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NEO-EURASIANIST ALEXANDER DUGIN ON THE RUSSIA-GEORGIA CONFLICT

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ტაბულა არ აგებს პასუხს პოსტის შინაარსზე, ის შესაძლოა არ ასახავდეს რედაქციის პოზიციას.

Alexander Dugin, a famous proponent of neo-Eurasianism in Russia, is heavily involved in the crisis between Russia and Georgia. On August 26, he visited South Ossetia to celebrate the recognition by the Russian Duma of the independence of the small republic and to welcome the “long-awaited renaissance of the Russian empire”. The Ossetian issue is indeed steeped in history. From the nineteenth century wars in the Caucasus, the Ossetians positioned themselves as allies of Moscow in its conquest of the region. In the twentieth century, they served as intermediaries for Bolshevik leaders, who promoted Ossetian autonomy movements in order to weaken the first Georgian republic. The contemporary conflict thus has historical roots, even if it has been fueled by the contemporary geopolitical situation and has brought turmoil to Russian nationalist movements.
BACKGROUND: The neo-Eurasianist doctrine advances a multinational and multiconfessional Russia, in which the “little” peoples of Siberia, the Far East, Volga, and the Northern Caucasus accept Russian domination in exchange for respect for their national traditions and the maintenance of interethnic peace. In terms of doctrine, Dugin thus considers it legitimate for these peoples, dissatisfied with post-Soviet national borders, to seek to leave states where identity is based on that of the eponymous nationality and to join a federal Russia, arguing that their interests will be better represented there. This belief is not circumstantial. Dugin has always held such opinions, even when they ran counter to Kremlin policies in the 1990s, as well as during the two presidential terms of Vladimir Putin. He has, for example, challenged the Kremlin on the Chechen question, criticizing military operations there and calling for the development of a comprehensive Russian geopolitical strategy for Chechnya, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria.
But the issues of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and likewise of Transnistria, are far from being merely theoretical; they are exceedingly political. Dugin has taken a position clearly in favor of the intensification of conflict with Georgia, arguing that the Caucasus is at the heart of American strategies to “destroy Russia”. His stance is therefore simultaneously based on geopolitical arguments (avoiding the encirclement of Russia by states defending U.S. interests), cultural arguments (preventing what he called “genocide” of the Ossetian people by Georgians), and territorial arguments (the rest of the Ossetian people, in North Ossetia, are already integrated into Russia). This is not to mention the religious angle, as Dugin enjoys appearing with Ossetian Orthodox leaders.
While Alexander Dugin seemed skeptical of the arrival to power of Dmitri Medvedev, neo-Eurasianist websites now celebrate the quiet strength of the new president, who has affirmed the historic greatness of Russia in the face of “Western threats”. Yet, the neo-Eurasianist movement concluded that the Kremlin should “go to the end” of its logic. By this reasoning, Dugin calls for unwavering support to all minorities in Georgia, dreaming of a simultaneous uprising in Mingrelia, Javakheti, and Adjara. He hopes that the Duma will also recognize the independent status of Transnistria, as it did for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and that Moscow will put pressure on Estonia and Latvia, which still have large Russian minorities. But above all, Dugin thinks of Ukraine. He supports the partition of the country in order to return its eastern portion and the Russian minority who lives there to their historic place in the Russian fold. As a result of this position, Kiev declared Dugin persona non grata in 2007.
IMPLICATIONS: To influence public opinion, Dugin in 2005 formed the Union of Eurasianist Youth. This group is notable for its forceful actions, organizing the first “Russian March” on November 4, 2005, following with numerous forays into Ukraine and Estonia to destroy symbols of independence and protect symbols of the Soviet Union, particularly those related to the Second World War. In autumn 2007, it attacked the Ukrainian cultural center in Moscow, which then hosted an exhibition devoted to the famine of 1930.
This year, like many other nationalist associations, the Union of Eurasianist Youth invited young people to participate in the resistance in South Ossetia. In August, the movement organized an “Eurasianist camp” in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali just after the departure of Georgian troops. Some Eurasianist militants stepped up to reinforce the Russian troops and Ossetian militias, and participated in sporadic fighting. An “Eurasianist humanitarian mission” comprising mainly of pro-Russian Ukrainian activists also arrived in South Ossetia at the end of August.
