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Georgia a pawn in the superpower game

The United States is warning Moscow that failure to withdraw its forces from Georgia will hurt American-Russian relations for years to come.

Poland and the United States reached an agreement Thursday to base American missile interceptors in Poland, going ahead with a plan that has angered Russia and threatened to escalate tensions with the region's communist-era master.

The US has told Russia that the Russian attacks on Georgia will damage US-Russian relations for many years. What does the US think the placing of missiles in Poland was going to do for that relationship? The US would have reacted if Russia had again decided to move missiles to Cuba. With US missiles being placed so close to Russia it was only a matter of time before the Russians would react to the new US threat. Why does the US feel it has to play a role in Europe and stir up a hornets' nest in the process?

Russia has signaled to the world that the US dream of the collapse of the Russian empire was another example of “mission accomplished.” The US is making a habit of declaring victory before the war is over.

The US has shown in Iraq and Afghanistan that is militarily impotent. It is all huff and no puff. The Russians have witnessed this and are now flexing their muscles again.

If the US had not placed its missiles so close to Russia, perhaps over time Georgia would have become part of the EU and NATO, and perhaps Russia might not have used force to overrun a budding democracy. A wounded bear will always attack.

The US has to learn it can no longer threaten the globe, and I am sure Putin’s Russia couldn’t care less about its relationship with the US.

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American electoral technology

The Russians are still clinging to the hope of regime change in Georgia:

"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev no longer considers his counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili to be Georgia's leader, telling Russian television that Saakashvili is a "political corpse"."

But what the hell could this mean;

"He also said that Moscow did not fear being expelled from the Group of Eight industrialised nations over the Georgian crisis, as has been suggested by some in the West.

Medvedev said the suggestions were being made in relation to the upcoming presidential election in the United States.

"The calls that are being heard, I explain them exclusively by the American electoral technology as a way of raising popularity based on conflict," the president said in an interview broadcast on Russian television."

American electoral technology? Anyway...

Talking about " raising popularity based on conflict", that's been the main thrust of the Russian ultra-right for months now.

Tsarist push in Georgia is 19th Century Pan-Slavic irredentism

I knew there was a special term for this sort of thing, but it took me a while to remember it.

It's called Irredentism

"Irredentism is any position advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. Some of these movements are also called pan movements."

Of course, the Pan Slavic movement of the 19th century was one of the great irredentist movements in Tsarist Russia.

It's not a re-run of the Cold War. It's a re-run of the events leading up to World War One.

Sorry everyone. It just took me a while. Now, what's your excuse?

Hey, it is indeed just like the cold war. Useful idiots and all.

Anthony Nolan: "The Russian spooks are probably better informed than most Republicans about top end dealings:"

Well, they've been very active in Georgia, propping up pro-Russian groups.

And yet, Putin who was the head Russian spook for years reckons he didn't see it coming...

"Mr Putin used an interview with the American television network CNN to say that his defence officials had told him the war was triggered to benefit one of the US presidential candidates." (see report below).

Note, the past tense "triggered".

Or if he did see it coming, couldn't stop it.

"Putin offered scant evidence to support his assertion, and the White House called his comments absurd."

But that won't, as I predicted, stop the usual useful idiots from repeating the Moscow line. After all, they don't do evidence. They do slogans.

Next, a 'breakaway republic' in the Ukraine. Just watch. And the parrots will sing the Moscow tune.

FYI, Eliot


Cheney's chief of staff in Georgia just before the attack on South Ossetia? For peaceful purposes, of course.

Russian spooks...

I suggest that Medvedev's claim as to Bush's motive in provoking hostilities in order to create a military election mode for the Presidentials is probably better informed than most USA political commentators. The Russian spooks are probably better informed than most Republicans about top end dealings:

Putin accused the US of provoking the conflict to help the Republican candidate - an outspoken critic of the Kremlin in the race for the Presidency.

It works for me.  It'll probably work for McCain as well.  What better to unite the nation than the old external Cold War foe - those damn Russkies! 

Pass the shotgun Jebediah! 

Where's ma' Bible?

Y'all don' wanna trust a man of color in the White House at a time like this do ya?

A complete political and diplomatic catastrophe

Dylan Kissane: "Not once in the article you linked to did the word "trick" or "tricked" even appear."

Well, clearly, that's what has happened, judging from Putin's own frank admission of incompetence:

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has shocked Europe by using the giant American broadcaster, CNN, to accuse his US counterpart, George Bush, of creating the war in Georgia as a plot to install John McCain as his successor.

