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August 08, 2008

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This is a better overview of what the South Ossetia thing is about:

http://fistfulofeuros.net/afoe/minorities-and-integration/frozen-conflicts-3-welcome-to-south-ossetia/

In other words ? Not much which makes war over it all the more absurd.

maybe we should send McGuyver - oops, I mean McCain - to help the Georgians. he knows how to win wars.

My Russian mother-in-law, who hails from St. Petersburg, is visiting for the summer -- actually, all the way to Thanksgiving.

I called her upstairs watching CNN this morning and as she saw the column of tanks rolling on she simply shook her head quietly.

It was as if she had seen this way too many times before.

Vladimir Putin is every bit the warmonger that George Bush is. No wonder Bush saw a kindred spirit when he looked into Putin's eyes way back when -- he was looking in the mirror.

McCain would get the Russians and Georgians in a room together and tell them to cut the bullshit.

Problem solved. Next.

Hmm, was just about to post on this... pretty worrisome.

McCain would get the Russians and Georgians in a room together and tell them to cut the bullshit.

i hear that's how he's going to balance the budget.

he's gonna put the credits and debits in a big room, look them all in their twitching, multi-faceted eyes and tell them to 'cut the bullshit'. then, impressed by his manly maverissitude and convinced by the soundness of his experience-based wisdom, they'll link their limbs together in a giant Web Of Freedom, parts of which will be raised above select US cities to serve as a missile and UV-B shield.

i hear that's how he's going to balance the budget.

Yeah, and if the world doesn't get the message?

Chuck Norris, VPOTUS.

Thanks -

Any U.N. action?

Nell, this story notes that the U.N. Security Council met this morning and failed to agree on a statement denouncing force by both parties involved.

Pretty brave, huh?

Might make Sochi 2014 interesting, the Olympics drama rolls on!

I've got a postraising the question of how a McCain administration could mediate a conflict like this, given McCain's aggressive stance toward Russia, as well as McCain foreign policy guy Randy Scheunemann's history as a lobbyist for Georgia.

Also Eric: More Fishbone.

Boy, glad we still have Bush and Cheney around to deal with this!

Putin has said "The War Has Started" according to Bloomberg, and Georgia is saying it's pulling most of its troops out of Iraq in the next few days. TGIF...er not so much.

I was wondering if anyone caught the Fishbone allusion. Of course Duss would.

Hey LT: Do you think Uncle Sam is going to airlift those troops and equipment out of Iraq and into Georgia? If not, what route could they take? Waterways are subject to blockade, and commercial aircraft can't haul the heavy stuff.

Do you think Uncle Sam is going to airlift those troops and equipment out of Iraq and into Georgia?

material support!material support!material support!

Do you think Uncle Sam is going to airlift those troops and equipment out of Iraq and into Georgia?

That will be interesting to see, it would be very provocative.

I expect the English-language press coverage of this to be heavily biased against Russia. The reality is that there is no dog in this fight hugely worthy of outside sympathy, the Georgian government being as crooked and despotic and just about anyone else in the region despite what you might hear. In fact they rather brutally repressed public demonstrations late last year, an incident the American foreign policy establishment might have been giddy to gin up as the new Tianamen were Georgia a country we had been told not to like.

Southern Ossetia is reasonably significant in its own right, being close to a major pipeline, provided access to one of the region's "major" arteries, and looking down on the surrounding locales, notably Chechnya and Ingushetiia. It's true significance though is as the lesser of two tripwires between Russia and Georgia, and now as the frontline of NATO encroachment into what Russians term the 'near abroad', those parts of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia traditionally considered as Moscow's zone of influence, much of which was previously integrated into the Russian or Soviet empires.

I happen to think NATO's encroachment into these regions is wrong-headed (although I am a russophile), and actually probably the single most alarming utterance of McCain on foreign policy issues.

It will be interesting to see how this plays into the American presidential election. I think the current administration's inclination would be to give Tblisi a rude awakening, but it depends how much they want to help John McCain out if he tries to turn this into a vote-winning issue. If that's the case, this could well spread to Abkhazia. Medvedev seems to be in a position not unlike Olmert's two summers ago, he would rather this not sprial out of control, but he also needs to prove his chops. I'm not sure how long Putin was expected to stay in Beijing, but if he hurries back in short order, that would also tell us much about current dynamics in Moscow.

It's not impossible that Medvedev and Putin have chosen this as a nice little triumphal conflict to shore up the new president's position with regard to the military-security complex in Russia. After all, that's basically what Putin did with Chechnya when he took over.

Just letting you know (moi) someone caught the Fishbone nod in the post title.

I perform for the die hards James.

@ bedtimeforbonzo: Thanks.

Maybe nothing to do with courage; Russia's on the Security Council. I wonder if there was a "full and frank exchange of views"...

Maybe nothing to do with courage; Russia's on the Security Council.

Actually I think it was Russia that convened the Security Council, and it was the US, Britain and France that vetoed a Russian statement calling on all sides to renounce the use of force.

