Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bush admin knew Russia was going to attack; Did nothing

So Russia attacks America's ~ally~ in the Causcusas, Georgia. Is that a problem for the Bush administration?

Apparently They don't think so. Bush attended the Olympics and Rice stayed on vacation. No quick gatherings to determine how to deal with the new and deadly situation. No top level diplomat sent to Moscow to try to stop the carnage. No real expression of concern, even. French President Sarkozy quickly visited Moscow to negotiate a ceasefire, but there was no real reaction from the Bush administration.

It's almost as if -- no, that's not possible -- almost as if the Bush people knew the attack was coming and had approved it in advance.

From Jonaton Landay of McKlatchy News:
Bush administration officials, worried by what they saw as a series of provocative Russian actions, repeatedly warned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to avoid giving the Kremlin an excuse to intervene in his country militarily, U.S. officials said Monday.

But in the end, the warnings failed to stop the Georgian president — a Bush favorite — from launching an attack last week that on Monday seemed likely to end not only in his country’s military humiliation but complete occupation by Russian forces.
The Pentagon claims they had no advance knowledge of the Georgian attack on South Ossetia that set the Russian invasion into motion.
Russia has been angry over Georgia's close links with Washington, and has been determined to stop the admission to NATO of its former vassal, which is located on strategic energy and transportation routes to Central Asia.

The Russian actions against Georgia "seemed designed to provoke a Georgian over-reaction," said a senior U.S. official. "We have always counseled restraint to the Georgians."

Some experts, however, wondered whether the administration might have inadvertently sent Saakashvili mixed messages that would have led him to believe he could count on U.S. support if he got into trouble.

Bush lavished praise on the U.S.-educated Georgian leader as a "beacon of democracy." He gave military training and equipment to Georgia, which supplied the third-largest contingent to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, and had promised NATO membership, they said. He visited the country in 2005 and addressed a huge crowd from the same podium as Saakashvili.

"The Russians have clearly overreacted but President Saakashvili . . . for some reason seems to think he has a hall pass from this administration," said former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. [Snip]

A "parade" of U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visited Tbilisi to urge Saakashvili to avoid giving the Kremlin to act, a State Department officials said.

At the same time, U.S. officials said that they believed they had an understanding with Russia that any response to Georgian military action would be limited to South Ossetia.

"We knew they were going to go crack heads. We told them again and again not to do this," the State Department official said. "We thought we had an understanding with the Russians that any response would be South Ossetia-focused. Clearly it's not."
It's also clear that the timing of the actual Russian invasion was not anticipated. That was a major Intelligence failure for the United States.
One problem in under-estimating the Russian response, another U.S. official said, was "a dearth of intelligence assets in the region."

U.S. "national technical means," the official name for spy satellites and other technology, are "pretty well consumed by Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan," the official said, and there was only limited monitoring of Russian military movements toward the Georgian border.

Additionally, the United States had lost access to vital information when Russia dropped out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty in December to protest U.S. plans to build missile defense sites in Europe.

Under the treaty, Russia had been required to exchange reports on troop, armor and aircraft deployments with the United States and other members on a monthly basis. But once Russia dropped out, that information was no longer available.

"I wouldn't say we were blind," the official said. "I would say that we mostly were focused elsewhere, unlike during the Cold War, when we'd see a single Soviet armor battalion move. So, yes, the size and scope of the Russian move has come as something of a surprise."
So the U.S. has inadequate human intelligence sources in Georgia and the technical Intelligence assets (spy sattellites, etc.) were focused elsewhere, even as they were supposedly warning the Shakasvili that the Russians were trying to provoke a reason to invade! Then the Bush administration's insistence on placing missile defense sites in Eastern Europe led Russia to stop cooperating in reporting troop movements. How do you say it? Bush/Cheney failed in both the Intelligence functions and in the diplomatic functions! Then when the Russians did attack - and exceeded the understanding the Bush administration thought it had with them, the Bush administration was paralyzed. The only action they took was to weakly state:
"Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people," President Bush proclaimed whined after returning from China. "Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."

"These actions jeopardize Russia's relations with the United States and Europe," Bush said. "It's time for Russia to be true to its word to act to end this crisis."
While I doubt that the Bush people could have stopped the Russian take-over of South Ossetia and Abkhazskay, their ham-handed handling of the entire Eastern European vs. Russia situation clearly made things worse then they had to be. Then when the shit hit the fan, they did literally nothing to try to reduce the carnage.

Russia has now made its point. The US and NATO have very little power in the nations of the old Soviet Union, what the Russians now call the "Near Abroad." A win for the Bush administration would have been to create a situation in which the Russians would not as easily eliminated all ambiguity on that subject. Instead the Bush administration is now shown to have tacitly approved the Russian military invasion of South Ossetia and Georgia.

Between the clear military weakness that has resulted from having all the American troops tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the clear foreign policy incompetence of the White House, how many other nations will now perceive the weakness and incompetence of the American government and act on that perception? Iran? Iraq? Pakistan?

Movement conservatism and the Supreme Court appointment of the utter incompetent Bush to the Presidency in 2000 has brought America to this new low.

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