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Tilting at Windmills

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August 17, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

GEORGIA UPDATE....The latest on the ceasefire:

Russia is to begin withdrawing its troops from neighboring Georgia on Monday, two days after it signed a revised framework for a deal to halt the fighting there, which has stirred some of the deepest divisions between world powers since the cold war.

The Kremlin announced on Sunday that the Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, had spoken with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who negotiated the cease-fire, and pledged that Russian forces would be pulled back on Monday.

Well, we'll see. I guess this all depends on whether the Russians have blown up enough Georgian infrastructure by then to satisfy their promise of leaving only after implementing those mysterious "extra security measures" they insisted on inserting into the ceasefire text.

But assuming the Russians really do withdraw on Monday, what's the upshot of the Russo-Georgian war? My take, roughly, is that Putin screwed up. The West was never going to actively approve of the Russian invasion, but if Putin had limited himself to a short, sharp clash in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it would have been an almost unalloyed victory. The murky status of the provinces combined with the fact that Saakashvili sent in troops first would have kept Western reaction to a minimum, and Russia's message would still have been sent loud and clear: don't mess with us in our sphere of influence.

But then Putin got greedy — or just made a mistake — and sent Russian troops into Georgia proper. This was almost certainly militarily unnecessary, and it succeeded mainly in uniting virtually everyone in outrage against Russian aggression. Putin can pretend all he wants that he doesn't care about Western opinion, but he obviously does — and what's more, Western unity makes a difference in concrete terms too. Poland's quick turnaround on missile defense is probably just the first example of this. The U.S. has gotten lots of bad reviews for its handling of the situation, but in the end, the countries on Russia's border are more firmly in our camp now than they were even before the war.

Even militarily, Putin's overreach might have been a mistake. Sure, the Russian Army is in better condition than it was ten years ago, but it's clear now that its performance in Georgia was still only so-so, despite the fact that Georgia is a minuscule country and the Russians have had this operation planned and ready to go at a moments notice for weeks (maybe months). In the end, Russia is still basically Mexico with nukes, and their ability to project power even along their own borders is limited. After Georgia, it's going to be even harder. Putin has a reputation for shrewdness, but he should have quit while he was ahead.

Kevin Drum 1:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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Comments

Uh, Kevin? The Georgians attacked South Ossetia, where the population as a whole does not want them, first. The Georgian forces that went in had been training with US special forces in the weeks before the attack. Meanwhile the Bush administration has been busy pushing a useless ABM system in Poland and bragging about bringing the Baltics, Georgia, and even Ukraine into NATO. Yuh think the Georgians and Bush might share some of the guilt for this conflict? Even if Putin overreacted?

Could we please talk about the fact that Russia has legimitate security concerns and national interests that do not include US advisers and troops in the former Soviet republics? Or shall we just decide that the Russians are evil and leave it at that?

Posted by: Matthew Lenoe on August 17, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

@matthew

This is not a question of guilt. Russia did something that scared the crap of the bordering former SSRs.

In doing so it strengthened the anti-Russian factions in those states and in the West. With long-term negative consequences.

All for a couple of crappy provinces that have nationalistic significance and little else. It's like the Bush policy toward the Arab world. Say much, accomplish little and piss everybody off in the process.


And btw... would you care to elucidate what you feel Russia's "legimitate security concerns and national interests" are? What are your motivating principles?

Posted by: Adam on August 17, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I really have to disagree. Putin's goal was to destabilize Georgia to the maximum extent possible within the parameters of international law. We foolishly blurred those parameters with Kosovo and Iraq and look to do the same with Iran. Our thuggish neocons permitted Saakashvili to fatally offer a defensible pretext for Putin's actions. His actions are more defensible than our incursion into Iraq. He is wily and we will see to what extent he accomplished his mission. He certainly has done more good for Russia than our neocon thugs have done for us.

Posted by: Mary on August 17, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for your comment, Matthew. Reading the news on the Georgian crisis makes me feel like I'm watching a sports match in the West. The nationalism being exhibited, particularly on the US side since Russia has legitimate security concerns with US imperialism on its doorstep, is so depressing. And Kevin, comparing Russia to Mexico with nukes is sort of silly, isn't it? Russia possesses major energy resources and is in the process of seeking control of those not on its own soil, albeit in a less violent way than the US (see Iraq/Iran).

Posted by: nepeta on August 17, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Matthew? Mr. Drum doesn't seem to say that the U.S. is blameless, and that Russia has no reason to be concerned. What he's saying, basically, that Russua f*cked up, and the U.S. comes out ahead politically. He doesn't seem to be making a judgement on the situation.

But really, sure Russia has legitimate concerns. But Putin was doing this to rattle sabers, mostly. And he rattled a little to long. "Mexico with nukes" is the best description I've read in a while of Russia. I have a feeling I'll be shamelessly using it in conversation in the future.

The Russians aren't 'evil' but they have a long history of being real dicks in the Caucasus. Tolstoy even wrote a book about it. The Russians have no more right to consider the former Soviet republics 'theirs' than we do to consider South American countries 'ours'.

And the Georgian president is a dick, too. It's called foreign affairs.

Posted by: Phil on August 17, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, spoken as a true American cold war hero, thanks for nothing.

Posted by: Robert McDowell on August 17, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think the comments above have to be Freeper trolls, even the biggest poseurs on this site don't BLAME AMERICA FIRST as much as these clowns. I do disagree with Kevin, though, I think this was for Putin and most of the Russian public a Spanish Civil War situation -- a military tune up for when the lease on their Crimean ports expire in 2017 and they carve up the Ukraine. If that was their objective the supine response from the Europeans and people in this country like Josh Marshall or Sullivan or Kevin, working harder to find excuses for Russian behavior than to oppose it, has shown them the path is clear.

