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Are you there, God? It's me, Medvedev
August 27, 2008 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Why I had to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions, by Dmitry Medvedev.
posted by stammer (138 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dmitry, this is a big "fuck you" from Meatbomb, and you can pass that along to your boss Vladimir as well.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:13 AM on August 27, 2008


This was posted here quite a while ago. Not sure if that makes it a dupe or not.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:16 AM on August 27, 2008


Some of those nations were un­able to treat their own minorities with the respect they deserved.

Even though I'd like to ask the Chechens if they feel they got some respect, I believe that this is a dupe.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:22 AM on August 27, 2008


One of the shortcomings of narcissistic imperialism is that you tend not to give a fuck about things that don't contribute to your immediate gratification.

This one's for you, George, Dick, Condi and the rest of the hawks...
posted by vhsiv at 7:27 AM on August 27, 2008


interesting!

"Meanwhile, ignoring Russia’s warnings, western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo’s illegal declaration of independence from Serbia. We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others."

I think it's a pretty valid point. Certainly no large powers want to see their countries broken apart into a handful of seperate ethnic/cultural regions. This element of the situation is perhaps hard to understand from an american perspective because although the US is quite racially/ethnically hetrogenous, most citizens have a strong concept of belonging to the nation rather than the region. Regions in africa, europe, the middle east and the former soviet bloc are far different in that regard. The regional history and sense of local identity is not something that should just be ignored as a surface justification for a cynical land grab.

Don't get me wrong, I think Russia had it's own interests in mind, but the interests of the people of south ossetia and abkhazia are the interests of the russian federation as well.

great link, thanks.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:27 AM on August 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


The impressive thing was the way he did that while Putin drank a glass of water.
posted by eriko at 7:31 AM on August 27, 2008 [41 favorites]


The vegetable will have steak, too.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:34 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Russia had no option but to crush the attack to save lives.
Body count is up to what umber by now?

This was not a war of our choice. We have no designs on Georgian territory.
Sure, if you don't consider territory that lies within the boundaries of Georgia as being Georgian territory.

Our troops entered Georgia to destroy bases from which the attack was launched and then left.

Why are you still in Poti, then?

I'm sorry, I can't read this without getting really emotional. Pretending there wasn't some serious international dick-swinging going on is real bullshit, though. It's also the reason I'm still stuck in limbo, jobless and completely cut off from my Georgian friends, counterparts, and host families.
posted by piratebowling at 7:34 AM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Wow, not one mention of oil, gas or pipelines.
posted by chillmost at 7:39 AM on August 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Title made me lol.
posted by chillmost at 7:40 AM on August 27, 2008


The impressive thing was the way he did that while Putin drank a glass of water.

Yes, but did the water contain polonium?
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:40 AM on August 27, 2008


While I'm sure there's much more to this story not included in his essay, the points he did raise are absolutely correct.
posted by rocket88 at 7:40 AM on August 27, 2008


International relations is all about having one rule for some and another rule for others.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


While I will certainly read this, I can already hear the translation in my head: "Blah, blah, justification, rationalization." What politicians say is often interesting, but it rarely seems to me anything but lies, half-truths, obfuscations and distortions.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:47 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is anyone in the house recognizing the independence of North Ossetia?
posted by crapmatic at 7:50 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


what the russians are really saying - "it's our backyard and we'll do what we want in it - next stop, ukraine - if you want help with your issues like iran, stop interfering with ours - and if you don't want missiles in cuba, get yours out of poland"

cold war 2 coming up - and this is george's fault for pushing them there
posted by pyramid termite at 7:55 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Chilly War
posted by blue_beetle at 7:57 AM on August 27, 2008


The problem of smaller regions wishing autonomy based on regionalism, ethnicity and history is a complex problem. So we hit it with this here hammer.
posted by cimbrog at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's noteworthy that the site of the main complex for the 2014 Winter Olympics is less than 5 kilometers from Abkhazia.
posted by gubo at 8:02 AM on August 27, 2008


Apologies to homunculus for accidentally poaching his link. Good to see we're both fans of straightforward presentation, though.
posted by stammer at 8:10 AM on August 27, 2008


Oh, you poor Americans!
Does it confuse you not having a clear "Bad guy"?
posted by atrazine at 8:18 AM on August 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


That was possibly unduly harsh of me.
posted by atrazine at 8:21 AM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


I heard an interview with KGBedev with the BBC. He said that Russia was acting normally, then he said Kosovo was a "special circumstance", then he said that Georgia was another, but different, special circumstance.

The hardest thing for us to hear is that Russia has the democracy it wants.
posted by ewkpates at 8:21 AM on August 27, 2008


It would be foolish not to assume this is another play in a gigantic dick-waving contest. But Medvedev raises some very important points the US would do well to address.

On August 7th, Sakaashvilli used artillery fire to raze Tskinvali to the ground and moved the Georgian Army into South Ossetia, killing both Russian citizens and Russian peackekeepers, who were there under the auspices of an internationally-brokered agreement which stopped the fighting that dated back from 1992 (again, instigated by Georgian nationalist politicians).

The Kosovo precedent gives Russia - and anyone else in the world, for that matter - a blank cheque to fuck around with separatists. So what if nobody else in the world recognises Abkhazia or South Ossetia? Only 47 countries recognise Kosovo which has as much a chance of getting into the UN as Western Sahara (which is yet another gunpowder sprayed zone).

Being Serbian myself, I can't only imagine, but I know what it's like for a foreign power to walk all over your sovereignty, occupy your territory and amputate your country.

This situation, however, has only the West to blame, for having opened a Pandora's Box of a legal precedent.

Sakaashvilli is a reckless little dictator (why does nobody remember the Combine police beating a demonstration to a pulp in November '07? ) and he irresponsibly attacked South Ossetia, believing somewhat naively that NATO would come to his aid in case Russia fought back.

Meanwhile, Western leaders are completely ignoring their own military histories of the past few decades and are calling on Russia to 'respect international law' in a perverse reversal of the situation in February when the province of Kosovo and Metohija declared independence unilaterally. And Bush acts just like this Meatbomb character:
Dmitry, this is a big "fuck you" from Meatbomb Bush, and you can pass that along to your boss Vladimir as well.
needs the United Nations when the concept of nation is up for grabs?
posted by adricv at 8:21 AM on August 27, 2008 [13 favorites]


Guess NATO shouldn't have pushed for recognition of Kosovo. One man's 'breakaway rebel region' is another man's 'newly liberated independent microstate'. Shame these international pissing matches normally result in people dying and a fresh generation of pissed-off people with AKs.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:25 AM on August 27, 2008


Yours, Medvedev.

P.S. Good luck with the Nabucco Pipeline, suckers! - love, Putin.
posted by anthill at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2008


Is anyone in the house recognizing the independence of North Ossetia?

