Iraq And The Georgia Republic

The conflict in South Ossetia between Russia and the Georgian Republic continues to blaze and spread:

Georgian and Russian troops fought fierce battles overnight. . . [I]n a sign that fighting could escalate on a second front in the west of Georgia, Russia issued an ultimatum to Georgian forces to surrender in and around the western pro-Russian separatist enclave of Abkhazia.

How does this relate to Iraq? Let's ask Bill Kristol:

Today, the Vladimir Putins and Hu Jintaos and Mahmoud Ahmadinejads of the world — to say nothing of their junior counterparts in places like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma and North Korea — are no more likely than were Soviet leaders in 1924 to be swayed by “moral influence.” . . . [I]n one respect, an auspicious year for freedom and democracy. In Iraq, we and our Iraqi allies are on the verge of a strategic victory over the jihadists in what they have called the central front of their struggle. This joint victory has the potential to weaken the jihadist impulse throughout the Middle East. On the other hand, the ability of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas to get away with murder (literally), and above all the ability of Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions effectively unchecked, are setbacks for hopes of peace and progress.

Bill Kristol sees a connection between Iraq and Georgia. But not the right one. Our invasion of Iraq has utterly destroyed the United States' moral and REAL influence in the world. Who will listen to us? Who would be insane enough to listen to the Bush Administration on "morality" or anything else for that matter? The Georgian President did and look what is happening to him. More. . . .

Unlike some, I do not think the Iraq War was an illegal conflict. The Congress authorized President Bush to use force against Iraq pretty much at his discretion. It was an act of shameful cowardice by the Congress. What it was was a violation of international law and a moral stain that the United States can not wipe away. And George Bush's reelection in 2004 affirmed that it was an action approved by the American People. We all own this catastrophe.

Now Bill Kristol cares about Georgia. Why you might ask? Is it latent Cold Warriorism? Gawd knows he never cared about foreign policy morality before. Perhaps. But I think the real reason is this:

Georgia, a nation of about 4.6 million, has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of — and perhaps destabilizes all of — a friendly democratic nation that we were sponsoring for NATO membership a few months ago.

(Emphasis supplied.) Being a neocon nation means that, like Scooter Libby, George Bush owes Georgia protection according to Kristol. It seems Georgia thinks so too. And has acted accordingly. Georgia elected a President who was provocative in his statements and actions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Now the fear is Vladimir Putin, the de facto leader of Russia, will move to take out a leader he does not like, that he will push for "regime change" in Georgia:

Two senior Western officials said that it was unclear whether Russia intended a full invasion of Georgia, but that its aims could go as far as destroying its armed forces or overthrowing Mr. Saakashvili. “They seem to have gone beyond the logical stopping point,” one senior Western diplomat said, speaking anonymously under normal diplomatic protocol.

Russia, emboldened by windfall profits from oil exports, is showing a resolve to reassert its dominance in a region it has always considered its “near abroad.” . . . Russia escalated its assault over the weekend despite strong diplomatic warnings from Mr. Bush and European leaders, underscoring the limits of Western influence over Russia at a time when the rest of Europe depends heavily on Russia for natural gas and the United States needs Moscow’s cooperation if it hopes to curtail what it believes is a nuclear weapons threat from Iran.

. . . Earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney expressed a strong warning for Russia. In a telephone conversation with the Georgian president, he said “that Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community,” a spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said in a statement released by the White House.

European officials said Monday that Mr. Saakashvili had signed a cease-fire agreement, but that the Russians had yet to endorse the measure. “It’s good to have the Georgian signature, but I’d say we’re not even halfway there yet,” said Alexander Stubb, the Finnish foreign minister and chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, speaking from Georgia in a telephone interview with CNN.

Russia knows a paper tiger when it sees one. The Bush Administration's unconscionable and incompetent conduct of the foreign policy of the United States, its Debacle in Iraq, its belligerent rhetoric to anybody and everything they decide they do not like, has left the US without hard military power at the ready or soft power such as moral, political or economic suasion.

The worst Administration in the history of the American Republic has done untold damages to the interests of the United States and the world. And this conflict between Russia and Georgia is just the tip of the iceberg.

Kristol can stomp his feet in the pages of the New York Times, but Vladimir Putin does not care, and the rest of the world will not help. This is where the foreign policy Kristol champions has led us. Congratulations Bill. You got what you wanted.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:37:13 AM EST
    Kristol has his cause and effect backwards.  We do not have an obligation to help Georgia because they have become embroiled in an conflict.  They have become embroiled in a conflict because they developed the impression that we would help them!

    Actually, there is something of an connection between Georgia and Iraq.  Even though al-Qaeda was not in Iraq, Osama bin Laden realized that all he had to do was get someone to wave around the al-Qaeda flag a bit and presto, the US would spend billions of dollars trying to eradicate the al-Qaeda threat.  The similarity to Georgia is that in both cases, the neo-cons show their willingness to be lured into military conflict at the drop of a hat.