Posted by: loki on August 17, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think the comments above have to be Freeper trolls, even the biggest poseurs on this site don't BLAME AMERICA FIRST as much as these clowns. I do disagree with Kevin, though, I think this was for Putin and most of the Russian public a Spanish Civil War situation -- a military tune up for when the lease on their Crimean ports expire in 2017 and they carve up the Ukraine. If that was their objective the supine response from the Europeans and people in this country like Josh Marshall or Sullivan or Kevin, working harder to find excuses for Russian behavior than to oppose it, has shown them the path is clear.

Posted by: loki on August 17, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm....I don't get how one can call Russia's lightning quick counterattack that quickly crushed Georgian resistance "so-so"...Georgian forces were in full retreat in a matter of hours.

Remember their goal was to retake South Ossetia and push Georgian forces out of Abkhazia, which they did in what? 2 days? The days since seem to be Russia calculating just how much western criticism they'll tolerate and how far they really want to push into Georgia.

They have come a long way since they were defeated by determined Chechen guerillas in 96.

Posted by: Joe on August 17, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I would say its too early to say if the US has won politicaly.Just remember that there has been alot of barking coming out of Washington with no bites.Right now i am sure the Russia's won this both militarily has well as poiliticaly.Really kick the out of the G-8...BIG DEAL

Posted by: mike on August 17, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting take, Kevin. I suppose I agree with you. But at the same time, I think the USA is in a worse off spot, if for no other reason than the neo-cons are going to start saying stuff like "We need to consider our military options in Russia. Now."

I think this also has yet to play out in Serbia, and that could be interesting. As will the Olympics in Russia. Time will tell...

Posted by: Steve W. on August 17, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

One fact that has been missing in these discussions is that Russia took the matter of violence between Georgia and Ossetia and Abkhzia to the UN on July 8, 2008, asking that Georgia and the breakaway provinces sign a nonviolence agreement ASAP. This request went to the Security Council and the US vetoed it. Do you Cold War warriors explain this as gamesmanship on the Russian side? Or was it a real attempt by Russia to avoid war? I've heard nothing in the US press about this early Russian request to the UN.

"UN: Russia submits draft Georgia resolution
9 July 2008 | 10:58 | Source: Ria novosti
NEW YORK -- Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Tuesday on the situation in Georgia.

RIA Novosti says that the move, confirmed by Russia's envoy to the UN said, comes amid escalating tensions in Georgia's breakaway regions.

Vitaly Churkin said expert consultations on the draft will take place at 11:00 New York time on Wednesday.

The text expresses Russia's concern over recent explosions in Abkhazia, which local authorities blamed on Georgian security forces, and a last week's shootout between Georgia and South Ossetia.

The draft calls on Georgia and Abkhzia to show restraint, and to sign a non-violence agreement as soon as possible."

Posted by: nepeta on August 17, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, with all due respect, you have your facts wrong. It was Georgia who unwisely and viciously attacked first:

SKHINVALI, Georgia, Aug. 16 -- Nine days ago, late in the afternoon of Aug. 7, Georgian tanks, artillery and infantry began moving out of bases in Georgia and toward South Ossetia, a zone long held by separatists who are backed by Moscow.

(snip)

South Ossetia, an area the size of Rhode Island, is dominated by Ossetians, an ethnic group distinct from the country's majority Georgians. The province secured de facto independence from Georgia after a short, vicious war in the early 1990s. The two sides signed a cease-fire, but true peace never set in. The world denied formal recognition to the separatist mini-state, but Russia forged close links with it, providing aid, passports for South Ossetians and a peacekeeping force.


A Two-Sided Descent Into Full-Scale War - washingtonpost.com

I'm not defending what either side has done, but let's not misrepresent the facts either.

Posted by: James on August 17, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Poland's quick turnaround on missile defense is probably just the first example of this."

Actually, this was our turnaround. Poland had wanted us to deploy Patriot missile batteries there in exchange for letting us put these missiles on their territory. I believe, initially at least, manned by US soldiers.

Regardless of whether the final outcome is better than it might have been, however, even leaving aside the loss of life and property this whole thing was a gigantic fuck-up. We could and should have managed this much better, and I take this as a sign that the Katrina-ization of our government under Bush/Cheney is pretty much complete.

Mission accomplished.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on August 17, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

The people who comment on this site have quickly degenerated into self-parody.

Blame America First. Heh.

Posted by: JFD on August 17, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

more rank propaganda - what we have to come to expect from ignorant nationalistic amerikans. pitiful.

Posted by: Rockets Red Glare on August 17, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

@nepeta

I haven't read the resolution you are referring, but I suspect it would have enshrined independence for S. Ossetia and Abkhzia. In which case I wouldn't be surprised it got vetoed.

@James

Both Georgia and Russia had been engaged in tit-for-tat escalation for months. There had been lots of violence on both sides already. In such a context it's kind of pointless to talk about who moved first.

Also - the question is whether Russia benefited in the long term from its actions. Not whether it was justified. That is a completely different question.

One thing that I noticed. Russia made a serious effort to block the ports, attack the international airport and secure Gori from the start. That suggests that whenever this invasion was planned, the Russians were at least slightly concerned about the possibility Western intervention.

Posted by: adam on August 17, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is really the spin doctors at there best.Turning a Military defeat to Russian agression.However there biggest problem is that people love the internet and can find out the facts if they want too.When it comes to propaganda both sides use it.Thats what makes blogging such a interesting way to voice opion as well as to share facts about ongoing crisis.

Posted by: Mike on August 17, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

adam,

Nope. It was simply a non-violence agreement between Georgia and the two provinces. I'll try to find the actual text, if that's possible.

Posted by: nepeta on August 17, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, I couldn't disagree with you more. Let's repeat Cuba, and ask what you think the US reaction would be if the Cuban government wanted to become the first member of a revised Warsaw pact ? Of course, we've already been down this road haven't we ? I think your argument that Putin screwed up is chock full of crap. Putin did exactly what he said he would do, as did Medvedev. The idea of giving Georgia membership in NATO has got to be one of the most stupid things we could do. Putin doesn't really give a rat's behind what we think about Georgia. My guess is that Bush's announcement that Russia had to withdwraw immediately was met with some good old belly laughs. You need to step back, Kevin, and stop eating US propaganda. Very few people in europe see what happened as you seem to. You need to broaden your view of eastern europe and its recent and distant history !

