August 11, 2008

McCain: Let's Compound the Blunder!

We live in a season of risible "3 AM moments", where the breathless commentariat in this country overhear a strange overseas country's name--perhaps with tales of some military action underway--and rush off towards dim-witted debates about what candidate would better handle that resultant red-phone ringing in the middle of the night (this phenomenon I guess most immediately derivative of Mark Penn's desperately lame "positive ad"). This infantile fare passes for serious debate on generally well-regarded sites like Politico.com, or among the beard-stroking class chiming in from a Situation Room near you. There is really nothing we can do about it, this is the sad echo-chamber we dwell in, and it's not going to change anytime soon--so I won't belabor the point here.

This being said, if the horrors inflicted on varied Abkhazians, Ossetians and Georgians this past week (by both sides) must be seen from these provincial, grossly self-interested shores merely through the lens of the U.S. Presidential election, let me chime in very briefly within these contours. Regarding the 3 AM sweepstakes, Obama has taken it by a mile (if his Pavlovian movements to 'sound tougher' after his initial statement were a bit underwhelming, and sadly predictable). Witness this incredibly poor reasoning by McCain, jaw-dropping even by the standards of the mammoth policy ineptitude we've become accustomed to during the reign of Bush 43 and his motley crew of national security miscreants. Here is McCain:

Mr. McCain urged NATO to begin discussions on “the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to South Ossetia,’’ called on the United Nations to condemn “Russian aggression,’’ and said that the secretary of state should travel to Europe “to establish a common Euro-Atlantic position aimed at ending the war and supporting the independence of Georgia.’’

And he said the NATO should reconsider its previous decision and set Georgia – which he called “one of the world’s first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion’’ — on the path to becoming a member. “NATO’s decision to withhold a membership action plan for Georgia might have been viewed as a green light by Russia for its attacks on Georgia, and I urge the NATO allies to revisit the decision,’’ he said. [my emphasis]

First, what does it matter in this context that Georgia was "one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion"? If it had been the first to adopt Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, would the situation be different? Perhaps this might get assorted Christianists in an excited tizzy or such, which come to think of it, might be why some clueless aide to McCain, fresh from a Google sortie, decided to plug this little factoid into his statement. But what is really mind-boggling here is that McCain would have us double-down, and cheer-lead having NATO "revisit" the decision not to extend membership to Georgia! It is precisely this type of profoundly flawed thinking (think too the League of Democracies crapola bandied about from centrist advisors to Obama to the fanciful Kaganites around McCain who want to pick and choose who the supposed good and bad guys are meriting membership in the splendid "League") that has gotten Georgia into this bloody mess.

As George Kennan had put it (would that we had a single diplomat in the entire foreign service of his stature and caliber today):

"(E)xpanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold war era. Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.

Or, related, as Henry Kissinger had recently written:

"Confrontational rhetoric notwithstanding, Russia's leaders are conscious of their strategic limitations. Indeed, I would characterize Russian policy under Putin as driven in a quest for a reliable strategic partner, with America being the preferred choice...But the movement of the Western security system from the Elbe River to the approaches to Moscow brings home Russia's decline in a way bound to generate a Russian emotion that will inhibit the solution of all other issues. It should be kept on the table without forcing the issue to determine the possibilities of making progress on other issues."

These are the systemic historic forces at play here, and McCain would just idiotically throw fuel on the fire. Meantime, my post here sketched out the specific bill of goods leading to this crisis, whether the ill-advised, rushed handling of Kosovo, or how Saakhasvili's over-reaching was a major factor in contributing to this Russian reaction, among other factors. On this last, C. J. Chivers recaps it well in this NYT piece:

Some diplomats considered Mr. Saakashvili a politician of unusual promise, someone who could reorder Georgia along the lines of a Western democracy and become a symbol of change in the politically moribund post-Soviet states. Mr. Saakashvili encouraged this view, framing himself as a visionary who was leading a column of regional democracy movements.

Other diplomats worried that both Mr. Saakashvili’s persona and his platforms presented an implicit challenge to the Kremlin, and that Mr. Saakashvili made himself a symbol of something else: Russia’s suspicion about American intentions in the Kremlin’s old empire. They worried that he would draw the United States and Russia into arguments that the United States did not want.

This feeling was especially true among Russian specialists, who said that, whatever the merits of Mr. Saakashvili’s positions, his impulsiveness and nationalism sometimes outstripped his common sense.

The risks were intensified by the fact that the United States did not merely encourage Georgia’s young democracy, it helped militarize the weak Georgian state. [my emphasis]

We know from Kennan that NATO encirclement of Russia is ultimately a poor idea (incidentally, what is the purpose of the NATO alliance anyway with the Soviet Union defeated--nation-building in eastern Afghanistan, or some such?). And Kissinger is right that Moscow has been in the hunt for a "reliable strategic partner, with America being the preferred choice" (remember the Spirit of Ljubljana!), so why push them away allowing a country on Russia's southern under-belly (one far less important to us strategically), to have become such a nettlesome U.S. proxy badgering the Kremlin?

Look, all of this would have been stupid and deeply flawed policy, but at least morally defensible, if we meant to actually defend the Georgians. But we don't, and never will, as this would mean a war with Russia. We've had a tough go of it fighting small militias and tribes in Iraq and Afghanistan, so even McCain would pull back from such unbridled folly (though doubtless some imbecile will pen an op-ed in coming days about the need for NATO airstrikes on Russian forces should they attack Tbilisi UPDATE: Sorry, I was a little off here--and putting aside the imbecile moniker, so as not to get too personal--but we're speaking of Stingers and Javelins, not airstrikes. Impressive 'contentions'!).

So here is where matters stand. Rather than talk and obsess about what we should do, it is the Russians, sad to say, who will determine the fate of Georgia in the coming days and weeks, and so we might take a moment or two and stop and think about what their next moves are likely to be. Will they stop at Gori (just south of Ossetia) as well as a bit to the east of Abkhazia (a similar 'exclusion zone'), or have they now decided to march into Tbilisi and unseat this Government whole stop (I think it's a closer call which way Russia will go than many of us realize at this hour, but won't hazard to make a call just yet. UPDATE: The latest Russian moves would appear to indicate the former). As a Georgian civilian put it more pithily: "The border is where the Russians say it is. It could be here, or it could be Gori". Or, indeed, it could be Tbilisi, as I say.

Meantime, a Georgian soldier tells a U.S. reporter in the same piece: "Write exactly what I say. Over the past few years, I lived in a democratic society. I was happy. And now America and the European Union are spitting on us." They are, aren't they? They had no business making the cheap promises and representations that were made. No business on practical policy grounds. No business on strategic grounds (though I guess it got Rummy another flag, near the Salvadorans, say, for the Mesopotamian "coalition of the willing"). And now our promises are unraveling and nakedly revealed for the sorry lies and crap policy they are, with the emperor revealed to have no clothes, yet again. This is what our foreign policy mandarins masquerade about as they play policy-making, in their Washington work-stations. It's, yes, worse than a crime, rather a sad, pitiable blunder.

And one McCain would have us compound, I stress, again! An honorable man who served his country well, it is clear his time has past and his grasp on the most basic foreign policy calls we'll need to make in the coming years is very tentative indeed. He'll be surrounded by second-tier 'yes-man' realists and residual neo-con swill, few with any ideas worth pursuing if we mean to take the national interest seriously with sobriety and freshness of perspective. So let us help him exit off-stage gracefully, as he served his country with dignity when called upon, but let us not sacrifice our children's future to ignorants with deludely romantic notions of empire. Been there, done that. Indeed, we have a President who has announced a pre-emptive doctrine which allows us to, willy-nilly, instigate regime change when and where we deem appropriate. Who are we to lecture Putin now? What standing do we have to do so? And what parochial and self-satisfied myopia has us indignantly thinking we are some unimpeachable arbitrer of right and wrong in the international system after the disastrous missteps of the past eight sordid years?

If we mean to help the Georgians escape an even worse fate, we must summon up the intelligence and humility to have a dialogue with Putin, Medvedev, Sergie Lavrov, Vitaly Churkin and the rest of them based on straight talk (not of the McCain variety, and if we can somehow find a messenger of the stature and talent to deliver the message in the right way, hard these days), to wit: we screwed up overly propping this guy up and he got too big for his britches, we understand, but for the sake of going forward strategic cooperation (and don't mention Iran here, at least not as the first example)--as well as stopping further civilian loss of life--agree to work with us in good faith towards a status quo ante as much as possible, don't enter Tbilisi, and throw show-boats Sarkozy/Kouchner a bone with some possible talk of a going forward EU peacekeeping role (if non-binding, for the time being). This is roughly what we should be saying/doing now, not having the President step up to the White House mike fresh back from the sand volleyball courts of Beijing to gravely declare Russia's actions are "unacceptable in the 21st century." Such talk will get us nowhere, instead, it might just fan the flames more (as will Cheney's threats of "serious consequences", apparently a favorite sound-bite of his, but this time mentioned only in the context of the U.S.-Russian relationship). Let us be clear: these men's credibility is a sad joke, and Putin knows it only too well. So let's get real. Before it's too late, and more facts are created on the ground, mostly on the backs of innocent civilians throughout Georgia's various regions.

Posted by Gregory at August 11, 2008 04:06 PM
Comments

Please keep posting. I learn something everytime. The Cunning Realists tagline applies here as well, and now more than ever! "An oasis in a sea of hacks, hustlers and hired spin!"

Posted by: centrist at August 11, 2008 09:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

how is this possible?

"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also been noticeably absent on the diplomatic scene, having failed to interrupt her holidays to fly to Tbilisi in support of the Georgian government."


http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5glSlc_C4k0kwrRXQbxwJk-igypAQ

Posted by: oracledba at August 11, 2008 09:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First, what does it matter in this context that Georgia was "one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion"?

I hear they're also CAUCASIAN!

Posted by: Andy Vance at August 11, 2008 10:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That kind of irrelevant stuff happens when you copy from wikipedia as a backgrounder.

Anyway, great analysis. A lot of people have been very worried for the last few years about Saakhasvili's tendency to over-interpret western--and particularly US--support as an excuse to provoke the Russians.

Posted by: Dan Nexon at August 11, 2008 10:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Saakashvili couldn't possibly be that stupid, could he? It would be interesting to know what representations the Americans made to Saakashvili, but he must be a complete idiot if he thought they would risk getting into a shooting war with the Russians over some backwater mountain province of 100,000 people that nobody in the outside world gives a rat's ass about.

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 01:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is not the idea of Saakashvili as a democratic leader laughable? I mean, he won his first election with _96_ percent of the votes. This is a number of votes people got in Soviet Union, even Ahmadinejad's and Medvedev didn't get anything near this. The idea that someone could get that many votes fairly in a country full with ethnic tensions is absolutely impossible.

Putting opposition leaders in prison on the espionage charges, having your own Minister of Defense accuse you of asking to assassinate a dissenting billionaire and having that same billionaire die under the suspicious circumstances few months later, violently suppressing opposition's demonstrations -- are all those things marks of the fledgling democracy? Saakashvili is pro-Western, but that is all the connection to democracy that he has.

Posted by: Nikolay at August 12, 2008 05:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Saakashvili is pro-Western, but that is all the connection to democracy that he has."

O' contraire. As I indicated elsewhere, he's got serious connections at Columbia's Harriman Institute and has a special bond with the AttorneyG. and Bush. The former, Mike Mukasey, taught at Columbia law school when Misha was there and then both worked at the same super-prestigious law firm in NYC.

This boy's been properly raised, properly schooled, properly groomed-and now he's on the path to be properly shot. So goes the destiny, often, of seminal democratists.

Unless Putin got laid.

Posted by: resh at August 12, 2008 07:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"(would that we had a single diplomat in the entire foreign service of his stature and caliber today): "

Let me be the first to toss Chris Hill into the not-yet-Kennan category, but he ain't bad. His role in the six-party talks re the DPRK is impressive enough and, imo, induced a nuke reduction agreement that's never quite gotten the ink it deserves.

What greater role of a diplomat, even if in the service of a vacuous teleocracy? He's Secretary of State material, ya' ask me.

Moreover, his role thereof has had the corollary effect of creating significantly stronger ties with Beijing, where his esteem is highly regarded. I needn't belabor the value of solid bilateral ties with a region of a billion-plus folks.

I'd thought you might even have a nexus to Hill re your and his episodic Kosovo roles.(?)

Posted by: resh at August 12, 2008 08:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I posted on this today. Worked in Georgia for NDI.

http://bloggerinterrupted.com/2008/08/us-impotent

Posted by: Tim Russo at August 12, 2008 09:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Worse than a crime, a blunder???

Posted by: Anon at August 12, 2008 09:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry to tell you, Greg:

"Obama's out with another statement on Georgia this afternoon, one that brings him into line with the hardening international stance. He clearly condemns Russia... Notably he, like McCain, embraces Georgia's aspirations to enter NATO -- the key plank of a hawkish stand toward Russia, and a key source of Russia's anger.(Both McCain and Obama are reiterating past positions here.)"

http://tinyurl.com/5fby42

Posted by: JimmyM at August 12, 2008 09:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Georgia was the first country to have a government mandate to worship Jesus? To McCain that's a good thing? Republicans like governments telling people how to worship now? Conservatism is dead. Welcome to the new authoritarian Republicanism.

Posted by: Serra at August 12, 2008 10:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Interestingly, the FIRST nation to adopt Christianity is Armenia, who was left completely out in the cold by Congress when the importance of an Islamic air base superceded an acknowledgement of Turkish genocide.

Posted by: Charles at August 12, 2008 10:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

They mention the "first nation to officially adopt Christianity" because...that's in the Wikipedia entry. McCain's setup graf is lifted not-so-subtly whole-cloth from Wikipedia.

Posted by: cj at August 12, 2008 10:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm. Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, from a different time and era, but this current situation reminds me of what the US did before and during the Hungarian uprising of the middle 1950s.

The United States encouraged Hungarians to revolt against the the Soviets, making them believe that the US would come to their aid. The Hungarians went to the streets and the Soviets crushed them and the US didn't and couldn't do a thing to help them.

Now, we have a situation where the president of Georgia may have overestimated his relationship with the US and the Europe, and overplayed his hand.

The Russians have been feeling pissed that NATO is expanding at their expense and yet we expect the Russians to help the US on Iran and other issues?

This whole situation underscores how utterly bankrupt American foreign policy is, especially this current administration's ideas of regime change and preemption.

It's a mess.

And where is Condoleezza Rice? Shopping?

Posted by: Norman Kelley at August 12, 2008 10:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"first nation to officially adopt Christianity" -- Leaving aside the historicity of this statement, it strikes me as odd that a candidate for the highest of office of one of the the first nation to decide not to have an official religion would cite this as a factor.

Posted by: buckets at August 12, 2008 10:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

is it really possible that a President McCain could have a national security 'brain trust' even more inept and bumbling than Bush's???

Posted by: r€nato at August 12, 2008 10:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg:

I am hoping the renewal of posting here is a sign of an easing in international financial/credit markets. Unfortunately, my guess is that you just can't stand the stupidity anymore and have to say something.