    All indications are that the situation in Georgia was an entirely voluntary choice by the leadership of Georgia, who expected or hoped that the USA would bail them out at the end of the day.  With less bellicose leadership in our country, or perhaps a better effort to avoid sending them the signal that our troops are at their disposal, they probably would never have elected to start this in the first place.

    It seems to me (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:53:32 AM EST
    that since Georgia's clear agenda is to solicit international help for its cause, you could try to be at least a little skeptical of statements from Georgia officials that go like, "Something is happening that the whole world should care about right now!!!"

    Okay (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:17:54 AM EST
    I think you're pretty naive but whatever.

    Saakashvili is an ally like Batista was one. (none / 0) (#86)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:41:42 AM EST
    A major problem that is not being discussed is that there are a number of ethnic groups in Georgia of which what we call the "Georgians" is only one. Abkhazians are a different one, and voted against becoming part of Georgia proper with a 52% majority. South Ossetia voted overwhelmingly against it, and in times before Georgian independence, was an autonomous area, i.e. not under Georgian control.  What makes this like Iraq is that the borders of technical Georgia include a number of groups who don't like each other, like the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, with all those smaller groups also there if not so often mentioned, who have not begun the intercommunal process of findig something which works for all the groups, as the "Georgians' apparently think they have the right to rule the others, despite what they saw happen in Kosovo and in Iraq. And bought cooperation from Bush by being one of the very few  internationally who still has troops in Iraq, leaving Bush greatly in his political debt. Saakashvili has been trying to suppress the other groups since 1991  and bring all the disparate groups under the rule of "Georgians" with indifferent success, and the Russians have been in the two areas as peacekeepers since that time.  He also has genuine issues not examined in detail in our press as to just how 'democratic' his Georgian regime put in in the "Rose Revolution" really is. Some charge it looks more like a clique or dictatiorship in the borning.  

    This round seems to have started when the Saakashvili team took military action in the vicinity of the SO capital as its first move, and also has been taking action to take control of a gorge in Abkhazian areas, a material issue in a very mountainous area where gorge = pass through the mountains. A third area in the southwest was apparently suppressed a few years back. All the accounts I have seen have the Georgians moving in SO first, and the Russians a response. If Iraq is not as simple as Bush once thought, neither is this one.


    That's funny (none / 0) (#88)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:45:05 AM EST
    I remember how the US media used to love to talk about how great it was that Russia was an 'ally' now. Do you know what the term 'ally' means? Is Russian an 'enemy'?

    I'm not aware of any treaties of alliance between Georgia and the USA. If any exist, please point us to them.


    They do not (none / 0) (#103)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 01:08:26 PM EST
    have troops in Iraq. Those troops just left ;-).

    As for being members of the 'coalition of the willing' that hardly makes them an 'ally' vis a vis Russia. What is funny is how quickly we all forget that Russia was touted as an 'ally' vis a vis Iraq because they said they wouldn't interfere with a US invasion and more or less gave it their blessing. In addition, the US turned a blind eye to Chechnya in exchange for that blessing. But I guess Russia is an 'enemy' then because they didn't actually send troops to Iraq.

    Oh and btw your other assertion that Russia bombed the pipeline, in addition to being false, is also ridiculous. The pipeline contains RUSSIAN oil. Why on earth would the Russians bomb their own pipeline? If they wanted to cut off the oil they would just turn off the tap. All you did was spread obvious propaganda.

    We will see two things argued by Georgia: 1. The evil Russians want to destroy their own pipeline; 2. Russia is trying to destroy democracy.

    Hardly a peep of Ossetian desires for independence, Georgian attacks on S. Ossetia and the deaths of Russian peace keepers will be made in the US media. You are naively spreading MSM fud.


    Per BP, no bombing of pipeline by Russia (none / 0) (#64)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:47:38 AM EST
    Per Telegraph article:

    Local reports recorded 51 missile strikes that left craters less than 100 yards on either side of a pressure vent.

    A BP spokesman said that, after thorough checks, the company had "disclosed no bombing in the vicinity of the BTC line".

    He said the pipeline was in any case out of action after a fire broke out on the line in Egypt last week. It has still not been put out and oil has been diverted along the Western Route pipeline, he said.

    Seems we don't have clear and firm information yet about that situation.


    Except the import of the article is that Russia (none / 0) (#99)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 12:46:54 PM EST
    tried to NOT hit the pipeline. They don't want to tick off Europe.

    In fog of warm, ordnance may fall closer to an area they're trying to avoid than they want--but no hits. The gas pipeline had closest hits, bcz it runs closer to South Ossetia, but no hits, per BP.


    Intervene by doing what? (none / 0) (#66)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:53:37 AM EST
    Starting WWIII?  What idiocy are you suggesting?  When a nation like the U.S. has made the conscious choice to become what we have always supposedly despised, then we lose every ounce of the moral credibility to do anything.  Russia is doing nothing different that we have done elsewhere.  The entire world has become men trying to compensate for their tiny c*cks and even tinier minds.