To influence the presidential administration, Dugin put another card into play: the International Eurasianist Movement, which is less provocative than the Youth Union and more politically correct. Created in 2003, the group has recruited officials like Minister of Culture Alexander Sokolov, Vice-President of the Federation Council Alexander Torshin, presidential adviser Aslambek Aslakhanov, and Aleksey Zhafiarov, director of the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Political Parties. All are members of the supreme council of the group.
The president of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, is also a member of Dugin’s movement. In early July, he participated in the third congress of the Union of Eurasianist Youth, stating his support for the independence of his republic, then its entry into the Russian Federation. His argument is historic and legal, that South Ossetia never officially left the Russian Empire and that it can only exist within contemporary Russia, the internationally recognized legitimate successor of the Soviet Union.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Dugin appears to have a new ally in the Kremlin, Ivan Demidov. A former journalist who became one of the new engineers of patriotism through his “Russian Project,” Demidov took the lead of the pro-presidential youth group, the Young Guard (Molodaia Gvardiia). In May 2008, he was promoted to lead the ideological arm of the presidential party. Dugin and Demidov have known each other for several years since they worked together on the Orthodox-oriented television channel Spas and on television programs like “Russian View.” Demidov promotes ethnocentric and Orthodox nationalism, inviting the country’s elites to free themselves of the taboo associated with the russification of Russia. He supports the ideas of Vladislav Surkov on modernization without Westernization. Although Demidov is far from being the only leader of Kremlin doctrine, through him Dugin enjoys the means to use his initiatives to inspire officials who appear to ideologically legitimize the Russian sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space.
CONCLUSIONS: Even if the Russian-Georgian conflict could be resolved peacefully, August 2008 will be remembered as a turning point in relations between Russia and the West, but also as the moment of crystallization for Russian nationalist movements. The war that started in South Ossetia has helped to re-energize nationalist forces, especially the youth, to promote the idea of “battle” with the Georgians, and will probably announce a new wave of Russian nationalist actions in Moldova, Estonia, and Ukraine, and of tensions with Poland. Yet, in light of calls from the most Nationalist hardliners, some other Patriotic lobbyists have maintained a more moderate stance while supporting the idea that Russia should respond to Kosovo’s independence and the so-called threat of NATO enlargement. They recall that Moscow, drawn into Chechnya for nearly two decades, has every interest in seeing the situation in the region subside if it wants to avoid unrest in the North Caucasus.
UNDERSTAND RUSSIA!
Dr. Theodore Karasik
Director of Research and Development
INEGMA - Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis
Russia’s military operations against Georgia and subsequent recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence by the Duma may be more than power politics—Moscow’s actions might be tied directly to a spiritual, social philosophical approach to Russian destiny.
The “Russian Doctrine”
Increasingly what we are witnessing is the possible implementation of the “Russian Doctrine” or the “Sergius’ Project” begun in 2005 (St. Sergius of Radonezh is considered “the eternal protector and patron of Russia at times of hardship.”) around the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s second term. The proponents of this idea are writers, publicists, historians, and philosophers from the conservative Orthodox milieu. Understanding their arguments might help explain where we are now and what may happen next.
Basically, the “Russian Doctrine” seeks to illuminate Russia’s role in the world and represents a swing back to pan-Slav nationals who see Russia as “The Third Rome” in the name of Russian Orthodox Christianity. They regard the West as corrupt and dismiss Western styles of democracy. This school is now ascending over the second camp, known as Westernizers, who seek a European-style democratic state in which culture, rather than military force, plays a central role. In such a system the state would not be allowed to become stronger than society.
What is important to understand is that these ideas are not new but steeped in Russian history and are being brought forward into the 21st century and beyond. For the authors, Russia is emerging from an unequal fight against the West where Russia played by foreign rules leading to havoc (smutnoye vremia) at the end of the 20th century that threatened Russian “spiritual sovereignty.” Both Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin seek to reverse this decline—an idea both men have been nurturing since 1 January 2000 when Boris Yeltsin resigned and the 21st century began.
What are some of the ideas behind Russia’s emerging role in the world? There are seven key notions to understand. First is the idea of “future restoration.” Today Russia needs to rebuild and restore the future as the future belongs to Russia. Second is the notion that Russia is the nation of sacred history and is unique in terms of ethnic, cultural, and historical features. Third is the idea of “Sencocracy” (smyslokratiia) that seeks to rebuild culture and have power over ideas and develop new skill sets to support Russia. Fourth, is autocracy where power is in the hands of Russians independent from any external force. Power in Russia must belong to the Russian Nation. Fifth is the idea of creating a Russian national economy instead of participating in the global economy (i.e. globalization). A national economy benefits the Russian Nation and must preserve and increase its assets abroad. Sixth is demographic nationalism to reverse the population decline and create new Russians. Seventh is the creation of a “Northern civilization” that is geospatial in nature and must replace the global dominance of the West and lead the world to the eschatological boundary of the “final events.”