I find myself agreeing with you that the Bush/McCain policy of uttering stormy but empty words in this crisis is pathetic. I also think your proposed solution to the crisis sounds about right. (And putting Georgia, or any other Caucasian nation into NATO is absurd. Did W skip the Geography class at Andover?) So I think, were we powerful State Department mavens trying on the mantle of Kennan, we'd be urging roughly the same thing.

But...

I think you can be too sensitive to the feelings of Russia, and I think Kennan fell into that group. NATO expansion, as proposed in the 90s, made sense. It made sense because countries like Poland, Hungary, Rumania, had recent experience with being dominated by Russia, and they did want any more of that. And after years of urging these nations to break free of the Communist yoke (see Norman Kelley, above), we and Western Europe owed something to those countries, and providing security against their fears of Russian dominatonn seems to have allowed those countries to prosper in a way they might not have done had they been left to their own devices after the wall came down.

Finally, I am going to register disagreement on Kosovo. Serbia has proved itself a country willing to brutally supress its minorities. It seems uninmaginable that the Kosovars would have been allowed any sort of voice in Serbia, had UN troops not been stomping around. If the UN is ever going to be able to get out of the Balkans, some kind of nations for the Kosovars would seem like a necessary predicate.

Good to see you back. Hope it continues. I like it when a blogger makes me think.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at August 12, 2008 11:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great article. There was one reason to bring up the "first nation to adopt christianity" issue... to get the attention of evangelical voters and show them he is concerned for the Christian cause. Wikipedia has a number of other things in it as well. Lets not completely dismiss their motives here in deference to them just being solely silly plagiarists. The most frightening aspect is that McCain has learned absolutely zero from the cowboy stance of the last 8 years, even as Bush has mildly gotten the clue.

Posted by: ivanorhoward at August 12, 2008 11:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good to see you back, Greg! And for the love of god, please keep on blogging. There's too few people who know what they're talking about in this area.

If Neocons were only half as good in fixing problems as they are in identifying enemies to fight... bah.

McCain and them act like juvenile school bullies who fail to realize that they don't have the power to intimidate anymore.

Posted by: Mentar at August 12, 2008 11:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In Russia, America at last has a foeman worthy of its steel!
Millions of patriotic American young men (and some young women, too) are ready and eager to make the Georgian's desperate struggle for freedom their own. The only question is whether these young men (and some young women, too. Ach, girls these days. But what can you do?) will embark for the Caucus on their own or under the auspices of a great American Expeditionary Force. There's still a couple weeks before the semester starts.

Would you have us let them down? No, say I, and are there any to vouchsafe me a gainsay? Unlimber your vouchsafers and gainsay away, if you can!

Posted by: Mooser at August 12, 2008 11:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So how do we reach out to the masses? For real! We all have access to information, a reasonable vocabulary, and the ability to discern right from wrong - then how on earth is there even a remote possibility that McBush might win in the Fall?
I recognise that the average 'joe and jane' have enough problems trying to pay their monthly bills and are a 'bit' distracted at the moment...but this barbaric neo-con wing-nut theocracratic-wannabees caled the GOP is in charge and just might frighten enough people to staty in charge!
Never mind the spineless Congressional Dems; they can barely get a simple majority, nonetheless one veto-proof...apparently we do not even have a 'loyal opposition' in this country...more monkey-see, monkey-do - heaven forbid that a Democrat might have to face criticism from some overpaid jackass teleprompter reader!


Posted by: Greg747 at August 12, 2008 11:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Isn't Condi Rice a big Russia expert? How come she didn't see this coming?

Posted by: Big Red at August 12, 2008 11:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For the record, I am not a neocon and I think Bush and McCain are both idiots.

But, I don't buy into the assumption that the Georgian leadership was blind to the (low) likelihood that the U.S. would come to their aid. They are grown-ups. They are autonomous. They made their own decision to send troops into South Ossentia. I know blaming false promises is a recurring theme when talking about failed Republican foreign policy, but Georgia was not a passive actor in this situation.

Posted by: Barringer at August 12, 2008 11:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A couple of points need to be made.

First, does the wrinkly old white-haired dude think NATO comes under DoD? Who are we to demand action from NATO to stop Russian aggression in Georgia; either are members of NATO? Besides, I always thought NATO was a partnership with all members working together with equal say in all maters. Making demands without consulting your partners first puts up a high wall to cooperation.

Second, I never thought the US was promising Georgia military support of any kind. I would think the current administration would have taken appropriate measures to ensure the Georgia government understood exactly where the US stood, especially with regards to Russia. And sending the in the US Marines to secure their borders in the case of armed aggression/conflict would not be part of the Welcome to Democracy package they bought into. Besides, we don't have enough troops and supplies to fight a two front war, so why would we want to get tangled in a third front?

Third, it hurts me to say this, but Bu$h speaks for America. Not McCain. Not Obama. Bu$h. The candidates need to steer clear of rhetoric that sounds Presidential. They may express their concern, but Bu$h is the only one who speaks for the nation on the matter. Besides, the on-going conflict has nothing to do with the election process.

Finally, if either candidate really wants to take issue with the conflict, then they can discuss why the US was caught with their pants down and no clue what was happening until hostilities erupted. For all the emphasis placed on spying, it looks like this one slipped under the radar just like 9/11 did.

Posted by: tahut at August 12, 2008 11:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Isn't Condi Rice a big Russia expert? How come she didn't see this coming? "

She's on vacation and refuses to let a rumble in the Caucasus interrupt her pleasure.

Posted by: tahut at August 12, 2008 12:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Perhaps this might get assorted Christianists in an excited tizzy or such"

i.e., erik prince and his crazy blackwater army?

Posted by: cha cha cha at August 12, 2008 12:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, we must reject Mccain, because he urges Nato to reconsider its decision to withhold a membership action plan for Georgia. Instead, we should vote for Obama who said this:

"Going forward, the United States and Europe must support the people of Georgia. Beyond immediate humanitarian assistance, we must provide economic assistance, and help rebuild what has been destroyed. I have consistently called for deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a membership action plan for NATO, and we must continue to press for that deeper relationship."

Incredibly poor reasoning. Jaw dropping.

Posted by: Thomas at August 12, 2008 12:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this is the most powerful commercial on McCain/Bush tactics and their effects....the american people should see this....if Pat Buchanan is scared

http://thepoliticalcarnival.blogspot.com/2008/08/if-pat-buchanan-is-scared.html


Posted by: ivanorhoward at August 12, 2008 12:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I was going to ask about Condi, but I see that Big Red beat me to it. The quote that "This feeling was especially true among Russian specialists" made me wonder why Bush's other wife wasn't able to predict this situation.

Between the Christian angle, the "emerging democracy" meme, and the likely perception that the US "owed" them for helping out in Iraq; I can see how a headstrong Georgian leader could believe that Bush would back him up. Put another way, if someone like McCain was running Georgia, and had some very naive and hawkish advisors (like McCain has), the current situation is not hard to envision.

I read a post on CrooksAndLiars yesterday("Make Diplomacy, Not War") that drew heavily from a Nicholas Kristof article in the NYT detailing how neglected the current diplomatic core is these days. The kind of dialogue you prescribe is not one that the current administration seems to be capable of. Especially since you qualify the necessary approach as requiring "intelligence and humility". Both of those are in short supply these days.

The Bush-McCain mindset turns the conventional wisdom on its head, so that diplomacy only results from the failure of military action, dialogue is appeasement, and things like planning, nuance, and cultural sensitivity are signs of weakness.

Posted by: Court Jester at August 12, 2008 12:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for this informative post. I'm bookmarking your blog.

Your central premise seems right: we've developed a dangerous complacency about substituting stupid rhetoric for real foreign policy, at a time when the grounds for concern could scarcely be higher.

Will Cokie Roberts and George Stephanopolus, et. al., notice?

Posted by: al75 at August 12, 2008 12:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let us see:
Georgia is a fledgling democracy emerging from the horrors of living as serfs under the yoke of the Soviet Union.
Russia is an increasingly authoritarian state under the thumb of a revived KGB.
Georgia has been fighting a "separatist" movement that is in fact wholly a creation of Putin. This "separatist" movement is guilty of random murder, kidnapping, and other abuses of a civilian population as well as Russian trained and armed military attacks on the legitimate government. The "separatists" are in fact no better than the Putin supported Serb terrorists of Kosovo.

Georgia is "guilty" of baiting the bear by its attempts to put down the terrorists.
It matters not that they are fully within their rights and that the Putin attacks and now invasion are completely illegal.
Georgia must endure whatever Putin wills because we must not anger Russia.

Besides, who cares about the Georgians?
Their lives and security are of no strategic interest to the USofA.
Who cares if Putin destroys their democracy and returns them to Russian serfdom?

Indeed, just like Darfur, why even protest the murders? The USofA is not going to war to save Georgians so why say anything?
Besides, because of Iraq the US has lost all moral standing to protest Putin's crimes.
Indeed, we should save all our outrage and high dungeon for Bush and McCain.
Putin's crimes pale in comparison.
As the great Obamanation was first to point out, Georgia and Russia bear equal blame for Russia's illegal invasion just as Iraq must bear equal blame for the US invasion?
That will teach the Georgians and all others on the Russian periphery to not resist the bear's embrace! Because when they do, when they attempt to defend their fledgling democracies and their nations, brave Keyboard Freedom Fighters like Greg will simply rub their faces in their own blood and guts and murdered children and tell them "Too bad, so sad, you get what you deserve for offending Putin!".

What could be more repulsive?
What is more degenerate?
Oh I know, the entire Obamanation "foreign policy". So big on stupid egoism in Berlin yet he seems to have missed the real significance of "his" moment.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"


Posted by: JTHB at August 12, 2008 12:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It must be very difficult for you to type that JTHB - I imagine you are already in Georgia fighting on behalf of the brave freedom fighters, no?

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 01:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Georgia is a fledgling democracy emerging from the horrors of living as serfs under the yoke of the Soviet Union

Man, how can you really say such nonsense? Georgia is no more a democracy than Iran. It has no freedom of the press. Here's a video of Saakashvili's police closing the country's only remaining politically independent TV station:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=tHxQZmMRysU
Georgia's elections are highly suspect. Saakashvili's opponents either die under suspicious circumstances or are put into prison with the Stalinesque charges. Saakshvili's own right-hand man accused him of arranging assassinations. Opposition is beaten up and imprisoned:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7082317.stm

What it is that makes you think that Georgia is a democracy?

Posted by: Nikolay at August 12, 2008 01:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

U.S. officials are claiming that they told Saakashvili not to do anything reckless or provoke the Russians>

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/255/story/47631.html

Bush administration officials, worried by what they saw as a series of provocative Russian actions, repeatedly warned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to avoid giving the Kremlin an excuse to intervene in his country militarily, U.S. officials said Monday.

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 01:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As if on cue, the idiot:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/opinion/11kristol.html

Posted by: Robert C. at August 12, 2008 01:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, I meant "imbecile".

It's so difficult with Kristol, you know?

Posted by: Robert C. at August 12, 2008 01:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"As if on cue, the idiot"

given kristol's track record, his advice on this matter (or any, really) shouldn't be given even the slightest consideration.

Posted by: cha cha cha at August 12, 2008 01:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Stinking America believing it can halt Russian progress in Caucausus is to be ridiculed by its own perfidy in light of Georgian pathetic weaknesses.

Only Putin knows the greatness that is Russia, and continued NATO expansion now called into question as being unwise in the utmost. NATO wishes a non violent siege of St Petersburg to finish what the west has never done in forcing Russia to lick their boots. Napoleon learned this, Hitler learned this, and now your stupid Bush will learn this.

Silly Bush-babies will never understand that Russia only tolerates your pathetic rambling about NATO membership for Poland and Ukraine and yes even Georgia as you cry for her fallen "democracy." But Russia does as she wishes when she wishes and Putin will not stand idle.

Ossetians are Russians and Georgians only wish to dominate them. Georgia will quiet a bit after a firm discipline from Putin. They will be no problem and will not be an example for NATO. Forget Georgia it is not your problem.

Obama is your only hope to have the decent humility that the world rightly now demands of you. USA must make ammends to all countries for false promises and the shoddy standard of neo-imperialist expansionism that you cannot support. Obama sees this and will give the right of way to those who rightly should have influence in their own sphere. McCain will only be an obstruction to America in relations with Russia, not walking forward with Russia as Obama will.

Obama will let Russia take care of Russian interests in the Russian way and will concentrate only on making Americans happy in America where they should stay. The world is sick of your Bush-adventures. No wonder the Arabs want to knock down your buildings. Obama will return to his borders and behave.

Then Russia and America will be friends like Russians have always wanted.

Posted by: Y. A. Feckov at August 12, 2008 01:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So let me boil down your argument. Georgia being a free country with an elected government should never EVER exercise its own free will when it conflicts with the imperial aim of Russia. Gee then why have free countries in all of Europe? Where as Russia being Russia has a free hand to do whatever it wants which includes inciting rebellion in neighboring countries, brilliant!
You then compound this error by saying Russia holds all the cards and will dictate what happens in Georgia, but lets ask them nicely bringing forth only carrots to leave Georgia alone! So when Russia provokes another invasion of Georgia (as they did this time) or the Ukraine, what then? More talk? At what point do you say "no more"? When the eastern bloc has already been re-established?
Also what threat is NATO to Russia's democracy? Oh yeah, none! It is only a threat to imperial ambition, thats why it was a threat to Russia. Give putin are regards next time you go over to blow him.

Posted by: Zaggs at August 12, 2008 02:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JTHB,

Georgia is about as democratic as Russia. No more, no less. And they started the latest round of hostilities. Which was exceedingly stupid. We can, and should, try to broker a cease-fire and contribute humanitarian aid. But we can't really do anything more. Nor should we. To paraphrase Bismarck, South Ossetia is not worth the bones of a single American doughboy.

Trying to enforce a regime where we are the only people on Earth who get to use military force where and when we wish is a quick ticket to nowheresville.

Posted by: Scott P. at August 12, 2008 02:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"first nation to officially adopt Christianity"

You learn something new every day. I did not know that the Church of England was not Christian.

Just to mention one, btw. Didn't the Emperor Constantine make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire? Then there was Spain during the Inquisition. Wasn't Christianity the official religion of Spain at the time? These are just a couple of examples of the top of my head. I'm sure others can cite quite a few more.

Posted by: Cal Gal at August 12, 2008 02:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mccain and his advisors just keep getting scarier and scarier!

Posted by: truthynesslover at August 12, 2008 03:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Where, exactly, are these stories about Georgia's lack of democracy and freedom coming from? I've been reading numerous international periodicals for years that cover this region, among others, and never heard hide nor hair of Georgia's anti-democratic actions reaching the level you people claim. Here's a story on the last Georgian election form the Economist http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11412622

Also, why are you all so sure Georgia moved first? Because it's been reported that way? Considering the level of cynicism towards conventional journalism expressed here, and the skill with which Russia plays the information game, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions. Or, for that matter, reduce a genuine international incident to a national partisan issue. Just because Bush or McCain says something doesn't make it a lie (though it likely is). The again, you're reactions are to be expected given how much their ilk has cried wolf over the past eight years.

