Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Could Georgia Conflict Have Been Prevented?

Pictures: Reuters(L) & AP(R)
I've been listening to CNN all morning (MSNBC's political coverage not on due to Oympic coverage). Maybe its too soon to start being critical of the United States' foreign policy in regard to Georgia & Russia, but President Mikhail Saakashvili is quite angry and disappointed in the United States' lack of support. Since the violence began, I've read articles from 6 of the major papers nationwide, and the general feeling is that the U.S. has led the Georgian government to believe they would not be alone in defending their democracy against Russia. Now maybe that means diplomatic measures or pressure through sanctions or whatever, but I don't think that's what the Georgian president expected. The truth of the matter is that the U.S. has let this situation simmer the past few years, concentrating only on Iraq, and took its eye off of Russia who has been escalating its military strength and its power as a nation that could affect all of Europe eventually. Russia's attack (they call it punishment as if Georgia is a naughty child) on Georgia is a message to all, and especially the U.S., that Russia is back. They are flexing their military power and showing the world that they will not tolerate Democratic influence in their part of the world.

And then we have John McCain calling President Saakashvili and speaking for all Americans (his words) saying, "We are all Georgians today!. Yesterday the Georgian president even happily mentioned McCains' message in a rally. Today he disappointedly said that what McCain said was only words and that it should be backed up with action. WHAT IS MCCAIN THINKING? After accusing Obama for acting presidential before he is even elected, McCain is doing the very same thing! And he has used this horrendous situation for his own political gain. If McCain had the power, I think he would be planning to send troops to Georgia (maybe he could roundup some boyscouts or retired military since even our National Guard is already in Iraq and Afghanistan).

Well, President Bush will be speaking within the hour about this very situation. I'm sure he will be offering help for the rebuilding of Georgia, humanitarian aid for its people, and tough words for the Russians. Once more, our country is reactive to something that possibly could have been prevented (9/11).

Does anyone else share my feelings?

Below is a report from the associated press:

Key numbers from the Georgia-Russia conflict
By The Associated Press – 18 hours ago

LENGTH OF WAR: Six days of fighting in Georgia and two separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abhkazia, from Aug. 7 through Aug. 12 before a cease-fire was declared by Russia.

MILITARY: Russia has 1.1 million soldiers, Georgia has 37,000. The Russian armed forces have about 6,000 tanks and some 1,700 combat aircraft. Georgia has 230 tanks and 12 combat aircraft.

_ Russia sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into Georgia, according to the Georgian president. In Abhkazia alone, Russia estimated it had at least 9,000 troops and 350 armored vehicles.

_ The U.S. helped Georgia bring about 2,000 Georgian troops from Iraq during the fighting.

DEATH TOLL: About 2,000 people, most of them with Russian passports, were killed in South Ossetia as of Aug. 12, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Georgia's Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili said more than 100 Georgians died, including civilians and soldiers.

DISPLACED: The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates almost 100,000 people were displaced, according to figures provided by both governments. Georgian officials say a few thousand fled south into Georgia proper from South Ossetia, and up to 12,000 were estimated to be displaced within South Ossetia. Russian officials in North Ossetia suggest 30,000 people from South Ossetia remain in Russia.

OIL: Two pipelines were shut down. British energy group BP said Aug. 12 that it closed a pipeline in Georgia carrying "a limited amount" of gas and oil because of the conflict. Another pipeline operated by the London-based oil company in Georgia was out of action after a fire last week in Turkey.

MILITARY BASES: Russia seized a Georgian military base in the town of Senaki. At least four other Georgian air bases were bombed, including a base on the outskirts of Gori, the Vaziani military base on the outskirts of Tbilisi, the Marneuli air base, and another base in Bolnisi.

TOWNS HIT: Tskhinvali, Zugdidi, Senaki.

AMERICANS EVACUATED: More than 170 American citizens evacuated from Georgia to Armenia by the U.S. State Department.

JOURNALISTS KILLED: Three. Dutch TV correspondent Stan Storimans, and photojournalists Alexander Klimchuk and Grigol Chikhladze of Caucasus Images, according to The Committee to Protect Journalists. The group reported at least eight journalists were injured and two were missing.

WAR PRISONERS: The International Committee of the Red Cross said they visited two wounded Russian pilots detained by Georgian authorities.


Sources: AP reporting and UNHCR -

Compiled by AP's News Research Center.

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