Actually, North Ossetia is a republic within the Russian Federation. It's not independence, but more recognition than South Ossetia got from Russia.
posted by charlesv at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2008


1. Russia invades other countries.
2. Russian settlers move across border and set up shop.
3. Countries declare independence.
4. Russia decides to "protect its people" by re-invading.

Let's not pretend that this has anything to do with NATO, the UN, the US, or whatever. This is Russia doing what it did the last time it had the means and opportunity.
posted by ewkpates at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Stammer I am glad you poached my link! now listen to my next link to find out how this attack links directly to J McCains new con to get a war on, (30 min mp3)
posted by hortense at 9:27 AM on August 27, 2008


What's Russian for Lebensraum?
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Between step 2 and 3 you missed 'hand out passports to anyone who asks.' Now "Russian Passport holders" are being "oppressed."
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


U.S. military ship avoids tense Georgian port
posted by homunculus at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2008


Adricv: You're not seriously comparing Georgia's two days worth of shelling rebel positions to Serbia's role in the Balkan Wars? Or even the Ossetian's purge of ethnic Georgians in the early 90's? While Sakaashvilli is no Vlaclav Havel, he's not an expansionist dictator, either. Using emergency police powers to quell rioting aimed at the overthrow of a legitimately elected government is OK, so long as the powers are rescinded after it's over, which they were.

Georgia's only "crime" was to be unpopular with a major world power who felt they could benefit economically and politically from its subjugation. Kosovo is a red herring, and irrelevant. This is all about the unintended consequences of Iraq.

Only instead of an Axis of Evil, we have a nascent European democracy on the wrong end of it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:38 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do we have any actual Russians who live in Russia here at Metafilter? There has to be some. Can we get some POVs from at least ONE?
posted by spicynuts at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2008


Georgia's only "crime" was to be unpopular with a major world power who felt they could benefit economically and politically from its subjugation.

their real crime was to escalate a conflict that they couldn't possibly win - there are probably other crimes that both sides have committed - but georgia badly misjudged the situation, their opponent and their allies

in short, it was a really dumb move

This is all about the unintended consequences of Iraq.

even if the iraq war hadn't happened, there would be no conceivable circumstances under which the u s could prevent the current russian actions - we never had that power and we never will have that power and the russians know it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:47 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why don't we just let Russia into NATO and be done with it? I mean seriously, we are never going to invade Russia and Russian is never going to invade the U.S. The only reason Russia acts this way is because they historically have been paranoid about their borders and they want the access to resources that we tend to steal by far subtler means. Let them into NATO, make them our partners then they have absolutely ZERO reason to claim national defense for attempting to steam roll over any Eastern European states.
posted by spicynuts at 9:54 AM on August 27, 2008


Do we have any actual Russians who live in Russia here at Metafilter? There has to be some. Can we get some POVs from at least ONE?

I don't live in Russia, but much of my family does. They're in support of the invasion--a) because they think the idiot Saakashvili forced them into it; b) because this is a pushback against the US expansionism they've been seeing for a while. It doesn't seem like a RAH RAH RAH MOTHER RUSSIA WILL CONQUER ALL kind of thing at all. Russians are generally quite patriotic but very cynical about their leaders; you rarely see Putin identified with Russia the way Bush is often identified with America. They're all pretty cognizant that this is an international power game, but they know where their sympathies lie.

a nascent European democracy on the wrong end of it.


Georgia is almost as little a democracy as Russia is, but its leaders are better at playing the PR game with the West (besides being propped up with American cash). Don't let me interrupt your regularly scheduled weeping for the poor dears, though.
posted by nasreddin at 9:57 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]



Why don't we just let Russia into NATO and be done with it? I mean seriously, we are never going to invade Russia and Russian is never going to invade the U.S. The only reason Russia acts this way is because they historically have been paranoid about their borders and they want the access to resources that we tend to steal by far subtler means. Let them into NATO, make them our partners then they have absolutely ZERO reason to claim national defense for attempting to steam roll over any Eastern European states.


The only reason NATO exists is to counterbalance Russian expansionism (what the Americans say) or to implement an American policy of encirclement (what the Russians say). NATO isn't like the UN--it has a definite, if downplayed, strategic mission that serves American interests. This has not changed since the Cold War, no matter how much we like to pretend there's a New World Order afoot.
posted by nasreddin at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, Russia says their actions are on behalf of the South Ossetians and Abkhazians. They say that their situation is similar to the desire for Kosovo to break away from the former Yugoslavia. OK. Fair enough, we can quibble about details all we want, but in the end thats how the Russians want to frame it, and no amount of "yeah but" is going to change it.

The Georgians put us into a hell of a tight spot by shelling an area occupied by Russian troops. That was very stupid of them. I think we should just let South Ossetia and Abkhazia go their own way with Russia just for the sheer stupidity of it, never mind any provocations by separatists that the Russians might have encouraged. This is on Russia's doorstep, and the Georgians need to accept that.

On the other hand, we don't need to accept Russia's justification of this conflict. A lot of people have claimed that this is really about the gas pipeline that is planned through Georgia, including through South Ossetia. Assuming this is true, would South Ossetia's independence from Georgia prevent the construction of the pipeline, or can it be built via another route, perhaps at higher expense. If its the later, then this should be our response. Build the thing ASAP, the hell with the cost, and give Georgia all the support they need to defend the remainder of their country.

I mean, seriously, is this not the answer? Georgia, you fucked up, you lose your territories. Russia, you're jackasses, we'll get our gas elsewhere. And hey, how about we try to clamp down on gas usage across the board anyhow. Once again, our (the West's) over reliance on fossil fuel is biting us in the ass. Lets have a Carbon Tax for Freedom.

Eh, sorry about the rambling, incoherency of this post. I've just been trying to get my head around what the hell happened here and what we should do about it.
posted by Reverend John at 10:03 AM on August 27, 2008


Don't let me interrupt your regularly scheduled weeping for the poor dears, though.

We're looking at 2,000 killed already. "poor dears?" Wow, thats just tasteless.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:03 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]



We're looking at 2,000 killed already. "poor dears?" Wow, thats just tasteless.


Yes, that "2,000" number is the number of Georgian-caused casualties in Ossetia reported by Russian authorities. In any case, I'm obviously not referring to the people that were killed, by either side. I'm referring to the "Georgia as a poor, innocent democracy" theory.
posted by nasreddin at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, you poor Americans!
Does it confuse you not having a clear "Bad guy"?

That was possibly unduly harsh of me.