    There's nothing we can do.  Period.  Except admit our own terrible f-ups, correct them, and commit ourselves to neverr going down this wretched road again.  Then, maybe, we could start to set the kind of example that could make a difference.  Our onoy option is to create a truly progressive, free and peaceful society to offer as a model to the rest of the world.  Short of that, all the beligerence will only lead to complete and utter death and destruction for everyone.


    That's nuts (none / 0) (#81)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:20:10 AM EST
    So then you are arguing that we start WWIII about oil?  Fine, then say that.  Oil does not keep us alive.  It is wasted and squandered in this nation as no other resource except maybe water is.  If you cannot see that our conumerism is not about surviving but wasting, then we have a disagreement of chasmic proportions.

    We could survive quite well without an ounce of oil from that region if we decided to live lives not committed to wildly wasting every type of resouce every day.

    That you don't understand what the American consumer lifestyle entails is amazing.

    Wasting and squandering is what consumerism is.

    How the hell do you think we survived during WWII when everything was rationed?  We survived because everyone knew what we were fighting was bigger than trinkets and stuff.  Today, the American people are so addicted to trinkets and stuff they cannot imagine forsaking them fon that scale for something more important -- NOT starting a war.  

    Your lack of imagination borders on the pathological.


    more than that (none / 0) (#94)
    by bigbay on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:55:52 AM EST
    they just seized Senaki, which sits on the pipeline in Georgia proper.

    Article on Russians in Senaki-- (none / 0) (#101)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 12:49:48 PM EST
    um.... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by p lukasiak on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:52:50 AM EST
    Unlike some, I do not think the Iraq War was an illegal conflict. The Congress authorized President Bush to use force against Iraq pretty much at his discretion. It was an act of shameful cowardice by the Congress. What it was was a violation of international law....

    since at least one of the international laws in question is the UN Charter to which the USA subscribes, and since treaties are considered the law of the land, notwithstanding the rest of your post, if the war was illegal under the UN Charter, then it was illegal under US law.

    No (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:21:31 AM EST
    You are misinterpreting US law in that respect.

    Not a lawyer: Why isn't a duly signed and ratified (none / 0) (#42)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:06:24 AM EST
    treaty considered law of the land? As well as international law?

    What am I missing? Confused and appreciate knowing what is the reality of treaties.


    I suggest you read the ratification (none / 0) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:22:04 AM EST
    and the contingencies included.

    Uh, yeah--we do seem to do that. Some call it (none / 0) (#55)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:29:58 AM EST
    hypocrisy. Or being above the law.

    Constitution: "supreme Law of the Land" (none / 0) (#74)
    by Andreas on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:03:13 AM EST
    Article. VI:


    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;


    What a mess (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:55:57 AM EST
    The WPost editorial page is all about putting all the blame on Putin but the commentors aren't buying it. (I wonder of some of the Russian commentors are propaganda by Putin.)

    From what I saw yesterday on television, the impression was given by most reports that Russia had acted out of the blue. No mention was made by most reports that Georgia had first killed civilians and Russian peacekeepers so Americans are once again getting a biased picture of what really happened. (Just like we were not told that we had told Saddam when he asked that we did not care what he did in regards to Kuwait, then were told he was crazy to invade and started a war with him.)

    What I want to know is why the South Ossetians shouldn't be their own nation instead of being forced by the rest of the world to be part of Georgia? From what I have read, the Ossetians are a separate ethnic group with their own language and culture and never wanted to be part of Georgia. They do not even have any natural resources, like the Kurds in Iraq, so why the heck didn't the West tell Georgia to let them go? They have functioned as their own nation since the early 90's. Instead we have supported their "right" to control the area, making the region even less stable.

    Another question is why we did not tell our buddies the Georgians to leave this alone rather than poking a stick in the hornet's nest? (Or if we did, why the ignored us.) Yes, the South Ossetians have been stirring up trouble, undoubtedly with Putin's backing (a tactic we have used many times and are now using in Iran). But this is not a region worth fighting over from what I can see. Had Georgia let them be separate their would be no crisis.

    We keep going out of our way to anger Putin, at times with no good reason as when we insist on putting a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The system does not work and by most predictions never will, so Putin is not crazy to think that we have a different ultimate goal in mind, (maybe putting missiles, not anti-missiles, in place right near his border?). I am guessing we would not be pleased if Castro did this, but of course the rules do not apply to us morally superior beings.

    Wapo Ed Board is a Necon Organ (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:23:03 AM EST
    The Neocons Pravda on the Potomac.

    Not worth even reading on this especially.


    CNN is running McCain's statement. (none / 0) (#29)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:27:57 AM EST
    He is chastising Russia in his statement calling the attack a clear violation of international law.

    The US invoking international law (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:44:49 AM EST
    is a sick joke.

    Putin will ask how McCain, Iraq warmonger, Iran war wisher, can lecture anybody about anything.

    And he will have a point.


    I think you'll find the entire statement (none / 0) (#39)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:02:13 AM EST
    full of nuggets like the one I cited.

    Of course, any of us who point out that the US has little credibility here are going to be painted as unpatriotic again.


