Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who Lost Georgia?

Or a lot of it?

In the wake of the Russian invasion, Georgia has been ripped and torn asunder. The tens of thousands of refugees who staggered out to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, took with them accounts of bombing, mass looting, kidnappings, shootings, arson and, on what thus far seems a smaller scale, of killing along ethnic lines. Russian troops and Ossetian looters roamed at will, conducting organized intimidation and ethnic cleansing. See the photographic evidence. The desires of the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossettians to be independent of Georgia could have been negotiated by diplomacy sensitive to the wishes of all. But now it will be resolved at the cost of much bloodshed, destruction, and lingering enmity.

Who's responsible for this human tragedy?

I lay responsibility firmly at the feet of the BushenCheneyenMcCain (BCM)school of foreign policy:
  • selective inattention to anything not starting with "I" and ending in "ran" or "raq"
  • conduct of the diplomacy of non-diplomacy - otherwise known as maintaining a deaf ear
The lack of American prior restraint on Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili is but the last in a long list of blunders of omission or commission by BCM. (It is reminiscent of Bush's lack of restraint on Ehud Olmert's attack on the Hezbollah two years ago.) What delusions was Saakashvili permitted or encouraged to entertain by his American advisors? That the USA would come to his aid if he bombarded and invaded South Ossetia? What about the self-delusions of our own BCM, committing the USA (since 2005) to the defense of Georgia when we have been up to our balls in two military occupations/wars which have over-taxed us militarily, economically, and diplomatically?

Wars are fought over differing perceptions of reality. Our misleaders are divorced from reality. And millions of my fellow Americans have not fully grasped the fact that, well into the 5th year of an occupation of Iraq, our country is no longer the leader of the free world. We are spent.

How humiliating it is, as an American, to see our leaders whining, complaining, and beseeching the Russians to behave themselves.

And so it was shocking to see the Russians ignore Condoleezza Rice's demands that they cease, desist and withdraw from hostile action in Georgia. And then she lectures them on being mired in the previous century's behavior. (Dr. Rice had to be the point 'man', because she was originally hired on as NSC director because Russia was her special area of expertise!) Why did she think she could reprimand the Russians for "Regime Change"? Who - in gawd's name - did she think would swallow such swill? Who in the world? We are not stupid.

How many of my fellow Americans are not so distracted by the Olympics to realize that their BCM government is talking loudly but carrying only a small stick? And a limp one at that?

12 Moderated Comments:

Blogger MacDaddy said...

Sad. I'm going to be doing some reading to see if I can figure out If we had a hand in any of this. I'm wondering, for instance, if the saber rattling of John McCain and even George Bush may have backfired.

8/24/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Mikhail Gorbachev says in the NYT four days ago that Russia Never Wanted a War:

.....Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction.

.....It is still not quite clear whether the West was aware of Mr. Saakashvili’s plans to invade South Ossetia, and this is a serious matter. What is clear is that Western assistance in training Georgian troops and shipping large supplies of arms had been pushing the region toward war rather than peace.

If this military misadventure was a surprise for the Georgian leader’s foreign patrons, so much the worse. It looks like a classic wag-the-dog story.

Mr. Saakashvili... America’s friend has wrought disorder, and all of us — the Europeans and, most important, the region’s innocent civilians — must pick up the pieces ....

.....The Ossetians live both in Georgia and in Russia. The region is a patchwork of ethnic groups living in close proximity. Therefore, all talk of “this is our land,” “we are liberating our land,” is meaningless. We must think about the people who live on the land.

.....What is needed is a legally binding agreement not to use force. Mr. Saakashvili has repeatedly refused to sign such an agreement, for reasons that have now become abundantly clear.

The West would be wise to help achieve such an agreement now. If, instead, it chooses to blame Russia and re-arm Georgia, as American officials are suggesting, a new crisis will be inevitable. In that case, expect the worst.

Russia has long been told to simply accept the facts. Here’s the independence of Kosovo for you. Here’s the abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and the American decision to place missile defenses in neighboring countries. Here’s the unending expansion of NATO. All of these moves have been set against the backdrop of sweet talk about partnership. Why would anyone put up with such a charade?


8/24/2008 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Who lost Georgia? The question might ought to be who Georgia bought to try and drag us into war.