In the most outrageous and inflammatory claim since the crisis in South Ossetia erupted earlier this month, Putin accused the US of provoking the conflict to help the Republican candidate - an outspoken critic of the Kremlin in the race for the Presidency.

There. Putin frankly concedes he only attacked Georgia at the instigation of George W Bush in order to bolster John McCain's standing in the up-coming election.

Russia, goaded into a foolish, and essentially self-defeating geo-political move, resulting in Russia's international condemnation and marginalisation.

It will take years perhaps for Russia to dig itself out of the mess.

AS THE tiny Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia celebrated Russia's decision to recognise their independence yesterday, the Kremlin's threat it is ready for another Cold War saw its relations with western Europe hit a new low.

Russia's signing of the decree, announced via an inflammatory address by its President, Dmitri Medvedev, has killed the peace plan and ceasefire negotiated with much fanfare by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Oh, great. A complete political and diplomatic catastrophe, and all he has to show for it is annexing South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Because of George W Bush.

Tricked. Or stupid.

Moscow pleads helpless incompetence

Here's the latest spin:

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia for domestic political purposes, prompting angry denials from the White House, as tensions between the former Cold War rivals escalate.

Mr Putin used an interview with the American television network CNN to say that his defence officials had told him the war was triggered to benefit one of the US presidential candidates.

If anyone asks how Putin and Medvedev allowed themselves to be "tricked" this way by the cunning Americans, just hint at the insidious Cosmopolitans working behind the scenes, I suppose.

So, now the Kremlin realise they were "tricked" into annexing Georgian territory, I suppose they'll hand it back?

Yeah, right.

I wonder who "tricked" Putin into the Chechnyan conflict? Or those Bear Bomber flights over the UK?

I suppose the only thing more alarming than the prospect of a new Cold War is the thought that the Soviet Prime Minister, a former KGB head no less, needs his defence chiefs to tell him that he's been "tricked" into invading a neighbouring country by George W Bush.

I cannot wait till the "peace" movement starts using this "analysis" around the fondue pot. How the dark, evil genius of George Dubya so got the upper hand over the Kremlin it "tricked" them into invading Georgia.

Finally, a hint as to George Dubya's place in history - the cunning engineer of international geopolitics who conned the Kremlin into what now is unfolding as the biggest blowpack in Russian history since it invaded Czechoslovakia in '68.

Funny. Well, apart for all the dead people, of course.

What next? Ronald Reagan "tricked" them into Afghanistan?

Dylan Kissane: "If you tune in to a bit of Russian state TV you will see that this is largely the Russian argument with regards to Kosovo."

Well, indeed, perhaps even the entire former Soviet bloc.


Eliot: "Putin and Medvedev allowed themselves to be "tricked" this way by the cunning Americans...the Kremlin realise they were "tricked"...who "tricked" Putin..."tricked" them into Afghanistan..."

Not once in the article you linked to did the word "trick" or "tricked" even appear. The word that was used was "triggered" - you even quoted that section of the article in your comment.

Iraq did not "trick" the US into fighting a war in 1991. Iraq did, however, trigger the war with its invasion of Kuwait. Germany didn't "trick" Great Britain into war in 1939. It did, however, trigger the war with it's move on Poland. The Russian PM is not claiming he was "tricked" into war, he's just claiming that the US triggered the war.

Like you, I don't really buy that part of the Russian argument but let's not put words into Mr Putin's mouth. He didn't say he was tricked, he only said that someone else started it.

USA recognizes the independence of Chechnya, sends peacekeepers

"Russia stunned the West on Tuesday by recognizing the independence claims of two Georgian breakaway regions, and U.S. warships plied the waters off of Georgia in a gambit the Kremlin saw as gunboat diplomacy."

Say, Ernest, John? What if the USA decided to recognize the independence of Chechnya or Tibet?

And perhaps sent peace keepers there to "protect" the locals. Would that be alright?


Eliot: "Say, Ernest, John? What if the USA decided to recognize the independence of Chechnya or Tibet?  And perhaps sent peace keepers there to "protect" the locals..."

If you tune in to a bit of Russian state TV you will see that this is largely the Russian argument with regards to Kosovo.

