August 16, 2008
Mikhail Gorbachev Comments on the War in Georgia
A couple of days ago Mikhail Gorbachev, last head of state of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, wrote an article for the Washington Post. Mr. Gorbachev opened that article by saying:
The past week's events in South Ossetia are bound to shock and pain anyone. Already, thousands of people have died, tens of thousands have been turned into refugees, and towns and villages lie in ruins. Nothing can justify this loss of life and destruction. It is a warning to all.
He went on to lay the blame for the current crisis in South Ossetia firmly at the door of Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili and his Western backers:
What happened on the night of Aug. 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against "small, defenseless Georgia" is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity.
Mounting a military assault against innocents was a reckless decision whose tragic consequences, for thousands of people of different nationalities, are now clear. The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of U.S. instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of NATO membership, emboldened Georgian leaders into thinking that they could get away with a "blitzkrieg" in South Ossetia. In other words, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was expecting unconditional support from the West, and the West had given him reason to think he would have it. Now that the Georgian military assault has been routed, both the Georgian government and its supporters should rethink their position.
Now Mr. Gorbachev has given an interview on Larry King Live:
Here are some of his comments, after simultaneous translation by CNN:
I have heard the opinion of Eduard Shevardnadze. It was all at night. A little past midnight when the city was asleep. They used artillery. They used aircraft. They used all the weapons of killing. Tskhinvali was devastated by fire from multiple rocket launchers against people, against housing, against hospitals, against water and sanitation, against the energy and communications infrastructure. All of that was destroyed.
Larry then gave Mikhail Saakashvili a chance to respond to the accusation that he started the conflict by attacking Tskhinvali. Mr. Saakashvili said that:
I'm not shocked to hear it from former KGB operatives like Vladimir Putin or his former defense minister, Sergei Ivanov. Those people come from the Orwellian world, where lying is just an instrument of communication. But I'm profoundly shocked that somebody like Mikhail Gorbachev, for whom I had lots of respect in the past, well would use his appearance on your show for basically vindicating lies and deceptions.
Do you suppose that a winner of the Nobel Peace prize would lie whilst live on United States television?
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