Clark On The Russia-Georgia Conflict

I was waiting to hear from the smartest guy in the room on this and here it is :

Tom Foreman: The Soviet Union is long gone, but now there is a Cold War chill between the U.S. and Russia. With Russian tanks in Georgia and new threats over a U.S. missile shield in Poland things could suddenly get very hot, maybe. Joining me now Retired General Wesley Clark the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Thanks so much for being here. I'm looking forward to our talk.


Tom Foreman: Let me start off by asking you a basic question: For all of the concerns about Georgia, for all of the saber-rattling right now - you've been there and you've done that - how worried should we be about the relations between the U.S. and Russia right now?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think we should be very concerned and it's not just the U.S. and Russia. This is really about NATO. It's about the U.S. leadership role in Europe and how European countries respond to the United States. So, we need to be focusing on not just a U.S. - Russia bilateral relationship, but we need to be focusing on Transatlantic unity in- and using that Transatlantic unity to shape the behavior of Russia. That's one of the areas in which I think the administration has frankly not been as effective in the last seven years as it could've been, because there's been a lot of emphasis on U.S. unilateral relations with Russia and elsewhere and not enough emphasis on Transatlantic unity.

Tom Foreman: Even if we consider that though, what do we make of moves like this talk about the missile shield in Poland? Certainly the Russians say that is a direct slap at them over this problem in Georgia. Is it, to your read and is it a smart move?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well no, it's not a direct slap at them, and it's something that's been on the books for a long, long time. We've talked about this for a decade, and they've been consulted on it. They've met with it. They know what the capabilities of the system are. This is just an example of Russian rhetoric aimed at intimidating Europe. It doesn't intimidate the United States. But the United States' reaction then can either bring Europe together with the United States or we can chill the relations with Europe. So, we want to be careful. This, this is not something that the Russians have a right to respond on, and their response is unjustified. But on the other hand, we want to make sure our European allies all see it our way.

Tom Foreman: How do you read Putin's intentions right now when you look at Georgia and you look at his response to the rest of the Western world over issues like Iraq and Iran and oil supplies and everything?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Putin believes in re-establishing Russia's power. He wants Russia to be an important factor in every issue in the world. He'd like to regain the empire that Russia lost with the breakup of the Soviet Union. He'd love to see the reintegration of Ukraine. Belarus wants to be reintegrated. The Russians've put that on hold, because it's such a basket case. But with Ukraine and Belarus together, then the absorption of some of these other countries, he believes, that are on the periphery could happen, and Russia would once again be a, a much great- it'd be a superpower - unlike what it is today except through the nuclear capacity of course. And so, Georgia, in Putin's mind is probably the first step. They've long prepared Ossetia, South Ossetia and, and Abkhazia along with other areas on the periphery of Russia as, as, a-as grips into the near, what they call 'the near abroad'. This is a strategic crisis. It's been building for a long time. It just broke out into the open now, but we've seen its roots back more than a decade.

Tom Foreman: President Saakasvili in Georgia is blaming the West for making this breakout right now because, he said, the West entertained the idea of bringing Georgia into NATO, in which case NATO would've been bound to defend them against the Russians, but didn't bring them in. And that sort of poked Russia in the chest and made this happen. Do you buy his complaint that the West is to blame?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Not exactly. I think that, first of all, I've been, I've been very pleased to see NATO enlarge as it has over the last few years, but every, every step has to be carefully looked at. It has to have the, the backing of all NATO members, and there is some membership criteria that have to be met. One of those membership criteria incidentally is that all the territorial issues have to be resolved. they weren't resolved in the case of Georgia. The United States proposed Georgia for membership. The European allies asked some tough questions. It was decided that to give it a little bit more time. So, I don't think that the United States or NATO's responsible for this. But I do think that we could've seen this crisis coming. I think we should've worked for years to diffuse this and protect Georgia's claims on South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Russian encroachment.

Tom Foreman: H-how would you have done that?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I would've insisted a neutral peacekeeping force, not Russian peacekeepers in the area and a real process of addressing the, the, the alleged grievances between Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia.

