Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The chill

My thoughts this morning:

Last night on PBS Newshour UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that Russia would be punished with whatever punishment was warranted. He made some pretty vague and bold statements. None of which will be backed up. He said any military support would simply be helping rebuild Georgia's military, something I bet Russia is excited about.

Whether or not the Russians are holding Gori, they have still captured the port city of Poti and created quite the economic mess for Georgia. Lavrov's statements that Saakashvili "must go" make me think the Russians will probably sit tight while the UN/EU try to hammer out a peace agreement, effectively blockading Georgia until Saak leaves. .

Interesting that it's Medvedev, and not Putin, who announced the official halting of Russian troops. As it should be, but as it hasn't been since Friday when Putin took over the show. Perhaps that's why Russians are still bombing and haven't really ceased fire?

Putin's had some interesting quotes:
“What’s amazing, of course, isn’t the cynicism,” he observed. “The scale of the cynicism is amazing, the ability to call black white and white black. The ability to so smoothly present the aggressor as the victim of aggression and lay responsibility for the consequences on the victims...” He further noted that “the Cold War mentality has firmly taken hold in the heads of some American diplomats” and described relations between the U.S. administration and Saakashvili by recalling a phrase ascribed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Somoza is a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch, and we will help him and we will defend him.” Putin compared Saakashvili himself with Saddam Hussein. “Of course Saddam Hussein had to be hung for destroying some Shia villages. And the current Georgian rulers, who wiped ten Ossetian villages off the face of the Earth in an hour, of course they have to be protected,” he fumed.
Here's a blog by a S. Ossetian refugee in Vladikavkaz. She has taken some pictures of the facilities and talked of what people are hearing from the South, and how they're reacting to the Russian soldiers.

In "Rebuke of a President" the NY Times profiles the "New York lawyer" Saakashvili.

Most of the Georgian blogs I've been following have gone silent. One journalist in Azerbaijan (I gather he's fairly new to the country) talks of Georgian civilians claiming indiscriminate killing of Georgians by the Russians. I guess Putin feels turnabout is "fair play."

Let the Monday-morning quarterbacking begin, and let the American attention span fade elsewhere as Russia is no longer on the move. Now is the time that Georgia needs our diplomatic "strength" the most, to insure that Saak's government isn't toppled and that Russia gets its boots off Georgia's neck.

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