Posted by: rbe1 on August 17, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think any assessment is premature right now.

First off, consider: all politics is local. How does Putin et al come off from this at home? Stronger or weaker?

Second, there's Georgia's and Bush's contributory negligence. I think with coming days those actions might come to the fore more and neutralize any gains made by freepers, wingnuts, neocons and extremists.

In our domestic politics people might wake up and realize that if we let this crowd continue on in power we could find ourselves with a very unproductive global war going on that could have been avoided by smart, rational policy. I don't care what religion you are, incineration, especially of ones loved ones, including those that have to march off and fight the wars, is not attractive.

This nation is running around by idiots who know just enough to be dangerous. Maybe this will really expose them.

Further afield, almost anyone bordering upon Russia has to be repelled by the actions taken. Careful diplomacy could make major coups here.

Inside of Russia the big opportunity remains.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is no reason for Russia to be outside of the West. None. - Except for local party apparactnics.

Russians want prosperous stable liberal social democarcy just like Europeans enjoy every day.

The biggest mistake made after the fall of the Berlin wall was not crafting together a "Mashall Plan" kind of aid for the states going through the transition - maybe $300 billion in aid, or one third of the Iraq war PLUS sending in developmental economic experts from Japan and South Korea to help them use that aid constructively. - Instead what we did was send them very little, but Chicago School of Economics neo-liberal free trade experts causing Russian society to crater during its most democratic and open years and causing liberal democracy to be totally discredited in Russia.

Russia should have, and could have been incorporated into a new Western lead global alliance consisting of an expanded version of the EEC into Russia and a post-Nato Nato security alliance. That alliance could have been expanded further into one focused on containing and limiting global terrorism after 9/11 folding into it China and India.

The history of the future could have been about cooperation instead of about tit-for-tat if only a few imaginative statesmen were running things.

Most of these failures by the way are the result of Republicans, who could never stomach sending aid to Russia in the 1990s, but loved the idea of sending them neoliberal economicst to turn them into free traders. That was an obviously stupid move. If free trade was a successful developmental model in economics there would be no poor nations.

Posted by: Bub on August 17, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Adam
About Russia bombint the international airport.That story was later recendid when it was later reported that they had actually attacked a military airport on the outskirts of Tbilisi.

Posted by: mike on August 17, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Let's try this thought experiment. Russian spetsnaz train Mexican forces, which then attack San Antonio, claiming that Texas is rightfully Mexican territory. And the US response is...?

Posted by: Matthew Lenoe on August 17, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

@Adam

"Both Georgia and Russia had been engaged in tit-for-tat escalation for months. There had been lots of violence on both sides already. In such a context it's kind of pointless to talk about who moved first."

I don't think recapping the actual facts before offering analysis is "kind of pointless."

Who said there wasn't tit-for-tat escalation? Certainly not I. I linked to an excellent piece by Karen DeYoung on the background of the latest events. The least people can do is keep their facts straight while engaging in armchair punditry, eh?


Posted by: James on August 17, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's clearly a bit early to declare winners, and losers. Except that a lot of local people, mostly Ossetians, and Georgians are clear losers in this.

The Russians showed that once they achieved air supremacy, which didn't take them very long, that all the Georgian military could do was try to keep out of the line of fire. It might well be that they will pay a longterm political price for overreach (i.e. running around Georgia proper destroying military infrastructure). Certainly allowing irregular forces, carrying a grudge, and with limited impulse control to come along with them and burn villages, has created some long term enmity. But my guess, is once they withdraw from Georgian territory, it won't be long before most of the world will happily hold their noses and return to something approximating business as usual ante-bellum.

I wish I could believe our electorate would be as smart as Bub thinks, but this hasn't been evident in the past. The Republicans have been very good at exploiting the poor thinking habits (cognitive biases, and emotional thinking) of the vast bulk of the electorate. The judgment Bub thinks they will make, requires above average reflective thinking skills. Reflexive thinking; Russia bad, testosterone poisened Republicans good, will prevail as always. So we end up with a heightened sense of insecurity, which helps authoritarian Republicans, and privateering military corporations.

Posted by: bigTom on August 17, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

In the end, Russia is still basically Mexico with nukes, and their ability to project power even along their own borders is limited.
--

Are you crazy?
Obviously, with the abundant oil and natural gas preserves of the Russia, hard currency from the sale of them, a massive population, strong nationalism....they are serious force.

What do we have to crow about in the US? Massive debt, and an idiot for a pResident.

The Russians are coming and it is no joke.

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on August 17, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Read this will informed bloggers stuff it's very informative http://www.poliblogger.com/?p=14031 I am sure you wont be dissappointed no matter what side you are on here.

Posted by: mike on August 17, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Putin can pretend all he wants that he doesn't care about Western opinion, but he obviously does — and what's more, Western unity makes a difference in concrete terms too. Poland's quick turnaround on missile defense is probably just the first example of this. The U.S. has gotten lots of bad reviews for its handling of the situation, but in the end, the countries on Russia's border are more firmly in our camp now than they were even before the war.

According to Debkafile:

DEBKAfile's military sources report Moscow's planned retaliation for America's missile interceptors in Poland and US-Israeli military aid to Georgia may come in the form of installing Iskandar surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. .... One plan on the table in Moscow, DEBKAfile's sources report, is the establishment of big Russian military, naval and air bases in Syria and the release of advanced weapons systems withheld until now to Iran (the S-300 air-missile defense system) and Syria (the nuclear-capable 200 km-range Iskandar surface missile).

Shortly before the Georgian conflict flared, Moscow promised Washington not to let Iran and Syria have these sophisticated pieces of hardware.

