NATO Issues Sternly Worded Letter To Russia

Here are "the consequences":

NATO agreed after U.S. pressure on Tuesday to freeze regular contacts with Russia until Moscow had withdrawn its troops from Georgia in line with a peace deal. The alliance also agreed to upgrade contacts with Tbilisi but stopped short of accelerating its efforts to join NATO, an ambition which had enraged Russia even before the two-week-old conflict over Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region.

(Emphasis supplied.) Here is the fun part, NATO's head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said:

I should add that we certainly do not have the intention to close all doors in our communication with Russia," he said, after several European allies including Britain and Germany expressed doubts about cutting off links with Moscow.

More . . .

Russia played the game:

The NATO statement drew sharp condemnation from Moscow, where Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the alliance of bias and wanting to support a "criminal regime" in Tbilisi. "Certainly there will be a lot of changes in our cooperation with NATO and we will have changes in the volume, the quality and the timeframe in our consultations and meetings," Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said in Brussels.

The US denied it was a paper tiger when it comes to Georgia:

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied Washington wanted to isolate Moscow and dismissed suggestions that tougher actions on Moscow had been blocked by European capitals, viewed by analysts as anxious not to upset a major energy supplier.

Sure, Condi, sure.

Post script -- Here is the REAL consequence of the Russia-Georgia conflict, instigated by Georgia:

“Russia has successfully burned Georgia’s NATO card,” said Sarah E. Mendelson, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Whatever the outcome, Russia has all but obliterated Georgia’s possibility of joining NATO, as it cannot belong to this alliance if it has unresolved border disputes.”

So who "won" this conflict? Putin did.

Speaking for me only

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    It's Nice To See (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:07:17 PM EST
    the rest of the world finally stepping in and bringing that rogue former super power to heel.  And by rogue former super power, I mean us, of course.  There's only so much the world is going to let us get away with.  Russia sent its signal.  Now NATO is doing the same by basically giving us what we want in form, but not in substance.  Step by step, the U.S. will be brought under control.  If Congress won't do it, the rest of the world will.

    Thats odd (none / 0) (#30)
    by Fen on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:05:59 PM EST
    My first thought was "its nice to see the rest of the world helping to bring Russia under control.

    I guess we won't see any "peace" protestors taking to the streets and shouting "no blood for oil". Why is that? It really discredits the movement that they only protest against American wars.


    What Makes You Think This Isn't (none / 0) (#35)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:21:22 PM EST
    the result of the current neo-conservative brain trust running the country.  Cheney and his ilk have never stopped fighting the Cold War.  We have been provoking Russia for years, including most recently egging Georgia on and planning to put missiles in Poland.  We would not stand for this from Russia, why should they stand for this from us?  Would we not take Russia putting missiles in Canada as a sign of aggression?  What if Russia signed up most of our neighbors to join a version of its old Warsaw pact?  

    And, of course, we pretty much blew any high ground when we invaded Iraq, which had not attacked us and posed no threat to us.

    It's amazing to me that all people need to believe the Bush Administration is the invocation of the Russian menace.  These people's Russia policies aren't any better or saner than their other foreign policies.


    ...put missiles in Poland.... (none / 0) (#36)
    by desertswine on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:25:46 PM EST
    Poland and the Czech Republic, but the Czechs turned us down.

    I agree to an extent (none / 0) (#37)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:28:26 PM EST
    Dick Cheney and some of his acolytes are unreconstructed Cold Warriors. I mean, the guy genuinely seems to have had a hard time accepting the fact the USSR no longer existed, even criticized Reagan for being soft on the Russkies (!).

    But the sad fact remains there are enough unreconstructed Cold Warriors in Moscow too. If anything, they may be having an even harder time accepting the fact USSR no longer exists. I agree the US policy may be a flawed one, but that does not automatically give the other side a pass.


    I Have No Illusions About Russia (none / 0) (#38)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:33:35 PM EST
    they do not have our best interests at heart.  But they aren't crazy, they are acting rationally.  We just need to make sure we act rationally as well and that has not been the U.S.'s strong suit.  

    One question. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by MichaelGale on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:39:04 PM EST
    Is the world not sick of war?

    The neo-cons... (none / 0) (#15)
    by desertswine on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:44:17 PM EST
    are not sick of war; and there's still Iran yet. But the Russian invasion of Georgia may have put the kibosh on their plans for Iran.

    Plans for Iran... (none / 0) (#22)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:52:20 PM EST
    ...likely went out of the window once we got seriously bogged down in Iraq. But you may be right, since Cheney is basically a die-hard Cold Warrior who never got used to the idea of there not being a USSR, this may be an added distraction for him.

