"Europe And The U.S. Must Make Clear . . ."

The NYTimes Editorial Board appears to be living is some fantasy world about American power over Russia in the Caucasus. Today they write:

Europe and the United States must make clear to Mr. Medvedev — and the real power player, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — that more aggression and lies will not be tolerated. They must make clear that Russia will pay a price, in diplomatic standing and economic relations, if it does not immediately withdraw its troops, agree to international mediation and permit the deployment of truly neutral international peacekeepers to Georgia’s breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

What price is the NYTimes proposing be paid exactly by Russia in terms of "standing?" Every day that Russia is seen as "defying" the Bush Administration is a day Russia's "standing" rises. That explains why today's New York Times front page reports:

President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia said Thursday that Russia would act as an international guarantor of the two pro-Russian enclaves at the center of the crisis with Georgia, and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said that Georgia could “forget about” territorial integrity because of the war. Together, the comments offered a sharp retort to President Bush’s insistence a day earlier that “the sovereign and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.”

. . . Mr. Medvedev said he would support the independence aspirations of South Ossetians and Abkhazians if they were in accordance with the United Nations Charter, international conventions of 1966 and the Helsinki Act on Security and Cooperation in European. “You have been defending your land, and the right is on your side,” Mr. Medvedev said at a meeting with leaders of the two breakaway regions.

“Russia’s position is unchanged: we will support any decisions taken by the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in accordance with the U.N. Charter,” he said, adding that “not only do we support but we will guarantee them.”

(Emphasis supplied.) So, will the United States and the New York Times stand against the "UN Charter?"

Let me be clear about this, the actions of Russia are not in defense of any principle except the perceived self interests of Russia. But there are no moral high grounds here. Georgia provoked this crisis with its assault on South Ossetia. The United States has lost its moral high ground and "standing" (as well as its soft and hard power) this entire decade. "Old" Europe protested, but did nothing else about Iraq. Georgia, as part of "New" Europe, has played along with the Iraq Debacle.

There are no saints in this play, and it is high time the New York Times editorial page and the American Media stop pretending there are any. It is the type of thinking that led them to cheerlead the most disastrous strategic decision of recent memory, the Iraq Debacle. When the New York Times fires Tom "Suck On This" Friedman, then they can talk about "standing."

Speaking for me only

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    I don't pretend to know what (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Florida Resident on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:25:53 AM EST
    Russia's motivations may be.  But, in my opinion Georgia's president made it much easier for them to accomplish their intentions by doing what he did.  Also the US and our allies have depleted all our claim to moral authority with our invasion of Iraq and our constant belligerence towards Iran.

    and if the president of georgia (none / 0) (#14)
    by hellothere on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:01:33 PM EST
    did this with a wink and nod from bushco, then we had even less influence and standing. folks, the world no longer cares what we think!

    The president of Georgia claims that (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:39:25 PM EST
    Bush promised to back him, but even if that is not true at all - Bush, Condi et al have come out full force in support of Georgia which has essentially the same effect - it puts us until the conflict rather than keeping us out to help broker a deal.  Not that anyone in BushCult would be capable of the kind of negotiations that brokering a deal would require - but still by picking sides they can't even try to stumble through that option now.

    sad but true! (none / 0) (#20)
    by hellothere on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:45:22 PM EST
    Oil politics (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Coral on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:30:34 AM EST
    Here's an interesting alternate view, by William O. Beeman. It offers some history of the region, and outlines recent big-power and oil politics behind current events.

    Chickens Come Home to Roost

    It begins:

    No one should be surprised that U.S. interference in the Caucasus has led to the Russian invasion of South Ossetia. By mixing into the volatile politics of the Caucasus, and trying to recruit the governments there to become American "plumbers" for a variety of purposes, the United States has only drawn Russian fire.

    so if I accept your logic (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Florida Resident on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:31:31 AM EST
    then the US was wrong about Kosovo and the other provinces that declared their independence from Serbia.

    Are you seriously arguiong there is (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:36:23 AM EST
    a "small vocal minority" advocating secession in South Ossetia and Abzhakia?