Don't be so hard on yourself. It was unduly ignorant. (Hint: not everyone who is posting in this thread is an American. It's true! Click on some of the first few names, for an example.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Spicynuts: Do we have any actual Russians who live in Russia here at Metafilter? This message is from my friend in Russia.
Hi Geo! I'm really glad to hear from u! But it's sad that u have
written to me only on war issue. But still I really glad. I'm working
as an interpreter in a big plant. Now I'm in a workshop with German
specialists which are a new line of equipment fixing now. I'm very
slow in English after German speech :) so, what about that war.. I'm
absolutely disagree with american politics. It's unfair. America
holds a durty politics. And holds durty informational war, shows on tv
georgian weapons which was from america delivered because it has
american marks, but says that it russian! Nonsense! And i can give
numerous examples. Durty politicians. Georgian's president thinks that
usa needs it! Stupid! Usa needs only its positions close to russia.
Hope u are fine. Take care. Bye.
posted by hortense at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Taking into account the freely expressed views of the Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples, and based on the principles of the United Nations charter and other documents of international law, I signed a decree on the Russian Federation’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.


UN Charter art.1(2) - To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;


But what of art.2(4) - All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

And art.2(7) - Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.

art.58(1) - Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.

So you see, as much as it may be argued that Kosovo was a 'special circumstance' because of the genocide etc., Medvedev's right in that it does open the door for interventionism in aid of 'self-determination'.
posted by djgh at 10:20 AM on August 27, 2008


The UN, in military or great-power-politics terms, is utterly meaningless. It has some sort of authority only when enough of the Security Council members can agree to gang up on a non-member, without anyone seriously objecting. In any other case--such as conflicts (by proxy or otherwise) between great powers with veto ability--the UN charter isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I'm not one to support right-wing unilateralism, but you've got to face it: the UN is a fundamentally crippled organization.
posted by nasreddin at 10:28 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Georgia, you fucked up, you lose your territories

Sure, but apply that to the Middle East… Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, you effed up, you lose your territories.
posted by mhz at 10:29 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


In any other case--such as conflicts (by proxy or otherwise) between great powers with veto ability--the UN charter isn't worth the paper it's printed on

The fact that states still reference it, especially as justification for aggressive actions, shows that it still has some hold.
posted by djgh at 10:44 AM on August 27, 2008


Someone please draw me a diagram to explain how on Earth was Kosovo a genocide.
posted by adricv at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2008


adricv, I don't have a horse in this race, but a quick google search for Kosovo Genocide gives you this.
posted by ferdydurke at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2008


Sorry, confusing my Balkan history there re:genocide - can't remember exactly why Condolezzaa Rice etc. said it was a 'special circumstance', but it's to do with the aftermath of the Serbian conflicts etc.
posted by djgh at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2008


adricv is technically right that technically there was no genocide in Kosovo. A quick Wikipedia pulls that one up, even though there was lots of death all round.
posted by djgh at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2008


I think the contributions to this thread by those from Russia illustrate the point I made perfectly: the USA made us do it, the Georgians provoked us, blah blah blah.

Maybe Russia isn't ready for democracy.
posted by ewkpates at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2008


Now if only he'll recognize natswarawstan, we'll be jake.
posted by waraw at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


October surprise came early this election cycle.
posted by hortense at 11:52 AM on August 27, 2008


And when the "peacekeepers" were protecting the militias and providing jet support for them while making a few raids on Georgian villages?? Is that something Georgia should take laying down? Is Georgia still the provocateur?
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the contributions to this thread by those from Russia illustrate the point I made perfectly: the USA made us do it, the Georgians provoked us, blah blah blah.

Maybe Russia isn't ready for democracy.


ewkpates, i'm not russian and not even particularly sympathetic to russia, but look at the facts, man: since 1992 a lawful international treaty has been in place specifically stationing russian peacekeepers in these provinces to defend them against the threat of aggressive military actions from georgia.

so flash forward to now. georgia actually takes aggressive military action by sending troops into the provinces, setting a couple of villages on fire, and randomly shooting at both russian troops and civilians.

russia, which was there in the first place precisely to defend against such an attack, responds with military force of its own and chases the georgian troops out of the provinces. exactly what they were there under international treaty to do in the first place.

so the first major event that triggered this mess--undisputed by all accounts--was that georgia sent troops into the independent provinces and started shooting and burning things, in what some have said initially appeared to be an ethnic-cleansing campaign.

why didn't those events make the news first?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:56 AM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Please correct me if I am wrong, but is anyone else seeing the MCCAIN effect here? I am ready to believe this whole thing is related to the election!

A timeline:

1.) Ossetia has had a long-standing desire for independence (17 years ago declared independence?)

2.) McCain has Randy Scheunemann feeding him the paid-for messages from Saakashvili.

3.) Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland's Foreign Affairs Minister, reveals how McCain has assured him that America will continue its support of the missile deal after the elections -- in spite of Russia's vehement objections.

4.) Saakashvili invades Ossetia.

5.) Russia responds.

6.) McCain grandstands and sends his "advisors" to confront Russia (not to mention, sending Cindy).

Thank god someone stopped an all-out naval battle this morning??
posted by Surfurrus at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


And when the "peacekeepers" were protecting the militias and providing jet support for them while making a few raids on Georgian villages??

what? first i've ever heard these charges. you got a cite, damndirtyape? i mean, other than to an article in the voice of america?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2008


I think the contributions to this thread by those from Russia illustrate the point I made perfectly: the USA made us do it, the Georgians provoked us, blah blah blah.

Maybe Russia isn't ready for democracy.


Ouch. Democracy (republicanism, really) is a method for the people to determine the direction of their nation. Just because the people of some other land don't do what you want them to (see Palestine & Hamas) doesn't mean they aren't ready for democracy. Due to their living within their own media, cultural differences, national pride and just plain ole disinformation that people all over the world have to deal with to some degree, results may vary. They can have any damn government style they want.

Now, back to debating the actual actions.
posted by cimbrog at 11:59 AM on August 27, 2008


Saul, this article has info on the dispute.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


We also have some proof that Russia patrols the skies of these territories with jets because they shot down a georgian UAV not too long ago. I dont see a lot in the media about village attacks and how the peacekeepers operate except for georgian and russian propaganda accusing each other of wrongdoing, but this conflict has a real history with border disputes which makes the "he shot first" argument very shaky to begin with.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:18 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Saul, this article has info on the dispute.

Uh, civil.ge is hardly any more unbiased than the VoA. But all that aside, this article doesn't mention air support or cover at all, and it looks to be a case of he-said-she-said--in other words, it doesn't provide any support for your claim.
posted by nasreddin at 12:20 PM on August 27, 2008


this conflict has a real history with border disputes which makes the "he shot first" argument very shaky to begin with.

Uh, yes, shooting down a UAV is exactly the same thing as carrying out a full-scale artillery bombardment against a peaceful city, killing hundreds of innocent civilians.
posted by nasreddin at 12:22 PM on August 27, 2008


Uh, uh, uh.
posted by nasreddin at 12:23 PM on August 27, 2008


Interesting in-depth analyzes in Europe News:
"A great tragedy of modern history ... occurred when the US squandered not only a Cold War victory, but also a Cold War peace"

posted by Surfurrus at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2008


Has Russia been undermining Georgia in ways large and small?

