent.” He said that Poland’s action “cannot go unpunished” — as if Russia were Poland’s parent! Imagine how Russia would react if America talked to it this way.
So, apparently as Russians see it the reason Poland should realize it isn’t threatened by Russia and doesn’t need missile defense is that . . . Russia is threatening it? Yes, dear reader, this is precisely the way your average Russian “thinks” — the result of many decades of brutal deprivation of the ability to think freely.
Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk responded to the Russian general as follows: “Poland and the Poles do not want to be in alliances in which assistance comes at some point later — it is no good when assistance comes to dead people.”
After Poland’s bold move and the world’s overwhelming support for Georgia, even a child could understand that Russia’s attempt to intimidate Eastern Europe with the Georgia invasion failed catastrophically — just as even a dolt would realize that Russia’s experiment with totalitarianism didn’t go too well. Yet, what do we see? Russians simply continue bashing their thick skulls against the same granite wall. They escalate their menacing behavior towards Europe rather than reducing it, and they choose to be governed by a proud KGB spy, a relic of totalitarianism.
And even this doesn’t describe the full extent of Russian myopia on Georgia.
It’s also more than obvious that Russia never considered the impact of its adventure in Georgia on the proposed Sochi Olympiad of 2014. There are two potentially dire consequences. First, the games may not occur at all, since Europe and America may be induced to boycott them. Is grabbing Ossetia and Abkahzia really worth that? Even if they go forward, as shown by the wonderfully clever pen of Russian cartoonist Sergei Yelkin (a/k/a Ellustrator), the Russian games may well occur under a state of siege that will be even worse than cancellation.
How much brute force will Russia have to apply to civil society in order to attempt to guarantee the safety of the athletes and spectators from a terrorist attack by rogue elements of Georgia or Chechnya who are outraged by Russia’s massacre of their people? How could such elements resist this target?
Does Russia really imagine it can solve problems by dropping bombs? Chechnya was hopelessly outgunned, but still managed to inflict devastating losses on Russian civilians for years.
A person who behaves this self-destructively is typically locked up in a rubber room. But what do you do with a nation that is insane?