Return to Transcripts main page
FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Russia's Power Play
Aired August 17, 2008 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JILL DOUGHERTY, HOST, GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE: Hello, and welcome to GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. We are coming to our viewers from around the United States and around the world.
I'm Jill Dougherty filling in for Fareed Zakaria, and the program today is being broadcast from Moscow. Our focus today is the conflict in Georgia.
A territorial struggle turns into a week of warfare. The U.S. stands firm in its support of the embattled nation of Georgia, reigniting tensions between old Cold War foes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: We'll talk to our CNN correspondents on the ground, who are seeing fighting first stand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL: There are some extremely serious developments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: We'll also ask the experts what's next in this Russian power play.
So, to give you a sense of what actually is happening on the ground, we have several correspondents who are in the field.
There is Matthew Chance, who is on the road between Tbilisi and Gori. He is with Russian troops. We have Fredrik Pleitgen in a refugee camp near Tbilisi. And finally, our Michael Ware is in Tbilisi.
Matthew, let's begin with you.
From what you can see on the ground, is this cease-fire holding? And what is the level of destruction that you can see? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEAR GORI, GEORGIA: Well, certainly, in terms of the major combat operations that we've been witnessing in this country over the course of the past week or so, yes, the cease-fire is holding. There aren't any major clashes between Russian forces, who are all along this road between the town of Gori and Tbilisi, and the Georgian forces who have pulled well back.
What they've left in their wake is quite a lot of destruction across the country. We've had homes of people, homes of Georgians that have been destroyed, as well as the destruction inside the main combat zones of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well.
Also, a lot of infrastructure has been damaged. The main road -- this is the main road between the east and the west of Georgia. It's now being fully occupied, essentially, by Russian forces.
Only yesterday, the Russian forces blew up one of the most strategic railway bridges in the country, making it very difficult for Georgia to fulfill its function as a transit country for oil across the country. That railway line is crucial for that.
The total isn't quite clear. I've spoken to Georgian officials about how much it's going to cost to rebuild. They say to me, it's an ever moving target, because the destruction by Russian forces, even though there's a cease-fire in place, continues to mount on a daily basis, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: And then, Matthew, you actually got into the capital of South Ossetia and actually saw what happened. The Russians have been saying that that is really decimated. Was that the case? Did you see that?
CHANCE: Absolutely. Compared to other areas of Georgia that we've visited, it's quite clear that the main fighting took place in South Ossetia itself, particularly in the main town of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, which has obviously been the center of a ferocious battle. It's that place where Georgian forces moved in initially to try and take control of that territory, which is a breakaway territory of Georgia.
And they also sustained heavy losses as a result of a major Russian counter offensive. Every building that we saw in Tskhinvali was pockmarked by shrapnel or by machine gun fire. There's military hardware, the remains of military hardware, twisted in the streets.
And the town itself is now full of thousands of Russian soldiers who have poured across the border to bolster their peacekeeping forces and to bolster the South Ossetian separatist rebels.
And so, it really has been a scene of destruction. A lot of reports of civilian casualties, as well, though it's been difficult to verify the exact level. But it's certainly where most of the destruction and most of the fighting took place, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Thank you, Matthew. Now, let's turn to our Frederik Pleitgen. Fred, you are in a refugee camp near Tbilisi, I understand. You know, both sides have been calling this a humanitarian disaster.
Is that what you are seeing with your own eyes?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEAR TBILISI, GEORGIA: Absolutely, Jill. You know, the United Nations said that there are about 100,000 people on the run here in Georgia alone, and about another 30,000 who fled to the Russian side of this conflict of territories in Russia.
And, you know, you can see that I'm standing in front of a refugee camp for displaced people here on the outskirts of Tbilisi. And the people who have actually made it here consider themselves -- and can consider themselves -- the lucky ones in this conflict. Many of them told us stories that they had been on the run for several days before they finally made it here.
Of course, it's very difficult for them to get even the bare necessities, things like emergency rations. Also, things like medical attention, and also things like food and clothing and similar things.
Now, what we're hearing from the Georgian government is that it's still very difficult to get into those areas that saw a lot of fighting.