Perhaps some of you are peddling Russian propaganda without knowing it. Its obvious that Feckov and Nikolay are here to spread such misinformation. Maybe if you got your news from some place other than the internet (or at least from reputable sources), this wouldn't be a problem for you. By the way, Kennan invented Containment; It was his idea. If you actually read the article linked to above, you'd know that what he objected to was the militarization of containment, in other words, the use of containment as an excuse to high-jack the U.S. economy by the military industrial complex (that's the same thing Eisenhower warned us about). Its also important to point out that Kennan's point in 97 was that moving NATO closer to Russia's boarders to ease Eastern European fears would undermine Russian democracy; that doing so wasn't giving Russia a fair chance. Well, we gave Russia a chance to turn away from its long history of violent dominion-seeking and illiberal governments, and they blew it. The push for countries like Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO only started up again when Putin began dismantling Russia's fledgling democracy. Given that his assessment of Russian motivations is as valid today as it was in the Long telegram, why, exactly, are you so sure he'd be opposed to standing up to this new form of Russian tyrant?

Cal Gal: McCain might not be totally accurate on this, but he's more correct than you are. The Caucasus region, including Armenia as mentioned by others, as part of the Eastern Empire, was one of the earliest Black and Caspian sea regions to receive Christian missionaries. During the last centuries of the Roman Empire, Christianity took hold in the East first, and subject kingdoms like Armenia and the Georgian kingdoms were the earliest non-Roman political bodies to convert. Georgians were christians long before the English were, and long before the Russians. The point was a stupid one for McCain to make, but the likely reason he said it was to piss on Russia's feet; Russia likes to claim that it is the rightful center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Moscow "The Third Rome". This claim is part of the reasoning with which they defend their right to "protect and lead the Slavic world" by which they mean, rule everything east of the Danube.

Posted by: Julian at August 12, 2008 03:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McCain is a fool. He is merely another continuation of the same policies of the Bushbabies who want to expand America in Asia. Russia is the rightful leader of the Caucausus. Ossetians are Russians and deserve the protection of Russian services.

McCain will only continue the failed policies of empire that Bush has done. Obama is well-educated and knows that American power belongs at home only and that American weapons are not welcome abroad. He brings hope to the American poor instead of false hope to peasant kings in Georgia.

Posted by: Y A Feckov at August 12, 2008 04:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't understand what is wrong with McCain's policy of sending an international humanitarian force. Russia would be crazy to strike a humanitarian force.

McCain didn't create this mess, but his ideas on how to handle it make more sense than Bush's 'forgive Russia' policy. Looking into Putin's eyes for 8 years has left that country more autocratic than ever before.

Posted by: jlma_ad at August 12, 2008 04:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Another communist wanting to promote BO so they can have their way with him. The communist bear has a friend in Belgrade.

Posted by: RA at August 12, 2008 04:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just to mention one, btw. Didn't the Emperor Constantine make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire?

This is why I can never take McCain seriously until he stands up and demands that we make Constantinople Chrisitian once more. Anything less is......Munich '38!!.

Posted by: sglover at August 12, 2008 04:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wow, you are an idiot

Posted by: Richard at August 12, 2008 04:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeah, you're probably right, better to not even allow Georgia to seek out membership in NATO as a sovereign nation. Leave them to be puppets of the Russian will. No the US can't stand against aggression or do anything to Russia because that might inflame them in some manner. If Russia were willing to play by the rules that the entire rest of the world is willing to play by there would be no problem. It's the fact that Putin has been interfering in so many former Soviet Republics that specifically makes them anxious to join NATO. So in the immortal words made famous by Ronald Reagan there comes a time for choosing. Some say better red than dead but the Russians. But I say they must understand that while we desire peace there is a line which they must not cross. If we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy then he will learn to love us. A nation which prefers disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one. WE WILL NOT APPEASE THUGGERY OF THIS TYPE AND ALLOW FOR THE KREMLIN TO DICTATE THE TO THE GOVERNMENTS OF FORMER USSR SATTELITE NATIONS!!!

Posted by: John at August 12, 2008 04:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I want to know who wrote the Wikipedia entry for Saakashvili in the first place.

Posted by: chancy at August 12, 2008 04:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There's an American expression called "Monday morning quarterback" which refers to football fans who chastise the coach the day after the football game but never questioned the coach's decisions during the game. You fit that description unless you were prescient in complaining months and years ago -- when Obama, Clinton, Biden, and others (apparently not as smart as you) were not -- that:

1) We should not invite Georgia into NATO.
2) We should not support Kosovo's secession from Serbia.
3) We should have no relations with former Soviet states that Russia does not give us approval for first.
4) Georgia should not have meddled in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Then, as Victor Davis Hanson's piece anticipated, you equate Russia's sacking of a Democratic nation with our attack of a dictator and subsequent effort of building a democracy in Iraq, now the 2nd democracy in the Middle East, after Israel. Some of us have a more idealistic view of a world of democracies.

Your citing of the Kissinger and Kennan quotes were good, but the point of writing, I think, is to persuade. By gratuitously bashing people who disagree with you, your writing becomes hysterical, not persuasive. Finally, what is Obama's brilliant position on this issue, if he's so much better than McCain?

Posted by: Shalesh at August 12, 2008 04:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Did I dream it or did I hear Bush use the phrase "overreaction" to describe the Russian response in Georgia?

Maybe in his crystal ball Bush sees 160,000 Russian troops stuck in Georgia for the next six years. (Or 100, as the old white haired dude might say.)

Posted by: Tim at August 12, 2008 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who are we to lecture Putin? Of course, the U.S. toppling a genocidal dictator in Iraq is morally equivalent to bombing a constitutional democracy over a territorial dispute.

Posted by: Mark at August 12, 2008 04:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why can McCain and the neo-cons not see the folly of thinking every international crisis is a replay of Munich? Haven't they read any other history?

Russia and the United States as well as China are the three most important 21st Century empires. We've inherited the British policy of maintaining "freedom of the seas" and, like Russia and China, we have replaced the old-fashioned and direct political control with economic and diplomatic leadership. Russia and China are certainly revivals of imperial powers of the past. None of the new empires, however, is the new Nazi Germany. Munich does not apply. So put away the 1930's history books and get out the old histories of the British Empire. Read about the issues relating to the frontiers between empires. Read about the issues relating to indigenous resistance to imperialism. Read about these issues and minor conflicts could drag the empires into serious conflicts. History did not begin in the age of news reels and not all international conflicts fit the morality plays we associate with World War II.

Posted by: Don Hanlin at August 12, 2008 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Belgravia?" Hmm. Isn't that where the poofters swan about? If our defense depended upon fairy princes and princesses, we'd all be doing double shifts on Roman galleys. Never argue with an idiot, that's my motto.

Posted by: Ken Puck at August 12, 2008 04:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, lets sell out Georgia like Neville sold out Poland. Russia has been heading back down the path of the old KGB mindset for some time and we should have been dealing with countries like Georgie long before today. We should have already set them up in NATO. Someone has to keep the BIG RED DAWG in his own yard and turning the back on Georgia will not do that but instead send the signal to stay away from the U.S. because it will turn the other way when things get tough. That is the normal dem behavior though.

Posted by: Kabookey at August 12, 2008 04:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks Greg, for reminding my why I stopped reading you.

And kudos to Obama for getting it.

Shame on those who claim that Georgia in exercising its own sovereignty was committing aggression against Russia. How ironic, coming from those who defend the sovereignty of genocidaires in Sudan, and of tyrants in Burma and Zimbabwe.

Shame on those who forget that the reason to admit the Visograd states to NATO was precisely because once Russia revived, it would be too late, as it was too late for Georgia, and may be too late for Ukraine.

Shame on those who fail to realize that the reason for NATO is to keep the US and Europe working together in what is still a dangerous world.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 12, 2008 05:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is so stupid Bush, McCain are not going to do a damn thing. All they do is talk tough and pretend like we are going to war tomorrow over this country. Give me a freakin break all they are a buch of cheerleaders. Talk is Cheap!

Posted by: Capt. Smash at August 12, 2008 05:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

completely wrong, Greg. What are Russia's intentions - rather, what are Putin's intentions, since the Russian people don't matter, covered as they are by such a thick layer of Putinesque bullshit that it makes Americans seem well informed by comparison? He's such a noble, well meaning character that the only explanation of his actions is of course that we've provoked him? That's it? Just follow Kennan and of course everything would be ok because ol' Vlad there is just such an honorable guy simply looking out for his people? We just have to smarten up a bit by electing the sweet talkin' black guy because ol' Vlad's just looking for a partner, right, someone to talk to, right? Nothing wrong with that. Just honorable people doing the right thing. Can't possibly be because Puitn's a cunning bastard that sees a strategic opening created, not by Western aggression, but by western weakness and befuddlement, a strategic opening he would have exploited regardless of Kosovo and regardless of NATO expansion because those things are just convenient pretexts and if they didn't exist he just would have found his pretexts somewhere else - not to mention that if they didn't exist it would just be further evidence of how irrelevant the West is - more sauce for the goose.

But then again I guess if we really did provoke poor Vlad into these unfortunate acts all that's necessary is to elect Obama and he can rescind that Kosovo decision and rescind the NATO memberships and go cap in hand to Moscow and apologize to poor Vlad and blame it all on Bush being such a darn idiot and hey can you forgive us please and then everything will be ok, right? I mean, boiled down to essentials, that is the point of your blog posting, right?

Posted by: oblong at August 12, 2008 05:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Simply letting the USSR, err Russia walk all over insignificant countries in and of itself is not a security threat to the USA, if the USSR, err Russia stops at a couple smaller countries.

So, now that we let Russia plan and execute a goading on a smaller nation to give itself a semi credible reason to invade it, what kind of precident does this make? What happens when the next country is the Ukraine, then Poland, possible Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France? I think we could very much survive quite nicely with-out a single one of these countries being free democracies. Of course, who then needs Mexico, who is taken over by USSR, err Russian backed Hugo Chavez, and we really did not need Texas, California, Arizonia either, Maybe giving up Hawaii in order for peace in our time will be worth while as well. I mean, I will never be able to Afford to go to Hawaii anyways. Hell, maybe in order to keep them from bothering for a couple more years we could give them Alaska and offer Canada to them too. What the hell are they worth anyways? They are needed for the security of someone living in Iowa, New York or Ohio are they?

Who the hell needs friends, I mean the only people worth trying to get along with are our enemies. Have to be nice to Iran, maybe they will be nice to us after they get the bomb. Hey, don't bad mouth the USSR, err Russia, they are great people with an awesome heritage ya know.

This original poster is such a lame retard.

I for one support our allies, and if we need to, hell yes we should go to war with nuclear armed USSR, err Russia before we have no friends left in the world. Remember, first they came for Georgia and no one helped, then when they come for you... well, there is no one left to help you.

Honestly, someone please explain to me how letting Russia take over Poland, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Great Britain and the rest of Europe would hurt America and cause us any more harm than letting them take over Georgia. Europe, outside of talking about being allies does nothing for us. Outside of Great Britain not a single one did more for us in Iraq than did Georgia or the Ukraine. So, please explain to me, what country is worth defending against Russia if not Georgia?

Posted by: A Stoner at August 12, 2008 05:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There is the litttle matter of an oil pipeline that crosses through Georgia from states farther east. I suspect oil is once again behaind all the machinations.

Posted by: Ben at August 12, 2008 05:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I can not believe the ignorance that this author and many people in the US have wit this crisis.

Depending on what is done now, the world may look back at this moment and realize how history has repeated itself once more.

When Hitler invaded France, we did very little with catastrophic ocnsequences.

When Stalin invaded Easter Europe, we did very little with catastrophic consequences.

WAKE UP PEOPLE! Russia is declaring war on what is an AMERICAN PROXY - essentially the US!

This aggression will continue and we must hold the line.

McCain has been right and continues to be right about Putin.
Bush and Obama are in bed with the same policy of appeasement.

WAKE UP!

MCCAIN/PALIN 2008
http://mccainpalinforprez.blogspot.com
www.palinforamerica.com

Posted by: Paul at August 12, 2008 05:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The column perfectly illustrates why liberals should not be in charge of foreign policy. Russian actions are crimes against free nations who have chosen to align with the West. Because of this neither US or any nation was obligated to pay homage to the Russian boot as it attempts to continue to stomp on Eastern European nations. The assassination attempt on Ukraine's President and now this invasion of Georgia, which mimics the tatics used by Hitler to annex the Sudetenland, is more than Russia attempting to protect itself. It's Russia acting like a suitor who reacts to rejection in love by maiming the one he loves. The West does not threaten Russia.

The writer quotes Kennan and Kissinger, but out of context. They were advising caution at the end of the Cold War, and their advice was followed. But we cannot dictate to free nations what path they choose to take. The writer seems to support a defacto return to a Soviet sphere of influence in which its neighbors are expected to follow Russian orders.

The former Soviet sattelite republics need to join in a mutual defense alliance and act as a bloc against this sort of fascist brutality.

The US had been warning the ruling elite of Georgia that it would be powerless to act in this kind of confrontation, much in the way it refrained from acting in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. Our strategic interests are not at stake there. Unfortunately, the Georgians walked right into the Russian trap.

The good news is that Russia will lose respect and prestige throughout the world for this kind of heavy-handedness.

Posted by: theduke at August 12, 2008 05:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What a waste of my time this blog is. I can not understand the stupidity of my fellow Americans. How quickly we forget and ignore history. Our failure to act in 1939 resulted in millions of deaths. You peace lovers will be the first to hide under your desks when we come looking for troops to defend your beloved Paris. I can only pray McCain wins so some sanity remains in our foreign policy. Thank God there is one man standing for what is right.

Posted by: Bryan at August 12, 2008 05:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Richard Holbrooke:

"Russia has also waged an aggressive international disinformation campaign to raise doubts about Saakashvili -- I have heard astonishing, wholly undocumented charges about his alleged corruption and his "hot-headed" style in Berlin, Brussels and even Washington. In Tbilisi today, you can hear an ugly word for this that rises out of the depths of 19th-century Russian history: pogrom.

In fact, the 38-year-old Saakashvili represents almost everything the United States and the European Union should support. He led the peaceful 2003 Rose Revolution that overthrew the corrupt regime of Eduard Shevardnadze. He then opened the country to Western investment, presided over a dramatic turnaround in a once-hopeless economy, and instituted massive reforms of the police and civil service. While these efforts have not been perfect -- Freedom House and other nongovernmental organizations have expressed concern about an overly cozy relationship between the government and the main media, for example -- Georgia has climbed further up the World Bank's latest annual reform survey than any other country."

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 12, 2008 05:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"But what is really mind-boggling here is that McCain would have us double-down, and cheer-lead having NATO "revisit" the decision not to extend membership to Georgia!"

What I find mind-boggling in this rant on the dangers of McCain, is that you simultaneously give Obama not just a pass on his "Pavlovian" attempt at catch-up ball on talking tough, but a sweep when his position on NATO is indistinguishable from one you've just unreservedly condemned above. Here's Obama:

"Going forward, the United States and Europe must support the people of Georgia. Beyond immediate humanitarian assistance, we must provide economic assistance, and help rebuild what has been destroyed. I have consistently called for deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a membership action plan for NATO, and we must continue to press for that deeper relationship."

