A year ago, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili sent Georgian troops into South Ossetia on a murderous rampage, with civilian casualties put by Irina Gagloeva, the spokeswoman of South Ossetia, at 1,492. Much lower numbers have been offered by Western sources. Georgian soldiers butchered their victims with great brutality. Kirill Benediktov, in his online book on the invasion, reports that these soldiers were equipped–so subsequent searches of bodies and prisoners of war disclosed–not only with NATO-supplied food packages but with sachets of methamphetamine and combat stress pills based on MDMA, aka the active ingredient of Ecstasy. The meth amps up soldiers to kill without mercy, and the MDMA derivative frees them of subsequent debilitating flashbacks and recurring nightmares. Official use of methamphetamine and official testing of MDMA in the US armed forces have been discussed in news stories.
There was never any serious doubt that Saakashvili, with covert US encouragement and military training and kindred assistance, started the war. In June of this year, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel ran a piece, seemingly based on a reading of a draft report by Heidi Tagliavini, who heads the European Union’s fact-finding commission on the Georgian war. Despite the subsequent stentorian denials of a much-embarrassed Tagliavini, Der Spiegel’s editors stood by their story: “The facts assembled on Tagliavini’s desk refute Saakashvili’s claim that his country became the innocent victim of ‘Russian aggression’ that day.”
Large numbers of Russian tanks were nowhere near the border of South Ossetia on August 7, 2008. According to Tagliavini’s draft report, as cited by Der Spiegel, “The experts found no evidence to support claims by the Georgian president that a Russian column of 150 tanks had advanced into South Ossetia on the evening of August 7. According to the commission’s findings, the Russian army didn’t enter South Ossetia until Aug. 8. Saakashvili had already amassed 12,000 troops and 75 tanks on the border with South Ossetia on the morning of Aug. 7.” To avoid causing any embarrassment to the United States and its allies on the anniversary, the EU report was withheld and will be published in September, shorn–so staffers confided to Der Spiegel–of unpleasing disclosures. Two British monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe corroborated Der Spiegel‘s and Russian accounts of Georgia having fired the first shots.
From the opening minutes of the five-day war, the BBC, CNN, Fox News and the other major networks bellowed in unison that this was a case of Russian aggression. Republican candidate John McCain, whose chief foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was also a paid adviser of Saakashvili, ladled out vintage cold war rhetoric and proclaimed, “Today we are all Georgians.” Candidate Obama was not quite so abandoned, at least in his initial reactions, prompting some to think–erroneously–that this particular Democrat might be more rational and pacific in his foreign policy. Voices of sanity in Congress were, as usual, almost inaudible. Representative Dana Rohrabacher was a spirited exception. “The Russians were right; we’re wrong,” he said. “The Georgians started it; the Russians ended it.”
Here we are, a year later, the windowpanes still rattling from Joe Biden’s speech to the Georgian Parliament on July 23–whether assisted by a combat envelope of methamphetamine we do not know–proclaiming, “We, the United States, stand by you on your journey to a secure, free and democratic, and once again united, Georgia.” In other words, the United States remains implacably opposed to South Ossetia’s desire for independence and committed to Georgian claims: “Divided, Georgia will not complete its journey. United, Georgia can achieve the dreams of your forebears and, maybe more importantly, the hopes of your children.” Thus did Biden express US policy in linking hands across the decades with Stalin, who forced unwilling South Ossetia and Abkhazia into an enlarged Georgia.
Biden also told the Georgian Parliament that the United States would continue to help Georgia “modernize” its military and that Washington “fully supports” Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO and would help Tbilisi meet the alliance’s standards. This elicited a furious reaction from Moscow, pledging sanctions against any power rearming Georgia. The most nauseating moment in Biden’s sortie to Tbilisi, where he repeatedly stressed he was a spokesman for Obama, came when, on accounts in the New York Times and Washington Post, he brazenly lied to schoolchildren, claiming Russia had launched the invasion. Not two weeks later, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon repeated this lie in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
We should note here that from Clinton-time forward, Georgia has been regarded by the United States as strategically vital in controlling the oil pipeline to Azerbaijan and Central Asia, bypassing Russia and Iran. Also, Georgia could play an enabling role if Israel decides to attack Iran’s nuclear complex. The flight path from Israel to Iran is diplomatically and geographically challenging. And Georgia is perfectly situated as the takeoff point for any such raid. Israel has been heavily involved in supplying and training Georgia’s armed forces. A story in Der Spiegel remarked that “Georgia had increasingly made headlines as a gold mine for Israeli arms dealers and veterans from the military and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.” President Saakashvili boasted that his defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, and also Temur Iakobashvili, the minister responsible for negotiations over South Ossetia, lived in Israel before moving to Georgia, adding, “Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews.”
In light of the foregoing, do you think McCain could have been worse, even as the war in Afghanistan escalates?