After blowing away a Russian Peacekeeping base in South Ossetia, ‘experts’ were ’surprised’ by Russia’s response. Yeah, right. Inevitably, chatter about Georgia is coming round to the pieces that don’t fit. And we wonder if we’re really watching a Brechtian play within a play.
Even Stratfor analysts are puzzllng over ‘The Mystery of The Georgian Invasion‘ while others ask why Saakashvili chose to risk it all. Sure he did?
It’s a stretch to believe that the US knew nothing of the invasion, even though Bush was in China watching the synchronised swimming. There are some 130 permanent Pentagon advisors in Georgia, along with Special Forces, CIA spooks and so on. Yet it seems no one noticed anything unusual - like Georgia mobilising for WW3.
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One might wonder whether the US was doing the same. Thousands of soldiers, contractors and trainers - from as far afield as Italy, Ohio and Kaiserslauten - were sent to Georgia only days before the invasion. So was a large contingent of troops from Atlanta. OK, you say, it was just a town-twinning exercise. Except that the exercise was called ‘Rapid Reponse 2008′.
Ironic title? Now ‘Military Experts’ claim to have been surprised by Russia’s rapid response. (How ‘expert’ is that.) But it’s hard to think of anything more provocative and unequivocal than blowing away a garrison of Russian peacekeepers on their own patch.
Another line we’re handed is that Saak misread the signs. Not true, says Condi. As recently as July, she claims to have warned Saakashvili about ‘starting something he couldn’t finish’. Did he clean fergit by August? Or was he signed off by a higher ranking hawk?
And then there’s the most baffling, non-event of the war: not blocking the Roki Tunnel. The Exiled’s War Nerd admits he ‘just doesn’t get it’.
‘The road from Russia to South Ossetia is pretty fragile as a line of supply; it goes through the Roki Tunnel, a mountain tunnel at an altitude of 10,000 feet. I have to wonder why the Georgian air force — and it’s a good one by all accounts — didn’t have as its first mission the total zapping of the South Ossetian exit of that tunnel. Or if you don’t trust the flyboys, send in your special forces with a few backpacks full of HE. Hell, there are any number of ways to block a tunnel.’
‘Weird, then, that as far as I know the Georgians didn’t even try to blast that tunnel. I don’t go in for this kind of long-distance micromanaging of warfare, because there’s usually a good reason on the ground for tactical decisions; it’s the strategic decisions that are really crazy most of the time. But this one I just don’t get.’
Commenter Wu Wei asked the same obvious question while in Georgia. She was told, ‘there weren’t enough planes’. But then adds: ‘So whoever was planning this offensive, it wasn’t the Georgians, or they surely would have got some.’
Well yes, unless someone wanted to leave the door open. And that’s where you might conclude it was all a war within a war, a propaganda war. The PR strategy was in place and fine tuned. Saakashvili had his TV slots and even teleconferences with hedge-fund managers booked before it started. The ear of John McCain had been primed well in advance too. Hey, the ‘War On Terror’ isn’t scary anymore. Bring on the ‘Russian Menace’.
It all looks like a re-run of last PR hit on Russia, the Litvinenko affair, where the blame sheets and the casebook had been written up long before the crime had been invented. And in exactly the same way, the storyline is full of holes.
Fistful of Euros has a good debate entitled, ‘Was Georgia Played?’. To me, it now looks more like Russia was played. But either way, ordinary Georgians and Ossetians are the big losers. Again, a cynical War Nerd concludes, ‘some pawn swapping took place‘.
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