Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president, is a man under seige. With Russia nibbling away at its border and seemingly also funding the current wave of domestic protests, Saakashvili is also ruing his faith in America.
At the time of the fighting in South Ossetia I did wonder whether the Georgians were pushed into the conflict. A few things just didn't ring true. Blackwater was conducting exercises there at the time, supposedly helping Georgian forces. Always good to find news reports close to the event, before there is time for the editorial hand to spin a convincing narrative. Russian reports had found Blackwater troops had been killed in the fighting. Also, if you or I had planned such a manoeuvre we would have looked at all the possible Russian responses and our counter-measures. But footage at the time showed a president running for his life - scared and clueless. Maybe, just maybe, he really didn't know what was going on.
Speculations, sure, but look at the situation now. Georgia's attempts to join both the European Union and NATO are in the slow lane. Saakashvili can rightly feel let down by his Western friends. Some accommodating agreement between Russia and the USA has obviously taken place and Georgia must be feeling like a rather minor player in a much bigger game. However, the Newsweek interview given by Saakashvili has a few revealing nuggets, especially about who his Western friends truly are.
"Of course, my best friend was always John McCain. You can say he is Georgian already. We expect McCain to come and visit us in a week or so. I have good relationships with Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and especially Richard Holbrooke—he is my teacher. I learned a lot of great things from him."
Richard Holbrooke! The same Richard Holbrooke who is currently United States Special Envoy for Oil - sorry, for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The same Richard Holbrooke who was on the Board of Directors of AIG for seven years until July 2008. The Georgian President should reflect on his choice of friends.
There is also a wise saying from Machiavelli: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer still. He seems to have done neither.