Posted by: JM Hanes at August 12, 2008 05:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Now I understand why Bush was elected twice. What are we going to to Russia thats going to hurt them? Can anyone tell me, please?
We are broke as a nation and our Military has been used to the point of falling apart. Russia knows this and they know that Bush and McCain are cowboy dumb assess! We went to war with Iraq and have yet to get cheeper oil. Further, OBL is still making recordings!

Posted by: Capt. Smash at August 12, 2008 05:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes indeed, yes indeed. What we really need here is for Obama and his 300 foreign policy hacks to get on a plane and go to Russia as a "Citizen of the World" and sit down for a heart to heart with Putin. He could tell Putin to just cut it out and play nice. OR ELSE. And so's yer mama!! Putin will kiss him on both cheeks and hand him his lunch. American and European liberals are no match for a reawakened and determined Russia under Putin. I think we can all agree that Putin is still running things and the Russian people love it. And if anyone thinks it is going to stop with Georgia they are delusional.

Posted by: Kateliz at August 12, 2008 05:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, looks like the good guys lost this round.

Unless of course you buy into all this BS about poor downtrodden south Ossetia.

Ralph Peters column in the NY Post today outlines what's happening perfectly.

We need to send as many Stingers and other useful arms as possible to the Georgians. We won't send forces (and to my knowledge the Georgians haven't asked for any) but we can send them the tools to bleed the bear.

Afghanistan looked easy in Dec of 1979 too, and Chechnya in 1994.

Meanwhile we should do everything possible to support the independence of Armenians, Azeris, Ukranians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians etc.

As for Gregory the author, He's half right. The Iraq coalition thing with Georgia in Iraq cost them 2K of their best men who are now just getting back to their nation. It would have been better for our and the Georgians national interests if they'd never deployed. We owe the Georgians (and the Poles and the Ukrainians etc) bigtime for their support of us in Iraq.

But Gregory advocates surrender - head-down, hat-in-hand supplication to naked aggressors who have premedidtativly invaded an unoffending nation after a staged managed provocation (Polish attack on a german radio station on 1 Sept 1939 anyone?). He outlines eloquently the "I can't be bothered" cowardice of Europe and far too many Americans.

This is a wake up call - the Soviets (call them what you will) are back and as implacable an enemy of human freedom as ever.

We need to adjust our strategic thinking accordingly.

Posted by: Manchu at August 12, 2008 05:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this is not about liberals vs conservatives. Many liberals, from Richard Holbrooke, to the editorialists at the NYT, to Sen Obama himself, have been as resolute on this as any neocon.

And some conservatives, like John Derbyshire and others at NR, are quick to counsel paralaysis. There is no small number of conservatives who admire Putin, who despise the humanitarian intervention in Kosovo, and who are eager to see EU idealism defeated by Putinesque nationalist "hard power".

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 12, 2008 05:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your joking right? So what we should do is just let Russia do whatever the hell it wants and damn the consequences. Great.

Posted by: G at August 12, 2008 05:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My, my but Mr Djerijian's excitable today. The core of his argument, the idea that NATO expansion created this crisis, is ludicrous. Yeltsin's government was never threatened by NATO; neither did Gorbachev perceive a major threat. Only a revanchist thug like Putin would perceive a threat from teeny weeny Estonia and Georgia.

Also, one might expect someone of Armenian ancestry to know at least the basics of what's happened in the Caucasus over the last 17 years. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are bogus statelets dominated by violent gangs that include, prominently, Putin's ex-KGB colleagues, freebooting Col. Kurtz-style former Red Army officers and others doing the dirty work for Russia's "peacekeepers" on the ground. The notion that these mafiya types along with the Liberators of Grozny are defending anyone's territorial integrity is laughable.

Finally, it's pretty obvious that Putin has overreached here, and committed a blunder that will cost him and his fellow thieves dearly. Volodya's best card was his ability to peel Germany off from the West; that's gone now. Per McFaul, Germany's already changing its tune about EU membership for Ukraine. Those in Europe who have warned about Russia's energy blackmail, including not just the Balts and Poland but also progressive Sweden, now find their arguments trumping those of Germans and Frenchmen eager for board seats on Gazprom or favors from Deripaska or Uncle Yuri and other Russian bandit-pols.

And then there are other consequences, clarified nicely in today's FT by the Senate's leader on foreign and international economic policy. Joe Biden has flatly stated that WTO membership's out of the question now, that sanctions are a possiblity, and that the Sochi Olympics may not come off due to prohibitive insurance costs-- I imagine Joe's friends in the reinsurance biz may be amenable to suasion here.

Most important of all for Putin and his world class asset-stripping looters, Joe has signaled that the west will now start scrutinizing the $200b or so that Nigeria North's thieves have stolen from their beloved Mother Russia: "Western financial institutions, which have done little to expose evidence of official Russian corruption, may start pursuing the issue much more publicly."

This is a major turning point. Putin has achieved what no amount of neocon Russia-bashing could ever do, turn the spotlight on the African-style shambles that is Putin's bandit regime and unite a fractured West.

Molodets, Volodya

Posted by: thibaud at August 12, 2008 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Per McFaul, Germany's already changing its tune about EU membership for Ukraine. "

is there a link for this?

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 12, 2008 05:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Stupid, stupid are we willing to break out the Nukes children? The Gop is so stupid with all there tough talk! Just think back during Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 just think if McCain was president. You would all be dead and all of your children. Thank God Obama has a cooler head than hot head Mcwar!

Posted by: capt. Smash at August 12, 2008 05:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Obama is an empty suit. From the day he was sworn in to the Senate to the date he declared his run for the presidency, is only 145 days on the job. He has literally no experience. (Not figuratively, literally!) He's not qualified to run a Dairy Queen.

Proven Obama has most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate. Obama is to the left of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, Pat Leahy and Barbara Boxer. That's extremely difficult to do. Obama is a textbook big-government, tax-and-spend liberal. He plans to raise income tax rates, capital gains tax rates, Social Security taxes (by virtue of eliminating the cap), dividend taxes, inheritance taxes, and introduce a slew of new taxes. His plan will destroy this country

To ALL the obamakins and of course the bias CNN & MSNBC I have one simple request. Please spare me the hope and the change bull, and the Bush's third term, McSame etc… Please just tell American voters what qualifies Barack Obama to run this country. What qualifies him to oversee our $14 trillion economy, the largest on earth? What qualifies him to be commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces in a time of war? Please just give me one single solid qualification. And race does not qualify!! That would be one more than anyone including cable media has provided to date. WE ALL HAVE GROWN EXTREMLY TIRED OF MEDIA SAINTED OBAMA….

Obama keeps reaching back to Chicago political past for policy advisers, and pulling one despicable, vile, and even evil “rabbit” after another out of his hat.

The list of Barack Obama’s radical associations is long and it keeps getting longer. Some are now well-known, but many are not. They need to be.

23 years at TUCC with Jeremiah Wright and James Meeks. racist sermons on Youtube.

He chose the most radical church in the country; chose to immerse himself in hard-core ideological radicalism. Never before has this country considered such a radical leftist for its chief executive.

Michael Pfleger and his hateful and race-hating ramblings, Obama met while carrying out his own radical social activism as community organizer at ACORN, (radical organization)

Penny Pritzker, heads Obama camp National Finance Committee was president of Superior Bank - massively failed and she literally bought her way out of jail paying $460 MILLION fine; was the very epicenter of subprime loan scandal” that would come to eat this nation’s financial system alive.

Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, former head of Obama’s vice presidential selection committee, discovered he benefited from sweetheart loans from subprime king Countrywide.

Tony Rezko certainly and his federal indictments and financial dealing with Obamas of course and William Ayers, US terrorist bomber, Obama-co-lecturer, fellow board member, neighbor, and friend.

Communist Frank Marshall Davis, obama mentor; Saul Alinsky and Gerald Kellman (Kellman’s Woods Fund is how Obama hooked up with terrorist William Ayers)

Chicago lawyer Mazen Asbahi, appointed as Obama camp national coord for Muslim n affairs also stepped down after news about his stint on the fund’s board - which includes fundamentalist imam - prompting The Wall Street Journal inquiries about relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and his long personal relationship with Hamas Jamal Said.

Obama desperately needs voters to forget hes the son of a Muslim father who served an incredibly brutal and corrupt Kenyan government; to forget he attended a madrassa in Indonesia and practiced Islam; forget that he campaigned in Kenya on behalf of Raila Odinga, who relied upon chaos, corruption, and violence in his campaign; numerous associations with radical Muslims; forget the photographs of Obama in traditional Muslim clothes, hanging with Muslim radicals such as Mazen Asbahi and anti-Semite Rashid Khalidi.

The mainstream media has frankly put the security of our great country at risk with an Obama coronation media like CNN & MSNBC is the only way Obama managed to steal the Dem nom. It’s extremely concerning that so many Americans could care less about who their candidate really is?? simply amazing and frankly scarey.


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Posted by: JOE at August 12, 2008 05:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

don't know how everyone is voting but this is worth the time to listen to what this man says..This is serious, serious, business.......

www.atlah.org/broadcast/ndnr07-28-08.html

http://www.dontvoteobama.net

Posted by: Jones at August 12, 2008 05:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well I dunno about having trouble with small militias. The assymetrical nature of the war and our unwillingness to actually, you know, fight and stuff was hardly helpful.

Clearly a war with Russia is an impressively idiotic idea and one we should war assiduously not to implement. However, it is worth remembering how extraoridnariy weak the Russian military really is. Even our hideously underfunded, poorly equipped and far too often poorly lead wreck of an army could wipe the floor with them in very short order in a conventional engagement.

Neither is Russia particularly rich although they do have the Euros by the energy jugular. Of course they can be instantly made much poorer (and all Americans much richer) by allowing drilling off shore in ANWAR(and limiting the prospective predations on such by the beurocrats and trial lawyers), building Nuke plants exploting shale oil. Merely passing laws to this effect would drive oil to $80 and maybe $70 a barrel in a couple of weeks and improve our economic and stratgic situation quite dramatically.

Posted by: guilguelmo at August 12, 2008 05:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post, thibaud at 5:36. I'm less optimistic about the West uniting on this thing, though.

Posted by: theduke at August 12, 2008 05:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The purpose of the "Embrace" ad is just that -- tying McCain to Bush with 6 photos in 30 seconds. Celebrity is just a hook to get to "McBush." That's Obama's best line of attack.

Posted by: Joe at August 12, 2008 05:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McFaul stated it on KQED's "Forum" program in San Francisco this am.
btw, here's the link to Joe Biden's editorial in the FT today: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/707f4ebe-686b-11dd-a4e5-0000779fd18c.html

Strong stuff, esp the part about going after Putin's loot.

Hit 'em where it counts: these guys aren't neo-Soviets or neo-nationalists or neo-Orthodox/Autocrats; they're just little mafiosi in Brioni suits. Their grand strategy consists of nothing more than mapping pipelines and seeking to punish, Gotti-style, anyone on the receiving end who looks at them cross-wise.

It's this lack of any real strategy or coherent political ideology among the Russian bandit class that makes all these allusions to Kennan and Kissinger's grand strategizing so silly.

Were Putin pursuing anything like a coherent f-p vision, he'd have reformed his shambles of a military years ago, broadened his economic base to include high tech leaders, pursued a deep and wide-ranging economic and military partnership with China, and maximized his influence in western Europe. Instead, the Russian military remains a corrupt and incompetent mess, the economy is now, in third world style, totally dependent on commodity exports (Russia lags behind India, China and Finland, for god's sake, in technology), and Russia is now more diplomatically isolated than it's been at any point since the mid-1980s.

Posted by: thibaud at August 12, 2008 05:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

After Desert Storm, Big Bush cheered on the Shiites in Basra, giving them every reason to think that the US would help them if they rose up against Saddam. Instead, the Americans sat by and watched Saddam's helicopters swoop in and mow them down.

Now, Lil' Bush gives the Georgians every reason to think that the US will come to their rescue if they get the Big Bear mad. Now it's the Lil One's turn to sit on his hands while the Georgians fall.

Talk is cheap, even if you're the President. Especially if you're a bush-league president.

Posted by: Tim at August 12, 2008 05:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I comment above on the impressive weakness and poverty of Russia and while I conceed that the U.S. is indeed much weaker and poorer than we should or can easily be but there is no mistaking the fact that our conventional military strength and the ability to project can certainly not be even remotely approached by Russia (this was true even during it peak during the Cold War).

We are also by far the wealthiest nation in the world but it is indeed frustrating how easily we could become much richer and more fiscally sound (much lower taxes, less regulation, energy explitation of our energy resources, market reoforms of Social Security and health care).

Posted by: guilgelmo at August 12, 2008 06:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What a waste of colorful words to make surrender to the Russians sound intelligent. Liberal pansies.

Posted by: BB at August 12, 2008 06:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JM Hanes:

How can the US defend Georgia? How can the EU do it? How many troops can we put there? How many are the Euros likely to put there? Is Turkey -- so helpful during Iraq -- likely to assist, even to to the extent of allowing our troops to go thrugh their territory?

Politics is said to be the art of the possible. So is diplomacy -- except the practitioners dress more nicely and eat in better restaurants.

NATO membership was touted as an easy no-brainer. For that reason, NATO membership begins to look like the UN. The probem with that is we are obligated by treaty to defend those nations, even when they, perhaps, are not paying much attention to US interests.

Of course, we can impose sanctions on Russia, and refuse to use their oil and drink their vodka. But then that gets in the way of another reality -- the EU is so dependent on Russian oil that there is no way they would join us.

JMH --it may not be noble, but perhaps NATO should stick to defending countries that are actually in, um, Europe?

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at August 12, 2008 06:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey; McCain, Bush and the GOP lets fight Russia we can take out another loan from China! Oh I have a better idea lets cut taxes for our rich buddies.

Posted by: capt. Smash at August 12, 2008 06:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wow, look at all the brave freedom fighters commenting in this forum.

The U.S. never had any intention of fighting the Russians, and we certainly aren't going to be dragged into some pointless shooting war by that idiot Saakashvili. Not even Bush is that stupid.

I guess it will be up to you brave freedom fighters to go take on Putin's evil empire.

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 06:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Stupid, stupid are we willing to break out the Nukes children? The Gop is so stupid with all there tough talk! All they do is talk trash and do nothing. Our country is so broke and our Military is so beaten up from that War in Iraq. And these guys are talking more trash, and making more threats Russia knows we are not going to do anything.

Oh I know lets take out another loan from China and lets fight Russia. Just think back during Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 just think if McCain was president. You would all be dead and all of your children would be dead. Thank God Obama has a cooler head than hot headed Mcwar; that thru his first wife under the bus!

Just think back during Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 just think if McCain was president we would all be dead your children and my children.

Posted by: Capt. Smash at August 12, 2008 06:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here is a wonderful image of that brave freedom figher Saakashvili standing up to the Russians:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/11/nytfrontpage/24441005.JPG

To paraphrase Bismark, the whole of the Caucuses is not worth the bones of a single U.S. marine.