    If you are, you obviously have no effing idea what you are talkiing about.

    FYI, since 1991, South Ossetia and Azbhakia have been de facto separated from Georgia. There have been Russian troops there for 15 years.

    Georgia wanted to change that. It failed.

    Georgia has no moral high ground and apparently, a lunatic President.

    Your comment is amazing in its ignorance.

    Sadly, it's not amazing at all, just dim (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Dadler on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:05:57 PM EST
    Since it's the prevailing narrative in our media and in most American minds.

    Heh, keep it simple (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by eric on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:07:57 PM EST
    Americans like simple.  Russians - bad.  Georgia - good.

    yeah (none / 0) (#38)
    by bigbay on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:09:02 PM EST
    I mean, it's one of our states

    A lunatic president (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by oldpro on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:17:36 PM EST
    who didn't learn the lesson the Cheks learned the hard way.

    The (none / 0) (#36)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:36:02 PM EST
    Georgia Prez attended Columbia.  Nuff said.

    BTD is right. (none / 0) (#55)
    by Christy1947 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07:45:49 PM EST
    The reporting that is coming out suggests that there is a substantial risk of Ossetians seeking revenge on Georgians and Georgians going after Ossetians. The prior NYT reporting on Georgian families wondering where their relatives were made it clear that one of the social issues there is a tradition whereby sons in particular take up weapons whether they are or are not in the military and go off to fight, and they have.  And Saakashivili is carrying on as if the necessity of the ceasefire was a mere inconvenience, as if nothing had happened at all of which he need take note. Unfortunately the statements that the Russians there have made that they took the Gori military base because of the large number of weapons left behind when the Georgians cleared out makes sense in that light, to keep them out of partisan hands before this thing gets totally out of control. Yes, there are additional international issues involved, but when the fighting makes what the NYT said was about half of all South Ossetians flee as refugees,  and now there are revenge killings, you can't just let that go.



    BTD responded (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by eric on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:52:32 AM EST
    in much the way I was going to, but I would add this:

    "Soviets" landed tanks?
    "Soviets" want the oil pipeline?

    The year is now 2008, there are no more Soviets.  It's time to let the cold war go.

    Great article (none / 0) (#52)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 06:28:08 PM EST
    here about that, RA: "We are all George-ins"



    Is there no one who is an Ossetian or Abkhazian? (none / 0) (#56)
    by Christy1947 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07:47:20 PM EST
    Many. (none / 0) (#60)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 08:01:10 PM EST
    Ossetians dot com

    August 9, 3.10PM

    August 11, 15:21

    Death toll in South Ossetia reaches 2,000
    August 10, 2008, 10:43

    What is really going on in South Ossetia
    Attention! The pictures contain scenes of cruel violence. Viwers discretion is advised.

    NATO encouraged Georgia - Russian envoy
    August 9, 2008, 4:36

    And from the Washington Post... (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by both0sides0now on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:57:35 PM EST
    the following excerpt makes a crucial point which no one seems to be addressing -- maybe because it occurs on Page 4 of the article:
    Rice Gets Georgian Approval of Cease-Fire, Demands Russians Withdraw

    Last week the Georgian army stormed South Ossetia to try to take it back but were quickly repelled by Russian forces that then advanced far into undisputed Georgian territory.

    I think it does matter who started this whole fiasco... not Russia, but Georgia- encouraged  or even goaded by U.S. officials (unnamed and of course, embedded in the neo-con movement in the Republican Party), knowing very well Russia would not turn their backs on this provocation (a word that Saakashvili does not seem to know).

    We cannot view these recent events in isolation, as the Russian reaction to an incursion by Georgia in Russian-protected territory was to be expected.  If the breakaway regions felt it necessary to leave Georgia proper in the first place, this must reflect the fact that Saakashvili and his government have been unable to convince these separatists that they are better off with him than with Russia.  That does not speak well for Georgia, as Russia is not the paragon of virtue in terms of democratic government!  Georgia must be even worse... so nothing has changed in Georgia since 1990, when the Soviet Union broke up.

