Fresh Take

Who’s to Blame for Georgia?

Two narratives on Georgia’s conflict with Russia have emerged: In one, Georgia is an innocent democracy. In the other, its president, Mikheil Saakashvili, is an insidious despot who needlessly provoked Russia. Both are false. In today’s Washington Post, Anne Applebaum writes that it is well known that "Saakashvili is susceptible to extreme bouts of criminal foolhardiness." The Russians also knew this. "That was why they spent much of the previous year taunting and teasing the Georgians, shooting down their planes, firing on their police officers, attacking their villages, all in an attempt to create a casus belli." When their troops rolled into Georgia, it was clear they were executing a practiced plan, not simply reacting unexpectedly. "Georgians need to choose a leader who can promote true political and economic stability," she writes. "Until then, Western leaders should support Georgian democracy, not particular Georgian democrats, and prepare a unified response to the Russian military escapades to come."