The Iskander's cruise attributes make its launch and trajectory extremely hard to detect and intercept. If this missile reaches Syria, Israel will have to revamp its anti-missile defense array and Air Force assault plans for the third time in two years, as it constitutes a threat which transcends all its defensive red lines.

Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Times

President Bush's condemnation of Russia as a bullying intimidator in the Georgian conflict struck a hypocritical note in a Middle East that has endured violent reverberations from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and where the sharp White House rhetoric against Moscow echoes what many Arabs feel in turn about the U.S.

Many in the region are angered by what they see as the president's swaggering style and frequent veiled threats of military force. His administration has been accused of alienating Muslims and instigating turmoil in a misguided war on terrorism.

And, regarding Kevin's assertions of Western unity, the International Herald Tribute states:

The differences show how hard it is for NATO and Europe to find significant and concrete leverage on Moscow, with the Bush Administration on its last legs and many in Europe blaming the Georgian leadership - supposedly made unrealistic by overenthusiastic American support - as much for the crisis as they do Putin.

So, Kevin, will you please clarify precisely what it is that you are referring to?

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on August 17, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Food for thought:

"While the international community has solid grounds to challenge Russian aggression, however, the United States has lost virtually all moral standing to take a principled stance.

For example, the brutally punitive and disproportionate response by the Russian armed forces pales in comparison to that of Israel’s 2006 attacks on Lebanon, which were strongly defended not only by the Bush administration, but leading Democrats in Congress, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Russia’s use of large-scale militarily force to defend the autonomy of South Ossetia by massively attacking Georgia has been significantly less destructive than the U.S.-led NATO assault on Serbia to defend Kosovo’s autonomy in 1999, an action that received broad bipartisan American support.

And the Russian ground invasion of Georgia, while a clear violation of international legal norms, is far less significant a breach of international law as the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, authorized by a large majority in Congress.

This doesn’t mean that the Russia’s military offensive should not be rigorously opposed. However, the U.S. contribution to this unfolding tragedy and the absence of any moral authority to challenge it must not be ignored.

Stephen Zunes - Foreign Policy in Focus

Posted by: nepeta on August 17, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I have a problem with a lot that's posted on debkafile, but there's something to what Duncan posted. We've been trying to keep the SA-20 (S-300) SAMs out of Iran, and the Russians have been cooperative so far. I wonder how quickly we'll see the SA-20 in Iran after this? Also, the Georgians said the Russians launched Iskander (SS-26) during the fighting last week. If the Russians finally are putting the SS-26 into service, then it makes sense to start putting them into Kaliningrad where they can easily strike targets in Poland. As for proliferation of the Iskander, I know the Libyans have been making noises about buying them, and the Syrians would love to have them but can't handle the price. I wonder if the Russians will start giving easy credit terms for special buyers soon.

Posted by: Anon on August 17, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Duncan Kinder
regarding the release of advanced weapons systems withheld until now to Iran (the S-300 air-missile defense system) 6 of theese were already deployed to iran i read about this on the iran news network irib.

Posted by: mike on August 17, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you had the book on this upside down it seems. Did you think you were reading cyrillic text?

Georgia's military capacity is destroyed for years ahead. Georgia will never get back into South Oscetia or Abkhazia. Russia essentially dictated the text of the cease-fire agreement leaving them lots of room to act now and in the future (including 'discussions' on the future of the two provinces). The S. Oscetians will vote for incorporation into greater Oscetia as a province of Russia, and Abkhazia will get self-determination under Russian 'protection'.

But, this is just a side act to the bigger, longer-term play with Ukraine, which is ripe for splitting into two pieces. Look at the map on Ukraine. Russia WILL someday regain the eastern part at least including the Crimea (Yalta, Savastopol, et. al) because they will never allow NATO between them and the Black Sea - where they 'lease' the home port of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Note also the (former Soviet) 'stans' with oil or gas are watching also. Russia will not allow all the Caspian Oil to become the Exxon-Mobil/Shell/BP monopoly. The EU cannot survive a winter without Russian gas and oil, and India/China would be happy to take Russian petro exports if the Russians seek another market.

Bush/Cheney/Neocons thought they'd have a 'splendid little war' fought by a proxy in Georgia (because they really miss the Cold War and regret that the US never got to nuke the Ruskies back to the stone age). But the Georgian horse turned out to be crippled, and Bush had nothing in his quiver when the Bear's tanks came calling.

Leading voices in the EU are saying that Bush totally screwed up (comparisons to Katrina): read the Brit papers: here for example, and here.

Can anyone explain just what the "North Atlantic" treaty organization is doing in Georgia and Ukraine? The US got its way on Kosovo, but the price will turn out to be very high. Russia didn't get to be called the Bear without cause, and that sense of their destiny is way way older than the Soviet revolution. Humiliation begets humiliation.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on August 17, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

despite the fact that Georgia is a minuscule country and the Russians have had this operation planned and ready to go at a moments notice for weeks (maybe months).

Aha. The New Push for this week. Let's work thorugh this, shall we? (With the LAT story)

Temur Iakobashvili had driven up to South Ossetia from the Georgian capital to begin Russian-mediated peace talks to end months of escalating fighting in the pro-Moscow republic. But his Russian counterpart hadn't shown up.
That's what the Georgians say: they had finally agreed to some kind of sitting down at the table for talks, and when they showed up at the South Ossetian capitol, the Russian diplomat wasn't there, but the military guy was. So they thought they were being humilated (!). The Russians wanted a unilateral ceasefire from the Georgians. The Georgians claim to have agreed to this (why?) whereupon
At 7 p.m. on Aug. 7, Saakashvili appeared on television to order Georgian forces to hold their fire. Then reports came in that Ossetians had overrun at least two Georgian enclaves. The fighting resumed with more ferocity.
According to a senior U.S. official, the State Department's Fried called Saakashvili and tried to convince him that the attacks by South Ossetian irregulars were a Russian trap. But as night fell, reports came in that Russian troops were on the move through the Roki Tunnel between Russia and South Ossetia.
In the Telegraph, Sasha there claims that he was handed photographs taken by American spy satellites indicating a Russian column was moving towards Roki Tunnel. This being 7pm on August 7th, the Georgians launched an attack that night (i.e. within 12 hours) on Tskhinvali. (They also claim to have attacked a bridge.)

