Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wait, wait, wait!!!! I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it!

In Time online...,
Whether or not the effect was intended, Moscow now appears to be using Saakashvili's strategic overreach to teach a brutal lesson not only to the Georgians, but also to other neighbors seeking to align themselves with the West against Russia. Saakashvili is appealing for Western support, based on international recognition of South Ossetia as sovereign Georgian territory. "A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," he said, calling for Western intervention. But given NATO's previous warnings, its commitments elsewhere and the reluctance of many of its member states to antagonize Russia, it remains unlikely that Georgia will get more than verbal support from its desired Western protectors. Saakashvili appears to have both underestimated the scale of the Russian backlash, and overestimated the extent of support he could count on from the U.S. and its allies. The Georgian leader may have expected Washington to step up to his defense, particularly given his country's centrality to the geopolitics of energy — Georgia is the only alternative to Russia as the route for a pipeline carrying oil westward from Azerbaijan. But Russia is not threatening to overrun Georgia. Moscow claims to be simply using its military to restore the secessionist boundary, which in the process would deal Saakashvili a humiliating defeat.

Although its outcome is yet to be decided, there's no win-win outcome to the offensive launched by Georgia with the goal of recovering South Ossetia. Either Saakashvili wins, or Moscow does. Unless the U.S. and its allies demonstrate an unlikely appetite for confrontation with an angry and resurgent Russia in its own backyard, the smart money would be on Moscow.
Pawns never seem to realize their expendable status until it's waaaaaay too late. Then, no amount of wait, wait, wait, I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it! type begging will save their proverbial bacon.