Tom Foreman: Obviously, the, the Georgians are very concerned about the idea that the Russians are still there despite this agreement. If the Russians, Russians will not leave and will not leave quickly, what should be done?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, what has to be done regardless is we've got to get the neutral observers in there. France first proposed this in the cease-fire agreement. I, I think it's absolutely essential. Barack Obama has called for it. We've got to have people on the ground. With all due respect to CNN (chuckles) and, and BBC, we got to have real observers in there who can tell us where the Russian forces are, what they're doing and help us serve as the link to say, to go right back to Moscow and say, say, 'Mr. President or Prime Minster, you said the forces were pulling out, but they've just moved to this village and that village. Get it stopped.' And you've got to have that kind of instant communication from the bottom to the top. That can't be done only through the news media. We've got to have observers in there. And then we've got to use our leverage - economic leverage, political leverage, legal leverage. Russia's done one heck of a lot of financial damage to Georgia. I think they should be held accountable. Take them tr-, to court. I mean, this is a, a world that has law. And we don't know what the economic consequences of this are, but they're profound. And I think Russia needs to leave the Georgian military equipment and bases - some of which were payed by the United States - leave them alone. They're no threat to Russia. Pull out and and pull out now.

Tom Foreman: Are we anywhere in ter- near talking about a military option in that country, or is that something way off in the future?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: I don't think we're talking about a military option there. I'm glad to see a humanitarian airlift in there. I think that's great. But putting-

Tom Foreman: But we have a lot of talking to do between now and that sort of position.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Put, putting U.S. troops in there, i-it just doesn't make sense. It's not what- it's not necessary, and we just shouldn't be talking about this. What we really have to talk about is Transatlantic resolve. Russia has to behave as a responsible member of the international community. It's not behaving, and we need to call it on this bad behavior. And to call it, it takes the united resolve of all the nations of the West, not just the United States.

Tom Foreman: We'll have to see how it turns out. General Wesley Clark, thanks for joining us, as always.

For the record, I think Clark is absolutely wrong about this, particularly on what Russia's ambitions are. I see no reason for Russia to want to reabsorb Belarus or the Ukraine. Instead, I think Russia is interested in not allowing itself to be encircled by what it perceives to be a hostile alliance against it. But it is important to listen to what he has to say on this and other foreign policy issues.

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    It's a rare occasion (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by dskinner3 on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 08:17:58 PM EST
    that I disagree with you, but I think Clark has it right on Putin's long term goals. As long as we are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, Putin will likely be emboldened to push the envelope and work toward Russian expansion. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian "sphere of influence" has been diminished, much to the chagrin of Putin and the old cold warriors. I think they see this as an opportunity to reclaim some of the old power.

    Uk (none / 0) (#24)
    by Key on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:00:29 PM EST
    Our missile defense move into the Ukraine on our part is an act which Russia understandably perceives as provocative and hostile in nature.

    Whom is the missile defense shield supposed to protect against?

    Imagine if, say, Russia decided to put nuclear missiles in Cuba....  How would, or should, we react?

    A missile defense shield is an offensive weapon just as much as it is defensive.  It would enable a country to wage a first strike.  And less any of us forget, Bush (and McCain?) is a proponent of the preemptive strike doctrine.

    As far as Georgia goes, isn't this really just Russia applying Bush's preemptive strike doctrine?  Create a buffer zone around Russia to protect against countries that are hostile to it, like a country that would put a missile defense shield within it's borders?

    I think Clark is right about the US should have seen this coming and done something about it over the past 7 years, but on most of the rest, he's wrong.  He's looking at it from a decidedly military POV, rather than a diplomatic POV.  Although that's his background, so I can't really blame him for it.  But it does need to be balanced with other less military oriented views.

    Still, I said it yesterday....  I think an Obama/Clark ticket is a winning combo.

    Please.  No Biden.


    Two things (none / 0) (#25)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:08:37 PM EST
    Imagine if, say, Russia decided to put nuclear missiles in Cuba....  How would, or should, we react?

    Theoretically the Russians would be protecting Venezuela from the USA, I guess? The argument, whatever its merits, for the Poland missile shield is to protect Europe from Iran. I'm not sure who Russia would be protecting whom against in their argument.