This last idea is the most important. “Russian Doctrine” argues that there will not be a global order dominated by several civilizations or superpowers. Instead, the “Northern civilization” will present an alternative to the West and will replace its dominance in the world. Other countries and peoples will gravitate towards the “Northern civilization.” The authors see Russia as the last center of the world –the Third Rome-- until the end of humanity. They reiterate the idea that Russia has been raised above other countries by God and, therefore, God demands more from the Russian Nation than from other nations.
Current Developments
What is happening now in the Caucasus seems to be the next stage of implementing the “Russian Doctrine.” Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia when the Western countries recognized Kosovo’s independence created a precedent. Following Kosovo's declaration of independence the Russian parliament released a joint statement reading: “Now that the situation in Kosovo has become an international precedent, Russia should take into account the Kosovo scenario...when considering ongoing territorial conflicts.” On 16 April 2008 outgoing Russian President Putin instructed his government to establish official ties with counterpart agencies in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia thus paving the path to where we are today.
Commentary by Russian officials now appears to echo many parts of the “Russian Doctrine.” The idea of “we don’t need you” seems to be directly taken from these notions. President Medvedev said Russia is prepared to completely break ties with NATO. According to Medvedev, even if NATO chooses to cut ties with Russia, nothing terrible will happen to Moscow. Prime Minister Putin announced that World Trade Organization membership no longer interests Moscow. He added that Russia would soon be pulling out of several WTO-related agreements, thereby paving the way for Russia to formally withdraw its membership bid after more than a decade of negotiations.
The “Russian Doctrine” may be used to recognize secessionist regions in other countries. There are countless other secessionist regions-- Transdniestria in Moldova, for example, that are already stirring because of Kosovo’s independence and could be next if they see Russia as a new guarantor of independence after what happened with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A meeting between Medvedev and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin held on the same day of Russian recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence is indicative of what is to come. Medvedev told his Moldovan colleague that now is the time when the solution and final settlement of the Transdniestria problem is at hand. A meeting with Transdniestrian President Igor Smirnov is probably forthcoming. Ukraine is not immune either. Anywhere Russians hold Russian passports outside of the Russian Federation are considered by the “Russian doctrine” to be a prerequisite for becoming part of the Russian Nation. The possibilities may be endless.
Implications
Overall, Russia’s behavior and activity is to further “operationalize” the “Russian Doctrine.” By putting into practice key attributes of the doctrine, Moscow is seeking to place herself at the forefront of politics, economics, and social development in the 21st century. Understanding the roots of this behavior is key to determining the appropriate responses by both nations and business.
THE RUSSO-GEORGIAN WAR AND GEOPOLITICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE GULF LITTORAL
Dr. Theodore Karasik
Director of Research and Development
INEGMA - Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis
The August 2008 Russo-Georgian war is much more than about Moscow’s claims to South Ossetia or Abkhazia. There are broad regional implications that affect the Middle East and the Gulf littoral in particular.
Background & Developments
South Ossetian separatists, supported by Moscow, escalated their machine gun and mortar fire attacks against neighboring Georgian villages last week. In response, Georgia attacked the separatist capital South Ossetian Tskhinvali with artillery to suppress fire. Tskhinvali suffered severe damage, thus providing the pretext for Moscow's invasion of Georgia. Russians in Abkhazia are also fighting the Georgians.
As Russia responded with overwhelming force, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew from the Beijing Olympics to Vladikavkaz, taking control of the military operations. Putin sidelined his successor, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, thereby leaving no doubt as to who is in charge. Medvedev’s role is to handle the international diplomatic front which seems to be not on the table. Under Putin’s orders, the 58th Russian Army of the North Caucasus Military District rolled into South Ossetia, reinforced by the 76th Airborne “Pskov” Division. Cossacks from the neighboring Russian territories moved in to combat the Georgians as well.
The Black Sea Fleet is blockading Georgia from the sea, while Russian ballistic missiles and its air force are attacking Georgian military bases and cities including Tbilisi International Airport .What Russia is trying to do—and looking like she may succeed- is to establish a pro-Russian regime in Georgia that will also bring the strategic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum (Turkey) gas pipeline under Moscow's control.
