General Wesley Clark had one thing right during his tenure as a general in the U.S. military. He understood the portentous nature of the Russian’s move to take control of the airport in Pristina, Kosovo at the end of the 1999 NATO engagement in Yugoslavia. He ordered NATO forces to gear up to prevent the Russians from taking the airport but was opposed by British Gen. Michael Jackson, at the time head of the Kosovo peacekeeping forces, who reportedly told Clark that he wouldn’t help him start a third World War.
I don’t know if Clark fully realized what the investment of the Pristina airport might have meant for future Russian actions, but he seemed to know then that it wasn’t a good thing. In retrospect, we can see that, even though they backed down in 1999, it taught the Russians the lesson that they could act with impunity without fear of any real consequences. Later, though, the Russians found that they could not count out any action with Bush in the White House.
Now, let’s face the truth about Russia. She has never, ever been part of the club. No Russian leader has ever seemed convincingly interested in joining the western world and act as a responsible member of an international community. Oh, there was that brief, shining hour when Boris Yeltsin came close, and then only just. But none before and certainly none after have been interested in joining the enlightened world. And, once again, we are seeing Russian belligerence hold true. In this case, instead of purely militaristic aims, we are seeing a Russia planning on an energy hegemony over Europe and willing to act the bad boy to achieve those aims.
Certainly the weakling states of the European Union haven’t the guts nor the military to force Russia to behave herself. Just as certain, the members of the EU have no will to stop Russian plans to control all energy in the region. Only the U.S.A. has displayed the will to oppose moves such as Russia’s in the world today and even that will is anemic.
George W.Bush certainly has butched up the feminine Clinton styled foreign policy that has infected America’s projection of power. But even Bush’s efforts have been only a little better than lipstick on a pig — though in this case maybe it could be thought of as putting a helmet on that pig. To review, Bush certainly came out of the gate strong with the war on terror and his commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan has been steady, if not proving a bumpy ride. But, Bush has shown no spine with the rest of his foreign policy (Condi Rice being a major disappointment here). He has done practically nothing to counter Iran and his feckless policy has allowed North Korea and Pakistan to become bigger threats to the world. And he has certainly made major mistakes in trusting Vladimir Putin, Russia’s newest Czar.
That is history up to the moment. Now for Obama blundering into the mix.
The former Soviet satellite state of Georgia is on Russia’s hit list. Georgia has many internal problems and certain territories that are in dispute. Georgia has separatists who wish to stay out of Georgian influence and Russia is quite interested in fostering more such strife. Certainly, the Russians have had attacks on Georgia planned for many, many months and its all because of energy that Russia wants to totally control. Russia has never stopped imagining that it should control all those border states around her.
But, here is the thing. Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili has been watching the American elections closely. Like the rest of the world, what he sees is a man who presents and even weaker foreign policy stance than the feminized policies of Bill Clinton in the form of Barack Obama, the leading favorite to step into the White House in 2009. Saakashvili has observed the devotion to “talking” that Obama hails as some sort of panacea to world conflict and the Georgian president knows that this means that, regardless of past assurances, America cannot be trusted to help him protect his people should Obama become president. President Saakashvili understands that an Obama presidency will be a nod to the Russians that absolutely anything they do will be met with hotair and nothing else, effectively giving the expansionist Russians the green light to do what ever they want to do with no fear of reprisal.
Who can imagine that a president Obama would even have used American assets to help Georgian soldiers to get from the Middle East to their war zone at home as Bush did this week?
Plainly, it was president Saakshvili that precipitated this conflict by ramping up his own military presence in South Ossetia. But Russia used this small action as an excuse to crush the Georgians and by giving the go ahead to attack during the opening of the Olympics, Putin imagined that the world’s attention would be so taken by the games that his over-the-top actions would not be much noticed.
But, the question remains, why did Saakashvili decide to attempt to pacify the separatists in South Ossetia now? The only answer can be that he is trying to solve his problem now while Bush is still in office so that if things escalate too badly he can appeal to American intervention. Saakashvili understands well that if he makes this move after Obama takes the White House, the Georgians cannot expect any help from what will surely be a weak American foreign policy and a gutted American military.
The Georgian president is on a timer. It’s now or never. It’s now to pacify separatists and take firm control of his troublesome territory before Russia has the ability to act with utter abandon. It’s act now when he might have at least some hope that his American ally might to come to his aid. Now is probably his last chance to see America assist a struggling democracy against the grasping, anti-liberty Russian Bear. Once Obama gets in office, the world knows that the USA will likely not come to the assistance of any democratic nation striving to survive.
Once Obama gets into the White House bad actors the world over understand that they will be on the rise. And Mikheil Saakashvili understands this and made his move accordingly.
Obama’s weakness has been the catalyst for this conflict.
Be sure and Visit my Home blog Publius’ Forum. It’s what’s happening NOW!