From across the pond this morning comes a chilling story of the Russo-Georgian conflict this summer- and a realization, if one was needed, on who exactly is in charge of the Russian Republic.
Nicolas Sarkozy saved the President of Georgia from being hanged “by the balls” – a threat made last summer by Vladimir Putin, according to an account that emerged yesterday from the Élysée Palace.
That’s right, folks- when he wasn’t busy doing this…
… he was demonstrating clearly exactly who is in charge of the Russian Republic- if any evidence was needed. In the process, though, he may just have provided us with one of the few silver linings to the cloud that is the Bush Administration.
It seems that the situation in Georgia was more serious than many have suspected. While the Georgians- understandably upset with the position Russia had taken with their country and the territories of South Ossetia and Abkahazia- perhaps thought they were simply tweaking the Russian bear’s nose, it seems that Mr. Putin took a much harder line on the situation.
With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.
If you’ll remember, this is the man that, a short six years ago, had his soul “sensed” at by our President. Funny, since he’s had a fondness for coarse language and imagery for as long as he’s been in the public eye- in 1999, he talked about running Chechen separatists down “in their shithouses”; in 2002, he threatened a French journalist who’d printed an unfavorable article about him with castration.
According to Mr. Sarkozy, however, he defused the situation with a Gallic deftness.
Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” – he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”
Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah – you have scored a point there.”
Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen. It wasn’t enough we had despots justifying their actions using President Bush as an example; we now have despots who defer their decisions on going to war because of them. President Obama will certainly have his work cut out for him.
In an aside, though, I wonder if President Bush is going to have a lasting effect on the common lexicon of the English language, in the way that you’d hear “Benedict Arnold” or “Quisling”. Only time will tell, I suppose.