Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sudden awakenings

We've blogged before about how it can be hard to rouse Sonny from slumber (click here or here for more). But there's a strange flip side to this: Of late, the young 'un can seem to go from snoozy to sharp in no time at all. It's a pity the president of Georgia never got to meet Sonny, we say... but more on that in a moment.

Neither Mum nor Pa, in case you were wondering, are known for being speedy risers. Mum yawns and stretches and groans, much as Sonny both used to and sometimes still does. Pa could sleep through a complete bulldozing of our flat. But Sonny? On some occasions, we've crept up to our son to find him completely dead to the world, arms stretched out in his patented 'hands-up!' position (see 'An infant's surrender'). Slow breathing, occasional twitching: If he was faking it, he'd have deserved a baby Oscar. But then, in a twinkling, he's completely awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He's looking around, alert for an attacking soft toy. His limbs are cycling about comfortably. The fella is ready for action.

So how does all this link to the President of Georgia, you ask? Well, as you know, Mikheil Saakashvili recently sent his soldiers into a part of his country - South Ossetia - that doesn't really want to be part of Georgia any more. By all accounts, he was hoping to quickly re-establish control. Only Russia, which has been a protector of the South Ossetians, didn't much like the plan, so it unleashed its military and kicked the Georgian forces out in a heartbeat, before threatening briefly to widen the conflict. All in all, it's been quite humiliating for Mr Saakashvili. What was he thinking, to spite the Russians this way?

Well, we're figuring that Moscow has been behaving like Sonny sometimes does: Being a real sluggard at responding, and being so slow to awaken that Mr Saakashvili was hoping to have completed his reconquest before Russia could shake the sleep from its geopolitical eyes. After all, it hasn't done much but growl as the Americans have expanded their military alliance, Nato, to its very doorstep and absorbed countries once considered Moscow's satellites into an anti-missile shield that the Russians find highly threatening. The bear has remained half in slumber.

Only the bear is like Sonny, of course: At times, unpredictably, it comes alive with instant ferocity. And so it was: Russian soldiers, and tanks, and attack aircraft and ships surged out more swiftly than Sonny's mood can change around mealtime - and it was curtains for Mr Saakashvili's clever plan. Only it wasn't all that clever, wasn't it? Just because Russia has been a slow mover at times didn't mean it wasn't going always going to be such a sloth, especially in an area within easy reach of its forces, with little chance of outside intervention and every opportunity to send a firm signal to the world.

Really, Mr Saakashvili should have been able to work that out in his sleep.