    And they keep referring to (none / 0) (#32)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:44:28 AM EST
    the "breakaway" region of South Ossetia. If these people never accepted being a part of Georgia after the breakup of the USSR and act as a separate nation with their own elections, how accurate is the description "breakaway"?

    If this insignificant region prefers to be a satellite of Russia what business is it of ours? I would have thought that we had learned our lesson with the failed attempt to forge a true nation out of the separate ethic regions in Iraq after WWI. Didn't work for Yugoslavia, either.

    I may be misreading the situation but this is the best information I can find. Putin is dangerous but that does not mean we have a right to play God with small ethic groups to futher our own geopolitical interests.


    It is about oil - nothing more. (none / 0) (#38)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:49:58 AM EST
    Apparently, Georgia is an important oil transport route.

    Check map in Comment 49 before concluding Ossetia (none / 0) (#57)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:32:47 AM EST
    can give Russia means to control the pipeline.

    Fairly removed from the region--not huge distance, but would require bombing runs which are clear actions of war.  Unless Russia can do it under cover of a UN sanctions, as we often do.


    I was reading over the weekend that (none / 0) (#84)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:27:30 AM EST
    it is not only the existing pipeline, but other future planned projects as well as the port on the Black Sea that are strategic considerations here - and that it is not so much that Russia needs them necessarily as they may not want the US to control them - which given our recent behavior is a somewhat reasonable objective on their part.

    CNN is reporting that Georgia is (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:11:28 AM EST
    pulling its troops out of Iraq.  

    Not at all surprising given the circumstances, but in a way that is a most damning detail.

    Clearly, the alliance with the US is doing them no good at all.

    Be afraid, very afraid! (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:27:25 AM EST
    Since the clapse of the Soviet Union, neocon Rep have been searching for a new boogey man. I think Bush's foreign policy accomplished exactly what they set out to do.  They have created at least a generation's worth of international turmoil to use for election leverage. (and no bid contracts!)

    Exactly. (none / 0) (#36)
    by magisterludi on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:47:25 AM EST
     They've been casting around for a new Menace ever since the end of the Cold War. Fear and chaos are great businesses for them.

     Unfortunately, the Soviet Union break-up spawned the rebirth of tribal-sectarianism. Some say these regions are pretty much ungovernable outside major cities. Combine that with oil and all hell can break loose.


    Regardless of if we had (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:58:26 AM EST
    "won" or "lost" in Iraq, had we not had all of our troops in Iraq and an obviously strained military, would Puttie (as Georgie calls him) have had the courage to invade?

    What are we going to do about the invasion with all of our troops in Iraq?

    I've been hearing a lot of this question lately (none / 0) (#73)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:02:31 AM EST
    asked by the persons surrounding me.  I don't pretend to know the answer but lots of people serving this country asking this question too.

    Do you really think that if the Russians intended (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:45:36 AM EST
    to hit the pipeline, they would not have done it. Dropping bombs near reminds people it is vulnerable without taking it out.

    Yeah they (none / 0) (#91)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:49:22 AM EST

    That was an extreamly (2.00 / 1) (#105)
    by Jgarza on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 04:01:32 PM EST
    creepy op-ed.  These people are crazy. Bomb bomb bomb bomb Russia Iran... who is next?  Its the NeoCon fantansy hundreds of millions dead in WWIII!

    Beyond that, isn't Georgia guaranteed protection (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:39:55 AM EST
    by virtue of its NATO membership? It seems to me that Putin is being allowed to delegitimize the organization.

    Georgia is NOT a NATO member (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:02:30 AM EST
    A crucial detail (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:04:11 AM EST
    that I glossed over. Thanks.

    There was a bombing of the pipiline in Turkey-- (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:43:19 AM EST
    PPK bombed portion in Turkey.

    The fire continues to burn in a ``controlled manner,'' Huseyin Sagir, a spokesman at Turkish pipeline company Botas International, said.

    The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, said it bombed the pipeline, the Kurdish news agency Firat said on its Web site today. The PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in largely Kurdish southeast Turkey for two decades, attacked a section of the pipeline in east Turkey late on Aug. 5, the report said.

    Whoops, that will teach me to read (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:48:39 AM EST
    Wikipedia more carefully.

    In fact (none / 0) (#7)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:49:33 AM EST
    while they are not NATO members, our decision to support their application for NATO membership surely was part of what emboldened them to start this conflict.  They already knew that we were willing, on some level, to enter into a protective relationship with them.

    The details are a little hazy to me (none / 0) (#9)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:51:56 AM EST
    but it's not altogether clear to me that Georgia started the conflict.

    They did (none / 0) (#13)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:57:01 AM EST
    I'm really wondering why (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:00:54 AM EST
    Russia didn't just take over Georgia in one fell swoop.

    Still an open question (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:17:58 AM EST
    I think more likely they are making a point to the Georgian President, your American buddies do not mean sh*t to me.

    Who could argue with that? (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:21:14 AM EST
    That the Gorgian President... (none / 0) (#68)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:57:00 AM EST
    ...needed to be told this or shown this is proof of some quite painfull stupidity on his part.

