The ludicrous claims spouted by Saakashvili continue falling apart as soon as his febrile mind makes them, forcing even the most ardent Cold Warriors to temper their uncompromising narrative of “Russian aggression against the ‘fledgling’ Georgian democracy”. And despite the impressive achievements of Georgian infowar, after many tribulations the truth came out. OCSE monitors confirmed that Georgia fired the first shot and evidence of Georgian war crimes was uncovered by the BBC and Western human rights organizations like Amnesty and HRW*.
As such, the Western media has been forced to retract its most egregious Russophobic assertions: one needs only look at some postbellum headlines from the Western press – Georgia fired first shot (Sunday Times); OSCE failed in Georgia warnings (BBC); The Story from Inside Wartorn South Ossetia (Embassy); US Says Georgia Erred in August Attack in South Ossetia (Voice of America); OSCE chairman coy about Russia-Georgia War (IHT); Georgia Claims on Russia War Called into Question (NYT); Did Saakashvili Lie?: West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader (Spiegel). Even that neocon redoubt, the Washington Post, allowed its bloggers to publish Georgia may have sparked war with Russia. Thus confirming the veracity of what Russian ‘state-backed propaganda’ has been getting at all along, although the MSM would commit mass seppuko before acknowledging that.
Nonetheless, we must not celebrate the New Cold War’s premature ejaculation – the damage has already been done. The narrative of revanchist Russia has been reinforced – interested thinktanks and media sources can now cite Western MSM coverage on ‘Russian aggression’ to further foster institutional Russophobia. Meanwhile, those same lying Western media outlets can now retain their reputation for objectivity in the eyes of their audiences by pointing to how they later ‘righted’ the record when ‘new’ evidence came in, no matter it came in dribbles and at a time when interest in the war had long since peaked.
Despite all that, however, it is good to see that the sheer weight of Saakashvili’s duplicity and transparent lies are bringing down the whole edifice of his power. Experts predict he will face severe political challenges in the winter and spring, as government unity crumbles, foreign investors flee due to the war and global financial crunch and protesters take to the streets in opposition to the recklessness that has brought that country so much blood and ruin (or so one hopes). Hopes of joining NATO any time soon are wrecked, with even the US hedging its position.
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, one of the key initial leaders of the ‘Rose Revolution’ and the regime’s ambassador to Moscow until mid-2008 when he was recalled, has since joined the opposition and brought forth a devastating account of the lead-up to the Ossetia War (presented to that objective-sounding Georgian outfit, the “Temporary Commission to Study Russia’s Military Aggression and Other Actions Undertaken With the Aim to Infringe Georgia’s Territorial Integrity”). He alleges that in April 2008 Saakashvili’s inner circle received the green light from the ‘western partner’ to carry out a military operation against the separatist republics, according to senior government sources he refused to name for their safety. From then on Israeli advisers were brought in and intensive military preparations began for a military restoration of ‘constitutional order’.
Some of the Russia watchers I spoke to charitably think that Saakashvili misinterpreted Washington’s intentions, or wrongfully took the opinions of disparate elements in the Bush administration as official policy; others take a dimmer view of US culpability, quoting Kitsmarishvili on Georgia’s arrogant refusal of a Russian olive branch:
On July 10 President Saakashvili calls me – I want to stress that this phone call was not made on a secured line – and tells me: ‘Is that someone – Naryshkin [head of the Russian President’s administration] – really coming to Tbilisi?’ I replied that yes he plans; Saakashvili then told me: ‘OK, let him come, but tell Naryshkin that we have just met with Condoleezza Rice [in Tbilisi on July 10] and we are in a good situation now.’ That is what he told me on a phone and it was not a secured line. About two hours after this phone call, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted on its website a statement – in which Moscow admitted that its jets violated the Georgian airspace…Of course this visit by Naryshkin was thwarted; of course this visit could not have any results, because there was no readiness from the Georgian side as well for having any results.
Furthermore, this explains unwavering US support for Georgia during (and after) the conflict, up to and including refusing to join a Russian request for the UN to call for a cessation of Georgian military operations in Ossetia. This gives credence to Medvedev’s following assertion to Western journalists and opinion-makers at the annual Valdai Discussion Club (and by extension Putin’s claims that elements of the US foreign policy elite orchestrated the war) held this September:
I am not a fan of conspiracy theories neither am I a fan of black-or-white descriptions, but I cannot help but say the following. After a while our close partner Condoleezza Rice arrived, and after that the guy acted differently. He stopped calling, he said: “We don’t need the meeting in Sochi, maybe at the end of the year”. Please: that’s your business. He started to prepare for war. Because of this our view on the question of recognition certainly evolved and my personal point of view did as well.
There is a price to pay for revealing inconvenient truths in democratic Georgia, of course. Kitsmarishvili is to be put on trial for ‘professional negligence’ and his ‘irresponsible and shameless fabrication’ due to ‘either the result of a lack of information or the personal resentment of a man who has lost his job and wants to get involved in politics’.
Meanwhile, most Western officials are continuing to distance themselves from Saakashvili, who reveals more of his psychopathic tendencies by the day. An example. While escorting Polish President Lech Kaczyński near the South Ossetian border, shots were fired on their motorcade. Saakashvili immediately claimed that Moscow was trying to assassinate him, which was theatrically reproduces in the Western mediasphere. But just a few days later, Polish intelligence services revealed that it was a provocation, staged by the political corpse to “to distract attention from Georgia’s internal problems and make everyone say that Russia does not fulfill the provisions of the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement occupying Georgian territories”. One almost begins to feel sorry for the poor jackass, until jolted back into reality by the memory of his sordid deeds.
The corpse continues squirming, squealing and stumbling on into oblivion, not realizing it’s already dead.
* The Georgian army started a premeditated assault on Ossetia hours after proclaiming a unilateral ceasefire, bombarded a sleeping, densely packed city with indiscriminate Grad rockets and murdered UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers. The Russian Army targeted military objects, albeit the use of cluster munitions (which neither Russia, Georgia or the US have repudiated) meant collateral damage; nor did it to much to prevent vengeful Ossetian militias from forcing out Georgian civilians.
It is true that Russia was not entirely blameless, but it’s vital to keep a sense of perspective. Russia was not the state that initiated military hostilies expressly aimed at ethnic cleansing (and which later tried to sweep it under the carpet with a well organized PR effort, albeit one which is collapsing and burdened under ever progressively flimsier ‘evidence’). Furthermore, Western criticism of Russia for bombing and moving into Georgia proper is bankrupt: in modern wars, the battlespace covers vast areas and military bases and arms’ factories around Tbilisi are as legitimate targets as Georgian occupying tanks in Tskhinvali. In conclusion, there is an abyssal and qualitative difference between Georgian and Russian actions.