    As far as Georgia goes, isn't this really just Russia applying Bush's preemptive strike doctrine?  Create a buffer zone around Russia to protect against countries that are hostile to it, like a country that would put a missile defense shield within it's borders?

    Well, there is a difference between invading sovereign countries for your own defense and letting a friendly government put in your missiles.


    Protecting Europe from Iran??? (none / 0) (#31)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:48:10 PM EST
    What on earth kind of crazed neocon fantasy is that? Of all the ridiculous things the U.S. and Bush administration have ginned up in these last years, the idea that Iran is going to attack Europe is the absolute looniest.

    Look, Poland would like this stuff because they do want a back door capability to threaten any possible Russian aggression, as well as tie themselves as tightly as possible to the U.S. and just plain stick a finger in the eye of the Russians on general principles if they can get away with it.

    The Bush admin wants this solely because it throws more billions of bucks to the military-industrial you know what.


    I know I know... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:52:35 PM EST
    ...I'm just saying what their rationale is and what Russia would have to come up with to equal it.

    Sorry (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:26:00 AM EST
    wasn't railing at you there, Addison, just at the absurdity of whoever is pushing this idiotic line.

    It's not (none / 0) (#57)
    by Warren Terrer on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 02:25:43 PM EST
    absolute looniness. It's merely a cynical lie for consumption by the US media and to anger the Russians.

    The policy of actually putting missiles in Poland might, however, be madness. I found the reference to crossing the Rubicon by the Polish leadership utterly disturbing.


    I think Clark is right (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Prabhata on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 08:24:41 PM EST
    Putin wants to rebuild it's borders.  I won't say empire.  I believe the Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia will be integrated back into Russia.  It's just a matter of time, but I don't see their integration back into Russia as a threat to the US or Europe.

    clark is correct (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by STLDeb on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:27:04 PM EST
    I admire Wesley Clark.  He has previously served in our military and I feel understands this situation more than any of us ever good so I like what wesley clark has to say in this regard.

    Excuse me but (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:51:44 PM EST
    his military experience in no way qualifies him to opine about Putin's intentions.  That makes no more sense than the idea that McCain's POW horrors makes him qualified to be president.

    Clark is a smart guy and knows way more about international affairs and diplomacy than the average military or non-military guy, but from these comments, it's clear he knows only the most superficial aspects of Russian policy, and frankly, he should know enough to keep his mouth shut on the subject until he's studied it better.

    He sounds like he's been communing with Condi Rice.


    How would they be reintegrated? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:36:56 PM EST
    What is your interpretation of what that means?

    Like the South (none / 0) (#28)
    by Prabhata on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:27:11 PM EST
    was reintegrated into the US after the Civil War.

    Not gah happen (none / 0) (#36)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:52:52 PM EST
    Belarus would like to be reintegrated, but Russia doesn't want them and their busted economy.  Ukraine and Georgia will be "reintegrated" the day after pigs fly.

    Ok... (none / 0) (#40)
    by Addison on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:54:58 AM EST
    ...I'm skeptical of that, for a number of reasons.

    Trying to control them from outside economically and a constant neo-guerrilla campaign of political sabotage, I think that's the worst case scenario, short of a new Hitler/WWII scenario, of which I'm completely unconvinced.


    and that clark has been sidelined (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by hellothere on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 08:29:48 PM EST
    is just something i can't accept from the democratic establishment. when they bring kane in and try and pawn him off as veep, they are committing themselves to failure in my view.

    clark sure is one of the smartest guys in the room.

    Belarus wants to return (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Donna Z on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 08:59:37 PM EST
    That was interesting. And Russia only wants them with Ukraine.

    In another recent interview, Clark named those disputed areas that he calls "the grips." I needed a globe, and even then I don't think I could have found them all.

    I found that the videos found at this site, Brussels Forum, gives a glimmer of what the issues are between the West and Russia. I learn something: I hadn't realized that Russia had been offered a place in NATO.

    Only time will tell what is the next move on the chess board. Or as Clark advises, forget the Great Game 19th C. thinking, dump the chess board, and move into the future. It is the Great Game thinking that Clark believes will drive Putin's next move. Those that watch this region very carefully, as Clark does, have seen this coming for a long time. Think about what Putin has done during his time in power.