    Does no one in the media think logically anymore, or do they just write trash to get headlines that sell papers- and dupe the public into ignorance?  


    South Ossetia, Abkhazia to seek recognition (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Edger on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 09:59:44 AM EST
    Moscow, Aug 15 (RIA Novosti) Georgia's breakaway republics South Ossetia and Abkhazia will seek recognition as sovereign states under international law, their leaders have said.

    South Ossetia leader Eduard Kokoity in a joint press conference here Thursday with Abkhazia's Sergei Bagapsh said that following Georgia's attack Aug 8 on South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, the two separatist provinces would seek international recognition.

    `Despite the severe blow to our nation, South Ossetians' will for independence remains unchanged,' he said. `We will seek independence in strict compliance with international law.'

    Bagapsh echoed Kokoity's words: `As to our independence, as to our progress toward this goal, no force will make us stop. The goal has been set, and we will advance toward this goal together.'

    Bagapsh said both Abkhazia and South Ossetia ruled out the possibility of talks with Georgia on their status.

    And the reasons behind Saakashvili's attacks on the two provinces.

    Scribe wrote a great diary here the other day that has been much ignored...

    Georgia on my mind

    The Russians responded to this eye-poking with no little bit of their own.  They re-started flying their reconnisance planes into the North Atlantic.  Most recently, they've talked about re-starting the Murmansk-to-Cuba shuttle of their recon planes and, purportedly, a new bomber.  They now have oil money - lots of it - and are getting their Russian back on.

    But, come the summer of 2008, the Republicans are staring a savage - and well-deserved - electoral defeat in the face.  

    The military-industrial complex, which has made something on the order of a half-trillion dollars out of Iraq, sees that conflict as winding down.  The Iraqis have made that quite clear - they want the US out within the time frame Obama has proposed.  There is not a lot of contract money to be made in high-tech (i.e., high-cost) weapons in Afghanistan.  That is an ultimate grunt's war - cheap, sweaty, and tiring.

    But, there is a lot of money to be made in a new Cold War with Russia.  The end of the first Cold War has taught us, when the doors opened and the Wall came down, that the Russians were in fact first-class designers and engineers of first-class weapons systems.  That hasn't changed since 1989.  In fact, they continue to make - albeit in much smaller quantity - world-class equipment.  And there is nothing the MIC likes more than an arms race, particularly when it's in high-tech.

    The oil industry either has decided to wait on Iraq coming to them to do the work there or has a deal for Iraq in the bag and is not divulging it (probably to come out after the election).  But they see the Caucasus and Georgia as the next on their list of sources.

    Also see: The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power


    The Media as opposed to Online Media (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by both0sides0now on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 02:19:48 PM EST
    Having read the material you kindly drew to my attention, I now understand that many people have grasped the political reality behind the misleading headlines of our STANDARD media.  Obviously, in the so-called print media, editors have the power to filter the news and to conveniently leave out anything that might look bad for their concept of truth... in contrast, online media (including Blogs, forums and other electronic "bulletin boards") have allowed an honest exchange of information to be promulgated, that strenghtens the fabric of our democracy, and allows unfiltered information to be absorbed and evaluated on it's own merits, not as dictated by media moguls.

    The link for the above (none / 0) (#65)
    by both0sides0now on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:47:13 AM EST
    Bush's ONLY option here would (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:30:09 PM EST
    have been to have acted as a neutral party - as an honest broker - yes that is an oxymoron - as we would have done in the past when faced with a conflict of this sort.  In the old days, we would have acted as a referee to Russia, Georgia, Europe and the other parties.  But as is typical for the Bush Administration and the GOP FP crowd in general, they decided to pick a side instead.

    It is stunning that they did not realize that now more than ever not picking a side would have produced the least embarassment for them and the US.  Instead, they practiced their "bring it on" style "diplomacy" and lo and behold the Russians did bring it on - what a total embarassment this is.  

    Not only that but we are witnessing a very scary power shift on a level that most Americans are probably not going to key into for a while - but when they do - they will realize that Bush, McCain and the rest intent on upping the ante here with in-your-face statements and actions are NOT making us safer at all.

