The news today has been back and forth and all around. First the Russian's were attacking towards Tbilisi and then they were stopping. Then they were isolating Gori and Poti while irregular forces were looting and attacking the city. The important part is not what happened today though but what needs to happen.
First off, all parties must abide by the cease fire completely, and this applies also to any irregular forces operating now in Georgia. Russian Forces can not use the rationale that they are establishing a security zone or securing military equipment. They are now in a sovereign nation, and that is outside the scope of the cease fire or the original UN Mandate.
Second all elements must return to pre-August 6th 2008 positions. That means that the Russian Forces need to withdraw from Georgia proper. No more operations in Gori, or Poti.
Third, Humanitarian Assistance to the displaced persons within Georgia and South Ossetia needs to be flown in. If the Russian Forces have South Ossetia that is great, we are obviously flying assistance into Tbilisi. But, the people need food, shelter, and medical aid.
Fourth, the UN needs to put in place a neutral party to oversee the boundary between South Ossetia and Georgia. Once that is in place, then investigations need to take place, and a lasting long term solution needs to be put in place.
I have not been highly critical of Russian Forces until now, but I think the movements today were completely stupid. One, they sent the world into a spin today about the Russian's actions and cost much in public opinion. Two, they brought into question their legitimacy. Up until this point they were stating they were there for the sake of the people of South Ossetia. Now, due to the movements, most of the West thought they were on the road to Tbilisi for awhile. Now, the opinion is becoming one of distrust and mis-understanding. Personally, I'm not sure why they did it, or what they were up to. Maybe something, maybe nothing. But, I even find myself thinking, ok, whats really going on guys?
Opinion is something that is all about perception. For right or for wrong, what people think they see, is what becomes their opinions. Today people thought they saw a Nation advancing on anothers capitol. A few days ago people thought they saw genocide. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. But what is important is they thought they saw that, and that has shaped their opinion and beliefs. What we call Information Operations and Strategic Communications is vital to a nation, and must be always remembered. To lose that battle, is to lose the war of opinions and quite possibly the overall war.
God Bless America
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