Sure.

Have its peacekeepers been aiding rebels militarily?

Probably.

So is Russia to blame for this mess?

Nope.

This was Saakashvili's doing. He had a weak hand, and yet he chose to bet everything he (and his country) had. He seems to have thought he could leverage US domestic political conflict into US military support.

Screw him. It would be nice if the Georgians could drive this greedy clown out of office, but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.

I look at it this way: The US has been bullying Cuba for forty years. Nonetheless, if the Cubans decided to respond to this undeniably shabby treatment by shelling Miami, I would not be surprised to wake the next morning and find that Havana was a smoldering crater.

International affairs are conducted on the level of the playground sandbox. It is not wise, generally, to knock the bully upside the head and then expect to be rescued by Mom before the bully can hit you back.

Too bad so many innocent people will suffer for this schoolyard crap.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Saul: blogger Michael Totten, reporting from Georgia, has a long article giving an account of the start of the war that conflicts with the consensus account—take with whatever portion of salt you prefer. Also, a representative of Human Rights Watch suggests the number of South Ossetian civilian casualties claimed by Russia is exaggerated.
posted by The Tensor at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


By the way, "The Harvard Boys Do Russia," linked by stammer in another thread, is an amazing capsule summary of how Russian capitalists aided and abetted by the Americans robbed the entire country blind during the 1990s. When Russians think about America and "democracy," this is what comes to mind. It is what Putin pulled the country out of.
posted by nasreddin at 12:50 PM on August 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Saul: blogger Michael Totten, reporting from Georgia, has a long article giving an account of the start of the war that conflicts with the consensus account—take with whatever portion of salt you prefer.

That's a very interesting article, thanks. I don't know how much I believe--certainly much of it sounds a lot like the old "Iraqis tore babies from incubators! The Germans killed and ate Belgian babies for fun!" propaganda game--but it does give a very detailed account.
posted by nasreddin at 1:04 PM on August 27, 2008


You should always be careful with the version of events told by someone on government payroll even when the government is as friendly and democratic as Georgia's.

The Tensor: sorry, but that blog you cited lost all credibility with me when it got to this line. georgia is widely known around the world for violent political crackdowns against its own people and myriad other human rights violations. human rights watch has a pretty good report on just how "friendly and democratic" georgia is here.

and yeah, russia may have exaggerated the civilian casualties (it was hundreds, not thousands) but that's still hundreds of innocent civilian casualties.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2008


...sorry, but that blog you cited lost all credibility with me...

Oh, you should definitely stop reading the article, then. That way you won't know anything about the conflict that's of questionable credibility...except for everything Russia says about it.

Meanwhile: Russian-backed paramilitaries 'ethnically cleansing villages'.
posted by The Tensor at 1:13 PM on August 27, 2008


Metafilter: another play in a gigantic dick-waving contest.

[I am enjoying this thread immensely.]
posted by mynameisluka at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2008


Saul: blogger Michael Totten, reporting from Georgia, has a long article giving an account of the start of the war that conflicts with the consensus account—take with whatever portion of salt you prefer.

I will take a big heap of salt:
"Someone else who destests Michael Totten as much as I do:
Some people can make a journey of 10,000 miles and never have their preconceived ideas about themselves or their homeland challenged.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2008


Joshua Foust--not pro-Russian by any means--responds to Totten with links.
posted by nasreddin at 1:22 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Someone else who destests Michael Totten as much as I do:

Wait, this guy writes for TechCentralStation, National Review, and the WSJ? Hmm...
posted by nasreddin at 1:28 PM on August 27, 2008


And ... while we it (re: neo con agendas) , can we bring Israel into the conversation?
Aug 14, Asia Times:
Israel's relations with Georgia have been close, partly because there is a large Georgian Jewish community in Israel. In recent years, ties have also taken on a military dimension, with military industries in Israel supplying Georgia with some US $200 million worth of equipment since 2000. This has included remotely piloted planes, rockets, night-vision equipment, other electronic systems and training by former senior Israeli officers.

Israel is not a major supplier of arms to Georgia, with the US and France supplying Tbilisi with most of its weaponry...

Further attention was drawn to the Israel-Georgia arms trade earlier this year when a Russian jet shot down an Israeli-made drone being operated by the Georgians.
...

Asked about the motivation to initially engage in the sale of weaponry to Georgia despite concerns it might anger Russia, Yaron replied: "We did see that there was potential for a conflagration in the region but Georgia is a friendly state, it's supported by the US, and so it was difficult to refuse."
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JH14Ak02.html
posted by Surfurrus at 1:33 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


this guy writes for TechCentralStation, National Review, and the WSJ? Hmm...
Yup. Totten was a founding blogger at Pajamas Media as well. He's a soft neocon--smarter than your avg. Michael Ledeen, but scratch not too far beneath the surface & you'll find unreconstructed Bushite foreign policy views.

BTW, I'm the blogger linked above who wrote the anti-Totten screed though in that case I was writing about his wonderful travelogue through Kurdistan, which happens to resemble Scarsdale somehow in his retelling.
posted by richards1052 at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2008


Saakashvili says Russia overplaying its hand

Saakashvili declared, well-groomed in a dark blue suit and speaking fluent English in an interview that began at 20 minutes past midnight: "They [the Russians] have more than enough soldiers on the ground to confront a small Georgian armed force. We can never match 3,000 tanks in our territory. But trying to bully the West, the Americans? This is just beyond their resources."

**

Why do I get the distinct impression Saakashvili, who strikes me as a moron and really a much bigger asshole than either Putin or Medvedev, has been betting since the first day of this conflict that the United States military would come to his rescue?

Randy Scheunemann, neocon hack, top McCain advisor, and lobbyist for Georgia, must have really sold Saakashvili a line of bullshit. The entire thing has neocon fingerprints on it: the "Operation Immediate Response" joint US-Gerorgian military exercises last month, the rumors of Blackwater mercenaries in Georgia, the clandestine bombings that occurred prior to Georgia's offensive in South Ossetia, the immediate airlifting back to Georgia of their troops from Iraq (which we paid for, by the way), etc. It seems like Cheney and McCain want nothing than a war with Russia.

***

from the above link: Asked if Georgian entry to NATO -- his over-riding priority -- might not draw the Western alliance itself into war with Russia, the 40-year-old president [Saakashvili] replied: "I don't think Russia first of all has the resources for World War Three, I don't think Russia even has resources for a new Cold War, even as much as they might want to have."

**

Who exactly is Saakashvili trying to convince with statements like this? He sure seems eager to potentially sacrifice American lives for his chess game with Moscow. Is the next stop on the neocon disaster train supposed to be Tbilisi, and not, as one might have thought, Tehran or Damascus? I surely hope not.
posted by ornate insect at 1:45 PM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


It seems like Cheney and McCain want nothing than a war with Russia.