Right now, as you know, Russian forces control the main road that goes through this country. And I've been hearing from international organizations who are trying to start aid convoys into those areas that, yes, right now they are allowed to go into those areas they're trying to get to. They're starting to try and get aid convoys going into those areas.
But it's still a very difficult and a very laborious process, because there's just so many military checkpoints on the way there, where they have to produce documentation, where they say the soldiers are very wary of aid coming in, especially if it's Georgian government aid, because they are fearing that the Georgian government might be trying to smuggle weapons into that area. So, certainly, for those trying to bring food, trying to bring emergency aid in there, it is still a very difficult situation.
What the United Nations has been telling us is that they don't even have an estimate of how bad the situation is. In much of the places where there was a lot of fighting, where there was a lot of destruction, including places like Tskhinvali, where, you know, Matt Chance went into and had a chance to see that destruction for himself, still, almost no estimation as to how bad it is.
The United Nations said it wants to go there. It wants to bring food, water and emergency care to there. But what they say is, almost exactly as important, if not even more important, is to try and get people who have been injured, try and get elderly people who are weak, out of that area and bring them to relative safety here, in places like Tbilisi, or to bring people with children to places like this camp for displaced people that you're seeing right here, where they do have the bare necessities, where they do have water, where they do have toilets, and where they have tents, where they have shelter over their heads, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: OK. And Fred, very briefly, who is providing that aid exactly? Is it the Georgia government? Or are there international organizations doing that?
PLEITGEN: Well, it's both the governments that are involved in this are providing aid. The Georgians are providing aid. And also, the Russians on their side of the equation are providing aid, as well.
Now, of course, also, the international community is providing a lot of aid. The U.S. has started a massive aid airlift here into this country with several American cargo planes landing at Tbilisi airport. In fact, one just landed about 10 minutes ago here at the airport, a C-130 Hercules that was bringing more aid here into the country.
Other countries have also contributed. The Netherlands, for instance, has sent an aid plane. And, of course, international aid organizations like the United Nations, like the Red Cross are also stepping up their effort.
But again, those efforts are still in very early stages, even though we are already almost nine days into this conflict. They still are in very early stages. They are still just now starting to reach, or haven't reach yet, large parts of the areas that have been devastated, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Thank you very much, Fred.
And now we want to turn to Michael Ware.
Michael, you know, you are in Tbilisi, and initially there were a lot of fears, apparently, among the Georgians that the Russians would actually try to go all the way to Tbilisi.
Now that we're in this situation, what is the level of fear among the people? And also, what is this, do you think, doing politically or any other way to President Saakashvili?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, TBILISI, GEORGIA: Well, obviously, Jill, there is some degree of unease amongst the Georgian population. I think -- however, I think that they themselves can see that the situation is beginning to calibrate itself here on the ground.
I mean, to be honest, whilst it's well within the Russians' military capability to take the capital -- where I'm standing right now -- should they so desire, I don't believe that, at the end of the day, the Russians would assess that that would be to their advantage. I think that they would believe -- and, I think, rightly so -- that that would be overplaying their hand. And they don't want to blow the gains that they've made.
I mean, just being purely pragmatic, in the geopolitical scenario that encases this conflict, the Russian military and political operation that's taken place here has been a stunning success. Militarily, on the ground, they swept the Georgian military away, as though they were batting a fly, all but. That Georgia military has tried to rally, but it still offers no real resistance to the Russians.
And of course, no one from Europe, the West or the United States, indeed, can or will come to their aid militarily. And politically, there's very little sticks with which to beat the Russians, so, to provide incentives or sanctions to force them to follow the letter of the cease-fire as it stands right now.
But the Russian mission, from Moscow's point of view, you would have to say has been breathtakingly successful military, on the ground, as we said. But politically they've sent the message to Georgia, to the region and to Washington that I suspect they fully intended to do from the beginning -- Jill.
DOUGHERTY: And Michael, just quickly, the people that you're speaking to, the Georgians that you're speaking to, are they -- they obviously would be concerned about the Russian side. But are they blaming anyone? Is it all the Russians? Or is there any, let's say, political blame for the president of Georgia?