Strangely enough, Sasha claims that the he was getting intelligence from the US, but the US claims they had no idea a Russian armor column was moving towards Roki tunnel. (IF a Russian column of armor was moving towards the tunnel. Oddly enough, sometimes the military of a given country will move units around inside its own territory. Imagine that.)

To some observers, the course was set after the 2004 election of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. On Russia's southern border, Georgia had been under Moscow's sway for centuries. Now, the U.S.- educated Saakashvili was turning the country into a staunchly nationalist, pro-American laboratory for Velvet Revolution-style agitation.
Also, he stated over and over again that he intended to retake Ossetia and Abkhaz. (Curiously enough, he also has a habit of attacking demonstators.)
A trove of evidence strongly suggests that Russia was preparing the logistics for war well before Aug. 7. As long as three years ago, diplomats, officials and analysts say, Moscow started waging a multi-pronged propaganda, military and economic campaign against Georgia as it moved hurriedly and provocatively into the Western sphere -- and toward joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Russia's Cold War nemesis.
Say. Three years ago is 2005, so basically, after this guy was elected President of Georgia on a platform of going to war with Russia, Russia started campaigning against him. WILD!
"The political decision was made in April," said Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst in Moscow who writes for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think tank, and for Russian publications. "It was final. Preparations were being put in place for a year beforehand."
I keep hearing that, but I keep not seeing any evidence.
"These are the most romantic people in the world. They're very gallant, in the stupid sense," said Bruce P. Jackson, a close Bush administration ally who has worked extensively with Saakashvili and other leaders in the emerging democracies of the former Soviet bloc. "Do they really listen? They're very much 'the Charge of the Light Brigade' people. It has a lot to do with personal honor." At any moment, analysts say, Georgia might have staved off a military attack by heeding Moscow's warnings and renouncing or at least qualifying its desire to join NATO. Instead, Saakashvili reportedly made jokes about Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's height.
I wonder if he makes jokes about McCain? So, essentially, the Americans are saying that Sasha is a maniac and the Georgians are crazy... which is why the only cure for this problem was to publically agitate for Georgia to join NATO, and also to send money and hardware to Russia. Why, oh why, can't we have better Georgians?
Analysts noted a stepping up of an anti-Georgian propaganda campaign in the Russian media about three years ago. In the weeks before the war, Russian media publicized opinion polls depicting tiny Georgia as Russia's worst enemy.
That would be after the Georgians stepped up the anti-Russian propaganda, yes.
Tensions increased in 2005 after Georgia expelled two Russian diplomats it accused of espionage. Russia deported Georgians living in Moscow, sending them back to Tbilisi in cargo planes.
Strangely, according to the Moscow Times (hostile to Putin, BTW), there have been no clashes between the Ossetians and the Georgians in Moscows.
In the middle of the winter of 2006, South Ossetian separatists who have been agitating against Georgia for nearly two decades allegedly blew up the gas pipeline to Georgia, leaving the country without electricity or heat for two weeks.
Allegedly. Of course, allegedly (or not so allegedly), the Ossetians who were purged from Georgia 'proper' back in the early 90's have never come back.

Russia started issuing passports to residents of South Ossetia. In March this year, Moscow lifted sanctions on separatists in Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic. The sanctions had been imposed under a treaty of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose confederation of former Soviet republics. The Russian parliament passed a resolution recognizing the demands of South Ossetian and Abkhaz separatists. Russians were enraged when, over its strenuous objections, the West recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence in February from Serbia, a Moscow ally. Russians interpreted the move as hypocritical.
Right. So that would be how the Russians reacted to Kosovo.
Russia's actual preparations for a possible war began in April, according to analysts and Western diplomats, after Georgia and Ukraine, backed by the U.S., pushed to begin preparations to join NATO, what some called a decisive factor in the decision to escalate the conflict. "There were so many times that they could have publicly renounced their desire to join NATO," Felgenhauer said. "That could have been the beginning of the solving of the problem."
The US was not, apparently, involved in it's own actions to push the two countries in NATO.
A week before the conflict began, Russians completed a major railway upgrade project in Abkhazia. To experts on the Russian military, this was a key development.
How long ago did the project start?
At the same time, Russians ran a military exercise in the Caucasus. It was focused on sharpening counterinsurgency skills, the European diplomat said. Among the units involved was the 58th Army, which ended up leading the attack into Georgia.
Is this supposed to be the same exercise they ran back in July opposite the American exercise in Georgia? Or is this a different exercise?
In South Ossetia, which is largely ethnic Ossetian but about a third ethnic Georgian, clashes began to erupt between the groups. "There was extensive exchange of fire, kidnapping on both sides," Rondeli said. "Russians turned a blind eye to their allies. Georgians turned a blind eye to their allies." A blast killed an Ossetian official. An assassin tried kill the leader of South Ossetia's Georgian community.
Note that while there are no Ossetians in Georgia outside of South Ossetia (proper!), because the Georgians ethnically cleansed them years ago, there are still Georgians in South Ossetia.

