U.S. Forces to Georgia

The White House’s response is still unaccaptable weak, but at least things are turning the right way.  US ground and naval forces are entering Georgia for “humanitarian” reasons (the same excuse that Russia gave for its invasion).

The US is sending troops to embattled Georgia in the form of a humanitarian aid exercise, President George Bush said.

Mr Bush said military planes would deliver supplies in a move which would put American forces in the heart of the region.

The president said he was concerned that Russia might be violating the ceasefire in Georgia and he expected all Russian forces to withdraw.

He is also sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Paris for talks with EU peacemakers and then to Georgia to express solidarity with the democratically elected government there. Mr Bush said he strongly supported France’s efforts to broker an end to the fighting.

He said the massive US humanitarian effort was already in progress and would involve US Naval forces as well as aircraft.

A C-17 military cargo plane loaded with supplies was on the way, and Mr Bush said that Russia must ensure that “all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, roads and airports,” remain open to let deliveries and civilians through.

The Press Association: Bush sends US troops to Georgia.

We should be preparing to destroy Russian forces that remain in Georgia.  However, even this further protection of the Georgian government is welcome.

The Decline of Russia

A great article about Putin’s generally incompetent administration, and the hole he keeps digging for himself:

The Europeans may seem divided, but behind the bland statements calling on both sides to stop the recent fighting something significant has happened. Six European leaders, five of them from the former Soviet bloc, chose to stand side by side with Mr Saakashvili yesterday as he struggled to remain in power. The events in the Caucasus will only serve to harden opinion against Russia at Nato and in the EU.

The mini-war in Georgia may have surprised some Europeans, but it was expected weeks ago by British Intelligence. Thanks to the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB officer who was poisoned in London by suspected Russian agents nearly two years ago, Britain has completely reassessed its relationship with Moscow. MI5, which reports that Russian agents in Britain are now back at Cold War levels, regards Russia as the third most serious threat to British security after terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Attempts to rehabilitate relations have faltered and the recent treatment of BP by its partners and the Russian authorities has only reinforced the view that Russia cannot be trusted.

Flush with billions from the sale of oil and gas, the Kremlin may calculate that it does not need allies in the West and would rather be respected and feared than befriended.

That too would be a serious mistake. For all its big-power bluster, Russia is weak and vulnerable. Russian tanks and aircraft may have smashed the fledgeling Georgian Army with ease, but most of the weaponry was Cold War-era and many of the troops conscripts. Anyone who has seen the Russian Army operating in the Caucasus knows that the military will need a generation to modernise. Meanwhile America, and its main Nato allies, are decades ahead in military technology and combat experience.

Russia is also facing a severe demographic crisis. Its population is shrinking by 700,000 people a year. The UN estimates the population will fall below 100 million by 2050, down from around 146 million today.

As for the economy, it is booming thanks to natural resources that account for 70 per cent of the country’s wealth. But the oil price is in a state of flux. Russia has failed to diversify. Should energy prices fall sharply, the economy could collapse, as it did a decade ago.

Strutting Russia is heading for a fall | Richard Beeston – Times Online.

Putin may be Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons, but at least he isn’t a competent ruler of a great power.