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This is another diary critical of the West's position on Georgia.

Just as a bit of background, let me state here for the record that I wrote my PhD on the independence of Ukraine, and have thus studied how Russia behaves with its neighbors rather intensively. Following that, I worked for several years financing oil&gas projects in Russia and the Caspian; in particular, I worked on te financing of the BTC pipeline that goes from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia (I wrote about it on DailyKos 3 years ago). Oil companies don't need the money: what they want is for other parties like banks to share the political risks associated with their projects. Which means that in turn, the job of a banker working on these projects is to understand those political risks. And it is quite obvious that the relationship between Russia and the Caucasus countries, including Georgia, was at the heart of my work.

But if you think I am just a "lefty European apologist of Soviet atrocities", feel free to move on and ignore this diary.

As an additional preamble, when I say that the West has no more credibility than Russia on this conflict, it does not mean that Russia has any credibility, or that I love Putin, it means that the West has no credibility whatsoever; when I mock the West's claims about human rights and democracy, it does not mean that I think Russia is a defender of human rights and democracy, just that we have no credibility either on the topic.

All of that stated, here are a few facts worth noting about Georgia and the current behavior of its president, Russia, and decision makers in Washington:

  • First, let's be clear: there are two reasons only we care about Georgia: the oil pipelines that go through its territory, and the opportunity it provides to run aggressive policies towards Russia.
  • Second, let's also be very explicit: this conflict is not unexpected: it is a direct consequence of our policies, in particular with respect to Kosovo (and to all those that will claim that "no one could have predicted" this, let me point out to this comment, or this earlier one, or this article). I would even go so far as to say that it was egged on by some in Washington: the neocons.
  • Third, our claims to have the moral high ground are totally ridiculous and need to be fought, hard. This is not about democracy vs dictature, brave freedom lovers vs evil oppressors, but a nasty brawl by power-hungry figures on both sides, with large slices of corruption. The fact that this is turned into a cold-war-like conflict between good and evil is a domestic political play by some in Washington to reinforce their power and push certain policies that have little to do with Russia or Georgia. That needs to be understood.

:: ::

oil

OK, first, the oil angle.

Georgia does not have oil, but it is a transit country. This is valuable because it provides the only outlet for Caspian oil and natural gas which is not going either through Russia or through Iran. (See the maps and the wider context in that diary) And after a 15-year tug-of-war, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was inaugurated two years ago: it takes roughly 1 million barrels per day from the Azeri oil fields run by BP to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, via Georgia. That's over 1% of world production, and it is fully controlled by Western oil majors. There is also a smaller gas pipeline that follows the same route and brings smaller volumes of gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey.

These pipelines have been at the heart of the relationship between Georgia and the USA over the past 15 years, but, oddly enough, they have played a very small role in the current crisis. In fact, the BTC pipeline has been cut off for the past few days, not because of events in Georgia (which are in the north of the country, whereas the pipelines go through the south), but because of a bomb attack in Turkey before the conflict started, with claims by the PKK, the Kurdish movement.

The reason the current conflict is not about the oil is because, now that the pipeline is built, that game is, in effect, over. Now, the only thing that could stop the flow of oil is, other than localised attacks (like the one conducted by the Kurds, something that has long been expected, and which was mitigated by building the pipeline on a route that avoids kurdish territory) would be for Russia to actually invade all of Georgia and physically take control of the pipeline, ie an outright act of war not just against Georgia, but also against the US.

The reason for that is that, as part of the process to put in place the pipeline, Georgia invited the US military to set up a base on its territory, near the route of the pipeline. Thus, any attack on the pipeline by Russia would become an attack on the USA.

But the important thing to note is that this base was not set up by the current Georgian government, but by its predecessor, that of Shevarnadze, Georgia's previous president (and, if you remember, Gorbatchev's - and the Soviet Union's - minister for foreign relations in the 80s), which was kicked out of power by Saakashvili's bunch in the rose revolution a couple of years ago - more on this below. That base was seen as a defensive gambit, and was relatively small. Indeed, with Georgia still hosting Russian military bases (see the map I posted here), anything bigger would be ... interesting. Which is what's happening today.

But before we go into the internal politics of Georgia, the thing to note at this point is that it is oil that brought the West to care about Georgia, but that this was a settled situation, and no longer a source of conflict in itself.

the color revolution and "democracy"

What changed in the past few years was the series of "color revolutions" in former Soviet republics, started in Ukraine (the orange revolution) and continued in Georgia (the rose one). These have often been profoundly misunderstood, and have been turned into a simplistic "brave democrats fighting to choke off the grip by the evil Putin on their country" narrative, which, oh so conveniently supplemented an extremely aggressive policy by Washington against Moscow.

No longer was Putin an ally or someone that could be worked with, he was evil incarnate. Whether this has anything to do with the fact that he prevented Yukos from merging with a US oil major, or blocked the construction of an oil pipeline and export terminal project to Murmansk that would not have been controlled by the State-owned pipeline monopoly, we'll never know. But the fact remains that the steady policies of encirclement of Russia by bringing former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO, and then former Soviet Republics, and setting up massive military bases there continued and accelerated, despite earlier promises to Russia not to do that. And the rhetoric about Russia's "energy weapon" suddenly turned strident in 2006 as the UK, the neocons's faithful lapdog, suddenly realised it no longer had enough gas and had to find someone to blame for that state of fact rather than its insane 'let the markets provide' policies.

Now, let's be clear about something: Putin's Russia is not quite a democracy. But then it wasn't either in 1999-2004, a time when the discourse about Russia's turn to authoritarianism was rather muted (could it be linked to the fact that its oil sector was, then, almost fully open to foreign investment?). And in the meantime, our own track-record on that topic was rather going in the wrong direction, as painstakingly chronicled on the blogs and elsewhere). Thus my point in pointing out the hypocrisy in the public discourses about Russia is NOT to claim Russia as a model, but to suggest that this public discourse on democracy is hiding something else. And people that accuse me of being too pro-Russian seem to, precisely, miss that point.

The rose revolution that brought Saakashvili to power in 2003 was certainly welcome (the previous regime was terribly corrupt), but it soon had its own problems, and in the most recent elections, turned to pretty anti-democratic means to avoid losing. Feeding nationalistic flames was the time-tested way to try to build up support, and various crises with Russia and Russia surrogates helped the regime maintain its grip on power in increasingly unpleasant ways.

That did not prevent the current occupants of the White House to laud Saakashvili as a great democrat, and to support him against the supposed plots of its neighbors and breakaway republics. The fact that he has been given a quasi-permanent editorial role in the Op-Ed pages of the WSJ (alongside another useful anti-Russian idiot, Gary Kasparov) to blather about how Europe was cowardly betraying democracy and human rights by not standing up to Russia in giving Georgia NATO membership should be a clue. The man is a tool of the warmongering neocons, and a man bent on clinging to his power, at whatever the cost.

Russia has explicitly stated that bringing countries like Ukraine and Georgia, long parts of its empire, into NATO, would be seen as an aggressive act. Is that such an irrational position to take? (I mean, look at US policy towards Cuba...) And yet the US is pushing hard to do that, despite these explicit warnings. Who is being provocative and clamoring for conflict - those that bring military forces to the borders of Russia, or those that say they consider this threatening and will react unpleasantly if it goes on?

Kosove and territorial integrity

This is all the more galling that this is happening in a context where the double standars in the West's policies have never been more staggering.

We talk about the territorial integrity of Georgia after blatantly ignoring it in the case of Serbia, by pushing Kosovo towards independence (again, as I noted above, that this would have immediate, obvious consequences in Georgia was noted long ago by observers not blinded by Washington's rhetoric).

We talk about  diplomacy and international law after destroying both in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

We talk about human rights and democracy after hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, millions are refugees, and after an administration made torture its official policy.

(If you think this is about anti-Americanism, let me note again that I consider that Europe is fully complicit: we authorised or encouraged renditions on our territory, we never protested US policies and generally supported the War in Terror in practice if not in theory. Our leaders are generally happy to participate to the "cover" of these policies by supporting the grand claims about peace, human rights and the like, as if they had any more credibility ourselves, and they love to be seen in Washington or alongside the US on the international scene. Sarkozy and Berlusconi seem bent on being even bigger warmongerers, at their small scale, than Bush)

It does not matter what Russia is doing. We have zero credibility to talk about democracy, human rights, territorial integrity, peace, diplomacy and the like because we have thoroughly trashed these concepts in the past few years.

So, the question as to what our real intentions are when we hide behind these grand words HAS to be asked. The same question has to be asked of Russia, or any other player, but that's precisely my point: we see Russia as brutally playing power games: we have to see our side as doing the same.

We're just as power-hungry and ruthless as the Russians - and probably a bit more reckless and hubristic, lately. saying so does not make me a Russian apologist, just a worried bystander.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:17 AM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar - 9 August (398+ / 0-)
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    •  More information on the conflict (107+ / 0-)
      •  It does make one want (35+ / 0-)

        to escape to an island, or hunker down in a bomb shelter, until the bastards have killed each other off, doesn't it?

        Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of the way before it is understood.

        by Granny Doc on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:44:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

          •  It is democracy vs. dictatorship (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kaye

            Third, our claims to have the moral high ground are totally ridiculous and need to be fought, hard. This is not about democracy vs dictature,

            Hate to break it to you but Georgia is a democracy.  Russia is a dictatorship.

            Even your own cite that you use to support your claim that Georgia's government "turned to pretty anti-democratic means to avoid losing" an election actually says nothing of the kind:

            The BBC's Neil Arun, who was at the rally, said much of the protesters' anger was directed at Western observers who have said the polls were essentially democratic, although there were significant problems.

          •  Here is Obama's position (0+ / 0-)

            "I condemn Russia's aggressive actions and reiterate my call for an immediate ceasefire," Obama said in a statement.

            "Russia must stop its bombing campaign, cease flights of Russian aircraft in Georgian airspace, and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia."

            McCain has long criticized Russia, particularly for what he sees as its backsliding on democratic reforms and human rights. "For many years, I have warned against Russian actions that undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors," he said. "Unfortunately, we have seen in recent days Russia demonstrate that these concerns were well-founded."

            Obama has stepped up his criticism of Russia since the crisis started. He called for an international peacekeeping force and said Russia could not be a neutral mediator for political disputes over South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- both pro-Russian separatist regions backed by Moscow.

            "The current escalation of military conflict resulted in part from the lack of a neutral and effective peacekeeping force operating under an appropriate UN mandate," Obama said. "Russia cannot play a constructive role as peacekeeper."

            http://www.reuters.com/...

            At this point can we please drop the idea that this is somehow a left vs. right issue?

            All Americans, Democrats and Republicans, should join in opposing Russian aggression and supported our government in pressuring Russia to withdraw from Georgia.

      •  Who are the Ossetians? (27+ / 0-)

        I am not such a huge fan of territorial integrity that I'd want Georgia's borders left intact. What I would like to know about this crisis is, just who are the Ossetians and the Abkhazians?

        Imagine, hypothetically, that Gorbachev had promoted 7 or 8 of what were then called "Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics" in the Caucasus--Dagestan, Chechnya, etc, and merged the 2 Ossetias, would the combined Ossetia wish to rejoin Russia after the USSR dissolved? Would the Abkhazians have grounds to leave Georgia the way their northen neighbors left the RSFSR?

        When the Russian Empire and before them the Ottoman Turks, conquered the region, they gave little thought to the territorial integrity of the captive nations. Now that the people are reasserting themselves, we need to know what lines can we draw that are close to the natural boundaries without having them constantly shifing due to the demographic ebb and flow.

        My sympathy is with Georgia, but mainly because Mikhail Saakashvili, Eduard Shevardnazde, even Zviad Gamsakhurdia, did not bomb Abkhazia's capital, Sukhumi, the way Putin devastated Groznyy.

        I'm not asking you to take the country back, I'm asking you to take it forward-Van Jones.

        by Judge Moonbox on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:58:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One of the oldest Indo-European peoples (19+ / 0-)

          Their national epic (sorry, can't think of the name) has been identified by an Arthurian scholar as the possible source of much of the pre-romantic Arthurian mythos.

          Won't it be nice to have a SMART President?

          by ibonewits on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:31:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Indo-European is a language family. (9+ / 0-)

            The Georgian language (kartvelian)
            is anything but Indo-European.

            "George W. Bush ... has shown phenomenal restraint while being constantly attacked by people not fit to hold his coat... " --- From a RW website.

            by Kimball Cross on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:54:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  actually, I hope you do find the link (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mattman, kaye, greenearth, WattleBreakfast

            or when you think of it, email it to me as that seems to fall into my realm of academia and I would be interested to see it.

            It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

            by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:03:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  are Ossetians Aryans? n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mattman, greenearth
            •  Strictly speaking (29+ / 0-)

                Yes.  And they are among the few people who can really claim the appellation: it belongs to them and not to the Germans, or Scandinavians, or any European people; and as such it has, in its original context, none of the connotations perversely associated with it by the Nazis and their völkisch precursors.

                The term "Aryan" comes from an ancient Indo-Iranian word *arya-.  Like so many other words of specialized meaning, it acquired different connotations in the Indic and Iranic branches.

                In India, "arya-" (the Sanskrit form) meant "noble, honorable, respectable", applied both to people and things.  Only in the very earliest sources -- and rather doubtfully then -- was it used as an ethnic name.  In later Indic languages, starting with the Prakrits, the descendant forms ayya and ajja were used as honorifics, comparable to "sir" or "mister".

                West of the Indus, in Iran and Transoxiana, the word Arya came to be used, as an ethnic name, to refer to Iranic peoples (in contrast to non-Iranic ones, including the peoples of India).  The Achaemenid emperors claimed to be rulers "aryanam anaryanam ca" -- Kings "of Aryas and non-Aryas".  The genitive plural aryanam became the source of the word Iran.

                The word was also used north of the Oxus by several distantly related Iranic peoples.  Among these were a people the Greeks called the Alanoi, who lived between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.  By a regular sound change occurring in their language, the sequence ry had changed to l; thus Alan is another direct descendant of aryanam, and directly cognate to Iran.

                The direct descendants of the Alans, living in the same region though in a much smaller area, are the Ossetians.

              •  aren't Alans Germanic? (0+ / 0-)

                is that the root of allemagne?

                Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society -Mark Twain

                by gooners on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:33:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Nope (5+ / 0-)

                    Allemagne (French for "Germany") comes from Latin Alemannia, which in turn comes from a Germanic confederation whom the Romans called the Alemanni or Alamanni.  The manni part is equivalent to English "men" (in the sense "human beings"); Ala, despite the single l, is probably related to English all.  The name of course does not literally mean "all men in the  world"; it refers to the tribally mixed nature of the grouping, which included members of such tribes as the Hermanduri and Sennones, and so included "all sorts of men".  The Alamanni referred to themselves by the somewhat vaguer term Suevi, a term which could include some peoples not in the Alemannic confederation.

                •  No, they aren't (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dauphin, Judge Moonbox, gooners

                  According to Wikipedia, the Alans are an Iranian people. They were swept up in the Germanic migrations which accompanied the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, & IIRC, most came to settle in Normandy.

                  Their name may be the root of "Allemagne" -- or it may come from another Germanic people, the Alamanni.

                  Geoff

              •  Ireland, too (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dauphin, Judge Moonbox

                It's a cognate to Ireland, also. Also, Afganistan is inhabited by an "Aryan" people. We used to go to an Afghan restaurant in NYC called "Arianna."

                •  Not Ireland (3+ / 0-)

                    Although this was a popular theory in the 19th century, further investigation has shown that Ériu (the Old Irish source of the Ire- in Ireland) comes from a Proto-Celtic *piweryon, and isn't related to arya.

                    The Afghans are a collection of Iranic peoples, or at least of peoples speaking Iranic languages (principally Dari and Pashto, but several others up in the hills) -- some of them may have non-Iranic origins, but have adopted Iranic languages.

          •  Indo Iranian to be more specific (11+ / 0-)

            North ossetian anyway. Going back farther they would be linguistically unclassified Hurrian with ethnicity going back to somewhere in the chalcolithic, but in modern times south Ossetian appears to have been overrun by Armenian.

            Ossetic is the sole survivor of the northeastern branch of Iranian languages known as Scythian. The Scythian group included numerous tribes, known in ancient sources as the Scythians, Massagetae, Saka, Sarmatians, Alans and Roxolans. The more easterly Khorezmians and the Sogdians were also closely affiliated, in linguistic terms.

            During the Ottoman empire they were a border region between various sultanates

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:50:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very confused (8+ / 0-)

              North ossetian anyway.

              The South Ossetians are mainly differentiated from the North Ossetians by living on the opposite side of the Caucasus watershed.  Linguistically, they're pretty much the same.  There are Ossetian dialects, but they don't correspond to the political boundaries.

              Going back farther they would be linguistically unclassified Hurrian with ethnicity going back to somewhere in the chalcolithic

              That makes no real sense.  The Hurrians lived in what is now Kurdistan, some migrating westward into Syria.  Ossetia is a long way away.  As far as I know, the Hurrians left no linguistic descendants.

              but in modern times south Ossetian appears to have been overrun by Armenian.

              The South Ossetians are wholly surrounded on the west, south, and east, by the Georgians, who speak the Caucasian language Georgian.  The Armenians don't enter into it.

              •  Hurrian (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dauphin, galaxy33, petral

                All of this really depends on when you take your snapshot. Many people take the Ossetians back to the Scythians and Cimmarians.

                I think you can go back to just before the domestication of the horse for the Hurrians and come forward all the way to the Mittanni with the ethnic population pushing south to what is now Armenia.

                The southern Caucus was at one time a part of the Hittite Empire, Assyria, Parthia, Media, Persia and eventually the Ottoman empire and even dreams of a united Kurdistan.
                Hurrian

                The Hurrians (also Khurrites;[1] cuneiform Ḫu-ur-ri ������) were a people of the Ancient Near East, who lived in northern Mesopotamia and areas to the immediate east and west, beginning approximately 2500 BC. They probably originated in the Caucasus and entered from the north

                The Hurrians spoke an ergative-agglutinative language, conventionally called Hurrian, unrelated to neighboring Semitic or Indo-European languages, but clearly related to Urartian — a language spoken about a millennium later in northeastern Anatolia — and possibly, very distantly, to the present-day Northeast Caucasian languages. Some scholars relate the Hurrian language also to Georgian and its associated South Caucasian or Kartvelian languages.[3] Similarities to Hurrian words have also been suggested in neighboring languages such as Armenian.[4][5] It is believed by some scholars that the Hurrians arrived in the Caucasus around 2700 BC.[5]

                Hurrians

                A people living in E Anatolia and N Mesopotamia during the 2nd millennium bc. The Hurrians probably originated in the Armenian mountains before their expansion. Their language, which is extinct, was neither Indo-European nor Semitic, but may be related to Georgian and the Caucasian languages. It is largely known from cuneiform tablets from Hattusas, the capital of the Hittites, whose civilization the Hurrians greatly influenced. There was never a Hurrian empire, but the powerful kingdom of Mitanni (1550-1400 bc) was largely Hurrian in population.

                The division of Ossetia into a north and south with the south under attack and retreating to the north came about partly by reason of the Georgians trying to maintain peace between factions.

                Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

                by rktect on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 02:53:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Er (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rktect, Dauphin

                    Ossetian isn't a Caucasian language.  It's Indo-European.

                    I'd treat the Hurrian-Georgian connection a bit skeptically.

                  •  Indo European languages arise c 1600 BC (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Judge Moonbox

                    The Hurrians spoke an ergative-agglutinative language, conventionally called Hurrian, unrelated to neighboring Semitic or Indo-European languages, but clearly related to Urartian — a language spoken about a millennium later in northeastern Anatolia — and possibly, very distantly, to the present-day Northeast Caucasian languages.

                    There is nothing wrong wiith being skeptical.

                    Many of the theories related to the issues involved here could be treated skeptically. its at least as likely that Indo Europeam was spread by trade amongst the ickthiophagi prior to 2000 BC along the underbelly of what became Parthia as by conquest by the Kurgan culture after 2000 BC following its northern rim.

                    Whats more or less indisputable is that Ossetia has long standing linkages to other partners that may become involved.

                    You can follow the trade routes that the Greeks identified in the Periplus of the Erythrian Sea
                    and see all the same players involved.

                    These include Russia, Turkey, and the remnants of the Persian empire in Armenia, Kurdistan, Iran, India and China. US and Israeli involvement is somewhat more recent

                    Urartian is an interesting hinge between Scythian and Parthian.

                    Urartian (also called Vannic, in older literature also "Chaldean") is the conventional name for the language spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu in the region of Lake Van in modern-day Turkey in the highlands of Armenia. [1]

                    First attested in the 9th century BC, Urartian goes into decline after the fall of the Urartian state in 585 BCE, and by 500 BCE it was likely was confined to the elite, while the common people spoke Armenian.[2]

                    Urartian was an agglutinative language, which belongs to neither the Semitic nor the Indo-European families but to the Hurro-Urartian family.[3] It survives in many inscriptions found in the area of the Urartu kingdom, written in the Assyrian cuneiform script. There have been claims[4] of a separate autochthonous script of "Urartian hieroglyphs" but these remain unsubstantiated.

                    Urartian is closely related to Hurrian, though not derived from it. [5] Although Urartian and Hurrian are related, it is now fairly clear that the two languages developed quite independently from the third millennium onwards. [6]

                    Georgia is a pocket of well protected land sloping up from the shores of the Black Sea toward the Caspian between the embracing arms of the two Caucasus mountain ranges and their rivers.

                    Ossetia North and South fall across its middle coming down through the mountains toward Armenia. Urartu comes up through Armenia to border Ossetia.

                    What connects them all is the very early ability to breed and train horses starting c 2000 BC.

                    This leads to the development regionally of a major engine of the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Scythians, Kurgans, Steppe Nomads, Medes, Parthians, Persians, Mongols, Huns, Kurds, Armenians, Ottomans and eventually the Russians.

                    .

                    The kurds spread from the borders of Turkey, Armenia and Iraq to the borders of Afghanistan because the use of horses made caravans through the mountains and across the plains and deserts much faster than when the goods were carried by oxcarts, camels, yaks or donkeys.

                    As rapid advances were made in the infrastructure of communication and control and the abilities of empires to support their vassals using the rapid transport of both horses and ships carrying horses on rivers and seas the world changed.

                    Early on there was considerable movement north and south through Georgia and Ossetia. Rapidly this began spreading eastward along the Parthian stations to Afghanistan and southeastwards following the Tigris and Euprates through the Gulf becoming the trade routes Alexander followed to conquer the world.

                    Now instead of horses it is an oil pipeline that follows the trade routes through Georgia and whats at stake is whether China in the east or Turkey in the west becomes the market for the Caspian oil of Russia and to some extent Iran.

                    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

                    by rktect on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 03:34:26 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  That does seem rather doubtful (8+ / 0-)

              The Arthurian legend was generated in a rather isolated crucible, partly in Wales and Cornwall, partly in Brittany, and later (and most extensively) in northern France.  Ossetia is a very long way away, and it's quite doubtful that Chrétien de Troyes or Robert de Boron had any knowledge of or contact (direct or indirect) with Ossetian folk epic "Nart" poetry -- all of which is known from collections made centuries after the Arthurian legends were written down.  

              Explaining an earlier mythos by one that appears later would seem to be reversing cause and effect; if the resemblances are not chance coincidences, it would seem far more likely that an 18th or 19th century Ossetian was influenced by a Russian translation of one of the French or English stories.  More likely, the resemblances are superficial and fall apart on close examination.

            •  An Ossetian-Arthurian connection? (5+ / 0-)

              It has been theorized (although I find it rather fanciful) that there was such a connection. The Alans (Ossetians) were a subtribe of the Sarmatians, who were early pioneers in cataphract armored heavy cavalry tactics. The Romans did use some vassalized Sarmatian tribes as cavalry auxiliaries, even on the northwestern European frontier of the Empire; this is supposedly how Alain became a common name in northern Gaul. Some have suggested that Arthur Rex was a Sarmatian armored cavalry officer trying to enforce law and order in Britain after the Roman legions withdrew.

              I greatly doubt it, but it does make a neat story.

              •  If there was an Arthur (4+ / 0-)

                  Which is in itself quite doubtful, then he lived in the late 5th-early 6th century, by which time Roman power was extinct in Britain, and the Roman ability to ferry troops of varied ethnicities from one side of the Empire (the point of which was to discourage fraternization between the soldiers and the locals) to the other was quite lost.

                  We should also be careful about assuming all or any soldiers assigned a particular ethnonym actually possessed that ethnicity.  Hussars, uhlans, and zouaves were originally of Hungarian, Turkish, and Berber origin respectively -- but most people who fought under the names of hussars, uhlans, and zouaves were of quite  different ethnicities, e.g. Germans, Poles, and French.  Likewise, the Royal Welch Fusiliers are not necessarily Welsh, and you don't need to be a Scot to join the Scots Guards.

            •  It's more a matter of common origins (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mattman, IM, DanC, DBunn, Judge Moonbox

              The research of Georges Dumezil (and his followers) in the 20th century demonstrated that mythology and folklore was carried along with language among the Indo-European peoples. A similar phenomenon occurs within other language families.

              In other words, you can see the same cast of characters, often appearing under linguistically-related names, in similar divine soap-operas across the spread of Indo-European cultures from India to Ireland. See my Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism for a brief overview or any of the works of Dumezil for details.

              Thus the Ossetians, being an older people than those who spoke Celtic languages in Britain, are said to have an older version of a story which developed in ancient Britain into the core of the Arthurian mythos.

              Won't it be nice to have a SMART President?

              by ibonewits on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:06:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Internal contradiction (12+ / 0-)

                  If both British Celts and Ossetians have common Indo-European roots (which as a historical linguist I know is quite true), then neither of the peoples can be older than the other, and if they really both possessed common reflexes of a primordial epic mythos, the stories would of course be of the same age.  And Celtic mythology is certainly attested a good deal earlier than Ossetian stories (which is admittedly a function of the availability of literacy in the local language); and, in general, one expects the earliest recorded versions to be closer to the original.

                  Be that as it may, Dumézil's generalizations are suspect.  Even closely related peoples may develop very divergent legends in a short period of time -- for instance, the Vedic and Avestan mythologies, though written in languages at least as closely related to each other as, say, Spanish and Italian, and sharing a great deal of cognate nomenclature, and very likely based in large part on a common legendarium, are actually very different in content and emphasis.  And the gap, in time and space, between the mythologies (and languages) of other Indo-European peoples is far, far greater.

