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.”