The President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, is witnessing the detailed destruction of his little 26,000 man army while also having to stand by while twice that many Russians invade his country from two directions.
This former US resident and pro-western leader who sent 2,000 troops to help out in Iraq (now home thanks to a US military airlift over the weekend) has penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal asking for help in his confrontation with Russia:
Saakashvili lists the series of actions and counter actions that led to the current crisis. While I am sure he overstates some of his country's moves, there is little doubt that Putin's desire to annex the break away provinces (since April, the Russians have been giving away Russian passports and identity cards to citizens of South Ossetia and Abkhazia) while using their allies in the separaitist movements to carry out attacks on Georgian civilian and military targets, is the proximate cause of this conflict. Anyone who thinks Georgia is stupid enough to want war with the Russians is crazy.
What is at stake in this war?
Most obviously, the future of my country is at stake. The people of Georgia have spoken with a loud and clear voice: They see their future in Europe. Georgia is an ancient European nation, tied to Europe by culture, civilization and values. In January, three in four Georgians voted in a referendum to support membership in NATO. These aims are not negotiable; now, we are paying the price for our democratic ambitions.
Second, Russia's future is at stake. Can a Russia that wages aggressive war on its neighbors be a partner for Europe? It is clear that Russia's current leadership is bent on restoring a neocolonial form of control over the entire space once governed by Moscow.
If Georgia falls, this will also mean the fall of the West in the entire former Soviet Union and beyond. Leaders in neighboring states -- whether in Ukraine, in other Caucasian states or in Central Asia -- will have to consider whether the price of freedom and independence is indeed too high.
But this emotional appeal will not do anything to stop the Russian military from gaining any objectives it seeks to attain. It will be interesting to see what the situation will be when the dust settles and the fighting stops. That may be the time when Saakashvili's appeal can be answered positively.