I suspect they want to escalate so they can turn the critical election issue from the economy to national security.
posted by nasreddin at 1:50 PM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


The only reason NATO exists is to counterbalance Russian expansionism (what the Americans say) or to implement an American policy of encirclement (what the Russians say).

This is why I say let them into it. Because then the whole offset of West vs Russia would be declawed.
posted by spicynuts at 1:53 PM on August 27, 2008


Who shot first?

There was a more or less stable state of affairs in South Ossetia, though nobody was happy with that equilibrium. The Ossetians wanted independence, the Russians wanted an Ossetian client state, and the Georgians wanted unambiguous control of the region whether the Ossetians liked it or not. International law is currently contradictory, so all sides could plausibly see themselves as being in the right.

A low intensity conflict got underway: a few people killed here, a UAV shot down there. This was nobody's fault -- it's just the sort of thing that happens when nobody thinks of the current equilibrium as legitimate and everyone has guns.

Then Georgia escalated, starting a full-scale conventional war. The situation was bad but stable, and then Georgia tried to impose its idea of legitimacy by force. Consider this: if a country responds to small scale violent provocations with massive force, that country started the war. Russia is not at all to blame for winning the war, and even smashing up military bases well inside Georgian territory can be justified as a way of removing the aggressor's ability to continue/restart the war.

There is no longer any ambiguity about the status of South Ossetia. South Ossetia is now a nominally independent country and/or Russian protectorate whethere Western countries formally recognize it or not. I'm not saying that Russia's actions were justified, but the new equilibrium is legitimate enough that starting a new war to end Ossetian independence would be unjustifiable. (thousands more dead, the possibility of the war escalating into WWIII, all while trampling on the fairly-legitimate desire of the South Ossetian people for independence -- does anyone have an argument as to how that would be better than the current state of affairs?)

"They say violence doesn't settle anything, but that's one of the dumbest remarks ever made. War settles things so well you can't even see the remains - and that's exactly why people think it doesn't settle anything, because the wipe-out is too complete." Georgia used to have a semi-legitimate claim to own South Ossetia, but now it doesn't. Pre-war, it was possible to imagine how complete Georgian control over South Ossetia would be the best case scenario from a God's eye view, and now it isn't.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:01 PM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Oh, you should definitely stop reading the article, then.

Don't jump to conclusions there, mr. touchy-pants. I read the damn thing. I just read it much more critically because, in only the first couple of paragraphs, it contains at least one blatantly dishonest (or at least, inaccurate) claim, passed off casually as a matter of fact.

Also, this little bit of rhetorical drama is just too rich:

“Right,” I said. “But that sounds like complete bs to me if what you say is true.”

Thomas Goltz nodded.


This is the kind of emotionally-charged language used to tell stories, to weave fictions together. That just makes me so much more suspicious.

Can't find any corroboration of this interpretation of events elsewhere, so far. What does still remain clear is that the major fighting broke out after a Georgian offensive, as BBC and just about everyone else covering the development of these incidents reports.

Also, the columnists linked in that blogs sidebar reads like a who's-who of neocon buffoons (with the exception of Nader, who's just a vanilla buffoon). And the way the post winds on and on with all sorts of irrelevant but rich and colorful details and specific facts before just sort of flatly asserting its claims about Russia's culpability in the escalation of violence there at the end sets my BS detector to tingling a little. A less careful reader might not have noticed that, yes, while it's an entertaining read, full of lots of nice little facts and details, none of those facts and details actually have much of anything to do with the most central claim being offered: that the one guy cited in the article has the real story and he's giving us the exclusive low-down. Really, he is.

The fact that one of the wounded ossetian soldiers interviewed here about the timing described in the alternate version of events even seems a little reluctant to confirm the time-frame also isn't too reassuring. But even that doesn't obscure the fact that, your first source for reliable unbiased information about disputed events surrounding a military conflict probably shouldn't be wounded soldiers from one of the two parties to the conflict.

Either way, it doesn't matter. Russia had a treaty authorizing its troops to be present in South Ossetia. Georgia did not have lawful authority to launch major military operations in the region, whether or not it had legitimate grievances because its troops were being provoked by Russian or Ossetian troops. They should have acted in accord with international law to resolve the dispute. That's what friendly, democratic countries are supposed to do.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


The version of events given to Totten has been brewing for a while. Foust does a good job of refuting some of the elements of the argument. Anyway, here's an earlier (Aug. 20) version cut-and-pasted from this Fistful Of Euros entry. Delta Whiskey Papa, apparently a military buff, sez:
Russia pretended to hold peace negotiations with the Georgian diplomats in Tschkinvali, but the Russian diplomats failed to arrive at the meeting. [...] The Russian diplomats gave an obviously phony excuse that they could not attend the meeting because they could not find a car, truck, or army vehicle that didn’t have a flat tire. [this is based on the reported event that a Russian diplomat could not attend because of a flat tire] [...]The Russian general then demanded that the Georgians had to declare a unilateral ceasfire and withdraw their forces from the border with South Ossetia, or Russia would not intercede as peacekeepers to stop the South Ossetian bombardments of the Georgian civilians.
Despite having grave misgivings about the intentions of the Russians and their South Ossetian proxies, the Georgian governement was preparing to implement the unilateral ceasefire demanded by the Russian general. They were stopped, however, when they discovered from satellite photographs that the Russian 58th Army had already begun the invasion of Georgia with a large force of armored vehicles crossing the border of Georgia at the Roki Tunnel enroute to Tschkinvali and Gori. In a defensive response to the Russian invasion of Georgia through the Roki Tunnel, Georgia counterattacked the invading Russian force at a strategic bridge south of the exit from the Roki Tunnel, a hundred kilometers behind enemy lines. [This is the main argument: the Georgians counterattacked in order to save the Ossetian civilian populace. Georgia did, apparently, drop a paratroop unit near this bridge which was damaged though not destroyed.][...]
There's more, if you want it, at the link. Delta Whiskey Papa makes several more comments, polishing his argument until it sounds exactly like the account given Totten. Eventually, he names a cite or two though none that seem persuasive. (He claims to have sources that he can't reveal.) I got no way of knowing for certain, but this whole story has a certain CIA stink about it.
posted by CCBC at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2008


oops: The fact that one of the wounded ossetian georgian soldiers interviewed here
posted by saulgoodman at 2:26 PM on August 27, 2008


The thing I find interesting about these stories about Russia giving protection to South Ossetian separatist militias, shooting down Georgian UAVs, and generally encouraging minor provocation of the Georgians is that it answers the question that was foremost in my mind when this all went down. "What the hell were the Georgians thinking?!".

Whether or not they were genuinely justified by these events, whether or not these preceding events happened quite as they're presented by people like Totten, I can now at least grasp what the hell they were thinking.

