New York Times all but blames America for Georgia-Russia war

Rick Moran
This is pretty incredible - even for the New York Times.

After reporting that Condi Rice visited Georgia last month and warning President Saakashvili not to fall into Moscow's trap and get into a military conflict, the Times reporters - Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker - try and make it appear as if Rice was giving "mixed messages" to the Georgian government:

During a private dinner on July 9, Ms. Rice's aides say, she warned President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia not to get into a military conflict with Russia that Georgia could not win. "She told him, in no uncertain terms, that he had to put a non-use of force pledge on the table," according to a senior administration official who accompanied Ms. Rice to the Georgian capital.

But publicly, Ms. Rice struck a different tone, one of defiant support for Georgia in the face of Russian pressure. "I'm going to visit a friend and I don't expect much comment about the United States going to visit a friend," she told reporters just before arriving in Tbilisi, even as Russian jets were conducting intimidating maneuvers over South Ossetia.

 "I'm going to visit a friend and I don't expect much comment about the United States going to visit a friend," - WOW! is that "defiant" talk or what? Condi better tone down the rhetoric lest we anger Putin too much, eh?

Needless to say, the Administration says that they did indeed warn Georgia off seeking a military solution in South Ossetia. Does that stop the Times from all but blaming us for the conflict?

But as Ms. Rice's two-pronged visit to Tbilisi demonstrates, the accumulation of years of mixed messages may have made the American warnings fall on deaf ears.

The United States took a series of steps that emboldened Georgia: sending advisers to build up the Georgian military, including an exercise last month with more than 1,000 American troops; pressing hard to bring Georgia into the NATO orbit; championing Georgia's fledgling democracy along Russia's southern border; and loudly proclaiming its support for Georgia's territorial integrity in the battle with Russia over Georgia's separatist enclaves.

But interviews with officials at the State Department, Pentagon and the White House show that the Bush administration was never going to back Georgia militarily in a fight with Russia.

First, defining Rice's visit to Tblisi as "two pronged" is a complete invention by the reporters. Second, emboldening Georgia by training their military (something we've been doing for years) and championing their entrance into NATO (with the caveat that the South Ossetia issue be resolved FIRST - before any NATO membership can be considered) are the kinds of actions that show support for a government but hardly rise to the level of leading the Georgian leadership on about the nature of that support. Nor can they be imagined to mislead the Georgian government in any way about our willingness to go to war with nuclear armed Russia. Third, anyone who believed we would go to war with Russia over Georgia is a fool. They are stating the obvious when they write that we were "never going to back Georgia militarily."

The Times stories on the conflict have been full of quotes from Georgian soldiers retreating and complaining bitterly about America and NATO not coming to their assistance. It goes without saying that just because some private, desperate for someone to save his country, would lash out at the most obvious target on the planet, it doesn't mean that we sent any "mixed messages" to the Georgian government.

This is especially true when you consider that the Times is asking the reader to believe that the Georgian government ignored what we told them in private about not starting a conflict and embraced what they believed we were hinting in public - that we would back them with military support. That's nuts. Common sense tells anyone with half a brain that it would be the other way around - that what we told them in private mattered a lot more than anything we would say in public.

This is clearly agenda driven journalism and is an opinion piece passed off as some kind of deep analysis of the situation. To write that the US was sending "mixed messages" to the Georgians doesn't pass the smell test. And the way Shanker and Cooper have written this piece, you'd best put on a gas mask before reading it.
 

This is pretty incredible - even for the New York Times.

After reporting that Condi Rice visited Georgia last month and warning President Saakashvili not to fall into Moscow's trap and get into a military conflict, the Times reporters - Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker - try and make it appear as if Rice was giving "mixed messages" to the Georgian government:

During a private dinner on July 9, Ms. Rice's aides say, she warned President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia not to get into a military conflict with Russia that Georgia could not win. "She told him, in no uncertain terms, that he had to put a non-use of force pledge on the table," according to a senior administration official who accompanied Ms. Rice to the Georgian capital.

But publicly, Ms. Rice struck a different tone, one of defiant support for Georgia in the face of Russian pressure. "I'm going to visit a friend and I don't expect much comment about the United States going to visit a friend," she told reporters just before arriving in Tbilisi, even as Russian jets were conducting intimidating maneuvers over South Ossetia.

 "I'm going to visit a friend and I don't expect much comment about the United States going to visit a friend," - WOW! is that "defiant" talk or what? Condi better tone down the rhetoric lest we anger Putin too much, eh?

Needless to say, the Administration says that they did indeed warn Georgia off seeking a military solution in South Ossetia. Does that stop the Times from all but blaming us for the conflict?

But as Ms. Rice's two-pronged visit to Tbilisi demonstrates, the accumulation of years of mixed messages may have made the American warnings fall on deaf ears.

The United States took a series of steps that emboldened Georgia: sending advisers to build up the Georgian military, including an exercise last month with more than 1,000 American troops; pressing hard to bring Georgia into the NATO orbit; championing Georgia's fledgling democracy along Russia's southern border; and loudly proclaiming its support for Georgia's territorial integrity in the battle with Russia over Georgia's separatist enclaves.

But interviews with officials at the State Department, Pentagon and the White House show that the Bush administration was never going to back Georgia militarily in a fight with Russia.

First, defining Rice's visit to Tblisi as "two pronged" is a complete invention by the reporters. Second, emboldening Georgia by training their military (something we've been doing for years) and championing their entrance into NATO (with the caveat that the South Ossetia issue be resolved FIRST - before any NATO membership can be considered) are the kinds of actions that show support for a government but hardly rise to the level of leading the Georgian leadership on about the nature of that support. Nor can they be imagined to mislead the Georgian government in any way about our willingness to go to war with nuclear armed Russia. Third, anyone who believed we would go to war with Russia over Georgia is a fool. They are stating the obvious when they write that we were "never going to back Georgia militarily."

The Times stories on the conflict have been full of quotes from Georgian soldiers retreating and complaining bitterly about America and NATO not coming to their assistance. It goes without saying that just because some private, desperate for someone to save his country, would lash out at the most obvious target on the planet, it doesn't mean that we sent any "mixed messages" to the Georgian government.

This is especially true when you consider that the Times is asking the reader to believe that the Georgian government ignored what we told them in private about not starting a conflict and embraced what they believed we were hinting in public - that we would back them with military support. That's nuts. Common sense tells anyone with half a brain that it would be the other way around - that what we told them in private mattered a lot more than anything we would say in public.

This is clearly agenda driven journalism and is an opinion piece passed off as some kind of deep analysis of the situation. To write that the US was sending "mixed messages" to the Georgians doesn't pass the smell test. And the way Shanker and Cooper have written this piece, you'd best put on a gas mask before reading it.