    I would take your comments seriously (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Florida Resident on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07:08:48 PM EST
    if I had not already heard them in the Right wing radio shows.

    i'd say you've pretty well (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:16:31 AM EST
    encapsulated the situation. i would add one thing however, friedman would merely be the first on my list of people the times would do well to get rid of, maureen dowd comes quickly to mind as well.

    ". . .to my dry cleaner. . ." (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:21:43 AM EST
    (Sorry, your title mad me think of mad libs).

    No, no, don't you get it? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:23:25 AM EST
    Our sh*t smells like roses.  We live in certifiably Orewellian times.  Up is down, down is up.  And no one in the MSM will raise a ruckus about the absurdity.  Because they ARE the absurdity.  The delusion and denial our leaders, and therefore we, live in is truly astounding.  And to even suggest we live in such a state, well, no greater offense can be committed.  The my local sh*trag paper today, there are two competing Op-eds about the situation, on my Gorbachev, the other by an American think-tanker.  They are as op as eds can gets, and evidence the complteley ass-backward nature ouf our current intellectual and political existence.  From the "U.S. perspective", Georgia is as pure as Ivory soap here -- well, more pure even, since Ivory has that 99.95% thing that keeps it from absoulute perfection.  Not Georgia, and certainly not us.  We are saints with halos made of spun gold that we actually excrete in our poop.    

    Shorter (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by eric on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:28:01 AM EST
    damn i should proofread (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:24:07 AM EST
    sorry for the illiterate nature of that post.

    You hit the nail on the head.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jjc2008 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:27:03 AM EST
    There is NO MORAL HIGH GROUND when it comes to international politics (which is why the sanctimony of the Hillary haters chant "she voted for war in Iraq" always irked me).

    What is the moral high ground anyway?  
    To sit back and watch as a country abuses half its citizenry??? (you know countries where women have no rights, and are treated as chattel and often put to death because their husbands, fathers, brothers say so).  Or do something?  Which is right?

    To sit back and pretend our candidates did not know, could not know about the abuses of our own government?

    Are we only immoral when we invade or is it just as immoral when we sit silent and do nothing?

    World History tells us the truth.  Families, clans, tribes, groups united by ethnicity, religious/cult beliefs will do what it takes to protect their own interests.  Those interests can be fertile land, water, or oil deposits.  
    The entire notion that one country (whether the USA or Russia or China or some small country) has the moral high ground is laughable.

    Reading this (none / 0) (#12)
    by pie on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:37:11 AM EST
    in accordance with the U.N. Charter,

    I realized how obscure the UN has become since Bush took over.  I almost never see anything about it.  I know it had its detractors, and maybe it was more for show than influence, or maybe that's how some would like it to be portrayed.

    But it is/was a symbol of the kind of world we could have if we wanted it.

    The NYT is silly (none / 0) (#23)
    by Steve M on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:42:29 PM EST
    I thought Joe Biden did a pretty good job of laying out exactly what leverage we do have over Russia.  It exists, but certainly there is nothing to support the degree of bluster urged by the NYT.

    I disagree (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:56:27 PM EST
    I found the piece utterly fatuous.

    You speak for the world (none / 0) (#24)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:43:06 PM EST
    now, do you?

    You are a blustering fool. Nowhere did BTD say that Russia had the moral high ground in this matter. Indeed he stated the opposite.

    Meanwhile the US invaded and continues to occupy a foreign country far from its shores for no morally acceptable reason. But of course it's just a given that the Russians are the bad guys and America is the good guys, no matter what.

    You were responding to TruuthSayers (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:54:24 PM EST
    whgo has been banned from my threads permanently.

    Please do not respond to his comments as they will be deleted.

    Edgar08 and flashman have also been permanently banned from my threads so do not respond to their comments either.  


    OK n/t (none / 0) (#29)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:00:42 PM EST
    I think it is all a NeoCon Conspiracy (none / 0) (#25)
    by D Jessup on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:50:01 PM EST
    I wonder if neocons close to the Bush and McCainSaakashvili did not get together with Saakashvili to instigate the conflict.