WARE: Well, right now, I think it's too sensitive of a time for us to begin analyzing that in fine detail.
However, I will say that there is a mood, or there is a question mark over whether this Georgian government, led by its president, did provide any provocation to the Russians.
I mean, there's some talk that there's been goading of the Russian position for several years now, for quite some time, and that maybe some do, indeed, question the wisdom of the military operation launched by the Georgians just over a week ago.
However, the dominant feeling right now, for this moment, is one of nationalism, one of holding together, holding the line. I mean, this country has been invaded by a foreign force. Now is not the time to start pulling apart the leadership.
So, this is a rallying moment for the Georgians.
I'm sure, however, that there will be questions asked in the aftermath, both looking internally inside this country and, of course, externally at Georgia's foreign sponsors, particularly the United States -- Jill.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Thank you very much, Michael -- Michael Ware, Matthew Chance and Frederik Pleitgen, all down in Georgia.
You know, the word -- the Cold War has been batted around a lot. And how do you stop another Cold War? That's the cover story in this week's TIME Magazine, and we'll be talking with TIME's editor Rick Stengel and former U.S. national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE SOVIET UNION (voice of interpreter): I have been saying that we have not been able to establish a sound relationship between Russia and the United States after the end of the Cold War. I believe that the United States has made mistakes for which the people have to pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: So, Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, talking with our Larry King earlier this week.
And you heard the president there talking -- or using the phrase "Cold War." That phrase also is on the cover of the TIME Magazine this week: "How to Stop a New Cold War."
And the person who wrote that cover story happens to be the national security adviser -- former U.S. national security adviser -- Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Let's talk more about that with TIME's editor Rick Stengel. He is managing editor of TIME Magazine, and he joins us from New York -- Rick.
RICHARD STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Thank you, Jill. We're going to be joined by Mr. Brzezinski, Dr. Brzezinski, who is joining us this morning from the beautiful coast of Maine.
Good morning, Dr. Brzezinski. How are you?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, NORTHEAST HARBOR, MAINE: Good morning. It's beautiful here, for a change.
STENGEL: I know it's probably a lot nicer than here in Columbus Circle.
So, Dr. Brzezinski, as you know, I went to Moscow last year to interview then-President Putin. And he made it very, very clear that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical disaster, in his estimation, of the 20th century.
Is he now trying to put the genie back in the bottle and bring these states that were once part of the Soviet Union back into the fold, and therefore creating a new Cold War?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, in effect, that is so. When he makes a statement to such dramatic effect, overlooking the fact that the 20th century was punctuated by World War I, by World War II, by the Holocaust, he's really signaling his intentions.
And he's using force, or boycotts, or pressure on the former members of the Soviet Union, but now independent states, to bring about some new form of imperial control over the former Soviet space.
STENGEL: And here's my question for you now. I mean, for so many Americans this has just sort of popped up on their radar out of nowhere. But you mentioned the First World War. But the conflict between Russia and Georgia and South Ossetia has been going on for two centuries.
Let's talk a little bit -- tell us a little bit about the history that you know so well of what's going on here, because there are two sides to this question.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, Georgia was incorporated into the czarist empire back in 1801. And it was subject to control by Moscow until the breakup of the Soviet Union. So, in effect, Georgia was dominated by Russia for 190 years.
The Georgians are now in the second decade of their independence, so it's a brand new experience -- exhilarating, very, very important to them, but also very vulnerable.
Ossetia and Abkhazia are provinces of Georgia with ethnically somewhat different people, but people who are not Russians. And the Russians, for the last five years, have been making every effort to separate these two provinces from Georgia -- all the while repressing the Chechens, who are part of the Russian Federation, because the Chechens wanted to separate from Russia.
So, there is even a great deal of irony and hypocrisy in the Russian conduct.
STENGEL: Dr. Brzezinski...
BRZEZINSKI: ... Georgians, in the last few weeks -- the Georgians in the last few weeks got finally terribly impatient. And when six of their policemen were killed, they initiated a rather inept, in my judgment, military effort to reintegrate Ossetia into Georgia. The Russians were ready, and they pounced.
