Wheels within wheels

The fallout from the Russo-Georgian war continues to settle.

The initial claim from many media outlets and pundits in the West was to the effect that the war was unmistakably kicked off by Russia.  Then, we began to hear strains of uncertainty, i.e. maybe Saakashvili was the one who actually started things off.  Notably, a couple of U.S. political commentators began back-tracking by saying something along the lines of “well, it doesn’t really matter who started things…” a sure sign that they thought that Georgia was less than squeaky clean.

However, by far the most outstanding piece of jiggery-pokery has to come from Ethan S. Burger, who writes:

I have heard from a several individuals who work on Russian affairs full-time that Russia had “its people” within Georgian President Mekhail Saakashvilli’s inner circle and the Georgian military who encouraged the Georgian President to assert control over South Ossetia, thus providing Russia a pretext for invading Georgia. I do not know whether such allegations are true or not, but I find them interesting. I find it unfortunate that the U.S. Department of State did not have VERY senior people as well as White House officials dispel any misconceptions that the Georgian President had with respect to U.S. support.

So, there you have it folks:  Georgia started the war, but only because there were Russian spies whispering in Saakasvili’s ear.  If this is going to be the new narrative, I reply with a resounding feh.

UPDATE:

Having read this, I have to wonder if the Georgian government also thinks that convincing people that Russia attacked first (despite the tapes alledgedly proving this,) is going to be harder than they had hoped.

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Sep.’08 / 20:18  

Although a question ‘who started war’ is not appropriate at all, the probe is anyway needed to reveal flaws in the actions of the state agencies in the time of combat operations this August, a parliamentary minority leader, MP Giorgi Targamadze, said on September 18.

Speaking at a parliamentary session on September 18, in response to the President Saakashvili’s annual state of the nation address two days ago, MP Targamadze, who is the leader of Christian-Democratic Party, said he welcomed the President’s readiness to cooperate in investigating the August events. He, however, said a setting up of a parliamentary investigative commission was needed and not simply of a group of rapporteurs in the parliament as proposed by the President.

“Who has launched this war? We do not ask this question,” MP Giorgi Targamadze said. “The war was launched by the Russian Federation 20 years ago… But many mistakes have been done by the Georgian authorities, including underestimation of the Russia’s factor.”

“We have questions, which will be asked during the work of this commission, including, among others, towards the intelligence service [chaired by ex-foreign minister, Gela Bezhuashvili], whether this agency knew or not that the Russian armed forces were preparing the attack.”

“We also wonder how the customs department and the border police acted at that time; as far as we know not all of them acted in good faith,” Targamadze said. The Border Police is chaired by Badri Bitsadze, a husband of ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze.

He also criticized the decision the government made years ago to abolish a state reserves agency. MP Giorgi Targamadze said in this context that the authorities had no stockpiles of the most urgent staff to prove internally displaced person in early days of the conflict because of that decision. In these remarks MP Targamadze was apparently attacking Kakha Bendukidze, a former state minister for coordinating economic reforms and now chief of the government’s administration.

A lawmaker from the ruling party, Giorgi Gabashvili, who spoke on behalf of the parliamentary majority, reiterated that the government was ready to answer to all the questions.

He said that the fact how state agencies acted during hostilities would become a matter of special investigation. “Just openness makes us different from our enemies,” he added.

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