The Georgians screwed up. Kudos to Russia for orchestrating it all. Of course now we'd be foolish to let it go completely unanswered. Lets build that damn pipeline.
posted by Reverend John at 2:40 PM on August 27, 2008


and you can pass that along to your boss Vladimir as well.

The impressive thing was the way he did that while Putin drank a glass of water.

I see this sentiment all the time and I wonder, that Putin controls Medvedev somehow and I just wonder how it is you people think you could know that. I mean, the only time I've heard that is when Hillary Clinton described him that way at a debate, and she was so well informed she could barely pronounce his name.

Now it may very well be true, but it seems like something no one would really ever be able to know. Most likely, the two agree on most issues and the idea of one controlling the unnecessary.

Sakaashvilli is a reckless little dictator (why does nobody remember the Combine police beating a demonstration to a pulp in November '07? ) and he irresponsibly attacked South Ossetia, believing somewhat naively that NATO would come to his aid in case Russia fought back.

Let's not forget when Sakaashvilli shut down this TV station, how many mefites praised the bravery of the dissident TV broadcasters as the station was stormed live on the air. How many even remember it was the same guy who shut down the station who is now fêted by the U.S as some great democratic leader.

Georgia is almost as little a democracy as Russia is, but its leaders are better at playing the PR game with the West

Well, McCain's top foreign policy advisor was a paid lobbyist of the Georgian government, and it looks like they're getting their (hundreds of thousands of) dollars worth.

I think the contributions to this thread by those from Russia illustrate the point I made perfectly: the USA made us do it, the Georgians provoked us, blah blah blah.

Maybe Russia isn't ready for democracy.


Dude you can't be serious. How many Americans thought Saddam was behind 9/11 again? Is America "ready for democracy"?
posted by delmoi at 2:52 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course not. We'd all be better off if you just made me God-Emperor of America.

First thing: crush my enemies.
Second: see them driven before me.
Third: hear the lamentations of their women. If necessary, women will be provided.
Fourth: ???
Fifth: Profit for all!

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:11 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here is the best article I've seen about this conflict and its larger geopolitical implications.
posted by mert at 3:13 PM on August 27, 2008


No...
Here is the best article I've seen about this conflict and its larger geopolitical implications.
posted by mert at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2008


Oh God.
THIS is really the article I'm trying to link to. Apologies.
posted by mert at 3:17 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


adricv: On August 7th, Sakaashvilli used artillery fire to raze Tskinvali to the ground and moved the Georgian Army into South Ossetia, killing both Russian citizens and Russian peackekeepers, who were there under the auspices of an internationally-brokered agreement which stopped the fighting that dated back from 1992 (again, instigated by Georgian nationalist politicians).

Ah, now there's the rub, isn't it?

Can you prove this "razing to the ground" of Tskinvali? Can anyone prove it was, or wasn't, so brutal?

The fact that no one really seems to have cared what really happened in Tskinvali, and the fact that no one took any caution to see that the truth got out, is the sticking point. Once we find out what really happened there, then we'll know whether the right move was made, and whether the Russian Federation made the right move.

But, for some odd reason, Sakaashvilli, Medvedev, Putin, and everybody else has done their damnedest to make absolutely certain that nobody knows what happened there.
posted by koeselitz at 3:22 PM on August 27, 2008


mert, we love you anyway.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:24 PM on August 27, 2008


THIS is really the article I'm trying to link to. Apologies.

Why do you think it's all that good? It mentions the pipeline, but Pastabagel did a better job of analyzing that in the other thread.
In Iraq too, the Kremlin's projection of power down through Georgia will soon be felt. Take another look at the map. If Russia is allowed to extend its reach southwards, as in Soviet times, down the Caucasus to Iran's borders, Moscow can support Iran in any showdown with the West. Iran, thus emboldened, will likely attempt to reassert itself in Iraq, Syria and, via Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
Kaylan: OMG AXIS OF EVIL! WAR! WAR! WAR! WARWARWAR! (reaches for Kleenex)
posted by nasreddin at 3:27 PM on August 27, 2008


Also, what everybody in the world, so intent on blame, seems to be forgetting is that it doesn't really matter who is to blame. What matters is what will come of this. And many of us are nervous because, between Georgia and Russia, Russia is the one that has the potential to cause more damage in the world.

Was the breakup of the former republics a tragedy? Maybe; maybe not. But it is not in Russia's interest to hold their territory again, and the sooner Russia makes a large and significant move to show that they have no intention of making those republics their territory, the sooner they will enjoy less edginess from those of us around the world, and especially those of us in the tiny nations that just so happen to be West of Russia, many of which just so happen to have had very complicated and difficult relationships with Russia less than a generation ago. This may seem harsh, but it's not. It's reality.
posted by koeselitz at 3:31 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with nasreddin on the Kaylan piece: it seemed one-sided in a familiar WSJ/neocon kind of way. Mention of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in relation to Georgia is somewhat ironic: since it appears the only it reason it runs through Georgia at all, rather than Armenia, is due to the politics of the bad blood between the Armenians and the Turks. The Russians also have a pipeline coming from the same Caspian source.
posted by ornate insect at 3:41 PM on August 27, 2008


less edginess from those of us around the world, and especially those of us in the tiny nations that just so happen to be West of Russia, many of which just so happen to have had very complicated and difficult relationships with Russia less than a generation ago. This may seem harsh, but it's not. It's reality.

koeselitz--I had to click on your name to see if you were from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, what, but it turns out you live in Colorado. I must have misunderstood you. Do you have some special knowledge that none of us are privy to as to why the countries to the west of Moscow should suddenly be worried? I don't think what you're saying sounds harsh, but I do think it sounds out of touch. There really is no reason that I can see to think that Russia is about to invade any of its Western neighbors. This kind of cold war alarmism about Russia in the wake of the Georgia conflict is exactly the kind of rhetorical snake oil the neocons are selling.
posted by ornate insect at 3:54 PM on August 27, 2008


Was the breakup of the former republics a tragedy? Maybe; maybe not. But it is not in Russia's interest to hold their territory again, and the sooner Russia makes a large and significant move to show that they have no intention of making those republics their territory, the sooner they will enjoy less edginess from those of us around the world, and especially those of us in the tiny nations that just so happen to be West of Russia, many of which just so happen to have had very complicated and difficult relationships with Russia less than a generation ago. This may seem harsh, but it's not. It's reality.

I wrote a comment about what Russia wants a few months ago, well before the Ossetia events. Whether or not it's the right thing to do, Russia is going to pursue one goal: establishing its domination in its region, not through direct territorial possession but through supporting pro-Russian governments. That is the sum total of Russia's foreign policy, but the desperation with which it pursues it is going to be entirely dependent on the degree of hostility it encounters from the rest of the world. No Russian leader who does not take steps to secure Russian dominance in the region will survive for very long, because great-power nationalism is probably the single most enduring popular value system Russia has ever possessed. (well, that and Orthodox Christianity).

