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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 19, 2008 @ 10:42 am

    Georgia on our minds

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    When you are in the vicinity of a hammer, try not to act like a nut. That’s probably the main lesson to be derived from the nasty little war between the Georgians and the Russians.

            What did Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili think he was doing? It’s one thing to shake your tiny fist at a bear but to strike the first blow  yourself is just plain daft. It is all sadly reminiscent of Argentine ruler General Galtieri’s attack on the Falklands/Malvinas back in the early 1980s which ended in disaster for him and Iron Lady status for Margaret  Thatcher.

            Imagine if Jack Lynch had followed up his “Stand (idly) by” speech in August 1969 with a military incursion to the North. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that an Anglo-Irish war could have ensued, with untold consequences for the entire island. Certainly if a right-wing government had been in power in Britain at the time that could have been a real danger.

           The present writer covered the inauguration of Saakashvili as president in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, back in January 2004. Ireland held the EU presidency at the time and Brian Cowen, then our minister for foreign affairs, was among the attendance.

            It was a time of hope. Saakashvili had come to power by means of the “Rose Revolution” which was Georgia’s version of the “Velvet Revolution” in the former Czechosolovakia. I was present at a meeting between Cowen and Saakashvili and wrote, with more prescience than I realised at the time, that “The new President looks vulnerable: a big man but not meant for the scrum.”

           Thank goodness the Georgians were not already members of NATO or we could have a new world war on our hands because NATO membership requires that an attack on any member-state is an attack on all of them. There is nothing to stipulate that all heads of state possess sound judgment and basic commonsense — as the Marx Brothers used to say, “There ain’t no Sanity  Clause”.

            Thank goodness also that Ireland is not and never likely to be a member of NATO. Serious doubts must also arise about the desirability of having a Saakashvili-led Georgia as a member of the EU.  Who needs trouble?

            Already the conspiracy theorists are out in force, arguing that the entire conflict was dreamt up by the Republican right in America to enhance John McCain’s chances of getting to the White House. Check out Robert Scheer’s analysis at http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080812_georgia_war_a_neocon_election_ploy/ and a letter in today’s Irish Times from Frank Schnittger  at http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2008/0819/1218868108905.html

    Deaglán de Bréadún, Political Correspondent, The Irish Times and author of The Far Side of Revenge: Making Peace in Northern Ireland, recently published in a second edition by Collins Press, Cork www.collinspress.ie

    • Liam Mullen says:

      The whole thing was not only dreamt up, but organized and funded by the Americans and Israelis who lost most from Putin’s nationalism within his own country’s borders. We must remember where the so-called oligarchs came from.

      You draw a likeness to Argentina, I see the biggest similarity with Iraq’s attack on Kuwait. America previously gave Saddam a nod and a wink with respect to invasion.

      By destabilizing the region, the Americans gain the most. They are basically concerned that they will be left in the cold if Europeans ever take the blinkers off and see Nato for what it is. It’s an American foreign policy tool.
      It’s been used as this since its formation but never as openly and blatantly obviously as in the last 20 years.

      Maybe someday soon the mentality of seeing America as protectors rather than aggressors will become the norm. I hope the sooner the better for all our sakes.

    • I wouldn’t see it in such black-and-white terms. If there was a major terrorist attack on this country we would presumably be running to the Americans (and probably also the British) for assistance and possibly also protection. On the other hand, the US role in Iraq did not enhance world security. The conduct of Saakashvili in Georgia, with the suspected connivance of US neo-cons, jeopardised world peace. Now he has lost two major regions of his country. Nato surely doesn’t need this fellow. Deaglán

    • Liam Mullen says:

      The absolute only reason we could be attacked is our breach of our own neutrality with respect to use of airports not just for military transit but also for rendition.

      America has played the card of protector for up to 60 years now, always in its own favour. I dare say that as we are members of EU we should be looking to Brussels for protection from an attack as you have mentioned.

      The big problem there is that most EU countries are members of Nato, a de facto part of american foreign policy. Europe is in subjugation mode since WW2, unable to steal itself away from the notion that America cares about it. As such it has become over-reliant on American military muscle. It’s time that the EU set up its own defences, without the support of America so that we can steer our own path in foreign affairs, ‘you’re with us or against us’ is the sum total of american democracy in the last 10 years.
      Iraq is destabilized, the Caucasus region is destabilized, Afganistan is destabilized and heroin is everywhere cheap again, Iran and Syria are next and now the EU is closer to a real cold war with Russia than it ever was, unable to control its members’ (in particular Poland) aggressive behaviour and actions towards their former occupier. Maybe the Russian will turn the gas off that feeds our homes and generators this winter. With America’s penchant for destabilization in the name of democracy I suspect that it would not be too worrying to the USA if Europe suffered a little as a result of Russian agggression, i.e., it would force us back into the fold.
      Russia should be a closer ally to EU than America and that should be EU foreign policy. It’s simple, sensible and logical given our geographic locations.

      This American thing is not exactly working so lets try something else)))))

    • The US view is that they rescued Europe from the Nazis and to a lesser extent Stalin. As far as they are concerned, we owe them. You may not like it but you have to take account of their perspective.
      As for being more friendly to Russia than the US, I take your point about gas supplies but haven’t we got rather a lot of US investment in this country? Deaglán

    • Liam Mullen says:

      The debt is paid, and no they were not the only saviours of Europe from the Nazis. In fact I dare say that had the Germans not been so preoccupied by the Russian front the Americans would have considered other options for saving europe, unwilling to expose themselves to loses like the Russians suffered.

      Yes they do invest here as they do everywhere. What are you saying, is it ok that America/Nato have taken over a million lives in Iraq and countless more elsewhere? Is that the cost of jobs in Ireland that are here because of low capital gains taxes etc and a high quality of labour? Should these factors change we also lose the jobs. Your point is completely understood all the same, probably say it’s pragmatic but it comes at a cost.

      Remember also if we can’t produce energy the same plants that are providing employment here will also move back to America. Maybe that is a conspiracy, but maybe not. My point is simple, America is strangling Europe with its protection, promotion of democracy ‘moreya’ in Georgia. Saakhashvili is a loon. I watched him eating his tie on Larry King live. And this guy runs a country??

      Come on.

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