    Why would they do that?

    Necons think they need friction and maybe a new cold war to get McCain elected.  Saakashvili is fearful that if he might loose his favorite lap dog position if a Democrat wins the White House.  This has been my biggest fear since Bush bought most of his Coalition of the Willing forces for Iraq.

    They attacked through the Russian Peace keepers (none / 0) (#62)
    by D Jessup on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 09:28:28 PM EST
    and killed Russian citizens. You really did not think that the Georgians did not expect a Russian reaction. Do you think that the Georgians are just too stupid to realize if they attack Russian peacekeepers and citizens the Russians would not respond aggressively.  I think that they just miscalcalated the aggressiveness of the response, but they knew the Russians would respond. It was in their calculation.

    Just because Georgia has a democratically elected government has nothing to do with my theory and
    I never said that "the neo-communist government of Russia is the good guy.???" Those are your words, that is something a neocon would say.  Are you a NeoCon, I bet you were for the "Iraq War".


    Sorry, but the (none / 0) (#28)
    by Grace on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:56:30 PM EST
    New York Times is the public relations arm of the White House.  We learned that with the Plame leak investigation.  

    So, do you really expect the NYT to print anything that doesn't support the White House?  Why would they?  

    I used to read the NYT like it was the bible but that whole incident really changed my opinion of them.  I take their stories with a grain of salt.  

    More info on how this all went down, from Moon of (none / 0) (#31)
    by jawbone on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:19:07 PM EST
    Alabama (where Bilmon's commenters went after the closed comments and then, alas, quit blogging entirely. I do so miss Bilmon.), AP, blogger of UN Security Council meeting on early Friday, 8/8.

    High ground? Saak. declared a ceasefire on Thursday 8/7, then during the night of 8/7 launched a massive attack on South Ossetia's capital city, with, apparently, the objective of killing, wounding enough civilians and destroying enough of the city to force a massive eavaucation of Ossetians to the north, into Russian North Ossetia. Lightning strike ethnic cleansing?

    I do not feel like I want to be called a "Georgian." Per Sen. McSame. Plus, it's too redolent of BushBoy!

    Now, what did BushCo know? and do? and when? Seemed pretty ready to gin up the MCM Narrative. Per what is known about what BushCo has done, they wanted to get something going in Georgia. Why else refuse to go along with the Russian request for a resolution in the UN Sec. Council to end the violence in South Ossetia--very early on Friday, Aug. 8, right after the launch of field battle weapons designed to inflict wide-spread damange into a civilian city? War crime territory for Saak., BTW.

    See my comment below.

    High ground? No one's on it, so far as I can see. But our MCM is working quite hard to get the public very angry at the nasty, brutish Russians and to feel sorry for the poor, invaded, innocent Georgians. Based on BBC reporting, on the other hand, many Georgians are very unhappy with Saak.

    BushCo and the NeoCons? Happily whacking another hornet's nest. Something they love doing. Some more of their "creative chaos," which has gone down so well in Iraq....

    They have Mukasey wreaking havoc in the Justice Dept, now pushing to loosen regulations about spying inside the US borders. They're trying to mess up the Endangered Species Act. They are going to do everything they can to mess up this nation in their remaining months in power. They must have internals telling them the Dem nominee will win the presidency!

    MCM--Mainstream Corporate Media (which still will not mention that BushCo's invasion of Iraq is setting the terms for international big powers' treatment of small nations. A comparison with Iraq? Oh, no, dear public--Hitler only! Or Csechoslovakia and Hungary in mid-29th Century. That's all!)

    The Agonist has Nelson Report excerpts posted (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by jawbone on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:40:53 PM EST
    by Sean-Paul..  Scroll around for more.