Impact on Israel
More importantly and with immense strategic implications, Russia is also trying to send Israel a clear message that Tel Aviv’s military support for Tbilisi in organizing, training and equipping Georgia’s army will no longer be tolerated. Private Israeli security firms and retired military officials are actively involved in Georgian security. In addition, Israel’s interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines is growing and Moscow seeks to stop this activity at this time. Intense negotiations about current and future pipelines between Israel, Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan are tied to receiving oil at the terminal at Ashkelon and on to the Red Sea port of Eilat. Finally, Russia is sending a clear message that Moscow will not tolerate American influence in Georgia nor Tbilisi’s interests –supported by the pro-U.S. Georgian President Mikhal Saakashvili--in joining NATO. Overall, the military crisis will push Moscow to punish Israel for its assistance to Georgia, and challenge the U.S. to do more than voice rhetoric.
Impact on Arab Gulf States, Iran
In the Gulf, there are several broad implications. First is the impact of the war on Gulf investment in the Caucasus and in Russia. The Russian damage to Ras al Khaimah’s investment plan in Georgia is troublesome. The Ras Al Khaimah Government has recently invested in the Georgian port of Poti where its real estate development arm Rakeen is developing a free zone. Rakeen is also developing some mixed-use projects near capital Tbilisi. The company has three projects in Georgia - Tiblisi Heights and Uptown Tiblisi - with a total value of Dh7.3 billion, while a third is being planned. However, Ras Al Khaimah's other major investment did not remain unhurt. The Georgian harbor Poti, which is majority owned by the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (Rakia), was badly damaged in Russian air raids. In April 2008, Georgia sold a 51 per cent stake in the Poti port area to Rakia to develop a free economic zone (FEZ) in a 49-year management concession, and to manage a new port terminal. The creation of FEZ, to be developed by Rakeen, was officially inaugurated by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili April 15 2008. Previously the trend in Russo-GCC relations focused on strengthening the “north-south” economic corridor between the two regions; this linkage may now be in jeopardy if more Gulf investment goes up in smoke.
The second implication is the growing military presence in both Gulf waters and the Mediterranean Sea by the West and Russia that cannot be separated from the Russo-Georgian conflict. There is an unprecedented build-up of American, French, British and Canadian naval and air assets—the most since the 2003 invasion of Iraq—that are to be in place shortly for a partial naval blockade of Iran. Three U.S. strike forces are en route to the Gulf namely the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Iwo Jima. Already in place are the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea opposite Iranian shores and the USS Peleliu which is cruising in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
There is also a growing Russian navy deployment begun earlier this year to the eastern Mediterranean comprising the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov with approximately 50 Su-33 warplanes that have the capacity for mid-air refueling along with the guided missile heavy cruiser Moskva. This means the Russian warplanes could reach the Gulf from the Mediterranean, a distance of some 850 miles and would be forced to fly over Syria but Iraq as well, where the skies are controlled by the U.S. military. The Russian task force is believed to be composed of a dozen warships as well as several submarines. While the West is seeking to defend Gulf oil sources destined to the West and the Far East, Russia is increasing its desire to control Caspian oil resources and setting herself in a strategic position near the Levant.
A final implication is what may be a complete collapse of any back channel communications via Russia to Iran regarding Tehran’s preparation for confrontation with the West and slowing down Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. In the past year, Russia acted as an intermediary between the U.S., Israel, the GCC—specifically Saudi Arabia—and Tehran. With the Russian-Georgian war, the door may now slam shut between these players. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is attempting to halt the Russian sale of the S-300 anti-air defense system to Tehran and also is seeking to purchase large amounts of Russian weapons in order to “buy-off” Moscow’s pursuit of selling conventional weapons to Iran. As a consequence of the Russo-Georgian war, Russia may start to play hardball with going through with arms sales to Iran and dropping support for sanctions against Iran that may invite a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran.
As further evidence of the heightening of tensions, Kuwait is activating its “Emergency War Plan” as the massive U.S. and European flotilla is heading for the region. Part of Kuwait’s plan is to put strategic petroleum assets in reserve in the Far East and outside the forthcoming battle space. And Israel is building up its strike capabilities for an attack on Iran, purchasing 90 F-16I planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran. Israel has also bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads, in addition to the three already in service with its navy. Many strategic and tactical pieces for a confrontation are falling into place.