                 Moreover, over time older legends are abandoned as no longer interesting or relevant, and are replaced by new ones -- and these new ones do not respect national or linguistic boundaries.  The Mongolian epos borrows a good deal (including the name of the hero) from a Tibetan epic.  The Nart epic poetry of the Ossetians shares a good deal with the stories of the Circassians.

                  We can also see how mythologies are changed and rewritten over time, so that even when characters and the basic outline of the story is retained, the details and meaning of the story can change.  Compare the Avestan sketches of mythological stories, their elaborated versions in the Pahlavi literature, and their "classic" form in Ferdousi's Shahnama: observe how Gayah Martan, the primordial "First Mortal", humanity in its essence, turns into the more rationalized Kayumars, the first king of a tribe of cavemen clad in leopard-pelts.  How Yama Kshaita, progenitor of mankind and (in his Indic form) ruler of the underworld, turns into the hubristic prince Jamshid.  How the triple-headed dragon Azhi Dahaka becomes the wholly human, though cursed, ruler Zahhak.  And so on.  

                   No one can deny that these stories are very old; but their current form is a poor clue to what they were when they started.  One would not expect Ossetian poems, first recorded in the 19th century, to contain more archaic versions of a mythology supposedly shared with Celtic stories written down from the 8th-15th centuries -- in fact quite the reverse -- they should have changed more.  

                    And there is in fact no evidence that any elements of a common Indo-European legendarium have survived intact among the very divergent peoples of the Indo-European diaspora, and there's no very good reason to expect them to.  With some 5000 years of divergence, we should expect the Greeks, the Celts, the Norse, the Slavs, the Iranians and Indians, and all the other branches to have worked out national mythologies quite distinct in details and treatment, with any common threads so submerged (by changes of name, place, and event) that without a time machine and detailed knowledge of all the intermediate steps, they could not be traced.  

                   And all the evidence points to this being true.  As the Indo-European peoples moved apart from their common center, they abandoned their old gods and heroes, for the most part, and picked up new ones -- sometimes giving old ones new names and faces, often picking up new ones from the non-Indo-Europeans that they moved among.  And as generation replaced generation; as people moved to distant regions; as there were changes of mood and climate; new stories were told, new songs were sung, and the old ones were forgotten or torn into shreds, to furnish vaguely similar themes for the new heroes.  And over time, imagination being what it is, it's certain that widely divergent peoples would occasionally develop similar themes without being in the least aware of parallel developments taking place a continent away.

                  The fact that there is one kind of common inheritance (language) between these peoples does not imply that every possible resemblance can be ascribed to that common inheritance.  There is borrowing; there is chance resemblance; and there are outside influences.  To make a comparison: if you have freckles, and your sixth cousin has freckles, does that mean that you both inherited freckles from a common ancestor?  Not at all -- particulary not if old photographs show that none of your grandparents had freckles, or if your fifth cousin's mother has freckles despite not being related to you at all.

                •  Yes and no (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  IM, Judge Moonbox, no ideologue

                  I'm pretty much with you here except for a few points. Let's start with "Dumézil's generalizations are suspect" and "all the evidence points to this being true."

                  Some of his generalizations are suspect. He changed his own mind in later books about things he had written in earlier ones. Some of his followers expanded and corrected some of his ideas. I've even done that.

                  But his core insights remain supported by quite a bit of linguistic, historical, and even archaeological evidence. Indo-European myths have as much in common as they have distinguishing them, much to the annoyance of many scholars with various nationalistic axes to grind. Scholars working with the myths of other language families were able to show common elements within those.

                  And there is in fact no evidence that any elements of a common Indo-European legendarium have survived intact among the very divergent peoples of the Indo-European diaspora, and there's no very good reason to expect them to.

                  So the fact that multiple Indo-European mythologies have stories about red-haired thunder/lightening/fire gods with lusty appetites, magical two-sided weapons that can both kill and heal, and incidents in which they have to dress up in women's clothing, is entirely coincidental? What about the common Indo-European social structure of small classes of intellectuals surrounded by larger ones of warriors, then producers, then slaves, all centered on a "king" figure, that shows up in almost all the Indo-European myth systems, along with common technological plot elements such as chariots that seldom appear in neighboring non-IE cultures? Shall we discuss the importance of the number three (the number of the three "important" classes) in Indo-European cultures even to this day (our fairy tales are drenched in threes), while eights are important in Chinese-related ones and fours in various Native American ones?

                  Of course, it is entirely possible that some Ossetian storyteller heard about Arthur from a Crusader passing through the neighborhood during the middle ages and thought, "Hey! That sounds a bit like our old hero. I'll borrow a few riffs." I find it just as possible that when the Proto-Celtic-speaking peoples branched off from the other IEs, that they decided to keep the Arthur story and (centuries later) bring it to Britain. We'll probably never know.

                  The fact that there is one kind of common inheritance (language) between these peoples does not imply that every possible resemblance can be ascribed to that common inheritance.The fact that there is one kind of common inheritance (language) between these peoples does not imply that every possible resemblance can be ascribed to that common inheritance.

                  Quite true. I did not mean to imply that all resemblance equated to common inheritance, just that this particular one might.

                  Dumezil made comparative mythology academically respectable again, after decades of it being unfashionable. As long as we don't go to the extremes that Max Mueller did in the 1800s, it's a valuable tool to use alongside other approaches.

                  Won't it be nice to have a SMART President?

                  by ibonewits on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:15:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Shot'ha Rust'hveli (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dauphin, Judge Moonbox

            The Knight in the Leopard Skin

        •  The Ossetians are the descendant of the Alans (15+ / 0-)

            And the Alans were a people, ultimately of Iranian origin (the words Alan and Iran are cognate) who lived in and controlled much of the area along the Caucasus range (and the lowlands north of it) since the 1st century C.E.  They've been there for 2,000 years.

            Before that they were one sub-tribe of the Sarmatians, a steppe-dwelling nation that lived in a wide region stretching from Ukraine in the west to Kazakhastan on the east.  The Sarmatians go back to the 5th century B.C.E., and probably much further back.  Some centuries earlier they had migrated into what is now northwest Kazakhstan from "Transoxiana" -- the area between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya (Oxus and Jaxartes rivers in classical sources), now included in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kirgizstan.  At that time they were neighbors of Iranian tribes living on the southern bank of the Oxus, who later made a parallel migration onto the Iranian plateau, where they became Medes and Persians (and later Kurds, Baluchs, and many other Iranian peoples).

        •  Who are the Ossetians? (7+ / 0-)

          Among other things, South Ossetia is a republic where 99% of the people recently voted to become independent of Georgian rule.

          FWIW, North Ossetia is in Russia.

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

          by poemless on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:51:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I find those referendum results (0+ / 0-)

            highly questionable.

            This is not to say that there is not a majority for independence in the region. But the referendum cannot be used as proof, the main problem being that people in areas controlled by the Georgian government are unlikely to have been able to vote.

            The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

            by Lesser Dane on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:31:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Here is a reply that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ignacio Magaloni

          LanceBoyle gave me yesterday to a similar question.

          link

          "It's no wonder more people call themselves Democrats; it's easy to identify with a party that identifies with you." --srmjjg

          by Dragon5616 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:07:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  They didn't bomb Sukhumi only because (0+ / 0-)

          they didn't have the firepower.

          And it was Yeltsin who bombed Grozny in that botched attempt to curb violence that was the First Chechen War.

          I guess you have great sympathy for poor, bombed buildings shown on TV, but not for the people who weren't shown on Western TV, like the hundreds of thousands of Russians and Chechens who fled the horror of ethnic cleansing and banditry that was "The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria" long before Yeltsin's troops arrived.

          •  Talk about justifying genocide! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Judge Moonbox

            And it was Yeltsin who bombed Grozny in that botched attempt to curb violence that was the First Chechen War.

            I think it would be more accurate to call the First Chechen War a botched genocide, as demonstrated by the Second Chechen War which wasn't botched and which the Russians followed up on with mass rape and murder.

      •  Thank you, Jerome (20+ / 0-)

        for some sort of illumination of what is a situation so complex and so esoteric as to be nearly incomprehensible to the shallow American mind. You have taught me quite a bit of recent history.

        Why should the US MSM shed any light on these issues anyway? They don't have the "sex appeal" of, say, alleged "love children", tire pressure gauges, or American flag logos on planes.

        I was pretty disappointed by some of the "lefty European apologist of Soviet atrocities" comments you linked to. I had no idea that some of our fellow Kossacks were so clueless. :-(

      •  Jerome, wouldn't you have loved... (4+ / 0-)

        being a "fly on the wall" near Putin and Bush when they were "chatting" at the Olympics?  The Chinese probably know as they were likely recording the whole conversation for their political analysts to go over.  By the way, do you know anything about what the involvement of the Chinese is in all of this.  Considering their intense interest in the Middle East, I have a hard time believing they aren't very interested in the Georgian situation.

        •  My Compound Eye Witnessed the Following (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lesser Dane, geez53

          Bush: I heard there's some fighting you Russkies are doing with the Georgians! I hope that doesn't affect the peaches too much.
          Putin: Uh, no, the fighting is in the Caucasus.
          Bush: I don't care whether it's a primary fight or a caucus fight. It's all about the explosions. I have mine in Baghdad. I'll let you have yours too ... as long as you keep the oil prices good for the companies. Deal?
          Putin: Deal.
          Bush: The script from Rice says that I am supposed to fake being angry at you. Can I tell her we went through that already? I want to watch the games but she can be quite naggy if I don't go through the motions.
          Putin: That's okay. I will also have my media people send the right press releases.
          Bush: Good! Now can you tell me what's a good dish they make here? My friends tell me they make good Chinese food in China ....

      •  FYI, this is such a good diary I (0+ / 0-)

        bookmarked it.  Thanks for the work you do informing us.  I will pass this on to non-Kossacks.

        "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." E. B. White

        by maggiejean on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:36:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  1. How will Iran react? 2. What should US under- (14+ / 0-)

      stand about Iran's continued forebearance in the face of numerous Israeli, British, and US provocations, in contrast to the Georgian reaction to provocation?

    •  Be worried (37+ / 0-)

      be very, very worried.

      Half of Georgia’s 2,000 troops in Iraq plan to leave the country by Monday to join the fight against separatists in the breakaway province of South Ossetia, with the rest following as soon as possible, their commander said.....

      "The US will provide us with the transportation," he added.

      Georgia had said initially that it planned to withdraw just half of its contingent in Iraq.

      The US military said that all transportation options were being explored, without confirming that it would provide the aircraft.

      http://www.economicpopulist.org

      by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:46:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, great (14+ / 0-)

        now we are making ourselves a target, especially since Georgia declared a state of war, by transporting troops over the Black Sea.  Is this an Arch Duke Ferdinand moment?  Didn't or merchant marine become legitimate targets in WWII for this sort of thing?

        I am sure they will have heavy fighter escort, though.  Does anyone know what naval assets we currently have sailing in the Black Sea?

        It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

        by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:08:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just think (10+ / 0-)

          What's the easiest way to get the Georgians home to kill Russians?

          Through Incirlik?

          Probably.

          I'm sure that the Turks are going to appreciate this.

          Although maybe they will.

          If the Turkish military is busy protecting Georgia, they can't very well start a coup against the Islamist government.  Now can they?

          Interesting times.....

          http://www.economicpopulist.org

          by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:17:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh wait (11+ / 0-)

            it gets better.

            Treaty of Kars

            Article VI
            Turkey agrees to cede to Georgia suzerainty over the town and port of Batum, with the territory to the north of the frontier, indicated in Article IV of the present Treaty, which formed part of the district of Batum, on condition:

            That the population of the localities specified in the present Article shall enjoy a greater measure of local administrative autonomy, that each community is guaranteed its cultural and religious rights, and that this population may introduce in the above-mentioned places an agrarian system in conformity with its own wishes.

            That Turkey be assured free transit through the port of Batum for commodities and all materials destined for, or originating in, Turkey, without customs duties and charges, and with the right for Turkey to utilize the port of Batum without special charges. For the application of this Article, a commission of representatives of the interested Parties shall be created immediately after the signing of the present Treaty.

            Ankara is the protector of the Ajars, a largely Muslim people, under this treaty, and the Georgian government revoked much of Adjara autonomy in 2004.

            This should be interesting.

            http://www.economicpopulist.org

            by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:34:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  you're missing the best part JD... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jeffersonian Democrat

          ...It simply doesn't matter where or how many troops are there, because our TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY is the real target-not our troops anyway! Bush can claim a false flag attack on US territory no matter what the combat strength is, using the same ploy or gambit Adolf did in claiming the poles attacked his radio station right before invading Poland starting WW2. So what, right? Never forget this and understand your enemy: Bush copied Hitler's playbook and has it down to a fine science. Well, if you were Bush what would be the best excuse to suspend the Constitution, habeas corpus, and declare martial law here, other than a full-blown war with Russia?-which you know he already has the power to declare martial law and himself absolute dictator for life under NPSD-51 and dozens of other federal statutes already. So this little civil war in Georgia or incursion by Russia-or whatever you want to call it, plays right into Herr Bush's hands.
          They didn't risk all accumulating these kingly powers and wealth just to quietly give it all back to the people. In fact, no despot in world's history ever has, voluntarily that is.

          "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

          by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:33:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your tin foil hat is ready sir... (0+ / 0-)

            Please come to reception to pick it up.

            •  These are the facts we know are at work... (0+ / 0-)

              ...not theories, as aptly brought-out by this diarest himself, as well as hundreds of other diarests right here on Dkos! Being a natural-born citizen of and living in the US, I have a vested interest in what happens to this nation, and I'm smart enough to know that car parts, i.e. an engine, doors, seats, bumpers, windows, and rivots, once assembled together add-up to make a vehicle. Bush has the motive, the means, the power, the money, and the incentive to try and pull it all off. It all boils down to the one small matter of trust that he won't assemble the parts of totalitarianism and monarchy. After everything you've seen from your perch safely nestled in China(assuming you still live there as you once stated publicly here months ago), would you be willing to bet your life, let alone trust Bush to NOT do it? It's all about trust, and, if "all past is prologue" meaning that we can judge the future by the past, speaking as a historian who has made a life's work of studying Hitler's Reich for over 30 years, for me that ship has sailed years ago. One only needs to do a little subjective research to know the threat is real. Google keywords: American concentration camps, for starters chike. This is not a novel concept, nor is it a "theory". The repub neocons' Reagan started that snowball rolling over 25 years ago, and every president since, friend.

              "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

              by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 08:55:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Have you stopped taking your meds? (0+ / 0-)
                •  M goi nei sin... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...for your ad hominem. Mocking me doesn't change the facts, but if it makes you feel better for it by all means carry on. The truth is stranger than fiction and sometimes it's much easier to kill the messenger than to face the stark realities when they're staring one in the face. If one lived in the 1800's where information were available at best in sketchy increments and bits and puzzle pieces, one would have an excuse or cloak for one's obstinency, denial, and fears. But today we live in this magnificent information age where the truth (as well as lies) abounds, easily accessible or discernable to all with eyes to see and ears to hear. Research the facts. Lies kill. The truth is your friend. Embrace it as a brother, as your armor-bearer, and your closest ally.

                  A wise man once wrote, "those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it". And all the medications-or therapy in the world won't help anyone who refuses to take their blinders off their minds to reality until it has over-taken them like a tsunami wave. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

                  "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

                  by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 11:06:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Tipped and rec'd. What timing for war. I wonder (9+ / 0-)

      how long this has been planned by BushCo.

      They teach us to believe small lies, so we'll believe big lies later.

      by hideinplainsight on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:03:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Timing???? The big question is the Olympics (0+ / 0-)

        Launching the war to bomb on the Chinese parade was really nasty and incredibly cocky on the party of Saaki's overlord Cheney. He must want to show the Chinese and their pal Vlad that he doesn't give a shit WHAT they think - he can afford to lose another senseless war.

        On the other hand, maybe Saaki was just cuckooo, but I'm not sure.

    •  give me more (0+ / 0-)

      what is the motivation?
      You say it is not Oil- (my first thought)
      not Russia being a bad guy?
      Why is the fight about- drumming up Nationalism?

      •  It's about control of pipelines (0+ / 0-)

        The only oil pipeline route for oil from the region that Russia does not control goes through Georgia.

        If Russia can destabilize Georgia then that pipeline will not get built.

        •  Neocon breakaway strategy (0+ / 0-)

          US neocons have been employing a similar breakaway strategy for years, in IRran:  the U.S. Support Terrorists to Destabilize Iran?

          Continually frustrated in their attempts to launch any legitimate attack against Iran, Vice President Cheney and a group of die-hard neoconservatives hovering in and around his office, particularly his former Middle East adviser David Wurmser, have long been rumored to be engineering active support for dissident opposition groups who share their goal to overthrow the current Iranian regime. Many of these groups are aligned with non-Persian ethnic factions in Iran, notably Arabs, Kurds, Azerbaijanis and Baluchis. Serious analysts in the region have tended to dismiss these efforts as silly and ineffective. Nevertheless, neoconservative organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Near East Policy and the Hudson Institute have quietly championed the idea that Iran could be successfully dismembered along ethnic lines.

          The American Enterprise Institute has long been a hotbed for debate over these plans. In October 2005, it hosted a conference entitled "The Unknown Iran: Another Case for Federalism?" in which the specter of an ethnic dismemberment of Iran was raised. The AEI has subsequently been host to several conclaves where this idea of fomenting ethnic violence has been discussed, in which representatives from dissident groups are regularly invited to hold forth.

          The military continues to entertain the dismemberment of Iran and retired military officer and novelist Ralph Peters proposed the idea in the June 2006 issue of the Armed Forces Journal. His article, "Blood Borders" champions national independence for every ethnic group in the Middle East, redrawing the borders of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Turkey.

    •  Superb Diary Jerome (2+ / 0-)

      I agree with every word about all the credibility the U.S. has lost under Cheney/Bush.

      Government should treat its citizens like human beings, not profit generating units for the Corporate Aristocracy to use and abuse any way they choose

      by Lefty Coaster on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:33:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  hopefully, you'll check your new replies... (0+ / 0-)

      good diary, I wish I'd seen it soon enough to tip and rec.

      I'm playing catch up in the world of international relations these days. The Ukraine presents such a potential for conflict and tragedy (yet again - I'm currently reading Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow), is there any chance of that I could read your thesis?

      I'd appreciate it, thanks.

      I agree. The "Color Revolutions" are a mixed bag thus far. I think the thought in the West is that ethnically homogenous nations have a greater chance of stabilty and of the development of effective  commercial and democratic institutions, and some think that ethnonationalism has triumphed in Europe and goes a long way to explain Europe's stability.

      Oh. One more thing. That Russia could field a force as strong as it is so quickly speaks to a mobilization that has been going on for a long time. I believe that Russia has indeed been waiting for any excuse to release these forces. Was Saakashvili foolish to provide the Putin/Medvedev ruling nomenklatura a pretext?

      Perhaps. The coverage of the current round of fighting is fairly shallow, and I'll reserve judgement for now, while searching for deeper analysis from those preparing to dig deep and report their findings.

      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      --Robert Bates, Department of Government; Harvard University

      by papicek on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 09:53:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is one strange angle (43+ / 0-)

    This time Russia is, if not right, at least in the ballpark when it comes to being on the right side.

    That doesn't happen everyday.

    I have be reading what the local "alexander institute" is saying and they claim that Saakasvili wanted to gamble, he didn't expect Russia to react so fast and with full force. He lost the gamble and i have no idea what he is going to do. It is not like he can win this thing by using weapons.

  •  Since people will claim that the current (18+ / 0-)

    situation is nothing like Kosovo, let me be the first to cut and paste several of my comments to rebute that.

    The post-World War II world limited the right of self-determination with three inviolable principles: One nation-state per nation, an obligation to give proper rights to minorities, and the inviolability of borders, all so that future wars might be avoided, principles which the Kosovo precedent negated.

    A case has been made that the intervention was justified due to genocide, which is supposed to create an exception. It does not: The Nuremberg Court (in the aftermath of World War II!) specifically refused to recognise humanitarian intervention for any reason without the approval of the United Nations an exception from 'aggressive war,' the 'supreme international crime.'

    Furthermore, no matter the violence, no matter the death, the crimes in Kosovo never reached the level of genocide (which did occur in Bosnia) but 'merely' the level of ethnic cleansing (a case could be made that both sides in Ossetia engaged in that).

    With those principles negated, there is no reason why South Ossetia could not legally declare independence or its intent to merge with the Russian Federation and, as I hope I've demonstrated, current precedent allows them to do it, as well as Russia to interven on Ossetia's behalf.

    Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

    by Dauphin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:27:09 AM PDT

  •  Internationally (3+ / 0-)

    we'd rather play checkers.....thanx for the background...

  •  I'm confused on Russia's interest: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hideinplainsight, ER Doc, NCrissieB

    if oil isn't involved, what's the russian interets in South Ossetia?  I can understand Abkhazian; that has black sea access and beaches.  

    All I can guess is that, like Afghanistan, Ossetia is one step closer to oil.

    "For a man who will turn 72 this month, he's a surprisingly immature politician--erratic, impulsive and subject to peer pressure"-Newsweek.

    by Inland on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:30:22 AM PDT

    •  Well, they want to be ANNEXED by Russia. (11+ / 0-)

      More land is always welcome, is it not?

      Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

      by Dauphin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:32:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ossetia is like Grenada (22+ / 0-)

      It is a convenient, nearly cost-less way to demonstrate that Russia "is back and not to be trifled with."

      It's a show for global consumption that says "test Russian resolve and we'll bomb your apartment blocks."

      In reality, Saakashvili has a bad temper and Russia knows this. They kept pushing his buttons with surreptitious troop movements and misplaced missiles and he finally reacted by making a preemptive strike.
      Then the Russians followed through with their plans; note the convenience with which they have launched their "defensive attacks."

      So, Saakashvili got played. But he had to do something; his political support rests on him doing something.

      •  I would agree, but the MSM seems to support this (4+ / 0-)

        or at least is not taking the expected stance of rebuking everything Russian as we've done in the past.

        From the der Spiegel article linked from below, apartment complexes on fire are just rather neutral, as are roughly 1500 "died in fighting"- really a stunning and passive number. Not state supported terror aimed at the civil population, not murder...

        I do wonder if this is a concession for Russia regarding what the west will do with Iran, diplomatically or otherwise.

        Listen to Noam Chomsky's Necessary Illusions. (mp3!)

        by borkitekt on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:50:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes or like the Falklands (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Euroliberal

        Where a local dictator in trouble (Saakashvili/Galtieri) cranks up a bully war of national salvation, and the Empire in Decline finally strikes back.

    •  I see this as geopolitical gamesmanship. (9+ / 0-)

      Russia is involving herself in an attempt to limit the escalating threats against her international power.  How is that power being threatened?  By the increasing westernization of Russian satellite nations.

      The 2008 Georgia-Russia crisis began on March 6, 2008 when Russia announced that it would no longer participate in the CIS economic sanctions imposed on Abkhazia in 1996.[1] The crisis has been linked to the push for Georgia to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan and the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.[2] Tensions in the crisis have been primarily centered around the breakaway state of Abkhazia and increase following the shootdown of a Georgian drone and subsequent buildup of military forces by Russia.

      Lifting of CIS sanctions
      Responding to Kosovo's recent declaration of independence, Russian officials declared Moscow should "reshape its relations with self-proclaimed republics".[3] Russia responded to these calls for increased ties by lifting CIS sanctions, declaring them "outdated, impeding the socio-economic development of the region, and causing unjustified hardship for the people of Abkhazia".[1] Russia also called on other CIS members to undertake similar steps, but met with protests from Tbilisi and lack of support from the other CIS countries.[4] Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labor Party of Georgia, warned Abkhazia would be "finally separated from Georgia" and cited the lifting of sanctions as the first sign.[5] Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, raised similar concerns about the dropping of trade restrictions saying, "That could look like a de facto annexation and that would be a matter of great concern if it were the case."[6]

      [edit] Russian increase of ties with breakaway republics in Georgia
      Abkhazia and South Ossetia both submitted formal requests for recognition of their independence to Russia, among other countries, and international organizations as a response to the recognition of Kosovo.[7][8] Russia's Duma called a session for March 13 to discuss the issue of recognition in respect to the unrecognized republics in the Former Soviet Union.[9] Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said the European Union was concerned by what it considered moves by Russia to recognize Abkhazia. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said, there was "a growing preoccupation and anxiety that Russia may be paving the way for recognition of Abkhazia," and stated the EU's support for Georgia's territorial integrity.[6]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      There's more background at the link above - a good read - that gives you an idea of how it all played out.

      Does the controversy of Bush's missile defense placement in Russia's backyard ring any bells?

      Russia sees Georgia as the last straw, and are acting to reassert their power.

      Bush & Co miscalculated - or willfully provoked - Russia's response.

      I smell the fingers of the craziest war mongers in the military-industrial complex in this.  The cold war was very profitable for them, and they aren't ethical enough to want to avoid a hot war.

      •  Trust me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hideinplainsight

        they'll keep finding new NATO members so long is the money is there. Those guys do benefit from this.

        •  Unfortunately, the end result (6+ / 0-)

          is war when Russia retaliates to retain their global power.  NATO pledges to intervene if/when a member state is attacked.  If one is attacked, ALL are attacked.  And I can't see Russia standing on the sidelines while they're gradually consumed by the west.

          Thus, my assertion that this is gamesmanship on OUR side by the warmongers to create war with Russia - or at least a profitable arms build up on the scale of the past cold war.

          •  Russia has to decide (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Judge Moonbox

            it likes Western money, Western products, Western vacations. It wants to sell its gas and oil (actually Turkemistan's gas and oil, but ...) to the West. But it actually thinks it can somehow keep up a strong border where Putin controls everything?

            I guess you can't really be a sovereign democracy. You can't pretend to be Western and do deals with the Germans and then turn around and have a state ideology and Putinjugend and pretend it's all ok and normal.

            •  Counterexample (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LordMike

              China.  You get enough leverage and you can do anything.

            •  There's also a conflict in ideology (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              melo, gaianne, fran1, eaglecries, Dauphin

              between the west and Russia.  Even if Russia wants a western standard of living, they're culturally unable to accept western cultural dominance.

              The west's inability to respect the cultures of others is a problem.  We're showing a need to dominate - just as they do when they invade other countries.  We just dominate with capitalism instead of tanks (although with Bush in charge it might be either).

              In any case, either cultural or military dominance is not something a powerful country will tolerate without objection.