    ...it would be interesting to know what President Saakashvili was thinking when, on Thursday night, after days of relatively low-level shelling around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali (which both South Ossetians and Georgians blamed on each other), and <b?literally hours after he announced on state-controlled TV the cessation of hostilities, he ordered a full-scale assault on Tskhinvali.</b> And mind you, the assault could only succeed if the Georgian units went right through the battalion of Russian troops serving as international peacekeepers according to agreements signed by Tbilisi itself in the 1990s.

    Under the circumstances, the Russian forces had three choices: to surrender, to run away, or to fight. And fight they did - particularly because many of the Russian soldiers were in fact South Ossetians with families and friends in Tskhinvali under Georgian air, tank, and artillery attacks. Saakashvili was reckless to count on proceeding with a blitzkrieg in South Ossetia without a Russian counterattack.

    Now the Bush administration and outside commentators are appalled by Russia's disproportionate response. But proportionality is in the eye of the beholder. In July 2006, after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others--smaller losses than those inflicted on the Russian troops in Tskhinvali--the Israelis launched a massive bombardment of Lebanon, including Beirut, killing more than a thousand Lebanese, many of them civilians.

    When some in the U.N. Security Council sought to condemn Israel's "disproportionate response," the United States acted as Israel's staunchest defender and prevented any resolution critical of Israel.

    Notwithstanding this background, the United States has no good choices in dealing with the crisis.

    (My bolding)

    What's the axiom? Great powers have no permanent friends, but they do have permanent interests??


    Uncle Ben... (none / 0) (#35)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:16:50 PM EST
    Uncle Ben: Remember, with great power. comes great responsibility.

    Discretion is the better part of valor." ? (none / 0) (#58)
    by Christy1947 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07:53:55 PM EST
    bilmon... (none / 0) (#33)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:33:21 PM EST
    has a couple of "diaries" on DKos. They are dated 31Jul08. Nothing more recent.

    I like to think that his genius drove him crazy.


    Moon of Alabama's b has links for tick-tocks on (none / 0) (#39)
    by jawbone on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:25:52 PM EST
    beginning 8/8 through 8/14. Comprehensive, to put it mildly.

    Bottom of post.

    Also, comments worth reading.


    But which one is the power grab, Saakashvili (none / 0) (#59)
    by Christy1947 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07:56:32 PM EST
    doing a cease fire and then sending in troops that night is not a good start for anything where the people being shot at that night do better than he does at it. All that was necessary to avoid this was for S to honor the ceasefire he entered himself on Thursday night. It was him sending in the regular troops after the US told him not to, and while nobody knew what he was doing until after he did it, that got us all here.

    Good point...n/t (none / 0) (#32)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:23:08 PM EST

    Um, please (none / 0) (#37)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:38:25 PM EST

    They have looked askance at our meddling/stirring things in Caucasus for some time already. And being far more assertive now they will surely do something.

    Links, quotes, etc from the EU.  

    Super (none / 0) (#43)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:29:42 PM EST
    assertive!  In a simmering below the surface way.  Paper tiger style.

    let's say, for the sake of argument, (none / 0) (#41)
    by cpinva on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:17:22 PM EST
    that the US did have the moral high ground (hey, i said for the sake of argument!), what then?

    unfortunately, moral high ground plus a $1 will, if you're lucky, buy you a small coffee at mcd's. having squandered our military assets in iraq (while still failing to complete the afghan mission), bush hasn't got much left to even pretend to threaten russia with.

    to argue otherwise is to thud into the realm of self-delusion.

    the president of georgia apparently failed to learn a basic lesson of military tactics: if you don't have a bigger, badder army than the other guy, don't start a war with him.

    George Friedman of Stratfor (none / 0) (#44)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:35:08 PM EST
    has a very good free article up: The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power

    Why did the Georgians choose to invade South Ossetia on Thursday night? There had been a great deal of shelling by the South Ossetians of Georgian villages for the previous three nights, but while possibly more intense than usual, artillery exchanges were routine. The Georgians might not have fought well, but they committed fairly substantial forces that must have taken at the very least several days to deploy and supply. Georgia's move was deliberate.

