Two interesting recent posts from Wired’s Noah Schachtman. In this one, Sept. 5, he cites this London Times report as saying that last week, US/NATO military people managed to connect Georgia’s surviving air-defense missile radars to NATO’s own broader air surveillance system.
This would seem to challenge or contradict what I wrote here recently about the US having decided, for now, not to give Georgia any military aid. More on that, below.
But was what happened last week between the Georgian and NATO a/d systems a “re-connect”, rather than a “connect”?
Schachtman notes that back last December, Reuters had already quoted Georgia’s defense minister as saying that “Georgia has plugged into NATO’s integrated air defence radar system.”
It makes a significant difference whether what happened last week was a connect or a re-connect. If the latter, then that presumably means that the Georgian radars were still “connected” to the NATO system back on August 7/8… Which would mean a couple of things:
- (1) Having been thusly connected didn’t actually have the effect of saving the Georgians from getting creamed in the August war. It would even less effect now, since a large portion of Georgia’s ground radars have been destroyed in the interim.
(2) Somewhere in the archives of NATO’s air surveillance system there almost certainly lie some pretty acurate records of who did what to whom, with what precise timing, back at the start of the war. (That’s a politically important matter, since Pres. Saakashvili continues to claim he was only “responding” to a prior Russian attack rather than– as most of the evidence seems to suggest– actually starting the war himself.)
Anyway, if NATO did indeed (re-)connect Georgia’s a/d radars with the NATO system last week, that’s the most I’ve heard about anywhere regarding western nations having given any concrete military aid to Saak since the war. So it looks as though Washington may be cautiously testing Moscow’s Red Lines regarding rearming Saak’s Georgia.
I actually judge that in Moscow, having Georgia plugged into the NATO system may not, on its own, be seen as strategically disadvantageous, as noted in point #1 above. Indeed, in a situation of gradually mending/evolving Russia-US ties, the “transparency” offered by the plug-in, as mentioned in point #2 above, could be seen as part of a broader regime of reciprocal confidence (re-)building in the region.
Wouldn’t that be a nice thought?
The London Times writer, Michael Evans, made no reference to the idea that what happened last week may have been a re-connection, rather than a first connection. But he did say this about the US (and UK) policy on the question of rearming Georgia, more broadly:
- [NATO] sources said that proposals were currently under discussion to fly Nato Awacs over the region, although they emphasised that no decision had yet been taken on such a development, which would be viewed as provocative by Moscow.
As part of efforts to develop closer military ties with Georgia the US is also planning to set up a trust fund into which alliance members can donate money to assist Georgian military forces. “It’s basically Nato passing the hat around,” an official said.
A Nato team of specialists has visited Tbilisi to find out what Georgia needs to rebuild its forces. Washington dismissed the claim by Moscow that the US warships sent to Georgia to offload tonnes of humanitarian aid had been delivering arms secretly.
“The thrust of Nato’s efforts at present is to help Georgia get through the winter, preventing Russia from strangling the country. We’ve got to try to keep the democracy in the country going, but there’s no talk about accelerating Georgia’s application to join Nato as a member state,” one official said.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in London said: “In light of recent events, Georgia needs time to reflect on requirements for the future. We intend to provide assistance to Georgia and will consider requests for assistance in discussion and co-ordination with our Nato and EU partners.”
The discussion and indirect ‘signaling’ between ‘west’ and ‘east’ continue. Doubtless on the agenda are a whole basket off issues, not just Georgia. The other agenda items surely include:
- * Iran
* European energy supplies.
Regarding the latter two of these issues, as I wrote Sept. 4:
- Moscow might have large parts of western Europe over a barrel. But [regarding the US/NATO project in Afghanistan] it has the US over a railhead.
And then, there’s Iran, a policy “challenge” for the US and its European allies in which the US’s hawkishly anti-Iran position has been considerably undermined by Saakashvili’s adventurism…
The story continues to evolve.