    Anyone who acts on the basis of any Bush doctrine existing to "help" them is, in a word, completely beyond all ability to reason.


    They did (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:05:27 AM EST
    No question they did.

    Well, this proves what we already know: (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:13:20 AM EST
    CNN is an insufficient source for world news--even CNN International.

    I apparently don't have a clue what's going on in Georgia.


    AP article: (none / 0) (#43)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:06:27 AM EST
    From oculus's AP link: (none / 0) (#54)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:27:53 AM EST
    Georgia began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia overnight Friday with heavy shelling and air strikes that ravaged the city of Tskhinvali. The Russia response was swift and overpowering _ thousands of troops that shelled the Georgians until they fled Tskhinvali on Sunday, and air attacks across Georgia, some on facilities far from the site of the fighting.

    So, Georgia began this under cover of the opening of the Olympics?? Heh.


    Well... (none / 0) (#107)
    by Addison on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 06:10:30 PM EST
    What was the status of South Ossetia?

    Does a country not have a right to fight against dissolution?

    The proximate cause of this conflict was certainly the Georgian offensive. That is why they are fighting now instead of some other time. But there's a lot more context here that doesn't really allow a "it's Georgia's fault" narrative to be completely accurate.

    According to the international law and established diplomatic status, the Georgians were "invading" their own country when they entered South Ossetia. That Russia had had a presence in that region of Georgia for so long, well, I don't really believe in martial squatter laws.

    None of which is to excuse Georgian idiocy on the timing here. Or they're allegedly targeting of civilians. And, really, they should have let these non-Georgian regions go a long time ago, especially considering much of them are only part of Georgia due to the USSR's policy of using border drawings to destabilize satellite states.


    Per BBC on radio, Putin said the US aided Georgia (none / 0) (#40)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:02:15 AM EST
    by transporting some of their troops from Iraq back to Georgia to take part in the military activities against Ossetia. I could not discern whether this was prior to the Russian actions to "protect" the area they were peacekeeping in for several years--or after the clashes had begun. If prior, it does make a big difference, I would think.

    Discussion on WNYC this morning with guy from Brookings never got into the comparison with Bush invading Iraq, on flimsy evidence, and Russia protecting this breakaway region.  A caller made the point about the US losing moral capital and thus influence, the guest host said he would ask the Brookings guy, but I didn't catch whether that happened (RL interfered).

    But, on WNYC's "Take Away" program, a NYTimes reporter was interviewed, and he also went on and on about how awful Russia was being, breaking international law, etc., with nary a mention of our own gambit, a huge one, in that very area. Gee, I wonder why that is? Thank you, MCMers*, for carrying Maladministration water once again.

    BTD: Just bcz a legislative body votes to permit an action which is illegal under international law does not make it legal. Plus, I have to say that misses the point that for many Dems the vote was to give the UN inspectors time to go into Iraq and prove whether there were WMD or not.  Sen. Clinton made thta abundantly clear in her speech on the floor. Was she. and Kerry and many others, foolish to believe BushCo would pay any attention to the meaning and intent of the resolution? Possibly. But recall the full mendacity and ability to baldly lie to the public and the legislators was not yet fully known. It was suspected, but almost too awful to believe.

    *MCMer--Member of the Mainstream Corporate Media


    I read somewhere (none / 0) (#102)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 12:55:02 PM EST
    that Congress had been personally assured by both Colin Powell and Bush that the reason for Iraq War Resolution was to give them the stick they needed to get Saddam to let the inspectors in. In hindsight it is clear that they should never trust anything that Bush said but at the time, I can see why they went along. To vote against the resolution was to signal to Saddam that he had free rein. (I believe I read this in an article by Joseph Wilson.)

    Precisely (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:03:44 AM EST
    From my previously linked column:

    Of course, many Nato members will consider how, had Georgia already been a member, they would have had to defend it. Germany will win more support for its argument, which dominated the Nato summit in April, that it would be wrong to offer membership for fear of provoking Russia and while its territory remains in dispute. Alarm at this near-war on Europe's borders will easily persuade more governments of the need for caution.

    That would be wrong. It would tell Russia that it had an effective veto over who joined Nato. It would discourage the pro-American and pro-European spirit of President Saakashvili, elected in 2004 partly for those sentiments. It might even make it harder to agree the deployment of international peacemakers in South Ossetia by showing that the US and Europe were indifferent to Georgia's case.

    has Bush or anyone suggested (none / 0) (#34)
    by Josey on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:46:36 AM EST
    sending humanitarian aid to Georgia?

    My daughter (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by pie on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:49:14 AM EST
    workswith a woman whose family lives in GA.  She sent an email out to people this morning thanking them for their concern.  oth her father an brother are surgeons.  She said they've been working nonstop, because there are so many injuries.

    Ugh.  Another "feather" in the cap of the Bush administration.


    Is there a Senate-approved treaty (none / 0) (#87)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:44:17 AM EST
    for that relationship?