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 06:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not so, "blah." The Iowa caucuses were worth a bone or two, tossed strategically to the party's left wing.

Posted by: thibaud at August 12, 2008 06:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great piece, Greg.

Half a century from now, I think that military and wide-sweep political historians will focus a lot more on the transformation of NATO over the past decade, because it's more or less happened under the radar.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc at August 12, 2008 06:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Poor unprovoked Russia! This is all our fault!

Obama and Putin need to hug it out ASAP

Posted by: Gina at August 12, 2008 06:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your pro-appeasement politics aside, McCain's call to fast track Georgia's NATO application was exactly the right move. While we shouldn't fight Russia militarily as they try to strongarm Georgia away from democratization, we must show Russia that their tactics will backfire. And while it's unfortunate that power politics must be played in this day and age, your and George Kennan's fanciful liberal kumbaya silliness is exactly what Vladimir Putin banked on when he invaded a sovereign country. Get a clue. Thank God your title shows how partisan you are and thank God the American people have a natural sense of how dumb your naive approach to the international arena is. This will expand McCain's advantage on foreign policy issues in the eyes of voters come November.

Posted by: Mark at August 12, 2008 07:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is a great example of since Bush said it, it must be wrong. The true irony is Mr. Obama has done nothing but parrot the same stance as has the EU. Here I thought those two were never wrong. The cognitive dissonence must be killing this bunch leftists.

Posted by: Greg at August 12, 2008 07:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Where would Belgraviadispatch-people draw the line? Is there anything worth defending?

Gregory, you are a shitstain.

Surrender Georgia, of course they deserve to be trampled over by Russians because they are near Russia!

What kind of a rationale is that?

Georgia is a freedom loving democracy and Iraq was a dictatorship that broke 17 UN resolutions and a cease fire after invading another country ... of course that doesn't matter to the brave souls who populate this hate-America first bullshit thread.

We dare not say anything offensive to the neo-Stalinists, it might piss them off! Certainly they don't need to worry about pissing us off because we have Gregory at the Belgraviadispatch and Obama who want to lead by handing the Kremlin our nutsack.

How about peacefully suggesting to all the former Soviet republics that they can join the US in a special relationship and we can have our first meeting in Kiev next week? That isn't launching a nuclear missile or firing a bullet but should certainly let Moscow know that their actions have consequences.

But that wouldn't occur to world-class pussies like Gregory and his hate-America Vagina Monologuers on this thread, we dare not do anything but whimper like we are Europe or Canada.

You guy's make me sick.

Posted by: dvcastle at August 12, 2008 07:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

dvcastle is another brave freedom fighter who thinks other people should die for some podunk backwater country led by some clueless buffoon - just so he can feel tough.

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 07:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It doesn't take much intellectual courage to ridicule Bush and the "neocons." For most people this is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, like signing "Sweet Caroline" after a Red Sox game or playing the "Gino" video when the Celtics are winning.

As for Iraq, which you link to the current conflict in Georgia, history will have the last word on it, and right now history is going in George Bush's direction, not yours. I think the millions on Iraqis who have been emancipated have their opinion, too.

That said, your overall analysis of what's going on in Georgia makes logical sense, but when you equate invading Georgia and invading Iraq you lose me. I think the differences are obvious enough so I don't need to point them out.

Your overall point that we have unnecessarily provoked Russia is entirely possible, but would wounded Russian pride have found another way of asserting itself if this hadn't happened? What you don't give our leaders --- from GHWB to Clinton to W --- enough credit for is not publicly gloating over the West's Cold War victory, and, generally speaking, trying to draw Russia into the institutional structures of the West.

The fact is, Russia under Putin is an authoritarian regime that now has the oil wealth to follow its follow its basest instincts. Whatever we do or don't do, don't expect any flowers from them.

Posted by: Chris Foley at August 12, 2008 07:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My suggestion was for the US to peacefully join the former Soviet nations into an alliance with us for a meeting next week in Kiev.

No violent "freedom fighter" ideas were listed in my pericope, turd breath.

Posted by: dvcastle at August 12, 2008 07:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,
Can't you find an intern or somebody to moderate comments? The signal to noise ratio has declined drastically.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at August 12, 2008 07:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Amazing that "Put America First" McCain doesn't seem any irony in espousing wonderment and praise for a country that declares any religion as "official".

Isn't there something about freedom and religion in the American constitution? Oh that's right, Bush has proved that you don't need an admendment to change the constitution anymore.

For an old duffer you'd think he'd remember that many Americans came and still come here to escape "official religions".

Posted by: LetThereBeLiberals at August 12, 2008 07:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What stands out here is the inability to understand that what matters, in a thug-ocracy, is the man in charge. Little else. Such issues as Russia's supposed "humiliations" are truly important only as tools in the hands of the leader-for-life: whether used to distract and herd his subjects into thinking about something other than the hard sole of his boot on their neck, or as a jingling ball for the useful idiots on the other side to chase around and argue over. Putin smiles.

It's about him. (You can tell who actually gets this or not by how important individuals think it is for Putin to have changed from being "President", to being "Prime Minister", as if he now no longer gets to use the crapper with the gold handle.) Are we to imagine that this man, had the USA not befriended Poland etc, would not have sought the restoration of a police state with himself at its head?

It's regretable that Putin caught us napping, and Georgia has been conquered. But so was Poland, at one time. So was Afghanistan. And the religious revolutions fomented in both places together brought the Soviets down. Smug liberals who think religion is a mental disorder may miss this, but part of the significance of Georgia's embrace of Christianity is that its resistance movements, once they have sent the Russians home (it's been done), are people that we can work with. Sure, the Pope who fostered Solidarity criticized us for our Capitalism, but criticism we can live with; planes flying into Manhattan skyscrapers, not so much.

I'm not against the appeasement talks proposed here, as a means to buy time, while we get organized and start funnelling aid and support to those who will be working to tear down Putinstan from the inside.

Posted by: Jack at August 12, 2008 07:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Putin is not the next Hitler. He is a mean bully who gave a violent beating to the weakling next door just to show he could and because it was a friend of the U.S.

The real lesson is for weak little nations like Georgia to avoid getting into fights with the big mean bully who lives next door.

Hey, it's not fair. But that's the way the world works. Look at the 20th Century. Nobody stuck up for poor Mexico, Haiti, Guatamala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, or Grenada when the U.S. invaded those countries or instituted regime change.

That's just one of the perks of being a big, powerful country - you get to push around all the little countries that live next to you and nobody will stop you.

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 08:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think this article is ridiculous. If you took out the cynical one liners, it might be a paragraph. Its easy to criticize, its hard to come up with ideas. The fact is there wasn't a damn thing we could do to stop Russia, and there is nothing we can do now.

Posted by: rb909 at August 12, 2008 08:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

greg747,
"We all have access to information, a reasonable vocabulary, and the ability to discern right from wrong - then how on earth is there even a remote possibility that McBush might win in the Fall?"

Perhaps because information, a reasonable vocabulary and the ability to discern right from wrong favor McCain over Obama and a recognition that President Bush was a better alternative than either of the trained poodles who ran against him? ^_^

Don Hanlin,
Whisper it softly but,....America is not an empire. I think the phrase you are looking for is "Great Power" or possibly "Super Power". That's important because there are certain differences between being an empire and being a Great Power.

Bryan,
I would dispute that this blog is without value. It provides a valuable insight into the minds of a certain segment of the voting public whatever you may think of the intellectual quality of the content. ^_~

Appalled Moderate,
Do you mind if I answer your questions with another - How many troops did we put into Afghanistan in the late 70s and 1980s? o_O

Georgia is also a mountainous region and it's too early to write them off. Manpower is not the only form of support there is. ^_^

blah,
Interesting that General Pinochet is so much your idol that you would not allow anyone who isn't a soldier to speak on behalf of freedom! Thus do we establish the totalitarian nature of the Left. :P

Gregory,
You may want to consider that there can be no "key systematic historical forces" without people and it is people who determine how such "forces" play out. Mr. McCain therefore is not in the wrong to have opinions and ideas as you would have it. Certainly he cannot be much more wrong than someone whose notion of a foreign policy is just to wring his hands and write "...it is the Russians, sad to say, who will determine the fate of Georgia in the coming days and weeks,...". The people of Georgia and the rest of the world may yet have something to say about it as well. Russia may be strong but is hardly ominpotent. ^_^

Posted by: Towering Barbarian at August 12, 2008 08:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, and while we're at it, let's substitute "hardly omnipotent" for "hardly ominpotent" since I have no idea what being potent at omins would involve! ^_~

Posted by: Towering Barbarian at August 12, 2008 08:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And so it begins! Nancy Pelosi is running the House, Harry Reid is running the Senate, Bush is a lame duck and Obama is ahead in the polls. So what do the Russians do? Send in the tanks. What is Obama's policy......the same as the author of this article. Let's start a dialogue. That is Obama's answer to everything...let's start a dialogue...with the terrorists, with the Holocaust deniers. The press won't ask, but one must wonder how one dialogues after a Russian tank runs over you or a suicide bomber blows up the cafe you are sitting in? Jimmy Carter dialogued for a year with Iran over our hostages....you can still here the Ayatolahs snickering, Jimmy Obama II is ahead in the polls! And so the dialogue begins!

Posted by: valwayne at August 12, 2008 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually, when Russian tanks rumbled into Afghanistan in 1979, the Carter administration was already supporting the Mujahadeen and supported their resistence thereafter. It was such a good policy, that Reagan continued it. That worked out pretty well for the U.S., not so well for the Russians.

With regard to the Iranians, Reagan did even better than dialogue with the Ayatollahs - he sold missiles to them!

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 09:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An excellent analysis which doesn't merely scratch the politically correct surface but, rather, goes into the (sad) reality of this conflict.

In fact, I must say that reading this made me change my initial knee-jerk reaction which was to question Nato for not allowing Georgia to join. Regardless of the actual competitiveness of democracy in Russia, it is not a question of antagonizing it by putting a Nato satellite at its doorstep. After all, what would we say if Russia lead a defence alliance and said entity welcomed say the Bahamas into its ranks (I can't find a better geographically correct analogy).

The sad part is that the vast majority of the American electorate just doesn't seem to realize how absurd it would be to elect a person like McCain who will certainly continue many of the policies of the most disastrous presidency of the last century (perhaps in history).

And I say this being a Republican!

Posted by: CenterRep at August 12, 2008 09:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nice commentary and discussion. While Bush was waving his tiny US flag in China, Condi was vacationing, and Cheney was on the the phone saying God knows what to Saakashvili, Sarkozy was doing what he should be doing: traveling to Moscow and Tiblsi settling matters. The result is a resounding loss of face for the US on several fronts: the Georgian military tranned my the US was awful, the Hungarian type of promise of support carried no weight, after Saakashvili cranked up the violence no one answered the phone in Washington, and the EU has stolen the march on the US in diplomatic advances. Another example of Bush's authoritarian democratic foreign policy.

Oh a final note, by routing the Georgian forces, the Russians might just develop a bad case of hudspah in that they consider their military better than that of the depleted US forces.

Posted by: Richard in Albany at August 12, 2008 09:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The South Ossetians are a largely Christian group, all though in many ways their culture, language, etc. certainly differ from ethnic Georgians.

We don't understand the situation here. Russians know that Ossetians are Ossetians. Georgians want to kill their language and 'integrate' (American Indian style) them into the Georgian culture. Whether that means taking all their property, educating their children, and generally not employing Ossetians so be it.

For all the faults we have with Russia, they do have a concept, that is very foreign to us...that of allowing groups autonomy and preserving their culture. That is what is so darn appealing, the North Ossetians are still Ossetians...(they are in an autonomous republic inside the Russian Federation). The poor South Ossetians, are in the middle of a very hostile country to them.

It's no wonder then, the South Ossetians support Russia...its their very survival at stake, and the U.S. certainly doesn't care, in fact, the U.S. for its own purposes looks away that the gross human rights violations of the Georgian government.

OK, I correctly stated that South Ossetians are Christians, I may have accidentally spread the idea that Georgians are Muslims.
They aren't, but what does anyone know.

I know it cannot be me...surely, but I was shocked about this statemente about Christians the next day too.

OK, lets try this out for size, if Russians have been antagonizing Georgia FOR YEARS, as Cheney says...and the timing of this was 'is proof of Russias evil intent'.......then why was Tshkinvali in ruins on Thursday, the result of a Georgian attack?

Explain that one McCain.

Posted by: John Caferillia at August 12, 2008 09:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Richard in Albany: try and say something that is true. It tends to make your arguments more persuasive.

Sarkozy could fly to Georgia because he represents a neutered power. If an American had flown there, it would have provoked the Russians even more.

Putin is counting on people like you to further undermine the West's position. So keep it up. You might succeed in putting Georgia under the Russian thumb permanently.

Posted by: theduke at August 12, 2008 09:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Georgia were a member of NATO, Russia would still have taken it over, and NATO would still have done nothing. That's why they call NATO "irrelevant".

Posted by: dave at August 12, 2008 10:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CenterRep wrote:

"In fact, I must say that reading this made me change my initial knee-jerk reaction which was to question Nato for not allowing Georgia to join. Regardless of the actual competitiveness of democracy in Russia, it is not a question of antagonizing it by putting a Nato satellite at its doorstep. After all, what would we say if Russia lead a defence alliance and said entity welcomed say the Bahamas into its ranks (I can't find a better geographically correct analogy)."

Both your initial knee-jerk reaction and then your swing to the other extreme were both off the mark.

The Russians are deeply involved in Venezuela. They are selling billions in weaponry to a man who views himself as the second coming of Fidel. You could look it up.

Georgia is anti-Russian. Georgia had a revolution, threw out a corrupt former Soviet appartchik, and established a government that embraces Western values. It did this at the ballot box. There is a term that governs all international affairs: "the self-determination of peoples." If Georgia wants to align with the West because it is contemptuous of Russian "democracy" (and I use the term loosely) as well as suspicious of Russian motives, who are you to take the side of the Russian jack-booted thugs?

McCain is the only politician who understood the nature of the problem here, which is Russian chauvinism and nationalism. McCain understands that the Russian nationalism demands the restoration of the Old Russian Empire, or something resembling it in the modern age. Your taking the side of the Russians in this, shows your lack of understanding of historical Russian motivations.

Posted by: theduke at August 12, 2008 10:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Too late. Your Obama has already flip flopped to taking Mcain's position on this issue. You liberals are pathetic. Finish college and get a job and pay taxes like the rest of us!!

Posted by: whit at August 12, 2008 10:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How many "Hitlers" can we have in one decade? OBL, Saddam, Ahmadinjad, Kim jong -il Chavez and now Putin and soon to be Hu.
We have spent 2,000,000,000,000.00 and counting on to get one "Hitler" in Saddam. That leaves 5 more "Hitlers"! I know some will be cheaper the Saddam, like Chavez. The rest will be much more expensive. Say an average of 5,000,000,000,000.00 for each remaining "Hitler". That would be 22,000,000,000,000.00 to rid the world of "Hitlers"...if we are lucky, no more "Hitlers" arise.

