Georgia’s latest attempt to convince the world that the Russians started the war is a sad sign of desperation. In a continued effort to dupe the world, and particularly the United States, the Georgian government has provided American and European intelligence agencies with audio intercepts of Russian military maneuvers before the outbreak of war. The Georgians even sent the NY Times a special treat to enlist the paper in its propaganda war. The paper received a neatly prepared package of intercepted audio complete with English translations. The NY Times said thank you and did its own translations. What is this audio evidence of Russia’s “incursion”? Why it’s cellphone conversations, made on a Georgian network no less, between Ossetian border guards. Reports the Times:
Russia has not disputed the veracity of the phone calls, which were apparently made by Ossetian border guards on a private Georgian cellphone network. “Listen, has the armor arrived or what?” a supervisor at the South Ossetian border guard headquarters asked a guard at the tunnel with the surname Gassiev, according to a call that Georgia and the cellphone provider said was intercepted at 3:52 a.m. on Aug. 7.
“The armor and people,” the guard replied. Asked if they had gone through, he said, “Yes, 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived.”
Shota Utiashvili, the director of the intelligence analysis team at Georgia’s Interior Ministry, said the calls pointed to a Russian incursion. “This whole conflict has been overshadowed by the debate over who started this war,” he said. “These intercepted recordings show that Russia moved first and that we were defending ourselves.”
The recordings, however, do not explicitly describe the quantity of armor or indicate that Russian forces were engaged in fighting at that time.
A few things come to mind. First, these conversations say nothing by way of details. Second, I wonder if the Ossetians are simply screwing with the Georgians. Surely, they aren’t foolish enough to say sensitive information on a private Georgian cellphone network? Everyone knows that the Ossetians and Georgians had been trading small arms fire for over a month. Tensions were especially high in the days before Georgia assulted Tskhinvali. Could communications about Russian armor simply be a ruse to scare the Georgians? Who knows.
Lastly, if the Georgians did intercept these communications, and they were delivered to Saakashvili, as Vano Merabishvili, Georgia’s minister of interior told the Times, why did the Georgians attack Tskhinvali with a barage of rockets and not the Russian military? Why did they already have 12,000 troops and seventy five tanks and armored carriers, a third of Georgia’s militany force, amassed at the South Ossetian border? Also, if Russian armor was present, then why was it Ossetian militias and bands Kalashnikov wielding and molotov cocktail throwing teenagers that initially beat down Georgia’s forces? No need to give answers. The questions are rhetorical anyway.
The Times, however, made the safe assessment and concluded that the new evidence was inconclusive and merely “paints a more complicated picture of the critical last hours before war broke out.” Well, like, duh. Stating the war’s beginning as complex is rather obvious.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, called Saak’s bluff. “I would be grateful if they provide such satellite data to us and the entire international community, provide specific data,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko told reporters. “Allegations that they have eavesdropped on someone and heard something are simply not serious.”
I say that the “evidence” is more than giving a complicated picture of events. It sounds like a desperate grasping at straws by Saakashvili. His political life is increasingly under threat at home and abroad. More and more Georgian politicians are speaking out against him. Even some Georgian political exiles are planning their return, declaring that Saak’s “days are numbered.”
Even Georgia’s patrons in the US and EU are wondering whether they’ve been hoodwinked. Der Spiegel reports, in an aptly titled article “Did Saakashvili Lie?” that “Washington is beginning to suspect that Saakashvili, a friend and ally, could in fact be a gambler — someone who triggered the bloody five-day war and then told the West bold-faced lies.” Well, as that sage, Kenny Rogers sang, Saak better learn how to “know when to hold, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”
Clearly, Saak isn’t a country music fan because his bold face lies continue to mount. One such lie is right there in Der Spiegel‘s article:
“We wanted to stop the Russian troops before they could reach Georgian villages,” Saakashvili told SPIEGEL recently, explaining the marching orders that were given to his army. “When our tanks moved toward Tskhinvali, the Russians bombed the city. They were the ones — not us — who reduced Tskhinvali to rubble.”
Officers at NATO headquarters in Brussels is certainly not buying this crap. To them, Saakashvili’s plan was a well calculated assult “to advance to the Roki Tunnel in a 15-hour blitzkrieg and close the eye of the needle between the northern and southern Caucasus regions, effectively cutting off South Ossetia from Russia.” Only problem is the plan went up in smoke.
There is one certain truth about Saak. He has two big brass ones and he’s not afraid to pull them out and clang them on the table. He’d have to to continually peddle the Big Lie to the point he looks like an utter fool. His whining may be getting old, but his comedy is not. Maybe he should stick around just so we hear what he will say next. The world could use a few extra laughs.