Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is now living in Brooklyn and hoping for political rehabilitation:
But Mr. Saakashvili, considerably plumper than when he was in power, argues that the [Ukraine] conflict should also mark a reappraisal of his own reputation as a reckless leader whose peaceful Rose Revolution and commitment to reform were eclipsed by years of riding roughshod over opponents, bending the rule of law and provoking Mr. Putin into a war that resulted in the death, displacement and impoverishment of thousands of Georgians. “It should be revisited,” he said.
While there are a few similarities between the 2008 war and the current conflict in Ukraine, the crucial difference between them is that Saakashvili was primarily responsible for escalating the conflict back then. Russia bore part of the responsibility by baiting Saakashvili, but he was the one that stupidly took the bait. He did so in the mistaken belief that the U.S. and its allies would come to the rescue if he got into trouble. He was encouraged in that by careless American rhetoric, by misguided support for Georgian aspirations to join NATO, and and by foolish Western enthusiasm for his “revolution.” Nonetheless, in the end the decision to attack Tskhinvali and trigger the larger war was his, and he bears a significant amount of responsibility for the damage to his country that followed. He also presided over the brutal crackdown of opposition protesters in 2007, which resulted in hundreds of injuries. The current charges of abuse of power that have been brought against him back in Georgia are only too believable, since it was in part because of abuses by his government that his party was voted out in 2012. Revisiting the facts of Saakashvili’s tenure just confirms his reputation for recklessness and abuse of power. Subsequent events in other countries don’t change any of this, and no matter what one thinks of the conflict in Ukraine it doesn’t vindicate Saakashvili’s actions in the slightest.