              •  Careful with culture (6+ / 0-)

                Those "culture" arguments are used to mask some serious human rights abuses in a lot of countries that don't want to be called out for their bull.  As Jerome notes, our governments have lost credibility on that question, but that doesn't mean we (as in individuals) can't call out that bullshit for what it is.  I'm not sure if that's what your comment is getting at, but I'm always a bit sensitive about that word in such a context, juxtaposing our (nearly nonexistent) Western "culture" with others.

              •  Yes... annoying requirements like democracy... (0+ / 0-)

                There's also a conflict in ideology between the west and Russia.  Even if Russia wants a western standard of living, they're culturally unable to accept western cultural dominance.

                Yes.  That pesky Western Cultural Dominance that insists on democracy, no genocide (a problem - the Russians are the worst serial genociders in the past 1,000 years), and human rights.

            •  Russia bears no resemblance to western democracy (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dauphin, galaxy33, oldpunk, dmnyct

              Nor do they want to.  When I was there in May I could not find a single person who had voted in the last election.  Many people spoiled their ballots.  There is no contradiction for the Russian government between the most extreme kind of western materialism and a 100% authoritarian totalitarian state, which in my view, is where they're headed.

              •  Agree, Fyodor, Russians don't seem to.... (4+ / 0-)

                be able to wrap their heads around the concept of rule of law because, I suppose, in the past, their experience has always been "might makes right."  The rule of law is very fragile (as we have experienced in this country) and not particularly expedient.  But it is fundamental to democracy.  Where there is not rigid adherence to the rule of law, democracy cannot be established or long prevail.

              •  Oh come on, totalitarian? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dauphin

                Ты что, в рунете небыл ни разу?

                Don't give us that [at least] 200 year old oh-so-noble Russian intelligentia "I care only for the spirit and all my other countrymen are pigs" number.

                Leftover of the elite classist mentality of the nobility, justifying their power and privilege.

                Reality is much more complex.

                Yes, political apathy and fatalism are a problem, but if (when) things go South economically, the usual discontent will emerge and будет...... что-нибудь (something will happen) who knows what?  That's Russia.

                A Spanish path with Medvedev as King Juan Carlos, who everyone underestimated, is fully possible.

                Spain in 1975 was much more totalitarian than Russia now.

              •  democracy (0+ / 0-)

                It is a rather fanciful notion that you can create a democracy with little more than paper ballots.

                In Romance and Rise of the American Tropics (1929) by Samuel Crowther, he writes about the failure of democracy to take in Central America, and the subsequent bloodshed, being due to the citizens being so used to the authoritarian top-down rule of the Conquistadors, unlike the US where there was a Parliamentary history, and being unprepared for bottom-up rule.    The exception was Costa Rica which had a transitional period of somewhat benevolent dictatorship, most of it overseen by one of my indirect ancestors, Minor C Keith, who founded what became, after merger with a US distributor, the United Fruit Company (which after his death continued to meddle in Central American politics but without the sense of Noblesse Oblige), now Chiquita (which, too their credit, acknowledges their checkered past), and eventually married the daughter of the first President.  

                Russia has a long history of totalitarian rule by the Communists and before that the Czars.   Plus suffering seems to be part of the national identity.

                Witness, also, the decline of democracy in the US as the citizens have abdicated their responsibility.

                --
                -6.25, -6.36 Worst. President. Dictator. Ever.

                by whitis on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:42:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Don't forget the missile shield. (7+ / 0-)

        I think that in terms of provoking Russia, we should remember that Bush revoked the ABM treaty when Putin was weak, and now that he is strong, he's using that to unite the people of the Russian Federation.

        I'm not asking you to take the country back, I'm asking you to take it forward-Van Jones.

        by Judge Moonbox on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:18:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's Right Judge - this is a far from trivial (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dauphin, Judge Moonbox

          matter.

          The ABM treaty was the sine qua non of Russian strategic security.

          They are not fooled by the "shield against Iran" argument for one red second (pun intended).

          And 99.9 percent of our countrymen and women are totally, totally clueless on the little Czech missile site.

          •  Um... I thought the Cold War was over... (0+ / 0-)

            Are you saying that the Russians are targeting their ICBMs at us again?

            If so, why?

            If not, then why is a US ABM system a threat to Russia?

            •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Judge Moonbox

              Are you saying that the Russians are targeting their ICBMs at us again?

              If so, why?

              If not, then why is a US ABM system a threat to Russia?

              Just answering the "if not" part:

              Because it gives the US a credible nuclear threat against Russia (ie it eliminates MAD)

              The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

              by Lesser Dane on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:50:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  If Russia put an ABM system in Cuba (0+ / 0-)

              You would not see a nonchalant attitude in Washington.

              •  Snicker... (0+ / 0-)

                If it was in Cuba I think Washington would laugh itself half to death.

                After all, a US ICBM launch against Russia would head over the North Pole.  An ABM system in Cuba would be hilarious.  

                •  OK - I was just making a point. (0+ / 0-)

                  That made geo-political, if not geographic sense.

                  If it was on Greenland,then.

                  You haven't responded to the real argument.

                  •  I don't think we would care to be honest... (0+ / 0-)

                    It would just be another arms race and one that we would clearly win.

                    We would certainly be less happy if it looked like Russia might win, but that is because of the kind of country Russia has become - evolving from Communism to Fascism.

                    If Russia was a liberal democracy we wouldn't care... but if Russia was a liberal democracy it would have no need to create an ABM system to protect it from the US.

                    •  ABM systems don't protect (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Judge Moonbox

                      If deployed against a nuclear power , they destabilize.

                      Russia will likely re-arm and retarget the nukes out of sheer strategic necessity, and then we'll be back to where we were in the 80's 2 minutes before midnight to atomic Armaggedon.

                      Also the thought "democracy - peaceful" "authoritarian-warlike" has been totally undermined by Iraq.

                      •  Please explain... (0+ / 0-)

                        How, exactly, do ABMs deployed against a nuclear power destabilize?

                        In actual fact, their impact on stability depends on how effective they are.

                        A very effective system forces your adversary to go to a strike on warning plan because he cannot be sure that his assets that survive a first strike would be enough to effectively retaliate.  That is destabilizing.

                        However, a moderately effective or ineffective system makes a first strike by an adversary less attractive (by guaranteeing that a larger retaliatory force will survive) without being able to prevent the adversary's surviving nuclear assets from delivering a devastation anti-population counterstrike.  This increases stability.

                        I think it is pretty clear that the current US system is not yet very effective.  It therefore increases stability.

                        Also the thought "democracy - peaceful" "authoritarian-warlike" has been totally undermined by Iraq.

                        Not really... When have two democracies fought?

                        •  Explanation (0+ / 0-)
                          1. First of all your example is too convoluted.  Despite my Harvard degree, I could not perfectly parse your prose, though I get your general drift. But that's part of the whole situation.  These things need to be absolutely simple and clear.  The critical decisions will not be made by war-gamers, but by politicians acting in extremely limited timeframes.

                          The simple, straighforward, human truth is that a moderately effective system is a step on the path to building an effective system.  That is why the US and Soviet Union sensibly banned development before Bush.

                          This is why Barack Obama rightly points to overall global de-nuclearization as the only way to reliably reduce threats, including the threat of nuclear terrorism.

                          Weaponry-based solutions are a chimera.

                          1. The last time democracies clashed was the Kargil conflict in 1999 between India and Pakistan.

                          Let's remember "democracies" haven't been around all that long, while autocratic systems have had much more time to accumulate conflicts.

                          The ideological-and national interest argument of "democracy = peace" is treated as a "law," and while we have recently seen some evidence of this, the irony is that it has been often used to launch yet another bellicose "Crusade for Democracy."

                          Democracies are also  extremely skilled at subverting nascent democracies in floundering post-autocratic societies and bending their policies to the own national interests of the democracies, leading to a restoration of autocracy in the "culturally deficient" autocratic nation.

                          Russia  in the 90's being the perfect example.

                          I'm told this started in the policies of Athens, the cradle of democracy, but I'm no expert on Greece so don't press me for details on that one.

                  •  Actually, I think Denmark would care! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Judge Moonbox

                    After all, Greenland is Danish territory!

            •  Institutional Orthodoxy. (0+ / 0-)

              On June 22, 1941, the Soviet Union learned the lesson that you can't trust anyone, even if you've signed a non-aggression pact with them.

              Did the USSR have cause to fear the USA? Even if they hadn't; their military commanders couldn't afford themselves the luxury of trusting US intentions.

              That has carried over to the present day--what the US has done, under George Aitch Bush and Bill Clinton, after the wall came down is hardly enough to reassure people in positions where skepticism is required.

              As for the ABM systems, there are only two enemies who can be trusted not to give terrorists a suitcase bomb: Russia and China. Only Russia has the force capable of crippling the US, the other nuclear enemies have nuclear doctrines of inflicting pain, and for that, terrorism works just as well.

              If the Star Wars defense is not intended to blunt Russian missiles, it is intended to threaten deomestic spending by running up the deficit so much that spending cuts are essential.

              I'm not asking you to take the country back, I'm asking you to take it forward-Van Jones.

              by Judge Moonbox on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:38:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Also remember (13+ / 0-)

      that approx. 90% of South Ossetians have Russian passports, they are Russian citizens.

      Not that necessarily believe that Russia is merely protecting its citizens without any other geo-political motive whatsoever, I tend to believe that they would probably win the international legal argument, here.

      Remember, we invaded Grenada on the same premises of rescuing "endangered" US citizen medical students from an evil marxist regime.

      It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:46:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the large majority of Grenadians approved ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        redcardphreek, hideinplainsight

        ... of the invasion, though no majority would have agreed on whether it was a Rescue Mission from five years of godless Revolution, a legitimate Intervention requested by the OECS in the face of a breakdown in order, or an Illegal Invasion which was the Lesser of Two Evils since it captured the bastards who killed Brother Bishop.

      •  Russia distributed those passports (7+ / 0-)

        to the local population of South Ossetia upon request and not without an ulterior motive on their own part.

        •  oh, of course there are other (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gaianne

          motives, but my point being that this probably will hold up in the world court while the other motives are probably impossible to prove.

          It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

          by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:16:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Doesn't matter as the south Ossentians wanted (7+ / 0-)

          them.

          Also, in 2 referendums they voted that they did not want to be pat of Georgia's secession from the original Russian federation.

          The Russians may have had their motives too. No surprise. But maybe as progressives we may wish to take into account the Ossentians themselves, not our old cold war "feelings" (or conditioned responses) toward the Russians.

          The most successful war seldom pays for its losses. - Thomas Jefferson

          by Judgment at Nuremberg on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:21:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Those two referedunms may not mean much given (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dauphin, Judge Moonbox

            that over years rounds of ethnic cleansing driven out both Ossetians and ethnic Georgians from South Ossetia. That region is also effectively controlled by various thugs alligned with the FSB (the successor to KGB). Besides Saakashvili's regime offered autonomy to South Ossetia to keep it from the Russian orbit of influence.

            In any case, now that Georgia lost its gamble - South Ossetia will become a de jure (rather than de facto) part of Russia. It is yet, to be seen how the conflict will play out in the other Georgian break-away region of Abkhazia.

          •  Perhaps south Ossentians (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Judge Moonbox

            want to be united with their northern counterparts.

            •  Again no surprise (0+ / 0-)

              but Americans will look at this, with the help of the amoral MSM, through the old cold war lens of the familiar Russian bogeyman rather than dealing with the the Ossentians desires or the treachery of the surprise Georgian attack and Georgian peacekeepers killing Russian peacekeepers on the spot.  

              The most successful war seldom pays for its losses. - Thomas Jefferson

              by Judgment at Nuremberg on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:10:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  An interesting precedent to set (3+ / 0-)

          I wonder what other states, more powerful than their neighbors, would like to distribute their nationality to other state's citizens and then assert a "right" to protect their nationals. The possibilities are delightful to think about!

      •  And the Germans living in Checkloslovakia... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Giustino, Shane Hensinger, papermoon

        ...needed to be "liberated" by Hitler... that was his excuse, too!

        The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

        by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:22:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oh certainly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fran1

          and in my war, we mobilized and invaded Panama because the last straw was supposedly an officer's wife was taken by Policia for a traffic violation and raped.

          That was the US Army by the way

          as in the United States

          Oh, and before you get down on ethnic Russian school children in Estonia as you did upthread, try going to Talinn and experiencing the Russian Ghettos and draconian nationalist laws.  Perhaps then you may understand why an oppressed minority revert to misguided "good old days".  My stay in Estonia in 1994 was quite an eye-opener, especially where Nazism is widely and openly accepted.

          It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

          by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:29:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  1994 was a long time ago... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Giustino, Judge Moonbox

            ...Estonia had just emerged as a free state after brutal occupation by the Soviets for 50 years... There's a reason why the Russian people were not warmly embraced in that nation.... they had been deliberately imported by the Soviets as a way to dilute and weaken the baltic people.  They were seen as essentially carpetbaggers brought in to oppress baltic nationals.

            It is much different now... as tensions have eased, the russian minorities in these states have considerably more influence, wealth, and power.

            As your claim about "openly embracing Nazism" is quite offensive and wrong... There is no love for nazism in these countries, but, the fact is, the atrocities of the soviet union made the nazis look benevolent in comparison... the fact that many initially collaborated with the germans was the result of the german promise to allow the baltics to remain independent states.  It was a false promise, and when the people realized that these promises were broken, baltic partisans worked towards liberating the country from both nazis and soviets. There is no love of nazis in this region, but their hate of soviets is much greater... so, perhaps that gives a false impression....

            The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

            by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:46:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  uh, no, walking into an antique (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gaianne, fran1, LanceBoyle, Dauphin

              store with my friend Lyle Goldstein, we were "welcomed" by an attractive, young Estonian girl sporting an old Totenkoph officers hat.  It just got worse from there mingling with locals during the day and at nights in the clubs.  I was there and experienced it.

              merely one example other than anecdotal:

              http://news.bbc.co.uk/...

              Estonia unveils Nazi war monument

              Nazi forces spread across Europe during World War II
              An Estonian town has unveiled a controversial monument to honour those who fought with Nazi forces against the Soviet Union in World War II
              .

              Sure, you speak of tearing down Soviet monuments but obviously and convienently leave out the ones they're erecting.

              the atrocities of the soviet union made the nazis look benevolent in comparison

              wow, I guess the Holocaust never happened either

              I know the Russians are all big, bad and evil, but that really doesn't take into the account that Russians were opposed to the Soviet Empire too, and it was popular uprising that brought down the Soviet Union, but maybe you don't remember the chants of the crowds in Moscow, faced with the tanks of the army, shouting "the Peoples Army does not attack the people!" which diffused military action against the popular will.

              That also doesn't mean that the average Russian worker or scientist sent to the Baltics, or anywhere else, do not have rights to work or even get by because their former government sent them there.

              It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

              by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:03:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I do remember! (7+ / 0-)

                And Boris Yeltsin was the integral force that allowed the independence of the baltics...  Unfortunately, our bumbling interference has soured the Russian people to democracy and free market economics (which has only served to make the majority of citizens poorer than they ever were before)....  Times have changed, and the Russians have every right to be mad...

                No one is justifying Nazi atrocities, but the soviets murdered 3 times as many people as the nazis did and were much more ruthless...  We don't hear about it much here, since the Soviets were our allies at the time.

                The baltic peoples were spared from much of the brutality of the nazi occupiers 'cos baltic people tend to look Aryan...  You have to realize that the soviets deported or killed millions of baltics, but the nazis pretty much left that region alone...  In comparison, they were seen as the much more benevolent foe by locals.

                Also, it is important to note that many people were conscripted into the Nazi army by force... they were not eager to fight for the nazi occupiers, but certainly were eager to fight against the soviets who murdered their families... If you put the two occupiers side by side, there is no comparison... the soviets brutalized the region, while the nazis allowed self determination.  If you lived there at the time, the choice would be clear, too...

                BTW, the soviets did not conscript locals... locals were not to be trusted...

                One needs to have a better background of the situation before a rush to judgment...  Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn't understand the background and the context of the situation.... and are eager to judge people of the region as eager nazi sympathizers when the situation is much more complex...

                There is no question that atrocities occurred in the baltics during nazi occupation, and they cannot be excused.... Jewish populations (some of the largest in europe... the area was considered to be a safe haven for jews) were decimated... but, one should not ignore the infinitesimally worse atrocities that Soviet occupiers committed in the region.  There really is no comparison between the two.

                If you talk to old timers from that region, you'll see that they don't really talk about the Nazi's at all... they are an afterthought compared to the Soviets.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of the nazi stuff you saw in Tallinn was a response to the rise of Russian nationalism in the region and their use of soviet imagery.

                The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

                by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:24:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I feel that I can rec your comment (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jerome a Paris, LordMike, Giustino

                  because this is much more, to me at least, reasoned than previous remarks.

                  When I bought my wonderful hand-made, un-PC, whale oil, wool, fishermen sweaters that I still have, at the market, I remember asking if they spoke Russian.

                  They replied no.  The I asked if they spoke English, and they replied very little.

                  We went back to Russian and spoke fluently in our haggling once they realized that I was American.  40 USD, btw, which would probably cost 3-5 hundred bucks in the US.

                  Your post is true, but do not leave out the Foreign Baltic SS battalions, which were volunteer, just for historical accuracy.

                  It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

                  by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:40:05 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Lord Mike you have a blind spot (0+ / 0-)

                  much wider than a Mac Truck.

                  You neglect to mention that the Baltic peoples were dealt with so ruthlessly just BECAUSE they were such eager cooperators with the Nazis, who decimated Russia.

                  The Nazi cooperation came first, the Soviet atrocities later.

                  You've turned things around.

                  As the Balts have in their heads, now.

                  •  Bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

                    The Soviets invaded Estonia first.  The committed mass murder, torture, and deportations.

                    The Estonians understandably welcomed the Nazis as liberators.

                    That gives you an idea of how bad the Soviets were.

              •  In Estonia that's true... (0+ / 0-)

                the atrocities of the soviet union made the nazis look benevolent in comparison

                The Soviets killed far more Estonians than the Nazis.

            •  True, LordMike, we have a Latvian... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LordMike

              friend who lived through the Nazi era and then through the Russian invasion and occupation.  In her 80's now, she recounted some of the WWII history for us.  She didn't particularly care for the Nazis but said "some of the German officers were gentlemen."  But then she spat out, "The Russians were pigs."  (Of course, I eventually came to know why she hated them--she was gang-raped by several Russian soldiers.  She was an extraordinarily beautiful young woman and she felt that she was marked from the moment they saw her.)  Her family had been quite wealthy before the war and even though the Nazis took over her family estate, she felt that they would have gotten their estate back after the war, except for the Russians.    

              •  I feel badly for her (0+ / 0-)

                but there were a lot of Jews in Latvia before the war who might have disagreed with her on that one, if only they had had the privilege of living to the age of 81.

                Very, very few of them did.  In part, due to the actions of some her countrymen, who collaborated with those German "gentlemen".

                "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

                by mbayrob on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 12:01:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  "The atrocities of the soviet union" (0+ / 0-)

              Yeah, right:

              the atrocities of the soviet union made the nazis look benevolent in comparison...

              No offense, but are you high?

              Maybe for ethnic Balkins.  But not for my people, who essentially all died. I'm not going to let them off so lightly.  What they got from the Soviets was but a small bit of karmic backlash for collaboration with the German invaders.

              "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

              by mbayrob on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:58:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Blame the ones who started it. (0+ / 0-)

                If the Soviet Union hadn't invaded the Balkans under the Molotov Ribbentrop pact then the Balkan people would have been far less welcoming of the Germans - they would have been invaders, not liberators.

                The people to blame are the Soviets who were the initial invaders of the Balkans.

          •  Oh, and I don't justify U.S. actions in Panama... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jeffersonian Democrat

            ...or anywhere else that we don't belong...

            The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

            by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:47:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I am an American and I live in Estonia (5+ / 0-)

            and I have been to the "Russian" ghettos. The trouble is that I have also been to the south Estonian countryside, where people also lead quite difficult lives. I think Estonian Russian urbanites in Tallinn often have it way better than poor Estonian kids in the rural areas of the country.

            As LordMike pointed out, Estonians have to approach the Second World War from a relativist standpoint. It's unfathomable to consider someone who deports and kills your family to be an ally looking out for your own good. It is unfathomable to view a person who arrests you as a liberator.

            By the way, the Estonian government removed the monument you describe in your post in 2004. None of these monuments were "torn down" -- the monument to the German conscripts was put in a military museum; the Soviet one was re-erected in a military cemetery.

            I personally don't have anything against memorials to dead soldiers of any army. These guys were usually 18, 19, 20 years old and had little say in the matter.

            •  ok, thanks (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Giustino

              my only experience was in Tallinn, I don't have that experience in the countryside.  But I do remember the Ghettos (stayed the night in one) as pretty bad.  But that can be pretty relative, especially considering my home state of South Dakota and Pine Ridge Reservation.

              Good points to dispel antagonism

              It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

              by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:42:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Nazism accepted most of all by the Estonians, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jeffersonian Democrat

            of course.

            I was struck that in Tennessee the legislature (including Blacks, Jews) decided last year (or so) not to dig up and rebury the founder of the KKK, just to avoid racial problems.

            Yet when the Estonians dig up the tomb of the unknown Soviet soldier in Tallinn and move him outside the city, the West pretends not to understand Russia's indignation.

            •  We understood... we just didn't care. (0+ / 0-)

              Yet when the Estonians dig up the tomb of the unknown Soviet soldier in Tallinn and move him outside the city, the West pretends not to understand Russia's indignation.

              The Soviets in Estonians were mass murdering occupiers and thieves, not liberators.  They should have taken their trash with them when they left.

              •  Chike, your kind of hate (0+ / 0-)

                Is what keeps people getting killed, year after year.

                Estonians now have to live with Russians, like it or not.

                Maybe you propose airlifting the country to Newfoundland?

                That would seem to be the only realistic plan with your attitude.

                The French and Polish realized this long ago with the Germans, but  since Cold War passions have been enflamed by the West, the Baltic countries have not been allowed to develop such a sensible approach to former enemies, and have been encouraged to nurture and deepen their wounds.

                Pity.

        •  Irredentism is what this phenomenon is called (8+ / 0-)

          I just finished my thesis on the use of forced population transfers in the Balkans to solve irredentist conflicts.

          For an irredentist conflict to evolve the following causal factors need to be present:

          1. An irredentist state (Russia)
          1. An anti-irredentist state (Georgia)
          1. A shared ethnic group (Ossetians)

          I didn't expect it to arrive so quickly but a conflict model called Macedonian Conflict Model could have predicted it.

        •  The Czechs didn't launch a military attack (0+ / 0-)

          on Karlsbad to give Hitler an excuse to invade.

          And let's remember, Hitler was "given" the Sudentenland, and he took Czechoslovakia.  No sign of Putin taking Georgia at this point.

    •  The main interest is keeping NATO OUT (0+ / 0-)

      Avoiding further encirclement by the world's largest military block.

  •  We also have just as bad karma as the Russians .. (13+ / 0-)

    Russia should wonder why all its neighbors want to join NATO. Hint: it's not because they love the neocons; it's because they really dislike Moscow.

    If I were Moscow, I'd think long and hard about what it means to alienate all your neighbors. They are still living with Stalin's mistakes (see Chechnya); it isn't time to be making new mistakes.

    It's also quite telling that you referenced Cuba. Ask yourself, why is the United States so unpopular south of the border and you might begin to understand the attitude of Russia's former colonies/vassals towards the former imperial center.

    •  not quite true (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gaianne, Fyodor, fran1, hideinplainsight

      Not all Russias neighbors want to join NATO.

    •  Oh I agree (14+ / 0-)

      There are legitimate reasons for Russia's neighbors to fear its intervention. And Georgia's situation is particularly complex, with many minority groups, sub-minorities, and longstanding simmering conflicts.

      But there still is a step from protecting oneself to actively provoking Russia.

      And as a note, the Central European countries were pretty much told (wrongly) that being a member of NATO was a pre-condition to joining the EU, their real goal.

      •  The Americans are coming (8+ / 0-)

        But there still is a step from protecting oneself to actively provoking Russia.

        See the article I linked above.  The US is providing the transportation to bring home 1,000 Georgian troops from Iraq.  Which will mot likely be an aircraft unless the Georgians get their ceasefire they've asked for.

        What happens if an American plan transporting Georgian troops into an armed conflict with Russia gets shot down?

        We live in interesting times..

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:50:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That would be an act of war... (0+ / 0-)

          I assume that there will be a major air screen around those planes... and if the Russians come anywhere near the Americans will start shooting at them.

          Then things get interesting.

          There is precedent for the right of the US to enter Georgia, with Georgian permission, and attack Russian forces in Georgia with impunity.

          For example, during the Vietnam War Soviet anti-aircraft crews shot down several B52 bombers over North Vietnam.  The American planes were prohibited from targeting them.

          Anyway, the US has little choice - we can hardly ask an ally to help us in our war and then refuse to help their troops get home when their country is invaded.

      •  Unaware that was in Copenhagen criteria. (4+ / 0-)

        Even Chirac wasn't too keen on rejoining the NATO command structure--they're part of the politial alliance, but not the military. Finland, Sweden, Malta, and Cyprus aren't NATO members.

        I do think that Clinton and his EU counterparts should have had a Charm Offensive--to encourage Russia to adopt the Copenhagen criteria (for EU membership) and the related NATO criteria, for its own sake; even if they couldn't promise that there'd be the votes to let them in, it would have made Russia a big Switzerland, a welcome member of the European family even if they're not an official part of it.

        I'm not asking you to take the country back, I'm asking you to take it forward-Van Jones.

        by Judge Moonbox on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:28:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Where does this come from? (0+ / 0-)

        And as a note, the Central European countries were pretty much told (wrongly) that being a member of NATO was a pre-condition to joining the EU, their real goal.

        Several countries that are highly unlikely to join NATO are having EU membership dangled in front of them... for example, Serbia.

    •  Apparently, the Russian President Medvedev has.. (0+ / 0-)

      made new rumbles about getting closer with Cuba again.

    •  "Still Living with Stalin's Mistakes" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Power

      The Russians of course are. But one thing should not be forgotten: Stalin was a Georgian. His top henchman, Beria, was also Georgian.

      The existence of the Soviet Union had little to do with a large ethnic group (Russians) trying to dominate others (e.g. Georgians). It was always about alliances between individuals for power, and people who rise to the top (and who subsequently kill lots of people) aren't necessarily Russians. The Soviet Union was "fair" in this way.

  •  I've watched this conflict develop with (14+ / 0-)

    some trepidation.  I know Bush's bungling can only escalate the crisis.