The reality is that there is no dog in this fight hugely worthy of outside sympathy

Of course there is, there is the right of people to self-determination. The people living in South Ossetia have made their preferences clear through words and actions, and the government of Georgia has taken military action to deny them.

The fact that both Georgia and Russia are evil states should not negate the right of people stuck living between the two to freely choose which they think is the lesser evil.

"Southern Ossetia is reasonably significant in its own right, being close to a major pipeline, provided access to one of the region's ;major' arteries, and looking down on the surrounding locales, notably Chechnya and Ingushetiia."

I'd like to know what rinky-dink regions of the world are not "reasonably significant in [their] own right," by this standard, exactly.

"It's not impossible that Medvedev and Putin have chosen this as a nice little triumphal conflict to shore up the new president's position with regard to the military-security complex in Russia."

That Georgia first escalated by invading South Ossetia yesterday isn't worth mentioning?

[...] Georgia military forces began hostilities against South Ossetia's forces in an attempt to re-establish control over the region. During the first day of military actions Georgia forces killed 1400 civilians and 15 Russian peacemakers by heavy artillery, aircraft and rifle-gun fire.
But it's all Russia's fault.

"...people living in South Ossetia have made their preferences clear through words and actions...."

Sure, that's just happened in a neutral vacuum.

Geez, nobody involved here has behaved in remotely pretty or particularly defensible, fashion, it seems to me.

They "made their preferences clear" through This sterling referendum:

[...] According to the Tskhinvali election authorities, the referendum turned out a majority for independence from Georgia where 99% of South Ossetian voters supported independence and the turnout for the vote was 95%[8] and the referendum was monitored by a team of 34 international observers from Germany, Austria, Poland, Sweden and other countries at 78 polling stations[9]. However, it was not recognized internationally by the UN, European Union, OSCE, NATO and the Russian Federation, given the lack of ethnic Georgian participation and the legality of such referendum without recognition from the central government in Tbilisi.[10] The European Union, OSCE and NATO condemned the referendum. Parallel to the secessionist held referendum and elections, the Ossetian opposition movement (The Salvation Union of South Ossetia) to Kokoity, organised their own elections in which both Georgian and some Ossetian inhabitants of the region voted in favour of Dmitri Sanakoev as the alternative President of South Ossetia.[11]
But go with that "99% of South Ossetian voters supported independence and the turnout for the vote was 95%" thing, if that's working for you.

On the other hand:

[...] The group headed by the former defence minister and then prime minister of secessionist government Dmitri Sanakoev organized the so-called alternative presidential election, on November 12 2006– parallel to those held by the secessionist authorities in Tskhinvali.[11] High voter turnout was reported by the alternative electoral commission, which estimated over 42,000 voters from both Ossetian (Java district and Tskhinvali) and Georgian (Eredvi, Tamarasheni, etc.) communities of South Ossetia and Sanakoev reportedly received 96% of the votes.
That "[t]he people living in South Ossetia have made their preferences clear through words and actions" seems less than entirely clear to me.

That Georgia first escalated by invading South Ossetia yesterday isn't worth mentioning?

You do realize that stuff happened in this part of the world before yesterday, right?

I'd like to know what rinky-dink regions of the world are not "reasonably significant in [their] own right," by this standard, exactly.

Rinky-dink? And what anonymous burg of the USA do you happen to live in? Try going to the Caucasus, it's actually rather spectacular, and rather important to at least the USA, Russia, Turkey and Iran, four countries you might have heard mentioned in discussions of international politics recently.

If nothing else, it's important to the people dying there right now, who I happen to care about.

The South Ossetian 'government'/Russian authorities are saying thousands are dead already. I don't know about that, that's a lot, but it does seem clear that serious hardware is being used, so I suppose it's possible. It's a tricky little part of the world, I'm wary of trusting media reports from any country really.

"If nothing else, it's important to the people dying there right now...."

Of course it is. That doesn't speak to South Ossetia's strategic significance to anyone else.

That every death is a tragic loss to everyone who knew and cared about that person, and perhaps to someone who knows such a person, and also to the world, for we know not what they or their future children might have contributed, doesn't make the land "significant in its own right." That's all.

In case any of the ObWings blog-junkies may have missed it: More Robert Farley commentary on the Georgia/Russia conflict.

/Begin Venting
Flipping through the channels, I watched a few minutes of the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.
(Did anyone catch the kids carrying the flag and have the soldiers goose-step over, take it, and hoist it? Matt Lauer's comment was something to the effect of, "The state and military ensure that these children's futures are bright." That made me go, "Huh?")
Anyways, right after this cool lightshow thing, they cut to Bush and Putin joking around and laughing.

That really pissed me off, considering one started a war killing countless Iraqis and the other is just starting a war that will likely kill countless Georgians. They're just two evil peas in a pod.
/End Venting

Russia under Putin/Medvedev kinda worries me. It seems like a bunch of thugs in power, and there are still plenty of nukes over there to screw the world up pretty thoroughly. McCain's bullying tactics are obviously idiotic, but I do wonder what Obama will do WRT Russia's recent aggressive bent. (Kudos, though, to his work with Sen. Lugar on http://obama.senate.gov/press/070628-obama_lugar_sec/>limiting the spread of conventional and nuclear weapons over there.)