"A number of powerful advisors and structures around President Mikheil Saakashvili appear increasingly convinced a military operation in Abkhazia is feasible and necessary," the International Crisis Group said in a report on South Ossetia in June. "The Georgians have been warned by their Western partners against attempting a military solution," said the Brussels-based advocacy group.
Interestingly enough if you go to the web site in question, you do see mention of Russian moves in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. What you don't see mentioned in the LAT is this:
Tbilisi has responded with a diplomatic offensive, enlisting high-level Western political support, while repeating that it wants to resolve the frozen conflicts peacefully. It shares blame for the escalation, however. It has quietly been making military preparations, particularly in western Georgia and Upper Kodori. A number of powerful advisers and structures around President Mikheil Saakashvili appear increasingly convinced a military operation in Abkhazia is feasible and necessary. The option they seem to favour would aim at regaining control of the southern part of the territory so as to establish at least a temporary partition. The Georgians have been warned by their Western partners against attempting a military solution. But there are strong feelings in Tbilisi that something must be done to change a status quo in which Russia challenges the country’s sovereignty with virtual impunity. The risk of miscalculation by either side leading to unintended fighting is also serious.
So, apparently, the Georgians have also been making moves. Such as sending unmanned drones over the Russians in Abkhazia, which the Russians have kindly shot down.Back to the LAT.
In mid-July, just three weeks before the war erupted, U.S. Marines and Georgian soldiers staged a military exercise at a former Soviet base near Tbilisi. In retrospect, some wonder whether this was a mistake, perhaps giving Georgians the impression that they were more powerful than they were.
My. The US sends, guns, money and advisors to a country that has the avowed goal of retaking breakaway areas, and it trains them in 'counter-insurgency' (read: ethnic cleansing) and then wonders why they would have the temerity to use the forces and equipment and encouragement we've given them.
According to a senior U.S. official, the State Department's Fried called Saakashvili and tried to convince him that the attacks by South Ossetian irregulars were a Russian trap. But as night fell, reports came in that Russian troops were on the move through the Roki Tunnel between Russia and South Ossetia. Georgia decided to respond aggressively, quickly taking control of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. "The whole world community tried to convince Georgia not to do this," the European diplomat said. "But someone crossed the border."
Yeah, I'm totally not fucking buying that. Wheezing about not attacking the Russians and then giving them the equipment to do so is not exactly a clear signal to not go to war. Particularly when Sasha there is getting US intelligence telling him the Russians are on the attack (whether they are or not).
Within hours, war engulfed the southern Caucasus. The U.S.-trained and -equipped Georgian troops took Tskhinvali and began defeating the Russian troops. "The first 12 to 20 hours, Georgia had the momentum," the European diplomat said. "It controlled almost all of South Ossetian territory."
Peacekeepers. They beat the peacekeepers. Interestingly, I've heard several versions of this, which are either that the Georgians attacked Tskhinvali and got stuck, or they attacked and took it, or they attacked it and moved beyond it a ways. In no instance is this actually all or even most of South Ossetia. (Look at a map, Tskhinvali is ten miles away from Gori.)
But Russian troops and fighter jets began quickly swarming into South Ossetia, Abkhazia and ultimately Georgia. Russians dispatched two special forces units, though independent analyst say it is difficult to determine whether the Russian commandos were in place coincidentally because of a military exercise the previous week or were brought in specifically for a war.
The Russians has on hand some small special forces units, and in North Ossetia elements of the 58th Army which has been stationed there forever. They have a plan (I always thought they did) in case the crazy man who keeps threatening to go to war, goes to war. When the crazy man does what he says he's going to do, the Russians throw in what they have on hand, after half a day or so. So the plan isn't improvished, but the unit composition of the force is.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates tried to persuade the Georgians to stand down. He also spoke with Anatoliy Serdyukov, who became Russia's defense minister last year with little experience. "I will tell you that Minister Serdyukov told me that the Russians have no intention of going into Georgia," Gates said.
And so far, the Russians are about 10 miles (at most) from the South Ossetian border. That's really close to Tblisi... because South Ossetia is really close to Tblisi. Meanwhile way out west the Russians have advanced about 15-20 miles further south from Abkhaz. The horror.
But many observers say there was little the Georgians, Russians or Americans could do by then. The trap had been sprung, and Saakashvili seemed more than willing to take the bait. "It's been clear that Russians have tried to create a situation where the Georgians would make a mistake," a ranking European diplomat said.
Well, I dunno, it certainly seems that the Georgians have been preparing to go down to glorious defeat for some time. On the other hand, the Russians have hardly pushed like they could have. How does that's constitute a trap? Except in the sense that Sasha is in a trap of his own making.

Back to Kevin:The murky status of the provinces combined with the fact that Saakashvili sent in troops first would have kept Western reaction to a minimum, and Russia's message would still have been sent loud and clear: don't mess with us in our sphere of influence.

Strangely, last week the Pravda was that Russia had made a hideous mistake by, um, er, forcing Georgia to attack Russia peacekeepers and that any Russian movement was huge, unforgivable act of aggression. (Georgia, being a plucky little state that rents American lobbyists could apparently attack anybody they want with impunity and the blessings of the West. They aren't capable of aggression because they're only armed with Nerf weapons or something.)

Well, we'll see. I guess this all depends on whether the Russians have blown up enough Georgian infrastructure by then to satisfy their promise of leaving only after implementing those mysterious "extra security measures" they insisted on inserting into the ceasefire text.

Well, last week, the Russians were going to be in Tblisi, which they have sorta failed to do, and so far the Georgians are claiming the Russians have blown up one bridge. (The Georgians also claim to have failed at blowing up a South Ossetian bridge.) On the other hand, the Russians do say they are blowing up lots of weapons caches, which is clearly an act of pure fascist evil, because you're supposed to allow the crazy aggressive people who just attacked you the means to do it again. Also, I await your denunciation of US forces ranging up to fifty miles beyond the cease-fire line (at the end of the 1991 Gulf War) to destroy Iraqi weapons dumps, seeing as how that seems to have become illicit.

max
['If you keep plugging, some version of 'It's ok to launch aggressive wars if you have a lobbyist in DC' will stick.']

Posted by: max on August 17, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

BBC video that aired two days before Russia intervened to stop Georgia�s ethnic cleansing operation in South Ossetia.

http://www.infowars.com/?p=3994

Posted by: Tired of Neocons on August 17, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

BBC video that aired two days before Russia intervened to stop Georgia's ethnic cleansing operation in South Ossetia.

http://www.infowars.com/?p=3994

Posted by: Tired of Neocons on August 17, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

@James
Um. It sounds like you're agreeing with me. Do you have a point? Or are you just practicing your sneer?