    Not really. (none / 0) (#5)
    by rghojai on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:46:21 AM EST
    I'd sooner drink boiling paint than vote for Bush, support him, but in fairness, is there a sense that the Russians might have acted/be acting differently if we were nearing the end of a magnificent, successful-in-all-respects Gore presidency? I don't see that, nor do I see any U.S. president getting involved militarily in a Russia-Georgia conflct, regardless of what else is going on in the world/the president's standing in the world/the country's standing in the world.

    Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:50:13 AM EST
    and Putin would therefore not have been able to walk all over him. We would have the international legitimacy to tell him to get out, and there's a better chance that it would have worked.

    In that parallel Gore universe we also (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:19:59 AM EST
    might be well on our way to energy independence as well as not have a ridiculous national debt which basically puts us at the mercy of both Russia and China.  BushCult has gotten us into the position of being cornered on a lot of levels here.

    People forget (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:37:42 AM EST
    that Carter's policies which drastically cut our per capita consumption had put us well on our way to energy independence. Then Reagan came along with his "oil for as far in the futures as the eye could see" fanatasies, undid Carter's policies and put us back on the road to out-of-control energy usage.
    As much as I despise the delusional Tom Friedman his op ed piece in yesterday's NY Times describes the very different response to the oil crisis of the 70's which has made them independent and a leader in alternative energy technology such as wind. (China is a far bigger competitor to them for the wind power market than we are. We are so last century.)
    I heard recently on an NPR show that Carter's incentives had boosted shale oil recovery effort so much that the industry was attracting a lot of investors and researchers and was making major strides in technology for extracting of this large source of oil. When Reagan came in the incentives stopped and people lost their shirts - after all the market will cure all of our ills. As a result we are far behind in this area, too.
    I am not a big fan of focusing on increasing oil supplies - the sooner we get off oil, the better -but this is another example of how bamboozled the US public is by right wing propaganda which is gladly amplified by our "liberal" media.

    There is no doubt (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:20:12 AM EST
    that they would be acting differently.

    It is not even an open question.


    Moral Authority (none / 0) (#26)
    by jarober on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:22:25 AM EST
    "Bill Kristol sees a connection between Iraq and Georgia. But not the right one. Our invasion of Iraq has utterly destroyed the United States' moral and REAL influence in the world. Who will listen to us? Who would be insane enough to listen to the Bush Administration on "morality" or anything else for that mattter? The Georgian President did and look what is happening to him."

    Moral authority is irrelevant to this whole deal.  What matters is:

    -- the oil and gas pipelines in South Ossetia
    -- US support for Kosovo
    -- The Georgian troops in Iraq

    The First two explain why Russia went in - the latter explains our potential obligation to Georgia.  "Moral Authority" means bupkus here.  I'm listening to Richardson blather on about the security council as I type this, and he seems to think that something done there will matter. It won't.

    We supported Kosovo, and Russia was irritated by that.  They had interests in South Ossetia anyway.  The only quid we could offer that might impact their behavior would be in Kosovo.

    The fact that you believe Iraq is related to this in any way, shape, or form shows that you simply don't understand the historical forces that are at work here.  

    Bill Richardson is an idiot (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:29:29 AM EST
    I watched him yesterday on ABC I think and a less impressive person would be hard to find.

    I now consider it a big negative to the Clinton Administration that Bill Richardson was in it.


    AND (none / 0) (#35)
    by BernieO on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:46:53 AM EST
    he looked terrible. He reminded me of the politically incorrect Frito Bandito.

    Link to map of Caspian pipeline--fairly far south (none / 0) (#49)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:21:13 AM EST
    of South Ossetia, so, unless Russian wants to hold Georgian territory below Ossetia, they will not have access to the pipeline.

    More a big "back off" to the US than a move for territory. Unless, of course, the current president of Georgia loses his office and a person friendier to Russia is elected. Hardly likely without the votes from the breakaway regions, right?


    Certainly, a million dead Iraqis... (none / 0) (#76)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:07:12 AM EST
    ...and five million displaced don't mean anything historically.  Einstein, the issue is, by invading a nation that did nothing to us, posed no threat to us, and by our killing and destroying on a much larger scale than Russia has done anywhere in modern history...that our words about morality, international law, and everything else are nothing but the ravings of a murderously hypocritical nation with no credibility.  And thus, our influence means NOTHING.  

    Unless you plan on arguing we should start a nuclear war, which I hope you realize means bye-bye to all of us, then whatever else you are arguing is done with your head firmly in the sand.

    We have lost whatever moral authority and sympathy we had in the wake of 9/11.  Every single ounce.  That is reality.  Deal with it.


    When Bush said from China... (none / 0) (#41)
    by desertswine on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:04:18 AM EST
    "Georgia is a sovereign nation and its territorial integrity must be respected. We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops."

    during the Olympics. I couldn't stop laughing (in a very warped sort of way). Does Bush have any credibility at all?

    wow (none / 0) (#45)
    by Edgar08 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:12:44 AM EST
    karl rove also believes a Dem controlled congress is responsible for the war in Iraq.

