Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Putin's Options: Flyswatter or Blunderbuss?

Mike Whitney in Global Research;

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told news agencies in an interview how the hostilities began:

Russian peacekeepers "were killed by their own [Georgian] partners in the peacekeeping forces. There is a Russian battalion, an Ossetian battalion, and a Georgian battalion... and all of a sudden the Georgians, Georgian peacekeepers, begin shooting their Russian colleagues. This is of course a war crime. I do not rule out that the Hague and Strasbourg courts and institutions in other cities will be involved in investigating these crimes, and this inhuman drama that has been played out."

According to South Ossetia's president, Eduard Kokoyti, Georgian troops had been taking part in NATO exercises in the region since the beginning of August. Kokoyti claims that there is a connection between the NATO's activities and the current violence.

Clearly, no one was expecting Russia to react as quickly or as forcefully as they did. In a matter of hours Russian tanks and armored vehicles were streaming over the border while warplanes bombed targets throughout the south. The Bush-Saakashvili strategy unraveled in a matter of hours. The Georgia president is already calling for a cease-fire. He's had enough.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to spend $400 million to rebuild parts of South Ossetia. Large shipments of food and medical supplies are already on the way.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday:

"The actions of Georgia have led to deaths - among them are Russian peacekeepers. The situation reached the point that Georgian peacekeepers have been shooting at Russian peacekeepers. Now women, children and old people are dying in South Ossetia - most of them are citizens of the Russian Federation. As the President of the Russian Federation, I am obligated to protect lives and the dignity of Russian citizens wherever they are. Those responsible for the deaths of our citizens will be punished."

Indeed, but how will Medvedev bring the responsible people to justice; with tanks and fighter pilots or is there another way?
PUTIN'S OPTIONS: Flyswatter or Blunderbuss?

Sometimes wars provide clarity. That's certainly true in this case. After this weekends fighting, everyone in the Russian political establishment knows that Washington is willing to sacrifice thousands of innocent civilians and plunge the entire region into chaos to achieve its geopolitical objectives. Bush could call the whole thing off right now; Putin and Medvedev know that. But that's not the game-plan. So, the two Russian leaders have to make some tough decisions that will end up costing lives. What other choice do they have?

Putin needs to carefully weigh his options. Then, on Monday, he should announce that Russia will sell all $50 billion of its Fannie Mae mortgage-backed bonds, all of it US dollar-backed assets, and will accept only rubles and euros in the future sale of Russian oil and natural gas. Just watch as the dollar crashes and the Dow Jones goes into a death-spiral. Why use a blunderbuss when a flyswatter will do just fine.