13 August 2008
What exactly happened in South Ossetia?
What happened in South Ossetia as far as Georgia is concerned is fairly straightforward. President Mickhal Saakashvili chanced his arm, then realised that things were going pear-shaped and so shit his load as you can see in the photo on the left. Don't tell me that he wasn't dropping his arse when that picture was snapped because I won't believe you. Following a change of trousers, he and his gang began to invent tale after tale of Russian advances into Georgia in a desperate attempt to ensure a widening of the war, but only gullible newspapermen believed him. Luckily none of the adults in any of the world's capitals fell for that line and in the fullness of time Georgia was forced to accept Russia's terms for peace.
That is basically what happened, but what did Georgia want to happen? What was their aim on Thursday of last week, just before their army charged forward at 10.00pm that evening?
I blogged a piece about Georgia's strategic aims on Saturday, and not much has happened that would make me want to change the basic thrust of that essay today. Basically, Saakashvili was facing mounting political opposition at home, and his desire to fast-track Georgia into NATO was not going as planned. A crisis abroad must have seemed like the least worst option of all that were on the table.
What I will do now is to elaborate on one of Saturday's points, which is that Saakashvili and his gang really didn't believe that Russia would respond in the way that she did. The evidence for that is the little matter of the Roki Tunnel, which is the only link between North and South Ossetia.
If the Georgians had genuinely believed that Russia would fight, then surely they would have sent the air force in to destroy it? Russia could used an airlift to get troops and equipment across the mountains, and then resupplied her forces by air, but that is rather more difficult than just driving everything through a tunnel.
The fact that they didn't do that suggests to this writer that they honestly believed that Russia would not respond as she did. As Gary Brecher argues, they went along with the Bush and Cheney doctrine of only thinking happy thoughts about how the other team would react. You would think that they would have read the signs, especially after the joke that Afghanistan and Iraq have turned into, but they kept thinking their happy thoughts. Some people just never learn, do they?
Other than that, and looking back at my coverage, there is very little that I would wish to change. The only change that I can think of is the posting that dealt with Israel's involvement in the disaster. Israeli may have been helping to train the Georgian armed forces, but there is no evidence to suggest that they were directly involved in the attack after it began, and the same goes for the USA. Quiet what their involvement was before is another matter, and I am still convinced that none of this nonsense would have happened had the USA not tipped the wink to Georgia that an attack was acceptable to Washington, but that is not the point. This attack was clearly a Georgian run operation, which is probably why it turned so quickly into a complete fiasco.
All in all, I am feeling rather pleased with my coverage, and when so many were just getting it so wrong, I feel rather pleased that I got pretty much everything right!
Note: This posting is archived as South Ossetia Conflict 02. If you want to read the daily accounts of the war, please go to the South Ossetia Conflict archive. I have had to do things this way as Blogger only allows twenty posts to be archived under one label.