Saturday, August 09, 2008

Georgia's Lost Territories (by Phila)

Danger Room has some background on the conflict in Georgia:
Since 2002, the U.S. military has been providing Georgia with a serious amount of military assistance, beginning with the Georgia Train and Equip Program in 2002....

When I returned to Krtsanisi in early 2006, the place had been transformed into a model base. It even had a sparkling new KBR-style dining facility. The Georgian troops were smartly decked out in U.S.-style uniforms; they were preparing for a troop rotation in Iraq.

Officially, SSOP was supposed to prepare Georgians for service in Iraq. But Georgian trainees I spoke to in 2006 at the Krtsanisi training range saw things a bit differently. A female sergeant told me: “This training is incredibly important for us, because we want to take back Georgia’s lost territories.”
There's more here:
As Sergei Shamba, the foreign affairs minister of Abkhazia, told me in 2006: “The Georgians are euphoric because they have been equipped, trained, that they have gained military experience in Iraq. It feeds this revanchist mood… How can South Ossetia be demilitarized, when all of Georgia is bristling with weaponry, and it’s only an hour’s ride by tank from Tbilisi to Tskhinvali?”

One of the U.S. military trainers put it to me a bit more bluntly. “We’re giving them the knife,” he said. “Will they use it?”
Perhaps so, since all Georgian troops are leaving Iraq:
Georgia will withdraw its entire 2,000-strong military contingent from Iraq within the next three days to join the fighting in the breakaway province of South Ossetia, a senior Georgian military official said Saturday...The US military has agreed to help with the logistics of the Georgian redeployment, Maisuradze added...

Last year, the Georgians raised the number of troops in Iraq from 850 to 2,000 at a time when most non-American contingents were cutting back — a move that won them points with US commanders.
Sounds like a tense situation. But I'm more worried about larger issues, like whether John Edwards' infidelity will rob Obama of the moral authority he'd need to carpet-bomb Tehran.