    IMO, the whole thing has been brought about by an inability of the Bush Administration to see Russia as anything other than an enemy and cold war opponent.  They're unable to build a new kind of relationship with a country they've always hated and feared.  The fact that Condi Rice, well trained in old style cold war thinking through her educational focus on Russia in college, has such a high position in this government doesn't help.

    I can't see any outcome for this except disaster.  Putin is playing power games - that's clear.  But I'm not so sure he hasn't been provoked into doing so for reasons known only to the power brokers on our side of the equation.

    I don't trust those we have in Washington right now as far as I can throw them.  Given their track record, I can envision more war for us, too...

    •  The Russian elite is the same if not worse. (4+ / 0-)

      Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used to work for the Soviet foreign ministry. He's perhaps more blind to the "new world order" than Rice will ever be.

      •  Sergei Lavrov (11+ / 0-)

        is an extremely competent diplomat. The Russians have always been renowned for the skill of their diplomatic corps and trust me, if anyone it's they who are decidedly not blind to the state of the world's affairs. They're gleefuly exploiting it.

        To even mention Lavrov in the same sentence as Rice is an insult.

        Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

        by Dauphin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:43:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Lavrov (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MJB, LordMike, papermoon

          spews the same old Soviet BS. I don't even know why he bothers wearing the Russian tricolor. He was quite quick to fire off the "ethnic cleansing" accusation, because this will feed the Soviet "Great Patriotic War" nostalgia.

          Just as in 1941, Russians have been attacked by a savage enemy ... of 5 million mostly poor people. You see, every enemy must be the "new Hitler." Go read the Russian blogs. Lavrov is just as lobotomized by Soviet propaganda as the next Russian guy. The only difference is that he is infinitely wealthier. Jerome wrote about oil? Guess whose bank accounts that oil money keeps full? Putin's and Lavrov's.

          •  There's a bit of a difference (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gaianne, BYw, Wings Like Eagles

            between using propaganda and believing it, isn't there?

            Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

            by Dauphin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:53:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  A lot of what is driving the nostalgia (9+ / 0-)

            in Russia for the old days is how much global power they've lost, and how grindingly difficult it was in Russia after the collapse.

            They're learning the downside to capitalism - the part where no one cares if you live or die, or if you eat or have a place to stay tomorrow - and it's perceptually a big contrast to the old nation state where big brother supposedly took care of everything.  As is often the case with nostalgia, they're glamorizing a past that bore little resemblance to what they now remember.

            In addition, they resent the fact that they're no longer a super-power able to assert their power around the world the way they used to.  This has been exacerbated by the Bush Administration (and others) rubbing their noses in it, damaging their national pride.

            More "warm and fuzzy" (yes, that's snark) hand holding by Bush to create bigger and worser wars to pay off his war mongering buddies.

            I see what's happening with Russia as a huge and horrible missed opportunity by Washington.  I feel fairly certain that they'll end up our enemy again, just as they were during the cold war.  That's bad news for everyone.

            •  The Russian elite (5+ / 0-)

              live extraordinarily luxurious lives compared to the average Russian. Sure, Moscow and St. Petersburg are rich, but without subsidies, should it become Russian, South Ossetia will remain the poorest of the poor.

              If Russians want to know why their living standard is so poor, they might start by asking why their country is so rich with petrodollars, but so little of it is flowing in the people's direction.

              •  I guess the Russians learned from (5+ / 0-)

                capitalism.  That's an echo of what goes on around here, although admittedly the poor here are not at the same level as the poor there.

                One thing that seems inevitable in the world is that the few claim all the assets while the many do without.

                Unless you have FDR and the New Deal...

                Trying to make those same few with all the assets CARE about the many who do without - well, there's a reason why Jesus talked about how the rich getting into heaven was like a camel going through the eye of a needle.

                The only thing that seems to make them care about the poor is civil unrest, which might be part of what's motivating Russia.  Always seems easier for elites to redirect anger outward than deal with it by handing over $$$.

                •  Could be they learned it from the Saudis (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  fran1

                  and the rest of OPEC.

                  •  Is there a single country in the world (4+ / 0-)

                    today where a small minority DOESN'T own most of the assets?

                    Can you name one?

                    •  Look into Nordic countries n/t (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dauphin
                      •  socialist mofockers (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Jerome a Paris, Dauphin

                        ooops... socialists are bad, so I was told.

                        "It takes two to lie. One to lie, one to hear it." Homer Simpson

                        by Euroliberal on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:32:41 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  They have their elite too (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Dauphin

                        who do you think owns Nokia and Ikea? The Nordic countries are like one big factory town.

                      •  While it is true that the Nordic... (0+ / 0-)

                        countries have few very rich and few very poor, often the brightest and the hardest working balk at paying the huge taxes that they must pay.  The super-group Abba left Sweden for Britain in order to preserve their wealth and when we lived in Canada, we met a Danish fellow who immigrated to Canada to start his own custom lumber business in Canada because he objected to working smart and hard only to end up giving the lion's share away to "those who are too lazy to work."  Unless we get world-wide socialism (I am aware of the heavy irony in this statement in light of the main discussion here) the wealthy, bright and hard-working simply go to other jurisdictions so that they might keep more of their wealth.

                    •  Degree is a critical distinction (5+ / 0-)

                      or, put another way, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

                      The fact that there is some level of inequality in all social systems merely points out that they are imperfect systems. It does not follow that the degree of inequality doesn't matter.

                      There is a big difference between a society where the CEO earns 5 times the average worker salary and a society where the CEO earns 500 times the average worker salary, and between a society where the top 25% control 75% of a nation's assets, vs a society there the top 1% control 75%.

                      Just because no nation is perfect, doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for more justice in ours.

                      One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:19:24 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  inequality (0+ / 0-)

                        Actually, a system where everyones income was the same would be imperfect precisely because of that fact.   An assembly line worker with very little education should not make the same amount of money as an engineer who has a very expensive education and needs to spend large amounts of money to hone and maintain their skills.   Even if education was free, there is a disparity in what it costs to be good at a given occupation.   Gini coefficients should never be 0.   You need to also look at not just the income disparity but who has the wealth and what they use it for.  

                        Even Norway and Sweeden have Gini coefficients of around 25 which is about a factor of 6 between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%.

                        --
                        -6.25, -6.36 Worst. President. Dictator. Ever.

                        by whitis on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:39:11 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  St Petersburg: (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jerome a Paris, Dauphin

                    Houston/Riadh on the Neva.  

              •  Reminds me of the US (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jerome a Paris, Euroliberal

                were the top 1% gets most of the money!

                Read the European view at the European Tribune

                by fran1 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:33:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  How *not* to privatize (0+ / 0-)

              If you want to learn how not to transition from a soviet-style socialist economy, study what happened in Russia after the USSR collapsed, and don't don't do that.

              Mostly, with Western advice and consent, the new rulers let their cronies loot the place.  It was the wild west.

              "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

              by mbayrob on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 12:05:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  That's the whole problem in a nutshell. (3+ / 0-)

        Too many on both sides remember the "glory days" of the cold war and dream of recreating it for reasons of their own.

        They're acting out their agenda, with bad consequences for global stability...

    •  Granted, this was over 7 years ago, but (4+ / 0-)

      when Bush assumed power, I had the immediate impression of a time warp: Condi, Rumsfeld, and Cheney had reinstated the Cold War paradigm because it was all they knew. We were "Back in the USSR".

      McCain = Permanent war for Oil profits. Make oil irrelevant!

      by lecsmith on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:39:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RainyDay

      They seemed perfectly willing to go along with Putin and refrain from criticism while he began consolidating his political power.  I'm not sure that they were thinking very far ahead with Russia.  

      That, or they didn't care.  But it is difficult to separate the public posturing from whatever else might have been going on.  All I know is that it took until about 2005 for them to realize (publicly) that the situation was out of control.

      •  I think it was because the oil-thugs... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        galaxy33

        in Russia were threatening U.S. interests.  It is no secret that the Russian oil-Mafia, in addition to being a headache for Putin, were getting chummy with Saddam before the Iraq war.  That is likely the real reason why Bushco. pushed for the Iraq War.  Just a month ago, the neocons succeeded in getting the Russian oil firms completely bumped out of Iraq.  

  •  Nation-states, and their alternatives. (15+ / 0-)

    As I see it, this is ultimately a conflict around the concept of the nation-state.  I've written on that in another diary, but in brief:

    A nation is a people with a common culture and collective sense of identity (e.g.: "Germans"), while a state is a governing institution with (in theory) sovereignty within its geographic borders (e.g.: "Germany").

    History since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) suggests that nation-states - a state whose borders embrace a single nation, a single people - are far more robust than their alternatives.  That stands to reason, as a nation-state serves the interests of a single people, its culture, and its collective sense of identity.

    Multi-nation-states - Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union - tend to fragment into their component nation-states.

    Multi-state-nations - East and West Germany, North and South Vietnam - tend to unite into single nation-states.

    The moral of the story is simply this:  You can't draw state borders wherever you want.  The "Grand Game" of European powers carving up territories to suit their interests and convenience - a game the United States joined in 1848 with the Mexican-American War and has continued ever since - simply does not yield robust countries.

    People want to live in nation-states, and I suspect our best, sanest, wisest, and most humane policy is to encourage and enable that to happen, when and if we can ... with a minimum of bloodshed.

    •  What westerners often do not understand (20+ / 0-)

      is that the concept of nationality in the west is different from that in Central and Eastern Europe. In the west nationality is tied to citizenship (the il n'y a pas que des français concept in France) and elsewhere it's tied to language, religion, and history.

      As for multi-nation states... they tend to disintegrate when a single nation seeks to lord over others (Yugoslavia), but they can also remain as very stable federations (Switzerland).

      Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

      by Dauphin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:39:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (9+ / 0-)

        Citizenship is entirely artificial, a function of living or having been born within some set of lines on a map.

        Nationality is intrinsic, a function of a common culture and collective sense of identity.  That may be expressed in language, religion, tribal and clan kinship, or simply a history of shared hardship and hope in a particular place.

        The most robust countries are nation-states.  They protect and respect ethnic minorities, but the state is built around and serves the nation, its culture, its collective identity.  And even those minorities - while ethnically distinct - perceive themselves as component if complementary elements of that nation.

        Sadly, and ironically, Americans tend not to fully appreciate the importance of nationhood.  We see and celebrate ethinic cultures among us, yet miss the self-shaping role of nationality.  "Yeah, his parents came from Italy, but he ought to just call himself 'an American.'"

        Not.

        And very, very not in regions like the Caucusus, where ethnicity and nationality still need to play out into nation-states.

      •  Westerners understand this very well (9+ / 0-)

        ask the Welsh, or the Scots, or the Irish, or the Basques. They understand the difference between nationality and citizenship just as well as any Hungarians living in Romania or Serbs living in Bosnia do. Americans and Canadians might not understand this as well, save in Quebec of course.

        The Book of Revelation is not a foreign policy manual.

        by Dont Just Stand There on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:04:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Part of the reason (9+ / 0-)

          I suspect that the reason that North Americans might not understand nationality the way others around the world do is because of how North American nations developed.

          Americans tend to conflate nationality with citizenship because in a nation that was multiethnic and multicultural from the start, citizenship had to be employed to define nationality.  There never was any single culturally coherent nation within the borders of the country, so what united Americans was a state ideology.  There have been attempts, of course, to define nationality in the United States in other ways (mostly by race), but as we've seen, that's been a failed endeavor.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:16:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you are overly optimistic (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linnaeus, Judge Moonbox, Alec82

            when you say:

            There have been attempts, of course, to define nationality in the United States in other ways (mostly by race), but as we've seen, that's been a failed endeavor.

            I agree that the U.S. national identity developed differently than it did in Europe and much of the rest of the world.  But as to comments that those in the U.S. "don't understand" other ways of seeing nationality, I have to say - many do, see nationality in ethnic and religious ways (and that is to me a bad thing).  Look at the sixable numbers of people who see this as a "Christian nation," an "English speaking nation," a "white nation," etc.  Unfortunately we do have those that "understand" older ways of looking at nationality.  

            Non, je ne regrette rien

            by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:25:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe I understated that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              alexnovo

              I see what you're getting at and perhaps I glossed over those other definitions of nationality a bit too easily.

              That said, those movements haven't been as successful as their proponents would have liked, and that is in large part due to the fact that those alternate bases for nationality in the U.S. have been routinely challenged.  Enough Americans find a racial/linguistic/etc. basis for "Americanness" to be a problem.  It couldn't even be done in the 19th century, when it was probably most likely to succeed.

              Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

              by Linnaeus on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:44:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I do not disagree with your (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linnaeus

                conclusion that we have been able to hold the other views of nationality at bay, but I want to stress that not far under the surface there are substantial currents which seek to tear apart the multi-ethnic diverse concept of nationality about which you speak.  This is especially true in times of hardship and we must always be vigilant to guard against them.

                Non, je ne regrette rien

                by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:53:51 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Are you sure? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gaianne, Jerome a Paris, Lesser Dane

                German Americans

                [German Americans and WW1]

                The Red Cross barred individuals with German last names from joining in fear of sabotage. One man was hanged in Illinois, apparently for no other reason than that he appeared to be of German descent. The killers were found innocent of the crime and the hanging was called an act of patriotism by a jury. A Minnesota minister was tarred and feathered when he was overheard praying in German with a dying woman. Some Germans during this time "Americanized" their names (e.g. Schmidt to Smith, Müller to Miller, and limited their use of the German language in public places. This went on when newspapers printed black-lists of names of Germans including their addresses, headlined as German Enemy Aliens.

                Orchestras replaced music by Wagner with Berlioz on programs. In Cincinnati, reaction to anti-German sentiment during World War I caused the Public Library of Cincinnati to withdraw all German books from its shelves. German-named streets were renamed.

                The last paragraph does remind me a bit of "freedom fries". :)

                And mind you that happened to people who were already assimilating, As in using English as their first language.
                Given the media hysteria about France in 2002/03, are you telling me that the "blockquoted" scenario couldn´t happen to Hispanics or Asians living in the USA with enough media propaganda?

          •  American nationality = war (9+ / 0-)

            Sadly, the most defining element of nationality in the United States is ... war.  As Ken Burns aptly said, the Civil War was the turning point from "the United States are" to "the United States is."  More recently, what it means to be "American" was defined by World War II and its subsequent mythology: world leader, heroic savior, and so on.

            Most commonly, nationality emerges from shared hardship and hope.  The notion of being "German" emerged in the horrors of being the central front in the Seven Years War.  The same can be said of the Poles.  For some nations, nationality emerges from a history of working together to survive in a harsh and hostile climate.

            For the United States, the shared hardship and hope have most often come in the form of war, and that's why we are such a militaristic people.

            •  I forget the author (0+ / 0-)

              But there's a book that interprets American history through the lens of war, appropriately titled A Country Made By War.

              Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

              by Linnaeus on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:45:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  American nationality = the US Constitution (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              R Rhino from CT4, Newthought

              yes war is a an unacknowledged aspect of "the American way of of life". However we have to make a distinction between what supports are national sense of identity vs what we think are national identity is. Americans nationality is defined by a mythical life style, a mythical work ethic and the myth of unorthodox thinking. Most of all is the myth that we have a constitution that sets us apart by guranteeing the rights of the individual. While other countries also have their "constitutions" ours seem to be a much larger pillar of how we define ourselves.

    •  So (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fyodor

      You propose the disintegration of the USA and giving each native american nation international status. The idea of nation-states in our globaliced world is absurd ethnocentric and ultranationalist.

      Remember out of places like Iceland you are not going to find a country without ethnic, linguistic or cultural minorities to think they must unite with "their people" of separate in a myriad of micro states is only a revival of the most absurd politico-romantic ideas of the nineteenth century including all the precedents of Nazism.

      •  We disagree (3+ / 0-)

        And argument by false extremes is a logical fallacy.

        •  false extremes? (0+ / 0-)

          Which false extremes?

          •  Your implication of atomization (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RandomActsOfReason

            Your response implies that my argument about nation-states inevitably led to the atomization of every country into individual, ethnically and culturally singular nation-states.  I didn't propose that, and my argument doesn't inevitably lead there.

            That is an argument by false extremes, and thus a logical fallacy.

            •  But isn't the idea that nations must be formed (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Iberian

              by common language, race, and cultural identity racist?

              I prefer a homogenous society...

              •  I think you dont (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alexnovo

                understand what homogenous means. you mean heterogenous.

                Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

                by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:31:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's a brain dead Saturday for me. (0+ / 0-)

                  Yes, thank you.  I mean:

                  Heterogeneous is an adjective used to describe something that has a large number of variants or different forms. Derived from the Greek; "έτερος" heteros or 'other' and "γένος" genos or 'kind'. It is the opposite of homogeneous, which means that an object or system consists of many identical items. Matters of a quantum can exist in homogenous or in heterogeneous or in combined distributions. The term is often used in a scientific (such as a kind of catalyst), mathematical, sociological or statistical context.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                  Although homogenous would also apply since regardless of our racial and ethnic diversity, we're still all Americans and share a unique common culture.

                  •  how is that "unique common culture" (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    alexnovo

                    defined or described?  Specifically, what are the unique American mythologies, literature, creeds, etc?

                    •  We all commonly believe in the US Constitution (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      TMP

                      and the rights and protections it gives us, although we may have different INTERPRETATIONS of what that means.  We all believe in democratic ideology (although WHAT, exactly, that entails is in dispute) and a freedom to speak our minds even if our voices are in conflict with the majority, we (generally) believe in the rule of law rather than brute force, in the freedom to go where we choose when we choose...

                      There are many more examples.

                      We actually share more in common culturally than you give us credit for, despite our many differences.

                      Being an American - living in America - inevitably gives rise to a shared common experience and all that entails.

                      We may be very different, but we're also very similar.  A sharp illustration of this is going overseas to a foreign country, then encountering an American (regardless of where they come from, what race or culture their family originated from, or what language they speak).  There are things that fundamentally identify us as Americans, both to each other and to the world.

                      That, my friend, is a common culture.

              •  Who mentioned race? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RandomActsOfReason

                I defined a nation as "a people sharing a common culture and collective sense of identity."  I said nothing at all about race.  There are many multi-racial nations, including our own.

                Nationality - culture and sense of identity - most often emerge from a history of shared hardship and hope in a geographic region.  It emerges as a sense of "we got through this together."

                Shared religion and language may play facilitating roles, but ultimately it is that history of shared hardship and hope that forges a common culture and sense of collective identity, and in turn gives rise to the nationalism - in the positive sense - that can birth a robust nation-state.

                •  I think you're simplifying something that (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NCrissieB, Anak

                  isn't simple.

                  In general, that kind of collective ideology - as in only those who speak like me, have my common heritage, and share my experiences can be part of my nation - leads to racism.

                  It's exclusive, rather than inclusive.

                  By contrast, our own nation model encourages integration of others into our own nation - adoption, if you will.  It's a form that fosters acceptance of the differences of others.

                  My point was that I prefer that model because it encourages acceptance of others who are different.

                  •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RandomActsOfReason

                    There are many examples of multi-racial nations, although they tend to become racially blended by intermarriage, etc.  The Spanish are an excellent example.  The Basques notwithstanding, Spaniards think of themselves as Spaniards, whether one's own ancestors came from North Africa, Northwest Europe, or the British Isles.

                    And while I support Basque nationalism, I suspect the political answer will lie in a Scotland-like status of independence and self-rule while still within the resource-sharing federation created by the parent nation-state.

                    The argument that everything returns to race is a very narrow perspective.

                    •  In Spain many (0+ / 0-)

                      hold on to identities other than "Spanish" and/or Basque.  Ask those in Catalonia and Galicia.  

                      Non, je ne regrette rien

                      by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:19:17 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  But what you're implying is an integration of (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Anak

                      RACE, and creating a common racial identity (regardless of it's ingredient parts), rather than an acceptance of racial difference and diversity.

                      Why is it so important that unique cultures must break off and be on their own and not integrate?  Do you feel they're not capable of participating in a broader coalition?  Do you fear discrimination?  Why do you idealize this form of association that is, by it's very nature, exclusive?

                      •  Careful in your use of "race" (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Wings Like Eagles

                        Race is a myth created by bigots. Scentifically (that is to say, biologically, or more specifically genetically) there are no meaningful distinctions between human beings that rise anywhere near the level of taxononic distinction.

                        We are all members of the human race, and, in reality, external differentiators such as the level of melotonin in our skin, the angle of our eyelids, the shape of our noses, etc., even our predisposition to genetic diseases, exist along an uninterrupted continuum.

                        Furthermore, you equate "culture" with "race" in your comment. They are not the same thing. Geopolitical demarcations are an artificial construct of the human mind, so basing them on shared cultural identity (in particular shared ideological values) makes sense. Defining borders by race, however, does not.

                        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                        by RandomActsOfReason on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:14:06 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Humm (0+ / 0-)

              Lets see what is more near to extremism:
              People want to live in nation-states, and I suspect our best, sanest, wisest, and most humane policy is to encourage and enable that to happen, when and if we can ... with a minimum of bloodshed.

              Your argument is to support, just with a little of bloodshed if possibly, any type of ethnic/cultural/linguistic claim to internationally recognized nationhood. That is just beyond any measure of irresponsibility.

              •  What is irresponsible about self-determination? (0+ / 0-)

                Oh wait ... we should decide who is and is not eligible for self-determination ... like, say ... Iraq....

                •  We? (0+ / 0-)

                  You are the on who is talking about encouraging, and about Iraq you are talking about the Turkmen? the Kurds? the Assyrians? the Persians?

                  Should we encourage them to self-determination? just if there is with limited bloodshed obviously.

                  •  Yes, we should. (0+ / 0-)

                    Ultimately, nations (peoples, see my definitions elsewhere in the thread) should be encouraged and enabled to determine their own futures, forge their own nation-states.  The idea that "bigger is always better," that larger aggregates of geography and population are inherently stronger and more robust, is simply not supported by history.

                  •  Self determination is (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Iberian, NCrissieB

                    a wonderful motto, and one which almost everyone supports, the problem is that almost everyone disagrees with the definition of "self."  All but a handful of nation-states are diverse, with substantial minorities, people draw borders and then claim self-determination; others, in the minority will always be tempted to draw the broader somewhere else to put themselves in the majority.  While we need to respect the old historical arguments, we also need to be moving toward societies that actually value their diversity.  Until we do that, we will be faced with conflict and war.  The only other alternative is to fragment into 1000s of small "independent" states.  

                    Non, je ne regrette rien

                    by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:43:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I think that fragmentation is likely, and healthy (0+ / 0-)

                      While I doubt we'll see a fragmentation to the level of city-states, I think we will see a trend toward smaller, more closely-knit nation-states ...

                      ... enabled and interacting by virtue of wider and more immediate sharing of information.

                      That is, people will increasingly look to more local solutions - which can be optimized for that place and that people - but they'll also be able to find those solutions from other places, anywhere a people share a substantially similar problem.  The ideal solution in your locality may come from an idea that was first tried in central Africa ... while the ideal solution in my locality may have roots in Norway.

                      So I think we'll see a paradox of structural and expectational fragmentation - people looking to a more local government to fix a local problem - and at the same time a more global information (thus potential solution) base.

                      •  I am all for local control (0+ / 0-)

                        over many issues, but some questions need solutions which only can be done on a larger scale.  Indeed some problems need a concerted global response (e.g. Global Climate Change).  thus while fragmentation might help some problems, it will make others worse.  Secondly, even a highly fragmented power structure is not going to rid us of divisions.  I live in NYC.  Even if NYC was to become a small city state - we have ethnic divisions that cause tensions even within the city limits and many in the outer boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island accuse Manhattan of monopolizing too much of the resources.  

                        The only way to resolve these problems is not to fragment the planet, but to bring it together respecting our differences and valuing our diversity.

                        Non, je ne regrette rien

                        by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:07:28 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You're speaking in either/or (0+ / 0-)

                          I'm speaking in both/and.

                          Ultimately, "solutions" don't happen on a global scale, even if they address a global problem.  The best way to reduce carbon footprints in Germany may not work in Italy.  The best way to reduce carbon footprints in Naples may not work in Venice.  That we agree to reduce our carbon footprint - and make other changes that climate change will require - is not the same as actually doing it.

                          And the actual "doing" is, inevitably, local.  One-size-fits-all translates to nobody-fits-that-size.

                          •  Yes but fragmentation (0+ / 0-)

                            makes it harder to set goals and make major policy decisions.  Using the carbon footprint example.  Even with our current level of fragmentation many large states see solving the immediate and pressing problems of poverty as more important than they see Climate Change.  Further fragmentation would only make reaching Global Goals harder.  

                            Non, je ne regrette rien

                            by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:22:59 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  NCrissieB, what does your nation-state... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB

      theory have to say about the nation within a nation that we are creating with the influx of Mexicans?

      •  Melting pot vs. salad bowl (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wings Like Eagles

        First, I think it's important to distinguish what our "American" nationality is, and what it isn't.  While Pat Buchanan would argue our nationality has always been Anglo-Saxon - a meld of British and northern German, with lesser influences from other regions of northwest Europe - I really don't think that is or ever was the case.  It's true that our state and our principal institutions have historically been run by and for Anglo-Saxons, but that one culture and nationality has never fully defined "American."

        So what is "American" nationality, as I've defined that term (common culture and collective identity)?

        The most common metaphor has been a "melting pot," with the implication that immigrants and their cultures are melted down and assimilated into a homogenous, uniform standard.  But that's never really been the case either.

        The better metaphor for "American" nationality is a "salad bowl."  Culturally distinct neighborhoods and their unique blends within a city are, to fall on an overused cliche, as American as apple pie.  What makes us unique as a people, our history of shared hardship and hope, our collective sense of identity, is our very diversity ... our distinct yet complementary cultural flavors.

        Lettuce is not tomato is not onion is not green pepper, or whatever salad components you prefer.  What's more, if you pureed those components in a blender you wouldn't get the bite-by-bite contrasts of taste and texture that make a good salad so very satisfying.  The essence of salad is the contrast - not the blend - of distinct, complementary tastes and textures.

        I think that's what "American" is, and always has been.  Our common culture and our collective sense of identity is embodied in salad, in the contrast - not the blend - of distinct, complementary tastes and textures given us by waves of immigrants.  And I don't see the current influx of Latinos, most of whom are truly "native Americans" in ancestry, as a threat to our nationality.  Their culture will add yet another layer of distinct, complementary tastes and textures, to enhance and demonstrate again our true nationality: the "American salad bowl."

        •  I would agree with you except... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCrissieB

          that I lived in Canada for a number of years and the French/English problem threatens the unity of that nation.  I don't actually have a problem with the Mexicans being here--I think they add a lot to the culture.  My own dear husband is Italian-American and I think Italian-Americans have added a great deal to the cultural mosaic.  