Now, America doesn't have to support Russia or remain strictly neutral in this question. At the very least, though, it should stop tweaking Russia by supporting hostile client governments in its backyard. The declaration of a new Cold War is entirely up to the West--if the West de-escalates, Russia will too, but continued dickwaving by PNACers is unlikely to lead to a favorable Russian response.

Do I feel bad for the real democratic movements, such as they are, in the CIS? Yes. But they're fucked either way unless they kowtow to the Russians. Hyperbolic wheezing about "oh, those evil Soviets" will not lead to their success. As long as Russia has an army, a nuclear arsenal, and a massive energy stockpile, it will do all it can not to let that happen (to the extent that these movements are Western-oriented). If their effort fails, it won't be pretty for anyone in the region.
posted by nasreddin at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2008


I should mention that I'm not talking about the former Warsaw Pact countries--they've been firmly absorbed into the European orbit, and there's no chance Russia is going to try to assert itself with anything more than talk here. Even Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are off-limits (though Russia will try to muscle them around wrt their native Russian population). This is strictly the CIS, sans the Baltic, we're talking about here.
posted by nasreddin at 4:00 PM on August 27, 2008


Medvedev threatens military response to US shield
posted by ornate insect at 4:05 PM on August 27, 2008



"Why I had to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions" Because Putin told me he would crush my testicles in a vise if I didn't.



delmoi: Putin calls the shots in Russia. Medvedev was his protege and occupies the position he does for the main reason that Putin put him forth and said this is who you vote for.

Russians, may well be ready for Democracy, but they also need a generation or two to pass before they have a strong chance of breaking out of the strong authoriatian acceptance mindset. Combine that with Russia's desire to be globally relevant and you have the current situation where Putin, who is basically a cold war left over, is able to control the shots. He is Russia's Dick Cheney, only more likable.
posted by edgeways at 5:01 PM on August 27, 2008


How to Manage Moscow: Kicking Russia out of the G8 will solve nothing. We need to rope it into the international system.
posted by homunculus at 5:31 PM on August 27, 2008


Russian capitalists aided and abetted by the Americans robbed the entire country blind during the 1990s... It is what Putin pulled the country out of.

But don't let anyone call you a Putin shill!
posted by Krrrlson at 5:47 PM on August 27, 2008


But don't let anyone call you a Putin shill!

Yep, if you ignore the "When Russians think about...", you can totally see I'm getting stacks of bills straight from the FSB! You're such a clever boy!
posted by nasreddin at 6:04 PM on August 27, 2008


Fred Halliday: The miscalculation of small nations
posted by Abiezer at 8:23 PM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


This has not changed since the Cold War, no matter how much we like to pretend there's a New World Order afoot.

The NWO is the corporate military. Those with an interest in the profits of war are at the helm of the ship of state. The governments have been hijacked. The people who make money by supplying, organizing, operating, and executing wars are running the US and Russia.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:15 PM on August 27, 2008


"No Russian leader who does not take steps to secure Russian dominance in the region will survive for very long, because great-power nationalism is probably the single most enduring popular value system Russia has ever possessed. (well, that and Orthodox Christianity)."

This is a really salient point in understanding the Russian mindset and popular politics.
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"As Rice resurrects the Iron Curtain motif and claims “Russia will pay a price,” he concludes, she fails to understand millions of people, with their lives and resources, have already paid a steep price: “The elite ruling class should have realized too that all along, what needed to be ‘contained’ was their misguided nation-fulfilling prophecy to entrap and destroy Russia.”"

Nail, head, hammer. As said previously, the west needs to stop polarizing the issue and escalating the rhetoric. It's pure sophistry, warning russia not to return us to the cold war, the vieled threat of nuclear standoff, and yet spinned as Russia being the one escalating international tension? Hardly. Again, as said earlier.. the best thing for everyone would be for the US to recognise the interests of Moscow. If US/Russian relations are good enough that they can discuss frankly, behind closed doors, their strategic and regional interests, then international relations become more like bargaining than some zero-sum game of chicken.

I have no doubt that there is a wide variety of US efforts to undermine and subvert Russian influence and interests. I also don't doubt that Russia is, to an extent, fighting for it's own survival. What worries me most is the response of the US, the thinly veiled allusions to a standoff, and the american public which would be quite easily led along into another cold war mentality with evil old russia. US state influence on the media has come a long way in thirty years, the russians at least understand this is largely a power game.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2008


establishing its domination in its region, not through direct territorial possession but through supporting pro-Russian governments. That is the sum total of Russia's foreign policy,

Sort of like...the U.S.???
posted by spicynuts at 7:10 AM on August 28, 2008


I have no doubt that there is a wide variety of US efforts to undermine and subvert Russian influence and interests.

Will these Cold Warriors ever die and leave us alone? Or are there armies of new recruits coming up through the ranks? I thought that the brown people that worship Muhammed were the new boogiemen for the up and coming hawks. The U.S. obsession with Russia is kind of like the girlfriend that was really good in bed but was psycho and made life miserable out of the sack but you're addicted to her cuz the drama was so exciting and so you keep ruining possibly good relationships to go back and have sex and then fight with her.
posted by spicynuts at 7:15 AM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


The U.S. obsession with Russia is kind of like the girlfriend that was really good in bed but was psycho and made life miserable out of the sack but you're addicted to her cuz the drama was so exciting and so you keep ruining possibly good relationships to go back and have sex and then fight with her.

So the '90s were one long grudgefuck? Everything is so clear now!
posted by nasreddin at 7:50 AM on August 28, 2008


What fun is life without someone to grudgefuck? That's why we keep making bigger and bigger missiles.
posted by spicynuts at 8:21 AM on August 28, 2008


Interesting. China not backing Russia.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on August 28, 2008


On the other hand, AFP reports the same exact statement as support for Russia.

Obviously China just doesn't want to get involved right now.
posted by nasreddin at 11:10 AM on August 28, 2008


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the US of provoking the conflict in Georgia, possibly for domestic election purposes.
posted by homunculus at 1:44 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Crimean peninsula could be the next South Ossetia
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on August 29, 2008


Inside U.S. Missile Defense Tech—and (Perhaps) a New Cold War
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on August 29, 2008


Thank you for the links, homunculus.
posted by malpractice at 8:19 PM on August 29, 2008


No problem. Here's another:

Georgia and the Balance of Power: The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It has simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted.
posted by homunculus at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2008


New Russian world order: the five principles
posted by homunculus at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2008


European Union leaders have agreed to suspend talks on a new partnership agreement with Moscow until Russian troops have withdrawn from Georgia.
posted by homunculus at 12:25 PM on September 1, 2008


Russia, Georgia . . . and Iran
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on September 1, 2008


This Isn't the Return of History: The Georgia attack will go down not as the dawn of a new era of Russian power but as a major strategic blunder.
posted by homunculus at 7:52 PM on September 2, 2008