US should mind its own business

Eliot, last time I looked neither Tibet nor Chechnya were bordering the US or have ever been part of the American empire. So in my mind the US should mind its own business. They have a reputation for claiming parts of Mexico in the past. The US is good at throwing stones and forgetting they live in a glass house.

The cession of this territory from Mexico was a condition for the end of the war, as United States troops occupied Mexico City, and Mexico risked being completely annexed by the U.S.

An awful lot of the US has been annexed from Mexico and others.

Russia threatens military response to US missles

President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia would respond militarily to the deployment of US missiles close to its borders under an American missile shield plan.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an agreement in Poland last week on the deployment of 10 US interceptor rockets there.

Washington says the shield, also involving tracking systems in the Czech Republic, is intended to protect against launches by rogue states - a reference principally to Iran.

"These missiles are close to our borders and constitute a threat to us," Mr Medvedev told Al-Jazeera television.

"This will create additional tension and we will have to respond to it in some way, naturally using military means."

At the same time:

Russia stunned the West on Tuesday by recognizing the independence claims of two Georgian breakaway regions, and U.S. warships plied the waters off of Georgia in a gambit the Kremlin saw as gunboat diplomacy.

Isn't this all getting a bit out of hand? The US should take it's missiles back to the US. Democratic elections should be held in the breakaway regions to let them determine their future. A false move here by either Russia or the US could see a nuclear holocaust. Bush and Putin should take a few "calm me down" pills and focus on the real threats of climate change, population growth and world poverty.

The Socialist International

Ernest William: "Ever since WW 2 the American interference in the affairs of world nations has been nothing short of empire building."

Perhaps they were inspired by the example of the Socialist International, the purpose of which was to spread around the world a particular conception of the ideal society, which found concrete expression in activities of Soviet Russia, Communist China, Castroist Cuba and the like? And whose interference in the affairs of world nations was nothing short of empire building?

The difference being, whereas the marxisant ideal of the Socialist International has been universally rejected by all but a handful of failed states, the liberal-pluralist model exemplified by the United States has been to some degree accepted everywhere, ironically even in Russia to a limited extent?

Don't fiddle with Georgia

You never know what you might raise. (youtube) 

We're rich I tells ya

Eliot Ramsey: "Another area rich with potential for moral equivalence is the growing frequency in the discovery of unexploded Russian cluster bomblets around Georgia."

Moral equivalence? Wait until a certain Russian car manufacturer buys the Hummer brand. The supply of luxury cars is becoming big business in a growing economy - and a select number of individuals wish to show off that success. Not much talk of universal health-care by the "hoped" for new world leader.

Try you local community college

Malcolm B Duncan: "Yes, Eliot Ramsay, but what will it do for GDP? Might be a market there."

Well, obviously, the destruction of vital infrastructure and the murder of Georgian workers won't do much for Georgia's GDP at all.

Also, the diversion of resources away from Russian peace-time industry and the subsequent political isolation and damage it does to Russia's relations with the EU member states, won't do much for Russia's GDP, either.

You seem to have a bit of a preoccupation with GDP, Malcolm. You should complement your strong views on it with an introductionary course in economics.

Perhaps your local community college? You won't need formal educational qualifications to get admission that way.

Some cluster bombs are more equal than others

Tony Phillips: "While we should not think the NATO policy of expansion, or the stupid, arrogant, hypocritical and bullying tactics of the current US administration, are blameless in the current situation we absolutely should not fall into the trap of therefore thinking we should side with Russia."

Another area rich with potential for moral equivalence is the growing frequency in the discovery of unexploded Russian cluster bomblets around Georgia.

Watch this space...

Surely morality just gets in the way

Yes, Eliot Ramsay, but what will it do for GDP? Might be a market there.

New arms race in Europe

Moscow moved closer Wednesday to recognising the independence of two Georgian separatist regions at the centre of Caucasus conflict -- as a diplomatic onslaught with its former Cold War rivals gathered pace.

As Russia warned that the signing of a US-Poland missile defence deal will fuel a new arms race in Europe, recognition for the two Georgian regions would present a direct challenge to Georgia's sovereignty as backed by the United States.

In Abkhazia, the separatist parliament and president issued an appeal asking Russia to recognise their independence, while the leader of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, told Interfax news agency that his separatist region would do likewise.

Both regions are planning pro-independence demonstrations for Thursday.

US President George W. Bush, meanwhile, has repeated that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are "part of Georgia," adding that "the world must stand for freedom" in the ex-Soviet republic.