STENGEL: Right. I think you made the point that President Saakashvili may have actually been lured into a trap by Russia.
But just to clarify things for viewers, I mean, the people who live is South Ossetia -- and there are about 50,000 to 70,000 of them -- do consider themselves Russians, don't they? Wouldn't they rather be part of Russia?
BRZEZINSKI: They consider themselves to be distinct from the Georgians, but they consider themselves to be Ossetians. And I think the issue is one that could have been negotiated.
The problem is that the Russians have been using force over the last five years to impose a different status quo on Ossetia, also Abkhazia, and another province of Georgia closer to Turkey, Adjaria, which the Georgians have, in the meantime succeeded in reintegrating into Georgia.
STENGEL: Now, Dr. Brzezinski, I know you are in favor of Georgia having become a member of NATO. And it seemed as though that was entrained to happen.
What would have happened if Georgia was a member of NATO? Would Russia not have done this? Would we be on the brink of World War III? What would have happened?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, let me be more specific. I was not in favor of integrating Georgia into NATO.
I was in favor of granting Georgia something that the Georgians have asked for, which is a membership action plan. It's a program which prepares a country to join NATO at some future date, provided it meets the standards of that action program.
It takes several years.
BRZEZINSKI: So, there was no question of introducing...
STENGEL: Right out of this.
BRZEZINSKI: ... Georgia into NATO right now.
STENGEL: Dr. Brzezinski, we will be back with you in a moment on this special edition of GPS. I'm Rick Stengel here in New York.
STENGEL: Hi. Welcome back to this special edition of GPS. I'm Rick Stengel, the editor of TIME Magazine.
I'm here in New York, and I'm talking to Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is on the beautiful coast of Maine this morning, about the cover story he wrote in TIME this week, "How to Stop a New Cold War."
We were talking a little bit about NATO a moment ago, Dr. Brzezinski. And what I'd love to hear from you is, what can the international community do about this? There aren't a lot of sticks that America has, or Europe has.
A third of Europe's oil comes from Russia.
What should the international community be doing?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, first of all, we have to recognize what the issue is. I think the issue is one of principle. The issue is also one of geopolitics.
Geopolitically, an independent Georgia gives us access to the oil and energy of the Caspian Sea, or Azerbaijan, which would be terribly vulnerable, if it was cut off. It would give us access even to Central Asia. Morally, the issue at stake is: How do nations conduct themselves? Do they use force to impose their will, or do they seek accommodation?
And that's the principal issue involved with Russia.
Do we have means of pressuring Russia? Well, first of all, no one rational is urging war or a military collision, or even a return to the Cold War.
But the fact of the matter is that Russia is now increasing their part of the global system. It itself is also vulnerable to consequences that undermine that international system.
And if Russia threatens, for example, to reduce its energy shipments to the West, it loses an enormous amount of income, it loses its credibility as a supplier, and it tempts the West, then, to perhaps react in some fashion.
For example, if the West, on a desperate basis, has to buy its energy elsewhere and pay much more for it, there are now billions, hundreds of billions of dollars from Russia, by Russian oligarchs, deposited in the West. That makes them vulnerable to the consequences of any significant downturn in normal, constructive, economic relationships.
Ostracism also has an impact on the new Russia. The Russian elite sends it children to schools in the West. It likes to travel to the West. It likes to be part of the club.
In brief, we shouldn't really think of this problem in traditional military terms, or in terms of the Cold War.
STENGEL: Although a lot of the things that you're describing are kind of hits at the Cold War, a kind of new Cold War, maybe not quite as cold as before.
In fact, I think you're on record, I believe, saying that one of the ways that the West could protest is to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia that is coming up. Is that the case?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, if the issue is not resolved consistent with international norms by some accommodation, and the Russians insist on the unilateral seizure of these Georgian provinces, then 2014 is the year when the Winter Olympics are to be held -- right next door to these seized provinces.
Well, then, the question would arise whether the West should participate in these Olympics.