But go with that "99% of South Ossetian voters supported independence and the turnout for the vote was 95%" thing, if that's working for you.

I'm not going to pass myself off as an expert on the current and former members of the Russian federation, but holy crap, that's all you have?

So the vote was monitored by an international coalition but some people didn't like it because of the lack of "recognition from the central government in Tbilisi". No idea why they wouldn't like said vote. Who knows!

That's an actual quote from your post, is that really what you said? Really? That's what you're going to go with?

May God have mercy on all our souls. Such silliness.

That doesn't speak to South Ossetia's strategic significance to anyone else.

As I already stated: proximity to Pankesi and surrounding region, Caspian pipline, tunnel from North Ossetia. Trust me, that's important to many people.

Well looks like the US is flying the Georgians back from Iraq ASAP: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4491866.ece

Well if these reports are true, Russia's 'response' was definitely pre-meditated. Supposedly another 650 vehicles entered S. Ossetia during the night - that requires a fair amount of logistical preparation not just to get them ready, but to coordinate that kind of movement through a pokey tunnel. There's also supposedly a front being opened up in Abkhazia. There already seems to be more troops in or being deployed to South Ossetia than are necessary to defend it; Gori and then Tbilisi are not very far away.

Of course the response was premeditated. Fighting between South Ossetia separatists and Georgia was perennial, and had been flaring up for weeks. Why would the Russians not have a backup plan for an attack on a region protected by Russian troops?

The best response is from the Independent:

Nobody – except, it seems, Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili – could have expected that Russia would let a Georgian assault on South Ossetia go by without a response.

This moron razes a city protected by Russian troops, Russia responds, uh, forcefully, and the moron runs to the cameras and begs the West to get in a war with Russia.

Nice ally. Good NATO candidate. He got a bunch of people killed for nothing. Reminds me of someone.

The worst response is from the US press. Here's the NY Times:

Russian warplanes struck at least five Georgian cities. Witnesses said they struck a train station in Tsenakhi, two apartment buildings in Gori, and a port area in the Black Sea city of Poti

Got that? They stuck apartment buildings in Gori. They revisit the topic later in the same piece:

Russian warplanes struck two apartment buildings in the city of Gori and clogged roads out of the area with fleeing refugees

No mention of any target other than apartment buildings in the city of Gori. Here's what the European press says happened:

Russian jets carried out up to five raids on mostly military targets around the Georgian town of Gori, close to the conflict zone in South Ossetia. But some missiles went astray, killing at least a dozen people.

Notice any difference? The NY Times never saw a lie it didn't like. Thanks for trying to get us into another stupid war, a**holes.

"ere's what the European press says"

Perhaps you could provide a link to "the European press," please?

"No mention of any target other than apartment buildings in the city of Gori."

Newsflash: news stories on breaking news get revised every few minutes, all the time, for any number of reasons. It's quite possible that the additional claims couldn't be confirmed. Or maybe the sentence just got lost in a revision. How is it you have a pipeline to what is The Truth? And how many times per hour do you bother to check the current version?

At 11:41, the story currently is listed on the front page as "revised 3 minutes ago" -- this always changes on breaking stories -- and currently says:

Russian warplanes struck at least five Georgian cities. Witnesses said they struck a train station in Tsenakhi, five apartment buildings in Gori, and the Black Sea port of Poti.
Those lying bastards!

Newsflash: news stories on breaking news get revised every few minutes

The CBC reports that a military base was the target in Gori. Teh Graudian is reporting that the military base was the target in Gori. The Independent is reporting that the attacks in Gori were on mostly military targets. The BBC is reporting that the intended target in Gori was a military base.

And you? You and the NY Times alone, apparently, believe that is plausible that the Russians chose this moment to take their revenge on a few apartment buildings in Gori, leaving the military base there untargeted. This somehow makes sense to you.

I've read way too many news reports today, from way too many countries, and in almost all of them the attack on Gori was reported as an attack on a military base with one pass of bombing that hit some apartments a short distance from the base. These were all based on eyewitness accounts. There is no way the NY Times is unaware of this. They chose to print lies. They have a history of printing lies that help get wars started. They are lying again today. It is shameful.

Don't believe them and don't be naive.

Russian warplanes struck at least five Georgian cities. Witnesses said they struck a train station in Tsenakhi, five apartment buildings in Gori, and the Black Sea port of Poti.

Those lying bastards!

What are you talking about? No news report I have seen denies that the Russians bombed apartment buildings in Gori. Every non-US report I have seen mentions the fact that there was a military base in Gori. Most of the ones from later today mention that attacks on South Ossetia continue to be staged from that military base. The NY Times did not see fit to mention any of this. They claimed, "apartment buildings bombed in Gori". Point blank. That was the only detail they saw fit to print. And you are defending this?

It's insane. They are criminally incompetent. You are defending precisely the same type of reporting that helped kill a million innocent people in Iraq.

"You and the NY Times alone, apparently, believe"

Your mindreading machine works as poorly as most. I'd suggest not attempting to use one.

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