The U.S. – Georgian cooperation in the military field is due to bring unprecedented since August 2008 fruits: Tbilisi is expected to buy a bunch of Javelins, US man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles. This is quite solid and expensive weapon that can be applied also against a series of low-speed and low-level jets during taking-off and landing operation, for instance, helicopters, drones and propeller aircrafts.
As mentioned above, Javelin anti-tank systems are quite expensive – over one hundred dollars per missile in tube and fifty percent more per command-and-launch unit. Javelin is one of the most expensive missiles of its type. Under the deal, Georgia is expected to buy 410 Javelin missiles, 72 launch units, 10 training complexes and 70 fillers for $72 million. This is rather a big amount for our small and unfortunately not so rich country and could be spent to settle many urgent social and economic problems. Meantime, the government is sure that the money is spent on holy cause – “to defend the country’s sovereignty.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed a serious concern over the potential deal, warning against packing the region of smoldering-conflicts with weapons. This is the first large-scale military deal of U.S. and Georgia since 2008. Washington has reoriented its program of training Georgian peacekeepers to training regular combat units. With the support of U.S., they plan to build another military training center. Russia condemns such foreign military assistance as a direct effort to push Georgian towards dangerous adventures in the region, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin said in a comment.
The Georgian side responded immediately. Government members and representatives of the ruling political party and even the opposition said the missile systems is a defensive weapon to upgrade Georgia’s defense capability.
Defense Minister of Georgia Levan Izoria made a similar statement: “The only goal of the anti-tank missile system is to protect sovereignty of our country. Any type of weapons we have acquired and will acquire in the future will be defensive. This was stated publicly by the defense minister and mentioned in relevant strategies.”
This verbal gymnastics needs to be clarified. Any defense weapon is inherently offensive, since it increases the chances to survival in an armed conflict. Hoplites of Alexander of Macedonia won the large armies of Persians also due to their steel armor. Anyone who feels stronger than its rival faces a temptation to use that advantage and unleash an armed conflict.
To dispel the myth on good purposes of defense weapons, suffice it to recall that in 1972, two nuclear superpowers made a contract to restrict air defense. Why did they do it, if the defense weapons threaten no one? Besides, we can state for sure now that global nuclear war has been avoided so far just because the rivals fear retaliation.
Although the Georgian army is far from influencing such global tasks, let’s see how much its combat efficiency increases in fact. Before the august 2008 war, the Georgian army was intensively packed with ammunition and military hardware. Besides, Georgian troops were intensively trained by foreign military trainers.
In fact, the foreign trainers learned dancing lezginka, whereas their trained army lost part of the boasted military hardware to Russia and the other part was just destroyed. Suffice it to recall the story with American “hummers” that have not been returned to U.S. Besides, the Russian military thanked Americans for the technology of armor-plating of those specialized vehicles.
We could see how Russian armed vehicles were operated in Syria resisting even direct hits with anti-tank missiles. Nowadays there is no magic weapon in the work to change the pace of events like a magic sword in fairytales. Why do Americans supply weapons to Syria, Ukraine, Georgia and Baltic States? The answer is in the statement by Defense Security Cooperation Agency saying that the arms deal with Georgia “will contribute to national security of the United States.” Nobody argues with that. Both Baltics and Ukrainians with Georgians will be posing threat to their neighbor Russia along its border. These countries will be actively involved in potential conflicts, shedding their and others’ blood, felling victims to the national security of U.S. and not their own countries.
As one can see, U.S. earns money on sale of weapons and upgrades its security at the expense of others at the same time. To their credit, it should be noted that Americans have different stances on this issue. For instance, Republican Senator Rand Paul submitted a bill to the Congress banning sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia.
If the bill is approved and President Donald Trump ratifies it, the deal will be cancelled. However, given the ongoing “bacchanalia” in the U.S. politics, Congressman Paul may be soon labeled as “Putin’s agent” and even a KGB officer. Furthermore, the U.S. Congress has imposed so many restrictions on the president that it is high time to call his activity as semi-presidential.
Nevertheless, there is an undisputable fact and everyone must remember it: any fight for power inside U.S. political elite costs the peoples in other countries their welfare and lives.
Irakli Chkheidze (Tbilisi) for EADaily