          What I object to is the separation that many of the Mexicans seem to want.  Separate schools and "language rights".  That is the way to get a "nation within a nation" such as they have in Canada.  Quebecers prefer to speak of the "Two Founding Nations" but become furious when native peoples say, "Well what about us?  We were here before either of you."  It is not an easy problem to solve.  The U.S. has always discouraged the maintenance of a second language among immigrants and that seems to be a better option unless we want to invite the problems that Canada has experienced.

          •  Not entirely true.... (0+ / 0-)

            The U.S. has always discouraged the maintenance of a second language among immigrants[.]

            That's not entirely true.  The U.S. has long been a multi-lingual nation.  While English has been the standard for law and (most) commerce, immigrants have often kept their own languages within their communities, and often their languages have added distinctive elements to American English (e.g.: Yiddish words and phrases so common in some New York City neighborhoods, even those that aren't predominantly Jewish).

            •  While it is true that... (0+ / 0-)

              immigrants will maintain their own languages and customs for a time (my mother-in-law grew up bilingual from the bi-lingual "Little Italy" of Cleveland known as Murray Hill) but the only "official" language was English.  My husband, sadly, speaks almost no Italian--he knows a few words of dialect.  His mother actively discouraged him from learning it because she spoke a rural mountain dialect of Italian that caused her to be mocked when she went back to Italy as an adult.  The language had obviously changed a great deal in the time since her parents immigrated to the U.S.  

              I agree with you that the few words of other languages that have been mixed into the dominant English have indeed enriched American English, but I still think that to encourage separation  of immigrant groups from the mainstream is a move in the wrong direction.

    •  what is a nation? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lesser Dane

      Paddy Chayefsky sums it up in the prophetic 1976 movie Network:

      Arthur Jensen: [bellowing] You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU...WILL...ATONE!

      Arthur Jensen: [calmly] Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that . . . perfect world . . . in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.

      Howard Beale: Why me?

      Arthur Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.

      Howard Beale: I have seen the face of God.

      Arthur Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.

      --
      -6.25, -6.36 Worst. President. Dictator. Ever.

      by whitis on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:55:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love me my lefty smarty European apologists (6+ / 0-)

    sigh ... helps me to be lazy and let them do all that deeply thinking ...

    with the intention to read this article again and through the end ... greetings

    •  Sounds trollish. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      galaxy33

      I would disagree on the emphasis of this diary--I would have written it from the point of view that Bush/Cheney arrogance has cost us our moral voice(does anyone remember when "Moral clarity" was a big virtue promoted by the Bushies?). I can see an argument that Kosovo independence violate more principles than it affirmed. I don't see how Jerome's writing justifies such dismissiveness.

      I'm not asking you to take the country back, I'm asking you to take it forward-Van Jones.

      by Judge Moonbox on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:42:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  mimi is a faithful reader (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Coaster, Dauphin

        that was nark rather than dismissiveness, I expect.

        •  yes, I was mentally too exhausted this morning (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gaianne, Judge Moonbox

          and all I could say after my first glance over the article was some tenderly intentioned snarky nonsense.

          Meanwhile I have read through the story and I thank you for what you write here, again and again. I am only learning from you ... and always end up understanding more at the end than I could have at the beginning. I was not able so far to end up disagreeing with what you say in any of your articles (which is embarrassing, but I guess it only shows the limitations of my thinking capabilities)

          I am so glad that you don't give up posting here. But you know that already, I think, I said that before.

  •  John McCain must be salivating (6+ / 0-)

    at the thought that he might be President and he gets to re-fight the Cold War, only this time, hotter.

  •  great diary. I know nothing about the region (11+ / 0-)

    and have been trying to find out what's going on beneath the superficial reporting that seems to devolve into spin and counter-spin.

    "When the powerful say that the price was worth the blood and treasure, you can bet your ass it wasn't their blood, nor their treasure."

    by sceptical observer on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:40:08 AM PDT

  •  Many mahalo and merci, Jerome for this (3+ / 0-)

    background!

    I had a friend who visited Tbilisi about 25 years ago. A nurse, she was a participant in a group of physicians and nurses, exchanging info and techniques with their counterparts in Russia and Georgia.

    Aloha   ..  ..  ..

  •  Jerome -- Presumptuous Me Added "Teaching" (7+ / 0-)

    tag to your diary.

    What you have to say on almost any topic is so informative that I hope you will consider making it a habit to add "teaching" or "learning" tags to all your diaries.

    plf515 keeps a weekly running list of educational resource diaries, and I think yours should be in his library of learning at Daily Kos University.

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:49:20 AM PDT

  •  To put who's right and who's wrong aside one sec (11+ / 0-)

    Doesn't Georgia's apparent plan seem to really, really suck?  Shocking and awing the Russians seems to me to be low probability.

  •  Added the Recommended tag (5+ / 0-)

    --with some pleasure.

    Plus, he knows what crapped out means, which will help him explain his condition on the morning of November 5 - PBCliberal

    by Nulwee on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:59:48 AM PDT

  •  Real Politik strkes again. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ctlrick

    They teach us to believe small lies, so we'll believe big lies later.

    by hideinplainsight on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:01:12 AM PDT

  •  Thank you very much for this (8+ / 0-)

    informative piece. Americans often have a knee-jerk reaction whenever Russia is mentioned and I was infuriated when I read the red-baiting on your comment in one of the diaries yesterday (unfortunately it was many hours after the fact and my intervention would have been of little value).

    It constantly amazes me that the west seems to think it has any credibility criticising human rights records of any countries at this point. With respect to the situation in South Ossetia, many commentators on this website did not even have basic information but are quite willing to accept what they are told by the US government (even though they would be quite sceptical what they say on domestic policy), it is quite disconcerting.

  •  Pete Townsend wrote years ago, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, Rogneid

    "meet the new boss.
    Same as the old boss."
    Amen

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. A. Bierce

    by irate on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:02:15 AM PDT

  •  Georgia will lose this war and (9+ / 0-)

    Saakashvili's bunch shall be driven from power and then a Russian client state (purportedly independent "Georgia") shall be sitting on that pipeline.

    With that other breakaway province entering the war on Ossetia's side and Russia's side, and Russian paratroopers already in Ossetia, this war is already over, except for however many pointless deaths occur before Saakashvili's bunch admits they gambled and lost.

    Just as soon as the Ossetia war broke out, McCain canceled a trip to Atlanta . . .

    by Bill White on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:04:05 AM PDT

    •  Let's hope... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poemless, WattleBreakfast

      ...that there's a cease fire and it doesn't escalate, or create the situation you describe.  

      •  Too late (4+ / 0-)

        Any ceasefire will require Georgia to say "uncle" concerning the status of those two provinces.

        And then how can Saakashvili's bunch remain acceptable to the Georgian people, next election cycle?

        Just as soon as the Ossetia war broke out, McCain canceled a trip to Atlanta . . .

        by Bill White on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:09:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What elections? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wings Like Eagles, superheed

          This is the beginning of the new Warsaw Pact.  Russia will retake all of Eastern Europe step by step...

          It's time for NATO to stand strong... the Georgian invasion is only the first step in the recreation of the Soviet Union.

          The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

          by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:06:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Snark, I hope? n/t (5+ / 0-)

            Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

            by Dauphin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:09:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Snark...and... (7+ / 0-)

              ...something we are bound to hear from our neocons shortly...

            •  No snark... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wings Like Eagles, superheed, Anak

              ...as a son of immigrants from the eastern block, we know all to well Russian expansionism...

              Ignore this at your peril.... Russian politicians have been actively campaigning to "regain what they have lost" (i.e. eastern europe) for a long time now...

              That's not snark.

              This unjustified invasion by Russia is merely a first step in restoring the Russian empire... or at least expanding their sphere of influence...

              Don't assume Russia is benevolent... they are not... they are a beaten people desperate to return to former glory...  the signs of hypernationalism in their country have been there for awhile... candlelight vigils at statues of Stalin, russian minorites in the Baltic clammoring to be "reunited" with Russia and chanting, "Long live the U.S.S.R."

              Georgia will be occupied... and the same excuse will be used again to invade other eastern block countries.  Whether they will have the guts to invade or disrupt EU or NATO countries is a quesiton, but it is clear that Russia was willling to go to war to keep NATO out of "their sphere of influence"

              Sadly, the people who lose are the independent and free peoples of Georgia and other satelites who have not made it into the protective arms of NATO.  The chances that they will be "reunited" by force is much greater now...

              The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

              by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:32:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You really believe this? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poemless

                I seriously doubt Russia has plans to expand as you fear.  I know that nationalism is on the rise, but they are not going to risk a confrontation with NATO.

                •  I hope not.. I really do... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Wings Like Eagles, superheed

                  ...but, their leaders are a bizarro world version of Bush...  I'm just glad my parents' country is under protection of NATO and the EU... if that's really any protection at all...  NATO has never been seriously tested.. nor has the EU.

                  I think their actions will be more subtle... expanding their sphere of influence by actions such as these (for example, to control the oil pipeline), but they will continue to be aggressive...

                  The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

                  by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:49:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  How do you know? (0+ / 0-)

                  I am not sure that Russia wants to expand their control more and more, but I do not think the possibility is out of the question.

                  01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

                  by kimoconnor on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:16:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The Russians apparently feel... (0+ / 0-)

                  that the Nato alliance has been weakened by Bush bungling and war mongering.  

              •  Agree, LordMike... (0+ / 0-)

                Was startled by the National Geographic issue on Russia--I think it was last month.  It depicts a nation that is very much like the one you have depicted.

    •  Georgia's just stupid... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jerome a Paris, Dauphin

      Both Russia and Georgia have cracked down on minorities, and are to blame, but when you shoot down Russian jets....you don't think that Russia's NOT going to respond? I mean Jimmidy'cricket.  Further, we demand that countries on our borders "heel and tow" along with our foreign policy, so why is it unexpected that Russia--a wealthy superpower with the most nuclear weapons and second-best conventional power--not do the same?

      At least Russia has far more of a justification (given what's happened) to invade the entire country (not just the breakaway republic) than we did entering and occupying Iraq.

    •  Think Big (6+ / 0-)
      Saakashvili has performed his function on the neocon payroll.  He's created a martyr-cause that the GOP can use to build up the meme of a new cold war in the US over the next decade.  Keep an eye on who's paying for his retirement condo in the Caribbean.
  •  "Westphalia" does not fit central Asian realities (0+ / 0-)

    and that is why Bush blather about territorial integrity is indeed blather.

    Just as soon as the Ossetia war broke out, McCain canceled a trip to Atlanta . . .

    by Bill White on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:06:08 AM PDT

    •  Westphalia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3cardmonty

      didn't fit European realities, it had to be made to fit them.

      And that involved a lot of "fitting."

      http://www.economicpopulist.org

      by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:21:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Westphalia (the treaty, 1648) (10+ / 0-)

          Had nothing to do with "Westphalia", a 20th century invention which used the 17th century treaty as an arbitrary reference to ideas of state sovereignty developed long afterwards.

          In fact something like the loosely aligned quasi-independent states of the Holy Roman Empire as it existed from 1648 to 1806 would better fit the post-Soviet world than the post-Napoleonic or even post-WWI idea of the hermetically sealed nation-state. The world of the 17th and 18th centuries was one of overlapping personal, territorial, and religious sovereignties in which the concept of nationality was not even secondary, and in which very few countries could claim complete sovereignty in all spheres (some of the Protestant states of northern Europe came close; France moved in this direction over the course of the period, but was very far from it in 1648).

          Westphalia didn't create our idea of the state; the Congress of Vienna (1814-5) and the Treaty of Versailles (1919) did.

  •  Kasparov as useful idiot? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fyodor, Lesser Dane

    Is that out of distaste for some of the company The Other Russia keeps, his embarassingly prolonged willingness to support Yeltsin, or some other reason?

    •  His own greed? (0+ / 0-)

      too many to list but I'm going to go with narcissism and capitali$t tool.

    •  Kasparov has tainted himself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tipsymcstagger

        By association with some of the Bolshefascists (I don't use the term lightly) in the opposition.

    •  All of the above and much else (0+ / 0-)

      I personally think that he stage the recent "Flying Penis" stunt himself, to get pity.

      His reaction certainly seems staged, as do his comments at the exact moment the Penis took flight.

    •  Why is Kasparov even involved in Russian politics (0+ / 0-)

      After all he is an Armenian and Armenia is, theoretically at least, an independent country.

      Can anybody link to an informative and hopefully brief summary of what the hell "Other Russia" is other than just bad guys.

      BTW I very much appreciate the thumbnail description of reasons for the idiotic war in Georgia by our resident lefty fascist Russian apologist.  :-)  

      Very seriously I couldn't begin to figure what it was all about.  I thought only we Finns were dumb enough to think a very small country could whip Russia. :-)

      Best,  Terry

      •  What does (0+ / 0-)

        Kasparov's ethnicity have to do with his right to be involved in Russian politics?

        The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

        by Lesser Dane on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 05:58:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was asking about Kasparov's nationality (0+ / 0-)

          and citizenship.

          What does Kasparov's ethnicity have to do with his right to be involved in Russian politics?

          I mentioned Armenia as a country itself.  Kasparov took part in the struggles to achieve independence from Russia.  To hear him tell it it would have seemed Kasparov single-handedly defeated The Empire.

          Is it wrong to ask questions you think?  I was only asking.

          Best,  Terry

  •  Well done and well said (18+ / 0-)

    This play for chaos is straight out of the neo-con shock doctrine playbook.

    Until very recently, McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was a lobbyists for Georgia. Over the years he developed a specialty in lobbying for Nations once in the Soviet Union. Scheumann is one of those neo-con lobbyists who never stop working for their clients and the neo-con dream of a cold war 2.0

    McCain will use this conflict as a way to scare folks and prove that he is the one who can face Putin in the coming war.

    It is madness and we must call it out and stop it

    Time to clean up DeLay's petri dish! Help CNMI guest workers find justice! Learn more at Unheard No More.

    by dengre on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:12:54 AM PDT

    •  McCain and Russia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      galaxy33

      Yes, McCain is terrifying on Russia policy. When I was in Russia in May, my friends (like typical racist Russians) were unsure about Obama, but then I pointed out to them what awaits them if McCain gets in, and they came round rather quickly.

  •  I Am Reminded of 2005 Bush Assassination Attempt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, ManfromMiddletown

    by Vladimir Arutyunian, an ethnic Armenian, in Tiblisi.  When asked about his motive:

    He. . .said he hated Georgia's new government for being a puppet of the US and did not regret what he did.

    That new government being Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's.

    Arutyunian is considered mentally unstable.

    His symptoms may be but a reflection of the political instability in the Caucuses.  

    The mini-war going on there now probably has many causes, while the cause célèbre appears to be rooted in para-oil concerns; the underpinnings of Caucasian conflicts reflects the underpinnings of Middle Eastern ones in that age-old ethnic, religious, and tribal conflicts foment.

    I suppose at some ancillary primeval gut level, both Georgia and Russia are reacting on their associated fears in that regard.

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:14:41 AM PDT

    •  The US may be more than a little responsible (14+ / 0-)

      for cultivating Georgian militarism. A couple of choice quotes about the US military training program in the country suggest that the Georgians had ulterior motives going into Iraq and taking US aid in the war on terror.

      Did the U.S. Prep Georgia for War with Russia?

      As Sergei Shamba, the foreign affairs minister of Abkhazia, told me in 2006: "The Georgians are euphoric because they have been equipped, trained, that they have gained military experience in Iraq. It feeds this revanchist mood... How can South Ossetia be demilitarized, when all of Georgia is bristling with weaponry, and it’s only an hour’s ride by tank from Tbilisi to Tskhinvali?"

      One of the U.S. military trainers put it to me a bit more bluntly. "We’re giving them the knife," he said. "Will they use it?"

      And the Georgian Army is apparently using US army surplus gear.  

      Ground Zero in the New Caucasus Conflict

      That’s the real reason to pay attention here. Since 2002, the U.S. military has been providing Georgia with a serious amount of military assistance, beginning with the Georgia Train and Equip Program in 2002. I first visited Georgia’s Krtsanisi training range in fall of 2002, when the Georgian military was still little more of a militia, with some of the troops wearing sneakers and surplus Soviet uniforms. The U.S. trainers carried sidearms – mostly, as I was told later, to deal with the threat of wild dogs roaming the training ground.

      When I returned to Krtsanisi in early 2006, the place had been transformed into a model base. It even had a sparkling new KBR-style dining facility. The Georgian troops were smartly decked out in U.S.-style uniforms; they were preparing for a troop rotation in Iraq.

      Officially, SSOP was supposed to prepare Georgians for service in Iraq. But Georgian trainees I spoke to in 2006 at the Krtsanisi training range saw things a bit differently. A female sergeant told me: "This training is incredibly important for us, because we want to take back Georgia’s lost territories."

      Amazingly, this little fistfight may be (in part) the fault of Bush's decision to invade Iraq, and create a "coalition of the willing."  

      War....  It's the gift that keeps on giving.

      http://www.economicpopulist.org

      by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:39:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Talk about Karma (5+ / 0-)

        or more of the "same old, same old."

        "Mujahideen, anyone?

        This reminds me of the US policy in Afghanistan arming the insurgents against the then Soviets back in the mid 80s under Daddy Bush.  Is his son trying the same stunt with the Georgians?

        They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

        by Limelite on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:49:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  interesting (5+ / 0-)

        when I read this today, I wasnt sure what was meant makes more sense now:

        http://english.pravda.ru/...

        In the meantime, Russian officials believe that it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict. The chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, believes that the current conflict is South Ossetia is very reminiscent to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo.

        "The things that were happening in Kosovo, the things that were happening in Iraq – we are now following the same path. The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America. South Ossetian defense officials used to make statements about imminent aggression from Georgia, but the latter denied everything, whereas the US Department of State reloaded not comments on the matter. In essence, they have prepared the force, which destroys everything in South Ossetia, attacks civilians and hospitals. They are responsible for this. The world community will learn about it," the official said. "

        "The Georgian administration has found the use to its arms, which they have been purchasing during the recent several years," Lavrov said. "The fact that Georgian peacemakers in the structure of joint peacemaking forces opened the fire at their Russian comrades from one and the same contingent speaks for itself, I think," the minister added.

        Also, this from Debka

        http://www.debka.com/...

        Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, Aug. 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax.

        Israeli oil interests?

        http://www.epluribusmedia.org/donate.htm

        by Soma on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:59:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'll wait for official American reports (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo, Dauphin

          I'm sure we keep track of the military movement over there.

          I find it hard to believe the Georgians would be so stupid.

          Of course, I've been living in George Bush's America for over seven years, so I know massive amounts of stupidity are possible.

      •  Yes, there can be no doubt that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gaianne

        there are some elements of proxy war here.

  •  informative diary and discussion (8+ / 0-)

    Thanks Jerome, and all.

    Now I don't have a resource link handy at the moment, but a few days ago there was a UN Security Counsel meeting, and it was Russia who suggested that both sides agree to refuse the use of force to deal with this disagreement. But I do believe it  the US, Europe and Georgia who refused this. And yet, Russia is getting the bad rap from the West.

    And also, for a little background, my boss has done work in North Ossetia, and he has spoken of the fact that there is a centuries old bond between the Ossetians and the Russians. Not to say it is only this, but the as one commenter said above, the South Ossetians want to be connected to the Russians.

    Anyway, this is all rather sad, and I think the Georgians are making a big mistake...

  •  With regard to: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, poemless, borkitekt

    We're just as power-hungry and ruthless as the Russians - and probably a bit more reckless and hubristic, lately. saying so does not make me a Russian apologist, just a worried bystander.

    Who can blame Russia for using this time of political transition in the US and the Olympics internationally to exert the concept of its hegemony over the US's along its southern borders ?
    The real question is how will Iran, Turkey and alot of places with "stan" at the end react?

    Thanks Jerome a Paris.

    Most folks do indeed not savor having large power hungry folks tell them how to live or with whom to be friends.  Unfortunately, both the Us & Russia have been rather poor agents of good neighborly activity in the region for some time.

  •  Wow, you could give lessons (0+ / 0-)

    in how to hold a grudge, Jerome. Nice linkage to one comment that questioned your moral authority on the subject.

    Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

    by Pager on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:22:44 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, because (13+ / 0-)

      casting aspertions on JaP's character because his informed worldview doesn't line up with your naive and reflexive one ('they're our allies!!1!11ONE') is, like, totally fine, and he should sooo totally love you because you're murkin!

      •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

        That's an awful lot of generalizations about me in one little comment. Bravo to you for managing to get all of those in, particularly since you don't have a goddamn clue how I feel about any of this.

        But thanks for assuming.

        Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

        by Pager on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:08:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not quite one generalization (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fyodor, Rogneid

          for every time you generalized JaP in the other thread.  If you don't like JaP, just go away.  Your comments aren't constructive.

          •  Don't tell people what to do. (0+ / 0-)

            It's so Republican in nature. This is an open political blog where all are allowed to read, comment and disagree. If this set up isn't too your liking, perhaps you are on the wrong blog.

            Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

            by Pager on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:18:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't tell people what not to do. (0+ / 0-)

              Its just so fascist in nature.  Your comments are smug, unhelpful and made in bad faith.  If you have the right to mouth off with OT attacks in his threa, I have the right to tell you to piss off.

              •  :) Have a lovely day. (0+ / 0-)

                And get it up. You're proving my point much better than I could ever dream of.

                Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

                by Pager on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:51:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  wait wait... (0+ / 0-)

          you mean you didn't write

          the truth isn't trollish

          (the 'truth' being:

          Of course you blame Georgia...

          ...because you represent the holdovers from the discredited parts of the European Left that tried to justify any Soviet atrocity because it stood up to those evil Americans.

          Russia just invaded an ally and escalated the internal conflict.  The reprehensibility of this does not change just because Bush is in the White House.

          )??

          How is saying

          you represent the holdovers from the discredited parts of the European Left that tried to justify any Soviet atrocity because it stood up to those evil Americans

          NOT

          casting aspertions on JaP's character because his informed worldview doesn't line up with your naive and reflexive one ('they're our allies!!1!11ONE')

          , and then saying

          Wow, you could give lessons

          in how to hold a grudge, Jerome.

          NOT saying it was

          like, totally fine, and he should sooo totally love you

          ?

          (the "because i'm murkin" is infered from the fact that you didn't level any of the afore-mentioned aspertions at your fellow americans who juste happen to share JaP's take on the events. Presumably because when they say it, they being murkins, they're not anti-americans, Right? But JaP is just another cheese-eating surrenderer monkey, so he has no right to say anything bad about US policies, allies, and stuff, because, well, he's not murkin'.)

          See, only one assumption, and pretty well grounded at that. I happen to  have a goddamn clue how you feel about any of this, because of what you wrote.

          Have a nace day!

          •  I'm having a awesome day! (0+ / 0-)

            Thank you for caring, sweetheart. Carry on. :)

            Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

            by Pager on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 09:12:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Geez! (1+ / 3-)
        Recommended by:
        Shane Hensinger
        Hidden by:
        LanceBoyle, daddy4mak, m4gill4

        God I swear Jerome's army of "lemmings" is just awesome to behold. An entire group of people fascinated with some French guy bashing American policy... who would of thought?!

        Seriously though, this article isn't half bad even if it is written by someone who uses homeland security tactics to scare up lemmings.

        Say what happened to the "Countdown to $200 oil" series?

  •  This is excellent information (4+ / 0-)

    Depressing, but excellent. I have viewed the neocons attempt to provoke the Russian republican with increasing discomfort, whether that is bases or even missile defense systems ringing Russia in a way that cannot be interpreted as anything other than provocation.  The oil angle is also ever present with these thugs.

    The talk of human rights is ludicrous. Every time Bush raises the issue with the Chinese, Russians, North Koreans, Iran, or any other country, the hypocrisy means no one will listen. Until we renounce kidnapping, torture, and murder as the official policy of the United States, then we have no right to lecture others on human rights. We desperately need to clean our our house and bring our war criminal leadership to trial as a signal we have rejoined the world community before we can meaningfully press for reforms by others. Forging documents to justify invading and occupying a country with massive oil reserves is text war criminality.

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by DWG on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:31:25 AM PDT

  •  I wanted (8+ / 0-)

    to write a short diary about my opinion to what's happening in Georgia right now but decided to hold back and just express it here shortly.

    For me of course this stupid and bloody war is Saakashvili's folly. If unconfirmed reports about 2000 civilians deaths in South Ossetia are true his folly will turn out to be a crime against humanity and he deserved to be punished in Hague.

    However his chances of appearing in court depend much on future course of actions by Russians.

    No doubt Russians analyze what was reaction of the world to this war.

    Some reactions from old cold warriors like McCain, Rice, Holbrook were on predictable lines.

    When confronted with facts about barbaric shelling of Tskhinvali by Georgian troops they mumbled about their deep concern and urged restrain on both sides yet Western countries were not satisfied with such phrase in UN (where they unrealistically wanted to urge only Russia to cease fire but not Georgia).

    Western press was divided - Washington Post was screaming about the need to stop Russians, WSJ was surprisingly chiding Saakashvili, in UK it was almost the same.

    So the question which needs to be answered is when and where Russian troops will stop?

    According to some reports Russian president Medvedev talked about forcing Georgia to leave South Ossetia. If Georgian troops will pull out of Tskhinvali Russian army should stop fighting and secure borders between separatist region and Georgia. Then Russians may simply wait when Saakashvili regime will collapse because of defeat.

  •  Let's Play Risk! (0+ / 0-)

    Jerome, I am surprised that you as an economist who works in the energy sector fail to see the implications of the ongoing risk issues here. The banks must be concerned about the risk of having Russian troops within 100 miles of one of their pipelines.

    I believe that the same concern led the State Department to encourage Israel to "clean up" the situation in Lebanon circa 2006, so that the southern flank of the BTC pipeline would be more secure.

    While the oil does flow, it's the risks to the pipeline that the banks and oil majors don't like.

    You can fight torture today - or be subjected to it tomorrow

    by The Holy Smoker on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:37:48 AM PDT

    •  BREAKING - BTC Oil Pipeline Attacked!!!! (4+ / 0-)

      Der Spiegel is reporting Georgian claims that the Russian airforce has bombed and damaged the BTC oil pipeline. I don'tknow if this is true or not, but Georgia appears desperate to get the US/NATO involved in cleaning up the mess they've created.

      So much for JaP's notion that oil has nothing to do with this.

