Leading article: Careless talk can cost lives

Share
Related Topics

Any hopes that there might be a quick, relatively clean, resolution to the crisis in the Caucasus were dashed yesterday. Indeed, the stakes seemed to be growing higher last night with the confirmation that Russian forces had advanced into Georgia proper.

Hard as it was to see through the clouds of propaganda emanating from the two sides, Russia clearly has the upper hand militarily. So the future would now seem to hinge on what Vladimir Putin's intentions are (for it is now apparent that it is the Russian Prime Minister, rather than the new President, Dmitry Medvedev, who is calling the shots). Is this an exercise in "shock and awe" to teach the Georgians a lesson? Or, as looks increasingly feasible, an attempt to depose Mikheil Saakashvili, the politically inept Georgian leader who has handled this crisis so badly.

Whatever the truth, the diplomatic response from the outside world to this crisis, in particular from the United States, has been woeful. Leaving aside the wisdom of encouraging President Saakashvili's ambitions to join Nato, the manner in which the West has reacted to the sudden flare -up of hostilities has been largely counter-productive. The decision to airlift Georgian troops back from Iraq to join the conflict was a clear signal from the United States that it is backing Georgia in this fight. And the condemnation of Russian "aggression" from the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, yesterday rammed the point home. What hope is there that the White House can help to be an honest broker of a ceasefire now?

There is an absence of realism here. The US, let alone Europe, is never going to go to war with Russia in defence of Georgian sovereignty. Russia holds too many geopolitical cards – from control of energy supplies to its central role in negotiations over Iran – for Western threats to be credible. Talking up the conflict is foolish. What the crisis needs is firm diplomatic pressure on both sides to cease hostilities, not the championing of one party. The best that can be hoped for in the immediate term is a European Union-brokered ceasefire and at least a temporary re-freezing of the South Ossetian issue.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron at a recent event  

Cameron is under pressure to misrepresent the Tory party as a reflection of the electorate

Matthew Norman
Relatives and friends of al-Hajj family gather in a mosque to pray over the bodies of the eight family members who died during an Israeli air-raid  

Israel’s reaction has been vicious and misdirected

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?