    Russia isn't (none / 0) (#31)
    by Fen on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:06:56 PM EST
    Okay, so the U.S. isn't a paper tiger (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:45:04 PM EST
    It's a sternly worded paper tiger.  Not the first time I've seen this rare beast :)

    Does this remind (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by CST on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:49:58 PM EST
    Anyone else of "Team America World Police" when the head of the U.N. threatens N. Korea with a "letter" and then gets fed to the sharks.  Disclaimer - I am not advocating that movie's foreign policy approach.  But they sure know how to make their points.

    Heh... (none / 0) (#39)
    by desertswine on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:34:22 PM EST
    And today is the anniversary of the death of Grouch Marx (1977).

    "And remember, while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are." - Rufus T. Firefly (Duck Soup)


    Uh (none / 0) (#1)
    by cmugirl on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:05:25 PM EST
    Wasn't Obama conferring with Condi?  Hmmm....makes sense since he seems to like Republican foreign policy....

    Or maybe (none / 0) (#3)
    by CST on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:10:02 PM EST
    Condi was conferring with Obama when she said "Washington didn't want to isolate Moscow".

    Hey a person can dream right...


    am I the only one (none / 0) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:18:27 PM EST
    who thinks this entire situation can only help McCain and hurt Obama in the general?

    No (none / 0) (#6)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:22:55 PM EST
    McCain is clearly the winner here. I think that is beyond dispute now.

    and then there is Pakistan (none / 0) (#8)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:33:59 PM EST
    Musharraf's departure helps Obama, IMO (none / 0) (#46)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05:36:52 PM EST
    He's been the more critical of Musharraf, while McCain the more supportive. So Obama is vindicated.

    As I noted earlier... (none / 0) (#5)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:22:09 PM EST
    ...Russia did not achieve anything that it did not already have. As Sarah Mendelson correctly noted, no country with an outstanding border dispute can join NATO. But that was already a fact before the most recent round of fighting. If Russia wants to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, all it has to do is prevent a successful resolution of the border conflict.

    BUT! If Russia succeeds in separating these provinces from Georgia (which it has every intention of doing, with BTD's blessing) AND Georgia abandons all claims to these provinces, then guess what? Georgia no longer has an unresolved border dispute, thus removing a major roadblock to its NATO membership...

    As Nunn wrote, Russia made a profound mistake.

    Heh (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:27:04 PM EST
    So the President of Georgia, after running an election and winning on a platform of bringing South Ossetia and Akhbazia back under Georgian control, after launching a military attack trying to take back South Ossetia, will now blithely renounce Georgia's claims to South Ossetia and Akhbezia in exchange for NATO membership?

    Suuuuure, that'll happen.

    BTW, even if he did, NATO won't let him in. It is a hard lesson for Georgia to learn, but learn it it must.


    Stranger things have happened (none / 0) (#9)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:36:24 PM EST
    The Germans have long abandoned any claims to their Eastern provinces, for example. The Serbs have turned over Radovan Karadzic in return for promise of EU membership. The pull and attraction of Western institutions should not be underestimated.

    Of course, when Georgia eventually joins NATO Saakashvili will long have ceased being its president, but that was going to be the case regardless of the recent developments. Georgia's admission into NATO was in no way imminent.


    Heh (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:37:47 PM EST
    So maybe in 50 years.

    I am with you there.


    In 50 years... (none / 0) (#17)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:48:22 PM EST
    ...Russia will either be democratic or cease to exist. The current regime is way too authoritarian and corrupt, too reminiscent of the Brezhnev era, to be anything but a transition to something else. We'll see what that something else is in a couple of decades, I think.

    The End of History (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:55:58 PM EST
    From your keyboard to God's ears  . . .

    Sure, Russia won this one, (none / 0) (#12)
    by vicndabx on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:41:36 PM EST
    but neocon dreams of complete and utter control of Russia are still full steam ahead.  Is it just me or does it seem like someone is trying to get the end of the world going here? I'm hoping Russia will call our bluff on these installations in other former republics as well.  It's bad enough my kids will probably have to worry about terrorism - they shouldn't have to deal w/another cold war.  I tell you, Canada is looking real good when neither the Dem nor the Republican, nor our media is doing what should be done in the face of these very real issues.

    don't know what's wrong w/me today (none / 0) (#14)
    by vicndabx on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:44:04 PM EST
    the correct link (same story more current).

    Poland is (none / 0) (#21)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:50:39 PM EST
    a former Republic?  When?

    OK, former republics (none / 0) (#26)
    by vicndabx on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:57:19 PM EST
    and former satellites.  Surely you know Poland was under Russian control until as recently as the late 20th century.