But we have time for that. I don't think that moving towards sanctions right now is the right moment.
STENGEL: Now, let's talk a little bit about now-Prime Minister Putin. George Bush, when he first met him, had a glimpse of Putin's soul. The United States started to try to bring Russia into the family of modern nations.
Is Putin now doing something to kind of say, "Look, we're not the kind of Western folks that you thought we were. We're trying to kind of put the genie back in the bottle and recreate Imperial Russia."
Is that what we're seeing with Prime Minister Putin now?
BRZEZINSKI: I think that's a fundamental question.
And actually, I think, from Russia's point of view, what Putin has done is rather damaging, because Putin has discredited a kind of naive policy of friendship with Russia, which Bush and Rice were propagating. He has shown that Russia's conduct today is rather different from the norms pursued by other major powers.
Look. In recent years, in modern history, we have had Germany acting in a fashion that was not acceptable. Yet today, Germany is a stalwart democratic country, a leader of Europe.
We had Japan acting in a fashion that was not acceptable. Japan is a pillar of democracy and a good citizen in the Far East.
China is rising as a power, but is doing it cautiously and carefully, and with respect for international norms in most cases, though some question marks about Tibet.
Russia stands out right now as a country that is revisionist, and is threatening not only Georgia, but Ukraine and the Baltic states. It's been waging cyber warfare against the Baltic states. It's been using economic sanctions against the Baltic states.
That is what Putin has done. And I think he's damaging Russia and its long-term political and economic prospects.
STENGEL: Dr. Brzezinski, I want to thank you for joining us this morning from Maine. Dr. Brzezinski, a former national security adviser, who is an expert on Russia and the Caucasus, who helped clarify the situation for us on this special edition of GPS.
Back to you, Jill, in Moscow.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Thank you, Rick.
And next up, why the crisis in Georgia is making Russia's neighbors worry, when GPS comes back.
DOUGHERTY: And welcome back to GPS, coming to you from Moscow this week. I'm Jill Dougherty, in for Fareed Zakaria.
Russia says that its objectives in Georgia are limited. But obviously, Russia's neighbors are worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO) DOUGHERTY (voice-over): The image was striking. The president of Georgia, his nation reeling from the military incursion by Russian troops, stands defiantly on the main square in the capital Tbilisi, calling on the world to defend his country.
At his side, the leaders of four former Soviet republics -- Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia -- and the former Soviet Bloc nation of Poland, who have had their own run-ins with Moscow.
IVARS GODMANIS, PRESIDENT OF LATVIA: You Georgians, stay united. United you'll win.
DOUGHERTY: But Georgia's army was no match for Russian forces, in spite of a vastly increased Georgian military budget and training by U.S. military advisers.
And some of Russia's smaller neighbors are drawing big conclusions from Russia's victory. Could Moscow try to do the same thing to them?
The U.S. defense secretary is stoking that fire.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think that the Russians' further message was to all of the parts of the former Soviet Union, as a signal about trying to integrate with the West and move outside of the longtime Russian sphere of influence.
DOUGHERTY: Moscow scoffs at that idea.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (voice of interpreter): We have no plans to throw down any leadership. That is not part of our culture, part of our foreign policies. It is not what we do.
DOUGHERTY: But Russia's foreign minister is dropping strong hints that Moscow would recognize the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions, no matter what Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, thinks.
LAVROV (voice of interpreter): De facto right now, neither the South Ossetians nor the Abkhazians want to live in the same country with the man who sent his troops against them.
DOUGHERTY: Repercussions from the conflict in Georgia already are being felt. As Russia's Black Sea fleet deploys off the coast of Georgia, Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, issues restrictions on those Russian ships, which operate out of a base in Ukraine's Crimea.
Moscow says it will ignore that order.
Poland, after months of tough negotiations with the U.S. over Washington's proposal to install a missile defense system in that country, suddenly agrees. The deal includes a pledge by the U.S. to quickly come to the aid of Poland in case of attack.
Moscow is furious, claiming the speed with which the agreement came together is proof the missile system is aimed at Russia, not at Iran, as the U.S. insists.
