Today Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will receive a report from Polish intelligence about Sunday’s incident near a checkpoint between South Ossetia and Georgia proper, at which gunshots were apparently fired at (or near) vehicles containing the presidents of Georgia and Poland.
As some of the commenters here noted when I wrote about it on Sunday, this could not be more serious. Poland is a NATO member country. A strict reading (unrealistically strict, but still) of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty would regard an armed attack against Poland’s president as an act of war requiring collective — including Canadian — response.
Here’s where things get interesting. The Polish intelligence report asserts that the gunshots were fired by Georgian troops and the whole thing was a Georgian put-up job.
The ABW intelligence report states that when the first round of machine gun fire went off, the Georgian security forces with the two presidents made no response and showed no panic. Additionally, President Saakashvili was reportedly smiling and relaxed throughout the incident.
The ABW report stresses that a bus carrying journalists was allowed to the front of the motorcade before the incident so reporters could capture the events.
Well then. Let’s go back to our strict reading of Article 5. Mikheil Saakashvili appears to have organized an armed assault against a NATO member’s head of state for the purpose of pursuing some sort of weird, twisted, pedagogical exercise. If the words of our treaties meant anything, NATO should now declare war against Georgia.
Like most readers, I think this would probably be going too far. But could we agree on a middle course? Could we agree that NATO should not hurry into any obligation to make war on Georgia’s behalf, as long as this Saakashvili freak is running the joint? What do you say, Andrew?