Shorter Max:

The Georgians are warmongers. There were no Russian provocations. The Russian troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia were truly peacekeepers. The Russian "just happened" to have 150 tanks, 700 armored vehicles, and 12,000 troops ready to be deployed. South Ossetia and Abkhazia aren't part of Georgia.

It's the Neocons fault. It's the US's fault. We should be ashamed for having done similar things. The Russians have nothing to be ashamed of.

etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: Adam on August 17, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

max: How long ago did the project start?

Not sure what you're trying to get at, but for the record, it was May (or Apr, depending); see, e.g., UNOMIG report S/2008/480, July 23 2008 (available here):

10. On 29 April, citing the possibility of an impending deterioration in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the Russian Federation reinforced the Russian-manned CIS peacekeeping force with a 525-strong airborne battalion stationed in the restricted weapons zone. UNOMIG established regular patrolling in the areas where that battalion was deployed. At the end of May, referring to the presidential decision on the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Abkhaz side, the Government of the Russian Federation also introduced a military railways unit to rehabilitate the railways south of Sukhumi, outside the area of responsibility of UNOMIG and the CIS peacekeeping force.

11. The Georgian side considered both measures aggressive in nature, in particular vis-à-vis the upper Kodori Valley, and demanded an immediate withdrawal of all additional Russian forces, including the railways troops. The Georgian side argued that these military steps confirmed that the Russian Federation was a party to the conflict and could no longer serve in either a mediating or a peacekeeping capacity. It intensified its calls for a change of the peacekeeping format and proposed in particular the replacement of the current peacekeeping operation with a joint Georgian-Abkhaz police force under European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe supervision and training, without excluding the possibility that the Russian Federation may play a role. It announced that if a substantial change in the peacekeeping format was not achieved, it was ready to request formally the withdrawal of the CIS peacekeeping force.

That, along with effective dissolution of the JCC, was arguably a significant step on the path leading to this mess.

Posted by: has407 on August 17, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew Lenoe wrote:
Let's try this thought experiment. Russian spetsnaz train Mexican forces, which then attack San Antonio, claiming that Texas is rightfully Mexican territory. And the US response is...?

OK, Mexico, you can have it, but you have to take the Bush family, too. And the Cowboys, who are NOT "America's team." Sheesh.

Posted by: josef on August 17, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

BRAVO to Max!!

Reading Kevin's totally inane MSM-lite commentary on this reminds me why I almost never bother visiting this blogsite...

Posted by: RKU on August 17, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Reading Kevin's totally inane MSM-lite commentary on this reminds me why I almost never bother visiting this blogsite...

Posted by: RKU on August 17, 2008

roger that, RKU.

i recently returned to reading this blog after a very lengthy absence. looks like i may have to remove this blog from my favs once again. a shame, really. such valuable real estate.

Posted by: on August 17, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

The LA Times piece is a placed propaganda piece just like what happened to us before the Iraq war, citing as it does to seemingly well-meaning NGO studies. It may appear balanced but its purpose is to paint Russia as a dangerous enemy to the United States right before the US elections. We need to be very careful as this is a major campaign just as the Iraq campaign was.

Posted by: Mary on August 17, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

I say we go for first stike. Number of dead on both sides 50-60 80 million tops.We'll show them by GOD!

Posted by: R.L. on August 17, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK


Dear Kevin, as I have noted in a previous thread, it is seeming increasingly likely that you are under a Russian dis-information attack.

You may see this almost as a complement.

But Max, among others, are just...not so much trolls but active Disseminators of Russian Propaganda.

Kind of interesting, really. The question remains who is being paid for this work or is it just free-lance Russian bullshit?

But this is certainly a Russian mindset...quickly identifiable to people that know Russia and Russians.

An interesting phenomena to be seen here at Washington Monthly.

Good Luck & Best Wishes, Traveller

Posted by: Traveller on August 17, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Traveller:

"Max is a dirty Commie!"

Oops, the Russians are no longer Commies...

"Max is a dirty Great Russian Nationalist!"

Posted by: RKU on August 17, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Putin screwed up

That's more of a false assumption than a logical conclusion.

The lack of discussion of "loot" in this affair shows real naivete about local culture. Loot is foremost with these folks. You are talking about a part of the world where a large fraction of the cars have been stolen in Germany, for Pete's sake. So the Georgian toops looted their victims, and the Russians had to let the victims loot the Georgians back. Fair is fair.

Loot is a big deal in these shitty little countries, and the Russians are just being sensitive to local cultural needs. I am sure Republicans will forgive fellow thieves, and the Democrats should be more understanding and less idealistic.

Posted by: Bob M on August 17, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Traveller:

"Max is a dirty Commie!"

No, not actually. Max, and he is not alone in this, is a Russian Nationalist. Which is not the worst thing in the world to be. As noted by Bob M, the Georgians have less than a sterling history...but maybe were trying to move beyond that...or so I hoped.

It would be nice if Russia just left Georgian soil now and Putin could simply poison Mikheil Saakashvili as seems to be Putin's talent...

I'm not down on any of this...I'm just sayhin`.

Traveller

Posted by: on August 17, 2008 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Traveller: It would be nice if Russia just left Georgian soil...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if everyone agreed on what constitutes "Georgian soil", there wouldn't be much of a problem.

Posted by: has407 on August 17, 2008 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody else read about the fact that Russia seized a huge arsenal of U.S. arms in Georgia?

When we sell instruments of death all over the world, why are we surprised when shit like this mess in Georgia happens and our foreign policy is a complete disaster?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 17, 2008 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

The Conservative Deflator -- While a couple thousand rifles are nothing to sneeze at, they pale in comparison to other "instruments of death" the US regularly sells to foreign governments, and if the reports are accurate, those M-16's and M-40's could be easily and rapidly replaced at low cost from any number of sources.