With two superpowers threatening each other, the people of Georgia could be the meat in the sandwich. Surely if we believe in freedom and democracy this dispute could be resolved by holding a referendum in the breakaway regions.

If the US keeps prodding the wounded bear, one day it will turn around and bite.

It is mainly Russia that is the problem

While we should not think the NATO policy of expansion, or the stupid, arrogant, hypocritical and bullying tactics of the current US administration, are blameless in the current situation we absolutely should not fall into the trap of therefore thinking we should side with Russia.

The current Russian administration is very nasty and the separatist movements in Georgia are being used by the Russians to favour their own great power aims and for the accumulation of domestic political capital. Note that Russia governs Chechnya by a proxy government that uses death squads to assert its power. In the case of South Ossetia, it is best seen as a captured province run by a local mafia clan and officials from the Russian security services. Democracy and liberalism in Georgia have flaws but in South Ossetia they are pretty much non existent. South Ossetia is not Kosovo.

The larger game being played by Russia also concerns Ukraine and by implication other states of the CIS. It's ugly and imperialist. Moreover, do not doubt that while there is disagreement within the Russian adminstration over the policy, and substantial sections of Russian public opinion with doubts about it, the role of the West in influencing this policy is by no means the most important factor. It a conceit of American and Westerners left and right to believe that it is.

I recommend the article by my colleague Robert Horvath in today's Age as a wake up portrait of contemporary Russia for those tempted to put black and white hats on states.

Israel involved? Crucial for the US oil plans, it seems

It seems Israel is important in this event:

Well, here is a bit from Whitney:

There are no military installations in the city of Tskhinvali. In fact, there are no military targets at all. It is an industrial center consisting of lumber mills, manufacturing plants and residential areas. It is also the home to 30,000 South Ossetians. When Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered the city to be bombed by warplanes and shelled by heavy artillery last Thursday, he knew that he would be killing hundreds of civilians in their homes and neighborhoods. But he ordered the bombing anyway....

In less than 24 hours, the Russian army was deployed to the war zone where it chased the Georgian army away without a fight. Journalist Michael Binyon put it like this, “The attack was short, sharp and deadly -- enough to send the Georgians fleeing in humiliating panic.” Indeed, the Georgians left in such haste that many of their weapons were left behind. It was a complete rout; another black-eye for the US... advisers who trained the rabble of thugs they call the Georgian army. Soon vendors on the streets of Tskhinvali will be hawking weapons that were left behind with a mocking sign: “Georgia Army M-16, never used, dropped once.”...

The coverage by the Western media has been abysmal. Nearly every article and TV news segment begins with accusations of Russian aggression, concealing the fact that the Georgian Army bombarded and invaded the capital of South Ossetia one full day before the first Russian tank crossed the border...

In a 2006 referendum, 99 percent of South Ossetians said they supported independence from Georgia. The voter turnout was 95 percent and the balloting was monitored by 34 international observers from the West. No one has challenged the results. The province has been under the protection of Russian and Georgian peacekeepers since 1992 and has been a de facto independent state ever since. If Putin applied the same standard as Bush did in Kosovo, he would unilaterally declare South Ossetia independent from Georgia and then thumb his nose at the UN.....

Saakashvili’s hyperbolic rhetoric was followed by a surprise announcement from Poland that they had approved Bush’s plans for deploying the Missile Defense Shield in Eastern Europe.”

Poland’s Foreign Minister is husband of the anti-Putin journalist Anna Applebaum (see Age letters last week) and employee of AEI, colleague of fellow Oxford Men’s lub Cameron (current Conservative leader) and Murdoch employee. Despite overwhelming Polish opposition to the missile deployment this chap jets with the anti-Putin fuselage to impose this Neocon Empire plan. (See "Israel Securing the Realm”, yet again giving guidance to actions, both cold war rhetoric and missile shield “need”.)

It seems as long as the countries have their war industry stooges in place the people can despair of their voice being heard. Almost fake democracies where international tensions are kept to just such a level to justify the huge diversion of money to military hardware rather than for the real use of the people.

Something we should consider here, although we have already seen it in the dragging to wars by the NeoLiberal / Neocon stooges backed by the Murky Murdoch media. Our own costs are about to jump by 2 billion with just announced US purchases, more rubbish no doubt, like the last lot. But no doubt with a few kickbacks we won't hear about.

What matters, is the endgame, showing that Russia is strong and dependable and will provide its European allies with oil and natural gas in a businesslike manner. That’s the winning hand...