That last thing by Fareed Zakarias is BS. True, Russia would be better handled if it was part of a general strategy to integrate all nations into a globalized world -- but that ain't been the strategy. Russia's doing the best it can with the resources left to it, and that "best" looks a lot better than what the US has managed with a far better hand of cards over the last decade.
posted by CCBC at 4:02 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


If one democracy invading another is "the best it can do", then no thanks. Zakarias appears to correct. Comparing the US to Russia is a losing bet... especially given the last 50 years of history. Putin said the fall of the USSR was a tragedy, and it is safe to argue that his current policy on Georgia is an extension of that viewpoint... which makes Zakarias right and CCBC a crack smoker.
posted by ewkpates at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2008



If one democracy invading another is "the best it can do", then no thanks. Zakarias appears to correct. Comparing the US to Russia is a losing bet... especially given the last 50 years of history. Putin said the fall of the USSR was a tragedy, and it is safe to argue that his current policy on Georgia is an extension of that viewpoint... which makes Zakarias right and CCBC a crack smoker.


EVILSOVIETZAMIRITE?

Putin said the fall of the USSR was a tragedy because of the number of people whose lives were utterly destroyed by the attendant economic and social collapse. If you knew anything at all about recent history, you would understand that it truly was a tragedy--maybe not the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century, but certainly a disaster.

Zakaria's article was a phoned-in, pseudo-savvy piece of crap. The pro-US Ukrainian government making pro-NATO noises, for instance, is not the same thing as the whole country suddenly moving in that direction. There's no insight in his article at all. The fact that he believes it's possible to expand NATO and the Western sphere of influence in the region while maintaining cooperation with Russia means he is a complete idiot who doesn't understand what he's talking about.
posted by nasreddin at 8:29 AM on September 3, 2008


Sorry, I'm tired and cranky today. But Zakaria's views on Russia are still worthless.
posted by nasreddin at 9:00 AM on September 3, 2008


No need to apologize, and while you make a good point about the impact of economic collapse, the USSR was an active destroyer of people's lives... its collapse may have caused problems, but far far fewer than it solved by collapsing. Be that as it may, Putin came across as saying something different... "First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century," Putin said. "As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory. The epidemic of collapse has spilled over to Russia itself."

When it collapsed, Russias should have gone home to their country, Russia. Instead, they stayed in a country where they had been oppressors and carpet baggers, and then provide Russia with a pretext for invasion.

But the cultural perspective is the problem in this discussion, and its the problem in Georgia.

There is no more East and West. There is no more sphere of influence. Its all democracies and economics... until someone gets invaded.
posted by ewkpates at 9:26 AM on September 3, 2008


I don't think Putin meant that the USSR should have stuck around. I can say that the Civil War was a tragedy without necessarily believing that the Confederacy should have been allowed to secede.

Be that as it may, Putin came across as saying something different

Only if you go by the alarmist reporting in the Western press. Here's the full text of the speech (in Russian). Relevant portion (paragraphs 3-7):
I consider the development of Russia as a free and democratic country to be our main political-ideological goal. We say these words often, but only very rarely do we discover the deeper meaning of the values of freedom and democracy, justice and the rule of law, in terms of their practical refraction in our lives.

Indeed, there is a need for such an analysis. The objectively complex processes that are currently going on in Russia are increasingly becoming the subject of active ideological discussions. And they are connected precisely with conversations about freedom and democracy. You often hear that because the Russian people have been silent for centuries, they do not need freedom and are not used to it, and therefore our citizens supposedly require constant administrative supervision.

I would like to return those who believe this to reality, to that which exists in fact. So I will remind you of how contemporary Russian history began.

Above all it is necessary to acknowledge that the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. For the Russian people it became a real tragedy. Tens of millions of our countrymen and fellow citizens found themselves outside Russian territory. The epidemic of collapse also spread to Russia itself.

Citizens' savings became worthless, old ideals were destroyed, many institutions were disbanded or hastily reformed. The country's integrity was violated by terrorist intervention and the subsequent Khasavurt capitulation [in the First Chechnya War]. Oligarchical gangs, possessing unlimited control over information streams, served only their own corporate interests. Mass poverty began to be seen as a norm. And all this happened against a background of severe economic collapse, financial instability, and the paralysis of the social sphere.
Obviously he's no liberal, but it's pretty clear that he's not assembling the stormtroopers to reconstruct the Soviet Union. He's talking specifically about the real disaster of the Yeltsin years.
posted by nasreddin at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2008



But the cultural perspective is the problem in this discussion, and its the problem in Georgia.

There is no more East and West. There is no more sphere of influence. Its all democracies and economics... until someone gets invaded.


"There's no East and West" is as much an ideological fiction as talk of spheres of influence. With one hand, the West claims to be universalist and speak for all democracies everywhere; with the other, it promotes a hardline geopolitical policy that is as rooted in old-fashioned great-power/sphere-of-influence politics as anything Russia does.

Instead, they stayed in a country where they had been oppressors and carpet baggers, and then provide Russia with a pretext for invasion.


Give me an example of when they provided Russia with a pretext for invasion? South Ossetia was full of native South Ossetians with newly-issued Russian passports.

What's more, Russians (technical personnel as well as regular workers) built a significant chunk of every Soviet republic's industry and infrastructure during the Soviet era. They were hardly only oppressors or carpet-baggers, though many of them were that as well.
posted by nasreddin at 10:16 AM on September 3, 2008


Yep, Ukraine is sure united behind Yuschenko.
posted by nasreddin at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2008


Rice announces $1 billion in U.S. aid for Georgia
posted by homunculus at 2:50 PM on September 3, 2008


ewkpates: There is no more East and West. There is no more sphere of influence. Its all democracies and economics...
Oh, man! But if globalization is the answer, why isolate Russia? That's been US policy. There is an "East and West" because the US created it.
posted by CCBC at 2:52 PM on September 3, 2008


Putin's Ruthless Gambit: The Bush Administration Falters in a Geopolitical Chess Match
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2008


Possibly Staged Pics Fueled Georgian Propaganda Push
posted by homunculus at 3:53 PM on September 4, 2008


homunculus' link to the always good TomDispatch is really worthwhile.
posted by CCBC at 1:47 AM on September 5, 2008


Georgia: Join Treaty Banning Cluster Munitions. Government Acknowledges Using Weapon Against Russian Forces
posted by homunculus at 9:12 AM on September 8, 2008


Palin: War With Russia "Perhaps" Necessary If Russia Invades NATO-Admitted Georgia
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader: Five weeks after the war in the Caucasus the mood is shifting against Georgian President Saakashvili. Some Western intelligence reports have undermined Tbilisi's version of events, and there are now calls on both sides of the Atlantic for an independent investigation.
posted by homunculus at 3:53 PM on September 15, 2008


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