Russia Humiliated, Desperate,Flailing and Pathetic in Georgia
Writing on World Politics Preview Richard Weitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says this about the recent presidential elections in Georgia:
Although the opposition claimed the election was rigged, and sought through mass protests and court petitions to overturn the official results, most of the international community has accepted the legitimacy of the outcome after the OSCE gave its imprimatur. Even the mission for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a Moscow-led organization of former Soviet republics, found "no obvious offenses" during the elections that "would have prevented citizens from freely stating their will."Russia behavior in refusing to accept the results of Georgian elections (a decisive victory by Georgia's pro-West leader, who doubled the vote total of his nearest rival and took a majority in the first round of voting), even though they have been ratified by its own CIS organization, to say nothing of a host of foreign elections observers, represents a horrifying new low in the childish and often simply barbaric conduct of Russia's foreign affairs.
The most visible exception to the endorsement of Saakashvili's reelection came from Moscow. Predictably, the Russian government was quick to condemn the ballot -- and the OSCE for accepting the results. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing restrictions on Georgian opposition candidates, the use of government "administrative resources" on Saakashvili's behalf, and other "numerous violations of elections laws by the authorities." The statement also dismissed the OSCE's assessment as "superficial."
First, Russia excludes virtually all foreign elections observers from its own parliamentary elections, then it demands that the world respect the result of those elections regardless of blatant fraud (like 90% wins for the pro-Kremlin parties in war-torn areas of southern Russia), and then it caps off this orgy of hypocrisy by daring to question the results in Georgia. Is the Kremlin really so neo-Soviet already that it is incapable of realizing the precedent it is establishing? If Russia can attack Georgia's elections as fraudulent no matter what the rest of the world says, then isn't the world free to do the same where Russian polls are concerned?
Is this the behavior of a strong and confident, civilized country, one that deserves membership in the G-8 organization and respect for its opinion in foreign policy circles around the world?
Viewed in light of these actions, that possibility seems nakedly absurd.
Immediately after his decisive victory, in the manner of a true statesman, a triumphant President Mikhail Saakashvili declared: "The first step for us is to be looking for new opportunities in order to improve pretty damaged relations with Russia." And how does Russia respond? Nationalist lunatic Vladimir Zhirinovksy, a Kremlin pawn, stated: "An authoritarian regime has become established in Georgia for many years to come. This is mainly the fault of the Georgian communists, who have been unable to raise a new generation of Georgians who would be able to appreciate modern democracy." The Foreign Ministry alleged that "reports of numerous offenses of election legislation on the part of the authorities have been and are still coming in from mass media, NGOs and members of the opposition."
How is this behavior any different, we wonder, from that about which Russia so vociferously complains when it originates in the United States and is directed at Russia? Just ask any Georgian (or Ukrainian, or Belarussian, or Estonian, or . . . ) and you will hear exactly the same complaints from them about Russia that Russia makes about the United States. It's exactly this kind of jaw-dropping, unhinged-from-reality hypocrisy that brought down the USSR, yet Russians seem eager to reengage in it at the first opportunity.
The Kremlin is panicking because the people of Georgia overwhelming want to join NATO, and Georgia is making breathtaking progress towards that goal. Yet, it's the Kremlin's own heavy-handed, imperialistic policies that have driven Georgians to embrace the West. It has not even been able to sustain street protests in opposition to the election, revealing itself to be utterly impotent and pathetic even as against this tiny country -- how then would it hold up in a confrontation with NATO?
How can the people of Russia view the Putin regime as being successful when it has so alienated one of Russia's former Soviet colleagues, to the point where it wishes to joint the anti-Soviet military coalition? Doesn't this bespeak the total failure of Putin's foreign policy, leaving Russia friendless and alone within its own so-called sphere of influence?