Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Flat Tire Leads to War

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The English nursery rhyme was meant to explain the unintended consequences of one's thoughtless actions. The rhyme also applies to adults who may be too heavily invested in a preconceived outcome and circumstance set.

London Telegraph reporter Damien McElroy in Tblisi, tells the improbable story of how a war occurred because of careless automobile maintenance.

A flat tyre on a Russian diplomatic car triggered the slide to war in Georgia after it forced the cancellation of key peace talks the day before fighting erupted, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

[T]he first substantial face-to-face talks on August 7 fell through after a farcical chain of events in which the top Russian diplomat claimed he was unable to attend the meeting in South Ossetia because his car tyre had run flat.

Refusing to take his excuse at face value, the Georgian delegation then assumed they were being lured into a trap, and began the shelling that invited the Russian invasion.

Details of how such a mundane incident sparked the crisis that now threatens to redraw global East-West relations emerged during an interview given to The Sunday Telegraph last week by Timur Yakobashvili, Georgia's chief negotiator. He recalled how on August 7, he traveled to the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, for what he hoped would be a ground breaking round-the-table meeting. Waiting for him was a Russian General, Marat Kulakhmetov - but there was no sign of his Russian diplomatic counterpart, Yuri Popov, who was supposed to be chairing the talks, nor were any South Ossetian officials present.

"It was disturbing atmosphere," recalled Mr Yakobashvili. "Two days before, the South Ossetians had started using Russian positions to shoot at our troops. But we decided to make the trip anyway because a direct meeting would have been a breakthrough."

Asked as to whereabouts of the rest of the delegation, General Kulakhmetov was polite but blunt. He held up his phone to the Georgian negotiator's ear to demonstrate that the South Ossetian delegate had turned his mobile off.

A second mobile phone call to Yuri Popov, the Russian diplomat, chairman of the talks, added an element of the ridiculous to the impasse. "I called and spoke to Popov and he said he could not get to the office because his car had a flat tyre," said Mr Yakobashvili. "This was preposterous. I said the delegation must have more cars. He said there is another car but its tyre is flat too. At this point I knew it was a trap and I was very angry."
Perhaps if the Russian delegation had taken the advice of Barack Obama to check the tire pressure everyday, the Russo-Georgian War would never have happened. Improperly inflated tires can have unintended consequences far beyond wasted fuel mileage.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

1 comment:

Throwing Stones said...

Great reading, super great blog.
Tnaks for it