DOUGHERTY (on camera): Russia insists it has limited objectives in the Georgian conflict -- to protect the Russian peacekeepers and protect Russian citizens -- that it has no desire to reassert control over its former republicans, much less reconstitute the Soviet Union.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): But the men who stood by the Georgian president in Tbilisi this week are drawing broader conclusions and taking actions that, in turn, threaten to increase tensions between Russia and the West.
DOUGHERTY: So, do Russia's neighbors actually have good reason to worry?
We're going to ask that question of our next two guests. And they are Dimitri Simes -- he's president of the Nixon Center in Washington, D.C. -- and Rose Gottemoeller, who is director of the Moscow -- the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Dimitri Simes, could we begin with you, please? You've heard this week the Georgian president, Mr. Saakashvili, was saying, we are all at risk. And he seemed to be indicating that the ultimate plan here is for Russia to, as I said in my piece, reconstitute the Soviet Union.
Is that what we're talking about?
DIMITRI SIMES, PRESIDENT, THE NIXON CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.: No, I don't think so. Obviously, it's a very unfortunate situation, a tragedy for Georgia.
Obviously, it's a defeat for the United States when an American ally essentially is begin invaded by Russian forces. And there is little the United States can do, at least not on the ground.
And it is perfectly understandable why Russian neighbors are very nervous.
However, we have to remember what happened. These two enclaves, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, really never belonged to Georgia, if we are talking about Georgia as an independent state since 1991. They always were independent under strong Russian influence.
Saakashvili tried to use military force to take over in that fight.
I don't see a similar situation anywhere else on the Russian periphery. The Russians do not control any other part of the post- Soviet territory, of course, in addition to the Russian Federation.
So, I think this is a situation when we have to tell the Russians that they need to move out of Georgia as quickly as possible, that this is a very serious problem in the U.S.-Russian relationship. But I don't anticipate an invasion of any other post-Soviet state. DOUGHERTY: OK. And Rose Gottemoeller, could you tell us, what would you do, if you were trying to bring this all together and solve it? Quickly, if possible, can you tell us the principles that you would use?
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER, DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER, MOSCOW: (UNINTELLIGIBLE -- AUDIO DIFFICULTY)
DOUGHERTY: Oh, OK. Sorry. I guess we're having some difficulty with audio there.
Dimitri, let us return to you. When you're talking about the relationship with the United States in your last answer, what is going to happen? What's your prediction about the relationship between the U.S. and Russia?
SIMES: Well, in my view, once the situation is put under control -- and by that I mean the situation on the ground is put under control -- we have to make sure that all Russian forces, without an exception, move out of Georgia proper. And then we will have an issue of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Let me be blunt. There is absolutely no chance that Russia would abandon these two enclaves. This is not going to happen. The Abkhazians and South Ossetians do not want to be a part of Georgia.
And we will have a choice in the dialogue with Moscow. Easier to say, as President Bush said yesterday, there is no room for debate about the status of these two enclaves, and make it a defining issue in the U.S.-Russian relationship. And then I anticipate a lot of trouble and the end of Russian cooperation on Iran, on counterterrorism. And we indeed may be back to the Cold War.
Alternatively, what we will do, what was done in the cause of Kosovo, when Russia objected to Kosovo unilateral independence, which was recognized by the United States and European Union without Serbian consent. The Russians said it was a very bad idea.
But in the end, they have acknowledged that there was little they could do about the Kosovo independence and said, let's try to have a new beginning in the U.S.-Russian relationship.
I think that it is very important...
DOUGHERTY: OK, Dimitri...
DOUGHERTY: Sorry, Dimitri. We want to try to get Rose Gottemoeller in this conversation, too. I think we've fixed the audio problem.
Rose, the question that I was asking is, if you had a diplomat's hat on, what would you do? How would you solve this?
GOTTEMOELLER: Yes. Dr. Brzezinski was quite right when he said that the Russians have done so much to destroy confidence in their actions in the international community.
DOUGHERTY: Well, I guess we don't have this solved. So, Dimitri, my apologies.