    Clark has been doing a string of interviews day after day. He feels very strongly about what he is saying. I guess without a candidate's ear, then one does it themselves.

    How will we stop our March of Folly?

    Russia and NATO (none / 0) (#10)
    by robrecht on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:13:01 PM EST
    I learn something: I hadn't realized that Russia had been offered a place in NATO.

    Clark was talking about Georgia joining NATO, not Russia, although that too has been whimsically mentioned as well.

    Were you referring to Clark or some other discussion of Russia joining NATO?


    Yes...the Brussels Forum video (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donna Z on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:40:46 PM EST
    Clark isn't part of that panel. I found the conversation that took place well before this event very good. Holbrooke makes the statement several times: Russia was offered NATO membership. Also, Russia has been working with NATO and attends meetings. Well, I knew that Russia had participated but Holbrooke speaking to the Russian minister describes a reach out by NATO.

    thanks (none / 0) (#23)
    by robrecht on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:50:08 PM EST
    Was not hard to see it coming ... (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by robrecht on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:03:00 PM EST
    But I do think that we could've seen this crisis coming. I think we should've worked for years to diffuse this and protect Georgia's claims on South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Russian encroachment.

    If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels.

    Floor Speech of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on S.J. Res. 45, A Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq

    October 10, 2002 Link

    Great find! (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by dskinner3 on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:08:01 PM EST
    how prescient.

    that's why she's the (none / 0) (#33)
    by cpinva on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:51:40 PM EST
    democratic candidate for president this year!

    oh, wait, um, never mind................


    I'm with you, BTD (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:35:11 PM EST
    Clark is dead wrong on Russia's intentions.  Very disappointing, actually.

    Only in an alternate reality would Ukraine or Georgia, for instance, willingly consent to become part of Russia again, and Russia simply doesn't have the means to force them and then occupy them militarily.  It's just a silly neo-cold war fantasy.  Russia can't even get Chechnya under control.  The Russian military is still a disaster with very poor effective command-and-control function and totally demoralized conscripted troops.  Fuhgeddaboutit.

    Russia has enough problems on its hands inside its own borders.  What they want to prevent is neighboring states getting super-chummy with the U.S. and Europe because Russia -- surprise! -- doesn't trust the intentions of the U.S. and Europe.

    Also, Putin's popularity with Russians is heavily dependent on the fact that he restored a bit of the sense of nationalistic pride Russians used to have in their country and utterly lost when they rather abruptly discovered that the greatness of the Soviet Union was a fraud and an illusion, and then during the messy and embarrassing Yeltsin years.  Putin cannot be seen to be getting pushed around and humiliated by the U.S. and NATO, never mind little Georgia.

    Georgia and the Ukraine not willing (none / 0) (#14)
    by Prabhata on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:50:40 PM EST
    but it doesn't matter.  Russia has the economic and military power to get what it wants.  When it happens it will be because those countries will see joining Russia as a necessary step to save themselves.  There is no way Georgia can fight Russia and there will be a time when Georgia won't have a choice, same for the Ukraine.

    Er, no, actually, Russia doesn't (none / 0) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:24:10 AM EST
    have that power.  You are living in the past.

    Has no American any clue about Georgia (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Ambiorix on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:35:40 PM EST
    We've got to have people on the ground. With all due respect to CNN (chuckles) and, and BBC, we got to have real observers in there who can tell us where the Russian forces are, what they're doing

    What the F is he talking about, the OSCE has a well staffed mission (+100) in Tbilisi:

    see www.osce.org site



    Ambassador Terhi Hakala, an expert on Southern Caucasus and Eastern Europe, took up her duties as the Head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia in October 2007. At the time of her appointment, she was serving as Finland's Roving Ambassador to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    Is he just as stupid as George Bush or is he just lying through his teeth.

    I think... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:35:57 PM EST
    ...Human Rights Watch, a sort-of partner with Amnesty Int'l, appears to be much more in the mix as far as observing the areas outside Tbilisi.

    OSCE tends to deal a little more with political stuff (notably elections) than crisis stuff, from what I've seen.


