Now the balance has tipped. Unleashing riot police on demonstrators, leaving dozens in hospital, then declaring a state of emergency, seem an inexplicable overreaction to protests that posed no threat to public order. Blanket bans on demonstrations and on anti-government radio and television are tactics that would raise blushes even in the Kremlin [bold mine-DL].
Mr Saakashvili claims his country was facing a putsch organised by outside provocateurs. Though Georgia has certainly suffered much from Russian mischief-making, he has produced no convincing evidence that it has played a decisive part in recent days. Having cried wolf, he may find it harder to win outside attention when his country faces a genuine threat. ~The Economist
Wow. When even The Economist criticises Saakashvili this bluntly, you have to know that he has fallen pretty far from grace. Then again, Saakashvili’s entire foreign policy consisted of little more than yelling in his most shrill voice, “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” His latest excuse-making is just more of the same. That suited Washington well enough since 2003, and apparently still does. It’s interesting to see that it has been enough to embarrass some of his most vocal Western supporters.
Still, it wouldn’t be The Economist if it didn’t have this:
This is not just about salving Western governments’ wounded feelings. Failure to criticise Mr Saakashvili’s mistakes will undermine the West’s cause throughout the region. Russians will wonder whether outside support for Georgia in recent years was a cynical bit of Kremlin-bashing and energy politics, rather than good-hearted help for a country yearning for security and freedom.
Gosh, why would anyone have come to that conclusion?
Insanely, The Economist still favours bringing Georgia into NATO at some point. So, in short, they have learned nothing from the last two weeks of Saakashvili’s misrule.