Just as the Iraq war seems to be winding down, up pops a 'war' that will no doubt fill a huge reservoirs of future justifications for expenditure on heavy duty weapons of conventional warfare.
The BBC's Bridget Kendall is one reporter whose partisan and blatantly anti-Russian reporting had me almost wondering if I had been transported back in in time to 1988, a tour de force of innuendo , obfuscation, and half truth that left the listener with the distinct impression that it was the Russians who had attacked poor little Georgia.
In fact much of Ms Kendall's reportage has in various ways been misleading, referring to thousands of 'refugees fleeing the conflict' whilst ommiting to make clear that the refugees in those initial first few days of the war were South Ossetians fleeing across the Russian border away from Georgian aggression. One quick glance at Bridget's biography (see link above) suggests that if she is'nt on the books of MI6 , then its a serious ommission that she isn't, and she, as sure as the Pope's Catholic, is very likely to be in close contact with people who are.
So lets be absolutely clear about what happened in the case of South Ossetia and Georgia in the early hours of the 8th August as the world watched the stupendous opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Beijing. Georgian forces launched a treacherous dawn attack on the autonomous republic of South Ossetia on 8th August briefly occupying the capital, Tskhinvali, and killing many civilians and a number of Russian peace-keeping soldiers and forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee across the border to North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.
The Georgian leadership clearly believed that they could do this while many world leaders, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, were distracted in Beijing for the opening of the Olympics. They also banked on the USA support for their unilateral aggression, and most fatally of all they worked on the assumption that the Russians would do nothing. The reactionary Georgian nationalist regime miscalculated on all three counts.
Georgia is a willing tool of the West , sending troops to support the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and pushing to join Nato and the EU . The Americans and Israel have helped arm and train the Georgian armed forces. Georgia plays a pivotal role in the supply of oil from the Caspian region to the West as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs through much of the country and the Americans see Georgia as a useful base to menace Russia and the countries of the Middle East.
Now the Georgians are begging for a ceasefire and blaming the West for not bailing them out of a crisis of their own making. But the man they should blame is their own president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who has brought his country to the brink of disaster through a reckless gamble that has so dramatically backfired.
Even the darling of the West the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed Georgia for provoking hostilities in its breakaway region of South Ossetia and criticized Western states for backing Tbilisi.Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Thursday, Gorbachev said Russia had moved additional forces into South Ossetia in response to the "devastation" in the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali."This was the use of sophisticated weapons against a small town, against a sleeping people. This was a barbaric assault," Gorbachev told CNN.The Soviet Union's last president and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Gorbachev said the West appears to have been aware of Georgia's plans to seize the province."Western television didn't show what happened in Tskhinvali," Gorbachev said on the program. "Only now they're beginning to show some pictures of the destruction. So this looks to me like it was a well-prepared project. They wanted to put the blame on Russia." He called Georgia's claims that Russia was attempting to dismantle its democracy "all lies from beginning to end."
Many analysts have questioned Georgia's claims to be a "democratic, freedom-loving country," pointing to the use of baton-wielding, gas-masked riot police to put down a peaceful demonstration against Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili last November, and the subsequent closure of an opposition TV station.
Saakashvili has also been accused of ordering the murders of political opponents.Saakashvili, the great 'democrat,' is busy charging anyone who opposes him with being a pawn of the Russians (and therefore guilty of treason), but the West is calling on him to restore civil liberties – and, in an apparent effort to propitiate his Western benefactors, he has lifted some restrictions and called new elections. Widespread and growing opposition to his strong-arm tactics, even among many of his former supporters, spells political trouble for Saakashvili and his corrupt cohorts, however – and an appeal to Georgian ultra-nationalism (which was always the real ideological motivation of the Rose Revolutionaries) would bolster him in the polls and provide a much-needed distraction, at least from the ruling party's point of view, what better to distract the attention of the people from his domestic difficulties, than a little military adventure that he fully calculated would be seen as a personal triumph, rather than the personal and national humiliation it turned out to be .
The fact of the matter is that this so-called Georgian 'strongman' is a thug and an opportunist who does an excellent imitation of George W. Bush. Whilst Dubya merely implies his political opponents are traitors to the nation, Saakashvili directly accuses his opponents of treason and then drags them into court on trumped up charges of high treason. Bush has presided over a regime that has legalized torture, but only for foreign "terrorists", Saakashvili, on the other hand, throws his domestic political opponents – whom he labels "terrorists" – in jail and tortures his own countrymen. Georgia's notorious prisons are chock full of political dissidents.
Bush justifies his aggression by invoking "democracy" and the doctrine of "preemption," while Saakashvili doesn't bother with such theoretical niceties, instead simply denying his aggression against South Ossetia in defiance of the plain facts.Saakashvili is a famously volatile risk-taker, veering between warmonger,aggrieved innocent, self styled 'democrat' and autocrat. On several occasions international officials have pulled him back from the brink. On a visit to Washington in 2004, he received a tongue-lashing from then Secretary of State Colin Powell who told him to act with restraint. Two months ago, he could have triggered a war with his other breakaway province of Abkhazia by calling for the expulsion of Russian peacekeepers from there, but European diplomats persuaded this eager pro-western lap-dog to step back from the brink. This time, looking back and yelping for a nod or a wink from his masters, the gun dog stepped right over the precipe.
For those who wish to read more details of these events a chronological Fact Sheet of the build up to the War in South Ossetia can be found here