Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Appropriate Pretext to Act

You know, even though most of our press has been repeating the line that tiny Georgia started the war that brought them defeat, I kind of ignored it since I don't expect much from our press. The timing of the war, speed of Russia's attack, and history of Soviet practice told me that Russia obviously started the war.

It has been a mistake to ignore this most basic of facts since a number of people argue that we should not help Georgia because "they started it." And our press never corrected this misconception.

So, we need to understand the the Russians are lying through their teeth about this war:

Less than one month before Russia's armed forces entered Georgia on August 8, they held massive military training exercises in the North Caucasus involving 8,000 servicemen and 700 pieces of military hardware.

At center stage in those maneuvers -- which took place in the second half of July, not far from Georgia's border -- was Russia's 58th Army, the very unit that would later play a key role in the incursion.

Those exercises are just one link in a chain of incidents suggesting that Russia's military action in Georgia was planned months in advance, awaiting only an appropriate pretext to act.

Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says the aim, from the start, was to overthrow Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and his pro-Western government.

"This was prepared long ago," Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based military analyst tells RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, adding that according to his information, a decision to go to war was made back in April.

"A decision was made for the war to start in August. The war would have happened regardless of what the Georgians did. Whether they responded to the provocations or not, there would have been an invasion of Georgia," Felgenhauer says. "The goal was to destroy Georgia's central government, defeat the Georgian army, and prevent Georgia from joining NATO."

Russia has planned this for months and Russian-backed militias started the war by attacking Georgians. The Georgians then responded, providing the excuse Russia wanted to start their invasion.

For many, the false idea that Georgia started this war is an appropriate pretext to refuse to act.

The Georgians were the victims, here. The Russians are the guilty party. Act accordingly.