    The OSCE wants to add 100 more monitors. (none / 0) (#26)
    by NCarolinawoman on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:11:03 PM EST
    Your comparing George Bush's brain to Wes Clark's brain prompted me to go to the OSCE website.

    According to their press release of August 14th, they currently have 8 unarmed monitoring military officers. They feel they need 100 more in order to find out what's really happening on the ground; also to help with humanitarian efforts.


    Alarming. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by oldpro on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:16:53 PM EST
    I agree with BTD.

    Perhaps this is what comes from being out of the loop for 8 years...we think we know what Putin wants and thinks, but so did George Bush who even saw his (cough, cough) soul.  

    Guessing and guessing wrong is really dangerous as Iraq should have taught us.

    Keeping, expanding and reinventing NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union may have been a mistake.  As usual, we reached too far too fast, pushing for Georgia's membership to NATO...and Europe said No.  That alarmed Russia.  

    So did Georgia's adventurous move into the neighbors territories...many of whose residents lean to Russia, not Georgia.  Perfect excuse for Russia to come in and 'protect them', knowing we are now a paper tiger with only 100 advisors in Georgia and no capacity to do anything military except make trouble with special teams/CIA, etc.

    I must be wrong...how possibly disagree with Wes Clark on foreign policy?  But this seems crazy...

    It sounds to me (none / 0) (#4)
    by Steve M on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 08:45:00 PM EST
    like Clark also disagrees with you on Poland.

    I know you are addressing BTD (none / 0) (#6)
    by Donna Z on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:02:25 PM EST
    nevertheless, I have to say that I was unsure about what Clark was saying until I listened a second time. He doesn't give the green light, instead he tells Russia that this is not about them.

    Methinx its geography (none / 0) (#8)
    by Rainsong on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:05:04 PM EST
    the important thing. eg. nobody, let alone NATO, did much for years over the former Yugoslavia and the 2-year Siege of Sarejovo. Maybe not all that important a piece of real estate to take action over. What makes the more eastern eurasian states so important?

    The Great Asian Arch with the largest oil and gas deposits, spreads from the Middle East, through the central asian mountains, and down to the south china sea. Why Afghanistan is so important, the Brits, the Russians, and everybody else has tried to control that region for decades. Now its a 'team effort'. Because its the easiest of some very rough terrain to gain access to the central asian deposits. Same with China taking Tibet on the other side.

    Like a modern day 'Treaty of Versailles' the USSR (like Germany in 1918) was severely punished by the breakup in the late 80s. NATO was expanded (instead of de-commissioned), surrounding Russia with armed enemies and isolating it from allies and from trade to economically crush Russia further - and the pipeline through the Chechnya/Georgia regions is its last remaining access to the asian arch.  Like an injured animal,cornered and trapped, it will fight to the death for its survival.

    I can understand Russia's fear, when Georgia went publicly pro-western in petitioning NATO. Georgia attacked South Ossetia first, (and has done so before) to provoke Russia into responding, gambling on western & NATO support.

    Clark seems to be misunderstanding Russia (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 09:16:04 PM EST
    perhaps as much as Bush and the neocons didn't as they plotted(?) the provocation of Russia?

    Foreman: Even if we consider that though, what do we make of moves like this talk about the missile shield in Poland? Certainly the Russians say that is a direct slap at them over this problem in Georgia. Is it, to your read and is it a smart move?

    CLARK: Well no, it's not a direct slap at them, and it's something that's been on the books for a long, long time.

    AP reported a few hours ago:

    Moscow -- Russia warned Poland on Friday that it is exposing itself to attack -- even a nuclear one -- by accepting a U.S. missile interceptor base on its soil, delivering Moscow's strongest language yet against the plan.

    BTD... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:28:50 PM EST
    ...if you're still active tonight, I just want to know -- for completely non-antagonistic, non-argumentative purposes -- what you think the status of South Ossetia was before these hostilities. Part of Georgia? Autonomous almost to the point of independence? De facto independent? Something else?

    I think that regardless of what its status was you'll probably be of the opinion that the label is irrelevant, and that the status is secondary to the situation, but I'm still curious.

    Again, for non-argumentative reasons. I don't have some sort of shot aimed at you if you answer a certain way.