    So you are eager... (none / 0) (#29)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:01:44 PM EST
    ...to surrender these countries to Russia? What if they don't want to be under Russian control?

    Eager? (none / 0) (#33)
    by vicndabx on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:09:56 PM EST
    I've said nothing that indicates I'm eager for these countries to be under Russian control.  The fact is that as the superpower in the region and likely a dependence on Russia for oil, Russia's going to have more influence than usual on them anyway - so your point about ceding control is kind of a strawman.  My point is - putting things that can blow up your former enemy real close to where they live and not expecting them to make your life difficult is not smart.  Particularly an enemy who could, if they so chose to, take similar actions against you and your own interests - see the recent Georgian conflict as an example.

    If Russia is an enemy... (none / 0) (#41)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:58:08 PM EST
    ...then it becomes an entirely different problem. I think at present our problems lie mostly in the realm of mutual misunderstanding and poor control of surrogates and subordinates. If this were 1914, we'd be in a world war now. But, luckily, we are not sitting on a powder keg. As far as we know.

    Incidentally... (none / 0) (#13)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:43:30 PM EST
    ...this whole thing could have been prevented if the same approach was taken as was against Russian provocations against Estonia a couple of years ago. After several violations of their airspace by Russian military aircraft, NATO authorized a standing air patrol mission, conducted on a rotating basis by NATO member states. Once NATO aircraft started patrolling Estonia's borders Russian incursions ceased.

    There was a similar pattern here. There were several Russian violations of Georgian airspace, and since they were unanswered it likely emboldened the Russian Cheneys.

    Or Georgia (none / 0) (#18)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:48:29 PM EST
    could've not attacked Ossentia and killed Russian peacekeepers that had been there for years.  The Georgians moved first in this conflict.  Stupid to attack the world's second largest military force, but that's what they did.  True, there have been incursions from Ossetia to Georgia (and Russia doesn't seem to be entirely innocent in this regard), but I haven't seen anyone give a reason why suddenly the status quo was so unacceptable that Georgia had to bomb the place. Nevermind the fact that the real problem appears to be that South Ossetia doesn't want to be part of Georgia.  

    Hey, I have an idea, lets let the people of South Ossetia vote on which country they want to be part of.  We believe in democracy don't we?


    The first shot... (none / 0) (#27)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:00:10 PM EST
    ...appears to have been a mortar barrage fired by Ossetian separatists against a Georgian police station, very much on Georgian side of the border. The question still remains whether the Ossetians acted independently, in hopes of forcing Russia's hand (highly likely, in my view), or whether they acted on Moscow's behest.

    Yes, I am all for having South Ossetians vote which country they want to be part of. Don't you find it interesting, though, that Russia, even though it has de facto occupied the place for the last 15 years or so, has so far not found the time to organize an internationally-monitored referendum of this sort? I mean, if South Ossetians really want to be part of Russia, that would be the simplest way of resolving the problem.

    I suspect the reason such a referendum has not been held is that South Ossetian allegiances are rather more complex than the official Russian representation thereof.


    Just to clarify... (none / 0) (#32)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:07:23 PM EST
    ...the reason I believe Ossetian separatists triggered this on their own is that what Russia did is too dumb for them to have done it without having been dragged into this.

    Because the sequence of events appears to be as follows (and this, mind you, is what you can read in Russian papers):

    --South Ossetians fire on Georgian police. This escalates into a major firefight, with both sides' reinforcements rushing to the scene. No Russian troops involved at this stage.

    --Georgians begin to prevail, South Ossetians break and flee, Georgians pursue them into South Ossetia, to the outskirts of Tskhinvali. Mind, you at this stage Saakashvili is actually in Italy, taking a vacation in a spa, which makes it rather likely this is a spontaneous incursion into South Ossetian territory.

    --South Ossetians turn to Russians for help. Now Russians have a terrible dilemma: abandon their allies (thus undoing the policy of the last 15 years) or back them up with force. The do the latter.


    before the first shot (none / 0) (#42)
    by AlSmith on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:24:30 PM EST

    If this article true then it makea BTD analysis incorrect.


    If this took moths of prepositioning then the story line about a Georgian provocation drawing a knee jerk response is out.

    "Let's be clear: For all that US commentators and diplomats are still chattering about Russia's "response" to Georgia's actions, the Kremlin spent months planning and preparing this operation. Any soldier above the grade of private can tell you that there's absolutely no way Moscow could've launched this huge ground, air and sea offensive in an instantaneous "response" to alleged Georgian actions."

    However I will say I am done with taking journalists representations at face value.


