OSSETIA WAR ANNIVERSARY. My take, three years later is here: in brief, Russia is better off and Georgia is worse off. As I argued elsewhere I believe that the war – and especially Saakashvili’s erratic and untruthful behaviour, “unravelled the sweater” of Western memes about Russia’s intentions. In short, the Russia that the anti-Russia lobby believes exists, and Saakashvili talked about, would have moved to Tbilisi, seized Saakashvili and still be there. Once you doubt Saakashvili’s word on this, you have to doubt everything else he said about Russia and that leads one to questioning more and more. I still believe that the most important fact was that the French Foreign Minister actually went to talk to the refugees from Ossetia. Generally Western observers – and Saakashvili’s claque especially – stubbornly refuse to contemplate the Ossetian and Abkhazian point of view. (Witness this from an American businessman who spends a lot of time there on the US Senate’s idea that Russia “occupies” Abkhazia.)
MEDVEDEV ON SAME. He gave a long interview to Russian and Georgian reporters on the anniversary and the Georgian interviewers don’t pull any punches. One interesting thing he said was that he didn’t speak to Putin (in Beijing at the time) for about 24 hours. The interviewer expresses surprise: “Yes. I had already issued all the orders to the military. Tskhinval was already ablaze… We spoke, twenty four hours after the attack over a secure line. As you understand, it’s not very appropriate to discuss matters like this by cellphone. It’s also a lot of trouble to establish a secure line connection with someone who is in a different country”. He does not believe Washington gave the go-ahead for the attack but does believe there were “certain hints” that led Saakashvili to believe that they did (see Kitsmarishvili’s testimony in Tbilisi where you will find corroboration of Medvedev’s account from the former Georgian Ambassador to Russia.). “Our mission was not to capture Tbilisi or any other city in Georgia. Our only objective was to halt the invasion that Saakashvili had unleashed.” Tbilisi dismissed his remarks as “cold war rhetoric”, Read it and decide for yourself. By the way, the Georgian reporter twice spoke of 500,000 (Kartevelian) refugees and Medvedev does not challenge her: that number is about twice what more dispassionate agencies estimate. Even the The Economist quotes the lower number. And, for anyone who knows that the population of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was about 650,000 at the last USSR census, quite preposterous.
AND IN GEORGIA. Some reflections on the state of Georgia today, three years after the war. David Berdzenishvili, one of the opposition and no friend of Moscow, has much to say about “elite corruption” in Georgia and names politicians who have become wealthy on government contracts. “In essence that what [Saakashvili] has created is a police state” and there is “still no free society in Georgia”. Another opposition leader speaks of corruption, censorship and election fraud: “Georgians know democracy and freedom exist in Georgia in name only.” Nonetheless he believes Georgia is “on the cusp of change” that will force the introduction of “democratic reforms.” I have not seen anything from Saakashvili so we will have to go with this from earlier: even though Moscow wanted to destroy democracy in Georgia, it did not; so a victory after all. Georgia’s economic situation is deteriorating and polls suggest that the economy, not the “Russian threat”, should be the government’s chief concern; unemployment in cities is reported very high and there are a lot of poor; there are a lot of people in prison; foreign investment has been falling. This website has much to say about government misdeeds. Not a very happy place and not a very happy future.
THE REST OF THE WORLD. Apart from the Saakashvili claque in the US, Georgia seems to be off the map. I believe that their former trust in Saakashvili has been shattered. There are still periodic mumbles of support for Georgia’s territorial integrity but that that is mostly for show. But there is still no resolution of the two principles of “the inviolability of borders” and “self-determination of nations” and that is what is holding this all up. Ossetians and Abkhazians do not want to be where Stalin put them. How is the contradiction to be resolved? Force majeure used to settle such questions but no one likes that idea today (even though every country’s borders were actually established by force majeure).
YOUR HUMBLE SERVANT. I am quite pleased that, in my basement, alone, in Ottawa, I got it right – from the beginning – while the Western MSM (I make an exception for Der Spiegel) and governments (especially Washington) got it wrong.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (see http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/)