    Great commentary infected with MSM netroots narrative crashing the gates activist crap.

    I believe it is bush's war.  That's what I believe.

    The IWR (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:17:15 AM EST
    proves Rove right and you have always denied the obvious on this point. We all knew the IWR was a vote for war.

    everything you ever say (none / 0) (#50)
    by Edgar08 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:21:32 AM EST
    on this topic starts "we all knew."

    But you don't speak for everyone.

    It is bush's war.  That's my opinion.  You can have your opinion too.


    furthermore (none / 0) (#62)
    by Edgar08 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:41:06 AM EST
    if congress gave Obama or Clinton authority on something and they used it dishonestly and poorly to destroy Americas credibility, then I would say they owned that.

    I wouldn't be a Dem party karl rove and blame it on republicans in congress who "voted for it"

    Just so "we all know" this isn't a party over principle thing going on here.  My opinion is just based on a different principle than yours.

    Lastly when are you going to be truly consistent and say "Barack Obama VOTED FOR spying on Americans."?

    Maybe that's been said already and I missed it.


    Ha! I know it's Bush's war (none / 0) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:07:15 AM EST
    I was there!  I saw!  I experienced!  I well remember til the day I die!  Okay, it's Cheney's war too and you can go ahead and throw that dipstick Rumsfeld in there along with Wolfy and Feith.....but them's the facts.

    Wiki on history of South Ossetia--war broke out in (none / 0) (#46)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:16:00 AM EST
    late '91-92, when the region tried to establish indepence from Georgia. Russian peacekeepers came in as result of that conflict. There was a referendum, which was not accepted, but a new referendum in 2006 passed overwhelmingly with huge turnout for indepence from Georgia.

    Fairly brief read.

    BTW, callers to WNYC this morning who follow Russian papers and blogs said the news there is about "Western Weapons Used Against Ossentians," and about some pretty brutal violence against the Ossentians by the Georgians.

    Seems there are two sides to this story--and the Narrative from the MCM seems to favor the Maladministration.  

    Also agree that the Neocons have been lusing for a way to make Russia the new USSR boogyman. Events, meet political needs!

    What I don't understand in this conversation (none / 0) (#92)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:54:35 AM EST
    is why somebody keeps suggesting that the neocons want to make Russia the new bogeyman. Russia was the old bogeyman, one they thought they understood, come back for a curtain call on their own personal international stage. And to them anyone against Russia must of course be the good guys.

    re "regime change" (none / 0) (#48)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:20:42 AM EST
    In New York, the U.N. Security Council met for the fourth time Sunday in four days to discuss the crisis. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Moscow of seeking "regime change" in Georgia and resisting attempts to make peace.
     [AP excerpt]

    Regime change? Now, where have we heard that (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:23:10 AM EST
    particular phrase before?

    Oh yeah--from BushCo--about just about every government which they don't like and hasn't sucked up to Bush!

    Too funny. Is irony dead yet?


    So the lefts opinion (none / 0) (#95)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:56:57 AM EST
    is that "regime change" is always wrong or never wrong or just wrong when Bush supports it?

    Enjoying the mental hoops some are going through trying to decide who they support in this or as BTD is choosing to do just blaming the Bush administration for everything.


    Your understanding of this conflict... (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 12:44:47 PM EST
    ...borders on the kindergarten level.  If you choose not to see how Bush administration foreign policy and warmaking has left us with no moral credibility here, then so be it, keep your head in the sand, it's your right.  Generally, however, as our founders warned us more than two centuries ago, foreign military adventures are a very good road to self-destruction.  By all means, please, instruct us on how we are to act as the moral arbiter here, when we invaded a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11, posed no threat to us, has a million dead, five million displaced.  You do understand that the rest of the world, our allies included, can only laugh at us and say "Who the f*ck are you to tell anyone anything?"  Such is the price to be paid for making war a first option.

    Would this be WWIII or IV? (none / 0) (#53)
    by desertswine on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:25:38 AM EST
    After Downing Street has a very interesting take on Georgia and the buildup of Allied naval forces in the area.

    From the link: by Lord Stirling (none / 0) (#60)
    by jawbone on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:38:25 AM EST
    UPDATE ~ Georgia calls for US help; Russian Air Force bombs Georgian air bases. DEBKA, the Israeli strategy and military site, states that Israeli military officers are advising the Georgian armed forces in combat operations and that 1,000 Israelis are in-combat on the side of Georgia at this time.

    I'm not familiar with this blog/site--how accurate are their reports? Thanks!

    This is the stuff of nightmares. Oil will go to...what???


    I can't vouch ... (none / 0) (#71)
    by desertswine on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:00:20 AM EST
    for the accuracy of the site, I'm not a regular reader of it.

    I have heard about the presence of Israeli forces in Georgia from other sources however.


    You are way off (none / 0) (#58)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:33:35 AM EST
    on this one.  Russia will do anything they want with our without a Bush in the Whitehouse.  