      You can fight torture today - or be subjected to it tomorrow

      by The Holy Smoker on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:20:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmm (12+ / 0-)

        Russia stages raid near key oil pipeline: Georgia

        TBILISI (AFP) — Russian warplanes on Saturday staged a raid near a major international oil pipeline that runs through Georgia but did not damage it, Georgia's prime minister said.

        The 1,774-kilometre (1,109-mile) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline is the world's second longest and takes oil from Azerbaijan to Western markets.
        Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze told Georgian television: "The area of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was bombed by Russian planes. Miraculously, the pipeline was not damaged."

        Given that no oil is moving now, it would have had no immediate consequences, but I must admit that I'm surprised they'd attack the pipeline so early on. As this is just a Georgian assertion, which talks about 'the area of the pipeline', let's wait to have more info.

        If this has indeed happened, this is a direct sign to the US, and a pretty ominous one. Russia would be raising the stakes massively.

        •  From... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SamSinister, Rogneid, borkitekt, adrianrf

          Der Spiegel:

          Russian fighter jets on Saturday conducted up to five strikes on largely military targets near the Georgian city of Gori, located near South Ossetia. And Russian prepared to land troops on the Georgian coast in a development that could lead to an all-out war. Georgia also claimed that Russia had attempted to destroy an oil pipeline that is an important supply point for the West.

          Georgian Economic Development Minister Ekaterina Sharashidze said Russian fighter jets targeted the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, but the attackers missed it. "This clearly shows that Russia has not just targeted Georgian economic outlets but international economic outlets in Georgia," she told reporters.

        •  Probably Russian sabre-rattling... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gaianne, Dauphin

          to tell the U.S. and NATO "don't even think about getting into this."  The message is that if Russian had wanted to, it could have easily blown up the pipeline.

  •  This is what happens (7+ / 0-)

    When you fight a war of aggression against a place who has allies who fight back...

    The Georgian president is a hypocrite by saying that Russia "attacked" when most of their policy makers were on vacation. If I remember correctly, it was the Georgians who attacked first. Seems like their president has some answering to do.

    Only a fool would attack a break away region tied to Russia during Russia's global resurgence.

    The diarist is right here. We made sure Kosovo became independent. Why not these two enclaves of Georgia? Is it because they will join Russia and not become their own little micro states?

    Sheesh.

  •  Well we did try to conquer a bigger country than (0+ / 0-)

    Russia.

    Now I've had extremely annoying experiences with nationalistic Georgians that make me extremely unsympathetic, but I would rather their little country not be conquered.

    Uh also I guess Afghanistan is being squeezed.

    There's something attractive about invincible ignorance... for the first 5 seconds.

    by MNPundit on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:51:18 AM PDT

  •  So much missing (deliberately?) from your diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TMP, alexnovo, Lesser Dane

    Lets start:

    Russia has explicitly stated that bringing countries like Ukraine and Georgia, long parts of its empire, into NATO, would be seen as an aggressive act. Is that such an irrational position to take? (I mean, look at US policy towards Cuba...)

    US policy toward Cuba...hmmm...well, Cuba was a defacto, on & off member of the Warsaw Pact for 30 years.  Most everyone on our side of the political fence now agrees that treating this like a provocation, let alone one worthy of invasion, was stupid.  

    More to the point, wasn't the very purpose of helping the former Soviet republics achieve freedom that they could choose their own diplomatic associations?  What was the point if Russia still gets to dictate their diplomacy?

    We talk about the territorial integrity of Georgia after blatantly ignoring it in the case of Serbia, by pushing Kosovo towards independence (again, as I noted above, that this would have immediate, obvious consequences in Georgia was noted long ago by observers not blinded by Washington's rhetoric).

    There was no ethinc cleansing in South Ossettia.  Georgian paramilitaries were not sweeping through the province burning villages.  South Ossettia declared "independence" during the USSR breakup, and was immediately backed up by Russia, which was not acting to prevent genocide, but to hang onto its rapidly-dwindling territory.  To pretend that the Russians would not have done this without the Kosovo precedent is ridiculous - the precedent didn't even exist at the time.

    But the fact remains that the steady policies of encirclement of Russia by bringing former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO, and then former Soviet Republics, and setting up massive military bases there continued and accelerated, despite earlier promises to Russia not to do that. And the rhetoric about Russia's "energy weapon" suddenly turned strident in 2006 as the UK, the neocons's faithful lapdog, suddenly realised it no longer had enough gas and had to find someone to blame for that state of fact rather than its insane 'let the markets provide' policies.

    Talk to the Ukranians, and Russia's other neigbors, about the Russian energy weapon.  No wonder these countries want to be part of the western alliance - their only other choice seems to be to obsequiously suck up like Belarus and become a Neo-Soviet client state.  

    The funny thing, I agree with your basic premise, which is that through our own reckless foreign policies, we have tied our hands in dealing with this crisis.  But in spreading the blame (rightly) among western powers, you take it off the Russian government, acknowledging that it is "authoritarian" and not "quite democratic" (I'll take that as sarcasm), but never, ever addressing its paranoid, insecure, bullying as a foreign policy.  I'm totally willing to acknowledge that these characteristics stain our own policy.  But when you speak of the Russians, you say that this conduct is "rational" and that they are responding to needless "provocation."

    A smart diary with good points.  And undeniably rife with Russian apologism.   Maybe not on all points, but enough to discredit the whole thing, which is unfortunate.

    •  Oh and... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TMP

      ...when did we promise Russia not to bring republics into NATO?

      •  It matters when neocons are involved (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gaianne, Euroliberal, k9disc, Fyodor, adrianrf

        Georgia and the Ukraine had American neocons all over their countries spending money to get the Right party elected.  Lebanon was a similar operation.  US corporate pigs were all over the Mexican elections and Bolivian elections.  Would we tolerate such intervention within our borders?

        There is no democracy anymore.  There is rule by the empire of American corporations, and rule by one of the competing corporate empires that is fighting to prevent our conquest of the entire world.  Our brains are bought and sold, controlled by private media.

        Worst of all, the neocon goal was to reduce Russia and China to our sweatshops.  When they kept the bulk of the profits of their exploitation at home, they became our enemy.  What was the avowed agenda of Cheney and the PNAC?  Permanent American domination of everywhere forever.  You call that democracy?

        •  True. However the difference is ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3cardmonty

          ...at the margins. The neocons have implemented a kind of naked imperialism, but imperialistic policies predate their ascendance by many decades.

          I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

          by Meteor Blades on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:46:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  During the talks about German reunification (10+ / 0-)

        Open Communication is Crucial

        NATO enlargement, for instance, loomed very large among those grievances. This issue goes back to the reunification of Germany which took NATO eastward to the German-Polish border. This was when Russia was given the assurances that NATO would not be moved further. In his Munich speech, Putin lamented that those pledges fell into oblivion. "And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?" he said. "Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them....Where are these guarantees?"

        At the time, the promise that NATO would not be expanded immediately caused indignation and fear in Central Europe and in the Baltics. The presidents of those countries begged the United States to protect them by granting them NATO membership -- no wonder, given their horrible and still fresh memories of the Soviet occupation and bloody repressions.

        Meanwhile, the Russian post-Communist officials and pro-Western policy-makers implored the U.S. administration not to enlarge NATO: many in Russia regarded NATO as an enemy -- not surprising after the decades of the Cold War.

    •  ok (8+ / 0-)

      never, ever addressing its paranoid, insecure, bullying as a foreign policy.

      Let me confirm that I agree with you on this, mostly. My point is that, even if it is true, our own policies are stupid and counter-productive, something which I understand you agree with.

      One point you make I disagree with:

      Talk to the Ukranians, and Russia's other neigbors, about the Russian energy weapon.

      I wrote my PhD on this, and lived in Ukraine when the first gas crises happened in 1993-4, so I think I can speak with some authority on this, and would like to point you to this : Gazprom as a Predictable Partner. Another Reading of the Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Belarusian Energy Crises which I wrote last year on the topic.

      •  Yeah, What Weapon? (0+ / 0-)

        Agreed. I don't think that anyone has ever died because of a Russian oil or gas pipeline.

        This talk of a Russian energy weapon is such a farce.

        You can fight torture today - or be subjected to it tomorrow

        by The Holy Smoker on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:29:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would not be so sure of that... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gaianne, Dauphin, heathlander, dmnyct

          The oligarchs' wars in the 90s often included nasty tricks which went up to and including cutting gas to whole cities in order to cut supplies to the big metal-bashing plant in the middle of it, to starve it to death in order to take it over.

          I have a text by Leonid Krutakov from June 2000, called "While Vyakhirev and Chubais fought for control of a national industry, Berezovsky pulled the chestnuts out of the fire". It was posted on Johnson's Russia List but I cannot find a trace of it on the internets. I have it in Word version and can send it out to any interested party by email.

    •  I don't want to get off on a tangent, but... (7+ / 0-)

      when you say this:

      US policy toward Cuba...hmmm...well, Cuba was a defacto, on & off member of the Warsaw Pact for 30 years.  Most everyone on our side of the political fence now agrees that treating this like a provocation, let alone one worthy of invasion, was stupid.

      ...I would advise you to place it into a regional (even historical) context beginning with the backdrop of the Monroe Doctrine followed by the Roosevelt corollary.  While the USA may have backed down from invading Cuba under Castro, the policy towards the wider region was couched in cold war domino theory and zero sum game rhetoric wherein popular movements with legitimate grievances were brutally repressed in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and elsewhere.

      By the way, Jerome, I sympathize with you as I am frequently characterized as an apologist for Castro communism.  If only people would familiarize themselves with the history before making such characterizations, I might grant them a hearing.

      "Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins." Cheyenne

      by maracatu on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:46:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So many people - not speaking about anyone ... (5+ / 0-)

        ...on this thread - are Googlexperts when it comes to history (and a whole lot more), latching onto one or two items at the top of the queue and instantly knowing more about some country or region than someone who has studied it in depth for decades. So I empathize and agree with you.

        I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:43:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  US/UN certainly do have moral high ground. (5+ / 0-)

    Russia invaded Georgia.  Saying US/UN are as guilty as Russia, as the diarist does, is the kind of amoral equivocation we see all to often from the superficial corporate media.

    Comparing the Georgia situation to Kosovo, as the diarist and the Russian oligarch regime do, is complete hypocrisy as demonstrated by Russia's Chechnya actions.

    Russia's behavior to all the countries that it invaded and occupied during the Soviet empire era is the same as it is in Georgia. Russia has used subversion of every sort to pressure, control and destabilize these countries in hopes of creating phony situations in which it can justify re-occupation.

    "We're just as power-hungry and ruthless as the Russians - and probably a bit more reckless and hubristic, lately. saying so does not make me a Russian apologist, just a worried bystander."

    We certainly can be but our Iraq invasion does not excuse Russia's Georgia invasion and the diarists "we are just as" equivocation is morally bankrupt and factually incorrect.

    •  We have troops in 150 "sovereign" countries (7+ / 0-)

      Now what is the end game besides world control?  What would you do if you ruled a country that stood in the path of that juggernaut?

      Two million dead Vietnamese.
      One million dead Iraqis (counting sanctions).
      One million dead at the hands of our Indonesian friends.

      Our taxes paid for it all.  When do we take responsibility?

    •  Iraq (like Serbia) does not excuse Russia (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, gaianne, Fyodor, dancewater, Dauphin, dmnyct, Losty

      but destroys any credibility we might have to criticize their actions, because we did the same.

      the diarists "we are just as" equivocation is morally bankrupt and factually incorrect.

      It is factually correct by any meaningful criteria: invasion of sovereign countries on flimsy premises, disproportionate use of force, lack of justification in international law.

      As to morally bankrupt, I agree; we are indeed morally bankrupt, which is why all the bullies on the planet are having a field day now.

    •  Question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Euroliberal

      You wrote: "Comparing the Georgia situation to Kosovo, as the diarist and the Russian oligarch regime do, is complete hypocrisy as demonstrated by Russia's Chechnya actions."

      What does this mean? How is comparing Georgia to Kosovo wrong given Chechnya?

      And if you honestly believe we don't deliberately destabilize countries that are not aligned with us, then I can see how you come to your conclusion about the morality of our foreign policy.

      Look up the Rambouillet peace conference if you want to see how we "subvert" the peace.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:55:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "But everyone else does it Mommy!" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alexnovo, Wings Like Eagles

        "And if you honestly believe we don't deliberately destabilize countries..."

        What US does doesn't justify Russia invading Georgia. US being wrong in Iraq doesn't make Russia right in invading Georgia.

        "How is comparing Georgia to Kosovo wrong given Chechnya?"

        Russia's justification for sending troops to its Chechnya province is the same as Georgia's sending troops to its South Ossetia province.  So Russia is being entirely hypocritical in attacking Georgia.

        •  I thought Jerome went out of his way... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gaianne, Euroliberal

          to make the exact same point.

          And it's not about what the US did in Iraq. It's about what the US did in Kosovo.

          Look, anyway you cut it, the Georgians went in an annihilated the provincial capital, killing a great many civilians. You simply CANNOT defend that.

          Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

          by upstate NY on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:13:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Prez of Georgia live on CNN now---defending their (0+ / 0-)

    actions---blames Russia for escalation.
    Georgia pasrliament has declared "Stste of War"--CNN

    The White House will be The People's House--B.Obama

    by Phil S 33 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:06:10 AM PDT

  •  Do you think this will affect Obama's... (3+ / 0-)

    ability to win Georgia?

    John McCain graduated in the lowest 1% of his Naval Academy class.

    by glutz78 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:12:45 AM PDT

  •  Sorry... (5+ / 0-)

    ...Russia has no more of an excuse to be fighting this war than Hitler did when he was supposedly "protecting" German citizens in checkloslovakia.

    Putin and his friends have repeatedly stated that they will win back "What they lost" for Russia... that means taking back Eastern Europe.

    When russian schoolchildren in Estonia unfrul banners that say, "Long live the U.S.S.R."  When Russia cyberattacks the government of Estonia for moving the statue of a Soviet occupying soldier out of the capitol square, you know you have problems...

    Russia is not benevolent... they seek their old empire back... whether or not Bush's actions have provoked them or they would have been belligerent on their own is a matter of debate.

    But, one thing is for sure.. this invasion of Georgia, a sovereign state, is only the beginning... Russia will use the same excuse as Hitler did, "Must protect Russians in these lands," to invade and conquer all of the rest of eastern europe.

    They've not been subtle about their quest...

    The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

    by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:20:00 AM PDT

    •  Pictue this then (5+ / 0-)

      If 70,000 Americans living abroad were threatened by this sort of thuggery the US government would do what exactly? Stand by? In your dreams. The Russians are doing what any other nation would do - which is why this gambit by Georgia was foolish in the extreme!

      You can fight torture today - or be subjected to it tomorrow

      by The Holy Smoker on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:26:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well, Georgia is in fact a sovereign state (10+ / 0-)

      so forget the the fact that these were Russian citizens

      Georgia just leveled one of their own cities and killed 1500 fellow countrymen who happen to be an ethnic minority.

      I am glad you are able to justify that with the excuse of Russian imperialism, I would never be able to and I supposed someone has to justify it.

      Just surprised that it is on this site from a long-term member

      It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:35:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not excusing Georgia... (3+ / 0-)

        ...but, the Russians are engaging the entire country of Georgia....  their interests go way beyond this disputed region.  Georgia may not remain a sovereign state for long.

        Remember, that we bombed many of our own cities during our civil war.  It is a Georgian affair.  The reason why the Russians are involved are a lot more nefarious than "protecting" russian citizens.

        And, yes, I have a unique perspective on this situation.... you see, my family was one of those ethnic minorities purged and "cleansed" by the Soviet Union.

        I know all too well that Russian interests in this region are not benevolent.  Any analysis of current Russian politics shows clearly that they are seeking imperial expansion.  this incident has given them the excuse to move on their campaign promises to restore the glory of Russia.

        The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

        by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:55:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, see, then we will never agree on this (4+ / 0-)

          subject.  For the record, as I've stated elsewhere on this thread, I never claimed nor believed that the Russians did not have alternative motives.

          However, I am also subjective.  I earned my BA from Michigan in Russian and Eastern European Studies, and spent three semesters at the Moscow Institute of Social and Political Studies in 94-95.  I married my host-sister, a Russian and half-Tartar/Bashkir, which lasted eight years.  I've also had unjustified and crazy experiences with people from the Caucuses while in Moscow, and one thing not spoken about here so far is the amount and depth of organized crime into the political system there.  I was very close to my in-laws so I do have a perspective.

          In otherwords, Lord Mike, we are not going to get anywhere with each other in this argument.  And we should leave it at that.

          It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

          by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:12:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We get a sphere of influence, why don't they? (6+ / 0-)

          Ours is called The Monroe Doctrine, and is accepted by all American politicians.  A lot of innocent people have died because of it in Guatemala (200,000), El Salvador, Nicaragua (over and over), Haiti, etc, etc, etc.

          Is it ever "imperial" when an American does it?

          •  There seems to be this idea that somehow I am... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wings Like Eagles

            ...justifying US actions... I'm not... but, that doesn't excuse the Russians, either...

            The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

            by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:30:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, it was the Roosevelt Corollary of ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Euroliberal, Dauphin

            ...1904 that opened the door not to just keeping "outsiders" out of "our" hemisphere, but also to intervening wherever and whenever we liked in our "backyard."

            I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

            by Meteor Blades on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:34:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The only sane US response to this mess-- (7+ / 0-)

          which of course we won't take, because it is sane-- is to demand that all three parties (Georgians, South Ossetian militias, Russia-- cease the violence and resume talks to either recognize South Ossetian independence or guarantee South Ossetian autonomy within Georgia. (Bush and McCain refuse to do this-- they insist Russia alone stand down and withdraw. Obama seems more prepared to demand joint responsibility and a compromise, as he did in the recent Venezuela/Colombia conflict and the escalating rhetoric between Kosovo and Serbia.)

          Then US forces should be withdrawn from Georgia and Georgia's application for admission into NATO denied.

          •  I agree that you propose (0+ / 0-)

            what seems to be a sane response.  I am hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and something like your proposal will come to pass.  Even Condi and GWB must realize that Georgia is extremely over matched by Russia and that taking any course other than diplomacy is far too risky.  

            Non, je ne regrette rien

            by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 12:14:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, NATO membership is going to be impossible.. (0+ / 0-)

              ...Germany and France already had reservations.. now way they get sucked into a situation where war with Russia is likely...

              Russia really didn't want Georgia to be part of NATO... by attacking, they have now fulfilled their wish.

              Ironic, since this attack shows that Georgia needs NATO protection more than any other state in europe at the moment.

              The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

              by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:38:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I'll go so far as too say this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Abou Ben Adhem

      as far as  the annexing  of Austria and Sudetenland are concerned  Hitler was pursuing perfectly legitimate interests-- to bring all Germans under one state.

      its when he crossed into Bohemia/Moravia and subjugated non Germans that he crossed the line. (and of course sujugating the "non Germans" in Germany as well)

      the simple fact is the South Ossetians dont wantto live under Georgia, why force them ?

      Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

      by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:35:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think they should be allowed to be seperate... (3+ / 0-)

        ...I think that Chechnya should be allowed to be independent, too... the problem is that this is a Georgian affair, and Russia moving in to annex the region (and probably more) cannot be justified in any way...

        The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

        by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:59:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In addition... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wings Like Eagles

          ....if there are issues with the separatists, the international community (the US and maybe NATO) shoudl be working on it.. not Russia storming in on their own accord to retake the region for themsleves.

          The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

          by LordMike on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:03:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  what if the South Ossetians WANT (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poemless, Dauphin

          to join Russia ?

          Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

          by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:30:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Boere-Afrikaner Volk (0+ / 0-)

            is a group of South African Afrikaners that WANT independence from South Africa.  Should we support them?  There are 100s and 100s of independence groups across the Globe that WANT independence.  Some of them have legitimate causes and needs (based upon history, discrimination and oppression by their governments); others do not.  I am willing to listen to the claims of the South Ossetians and maybe conclude they are a legitimate group.  However, the mere fact that they WANT independence is not sufficient.  

            Non, je ne regrette rien

            by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:25:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's nice that you are willing to listen (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IM

              to the South Ossetians and maybe conclude something about their cause.  

              After all, just because they want something doesn't mean that you have to give it to them.  

              You might decide that they're wrong, and after all, you have the right to decide anything about anyone anywhere in the world, because, you know, you're an American.

        •  yes it can be justified (0+ / 0-)

          just like NATO intervention re: Kosovo was justified, and for the exact same reasons.
          Oh and, during the Kosovo operations, we also bombed the shit out of Serbia proper. Russia has taken NATO's playbook, and is doing the exact same thing. And somehow it's, like, really really baaaaad. Go figure.

      •  Several points (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LordMike

        as to your statement about Hitler I would say (1) defending Hitler in any of his actions - opens a can of worms that should generally be left closed.  (2) why is it an appropriate legitimate goal of any nation to bring all of any group under one nation?  Should France declare war on Canada to bring Quebec into a unified French nation?  War is almost never the answer.  

        Secondly, there are always going to be groups of people who would prefer to be independent or aligned with another nation.  The mere fact that the South Ossetians don't want to be a part of Georgia, is not, in and of itself, reason to grant their wish.  There may be good reasons for them to separate but the mere fact they want to is not sufficient.

        Non, je ne regrette rien

        by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:06:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well as for No. 1 (0+ / 0-)

          Hitler was supposedly  vegetarian and I'll defend that action.

          As for No.2 you leave out half the argument. what if Quebec WANTS to reunite with France ?

          AS for your last pargraph well saying  people wanting thier independence isnt enough isnt a vaild argument. Either people have right of self determination or they dont. what crtieria do youthink should be required for them to seperate?

          Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

          by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:29:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It come to a question (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            carver

            of defining "self" in "self determination."  You can always find groups of people who want to leave a larger society.  I am not saying that those desires should be ignored, what I am saying is that they must not be given an automatic vote of approval.  I am sure that you can find groups larger than 70,000 strong in this nation that would like independence - that doesn't automatically mean they get it.  Indeed to go back in history clearly 11 southern states expressed that desire through their elected legislatures.  If you asked me in November of 2004, I was more than willing to have my state NY join Canada.  

            There maybe very compelling reasons to support Ossetian independence or its joining Russia - and I am uncommitted as to that - what I am saying is mere desire is not enough.  To say it is, would be to open the entire globe into a mass fragmentation.  

            Non, je ne regrette rien

            by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:39:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Given that there have been (0+ / 0-)

              very few armed uprsings for groups seeking independence in the US in the past century, i'd say so that there ISNT a very strong desire on the part of many people to seperate from the US.

              all those militia types havent declared an independent state, they like the perks that come with being USian.

              I guess my criteria is simply that if you're willing to FIGHT for your independence they you have crossed the moral threshhold required  for having the RIGHT to be independent .

              Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

              by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:47:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  p.s. (0+ / 0-)

                you were willing for NY to join Canada but were you willing to fight for that to happen? that puts the South ossetians in a different category from you.

                Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

                by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:49:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  There are 100s of (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Meteor Blades, Dauphin

                Independence movements across the globe.  Here is a list from Wikipedia  Merely stating that anyone who wants to leave a nation state should be allowed to do it, would result in chaos.  A willingness to fight is also not a great criteria.  Basically you are saying that we should send out a message to every disgruntled group that if they take up arms, we will support them.  

                Non, je ne regrette rien

                by alexnovo on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:11:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Russia (10+ / 0-)

      is using the exact same excuses that we did when we invaded and bombed Serbia to protect people in Kosovo.

      The credibility of these excuses is as flimsy (or strong) as ours. Which is my point.

      •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gaianne, Dauphin, rhutcheson

        The Kosovars weren't carrying US passports. Hardly any of our business, unless you consider the genocide angle. The S. Ossetians on the other hand are carrying Russian passports - why wouldn't the Russian government protect their own citizens? I really don't see the comparison.

        You can fight torture today - or be subjected to it tomorrow

        by The Holy Smoker on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:21:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  But, But, But.... (0+ / 0-)

    It's all about Good and Evil, isn't it?

    Excellent overview of the situation, and one I'm sure the traditional media, which has been cutting back on overseas coverage for years, will completely mishandle.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:31:26 AM PDT

    •  and that's because they are corporate media (0+ / 0-)

      who does what their corporate owners want them to do, which is entertain people enough to get them watching, then fill their heads with crap that supports the corporate interests.

      and that's why we get so many sex stories, missing white women stories, and pro-war stories, and a near total lack of reality........ and none of this is "traditional" for the US media!  Traditionally, they reported the news and served the people.

      (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

      by dancewater on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:57:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Every government on earth are gangsters (8+ / 0-)

    with a cloak of legitimacy.

    The real issue before us is how do normal humans foil and restrain the ruthlessly insane, in every part of the planet.

    In other words, how do we make the world Democratic in the face of the current class of sophisticated criminals with modern weapons and propaganda determined to distract, divide and enslave humanity.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:32:50 AM PDT

  •  Why Is This A Surprise??? (3+ / 0-)

    Oh wait. We have nothing but LIBERAL REPORTERS working in a LIBERAL MEDIA here in America!! How could I have forgotten that?

    by hopalong on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:39:20 AM PDT

  •  I think it is more Bush & Co than "we" (0+ / 0-)

    At least as far as America is concerned. I do not think that most Americans have a clue about issues like this one.

    My focus on this is not so much who is worse, or more 'evil' or corrupt, but how to solve the problems that created the violence.

    Again we see a region that had artificial borders created by outsiders, who now want to break up by mostly ethnicity (and religion).

    Add in an oil pipeline that serves Europe without going through Russia, and you end up with a potential new 'great game'.

    Jerome, how do you suggest Russia act now? They have definitely gone deeper into Georgia, not only South Ossetia. At least with war planes.

    It seems too many people are trying to decide who is to blame vs stopping the death and destruction.

    01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

    by kimoconnor on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:46:21 AM PDT

  •  major differences between Georgia and Kosovo (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miriam, Dauphin, Shane Hensinger

    Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia) had been committing ethnic cleansing and other atrocities in Croatia, Bosnia, etc for about a decade. When Yugoslavia began doing the same thing to Kosovo there was no way any political entity could morally justify why Kosovo should not be it's own country. When someone makes a valid case that Georgia has committed acts against South Ossetia that approach the what Serbia did in the former Yugoslavia then I think you will have a valid comparison.

    •  It depends on the context (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, slatsg, Dauphin

      If your context is the total ex-Yugoslavia, then yes, the Serbs had a track record. If you're talking about Kosovo only, then one could easily make the case that Georgia's actions there this weekend have been many many times more brutal than what the Serbs did in Kosovo prior to NATO bombing.