    Also... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:33:35 PM EST
    ...you again show good grace and judgment posting this full interview by Clark. Obviously he doesn't agree with you on several issues, and in fact goes beyond what I think on a couple (I think Georgia should've let S. Ossetia and Abkhazia have complete unfettered autonomy a while ago AND depending on Clark's interpretation of "reintegration" I may differ with him on that).

    Anyway, a self-assured and stand-up move on your part.


    Not BTD (none / 0) (#29)
    by Prabhata on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:40:04 PM EST
    But from what I've read, South Ossetia had become de facto independent (not recognized though).  After hostilities with Georgia to get its independence, Georgia and Russia agreed that Russia would send peace keepers into South Ossetia.  The status quo changed when the president of Georgia decided that the break-away South Ossetia would be reintegrated into Georgia by force.  When hostilities started, Russia decided that it had enough of Georgia and entered into South Ossetia and beyond into Georgia territory.  At this point, Georgia's independence is hanging from a thread.  I think Russia is not ready to annex Georgia because it would have a rebellious people, but if the situation changes whereby Georgians have no choice but to accept and be part of Russia, Putin will have completed his goal.

    Right... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:46:10 PM EST
    ...I'm aware of the history, and I think you've gotten it pretty much right (though Georgia also had peacekeepers in the region). I just wanted to know exactly what he thought about its status vis-a-vis the right of Russians to "protect" it apart from its right to proactively protect it and the Georgians to "take it back."

    The fact that this is basically a broken peacekeeping accord in which a country invaded itself (and not itself, at the same time) makes the starting points for discussion relentlessly confusing.


    Putin. Does. Not. Want. Georgia (none / 0) (#37)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 11:57:40 PM EST
    Putin wants Georgia to be a good little Russia-leaning neighbor, and he wants the ethnic Russians in South Ossetia not to be persecuted by Georgia.  End of story.

    Google Quiz (none / 0) (#21)
    by Ambiorix on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:42:38 PM EST
    Wich famous Georgian said:
    We do not want a single foot of foreign territory; but of our territory we shall not surrender a single inch to anyone.

    Duh (none / 0) (#22)
    by Addison on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:44:21 PM EST
    AKA: Name the famous Georgian.

    russian needn't count (none / 0) (#38)
    by cpinva on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:02:05 AM EST
    on military forces, to re-absorb some of it's former satellites. cutting off supplies of oil & natural gas will do the job far more effectively, and cost less.

    their military may not be what it once was, but it's still big enough to be a legitimate threat to any country in europe, command & control issues notwithstanding.

    russia has a functioning surface fleet, and sufficient nuclear-armed subs, to destroy a good hunk of germany & france. their air power presents a danger as well.

    while gen. clark's analysis has some holes in it, it's pretty well on the mark. unfortunately, the current administration hasn't the competence or standing to effectively deal with this situation.

    Right...oil supplies (none / 0) (#46)
    by Donna Z on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 08:07:30 AM EST
    In one of his interviews, Clark mentioned that Russia was against the West developing alternatives to the Russian delivery systems. Georgia is part of that connection.

    IIRC, 8 NATO countries will be effected by this move on oil. Thus, those countries will hesitate to cross a moving Russia because they will imperil their economies. Go along to get along. Clark's urgent message is to convey the importance of Western Unity. Speaking only for me, my guess is that Clark is looking at the distant horizon rather limiting his thought to where we are today. My other guess is that he has chosen to go on TV because he has no input to the Obama campaign. He's walking very carefully because he doesn't have Obama's talking points, and yet, asserts his own right to voice his opinions.


    He shouldn't support Georgia (none / 0) (#43)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:31:05 AM EST
    Georgia is, if anything, more at fault for this than Russia.  The government deliberately provoked Russia, gambling the safety of their population precisely in hopes of bringing the U.S. into a confrontation with Russia.

    You're right, Saakashvili is no madman, but he's a manipulative, autocratic creep who got into office, remember, in a coup.  Then he goes on U.S. Tv and has the nerve to bleat about mean old Russia trying to suppress a democracy.  Feh.

    A pox on both their houses.