That is only $440,000 per taxpayer! All of these Mccain Hawks are rich like I am (a latte sipping, elitist, out of touch,east coast sissy, hedge fund type)....and they "know poor people don't really pay much at all." The top 1% of income earners pay 29% of all income tax. That comes down to "only" $14,000,000.00 per top 1% filer like me... and all these Mccain Hawks who are also rich and patrioticly love to pay taxes to "SUPPORT THE TROOPS". WHAT DEAL ...SIGN ME UP!

14,000,000.00 is small price to pay for an individual american to support Georgia against Russia over south Ossetia.because after south Ossetia it would be all of Ossetia then Georgia proper. This years "Hitler" must be stopped at all cost!

Posted by: centrist at August 12, 2008 10:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I just cannot beleive a news outlet would pay for such an ignorant, America hating @#$%^&* to write such retarded crap.

Posted by: AJ at August 12, 2008 10:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So Greg, you're cool with Russia invading Georgia?

Who started shooting? The only account about that I've read has the Ossetians starting it...

I suppose Russia has decided that Georgia is to be a 'vassal' rather than an 'enemy'.. It's got to be one of the other

I think it's clear that America and Europe must have a unified stand in opposition to this incursion, and outline a trip-wire economic retaliation if it happens again. This will be very difficult to maintain, but essential.

The Europeans must be quite uncomfortable. and the Ukrainians.

Nice to see you back. Hopefully not briefly.

Posted by: neill at August 12, 2008 10:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Two items for your consideration:

1) What did Condolezza Rice say to Saakashvili about South Ossetia during her July 9-10 visit to Tbilisi?

2) What conclusions did Saakashvili and the Georgia military draw from the joint war games with 1000 US military servicemen at the Vazaini military base near Tbilisi July 15-31. The name of the exercise was Immediate Response 2008.

Posted by: Captain Mercaptan at August 12, 2008 10:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Russia has been turning away from the West for the last ten years, removing regional governors, destroying a nascent free press, turning the parliament into a rubber stamp, gutting one democratic institution after another.

In turn we have offered Russia membership into the G7 and several NATO-affiliated organizations, going so far as to allow them to participate in war games. To say that Russia has a right to feel "threatened" by NATO expansion ignores all of this. It also smacks of rank appeasement.

When Ukraine is next on the list, what George Keenan quotes will you trot out to justify Western inaction? Will the Ukrainian government have "deserved it" (as apparently the Georgians have)? Will you conjure up some slight that in retrospect gave Russia every right to march into yet another former province? And after Russia has gobbled up the rest of their near-abroad, what will you say when their former eastern bloc is in their sights?

Posted by: Chris Vaaler at August 12, 2008 11:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McCain got it exactly right. You stand up to agression. If Georgia is in NATO, Putin backs off that's why he's trying to stop them and other old soviet satellites from joining. Gregory is the typical liberal appeaser who only realizes too late that the barbarians are at the gate

Posted by: Jeffrey Stevens at August 12, 2008 11:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"removing regional governors, destroying a nascent free press, turning the parliament into a rubber stamp, gutting one democratic institution after another. "

Disturbing trends both in the US and Russia!

Posted by: steve at August 12, 2008 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For everyone in the Putin=Hitler chorus, would Hitler have agreed to a cease fire before annexing Georgia ?

Posted by: blah at August 12, 2008 11:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I had to laugh at this piece. Yes, Georgia may have played the wrong hand against a more powerful adversary but this approaching Putin and begging him to work to keep the status quo? You have to be kidding me right? Should Obama get on his hands and kness and say pretty please mr putin?? Liberals pussycats are always wrong when the world rears its dark side. History proves it over and over again. What a bunch of pathetic pansies. I will take the judgement of a guy who spent 5 long years in the company of a bunch of murderous thugs any day over some chablis drinking brie eating snob! I hate to tell you guys but it is increasing clear that Nobama will go down in flames in November and thats gonna piss you jimmy carter loving sissy boys off!!! hahahahaha

Posted by: Jim Crush at August 13, 2008 12:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Fantastic Article!
Can you add something so that I can link this in facebook?
:)

Posted by: Natskis at August 13, 2008 12:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Bush administration officials, worried by what they saw as a series of provocative Russian actions, repeatedly warned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to avoid giving the Kremlin an excuse to intervene in his country militarily, U.S. officials said Monday.

But in the end, the warnings failed to stop the Georgian president — a Bush favorite — from launching an attack last week that on Monday seemed likely to end not only in his country’s military humiliation but complete occupation by Russian forces.

* * *

Pentagon officials said that despite having 130 trainers assigned to Georgia, they had no advance notice of Georgia’s sudden move last Thursday to send thousands of Georgian troops into South Ossetia to capture that province's capital, Tskhinvali.

Not only did the U.S. troops working alongside their Georgian counterparts not see any signs of an impending invasion, Georgian officials did not notify the U.S. military before the incursion, a senior U.S. defense official told McClatchy.

* * *

But the Bush administration had fretted for months over what
The Russian actions against Georgia "seemed designed to provoke a Georgian over-reaction," said a senior U.S. official. "We have always counseled restraint to the Georgians."

* * *

A "parade" of U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visited Tbilisi to urge Saakashvili to avoid giving the Kremlin to act, a State Department officials said.

At the same time, U.S. officials said that they believed they had an understanding with Russia that any response to Georgian military action would be limited to South Ossetia.

"We knew they were going to go crack heads. We told them again and again not to do this," the State Department official said. "We thought we had an understanding with the Russians that any response would be South Ossetia-focused. Clearly it's not."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/255/story/47631.html

OMG! It's Munich 1938 all over again!

Posted by: blah at August 13, 2008 12:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't agree. Boiled down, your analysis is that the Russians are scary and powerful, so let's not antagonise them. You say that the problem is not that we have failed to support democracy, but that we ever suggested we would. I believe that Russia responds best to confrontation, not compliance. We need a Cuban missile crisis, not a Munich compromise.

Posted by: Roy at August 13, 2008 12:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'President Mikheil Saakashvili told a rally that Georgia would quit the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a grouping of former Soviet states, and urged Ukraine to follow suit.

Georgia has received strong support from other former communist states with the leaders of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states travelling to Tbilisi where they addressed a mass rally.

"You have the right to freedom and independence. We are here to demonstrate our solidarity ... freedom is worth fighting for," shouted Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in live pictures carried by Georgian television.

Georgia took Russia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for "alleged acts of ethnic cleansing" between 1993 and 2008, starting with the period when Russian peacekeepers entered Georgia's breakaway regions.'


Which side are you on, oh, which side are you on....

Posted by: neill at August 13, 2008 01:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McCain is the only politician who understood the nature of the problem here, which is Russian chauvinism and nationalism. McCain understands that the Russian nationalism demands the restoration of the Old Russian Empire, or something resembling it in the modern age. Your taking the side of the Russians in this, shows your lack of understanding of historical Russian motivations.

Yeah, genius. McCain has insight that's so fucking deep is practically mystical.

Here's a hint, Clausewitz: The odds of a "restoration of the Old Russian Empire" are just about the same as those of Czar Nicky rising from the dead to lead it. So try not to wet yourself. Russia's got a lot of problems. Putin's merely braked the decline a bit.

In line with that is his assertion of hegemony over what Russians consider an upstart region in their proper sphere of interest. I suggest you talk to a Panamanian, or a Haitian, or a Cuban, or a Salvadoran, if they have any experience of that. I'm sure you were equally outraged about all those adventures, too, right?

Jesus, the cluelessness, the utter lack of self-awareness of most Americans -- and ALL Republicans -- is simply embarrassing.

Posted by: sglover at August 13, 2008 01:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I guess that those of you who think Mr. Djerejian's analysis is so insightful may not be interested, but for those of you seeking an arguably far more sober take on these recent events I suggest checking out Ronald Asmus's "How the West Botched Georgia" (Aug. 12th) piece in THE NEW REPUBLIC:

http://tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=9da1fd2d-1701-470b-b734-3fc365571e0d

Posted by: Phil at August 13, 2008 01:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> Welcome to the new authoritarian Republicanism.

Nothing new about it, as the republican comments here will attest.

> America is not an empire

Too true; the United States is an empire, with many colonies and proxy states. America is 2 continents.

> I will take the judgement [sic] of a guy who spent 5 long years in the company of a bunch of murderous thugs

Well at least he was in like company. I mean if it was ok for McCain to kill the Vietnamese people there's no reason why Russian soldiers shouldn't be allowed to kill the Georgians, or the Georgians the Ossetians, or the Ossetians the Georgians.

Either you believe in self-determination or you don't. Or, to put it another way, if you don't want people to attack you, don't attack other people, and if you attack other people, you can expect to be attacked in return (I think there may be a line in the bible about that for those who are interested in such things).

Posted by: someone at August 13, 2008 01:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for returning to blogging, Gregory! One side question: why is it that most moronic spelling and grammatical errors are made by right wingers? You can type to your hearts's content, but i find that these mistakes detract from your points—it's your first language, dammit, and perhaps the only one for some, show respect.
From a Frenchman (red cloth baiting!) to my American friends who cannot write, could it be that you've been, mmm let's say, left behind? :-)

Posted by: jean-paul at August 13, 2008 02:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

mr. glover,

can you make your point only in a disrespectful manner?

it reduces your persuasive power.

Posted by: neill at August 13, 2008 02:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

could there be a link between Yushchenko's poison-ravaged face, the nuke-poisoning of what's-his-name Putin adversary at a sushi joint in the heart of London, untold opposition journalist deaths in Russia, intermittent gas shut-offs to the Ukraine and Europe, the invasion of Georgia, and the full-throated support of former soviet-bloc countries for Georgia?


Naaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!

Posted by: neill at August 13, 2008 02:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

sglover,

By comparing Putin's action to those of the U.S. in Panama, etc implies some comparable state of affairs in those countries. It completely ignores inconvenient facts like Manuel Noriega, Fidel Castro or the resurgent trend toward struggling democracy in Haiti.

In any event, we can agree that Putin and Russia are no longer the threat they once were. However, including Georgia in NATO would most certainly have pre-empted Russia's need for aggression. It would have also eliminated the need of the Saakashivili government from feeling it had to act, and as a result provoke Putin.

I really don't agree with the sentiment or tone of this article. McCain (and eventually Obama on his third take on it) was correct in assessing the situation. The article here doesn't dissuade me from that opinion in the least.

Furthermore, comparing this invasion even with the Iraq invasion is a mistake as history will prove out. Comparing the Baathist rule under Saddam and its worthiness with the Georgian government is laughable. Putin's move was a blatant and "well-timed" land grab that could have been avoided with some early Western support. I see no problem checking that burgeoning aggression with political solutions (NATO membership). That hardly invites war, particularly one that Russia would care to wage at this time, but merely underlines our support for those democracies that need it.

Some claim Iraq was/is also a land grab (strategically) or an oil grab. I think that is as pessimistic and narrow as it is wrong. Iraq could have gone ignored for a while, but it would have resurfaced again as Hussein continually thumbed his nose at the UN (not just the US). It's not like diplomacy wasn't tried there for years lest people forget. Those efforts go back to Clinton's second term. I choose to think we're fighting for (freedom and democracy in a part of the world that sorely needs it) something much greater.

The only redeeming portion of this article deals with McCain's mention of Christianity. I don't believe it needed to be stated. I don't condemn it either, but it doesn't have much to do with the problem at hand.

Posted by: Ken at August 13, 2008 02:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Spot on!

Yes, Russian approach is heavy handed with intention to send clear message: never, ever try this again... And if USA want to allay Russian fear of NATO, answer is simple: call Russia to join NATO. Make list of rules, equal to all members (including USA) but do it. Putin showed interest few years ago... That way most of ex-USSR republics will follow too, without drama. That's boring, I know... and remind me once again, what is NATO's purpose these days? Just to catch few Talibans?

Now few words about South Ossetia and similar cases around the world. Since WWII paramount rule in international relationship was "preserving territorial integrity". Parts of internationally recognized state could secede only if local Constitution allowed so or both parties agreed. For example in former Yugoslavia "Republics" like Bosnia had constitutional right to secede but "Autonomous Region" like Kosovo did not. As Serbs opposed secession in both cases we can't talk about "mutual agreement".

Now, since Kosovo got independence it appears that right to secede depends on "will of the people" or desire of local population to split from larger country. It is not only Russia which looks uneasy on new situation. Spain, Belgium, Greece and few other Western nations twitch while thinking on such option and in Africa and Asia things could become really, really interesting. In my honest opinion, brightest minds in international law should define framework defining secession, and fast. What is threshold of "too oppressive central government? Who decide that enough is enough? Is it just US president or any big enough sponsor would suffice?

Now, as Georgia tried to "liberate" them using multiple rocket launchers and armored vehicles I can't imagine that South Ossetia and Abkhazia want to be part of Georgia in any legal framework. As for Russia, they had choice between taking few hundred thousands refugees or beat Georgia on battlefield. I do not think they would react differently even if Georgia was part of NATO.

Saakashvili tried hard to gain NATO entrance to use it as a leverage against Russia. Failing that, he forcefully tried to retake breakaway regions. Only thing he achieved is thousands of dead, massive destruction and highly increased ethnic animosity. In democratic European countries governments resign for much smaller blunders.

Posted by: Mladen at August 13, 2008 04:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Richard in Albany;

Russia's beating up on Georgia is cute and all - kinda like the U.S. and Angola in basketball but it's difficult to believe that even 10% of Russian generals could possibly think they could seriously challange what is, to be sure, a horribly weak U.S. military.

Western pusillanimity, so elaborately enunciated in this piece and severy compounded by new-pagan enviro-lunacy which prevents us from exploiting our resources are by contrast cards of an entirely different and superior order.

Posted by: Guilgelmo at August 13, 2008 05:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McCain does not know anything about the Economy, where Iraq, Iran, Pakistan or Afghanistan are in relation to each other, the different between the Shiites and Sunnis or anything else.

What is Amazing is how anyone can be an Senator for so many years and know so little, about so much!

McCain has made an Senate career out of being an POW 40 years ago. Without accomplishing anything of note in all years as an Senator except costing American tax payers Billions in the Keating 5 scandal, and co-sponsoring Amnesty with the Socialist, Drunk and Killer Ed Kennedy for the loyal Mexicans citizens sent by Mexico to Colonize American! To add insult to injury he then thought Americans were stupid enough to believe him when he tried to deceive them by saying it was not Amnesty or he was not rewarding them for invading the US and breaking numerous Laws! To show the agree that dementia has ravished McCain he even wanted to reward gang members like MS-13 with citizenship that work with & for the Mexican drug cartel and are some of the most vicious gang members in the world! McCain has shown much more loyally to Mexico and his Invading Amigos than to American and its law abiding Citizens. He constantly appears before the racist hate organization La Raza (The Race) that is dedicated to the reconquest of American Southwest and promises them anything as he begs for their votes!

McCain would rather lose an Nation than an Hispanic vote!

McCain's Hispanic Outreach person Juan Hernandez was a Cabinet member in Mexico's Vicente Fox's government and VP of the racist hate organization La Raza (The Race) & is openly for Reconquest of the American Southwest!.

Some of his comments.

“We have recognized that the Mexican population is 100 million in Mexico and 23 million who live in the United States…We are a united nation.”