What's more disturbing is that Senaki is about 30Km beyond the Abkazia demark, and at a critical road/rail juncture leading to Poti, which is also spitting distance from the oil terminal at Supsa. That suggest there is more at work than faux outrage over weapons that could easily be obtained on the open market. Specifically, WTF are Russian forces doing in Senaki of all places?

Posted by: has407 on August 17, 2008 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin at last is joining the real-world foreign policy universe, leaving some of his less perceptive followers behind the troika like babies thrown to the wolves.

Even Merkel has changed her mind on Georgia. The real-worlders recognize that Putin wants to cut off the BTC pipeline or at least stop plans for looping same with a natural gas conduit from Turkmenistan. Plus another crude pipeline along the same route from Kazakhstan. Vlad The Empoisoner tried to intimidate us with his nasty, brutish & short political ju-jitsu.

Now the Ukrainian President [POTU?] takes revenge on the short lil Vlad for poisoning him with one of Vlad's KGB houseboys by joining the US missile shield, making the cringing craven leftie cowards quiver & cower.

Nice move, Vlad the Bad!!

Posted by: daveinboca on August 17, 2008 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

daveinboca: The Obamanable Showman deserves a 10 on the laugh-meter for suggesting we try to calm Vlad down in the UN by calling a UNSC meeting, where Russia would veto any condemnation of its rape of Georgia.

Not that it will necessarily make much difference, but you really should read the UN charter, specifically articles 27(3) and 52(3), before proclaiming that "Russia would [or more precisely could] veto any condemnation".

Posted by: has407 on August 18, 2008 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Who lost Georgia?

I can assure you it wasn't Clinton and it wasn't Obama.

It was the same guy that lost the World Trade Center and the City of New Orleans and hald of the value of the dollar: That clusterfuck in the white house.

You know, public policy is a lot easier if job one isn't all about trying to make the world safer for billionaires.

Posted by: Bub on August 18, 2008 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Please before anymore of you think about claiming Georgia the victim in all this.Realize that the USSR stood for the soviet socialist republics to be put loosly it was made up of other socialist repulics with Russia being the bigest of them.At no point in history was South Ossetia or Abkhazia part of Georgia.Two referendums were held about separtion with both overwhelming voting to separate.The first was in the early 90's it was dismissed because there were no observers in place to insure it's result were not tampered with.The second in 2006 was observed by 300 UN overseers monitoring 74 polling station the result was 91% to separate.This was only squashed because Georgia had troops in Iraq.Georgia did not want this so the USA with its pull made sure that it was never regonized.Theese Media reports are so bias with respects to either side you have to read so much just to uncover the truth.I remember when journalistic integrity meant something what ever happened to that...I mean on either side you get 10% truth the rest is merly speculation or blatent lies!

Posted by: mike on August 18, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

US/NATO have been pushing Russia since it was formed. They tried to kick it while it was down. If Putin did nothing to communicate that Russia isn't going to take this crap (from their point of view) sitting down, US/NATO would be pushing even further with NATO expansion and missile deployment. A few more years of this and if Russia did nothing, it would have been tantamount to accepting the new facts on the ground where it is surrounded by not-so-friendly military alliance and missiles.

So Russia acted when it felt it had the right opportunity and before some of the nato expansion/missile deployment plans became a reality. Russia didn't lose anything by doing this; it is not as if the west was trusting it and treating it as an equal.

Imagine what we in the US would be urging our government to do if Russia started deploying missiles in Cuba and started serious talks to pull Mexico and LatAm countries into a military alliance. Why do our neo-cons act as if only we have security concerns and national interests to protect. Just about everyone else in the world has the same concerns and those who have the military/economic power to protect their interests will do so, one way or the other.

Military power is still the dominant currency. Just look at the constitution of the security council. The 5 permanent members with veto power have that special status because they have nuclear weapons and are militarily strong (at least that was how it was when that status was granted). That is a clear message to the world -- you want respect? Show us that you are strong military power and you get respect.

Posted by: rational on August 18, 2008 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

So how long should it have taken Russia to rout Georgia's US armed and US trained forces to win your respect? One hour? Two hours? Clearly, two days isn't good enough for you!

Posted by: rational on August 18, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding speed of the Russian military they did this with about what 15000 troops at most.what is the size of Georgia 4.5 million hmmm(thats one troop for every 300 Georgians).;Lets compare that to the iraq war which took a week to do with 180000 troops in a contry that was what 27 million(this is 1 troop for every 150 iraqi).Oh ya lets not forget that they where put on santions for 12 years leading up to that war and the US is still there.Is that war over
Darn the US will have to find another third world country to exploite now

Posted by: mike on August 18, 2008 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

There's little further mention out there about McCain's possible Georgia manipulations through his neoconish top foreign policy advisor and former lobbyist *for Georgia* Randy Scheunemann (see top of http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_08/014302.php#1313448 for more and links.) Note also e.g. Jonah Goldberg pretending that Russia just rolled *unprovoked* into Georgia - in order to smear Obama - which will be the rightwing meme, not the "Georgia provoked, but ..." that Kevin imagined with excess generosity.

Kevin: I'm disappointed in you for not saying more about Scheunemann/Georgia, and blowing off the idea that "we" (presumed "The USA") stimulated Georgia to push into S.O. etc. - BTW what should "we" really mean, considering the creepy interplay of factions like Cheneyites in what is only presumptively "our" government at this time?

Posted by: Neil B. ☼ on August 18, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Read NYTimes today regarding the destruction of Tskhinvali.

It is important to remember that the western press has an anti-Russian bias–i.e., it’s pro west/US.

whatever the US does is good–whatever Russia does is bad. It gets worse-whatever the US does is good, whatever someone else does is evil.

We’re good, they’re evil. Get it?

Posted by: Bob, the white-shoe guy on August 18, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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