As former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev provided in the position assessment of the Russian Army's invasion of Georgian cities in the South Ossetia region points out, the boiling point of the crisis is behind us .In its wake is a propaganda campaign that Russia was at blame.
Like most things out of the countryside and mountains of Eastern Europe, the truth can never reach the west in full. he boiling point may be past, but the flame can again be easily sparked, and again bring crisis.
It needs be properly addressed.
While the American response to the Russian tanks fore-doomed the collapse of the Georgian state government, that objective was not the objective of the Russian war planners. The Saakashvili government is an American ally now receiving subsidies, training, and promises of full NATO partnership-- and for which that government supply 4000 troops to Iraq as part of it commitment to NATO and agreement for the placement of "defensive" missiles.
The Russians may be to blame, and by the nature of their armies location has definite responsibility. As to whether it was provoked or instituted its army to protect citizenry and quell the peace or whether it was a belligerent aggressor as American Secretary of State Condolezza Rice has maintained, the arguments disguise the most fundamental premises : that the United States government was abrogating prior treaties. In engaging in the agreements in "leadership in NATO" with measures that train and arm the Georgians was pursuing a strategy which is was unacceptable to the Russians.
As Secretary Rice warned the Russians that they would suffer isolation and consequences such as expulsion from international organizations, the Secretary displayed an emptiness to the words of Support to the Georgian government and the "democracy" it was experiencing in the post-soviet world. After denouncing the Russian invasion and destruction of Georgian cities, with a demand to meet a ceasefire negotiated by the French government, Secretary Rice flew to a meeting with President Saakashvili where the ceasefire terms were signed with American statements of support for "democracy".
Then the Secretary flew to Crawford Texas to meet with President Bush, again denounce the Russians and demand withdrawal of the troops from Georgia. The next day the Secretary flew to Poland and engaged their officials in an agreement for placement of defensive missiles.
Striking is that the Bush European policy is an affront to the Russian leadership and another of a fundamental shift from the peaceful coexistence and partnerships in peace that had existed in the close of the twentieth century.
The words telling the Russians what they must do seemed hollow and a death knell to the confrontational politics of the Bush Administration. First of all, it's NATO ground forces are largely committed in the Iraq war. The recall of the Georgian troops from Iraq to meet the crisis reflected how thin ground forces are to meet the "challenges of a large scale army set to depose a national government".
In the former Soviet sphere it is impossible to simply exclude the Russians as irrelevant or to guise the "establishment of defensive missiles for rouge states. The Russians know that those same missiles can be directed at Moscow. Simply, the Grand Masters of Russia will not be disarmed by Bush-Rice's fool's mate.
Every Russian military official receives indoctrination that understands and will preserve the "buffer states" between Europe and Russia. The distance and time to travel and supply large scale armies to conquer Russia met the end of Napolean's army in the 19th century. In the 20th Hitler's eastern conquest met a doom at the footsteps of Moscow.
The natural resources of Russia and its neighboring states in oil, gas, and an industrial capacity which are still centrally controlled despite the capitalization in the creation of the "independent states" and their new found partnerships in peace. Russia displayed as much in operations landpower projection into Georgia.
And in a certain light, the advantage of experience and planning will come to show. In six months, the Bush-Cheney government and policies will be gone and subject to a new presidential directive. This lame duck position of the President is further limited on options of response due to the assignments of land forces in Iraq.
In the meantime, the Russian planners hold a continuity of understanding over the issues.