    I think you're right... (none / 0) (#44)
    by Addison on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 02:10:34 AM EST
    ...but there's still the issue of why Russia was there in the first place.

    If there's any greater exact locus of controversy about all this, the genesis of disagreement, it's that.

    Why was Russia involved, and why were Russian troops (and Russian passports), in South Ossetia in the first place?

    That seems to be the unmentioned starting place for a lot of the arguments.


    Politician (none / 0) (#45)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 07:36:43 AM EST
    Clark seems to be talking as a politician rather than a military person. He's playing into the general impression in this country that Russia is the bad guy. That plays well on the street. Maybe he is going to be the VP pick?

    The talk that I've heard (none / 0) (#47)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 08:13:12 AM EST
    about Russia's true inspirations and goals here matches what Clark said, that Russia seeks to gather up the nations on its periphery and reestablish superpower status.  Unfortunately Georgia gave them the excuse they were looking for. Extremely sad about the loss of life.  Just watched Obama speak about the Georgia situation and he was very detached and robotic, gave me the creeps.  Wish we had better relations with the European nations right now.  Wish we had had better relations with Georgia and we could have headed things off better.  Spit in one hand though and wish in the other.  Clark was very kind in his criticisms of this administration on that issue.  More observers, more REAL peace keepers, but BushCo's Neocon dreams have done much to undermine the structural, moral, and morale strengths of NATO.  I adore how Clark gets that agreement from France he needs just once, and he never forgets that, he sticks that in his pocket and if he can't get it from them formally when the real cards are being played he empties his pocket and says, "You gave me this once, how do I get it again?  What has changed, what do you need, you aren't going back on your word are you?"  I'm biased though.  I love Wes Clark and he has those Andy Garcia hair wings above his sideburns.  I can't resist those.

    OMG, Tracy... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by oldpro on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 10:58:18 AM EST
    Wes Clark and Any Garcia in one sentence, in one image!

    If I were 35 instead of twice that, you'd have given me the matinee-idol vapors!


    Smartest guy.. (none / 0) (#49)
    by lentinel on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 11:06:33 AM EST
    I'm not saying that Clark isn't the smartest guy in the room, but how in the world he can say that the missile system being deployed in Poland, and "oriented" toward Russia, staffed with American personnel, is "not a direct slap at (Russia)" is beyond me.

    Does anyone think this bogus deal between Bush and Poland (!) is to protect them from Iran? Seriously?

    This is a pure power play between Bush and the other big guy on the block. It is provocative - and probably lucrative. We are the chumps in the middle.

    What is Clark talking about?

    He's not really saying military people (none / 0) (#50)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 12:09:46 PM EST
    He is saying observers, some people sign on to be observers for the U.N. and NATO and are extremely peaceful sort of people, not military minded at all.  I don't know how they do it because they do a sometimes very dangerous thing....but they do it.

    WOW oh WOW (none / 0) (#52)
    by Florida Resident on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:15:42 PM EST
    Green berets and trained special forces.  You must have gotten that from pre-vietnam.

    No I have something about us doing (none / 0) (#54)
    by Florida Resident on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 01:45:56 PM EST
    what already got us stuck in Vietnam.  A war of which I am a veteran.

    again that was the excuse we kept getting fed (none / 0) (#56)
    by Florida Resident on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 02:07:11 PM EST
    about Vietnam the old domino effect.  It was not a good idea then to put our troops in the area then and it is not now.   We lived very well and eventually outlasted the USSR in the cold war and we never went into any of the eastern european countries.  Please re-check your sources on the Russian intentions.  BTW as a person of Ukrainian descent there is no love lost for the Russians with me but our putting any troops in this conflict will not help Ukraine or any other former Soviet nation.

    They went from advisors in South Vietnam to (none / 0) (#59)
    by Florida Resident on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 02:54:23 PM EST
    full attack mode.  I see you really are not willing to learn from history so I will cut this short.  You have been spewing right wing propaganda to me and I am immune to that, used to be a republican operative in my youth.  Those who are unable to learn from history are bound to repeat it.

    Truthsayers (none / 0) (#60)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 07:57:49 PM EST
    BTD has asked you not comment in his threads. If you continue, I will have to ban you from the site.