Mexican immigrants “are going to keep one foot in Mexico and are not going to assimilate.”

Mexico's total economic policy is to send their Criminals and Uneducated peons to the US for Tax payers to support as they cost tax payers Billions sucking at the trough of public Welfare & for their free Medical & Schooling, while Killing, Robbing and Raping Americans citizens by the 10,s of thousands, for Businesses to Exploit and Profits from, and Corrupt Politicians to Pander and Cuddle for votes, while ignoring our Constitution against Invasion, the Rule of Law & their Oath of Office!

Apparently McCain agrees with his adviser about the Reconquest of the Southwest and the Colonization of American, or he would support our Constitution against Invasion, the Rule of Law, and Honor his Oath of Office, instead of rewarding the Invading horde with Amnesty!

McCain is too Stupid to be an Senator, too Stupid to be President and too Treasonous to be an American! My Friends.

Sadly, McCain is an ex-hero and now American traitor like Benedict Arnold!


Posted by: Black Saint J at August 13, 2008 07:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

sorry, Greg, but you're condemnation of McCain is simply wrong here.

the problem here isn't McCain, its the (implied) commitment made by Bush to "allies: who are helping us in Iraq. Dealing with the consequences of Bush's missteps is going to be a long and complicated endeavor, and if the US is ever again going to be perceived as a force for good in the world, 'tough talk" in the face of something like what Russia did is going to be required at times.

After all, McCain didn't say "reverse the decision" with regard to Georgia's membership in NATO, he merely said "revisit" it -- a rather mild statement given that Georgia had the 3rd largest contingent in the "coalition of the willing".

McCain got out in front of what the Russians would do anyway --- cease military operations in Georgia. Putin doesn't want to find itself in a military occupation of Georgia -- and McCain's statement was simply an implied potential threat that would only be carried out if Russia acted unreasonably. (And no, I don't think that their attacks in Georgia outside of Ossetia were 'unreasonable', rather it was the kind of display of overwhelming military force that is consistent with the Powell Doctrine.)

Posted by: p_lukasiak at August 13, 2008 07:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McCain issues a response and etails specific actions aimed at helping the situation. Obama hems and haws for 3 days before saying anything remotely decisive. Dithering is not a Presidential value. It can be detrimental to a nation.

Honestly, the self-righteous pseudo intellectualism here would be laughable if so many people didn't take it seriously.

Posted by: Wes at August 13, 2008 08:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We need an American hero, not an American idol!

Posted by: Teddy at August 13, 2008 08:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

By comparing Putin's action to those of the U.S. in Panama, etc implies some comparable state of affairs in those countries. It completely ignores inconvenient facts like Manuel Noriega, Fidel Castro or the resurgent trend toward struggling democracy in Haiti.

I believe you've just made some of my own points for me, particularly the closing remarks in my last post.

But just to toss one back at you -- are you REALLY trying to imply that Saakashvilli, who by all accounts started this damn mess by lobbing shells into Ossetia, is somehow better than, say, Noriega?

Posted by: sglover at August 13, 2008 10:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

141 posts an no mention of Mccains campaign chief of staff is a PAID LOBBYIST of the Georgian government. Richard Perle would be proud! Writing about "FREEDOM,DEMOCRACY, VIRTUE, HUMAN RIGHTS" in Iraq by day in the all too willing NYT and by night getting related arms deals and oil contracts in Iraq!

Maybe I should stop fighting it and try to get some of the action for myself.

Posted by: centrist at August 13, 2008 11:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

centrist:

Ok. So why has Obama signed on to the NATO invitation delusion?

I think you have 140 comments not commenting on this because both candidates, ultimately, have embraced an unsustainable and foolish treaty obligation.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at August 13, 2008 11:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think you have 140 comments not commenting on this because both candidates, ultimately, have embraced an unsustainable and foolish treaty obligation.

Pretty much, yeah. I'd really like to have some enthusiasm for "The One", but I've yet to hear Obama say anything cogent about the big elephant in the room, our de facto imperialism.

Posted by: sglover at August 13, 2008 11:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree it is terrible. Exactly the lack of courage showed by Hillary in the run up to Iraq. This Nato expansion talk flashes 1914 in my mind!
I don't know what elso to do. Make money of it I guess. Buy "Krupp" on leverage. Move to New Zealand.

Posted by: centrist at August 13, 2008 11:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's clear that Greg got a couple of links from rightwing blogs, judging by the influx of opinionated-clueless screaming. Anyway, he clearly hit the ball out of the park.

Will Americans ever learn?

I mean, I could write this neocon hawkish hogwash blindfolded. Just exchange the names, one text fits all. Always. In their narrative, there's always THE ENEMY (tm) who is like Hitler/Stalin/Saddam/Osama threatening/invading/ethnical-cleansing allies/christians/jews/democrats/the free world. Daring to look closer for the reasons? Unnecessary. No, THE ENEMY (tm) has to be stopped, RIGHT NOW, by the American superhero Leagues, because otherwise, things only get SO MUCH WORSE. It's appeasement! It's Chamberlain! Fight THE ENEMY (tm) now, or it will be too late! OUR OWN SURVIVAL IS AT STAKE! *blah blah blah*

This kind of drivel writes itself. And there's still an amazing number of imbeciles who subscribe to this simplicissimus view of the world. They don't grasp that this kind of self-assumed omnipotence has dissolved in thin air already, but the rhetoric remains the same.

As a European, I view people like them as dangerous fools. Bush was a naive blunderer, but compared to him, McCain is much more risky, because he has an explosive temper untainted by knowledge. Clueless plus choleric equals danger. And he's obviously becoming the new avatar of the Neocon worldview which I believed to be discredited thoroughly enough. Well, not so in America, it seems.

Why look at facts? That it was the Georgians who attacked South Ossetia, not vice versa? That South Ossetia has had referendums with 95% of the citizens voting for secession from Georgia? That it was clear that Russia would intervene on their behalf, and Saakashvili attacked nevertheless? That Georgia is about as much a "democracy" as Iran? Nooo, don't try to confuse American patriot superhero crusaders with facts and the reality. After all they contributed soldiers to the Iraq enterprise. They're close allies!!

This is exactly why Germany and France were so adamantly opposed to admitting Georgia into the NATO in the current situation. Because they knew that Saakashvili was a loose cannon - just think what would have happened if Georgia would be a NATO member now. Russia would have been FORCED to react nevertheless, and suddenly we'd have had a shooting war between NATO and Russia, triggered by a nutcase.

All you freedom defenders, are you crazy? Wake up and smell the roses, for chrissakes! There are things happening in the world which are regrettable. Deplorable. But f*cking get into your empty heads that you are NOT omnipotent, and there are things we have to accept. Just because McCain or Bush bumble around doesn't mean that Russia could be affected, just the opposite. If the volume is too loud, Russia HAS to push back. Anyone with a shred of knowledge about foreign policy knows that. Why doesn't ANYONE have the balls to say so in the American mass media? Can't you handle the truth any longer?

The Georgian president bluffed on a busted flush, got called, and now he's hurting (and the 2 provinces are gone). But I see NO reason why this should lead to an extremely dangerous war led by NATO forces. And it's criminally inept to spread this stupid "you're a partner of us" bullshit unless you're really prepared AND able to back it up.

THIS is why America is considered one of the greatest threats to world peace nowadays. And I pray that for the love of god there's a change in political leadership next elections. Otherwise... GAWD!

Posted by: Mentar at August 13, 2008 11:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ok. So why has Obama signed on to the NATO invitation delusion?

Simple answer: it's a quick, cheap way to score political points: with little downside risk. Obama jumps on the Georgia-for-NATO bandwagon (he was never off it, really): gets in some cheap, useful Russki-bashing, and shores himself up against jingoistic hysteria from the McCain camp.

Once elected, though: I'm sure President Obama will suddenly "discover " the pitfalls in fast-tracking Georgia, and the whole issue will be dropped (to a chorus of more hysterical jingo from the GOP, naturally). And we can all move on - hopefully to a more rational and realistic foreign policy.

Oh, and what Mentar said.

Posted by: Jay C at August 13, 2008 12:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hi sglover,

I'm not going to get into the nonsense of labeling, particularly regarding the generalizations in your previous post. I don't know you and you don't know me so let's just leave it at that shall we and discuss this amicably?

I'm not disputing Saakashivili picked this fight to a large degree and rightfully shoulders a proportionate amount of blame for it. I don't believe he would have had to if Georgia had been admitted to NATO. That doesn't excuse what Georgia did though, either. In turn the West shoulders some of that blame as well. Admitting Georgia into NATO likely would have avoided this altogether. Had Georgia been admitted, the Ukraine might have paid the price (at Russia's hands) for Georgia's admittance. We'll never know that.

Nonetheless the main point is that doesn't excuse Putin for going into Georgia as far as he did with as much force as he did, which is why most of the rest of the world is correctly atwitter. The threat is not comparable to the Russia of the past and we seem to agree on that. Leaving Putin's aggression unchecked is a bad idea based on history and Putin's desire to return Russia back to its former glory. I put "thinly-veiled" in there and then deleted it because I don't think Putin's intentions are really a secret anymore.

I know/knew neither Saakashivili nor Noriega personally, so I cannot make a judgement there. :) However, I feel very comfortable in viewing the Georgian government favorably to the Noriega-led Panamanian government to use the one example you selected. In the larger context the comparisons between the American invasions and this one seem to be hardly comparable, particularly beyond the first blush. I don't think it needs delving into as it is a minor point, but I stand behind my original post.

Returning to the core of this article, I again am not convinced as to how McCain is clueless (either relatively or generally) in this regard. He and Obama are on the same side of the issue (in fact it took Obama much longer to get there, but he did). The article might as well read "Obama clueless" or "West clueless". It's an attempted attack on McCain that really isn't justified for the most part and certainly doesn't stand up to any reasonable amount of scrutiny.

Posted by: Ken at August 13, 2008 01:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

sglover wrote: "Pretty much, yeah. I'd really like to have some enthusiasm for "The One", but I've yet to hear Obama say anything cogent about the big elephant in the room, our de facto imperialism."

For our imperialism to rise to the level of this act of Russian imperialism, we'd have to invade Mexico and annex a couple of its states.

Posted by: theduke at August 13, 2008 01:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Im sorry but isnt that what the neo con men want?What did everone think it meant when mccain said there will be more wars?John Mccain MORE WAR- FEWER JOBS.

Posted by: truthynesslover at August 13, 2008 01:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Young punk Saakashvili bitch slaps old man McCain. This stuff is too funny:

“Yesterday, I heard Sen. McCain say, ‘We are all Georgians now,’” Saakashvili said on CNN’s American Morning. “Well, very nice, you know, very cheering for us to hear that, but OK, it’s time to pass from this. From words to deeds.”

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/08/13/georgian-president-to-mccain-move-from-words-to-deeds/

Posted by: blah at August 13, 2008 02:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, McCain, we need to support a Christian nation, as opposed to.... Russia? Oh, perhaps you forgot, Mother Russia does not have even sickle and hammer in flag anymore, and has returned to its own prior traditions? Imperialism was a part of Russia's history long before the Bolsheviks seized the machinery of its state.

Oh, but perhaps better not to remember Russia's historical state religion. It would be most difficult for an American to rail against Christian imperialism, for reasons which may or may not be obvious.

Posted by: Avery Ray Colter at August 13, 2008 03:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OK, here's the Appeasing Liberal take on all of this.

None of this Georgia stuff would have happened, if:

(1) The West hadn't done the "We Won - You Lost" bit when the USSR broke up. A little friendship, empathy and aid (not "privitization consultants") would have gone a long way. This goes for both Bushes and Clinton.

(2) NATO had been dissolved with the Berlin Wall. See (1) above. But America wants NATO as its own tool.

(3) America hadn't tried to recruit every possible country as a new member of NATO. See (1) and (2) above. And the Americans, while supporting new democratic governments near Russia, should have made a point of promising the Russians that America wouldn't enter into treaties with them, or open bases there.

(4). America hadn't come up with this ridiculous idea to park a Star Wars missile system in the middle of the old Warsaw Pact. Poland is so excited about it they're busy raising the ransom they want to site it.

(5) The Europeans, with the Americans leading right after Desert Storm, had put the kibosh on Milosovic and his Serb gang to keep things like Bosnia and Kosovo from getting started in the first place.

(And, of course, doing the Humpty Dumpty thing in Iraq didn't help.)

There. I feel better now.

Posted by: Tim at August 13, 2008 03:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I disagree with just about everyone right and left here. I believe Obama is quite sincere in his position on Georgia, and just needed some time to digest what was happening. Not unreasonable, given the complexities of it.

That position is quite in line with centrist liberal policy on the former Soviet empire since the Clinton era - when we DID extend aid and sympathy to Russia, and sent privitization consultants for very good reasons - Soviet industry was being "privatized" by the apparatchiks anyway, shock therapy had worked well in eastern europe etc. Of course the WAY Yeltsin implemented it was corrupt, and IIRC that was NOT supported by the consultants or by the US govt. It did take a while to see that Yeltsin had feet of clay.

even today many both pro-Putin and anti-Putin seem to forget that Putin was first appointed premier by Yeltsin, as part of a corrupt deal. Its inconvenient to both camps to remember that.

It is clearly a good thing that NATO was kept - history hasnt ended, and US unilateralism isnt enough.

Had the US intervened early in Yugo, before the existence of the most blatant acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing, it is likely that Russia would have reacted with even greater hostility.


Now is the time to explore options. It is VERY odd that folks who usually cheer soft power, think that sending troops is the ONLY possible leverage we have.

Today the President announced a massive airlift of relief supplies. I think that is a good idea, to improve the morale of the Georgian people who continue to refuse to submit.

As for Nicaragua, Panama, and Grenada, I opposed all those interventions. There is no automatic right that great powers or anyone else have to a free hand in their "backyards".

But today is today, and we must focus on the problems of today.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 13, 2008 03:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

liberalhawk,

As regards the Yugo breakup after Desert Storm: At that time Russia was busy trying to find its ass with both hands and was in no condition to intervene or respond in Bosnia -- or anywhere else. Looks like they're past that now. We would have, or should have, welcomed ANYONE willing to stick his nose into Sarajevo at the time.

Our "privitization consultants" were bogus. Most of America's "private enterprise" consultancy was focused on getting a piece of that new pie -- just like China at the time. Both China and Russia were able to keep us away from their lunch tables. Not only that, China managed to enlarge their lunch table so that they could eat ours too.


Posted by: Tim at August 13, 2008 03:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eh, "Pétoche" (http://www.koztoujours.fr), c'est drôlement chouette de sympa de garder le MESSAGE que je dois faire passer à cette GROSSE TACHE qui vit, là-haut, sous les combles, LE MANIAQUE DE L'ÉLECTRICITÉ, qui aboie quand on lui parle et se tient toujours au garde à vous prêt à obéir, le MESSAGE étant : " ELLE... A DIT : "CALTEZ, VOLAILLES !" .
Merci pour ce fabuleux espace démocratique du chien (énième couplet)

Posted by: choz at August 13, 2008 03:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"As regards the Yugo breakup after Desert Storm: At that time Russia was busy trying to find its ass with both hands and was in no condition to intervene or respond in Bosnia -- or anywhere else. Looks like they're past that now. We would have, or should have, welcomed ANYONE willing to stick his nose into Sarajevo at the time."