GOTTEMOELLER: So, I think the key thing now is for the world to put the onus on Russia to build up confidence again. First of all, Sergey Lavrov says that they have some security actions they need to complete on the territory of Georgia before they can begin the withdrawal. Withdrawal is paramount.
So, what are those actions? What's the schedule? When are they going to get done?
The other question is, with regard to the Olympics, for example. Yes, indeed, the Olympics are coming up in 2014. But what will the Russian Federation do to ensure the safety and security of Olympic athletes in 2014?
So, we need to place the onus back on the Russian side to take some responsibility and build up confidence in the world community.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Sorry. We're having a few audio problems here.
Rose, could I ask you one more question. And it's a complicated question, but a brief answer, if you could.
Was there any justification for what Russia did in this conflict?
GOTTEMOELLER: I don't think there's any justification for the use of force in this way.
There were many opportunities for diplomacy. Of course, Russia and Georgia have been circling around each other, and each of them itching for a fight over the last six to nine months.
But I do believe that the Russians overreacted. And I think that, in fact, there could have been some solutions worked out at the negotiating table, if they had been willing and patient enough to take those opportunities. But instead, they went in with overwhelming force.
The other point is, of course, that in Russian military doctrine, there is no such thing as finesse. There's no such thing as limited use of force. So, we really saw them going in in such a way that really was not constrained at all.
But I did want to mention that I disagree with your correspondent, who said that this was a terrific success for the Russian armed forces. In fact, Russian military experts in the Russian press, in the Russian media, are quite critical of what has happened. They said the Russians, in fact, have shown major failures.
They lost several aircraft they didn't need to lose, because they failed to take out Georgian air defenses. They have been suffering from the use of very old tanks and armored personnel carriers not being able to succeed. And in fact, I think that the military record here is quite mixed on the Russian side.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Thank you very much, Rose Gottemoeller and also Dimitri Simes.
Now, when we come back, we're going to have a different perspective about this conflict in Georgia, and it's coming from CNN's military analyst, Brigadier General David Grange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the U.S.- Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: So, some tough words there from Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, tough words for Russia.
And our next guest knows the military, and he also knows this part of the world very well. Retired Brigadier General David Grange is CNN's military analyst. He commanded the Army's Big Red One in Europe.
And also, I just found out that he has other qualifications. He actually commanded Russian troops in Bosnia and in Kosovo.
So, I really want to get your feedback, general, on what exactly, if you were looking now at this conflict and analyzing how both sides did -- how the Russians did and also how the Georgians, who have been trained by the United States and have been armed by the West, how they did -- what would you say?
BRIGADIER GENERAL DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY-RETIRED, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, WEST BABYLON, NEW YORK: Well, it's hard to compare the training levels of, for instance, U.S. advisers training the Georgian army. The army is very small. And regardless of how well they're trained, unless they did some type of insurgency type activities against the size of this Russian invasion, they couldn't have done much more.
The Russian military plans very well in detail. And because it planned well in detail, this was on the books for quite some time. They knew exactly what they were going to do by phase.
They messed up some of it. But basically, they executed each part of that phase the way they had planned, using trigger points to execute the next part of each phase.
And I think that to say they just reacted to some Georgian aggressiveness, I think is erroneous.
DOUGHERTY: And, you know, this has been kind of a sore point question, in terms of how well the Russians were prepared.
Some people, especially in the United States, are saying this was planned long in advance. They had war games, et cetera. They wanted to go in there.
There are others who say, no, that was all part of their military training. They would be fools if they were not planning for something like this.
And let's say the Georgians made the first step. Are you able to answer that at this point?
GRANGE: Well, I have my own assumptions on how it went down, and some of the information that I have. But I believe it was a baited operation, that yes, some Georgian police officers were killed. They were shot on by proxies in Ossetia.
And then, the Russians, hoping that there would be a response from the Georgian military -- which there was -- then launched their planned attack. And what they do is then, they moved in, realizing that they wanted to control those two parts of Georgia, which they succeeded on. And they pushed beyond those boundaries somewhat to ensure their gains.