    How would a Gore/Kerry administration be handling this differently?  Are we to presuem that if we hadn't invaded Iraq Russia wouldn't have invaded Georgia?   A Gore/Kerry administration would be doing exactly what the current president is doing because frankly no president wants to start a world war with Russia unless they have to.  

    This is just a convienent excuse for you to vent about Iraq when one thing has nothing to do with the other.

    Believe it or not some nations do what they want no matter the opinion of the US and no matter which president is rendering that position.  Putin still yurns for the days of the Cold War and as jrober so aptly put this is Russian buisness and they aim to take care of it.  They will push this until we threaten them with real action and back off but by then they'll probably have gotten what they wanted out of this.

    Let's not forget though that Bush (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:00:32 AM EST
    destroyed any chance of Russia developing its democracy and when he did that he destroyed any possibility of Russia "being" any different than its past. Dubya ended up showing the world and Russia that democracy is run by thugs, liars, and theives too.  When democracy is such a hard fight what hope did Russia ever have when the beacon of democracy when it became run by and the safe haven of scum and murderers?

    What? (none / 0) (#93)
    by Slado on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:54:42 AM EST
    How did Bush exactly stop democracy in Russia?  

    We will never know for sure, but would they (none / 0) (#96)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:57:17 AM EST
    have given some sort of mutual defense assurances to Georgia, on the current record? That's what's got our shorts in a twist, because it does appear the Saashkavili faction thinks they had one. See the NYT this morning.

    Ah yes, being considered allied (none / 0) (#67)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:55:56 AM EST
    with Dubya Bush and the divine inspirations of Tony Blair will give your enemies every chance to attack you while the rest of the world would stand around debating whether or not they could or even should give you a hand or speak up for you on the floor of the U.N. or from the kitchen floor for that matter.  Who wants to hang out with thugs and losers?  I don't even want to do it even though I live in the land of thuggery right now.  Thank God democracy makes b.s. only a temporary state of being.

    "approved by the American People" ? (none / 0) (#79)
    by Andreas on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:10:48 AM EST
    BTD wrote:

    And George Bush's reelection in 2004 affirmed that it was an action approved by the American People.


    Do not blame the American People for the criminal support for the regime by the Democratic Party. Supporters of the Democratic Party should be ashamed.

    If the American people (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:21:25 AM EST
    refuse to accept responsibility for the election of George W. Bush twice, then the American people are saying they don't want democracy. You can't have it both ways.

    And for the commenters above who say it's Bush's war, they are wrong. It started out as Bush's war but it's now America's war. The entire world understands this. America's standing in the world will never be the same after this, even if the wonderful Barack Obama enters the whitehouse in January.


    Democratic Party also supports the war (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Andreas on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:31:59 AM EST
    The first "election" of George Walker Bush was a result of a coup. And the Democrats accepted that coup.

    In the second election John Kerry, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, also supported the war.

    And now some Democrats want to blame the American people for the war instead of themselves.


    Well I agree that (5.00 / 2) (#90)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:47:42 AM EST
    as a democracy America leaves a lot to be desired.

    See any marches in the streets lately? (5.00 / 3) (#100)
    by Dadler on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 12:47:31 PM EST
    The American people have tolerated this administraton and enabled it, that cannot be denied.  They have enabled and tolerated the Democratic cowardice.  We are all to blame.  Anything else is childish finger pointing.

    We.  Are.  All.  To.  Blame.


    "marches in the streets" (none / 0) (#104)
    by Andreas on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 02:41:02 PM EST
    See any marches in the streets lately?

    Why should they?

    People have learned that even marches with millions of participants were not able to prevent or stop the war.

    What is urgently required is not marches in the street but a complete political reorientation against the capitalist system and the political parties of the American imperialism,

    In that context naming the political organisations which are responsible for the current situation ("finger pointing") is necessary.


    Bizarro World (none / 0) (#108)
    by jarober on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 09:25:22 PM EST
    First, regarding 2000:

    -- Had the recount proceeded, Florida was poised to send a legislative set of electors
    -- Had the Democrats objected, the election would have gone to the house
    -- Given how the house was composed then and the prescribed voting mechanism, Bush would have won

    So the left needs to get over 2000; there are no circumstances under which Gore would have won.  Personally, I would have rather had the house decide, so that the voters could have had a direct say in that (with the 2002 off year election).  That's not how it went though

    On Georgia: See my comment above.  If you think US "moral authority" has anything to do with this, you are sadly mistaken.  If you think that Putin would magically react differently with a Democrat in office, you are simply delusional.  The only decision the US has to make here is whether implicit guarantees to Georgia need to be honored, and what the downsides would be to not doing so - i.e., how other nations in the region that look to us for support would view us afterwards).  

    Which is not to say that I think we should go to war.  This is a very, very tough situation, and, if we want to help Georgia, we likely will have to sacrifice Kosovo.

    interesting (none / 0) (#109)
    by Ranjusha on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 11:38:52 PM EST
    good PR and misinform MASS-MEDIA (cnn and bbc)
    just look at it

    there yet there is reference to the interesting reporting