They werent able to intervene as late as 1998. Thats not the point. The point is the resentment they have. It would NOT have been less had we intervened before the Serbs actually commited genocide. We are on stronger ground because we waited as long as we did, at least to people of good will.

"Our "privitization consultants" were bogus. Most of America's "private enterprise" consultancy was focused on getting a piece of that new pie -- just like China at the time. Both China and Russia were able to keep us away from their lunch tables. Not only that, China managed to enlarge their lunch table so that they could eat ours too."

Russia kept foreign investors out, and thats one of the reasons he assets were sold at bargain basement amounts to the oligarchs. By contrast eastern euros who let foreigners in, got better prices, and have had much more positive experiences of privatization. As for China they have grown through trade and investment (including much FDI) - their old state sector hasnt been all that important. And they arent "eating our lunch" They are producing and selling.

You seem to view the purchase of assets as "eating someones lunch" I do not think your view of the role of FDI in economic growth is correct.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 13, 2008 04:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anyone in the USA who's been involved in making things, finding a market for them and the prosperity attached to commerce knows that China has been eating our lunch for some time now.

Posted by: Tim at August 13, 2008 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First time visitor/poster here.

Gregory’s commentary is cogent, informative and entertaining. And the posters here appear to be the crème de la crème of posters.

I linked to this webpage in my recent Journal Entry entitled, “Rumble in the Caucasus”.

I’m inviting Gregory and this articulate band of posters to visit my humble site and to comment.

Again, I’m very impressed with the Belgravia Dispatch, keep up the good work!

Posted by: new_york_loner at August 14, 2008 02:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, your Terrorism/Foreign Policy thread is closed, so let me remark on your final paragraph there, which has some relevance here:

I fear we have stumbled into an age of gross paranoia and incompetence, myopically focused on one single threat we deem the existential one of the age, while around us critical relationships/issues flounder because of abject neglect. This is a sad testament I believe to a foreign policy elite that has lost its moorings, and is in critical need of fresh thinking. Perhaps hope beckons with a new Administration incoming, though I've learned these past years to restrain my optimism.

I think what you're missing is that chest-beating pays political dividends (and creates hordes of uncritical followers, some evident above, who are hooked on the tribal hostility high), and military misadventures, especially expensive ones, are very profitable to the Defense/Intelligence industry and to Administration leaders. The US Treasury, coupled with its power to borrow and shift debts to the future), is the world's largest piggybank. Republicans certainly showed themselves as more adept than Dems in stealing from it and directing pork to their friends, and McCain and his advisers seem to be repeating the chest-thumping that worked so well for Bush after 9/11.

Dems still haven't figured out how to respond, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear Obama echo McCain. I do have some hope, however, if Obama wins in the fall that he will be more inclined to direct the flow of pork away from defense, and perhaps into climate change, where pork is not needed but will do less damage to our long-term interests than the militarization of US foreign policy.

TT

Posted by: TokyoTom at August 14, 2008 05:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Obama has stated he wants to continue to build up US ground forces and NOT cut defense.

From Iran to Georgia to Israel, Obama is either definitely a liberal hawk (just one with a different judgement on Iraq than some others) OR he is the biggest liar on the planet. Its odd how many are counting on him being a liar.

I suggest viewing Obamas statement on Georgia. He not only reiterated the importance of standing with Georgia, and hinted at measures to be taken, but he made the case rather more deftly than McCain did, IMHO. Ive also listened to McFaul, an Obama advisor, who also has a good sense of the seriousness of this.


One very good reason to vote for Obama, will be to end the pretense that "realists" are somehow liberals, and that a rejection of the often unrealistic views of "realists" makes one a Cheneyesque neocon.


Change we can believe in.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 14, 2008 10:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Liberal Hawk"
What would be a good thing for me to invest in so I can actually benefit from all of this military spending? You seem to know Obama hawkish stances very well. What are some of his pet defense projects? Cheney was to Haliburton what Obama will be to BLANK? I want to know.

HAL was at $8 before 9-11 now is it at $45, while the broader market is down 33% in real terms over the same time. How can I profit from the likely Obama victory? I know to sell the $, buy oil, short the broader market....but what defense contactor will benefit the most? Thanks

Posted by: MIC at August 14, 2008 12:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I dunno, looks youve got the market in trolling pretty well cornered

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 14, 2008 01:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Damn, Mr. D., it's good to have you back in form.

Posted by: SK at August 14, 2008 02:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

upon reflection, a re-think:

from a Russian perspective, it was formally weak and had no choice but to submit to what the West thought was best.

It is now strong, in its estimation, stronger and with a much better hand to play than the West.

Energy is the key. Before Iraq becomes a bigger player, reducing the Russian profile.

It has a full hand to play for Russian power, minus the BCT pipeline, which is the only strand to weaken its near abroad sphere, but also Europe at large.

By bombing the pipeline, it would have told the world the game was up. By failing to do so, for the moment, Russia has not achieved all its goals.

But it will soon. and then it will have the West effectively by the balls.

Which is the Russian way. Classic. It will go over BIG in Russia.

Posted by: neill at August 14, 2008 11:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bush and company have "compounded the error" already; they just now succeeded in strong-arming a fretting Poland into signing on for the so-called "missile defense shield" scheme.

Now an enraged Russia is threatening potential nuclear strikes on these proposed facilities.

Condi Rice was billed as a "Russia expert", it is obvious that she does not have a clue about the Russian mindset, it's either that, or she is deliberately trying to restart the Cold War - perhaps this is a a going away present from Condi to the War Lobby.

The Bush administration is either grossly inept or totally corrupt.

McCain would be Bush squared. Obama needs to show that he has a cooler head, if he wishes to prevail. So far, Obama is following McCain's lead in all this.

It ain't lookin' good, folks.

Posted by: new_york_loner at August 15, 2008 10:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'Bush and company have "compounded the error" already; they just now succeeded in strong-arming a fretting Poland into signing on for the so-called "missile defense shield" scheme.'

To the extent this wasnt already in the works, it would appear to be a reaction to the Russian aggression in Georgia, which did not please Poland.

Perhaps Putin should start considering the mindset of everyone outside Russia. Perhaps after Russia suffers enough consequences, he will.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 15, 2008 11:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"they just now succeeded in strong-arming a fretting Poland into signing on for the so-called "missile defense shield" scheme"

Lol - yeah. That's JUST what happened. Such a neocon thought pattern.

Posted by: Affe at August 15, 2008 01:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Liberalhawk, the Russian "aggression" was in response to Saakashvivli's ill-conceived military action in South Ossetia in which Russian peacekeepers were killed. The disproportionate Russian response reminds me of Israel's disproportionate response to Hizbollah's actions in Lebanon, in 2006.

Israel cited their right of self-defense and they played the "existential threat" card as well. Russia is simply doing the same thing. It's the old double standard.

"Liberal" and "hawk" together? Sounds like an oxymoron. Are you an advocate for the War Lobby? The War Lobby, in my view consists of the Defense, Israel and Energy lobbies (DIE) collectively.

Most "liberals" will criticize the Defense and Energy lobbies but refuse to criticize the Israel lobby. Where do you stand?

Affe, I can't determine if you are being sarcastic or if you agree with me. I'm new here.

The Polish missile deal has been in the works for 2 years, apparently the US has sweetened the deal since the Georgian conflict erupted. The US will move a battery of Patriot missiles from Germany into Poland and the US has also agreed to come to Poland's aid militarily, regardless of any NATO reluctance, if Russia decides to take out the missiles or the Patriots guarding them.

In other words, the US has set up a hair-trigger situation in Poland. Bush is no lame duck; he's a mad duck.

Posted by: new_york_loner at August 15, 2008 02:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Liberalhawk, the Russian "aggression" was in response to Saakashvivli's ill-conceived military action in South Ossetia in which Russian peacekeepers were killed."

Which was itself in response to Ossetian attacks on Georgians occuring over several days, and which, I must remind you took place on what has been generally recognized as Georgian territory. Ill conceived or not, Saak had the RIGHT to attack S Ossetia, just as much as Russia had the right to attack Chechnya. Indeed Georgias history with regard to being willing to negotiate a peaceful solution far exceeds that of Russia with regard to Chechnya, and Serbia wrt Kosovo. As for the Russia "peacekeepers" they had long since violated their own peacekeeping mandate and Russia itself had block neutral peacekeepers.


" The disproportionate Russian response reminds me of Israel's disproportionate response to Hizbollah's actions in Lebanon, in 2006."

Georgia kidnapped Russian soldiers on Russian soil? Georgia launched rockets at Russian cities?

"Israel cited their right of self-defense and they played the "existential threat" card as well. Russia is simply doing the same thing. It's the old double standard."


How does Georgia in any way threaten Russias existence. No Georigan soldier even entered Russian territory. Georgia does NOT deny RUssias right to exist.

""Liberal" and "hawk" together? Sounds like an oxymoron.'

FDR. Harry Truman. Hubert Humphrey. Scoop Jackson. Bill Clinton.


"Are you an advocate for the War Lobby? The War Lobby, in my view consists of the Defense, Israel and Energy lobbies (DIE) collectively. "


I think your view of how american politics works sounds very silly.

"Most "liberals" will criticize the Defense and Energy lobbies but refuse to criticize the Israel lobby. Where do you stand?"


I know members of AIPAC. They are good people, and American patriots. When people single out AIPAC from other lobbies, mischarecterize its stands, or exagerrate its influence, all of which are done constantly, it only encourages me to support them.

I dont know what that has to do with Russia and Georgia though.

And I have not advocated war with Russia at all. That is neither desirable nor necessary.

But clarity about whats happening there, a recognition of the consequences of giving Putin a free hand in the socalled former Soviet space (why is there no "former British space"?) and of the options we DO have, is important.

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 15, 2008 04:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"In other words, the US has set up a hair-trigger situation in Poland. Bush is no lame duck; he's a mad duck."

You really think that if Russia were to attack Poland, we should stand aside? You want to invite Putin to retake the Soviet empire? (BTW we already have a NATO treaty obligation to defend Poland, even if the Poles dont trust it)

Posted by: liberalhawk at August 15, 2008 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NY loner is a Russian apologist who gladly swallows their rhetorical justifications -- much more than a spoonful of sugar needed to help the bullshit go down.

Russia has been provocative in regard to those 2 provinces for years. Purely coincidental that this is happening before we are extricated from Iraq AND just before our election of a new President.

Equating the threat posed by Georgia to Russia with the existential threat of Iran's proxy armies to Israel? Have you no intellectual shame?

What exactly is the threat posed to a non-aggressive Russia by defensive missile batteries in neighboring countries?

Make no mistake, Putin is making clear to all former Soviet holdings and to Europe that there's a new sheriff in town, who'll see to it that new laws are enforced.

Wonder who Putin's choice is for the next American President? That's a tough one.

Posted by: neill at August 15, 2008 05:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To liberalhawk and neill:

Thank you for the comments, but with all due respect, professional zealots have deceived you both.

Israel-first Americans, like members of AIPAC, COPOMAJO etc. are not “American patriots”. They are dual allegiance types whose primary loyalty is to Herzl’s utopian scheme.

Israel-firsters would have us all believe that what is good for the Jewish State in Palestine is good for each and every state within our union of American states and good for the USA as a whole. The Israelis, however, realize that what’s good for the USA may not be good for Israel and they act accordingly.

Israel-loving Americans like to claim that the Jewish State is the only secular democracy in the ME, Turkey and Lebanon notwithstanding. The Jewish State is not a secular democracy and it never has been. Israel is a theocratic democracy or a democratic theocracy, something the US founders would find quite abhorrent.

Israel-first Americans also like to draw parallels between Israel’s violent history and America’s history; they stress the “shared values” canard. Israel shares many values with the Old Confederacy but racial or religious supremacist societies are not consistent with current American values.

Last but certainly not least, these deluded folks brag that Israel is our strongest and most reliable military ally, this, of course, ignores the fact that the Israelis have never offered to send troops or treasure into any US military conflict. Our Israeli “allies” did murder 34 US sailors on June 8, 1967 in a deliberate and sustained air and naval attack on the USS Liberty. And they got away with it.

As for the Israeli connection to the war in Georgia, don’t look for evidence of that in the American MSM.

One must read the Israeli newspapers in order to learn the sordid facts. Here is a link to a Ynet news item entitled, “War in Georgia: The Israeli Connection”.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3580136,00.html

Here is a revealing snippet from that Ynet article: “The military cooperation between the countries developed swiftly. The fact that Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli who is fluent in Hebrew contributed to this cooperation.”

Here is a link to an Haaretz article with this delusional headline, “Jewish Georgian minister: Thanks to Israeli training, we're fending off Russia”.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1010187.html

Here’s a snippet from that Haaretz article, “Jewish Georgian Minister Temur Yakobshvili on Sunday praised the Israel Defense Forces for its role in training Georgian troops and said Israel should be proud of its military might, in an interview with (Israeli) Army Radio.”

Seems like G-d’s Chosen People are in the international war-mongering business, big time. The official Israeli line is that the Israelis just want to live in peace with the rest of the world. Actions speak louder than words.

The Defense and Energy lobby’s interest in Georgia is quite apparent, but the Israel lobby’s role is more obscure, by design.

Israel is planning on eating the Russian’s lunch by way of a Caspian energy pipeline from Turkey, through the Caucasus, to the Israeli port of Eilat (formerly known as Umm Rashrash).

The master plan is to replace Russia’s Gazprom with an Israeli alternative. The heavy lifting, of course, will be left to the American lackeys.

Defense, Israel and Energy. The acronym is fitting - DIE.

Enough of this madness! Bring the Diaspora to America, let the perfidious Zionists in the Holy Land fend for themselves.

Posted by: new_york_loner at August 15, 2008 09:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

nyl,

you didn't address any of the issues I mentioned but one.

"Israel is planning on eating the Russian’s lunch by way of a Caspian energy pipeline from Turkey, through the Caucasus, to the Israeli port of Eilat (formerly known as Umm Rashrash).

The master plan is to replace Russia’s Gazprom with an Israeli alternative."

so are you in agreement with me that Russia's primary objective is the pipeline - through a direct hit and/or putting in place a more cooperative Georgian regime?

are you justifying action this like in response to business competition from a sovereign nation?

Posted by: neill at August 16, 2008 03:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Comrade Neill,

Русский апологет? Что делает вас сказать то?

Posted by: new_york_loner at August 17, 2008 10:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is offering strong support for Georgia, saying the country is on track to become a member of NATO.

Merkel flew to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Sunday, two days after she met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

In a speech Sunday, Merkel also suggested that NATO could help rebuild the tattered Georgian military.

Merkel supports the EU cease-fire, saying it needs to be followed "immediately" and that Russian troops need to pull out of neighboring Georgia.


Was the wrinkled old white dude displaying that unusual personality quirk called 'leadership'?

Posted by: neill at August 17, 2008 07:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian, an international lawyer and business executive, comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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