Monday, August 11, 2008

Was the Top Reformer stupid?

Interesting observations on the Russia and Georgia war from Belgravia Dispatch;

Which brings me to a fifth point, and perhaps a more proximate causal factor contributing to this explosion of misfortune in Georgia, namely, that of stupidity, or at least, severe miscalculation. Saakashvili, an apparently quite idealistic 40 year-old former NY lawyer, seems to have erred too much in thinking that giddy summitry with Western big-wigs might pay dividends (or too his far too excited involvement in the Iraq adventure which, incidentally, looks to be coming to a quite precipitous end) but unfortunately, insufficiently appreciated the disastrous waning in U.S. power these past years, despite his constant hankering for NATO membership (which a resurgent Russia will never accept regardless of Kosovo or whatever else, best I can tell), and thus has fallen short with regard to better appreciating a variable which would have been more apropos, namely, a harsh dose of realpolitik. And this despite Putin having warned Saakashvili rather pointedly: "On April 21, Mr. Saakashvili called the Russian leader to demand that he reverse the decision [possible Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia]. He reminded Mr. Putin that the West had taken Georgia’s side in the dispute. And Mr. Putin, according to several of Mr. Saakashvili’s associates, shot back with a suggestion about where they could put their statements. Mr. Saakashvili, prudent for once, shied from uttering the exact wording, but said that Mr. Putin had used “extremely offensive language,” and had repeated the expression several times." Permit me to be less prudent than Mr. Saakashvili, who appears perhaps to be a poor prioritizer of where to be prudent and where not. Mr. Putin told him that he could (and excuse the crudity) stick American and Western European assurances regarding the territorial disputes in question up his rear end, I suspect, and I'm afraid that's not a too inaccurate assessment, if a bit biting and brusque (save if McCain trumps Obama and decides to ride the NATO cavalry up from Kabul to Tbilisi a few months hence--perhaps on the back of some more WaPo interventionist rhapsodizing--devoid of the merest smidgen of appreciation for historical context and subtlety, leading to another toweringly idiotic 'Washington consensus' of some sort).

NYT's The Lede has more coverage.

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