And it's all about positional advantage. If you recall back in the Kosovo conflict, when Russian paratroopers moved by armored vehicles out of Srpska and Bosnia towards Pristina Airfield in Kosovo, it was to get there quickly, establish themselves, and then wait for negotiations to take place.
DOUGHERTY: OK. And since you know this region, if you can say briefly, what are specifics about this area? Why is this particular area in Georgia different from other parts in this region?
GRANGE: Well, several reasons. You know, the fault lines that run through different places of the world, this fault line -- demographically and also the terrain, the strategic importance of the terrain -- Georgia is on one of those fault lines, just like the Balkans. The Balkans is a fault line.
And so, it's an area that people want to control. It influences not only military operations and control of populations, but it also influences economically. And of course, with the pipelines that go through this part of the world that connect landlocked countries to the Black Sea, it is critical to the future.
And it's on a periphery of a Russia. And Russia, I think, is concerned about that somewhat, just like we would be, if you think back to, for instance, our actions against the Soviet Union at the time in Cuba.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Well, thank you very much, General Grange. It was very interesting.
And when we come back, we will have Ambassador Richard Holbrooke on the line. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOUGHERTY: OK. So, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke knows this region very well. Holbrooke was the chief architect of the Dayton peace agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia. And he is in Tbilisi right now. He's on the phone with us.
Thanks a lot for being with us, Ambassador Holbrooke.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TBILISI, GEORGIA (by telephone): Great to be with you, Jill.
DOUGHERTY: Speaking of Yugoslavia -- thank you -- speaking of Yugoslavia, the Russians are making that comparison a lot. They are saying, in essence, let's look at Kosovo. Kosovo becomes independent from Serbia.
So, why not these two breakaway regions in Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Why shouldn't they be able to determine their own destiny?
What would you say?
HOLBROOKE: First of all, the differences are enormous and would consume the rest of your program to explain. But it's a totally different situation.
Secondly -- and this is the real point -- the Russians were going to do this, with or without Kosovo. They just used it as an excuse.
They have been agitating to overthrow President Saakashvili of Georgia now for two years. They cut off land, air, sea, rail and air traffic and postal service two years ago. They've been trying to blockade them economically.
And as General Grange just said -- and I've just talked to the people on the ground here -- this was a Russian provocation.
The entire Georgian leadership was on vacation at the time. President Saakashvili himself was in Italy at a fat farm trying to lose weight. They were caught completely off balance.
The Russians put out some propaganda about 2,000 deaths in the capital of South Ossetia, which just isn't true. Human Rights Watch has been in there.
And most importantly -- you talked about Bosnia, Jill -- there has been real ethnic cleansing here. I talked to the refugees yesterday, who got out of that area. The Georgian villages in South Ossetia have been ethnically cleansed. And there have been tens of thousands of refugees that are pouring into Georgia.
DOUGHERTY: OK. And now, a very brief question and probably not enough time here, but how would you solve this?
HOLBROOKE: First, you've got to get the Russians out of this country. They're here illegally. This is an invasion.
And I would point out that it's the first time the Russians have gone into a foreign country with force since the end of the Cold War. They did it in Budapest in '56, in Prague in '68, and Afghanistan in '78.
But since 1991, we've operated in the post-Cold War environment, where we thought those kinds of things couldn't happen. Now it's happening again in a new context. And after this is over, it's going to require a full reevaluation of Russia's relations with the West.
As for solving it, as Brzezinski said to you in his excellent interview, this could have been negotiated away. Everybody knew it was an explosive point, and it's got to be dealt with.
Right now, from an American point of view, there has to be a massive economic and military supplemental request, which I hope President Bush will put forward right away, to help the Georgians rebuild their damaged infrastructure. The Europeans have a big role to play. And we have to help the Georgians rebuild as soon as this thing has stabilized.
DOUGHERTY: OK. Well, thank you very much, Ambassador Holbrooke.
So, when we come back, we're going to be taking you to George W. Bush Street.
OK. I guess we're out of time, so we'll thank you very much.
Fareed Zakaria will be back with GPS next week. Thanks for watching.