Friday, August 15, 2008

U.S. Troops And Missiles Headed To Poland As A Result Of Georgia Mess

Georgian President Mikeil Saakashvili anticipated that simply applying for NATO membership, friendship with Washington and the aura of international goodwill surrounding the Olympics would all be more than enough political cover for military action in South Ossetia. Instead this terrible miscalculation will probably end up costing Georgia both South Ossetia as well as Abkazia, by inviting an armed conflict with Russia, and has created significant new problems in U.S.-Russian relations that may linger on for years.

Saakashvili's country might be a relatively small-time ally of Washington, yet the problems that this little nation created will only continue to color all relations of the U.S. and Russia for the foreseeable future. Georgia is hardly like any legitimate member of NATO, yet is seen as a Western ally enough by Putin's hardliner Russian government that Washington will reap all the blame for this mess that Georgia created and Washington will only be seen as a willing culprit in Georgia's actions by Russia in all of this even though they played no real role. Georgia sure knew how to create an international mess for Washington to deal with. Why Washington wasn't more in touch with Georgia and keeping them from getting neck deep in such a mess is a very good question.

Now Poland has quickly agreed to house the American anti-missile shield system in their nation out of fear of Russia, and in turn Russia now views this as yet another threat to their border security. This might be especially so since the U.S. is quickly moving to send some Patriot missiles and U.S. soldiers to be temporarily stationed in Poland. If anything send signal of worsening between Washington and Russian relations, it is all of this. There could well a snowball of little frictions like this that could add up to very serious political problems between the West and Russia.

Saakashvil's miscalculations are unfortunately not unique. History has been here before. In 1956, Egyptian strongman Gamal Nasser created the Suez Canal Crisis which proved to be a pivotal political victory over Britain, France and Israel that only enhanced the political power of Nasser in the region. But in 1967, Nasser expected that he could pull off another political victory of this sort by choking off the Strait of Tiran to Israel, not expecting lose the Sinai Peninsula to Israel in the disastrous Six Day War that it took years to regain under a peace treaty.

Sometimes history repeats itself when a small nation attempts a military effort in an area in which a larger military can squash them easily like a fly. Not only is that war badly lost, but years of political problems always follow. Now Washington will have to deal with years of significant political problems from Russia. Putin or his political party are not at all likely to leave power in Russia for up to several decades. Washington is going to have a long wait for a new Russian government to forget all of this Georgia mess.

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