    The United States is Georgia's closest ally. It maintained about 130 military advisers in Georgia, along with civilian advisers, contractors involved in all aspects of the Georgian government and people doing business in Georgia. It is inconceivable that the Americans were unaware of Georgia's mobilization and intentions. It is also inconceivable that the Americans were unaware that the Russians had deployed substantial forces on the South Ossetian frontier. U.S. technical intelligence, from satellite imagery and signals intelligence to unmanned aerial vehicles, could not miss the fact that thousands of Russian troops were moving to forward positions. The Russians clearly knew the Georgians were ready to move. How could the United States not be aware of the Russians? Indeed, given the posture of Russian troops, how could intelligence analysts have missed the possibility that the Russians had laid a trap, hoping for a Georgian invasion to justify its own counterattack?

    It is very difficult to imagine that the Georgians launched their attack against U.S. wishes. The Georgians rely on the United States, and they were in no position to defy it. This leaves two possibilities. The first is a massive breakdown in intelligence, in which the United States either was unaware of the existence of Russian forces, or knew of the Russian forces but - along with the Georgians - miscalculated Russia's intentions. The second is that the United States, along with other countries, has viewed Russia through the prism of the 1990s, when the Russian military was in shambles and the Russian government was paralyzed. The United States has not seen Russia make a decisive military move beyond its borders since the Afghan war of the 1970s-1980s. The Russians had systematically avoided such moves for years. The United States had assumed that the Russians would not risk the consequences of an invasion.

    If this was the case, then it points to the central reality of this situation: The Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia and the United States and Europe could not respond. As for risk, they did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no counter.
    The war in Georgia, therefore, is Russia's public return to great power status.
    As we have written, this conflict created a window of opportunity. The Russian goal is to use that window to assert a new reality throughout the region while the Americans are tied down elsewhere and dependent on the Russians. The war was far from a surprise; it has been building for months. But the geopolitical foundations of the war have been building since 1992. Russia has been an empire for centuries. The last 15 years or so were not the new reality, but simply an aberration that would be rectified. And now it is being rectified.

    but Saakashvili fouled up the timing. (none / 0) (#57)
    by Christy1947 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 07:52:00 PM EST
    Think what would have happened had this happened on November 1. But he got giddy and it happened before the conventions. That I can charge him with because he was a New York lawyer before he went home to his roots.

    In the US for the election, maybe, but that may (none / 0) (#61)
    by Christy1947 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 08:01:57 PM EST
    have been all that was cared about. What effect do you think this has in Europe, especially Eastern Europe. We look like idiots there making bellicose statements we do not have the capacity to back up, which makes them all look at all our other promises, like that we would defend Ukraine against its foreign enemies if they would promise not to get and to get rid of nuclear weapons. So they are sitting there, with the Russians mad at them over what they have done here, and nothing but Bush words to support them. And the rest of Europe wondering if Bush really did promise to support anything Saakashvili did with troops if he got in trouble, given what S did with that promise. And they will all now ask themselves if they want to make the NATO promises to a country run by such an out of control nut, and to go to nuclear war if that's what it takes, to protect such a nut.

    Good for you, Gorbachev! (none / 0) (#63)
    by both0sides0now on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 10:11:01 PM EST
    On Larry King Live tonight it was stated that [... Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who also appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday, said he was "profoundly shocked" that Mikhail Gorbachev would use a television appearance "for basically vindicating lies and deceptions."]

    OK, so first of all the truth has been suppressed by Georgia.  They invaded a city that was supposed to be under rebel control (autonomous government of self-declared independent South Ossetia based in Tskhinvali)-- also there has been ethnic cleansing by the Georgians with the help of the U.S. (what hypocrites!! talking about human rights in China...go home to Texas and stay there Mr. Cowboy!).

    If the Georgians with the help of U.S. advisors can go into an area not assigned to them by agreement, and wipe out civilians and then claim innocence, what does that say for the U.S.- they are heartless and only present one side of the story.  Is the State Dept. so ignorant that they  buy everything they are told by Georgia: hook, line and sinker?  It is convenient to NOT admit complicity to atrocities.  Something smells and it is not like roses.  Good for Gorbachev, daring to tell it like it is.