CRISIS IN THE CAUCASUS. WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

WASHINGTON DC- The Bush administration appears to have pulled off its latest military fiasco in the Caucasus. What was supposed to have been a swiftly and painless takeover of rebellious South Ossetia by America’s favourite new ally, Georgia, has turned into a disaster that left Georgia battered, Russia enraged, and NATO badly demoralized. Not bad for two days work.

Equally important, Russia’s Vladimir Putin swiftly and decisively checkmated the Bush administration’s clumsy attempt last week to expand US influence into the Caucasus, and made the Americans and their Georgian satraps look like fools.

We are not facing a return to the Cold War – yet. But the current US-Russian crisis over Georgia, a tiny nation of only 4.6 million, and its linkage to a US anti-ballistic missile system in Eastern Europe, is deeply worrying and increasingly dangerous.

On 7 August, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, ordered his US and Israeli-advised and equipped army to invade the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which has been struggling for independence from Georgia since 1992. Most of its people were Russian citizens who wanted union with Russian North Ossetia.

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