    On the other hand... (none / 0) (#47)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05:42:04 PM EST
    ...Russia's military response was a bit on the clumsy side. Russian troop movements could have been for a different reason (after all, Chechnya is right next door). If this were a planned op, one would expect better implementation. And it's hard to believe the Russians could have kept something like this secret for such a long period of time, given that Russian transmissions are easily monitored from US bases in Turkey.

    One still cannot rule out the possibility the Ossetian separatists dragged Moscow into this.


    not convincing (none / 0) (#49)
    by AlSmith on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 06:07:33 PM EST

    I doubt we can break Russian crypto, so the existence of transmissions tell us nothing. They would always have a base line level of transmission so that an eavesdropper couldnt detect a surge. Thats in the intro to crypto book.

    Battle plans and specific targeting would have to drawn up in advance even if you assumed at all of these troops and equipment were just in the neighborhood.


    Estonia is a member of NATO (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:49:48 PM EST
    Georgia is not.  Georgia did not qualify for such interventions via NATO.

    I know... (none / 0) (#23)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:55:12 PM EST
    ...but NATO has acted in defense of Bosnia and Kosovo as well.

    Of course, the fact that Russia respects Estonian sovereignty and violates that of Georgia is a powerful statement in favor of joining NATO, no?


    Uh NO (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:56:35 PM EST
    Care to elaborate? (none / 0) (#28)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:00:35 PM EST
    You first (none / 0) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:13:00 PM EST
    Very well! (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:44:47 PM EST
    What NATO membership does is clarify each other side's obligations and responsibilities. There is little possibility for miscalculation. As a result we have not seen that kind of trouble between Russia and the new NATO members. Russia knows where the line it cannot cross is, and the newly admitted member is considerably restrained by the need to operate in a manner consistent with NATO policies. So conflicts do not escalate, instead they are defused. Thus even the otherwise vulnerable Baltic states are left alone.

    The fact that Georgia is outside of the umbrella on the one hand makes it more vulnerable to attack but also makes its actions less predictable and controllable. Any conflict involving a NATO member would very quickly go to the NATO Council and be thus removed from the hands of the national leadership. It would instantly become a NATO-Russia issue, and be accordingly dealt with diplomatically because there is no scope for military action in that relationship.

    This is the reason why the NATO expansions of the 1990s and the '00s went through, to establish a collective security net over most of the European continent, to promote international stability, and to take military action as a policy tool away from these newly emerging and unstable democracies. The Russian "threat" was at most a secondary consideration (though not from Poland's perspective, for example), the real goal (as far as the US and W. Europe was concerned) was to avert civil wars, Balkans-style, by not allowing a security vacuum to develop in Eastern Europe and by integrating them into Western institutions ASAP. I did a bit of work (nothing fancy, mostly ground-floor stuff) helping these countries get into NATO, and have some idea of the policy debates of that expansion. And if you look where the fighting has been in the past couple of decades (i.e., the Balkans, the Caucasus), these are the places where there is a security vacuum. The fact these areas have been left in the cold is not doing us any favors and, frankly, is not doing Russia any good either.


    Indeed (none / 0) (#45)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05:04:59 PM EST
    When the process gets started, Russia says that is unacceptable and rolls in to Georgia BEFORE the NATO membership gets started. Then what?

    That's an easy one (none / 0) (#48)
    by pmj6 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05:43:38 PM EST
    Because then, obviously, Russia is guilty of aggression. Georgia, as a sovereign state, has a right to decide for itself which alliances to join. If Russia does not want Georgia to join NATO, it should create an environment in which Georgia feels secure enough that it does not need to join NATO.

    If Putin Wins a Conflict in the Woods (none / 0) (#43)
    by kaleidescope on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:46:09 PM EST
    And the corporate lackey media doesn't report it, did Putin in fact win?

    war (none / 0) (#44)
    by stefxx1 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:55:56 PM EST
    Listening to the outrage over Russia not moving (none / 0) (#50)
    by jawbone on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 06:40:16 PM EST
    troops out of Georgia "proper" immediately made me wonder when such fervor will be brought to bear on the Israelis to pull out of the ever greater parts they occupy with permanent developments in the Occupied Territories.

    Heh. Not in my lifetime.

    Oh, the hypocrisy!

    What a farce. (none / 0) (#51)
    by Maryb2004 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:18:57 PM EST
    Putin won. But there was never any question that he would.  The media may not be covering it that way but it is a fact and current and future American administrations will have to deal with the reality.

    I remember feeling fairly strongly in the late 90's that it was time to dissolve NATO because it had served it's purpose and the dissolution of NATO would force the EU to have to come up with its own rational defense policies.   I don't see any reason why that wouldn't still be a good idea.  I'm not holding my breath for it to happen, but it would still be a good idea.