Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Like Daddy, Like Son

Did GW manage to embolden Georgian President Saakashvili to the point where he felt he could make a move on South Ossetia and have the backing of the U.S.? After all, in 2005 Bush said to the Georgians that "the American people will stand with you." Many Georgians have been quoted over the last few days perplexed as to when the American forces would arrive to help.

Dimitri Simes, founding president of the Nixon Center in Washington, said, "It is not a happy situation, and we did not have to have this situation, and I think the (Bush) administration has considerable responsibility for that....Saakashvili was discouraged from attacking Russian troops in South Ossetia but he clearly never was told point blank 'If you do it, you are on your own...'" Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations said, "I think in many respects Saakashvili got too close to the United States and the United States got too close to Saakashvili....It made him overreach, it made him feel at the end of the day that the West would come to his assistance if he got into trouble."

Does this sound familiar? Recall when George H.W. Bush did something similar with the Iraqis in 1991. Bush Senior encouraged Iraqis to rise up and fight back against Saddam, with the inference that the U.S. military would be there to provide the needed support. The people did rise up and fight -- but they were eventually slaughtered when Bush decided he would not support their efforts.

The Bush (both) legacy is all about building up expectations only to disappoint, immensely, and often with grave consequences. To them promises were made to be broken.

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