From Pat Buchanan's column from August 22, 2008:
Who is Randy Scheunemann?
He is the principal foreign policy adviser to John McCain and potential successor to Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski as national security adviser to the president of the United States.
But Randy Scheunemann has another identity, another role.
He is a dual loyalist, a foreign agent whose assignment is to get America committed to spilling the blood of her sons for client regimes who have made this moral mercenary a rich man.
From January 2007 to March 2008, the McCain campaign paid Scheunemann $70,000 -- pocket change compared to the $290,000 his Orion Strategies banked in those same 15 months from the Georgian regime of Mikheil Saakashvili.
What were Mikheil's marching orders to Tbilisi's man in Washington? Get Georgia a NATO war guarantee. Get America committed to fight Russia, if necessary, on behalf of Georgia.
Scheunemann came close to succeeding.
...Not only did Scheunemann's two-man lobbying firm receive $730,000 since 2001 to get Georgia a NATO war guarantee, he was paid by Romania and Latvia to do the same. And he succeeded.
...Latvia, a tiny Baltic republic annexed by Joseph Stalin in June 1940 during his pact with Adolf Hitler, was set free at the end of the Cold War. Yet hundreds of thousands of Russians had been moved into Latvia by Stalin, and as Riga served as a base of the Baltic Sea fleet, many Russian naval officers retired there.The children and grandchildren of these Russians are Latvian citizens. They are a cause of constant tension with ethnic Letts and of strife with Moscow, which has assumed the role of protector of Russians left behind in the "near abroad" when the Soviet Union broke apart.Thanks to the lobbying of Scheunemann and friends, Latvia has been brought into NATO and given a U.S. war guarantee. If Russia intervenes to halt some nasty ethnic violence in Riga, the United States is committed to come in and drive the Russians out.

8/24/2008 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

B.Bum, clearly John McCain has always been among the usual suspects.

8/24/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

According to a 2007 Congressional Reporting Service (CRS) report,

“… Russian gas represented 98% to 100% of the total natural gas consumed by Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Slovakia.”

Further, Russian natural gas makes up 39% of the supply in Germany, 31% in Italy, 69% in Austria, and 43% in Poland. This dependence undermines U.S. influence - particularly with winter coming on. Russia has shown in the past that it is quite willing to shut down their exports to Europe for political reasons. This radically reduces U.S. influence in garnering cooperation in NATO to leash the Russian bear. Given the reliance on Russian oil and gas, I don’t understand why the U.S. thinks it can encourage NATO or former Soviet satellites to directly provoke Russia.

Otherwise a new cold war will be frostier than the old one!

8/24/2008 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

soros proxy brings up an most interesting and important point. Russia actually holds a trump card and that alone explains the veritable silence among western Europeans in this recent crisis.

Plus oil and natural gas revenues have given Russia new wealth and power.

Having said all that I generally disagree with vigilante's assumptiions and conslusions. I've re-read the essay four times now, but find the logic strained.

To use what is perhaps a rather poor analogy: Are we blaming the girl for being raped, not only because she dressed provocatively, but mainly because her father's neighbor's didn't stop her from dressing that way? At some point don't we need to actually blame the rapist?

8/24/2008 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger LTE said...

Food-Blogger, on Georgia, Andrew Sullivan says, If it’s war we want, McCain will deliver:

The question that Americans must decide in November is whether, at this point in history, after the five-year $3 trillion (£1.6 trillion) occupation of Iraq, witha nuclear Iran on the horizon, an oil-fuelled Russia resurgent, with the American economy teetering and the Taliban rebounding in Afghanistan, the right direction for America is more military aggression, more presidential power, more unilateralism and less diplomacy.

8/24/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Thanks for raising the issue of disproportionality, Wizard. You have a valid point, up to a point.

You can argue that the Russian response to the Georgian bombardment and invasion of South Ossetia was disproportionate to the provocation (Like the 2006 Israeli response to Hezbollah provocation). But let's remember, Saakashvili's 7 August bombardment and invasion on the South Ossetian capital, Tskninvali, soon extended to an all out war. It was serious enough to evoke a caution from NATO headquarters in Brussels, before the Russian counter-attack. Cf. NATO calls for immediate end to Georgian military action in breakaway South Ossetia. Midnight AP NewsAlert (Aug 8, 2008)

So, if your girl named Georgia was raped, she was being provocative in ways, way beyond suggestive dress. You would have to admit that she initiated in some pretty aggressive sadomasochistic foreplay. Georgia Girl is not as innocent as you would have us believe.

8/24/2008 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

IP, thank you for the Gorbachev commentary. Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war. Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction. We might remember that he, and not Ray-Gun, ended the Cold War.

Of course we're whining, Vig. How else can we communicate? Thanks to this blighted "administration," we have lost complete credibility with countries across the world. We have also set an unparalleled standard of sociopathology—one that has never been experienced in this nation. We can no longer set the example of being a free, democratic nation. We're not.

Again and again this is another "conflict" about oil. I, too, lay the blame sqaurely at BCM, as I do with the 1.2 million Iraqis who died in an unnecessary war that incited terrorism in the each and west.

I hope this is all making sense. :L)

8/25/2008 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

You are making a ton of sense, Stella. This whole collapse in Georgia revealed an open secret: While the United States is tied down in the Middle East, American guarantees have no value. This lesson is not for American consumption. It is something that, from the Russian point of view, the Ukrainians, the Balts and the Central Asians need to digest. Indeed, it is a lesson Putin wants to transmit to Poland and the Czech Republic as well.

8/26/2008 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Russia may indeed have been provoked, then again they could be Germany in 1939. If that is the case what we are seeing in that part of the world is just the beginning. Hopefully we will have a president shortly who can handle the crisis, if it comes. If we have a president named McCain we will be going to war.

8/29/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER said...

Excellent commentary, Vig...

9/23/2008 03:26:00 AM  

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