      As for Bosnia, that was not a one-way street, nor was Croatia. Look at the death tolls: 40,000 Bosnian Muslims, 30,000 Serbs, 25,000 Croats. Even Srebernica which is indisputably a massive war crime by the Serbs was preceded by massive war crimes in Srebernica by Muslims. And in the end, what happened? A Dayton peace agreement that was the mirror-image of the Vance-Owen accords which the Serbs and Croats had already agreed to 4 years earlier.

      Kosovo came four years later after Bosnia. This would be sort of like an attempt to tie-in Bush Admin. malfeasance in Iraq with an Obama attempt to prosecute the war against the Taliban in Afganistan.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:00:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kosovar independence (0+ / 0-)

      Came after Serbia had already embarked upon a "normal European path"

      Don't confuse the Kosovo intervention with Kosovo independence.

      Serbia was not doing anything to Kosovo in 2008 that Georgia is not doing to Ossetia.

      Let's not forget the Serbs who have been now ethnically cleansed.

  •  Quite a few Americans (0+ / 0-)

    apparently living in Georgia since Bush took office. I wonder what many of them actually do there?

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:54:15 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, Merci, Spasibo... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, heathlander, adrianrf

    Glad we've got you around.

    (I would have written "Thanks" in Georgian too, but the only thing I know how to say in Georgian is "I love you."  Lol.)

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

    by poemless on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:54:30 AM PDT

  •  Thank for commentimg! (0+ / 0-)

    At least the people on this blog are with it.  They know what is going on in the world.  The rest of braindead celebrity crazed American public and the stinking media don't even talk about this.

    Irrespective of who is right or wrong this is yet another volatile situation.  America has no credibility in the world.  We might as well shut up about this.  But let's not hope this is the start of the Russians re-asserting their control over the former Soviet bloc.

  •  But... But... JRE Had An Affair Must Ignore War (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alexnovo, Wings Like Eagles

    And genocide cause that is what the media cares about. This reminds me of the war in Iraq where the MSM dropped the ball cause they were "distracted" by trivial issues.

    McCain/(Hagee+Parsley) '08 "We Hunt Jews and Muslims So You Dont Have To. Straight Talk"

    by DFutureIsNow on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:03:37 AM PDT

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo

    [T]here are two reasons only we care about Georgia: the oil pipelines that go through its territory, and the opportunity it provides to run aggressive policies towards Russia.

    Hmmm...oil and empire-building.

    As Gomer Pyle would say

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    Seriously, thanks for a helpful explanation of this situation that is very obscure to most of us.

    "It's no wonder more people call themselves Democrats; it's easy to identify with a party that identifies with you." --srmjjg

    by Dragon5616 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:12:43 AM PDT

  •  Excellent summary of the situation, Jerome. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin, Losty, Wings Like Eagles

    Just a reminder, for those who have not yet read it, Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives is required reading to understand the strategic reasoning that leads Washington to aggressive actions on Russia's periphery. In short, Brzezinski describes how to consolidate the American Empire by taking control of Eurasia.

    We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

    by unclejohn on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:21:24 AM PDT

  •  OIL - - (0+ / 0-)

    it's only about OIL:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/...

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -Thomas Jefferson

    by ezdidit on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:24:33 AM PDT

    •  That's a terribly deceptive headline, of course (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miriam, Marie, IM, ezdidit

      1,500 dead as Russian troops raid Georgian town

      The rebels want to be Russian, they are Russians ethnically, and the Georgians are killing the rebels. Who exactly is piling up the bodies on either side is entirely unclear now, but the headline reads as though the Russians just killed 1,500 people. And "Saddam and Osama" are enemies of freedom....

      "The main enemy of the open society in no longer the communist but the capitalist threat."- George Soros

      by David Mason on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:30:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a sideshow to an U.S. Iran buildup... (0+ / 0-)

        It's all about the oil pipelines that run along the north and to the south of the Caucasus Mtns. and only about strategic oil plays.

        "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -Thomas Jefferson

        by ezdidit on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 12:35:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You sure they're ethnic Russians? (0+ / 0-)

        The Ossetians themselves are an Iranian-speaking group  Are the rebels not Osettians?

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:48:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Same Reason Japan Bombed Pearl Harbor (0+ / 0-)

      Oh wait. We have nothing but LIBERAL REPORTERS working in a LIBERAL MEDIA here in America!! How could I have forgotten that?

      by hopalong on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:53:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, it wasn't the Germans? (0+ / 0-)

        That'll teach me from learning my history from Animal House.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:48:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Iraq War did not "destroy international law" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    papermoon

    Jerome. It damaged the credibility of the United States but the structures of international law remain as vibrant as ever.

    South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) are legally recognized Georgian territory. Russia has no more claim to South Ossetia than Germany does to Alsace-Lorraine nor does it have a legal right to "protect" anyone in South Ossetia. It was perhaps not the smartest move for Georgia to attack at this point but it is entirely understandable considering the continuing Russian interference in Georgian affairs.

    I've seen you express admiration for Putin in his dealings with Bush, which is understandable considering the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" ethos that some seem to follow on these pages. But you should clear your head of Putin-worship for long enough to understand the profound legal and strategic issues here - which begin and end with Russia's illegal occupation of Georgian territory.

    •  de jure vs de facto (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poemless, IM, The Holy Smoker

      sure South Ossetia is legally Georgian territory, but its been defacto independent for 15 years or so.

      reclaiming it was  a legitimate aim of the Georgian govt.

      it was also a a dunderhead move given that Ossetia wants to join Russia to the point where most of them have taken russian citizneship.

      Cicero : If you're going to back a policy do it wholeheartedly. You'll win no points for timidity.

      by PoliMorf on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:35:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again - a worrisome precedent to set (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alexnovo, papermoon

        Russia distributed Russian citizenship in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia and then claimed it had a right to protect its citizens.

        I wonder what other stronger, more powerful states would like to do the same to their weaker neighbors? The United Nations charter speaks of a right to citizenship but every state has a right to decide for themselves how that is conferred on those born in their territory - South Ossetia is not Russian territory so I remain unconvinced as to the veracity of all those suddenly "Russian citizens" in Ossetia.

      •  There were (0+ / 0-)

        Germans living in Czechoslovkia and Poland in the 1930's that wanted to be German citizens. Did that give Germany the right to invade those countries? Note Russia is attacking parts of Georgia far from Ossetia.

    •  well, international law (13+ / 0-)

      has no enforcers, so the only chance that it can be followed is that countries voluntarily follow it because they know or hope that others will do the same. Self interest and shame.

      With the West having demonstrated that it did not care about following international law anymore, how on earth will we convince those that never were very keen to do it to stick with these rules now?

      So they don't (and I'll agree with you there - Russia is breaking a whole list of international rules right now) - but there's very little we can say about it - or do about it.

      Re: Putin, I'm just saying that he's probably better at being ruthless and power-hungry than the Bush administration. That does not make him good, and that does not mean I 'worship' him, just that I acknowledge its superior competence at games we should NOT BE PARTICIPATING TO!

      We lost simply by playing.

      •  Right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerome a Paris

        The downward spiral must stop at some point - right?

        This, as I've state again and again, is a textbook case of Russian irredentism. Which is worrisome for the precedent it sets, especially in a Baltic state with a large number of Russian citizens - like Estonia which IS a NATO member. Meaning if Russia pulls the same stunt there then France is gonna have to pony up to stop them.

        We should all be concerned and try to halt this now.

      •  I second the motion... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, gaianne, Jerome a Paris, heathlander

        With the West having demonstrated that it did not care about following international law anymore, how on earth will we convince those that never were very keen to do it to stick with these rules now?

        Not only that, I thoroughly concur with you here:

        We have zero credibility to talk about democracy, human rights, territorial integrity, peace, diplomacy and the like because we have thoroughly trashed these concepts in the past few years.

        I bet we could fill up a couple of diaries with examples just from the Bush years.

        "Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins." Cheyenne

        by maracatu on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:13:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Very true, Jerome a Paris... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gaianne, Dauphin

        I'm reminded of Putin's smack down of Hillary--we must appear as so many ignorant, spoiled children to him.  He is, without a doubt, as cold-hearted and ruthless as Hillary claimed him to be--and also extremely intelligent and learned--an excellent games man.    

    •  Russia has a treaty right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, Jerome a Paris, IM

      to provide peace-keeping forces in the disputed regions, a treaty signed by Georgia.

  •  This paints the conversation at the opening (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gaianne, Dauphin

    ceremonies of the Olympics between Putin & Bush in a different light, doesn't it.

    It also might explain why Bush was looking at his watch and so uncomfortable.

    Imagine having to sit and actually converse with Putin without a minder. It must have been terrifying for Bush.

    Sharing and Caring are for Commies! They should be illegal. Drop by and support the Human Agenda

    by k9disc on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:27:35 AM PDT

  •  Jerome is absolutely correct in his reading of (10+ / 0-)

    the power game and interests in this war.

    Let's face it: this is directly akin to Kosovo. Georgia is Serbia trying to retake land from secessionist rebels. In both cases, the rebels represent the wishes of an overwhelming number of citizens. In fact, the KLA in Kosovo represented 75% of the citizens whereas the Ossetian rebels represent 95%.

    In both cases, the military undertook a brutal counterinsurgency crackdown that killed 1,500 people (in Kosovo, those people were killed from the start of 1998 until the Spring of 1999. In Georgia, those people weere killed in the span of 2 days during the complete annihilation of the provincial capital). In this light, one might argue that the Georgians have been much more brutal than the Serbs in their counterinsurgency.

    NATO responded to the Serbs with a war and bombing. Russia is responding to the Georgians with war and bombing.

    Now, here's the twist, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sympathetic to those who want to maintain the territorial integrity of both Georgia and Serbia. I'm not sympathetic to Russia on this one, just as I thought NATO was in the wrong in Kosovo. We are going to have hundreds of guerrilla wars by proxy all over the world of ethnic groups trying to secede by committing terrorist acts, and then calling themselves victims after state terror is unleashed against them. This is a very dangerous precedent.

    We need to hold countries together, we need people talking to one another peacefully, especially in the 21st century.

    Power games will be played, the old British colonial game of Divide and Conquer, where you set ethnic groups against one another, and reap the spoils of war. It's easy to get people who have been living together peaceably to hate each other simply by stirring up shit. Both NATO and Russia are guilty of doing this in order to capitalize on the Great Game.

    In the end, it's up to us to refuse this bullshit Realpolitik game on both sides.

    Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

    by upstate NY on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:44:52 AM PDT

    •  Georgian troops: U.S. uniforms, armor & equipment (7+ / 0-)

      I got to admit, this picture really caught my eye:

      Photobucket
      http://blog.wired.com/...

      When the rebels see Georgian troops marching in their cities wearing United States Army uniforms, and the Russians are busy killing Georgian troops wearing those uniforms over United States Army body armor while driving in their U.S.-provided vehicles, you have to admit they might feel a sense of... provocation, to say the least?

      Let's leave it to the Cheneys and Gingriches of the world to explain why troops in Georgia can have U.S. body armor, while our own troops in Iraq have to go without - it's too confusing for me, I'd rather just shop and watch TV.

      "The main enemy of the open society in no longer the communist but the capitalist threat."- George Soros

      by David Mason on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:22:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But Chechnya could also be an analogy. (0+ / 0-)

      Russia completely annihilated Grozny, killing thousands and forcing the rest of the city's population  to become refugees. And got away with it, as I recall.

      In Georgia, those people weere killed in the span of 2 days during the complete annihilation of the provincial capital).

      The Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “kids for kids”): is a world cultural treasure.

      by lotlizard on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 02:33:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent statement (0+ / 0-)

      Now, here's the twist, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sympathetic to those who want to maintain the territorial integrity of both Georgia and Serbia. I'm not sympathetic to Russia on this one, just as I thought NATO was in the wrong in Kosovo. We are going to have hundreds of guerrilla wars by proxy all over the world of ethnic groups trying to secede by committing terrorist acts, and then calling themselves victims after state terror is unleashed against them. This is a very dangerous precedent.

      Thank you - I think this distills everything down to the most important point.  I was thinking that looking at Kosovo, we are hypocritical for saying Russia shouldn't do this.  

      You reminded me that acording to my own belief thatr Kosovo was not really a humanitarian intervention but used that as justification for gepoitical goals, Russia shouldn't do this, because NATO shouldn't have either.  

  •  let me try to understand this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, lotlizard, Wings Like Eagles

    i know nothing about this region other than what I have googled last night and this morning, and diaries I have read including this very helpful one.

    so feel free to correct me if I am totally off base.  

    There is a pipeline that runs from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia.  The pipeline was created by agreement of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and a group called SOCAR.  Despite the fact that SOCAR stands for "State Oil Company of Azerbaijan", SOCAR is actually made up of a consortium of oil companies including names we all know:  Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, BP, Amoco, and Montcrief.  Also involved is LUKOIL, the largest oil company in Russia.

    The middle of the pipeline passes near the southern border of the area known as South Ossetia.  S.O. is a breakaway province that wants to be part of Russia instead of Georgia.  The South Ossetians broke away in the 90s and Russia recognized them and gave them dual citizenship.

    The government of Georgia, fed up with breakway provinces, is trying to bring S.O. back into the fold.  A successful breakaway by S.O. would encourage the other separatist province, Abkhazia, on the northern border of Georgia on the Black Sea, to assert its independence as well. This would destablize Georgia and make it even more vulnerable.

    As Jerome said, the US has a base near the pipeline that would make an attack on the pipeline an attack against the US.  The US would like for Georgia to be a member of NATO, further cementing its status as an independent country, which would also make an attack against Georgia by Russia an attack against all of NATO.  Russia's hidden in plain sight goal is to get all of Georgia back, including the pipeline and its very valuable connection between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, but Russia cannot attack Georgia directly.  So instead Russia is encouraging separatist movements in the North and applauding Kurdish violence in the South and hoping Georgia will fall apart on its own so that Russia can swoop in and pick up the pieces.  In the short term, they are at least trying to get control of South Ossetia which will put the Russian border a lot closer to the pipeline.

    Have I pretty much got it?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    87 days until the '08 elections. Let's paint the country BLUE!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:52:56 AM PDT

  •  NATO is the problem (12+ / 0-)

    NATO has betrayed its original defensive function.  None of the people here who claim NATO has the right to surround Russia with hostile regimes can prove that the US will not exploit this to reduce Russia to the economic servitude and rape experienced under Yeltsin.  Our government has never admitted that Americans profited from that rape, that it was done by US sponsorship and University of Chicago theology, and that it massively reduced the life expectancy of Russians.  Just like we did in many other lands.  As usual, Russian paranoia is based on fact.

    Given that fact, NATO had a responsibility to demarcate its domain, which it did for 40 years.  Now it is an offensive alliance against a country that will not allow a Western corporate takeover.  We have seen what happens to democracies that try to stand up to such a takeover.  As the home of the CIA, we have the burden of proof to show Russia and China that this will not happen to them if they try to create a democratic system.

    NATO has no business in Afghanistan, and we even tried to drag it into Iraq and will doubtless try to drag it into Iran.  Why?  Ancient history holds a lesson.

    2400 years ago, the Athenian democracy led the formation of the Delian League, with many of the cities that stood with it against the Persian Empire, to prevent another invasion.  However, Athens insisted that it collect taxes from all members to build the "League's" fleet, when both the taxes and the fleet were completely under Athenian control, to be used to spread democracy in the Greek world, not just defend it from without.  This abuse of power terrified undemocratic cities such as Sparta.  The Athenian Thucydides, the first military historian, wrote that Sparta had to act to keep from being overrun by Athenian power.  He documented the debates in the Athenian assembly showing how citizens had come to view the fleet and its allies as their own property, to be used to collect loot and glory.  He showed the corruption of empire hiding under the form of democracy, and how disastrous the resulting war would be for that democracy and many other city-states who it dragged into war.

    We are at that point, if not past it.  Whatever we think of the Russians, we must see that our own self-serving ideology has been designed by demagogues and business interests to put the Russians in an intolerable state of serfdom.  We are bankrupt, by our own corruption and militarism, and now we demand that others help us fight so our corporations may buy shattered lands for pennies on the dollar.

    If we end this, we must end it all at once.  Terminate NATO, and force the European democracies to make their own military arrangements in the EU.  The voters of Europe have no say in NATO.  Their parties rubber-stamp our demands and betray their followers.  Like the Turks before them, the majority of Czechs and Poles do not want to expand American power, but every party they vote into power eventually caves in.  The people of Europe never wanted to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet it took them years to get out of Iraq and they're stuck in Afghanistan just as things are going as badly as they feared.  It is no wonder that someone put up Saakashvili to his assault; NATO must find new wars to keep their own voters silent, fearful of the accusation of treason, bribed by US investment.

    We might recall that the Peloponnesian Wars ruined all the Greek cities and discredited their unique experiments in governance, so that a simple backwoods chieftain that no one had heard of could sweep down and conquer them all, decades later, obliterating the supposed original purpose of the Delian League.

  •  Hungary comes to mind 1956 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cliss

    First, how many US troops and civilian contractors are in Georgia?  

    What happens if they are hurt or worse?

    We were afraid of hitting Russians in Cuba in the Missile Crisis.  Apparently the Russians have no such fear in Georgia.

    I remember Hungary in 1956.

    What obligation do we in the US have to help the civilians in Georgia.

    In 1956 there were thousands of refugees who came to the US.  

    And we have photo ops of Bush with Putin in China !

    •  There are more than 500 US troops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gaianne

      and about 2,000 US civilians in Georgia now.

      This is not 1956 Hungary; the US has no obligation to support any particular brand of nationalism in Eurasia.

      •  Did Bush endanger these American troops and civil (0+ / 0-)

        Did Bush give Putin the Green Light in China to attack Georgia and therefore put American troops and civilians in danger?

        Apparently we have more troops and civilains in Georgia today than we did in Hungary in 1956!

        •  I can't what you're trying to say. n/t (0+ / 0-)
          •  In 1956 Eisenhower let Russia suppress Hungary (0+ / 0-)

            The meaning is that in 1956 Eisenhower (Dulles) encouraged Hungarian Freedom Fighters to stand up to Russia and when they did, the US did almost nothing but accept refugees after the uprising was crushed.

            Now we have some 500 troops and 2,000 civilians in Georgia, according to one Comment to an inquiry, and Putin met with Pres. Bush at the Olympics.

            Did Bush give Putin the "Green Light" to invade Georgia and crush the civilians as well as endnger the US military there and the US civilians there, whether US Government contractors or other civilians?

            In 1956 America was rivetted to TV and radio news, especially in the mid west and east coast where large numbers of Hungarian descendents lived.  

            There apparently are no similar numbers of folks in the US who have family connections with Georgia, but certainly those families of US troops and families of the civilians care.  

            Of course the MSN talking heads and editors have neither the background nor age to allow them to know or care about the slaughter of innocents apparently taking place in Georgia with US approval or the wilful ignoring of it.

            That is what I meant to say.

  •  Once again, your insight is deeply appreciated. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, jcrit

    Insightful and even handed.   Thanks!

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 11:16:46 AM PDT

  •  Thanks very much Jerome. (6+ / 0-)

    This is sorely needed analysis.  Some of us tried to provide background diaries, but without any particular idea what was going on -- this on the other hand is illuminating.

  •  Pretty clear (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Cliss, rhutcheson

    As one of the ignorant masses on this issue, I am at least able to say I pretty much agree with your assessment simply on the basis of intuition.

    War is the enemy.  The US, Europe, Russia, and Israel are war-mongerers.  My logic really doesn't want to continue here.

    The only way to change this country is if money follows politics, not the other way around.

    by jcrit on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 12:10:54 PM PDT

  •  The US should declare neutrality (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cliss

    in the conflict and should withdraw US troops and evacuate civilians from Georgia before there are casualties which will give Bush/McCain an excuse to claim that withdrawal would 'send the wrong message' or some such thing.

    Biden and Obama need to need to back off their support for Georgia in the present conflict, and especially for Georgia's admission to the NATO MAP program, next coming up for consideration in December, 2008.

  •  Another place the U.S. should avoid blunders (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cliss, Losty

    Government should treat its citizens like human beings, not profit generating units for the Corporate Aristocracy to use and abuse any way they choose

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 12:23:49 PM PDT

  •  Aghanistan - more relation to this than to 9/11? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cliss, rhutcheson
  •  Offtopic. I enjoyed this diary and comments... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alexnovo, Wings Like Eagles

    I just couldn't help thinking: Discussion this devoid of maroons would not be possible at Redstate. Every other comment on their site would be something like:

    "Goddamn communists."

    "USA, USA!"

    "Need some wood?" George W. Bush, 2004

    by kratos on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 12:30:18 PM PDT

  •  Top McCain Adviser Lobbied for Nation of Georgia (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, rhutcheson, Wings Like Eagles
    John McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Randall Scheunemann, lobbied for the nation of Georgia for four years, including for about a year after he joined the Republican senator's presidential campaign staff in early 2007.

    Digg it up here:

    http://digg.com/...

  •  With so much crap going on daily in this (5+ / 0-)

    benighted country, it is difficult keeping up with the news of the rest of the planet.  Jerome, you fill that need to educate us here, admirably.
    These politicians, world-wide, are all corrupt, imo.  They may start out honest, but it doesn't take too long for greed or power to corrupt them (or both).  I could never blame Russia for opposing our building bases in their former satellites.  Sure, we said the guns would never be pointed at Russia, but who believes anything anyone in power in this country says anymore.  Actions speak louder than words is just as true now as ever it was.
    McShame was out with the rhetoric as soon as Russia went into Georgia.  "Georgia is a sovereign nation", blah, blah, blah.  Iraq was a sovereign nation, too.  It's just another example of do what I say, not what I do.

    The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

    by oibme on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:00:16 PM PDT

    •  The Crappy "News" Media Makes Sure We Don't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oibme

      hear about word events unless it's carried on their network and then we hear all about that ONE Thing.

      As for the REST of the WORLD, well, there's this thing they call the Internets that must be used to keep up with world events.

      And that's the way it is...

      Oh wait. We have nothing but LIBERAL REPORTERS working in a LIBERAL MEDIA here in America!! How could I have forgotten that?

      by hopalong on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 02:11:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Fundamentally Disagree (9+ / 0-)

    It does not matter what Russia is doing. We have zero credibility to talk about democracy, human rights, territorial integrity, peace, diplomacy and the like because we have thoroughly trashed these concepts in the past few years.

    So, the question as to what our real intentions are when we hide behind these grand words HAS to be asked. The same question has to be asked of Russia, or any other player, but that's precisely my point: we see Russia as brutally playing power games: we have to see our side as doing the same.

    We're just as power-hungry and ruthless as the Russians - and probably a bit more reckless and hubristic, lately. saying so does not make me a Russian apologist, just a worried bystander.

    Really? "Zero" credibility to talk about democracy and human rights?  Perhaps we should just pack it all up then and quit this grand experiment in democracy and human freedoms.

    Discount me if you like, but this is precisely the kind of FAR left hubris that I fundamentally disagree with on this site.

    I am not so naive as to miss the fact that American and European countires don't often involve realistic or monetary or terriorial or expanisionistic motives in foreign affiars.

    But your equatation of regimes that guarantee voting rights and human rights with those that thrive on suppressing those rights causes your argument to lose any credibility it might have had.

    Democratic Peace Theory has conclusively shown that states which guarantee human freedoms and democratic rights effectively never go to war with each other.  They tend to natural form a pacific union within themselves while remaining in a state of potential war with nonliberal regimes.  This contrasts with the empirical fact that nondemocratic regimes on the whole remain in a state of potential war with both liberal and non-liberal regimes.  All of this was predicted by Kant more than two hundred years ago.

    We can and should expand NATO to the outer reaches of the former Soviet Union.  Will Russia see it as an act of aggression?  Perhaps, but I would rather spread liberalism as far as can be done safely and responsibly than to pay for it more deeply when these states slide backwards into authoritarianism and become part of the collective problem with the world order.

    I adhere to Obama's positions of matters like this.  He says he is not opposed to all wars, but only to "dumb wars."  Iraq and Vietnam fall firmly into this category.  In principle, there is nothing wrong with using military force to dismantle a corrupt authoritarian regime.  The problem in both Iraq and Vietnam were that they were both horrendous strategic operations.  In the case of Iraq, these horrendous decisions were made by a trigger-happy band on the far-right pursuing the extremely dangerous philosophy of neoconservatism.  This is a philosophy which, despite your opposition as stated in your title, also follows a similar philosophy of Realism - in which political power is viewed essentially as a zero-sum game -  as you have in this diary.  Realism has its usefulness as a means of interpreting foreign affairs, but when unchecked by liberal peace theory, it becomes an extremely dangerous philosophy.

    It is useful to compare the war in Iraq with that in Serbia.  If we were opposed to war in general, then we should be against both.  But I doubt that most of us are.  The difference is one of strategic value: Serbia was a strategically wise decision, while Iraq was a horrendously poor decision.

    I would argue that we should be more aggressive in confronting authoritarian regimes in certain situations - such as the extremely oppresive government in Burma, which was hardly discussed on this site even at the height of its disgusting reaction to the recent cyclone.

    In the case of Georgia, we should support their move toward democracy, the West, the European Union, and even NATO rather than allowing them to fall under the shadow of a Russia that itself has fallen back into nondemocratic practices and Cold War ideologies.  Somewhere in here, the rights of the two breakaway provinces must also be settled.  But right now they are pawns in the game between the larger forces of Russia and Georgia, and in that confilct there is no question on which side our support must fall.

    In the meantime, I will stand up and call you out for attempting to morally equate liberal and nonliberal regimes.

    Liberal regimes are often involved in war and powerplays with non-liberal regimes, but among themselves, they both guarantee human freedoms and peaceful relations.  The best hope for world peace, as Kant originally forsaw more than 200 years ago, is for the pacific union of liberal states to gradually grow and encompass the world.  It is remarkable that he made this oberservation when there were only a handful of examples of this type of governence throughout history, and it is more remarkable still that his comments about the expanding pacific union have proven so true.

    Unchecked Realism, which sees all nations operating in a power vacuum with a zero-sum struggle for dominance, is an extremely dangerous belief that has some truth, but on the whole has been supplanted empirically (thank god) by liberal peace theory.  That is, nations don't have to inhabit a state of war - liberal regimes by nature create a state of peace.

    Though you argue against the destructive power of the neoconservatives (a view with which I agree), you nevertheless accept their own Realistic viewpoint of foreign relations, and that makes your theories just as dangerous as theirs.

    Obama/Kaine '08 - The Winning Team

    by Tim in CA on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:27:01 PM PDT

    •  ZERO Credibility??? We've Gone Into The NEGATIVE (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Piotr, dancewater, rhutcheson

      numbers thanks to Bush and his followers!!!!!

