President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, left, with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in Tbilisi (photo by The New York Times)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has two valuable video clips worth noting: the first is the South Ossetia/Georgia chronology of fighting, the second the rally of Eastern European leaders in Tbilisi three days ago.
The chronology is useful because it shows the confusion about whom provoked whom first, though there is no doubt that the Georgians did start the shelling, giving Russia reason to invade. This, along with the US government failure to figure out what was going on in time to stop it, has to constitute the disaster's precipitating blunder.
The rally video, meanwhile, should be watched by all those who want to discount the Georgian position--such as the Russian parliamentarians who argued recently that Russia should have pressed on to conquer Georgia. Right or wrong, the Georgians were backed by nearly all the Eastern European governmental leaders. That says something. They all seemed to expect a Russian conquest that didn't happen, but they still showed their open anger at Russia. Such regional unity has to be sobering to Russia in this situation, too.
No one looks very adroit at this point, except--can you believe it?--France!
Bruce Chapman served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, Austria from 1985 through 1988.