Overall, analysts have argued in the past few years that there might be a series of triggers that could force a confrontation between the West and Iran. Some maintained that this trigger may occur in the Gulf itself or in the Levant—whether accidental or on purpose. There were potential triggers before—the April 2007 seizure of British sailors in the Gulf, the September 2007 Israeli attack on a suspected Syrian nuclear facility, and Hezbollah’s seizure of Western Beirut in May 2008. Now it appears that a more serious trigger may be the Russo-Georgian war –despite geographical distance-- that may carry dire consequences for all—especially in the Gulf littoral.
Russia’s Recipe for Empire By Monica Duffy Toft
Russia’s recent campaign against Georgia is a textbook example of how powerful states forged empires in centuries gone by. For those who have forgotten, here’s how it’s done.
Empires like the one Moscow has embarked on creating in this century proved an abject failure in the last. In fact, the colonial and imperial project has been recognized as folly for so long by so many that few today even recall how to go about building an empire. So for those who have forgotten, allow me to offer the recipe.
An empire requires three key ingredients.
First, find a neighboring national minority that can be used as a pretext for intervention. The character of the national minority—be it racial, linguistic, or religious—is less important than that it reside within a state which is relatively defenseless as compared with one’s own. The Ossetians and the Abkhaz have always been friends of Moscow, so absorbing them is far less perilous than, say, incorporating nationalistic Georgians or Ukrainians. Empires understand this, which is why they invariably settle their own populations in the region to not only administer the territory, but serve as a ready cadre of loyalists (à la French pied-noirs in Algeria).
Second, it is absolutely essential that the empire builder have regional military dominance. Such dominance will dissuade others who might be tempted to come to the aid of the unhappy host of the aforementioned neighboring national minority. In the past, possessing artillery was enough, but air power dominance became essential in the mid-20th century. In the current era, it’s nuclear weapons. Add a pinch of insecurity: If you can make the case that you need to acquire a bit more territory because you’ve been assaulted or abused in the past, this will help a great deal. Given Russia’s nuclear arsenal and its military punch in the region, the international community can hardly pry it from its new territorial possessions.
Third, the empire builder also needs something others want. Cash is always a good option. If not cash, then something easily convertible, such as gold, diamonds, or, if the states with the highest capacity or will to intervene are energy importers, energy (gas, petroleum) will do. Russia’s strategy of forming only bilateral agreements with energy-dependent European states is a classic divide-and-rule approach. Unless energy prices drop precipitously or Europe finds other suppliers, Europeans have scant leverage.
Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking up trouble. First, stir up nationalist resentment in the neighboring national minority. Begin by encouraging obscure academics, artists, and intellectuals to create (if need be) self-awareness and foment nationalism. Create an impression of oppression. Events can be staged if necessary, but it is generally easier nowadays to simply purchase a media outlet in the target country. It helps if you can identify a common trait with the “oppressed” minority, but if not, you can do even better: In the last decade, Russia has decreed legislation that allows it the right to protect Russians in its near abroad and has formally granted citizenship and passports to those who want them, including many Ossetians and Abkhaz. So, when Russia declares that it is protecting its citizens, it is technically correct.
Next, come to the aid of the oppressed minority. Begin with diplomatic protests, bolstered by ominous troop movements, covert action, and lots of cash for minority leaders. Turn up the heat until the host government reacts; then characterize that reaction as “brutal,” or “genocidal.” In Moscow’s telling, Georgia committed genocide; genocide violates international law; and Russia had to act. (It is clear that the Georgians did move into South Ossetia with force, but no one credibly thinks they had embarked on genocide.)
The next part is the trickiest. Other states will protest, seeing through your deceptions. Short-circuit disaster by offering generous bribes or threatening dire costs if protesting states go public with anything more than pro forma objections. Combine your private bribes and threats with a public appeal to the international community, demonstrating how committed you are to peace, stability, and reconciliation. Remember Tibet? During a crisis, just keep up the diplomatic rhetoric until a larger, more pressing, international crisis emerges.
Carry off your bribes and threats well, and you can dramatically improve your chances of success by sending “peacekeepers” to act as a tripwire. Even if the host state scrupulously avoids engaging them, don’t worry: You can always claim otherwise. Sooner or later the host state will crack under your pressure and you can act—just ask Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
All this will prompt disgruntled third parties to send “missions” to investigate and establish “commissions” to report on the facts. During the ensuing delays, escalate your bribes and threats, and then intervene militarily and firmly establish control of the disputed region in the name of human rights and international peace (in the old days one could say “civilizing mission,” but this is no longer in fashion). What matters is who has boots on the ground, not who huffs and puffs the loudest.