      Democracy?  Bush threw that away a long time ago!!

      Oh wait. We have nothing but LIBERAL REPORTERS working in a LIBERAL MEDIA here in America!! How could I have forgotten that?

      by hopalong on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:57:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's just false. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wings Like Eagles, papermoon

        You're overhyping the many damages of the Bush administration (and I agree with you that they are damages).

        Here's a simple equation: this fall, we the citizens of America have a legitimate opportunity to overthrow the party that has given us the disastrous policies of the last eight years.  In China, Iran, and now Russia as well, as well as many other countries around the world, this is not a political reality.

        Bush did many terrible and damaging things but "throw away" democracy was not one of them.  True, there will be negative campaigning and such, but when voters go to the polls November 4, we can change the government by legal, peaceful referendum.  This is democracy and we have it in the US.

        If you can't understand that basic difference between democratic and non-democratic regimes, then you are simply not in touch with reality.

        Obama/Kaine '08 - The Winning Team

        by Tim in CA on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:32:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  fallacies creep in (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM, Dauphin, nanne, Wings Like Eagles

      By most account, Saakashvili initiated this war, and he is not a paragon of a democrat either, and he dealt very harshly with domestic opponents and demonstrators.

      Other accounts say that he spent 70% of the budget of arms, and send relatively large contingents to Iraq and Afghanistan, apparently to ingratiate himself with NATO.

      If you spread NATO too much, you absorb more and more creeps beside "liberal democracy".  Example -- Turkey is an "imperfect democracy", it is like that for decades, and NATO membership did not improve it a bit.  They tried a bit harder on the account of trying to enter EU.  But NATO?  Fascist dictators belonged to NATO in the past.  NATO is a defensive pact, not a "mission Democracy".

      As it is, Georgia committed a massacre, so a talk of human rights should have some modesty in it.

      •  You make some good counterpoints (4+ / 0-)

        There's definitely some ambiguity regarding the specifics of these particular hostilities.

        I wasn't arguing so much about the efficacy of NATO as I was arguing against my perception of the author's point as reducing America's moral high ground compared to Russia.

        He states:

        our claims to have the moral high ground are totally ridiculous and need to be fought, hard. This is not about democracy vs dictature, brave freedom lovers vs evil oppressors, but a nasty brawl by power-hungry figures on both sides, with large slices of corruption.

        There's some truth to this, but ultimately not much and it becomes very dangerous to take a point with this.

        We in the liberal blogosphere often become so fed up with what we see as the corruption and failures of our democratic institutions that we fail to realistically assess how valuable and effective they truly are.

        My point is that, from a broader perspective, democratic regimes nearly always do in fact have the moral high ground over authoritarian regimes.

        The reason for this is that democratic regimes have been shown to effectively protect human freedoms and create a state of peace among themselves by natural means, thus escaping from the dangers of real politik that otherwise operate in a power vacuum (i.e. the international arena in the absence of global government).

        As Kant predicted, a liberal pacific union of independent states has begun to form and this union is ultimately our best hope for world peace and a proserperous and just global order.

        There are many intricacies in the Georgia-Russia situation, but when push comes to shove, we will and should and must support the Georgians over the Russians.

        Ultimately, we should promote and spread democracy where we can do so safely and expediently.  Georgia is such a case and we must not let them fall under the Russian shadow at a moment when Russia has slid back into authoritarianism.

        The complications arise because the breakaway provinces should have the rights to self-determination as well.  But we also must be pragmatic.  Right now, those provinces are pawns in the larger powerplay between Russia and Georgia, and in this, we must support Georgia.

        Ideally, we would like the breakaway provinces to retain some sort of autonomy within the Georgian nation.  But the situation is complicated.  South Ossetia has been operating largely as a lawless outpost over the last several years and poses a serious threat as a locus for illicit international activity.  Twice in the last few years have smugglers been arrested there who have been trying to sell large quantities of highly enriched uranium to who they believed were Islamic terrorist organizations.

        The present situation is therefore untenable, and we would prefer the breakaway provinces to be under the authority of a democratic regime that is an ally of ours rather than under Russian rule at a time when Russia has become increasingly erratic on the international stage.

        The main point, though, is that we keep in mind what is actually democracy and what is not, and that we support the former because it leads to peace while the later does not.

        Obama/Kaine '08 - The Winning Team

        by Tim in CA on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 04:04:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "we would prefer?" (0+ / 0-)

          ...and we would prefer the breakaway provinces to be under the authority of a democratic regime that is an ally of ours rather than under Russian rule at a time when Russia has become increasingly erratic on the international stage.

          Number one, the wishes of the local populations should have some weight, besides what "we would prefer".  Number two, the attack made by Saakashvili last week was highly erratic, and Russians and Ossetians claim, very bloody.  Until we refute those claims, this is our favorite who is dangerous and erratic.

          Democratic credentials of Saakashvili are also less then pristine.

          Seeing what NATO is doing with its "high moral ground" (or what Israel is doing), I am inclined to prefer a "middle moral ground".  High moral ground too often is used as a position to shell or bombard the opponent.  Russia, enjoying only "middle moral ground", at least tried to confine the bombardment to actual military installations.

          We have to allies there, a frank dictatorship of Azerbaijan and "imperfect democracy" of Georgia, and our foreign policy is to get favors from other frank dictatorships in Caspian region.  True, pro-democracy rhetoric made it hard, but we keep trying, in the name of Democracy and access to oil.

          I see no point is "supporting Georgia" if this is a support to re-annex "breakaway provinces".  This is no our problem, and this is not a problem with clear morality on one side.  We should support Georgia so it will not be clobbered senseless by Russia like Lebanon (democratic!) was clobbered by (democratic!) Israel.  I guess that much can happen and will happen.

          One can compare various policies we had in the recent past with our attitude here.  Say, do we promptly demand a ceasefire in a morally murky situation like Israel vs Lebanon or Russia vs Georgia?  Do we "defend territorial integrity" against the manisfest wishes of the locals, like with Kosovo or Ossetia?  Do we view "shock and awe" attacks on cities as a legitimate tactic?  Or, "on your own people"?

          NATO, and in general, "aliance of democracies" (add Japan, Australia etc.) has to inspect what we want to do, and what we can do.  Just assuming that whatever we could do is moral because, well, we occupy the high moral ground, is a folly that reared its ugly head a number of times.

    •  Ya voting for McCain? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Piotr, rhutcheson

      We can and should expand NATO to the outer reaches of the former Soviet Union.

      If the US ever leaves its satellite countries (refer to Chalmers Johnson's Blowback for this), would you argue that Russia should expand to the "outer reaches of the former Pax Americana?  The USSR is no more and NATO should have been dissolved as well.  

      What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

      by Marie on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 02:24:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How dare you assert that? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dmnyct, Wings Like Eagles, papermoon

        Check my comments.  I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Obama supporter and have been since day one.

        NATO retains an important function given the inability of the UN Security Council to fulfill its mandate in certain circumstances.

        Iraq was a blunder but Serbia was not, and Russia impeded security council resolutions on Serbia.

        Therefore NATO retains value in the post-Cold War era and should continue to function as a protective force for democratic values in cases where the UN Security Council fails to carry out it mandate responsibly.

        That position, by the way, is not republican or democrat.  Most democratic foreign policy experts, including Obama's team, take that position.

        Obama/Kaine '08 - The Winning Team

        by Tim in CA on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:37:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unlike you, I'm not at all certain that anything (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fran1, Dauphin, rhutcheson, papermoon

          the US (or Russia, China, UK, France, etc.) does in the international arena is of value.  Who is responsible for the UN not being all that functional?  Isn't that what we wanted?

          The issues in the Balkans were very complicated and anyone that hasn't studied this in depth should probably keep her or his mouth shut.  And personally I'm sick of Americans making such a stink about Tibet and Burma while our own government has destroyed and continues to occupy Iraq.  We're a bunch of arrogant, hypocritical, ignorant SOBs who whine that the UN doesn't work, do nothing to make it work and want to put a ring of new missiles (offensives because 25 years on Stars Wars is still a fantasy) around Russia because where would the MIC be without an enemy?  

          What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

          by Marie on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 04:16:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And yet here you are (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dmnyct, Wings Like Eagles

            expressing your damning opinion of our government freely and without fear of retribution.

            Were this Burma, the government would immediately do their best to track you down and arrest you, if not torture you.

            I have lived in South Asia and met several Burmese and Tibetans who have been tortured by their respective governments for similiar actiions.  One Burmese monk I met, who was deaf in one ear from the torture inflicted upon him, was completely psychologically destroyed from his ordeals.  He was no longer an adequately functioning human being and was extremely paranoid and delusional.

            For that reason, I obviously strongly disagree with our present government's recklessness when it comes to these sorts of "interrogation techniques" and I deplore them forcefully.

            But even in her darkest hour, there is still an unbridgeable gulf between the United States and China, and especially Burma.

            We can overthrow the corrupt Republican rule of the last 8 years by peaceful means this November.  That is not possible in China or Burma.  We can vent our frustrations with our government here, in public, anywhere we like, and not fear retribution.  That is not possible in China or Burma.

            Your anger toward the many abuses of US power over the last 8 years has blinded you from the real differences that exist between liberal and nonliberal regimes.

            Obama/Kaine '08 - The Winning Team

            by Tim in CA on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 04:33:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks Tim in CA... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dancewater, Dauphin, Tim in CA

              The divide between you and Jerome, if there is one, is likely one of perspective and emphasis.  Jerome is decrying that we are being somewhat hypocritical in our behavior toward other states--which is, no doubt, true.  On one hand we constantly state that we support human rights and the rule of law.  We then seem to disregard both when it suits our purposes.  

              On the other hand, Tim points out that we have a great deal of freedom here that those living under nonliberal regimes do not have and envy greatly--also true.  I have friends who just returned from a missions trip where they lived and worked with Burmese refugees in Thailand.  It was incredible to the Burmese refugees that "rich Americans" (my friends are not at all "rich" but from a Burmese refugee standpoint, we all are) would come to help them and buy their freedom in Thailand (the Thai government charges $30 for some sort of permission papers for the Burmese to stay and work in Thailand) with their own money and money from church members back home.  There are a great many caring and principled Americans who really do make a difference in the world.  

              That having been said, it is important that we always be self-critical and avoid using our power in ways that destroy.  The constructive use of power is a tremendously thorny issue and one that is fraught with moral ambiguities.  Idealists are often frustrated that so much of international relations can be dominated by the ugly, dirty and ruthless.  And nations are always in danger of following the dictum of the end justifying the means.  

              In the end though, I think that Jerome is right that if we do not follow the rule of law, how can we expect others to do so?  Americans have always historically sided with the rule of law, but then they have been isolationists in the past--it is easy to be idealistic when one's ideals are not put to the test.  That's the real test, isn't it--sticking with one's ideals even if it means defeat?  The mantle of being a world superpower is an uncomfortable fit for us and in some respects, we seem to have a tiger by the tail.  Building democracy around the world, if that is indeed what we are about, is dirty, dangerous and even tedious work--and often it seems that we must begin with ourselves.  

    •  Thanks for a substantial post (5+ / 0-)

      I appreciate your effort to make your case in a coherent way.

      I'd like to react to your last sentence, which is at the heart of your argument, but, I think, mistakes mine:

      you nevertheless accept their own Realistic viewpoint of foreign relations, and that makes your theories just as dangerous as theirs.

      I don't accept it - I just note that we have gone that route, and thus can no longer claim the high ground, and cfedibly use moralistic arguments. I fully agree with you that the "liberal" case is sorely needed, and I'm precisely saying that we have, unfortunately, lost a lot of our credibility - and thus ability - to make it.

      I'm not a cynic; I just saying that our diplomacies have become the worst of all worlds: pretending to be idealistic while being cynical, and not even competently hiding the double standards.

      •  Thanks for the reply (4+ / 0-)

        Having read it, I think there's less difference between us than I had thought.

        I think we are in agreement with the damage that the neoconservatives have inflicted on our credibility.

        I still don't think their excesses have zapped our moral high ground over non-liberal regimes.  That is too big of a gulf to be bridged by a few, even very large, mistakes.

        Ultimately, I think we recover much of our damaged credibility by using the democratic process itself: We throw the neo-con bums out of Washington this November and begin operating according to a more responsible and stategically sound foreign policy, which is what Obama is proposing.

        Many around the world won't forgive America for her sins so quickly, and maybe they are right.  But ultimately that is beside the point.  America may have to withdraw from the international scene somewhat over the next few years, but that does not mean we are gone.  Ultimately America remains the best hope for all those who suffer under the injustice of authoritarian regimes around the world.  We continue to have an obligation to support democratic regimes throughout the world that are threatened by authoritarianism.

        I think we can both agree that the solution here is to defeat the Republicans in November and throw out all the neocons with them.  Then we can start operating according to a more pragmatic and strategically sound foreign policy that champions liberalism around the world in a more responsible way, rather than, as you put it "pretending to be idealistic while being cynical."

        Obama/Kaine '08 - The Winning Team

        by Tim in CA on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 04:20:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  really? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rhutcheson

          America remains the best hope for all those who suffer under the injustice of authoritarian regimes around the world.

          You mean excluding all the authoritarian regimes we've propped up over the years, right?

          I'm sorry, but American foreign policy hasn't been exemplary during Democratic administrations, and Obama has explicitly promised a return to the softer, less offensive imperialism of Clinton, Kennedy, and even Reagan.  He's leaving 60,000 "residual" troops in Iraq.  He'll transfer the rest of the responsibility for that war to private security contractors like Blackwater and use the freed up soldiers to escalate the war in Afghanistan, which he constantly lauds as pretty much the best war ever.  God I can't wait till we win the war in Afghanistan, that's gonna be so rad.

          I agree that American regimes treat their own citizens far better than the nonliberal regimes you're talking about.  It helps to placate us so we don't get as worked up about or government's crimes against foreigners.  In that department, nobody can touch us, no matter who's in the White House.

    •  Take your 'moral high ground' and (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lupin, 3cardmonty, dancewater, Dauphin

      pack it off to Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, and Iraq, among others.  See if it sells well there.

  •  What's the larger context/purpose... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hopalong, Cliss

    of Russia's actions, if any?  I'm just seeking to better understand what is happening there.

    •  O-I-L (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cliss, Losty

      "Since last night the import and export of oil through the Georgian ports of Kulevi and Batumi have been halted," said Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of the Azeri state oil company SOCAR, in televised comments.

      "This is due to armed actions in the area of the Georgia-Ossetia conflict."

      He added that SOCAR was "looking into the possibility of exporting oil through the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, but the capacity of this pipeline is quite low," in a reference to a route that links the Azerbaijani capital to the Russian Black Sea Coast.

      Earlier Saturday Russian planes staged a raid near the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a major international oil route that runs through Georgia, but did not damage it, Georgia's prime minister said.

      In recent years Georgia has become an important transport route for oil from Azerbaijan and other Caspian Sea oil producers, allowing Western oil firms to bypass Russia's oil pipelines.

      Azerbaijan halts oil exports via Georgia ports: state oil firm

      Oh wait. We have nothing but LIBERAL REPORTERS working in a LIBERAL MEDIA here in America!! How could I have forgotten that?

      by hopalong on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 02:26:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the result of Republican leadership. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrismorgan, dancewater, Cliss, Pebbles

    A new Cold War.

    And it was their plan.

    Who cares if it puts every man, woman, and child in America at greater risk?

    Not them. Their people are making money. More weapons, more wars, more war reconstruction, higher oil prices.

    $$ for Republican corporatists.

  •  World fragmentation: cui bono? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wings Like Eagles

    The dissolution of most states into a huge flock of happy independent micro-regions.
    This vision has been promoted for some years now, I assume by neoliberals of one sort or another.
    How would such a change, with its accompanying bloodbaths, contribute to resolving the new (and definitive) international challenges. Very badly, I have to think.

  •  Russia has been meddling in Georgia since 1992 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dmnyct, Newthought, takeiteasy

    And it's strange to have someone claiming to have a PhD look past that fact.

    Some might even suppose that Russian chauvinism actually drives Russia's neighbors away from it.

    I wouldn't give Dubya credit for anything, not least his Russia policy.  But in the end you are letting Putin off the hook, enabling him if not quite defending him.  Though after a while the difference is academic.

    A President Obama will have to deal with this exact same chauvinism and can you promise us you won't tie his hands by complaining about Bush's sins?  Because that is ultimately where this kind of argument leads.

    "There will always be two different views / Of the same thing, baby / Too many views with loaded pride." - The Fixx

    by fstlicho on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:15:29 PM PDT

    •  You mean Georgia has been meddling in Ossetia? (0+ / 0-)

      Don't forget that little civil war, the outcome of which was Russia acting as peace keeper by treaty agreement with Georgia, among others.

      •  Russia will occupy Ossetia (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fstlicho, dmnyct

        This does not mean independence for Ossetia. It means occupation by Russia. Yes, Georgia was in the wrong by asserting its control over its own internationally recognized territory because the people there are not ethnically Georgian. Sudetenland, anyone?

      •  Yes, a part of its own territory (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dmnyct

        As was Abkhazia.  Russia intervened in both places.  Also in Trans-Dniestria.  

        It's funny how attacks on US foreign policy turn into defenses of how everyone else does business.

        "There will always be two different views / Of the same thing, baby / Too many views with loaded pride." - The Fixx

        by fstlicho on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 05:34:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I believe the US should (0+ / 0-)

          be neutral in the conflict between Russia and Georgia.  

          The US administration, though, seems intent on portraying Georgia as a peace-loving democratic ally in a fight against Russian imperialism, in the meantime trying to get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, an eventuality which I think would guarantee a new decades-long (optimally) cold war.

          In doing so, I don't believe that the US government cares much about national self-determination, human rights or any of the other issues involved in the region except in so far as they can use them as cover for their ideologically-driven and nationalistic belligerence.

          So I don't feel any compunction in defending the other side of the question without deference to the mendacious US government line.  

          You, on the other hand, seem to have no fear of finding yourself on another journey into hell in the company of Bush.

          •  Look who's talking (0+ / 0-)

            This kind of with us or against us rhetoric is the hallmark of the Bush administration.  

            I and plenty of other people here can form an opinion without regard to where Bush stands.  Having independent principles means that you may occasionally find yourself agreeing in some small way with people you generally dislike.  But it beats the alternative.  You should try it sometime.

            "There will always be two different views / Of the same thing, baby / Too many views with loaded pride." - The Fixx

            by fstlicho on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:23:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do you object to US neutrality? If so, why? n/t (0+ / 0-)
              •  How nice of you to ask (0+ / 0-)

                You might have done so to begin with, but better late than never, I suppose.

                Impartiality yes, passivity no.  Plenty of other states are calling for a cease fire and a return to negotiations.  If Gordon Brown and Bernard Kouchner feel sufficient courage to profess alarm at this escalation, I don't see why the US should demur.  

                "There will always be two different views / Of the same thing, baby / Too many views with loaded pride." - The Fixx

                by fstlicho on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:46:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Also, Georgia has sacrificed on our behalf (0+ / 0-)

                Yes, in a war that never should have been waged, but we owe them something.  We can't just say, "Sorry, wrong war," (with regard to Iraq) and wash our hands of them - that only compounds the wrong.  

                I'm not advocating sending the 101st Airborne to Tblisi or any military commitment of any kind, but standing blithely by while their capital is bombed isn't going to help us in the world, even after Bush finally leaves office.  Suggesting that the 2014 Olympics be moved from Sochi might be a start.

                "There will always be two different views / Of the same thing, baby / Too many views with loaded pride." - The Fixx

                by fstlicho on Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 07:15:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Action now, not wait and see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    takeiteasy

    Putting aside the appeasement approach or the Oil conpiracy notes some here seem to want and believe to be happening with this event.

    First, POTUS Bush needs to cut his sport vacation in China and Meet with Putin to stop this action.  NATO and the world needs to make some real calls to Russia and Georgia to stop all forward military actions for 48 hours or more, a meeting of the UN Security Council needs to started right away. The Ambassordor of Russia needs to meet today and settle this conflict. The World does not need another European War now.

    But most of all, NATO better get their forces ready and moble.. move them Away from their bases now..

    "Someone in the Russian Government is unzipping their pants.. and not thinking about using a condom.."

    We do not need another WAR.. The world does not need another War...

  •  I'd like to point everyone to... (0+ / 0-)

    my diary, which has to do with a good piece by Ben Smith (shocking, I know) about how the reactions from the campaigns on this issue helps give insight as to how they would handle this type of situation in office.

    And this is the second comment I've done like this...but I thought pimping iss kosher when it's about the same subject.  Maybe?  If it's not, I'm sorry.  I think the diaries on the rec lists are fantastic, but cover the actual situation, not the politics, which is what my (short) diary is attempting to do.  Again...sorry if it's inappropriate.

    "Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." ~Voltaire

    by The BBQ Chicken Madness on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:51:05 PM PDT

  •  I take offense to calling Kasparov an "idiot" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin

    You try playing CHESS at an 1860+ level...play against the best chess players in the world and make them look silly.  

    As for whether that makes him a good politician or an idiot in domestic and foreign affairs I do not know.  What I do know is that he is no idiot.  

    I would frankly trust his opinion about his country more than I would yours.  

    As to the rest of your post it seems well researched but after calling one of the greatest chess players no strike that the greatest chess player of all time an idiot I must question your intelligence.  

  •  Problem with this diary -- if not oil, then what? (0+ / 0-)

    If, as Jerome points out, the existence of the pipeline means "game over" on the oil front, then what exactly is motivating our policy on Georgia?

    I'm not sure why the recent handling of Kosovo's recognition was so strongly provocative for the Russians, and I don't see a direct link to South Ossetia (although I buy that the Russians do).

    Much of the lobbying visa vis Russian seems to be oil company-driven.  If that is not the case here, why is the US risking confrontation with the Russians over this issue?  Is this policy, or just an example of how inept the Bushies are?

    "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

    by mbayrob on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 07:54:39 PM PDT

  •  Pack it in. We lost (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dauphin

    The big boys have all the cards.

    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/...

    Change the media ownership laws and reinstate the Fairness Doctrine

    by moosely2006 on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 08:52:37 PM PDT

  •  BBC reports citing Georgian government (0+ / 0-)

    that 4,000 Russian troops have been brought by sea into Georgia. This, if true, means that Russian military is operating in the other much larger coastal separatist region of Abkhazia.

    BBC News

  •  Jerome, by going all the way back to Kosovo (5+ / 0-)

    and those "wag the dog" days of the sinking Clinton administration you risk the ire of every good liberal here a dkos.
    Don't you know that the bombing of Belgrade was in response to "ethnic cleansing" by Milosovic?  That it was thoroughly vetted as a legitimate response of a Democrat President flexing his potent will to use American military superiority to intervene on Kosovoans behalf?
    Now who here can ever admit it was the curtain opening to set the stage for the bombing of Bagdad?  Not a one will or can ever admit that much.

    Thanks for the memories that most simplistically gloss over with respect to all the good neocons entrenched within the Democratic Party.

    •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

      Richard Holbrooke, just before the Iraq War began, said that Clinton didn't worry about Security Council approval for Kosovo, and Bush shouldn't either.  I can't find the article but I remember it well.

      John Yoo also got to use Kosovo against Phillipe Sands in their debate at the World Affairs Council of Northern California.

  •  Gary Kasparov is an idiot? (0+ / 0-)

    A world chess champion is not an idiot.

    •  How many (0+ / 0-)

      chessmasters do you know?

      There are all kinds of idiots.

      •  Idiot? Chess Master? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dauphin

        How many chessmasters do you know?

        I know many. Even beat one or two in tournament play.

        Brilliance and madness often seem to be kindred.

        Alekhine, a world chess champion whose lengthy combinations were far beyond the ability of the most powerful computer even conceived today to unravel, was clearly certifiable.  Bobby Fischer's most bizarre antics pale in comparison.

        Both Alekhine and Fischer were rabid anti-semites but only Fischer of the two was of Jewish ancestry.  Score 1 for Fischer on the madness scale there.

        The problem, of course, is casually labeling people as idiots.

        This semi-thread is pure idiocy.  That's where I can shine you see. :-)

        Best,  Terry

    •  Bobby Fischer????? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  I love you (0+ / 0-)

    Jerome a Paris.   You always put everything together. I am english and you are french.  I love your diaries and posts.  You knocked it out of the ball park with this diary ... too bad that nothing is explained to us on ANY networks here in the USA.

  •  one more comment (0+ / 0-)

    what happened to our to our lovely man from Wales? Last I heard from his post at least 6 months ago he was in the hospital.  I bring it up because he was our voice from the UK and I dont where he is now. Still love your voice from France and just keep on writing from Paris.

  •  Does Russia pretend to defend (0+ / 0-)

    human rights and democracy?

    when I mock the West's claims about human rights and democracy, it does not mean that I think Russia is a defender of human rights and democracy, just that we have no credibility either on the topic.

    Are they raising this argument much here?  If so, is it more to point out the hypocrisy of the West?  

  •  Moral Authority (0+ / 0-)

    This diary is interesting: It starts out promising to help us understand the complex geopolitics in the current Georgian situation, but winds up with the drumbeat of "America's loss of moral authority."

    I have to say: It's sad to see Jerome driven to the expedient of having to derail an intelligent discussion of regional power plays to dally on the foundational, overriding fact of U.S. hypocisy.

    I'm totally with Jerome on this. I commented on this issue here in KOS a year or so ago, after the House Resolution which would have (if it could have) upbraided Beijing on its anti-secession bill which unmistakably targeted Taiwan under the "blue" (DPP) Chen Shui-bian Administration. I also buttonholed any blue-leaning Taiwanese I could find to remind them of the importance of not taking undue solace in this vainglorious show of U.S. "support," if they hoped to save face in the long run.

    It's an old problem. State actors, by acting for raw power, relinquish the right to claim any kind of moral ground whatsoever.

    Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

    by razajac on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 07:08:47 AM PDT

  •  Jerome, is S. Ossetia worth the candle, (0+ / 0-)

    politically?   I don't see any pipelines there.  If this is a matter of one ethnic group wanting to have political control of their enclave, why would we intervene, beyond the bad example this would set for more balkanization and an example for the Kurds of Iraq and Turkey?

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 08:15:54 AM PDT

  •  Were we wrong to invade Iraq, yes but that (0+ / 0-)

    doesn't mean that we shouldn't condemn Russia for illegally invading the sovereign nation of Georgia!  We should condemn both!  It's unbelievable that some progressives are condoning the acts of the tyrant, Vladimir Putin.

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