Russia has, of course, been busily cooking up South Ossetias and Abkhazias in other parts of the former Soviet Union. Crimea in Ukraine and Transnistria in Moldova are just two of many possible future Russian targets. But building an empire is an expensive undertaking. Russia’s appetite for expansion might only weaken it further. Ukraine, for instance, is deeply divided between Russian sympathizers and chauvinistic Ukrainians. Applying the recipe there would be far more costly than it was in Georgia. The Kremlin would be well advised to take empire off the menu.
Monica Duffy Toft is associate professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Building a Strong Georgia By Richard Holbrooke ; 04 September 2008
Given the tremendous damage that Russia has inflicted on Georgia, it is easy to conclude that the Kremlin has achieved its objectives. But, so far, the Kremlin has failed in its real goal -- getting rid of pro-U.S. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
To be sure, Russia has tightened its control of the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It shattered the Georgian military, grievously damaged Georgia's economy, and stirred up discord within the Western alliance. For three years, it has tried every conceivable tactic to bring Saakashvili down -- fomenting a domestic uprising, imposing an economic blockade, beefing up its forces in the enclaves and finally a war. Yet Georgia's president remains in power.
Russia's invasion of Georgia has reshaped the strategic landscape. But, as the West debates how to "punish Russia," it is vital to remember that the main front is still in Georgia. Talk about taking away the 2014 Winter Olympics or ejecting Russia from the Group of Eight may or may not have some effect on the Kremlin, but the most important thing the West can do now is strengthen the government in Tbilisi. The equation is simple: If Saakashvili survives, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin loses.
The intense personal hatred between these men overlays two centuries of tortured history between Russia and Georgia. Many people report that Putin simply "loses it" when discussing the upstart Saakashvili, who led his country from near bankruptcy into a golden age of economic growth and the world's highest rate of foreign direct investment relative to gross domestic product. All this has been halted by Russian tanks.
The Kremlin has probably lost its chance to remove Saakashvili by overt force, although sinister, more stealthy means cannot be ruled out. The Kremlin's best hope now is that Georgia's economy will crumble, its currency will collapse, and an unhappy populace, encouraged by some opposition leader (perhaps bankrolled by Russia), will force Saakashvili from power.
The Western response to this challenge must go beyond rhetoric. What matters most right now is massive economic and military assistance. Public commitments to help rebuild Georgia are the best way to prevent Russia from achieving its goal. Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze estimates that rebuilding railroads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure will cost at least $1 billion. This does not include humanitarian relief, refugee resettlement costs or rebuilding Georgia's military. Gurgenidze also foresees negative economic growth, a huge budget deficit, and a collapse of tourism, which was just taking off in this beautiful country.
U.S. Senator Joseph Biden has called for an immediate $1 billion supplemental appropriation, a proposal quickly endorsed by presidential candidate Barack Obama. The European Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development must match U.S. support.
In the long run, Georgia and Russia must coexist peacefully. Here, Georgia must do its part. Saakashvili, an immensely talented 41-year-old, saved his country from utter collapse in 2003. But he must think strategically about the future.
On occasion, he has berated the Europeans for insufficient support -- not a good tactic for someone trying to join the EU -- and has used rhetoric about Russia that, while understandable, only increases the danger to himself. Saakashvili cannot pick up his tiny country and move it to Mexico. He has to manage the situation with greater care.
There will be consequences, of course, for Russia's relations with the West. (Bush's inattentiveness to this Russian threat, dramatically illustrated by his literal embrace of Putin in Beijing as Russian tanks rolled into Georgia, may have led the Kremlin to think it could get away with its invasion.) While the West will not risk going to war over Georgia, Russia must understand that it will pay for using force, or the threat of force, against neighbors that were once part of the Soviet space.
This is especially true for Ukraine and Azerbaijan, which are likely to be Moscow's next targets for intimidation. The rules of the post-Cold War world are changing, but not to the ultimate benefit of Russia, which has underestimated the unifying effect its actions will have on the West. Exactly how these relationships evolve depends on what each side does in the coming weeks -- especially in Georgia.

By George B. Gdzelidze

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