As I said before, this energy issue needs to be solved before next EU winter. Looking at the pipeline maps it should be very interesting how this pans out. Looking at the available US funds issue I wonder where the financing will come from. Looking at the recent IMF/WB requests to Russia for funds to “stabilise” the world economy (ie US banking losses etc) I wonder if the Neocons have just shot themselves in the foot.

Looking at the Israeli reaction (yes, Geoff and Eliot, like it or not there was involvement but no evidence yet available as to direct in the attack upon South Ossetia), the government has distanced themselves from Saakashvili and called for a ceasing of Israeli military sales and training to Georgia due to their attack upon South Ossetia. Thumbs up girl. Olmert appeared to have a close relationship with the Russians especially the oil/gas plans so it will be interesting how Israel plays the anti-Russian card if at all - unless there is a change of government. Kagan, the dear old war whore AEI neocon, called for a US military response of course....you first Kagy baby. Saakashvili is finished. I doubt if, left to peacetime democracy, the current Polish government will keep power if the missiles are placed. But will the war industry push it too far?

What of the Russian false flag suggestion? Now that would be playing with fire!

And that big issue of oil/gas? BAKU has already brought one regime change and false flag and 911 gained the results wanted but with a loss greater. What of the Baku history?

Since Geoff longs for Israeli and Jewish interests to be mentioned here is some intriguing history:

Oil played a large role in the lives of Israel's fathers. In the 1880s, Alfonse Rothschild invested heavily in the Baku oil fields of modern Azerbaijan. As a partner in the highly-lucrative Royal Dutch Shell trust, Rothschild dominated oil transport from Baku fields to Europe. Estimates say between 42% and 36% of oil exports were Rothschild-controlled, more than twice the amount of the next-largest competitor, the Nobel Brothers. These oil exports were the lifeblood of the British Empire.

In 1917 Alfonse's British brother Lord Walter Rothschild played a crucial role in securing the Balfour Declaration from the cash-strapped Brits, and created the state of Israel.

Israel was first considered as a major distributor in the 1950s, with the building of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline). Originally, Haifa was chosen to be the western-end terminal.”

The vast expanses of the former Soviet Union harbor oil and gas riches which will be crucial in fueling the global economy in the next century. The huge oil reserves, estimated at over 25 billion barrels, under the Caspian Sea and in the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are similar to those in Kuwait and larger than those in Alaska's Northern Slope and the North Sea combined. Control over these energy resources and export routes out of the Eurasian hinterland is quickly becoming one of the central issues in post-Cold War politics.” "The New 'Great Game': Oil Politics in the Caucasus and Central Asia," by Ariel Cohen, The Heritage Foundation 25th January 1996...”

Currently, the United State's best access to Caspian oil is through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC pipeline), which runs through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey....... Israel has had rocky relations with Turkey -- relations that the Jewish State has tried to warm to secure plans for a pipeline from Ceyhan to the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon..........And Turkey is the pivot for this. Note the recent attempt to remove the elected government via the courts ( no popular action should this prove to have international manipulations!!) and the hosting of both Syria and Iran’s leadership this month. The Kurdish issue is antagonistic for Turkey and has been negative for US and Israeli influence there.

Syria, Iran and Lebanon are the pieces of the oil puzzle that America has not yet taken. Israel's disastrous incursion into Lebanon, as well as Bush's warmongering against Syria and Iran suggest the US will try to complete the puzzle. Once the US controls these three countries, it can begin shipping crude out of Israel's ports in Eilat and Ashkelon (the terminals of the Trans-Israel Pipeline, Tipline). Using the Tipline will give the oil alternate departure points, should one of the Mediterranean or Red Sea routes become unstable. Aside form US interests, the Eilat port allows Israel to service Far Eastern markets as well...” The reason, Geoff, that Israel is so important in all of this is that it IS so important, as far as oil terminal options and forward base and control at “home” and financial issues. Only the ignorant might think otherwise. Expect lots of Israel mentions for any aware analyst.

This analyst goes on to discuss the Russian oil and US needs a bit. It appears that those who are pragmatic in the US have few alternatives right now as far as energy security. Those in the East will also realise this now. This looks like a backrank checkmate, but there is still the Samson option.


Russia is an outlaw

The United States has branded Russia an outlaw over its refusal to immediately pull its troops out of Georgia.

I guess this puts Russia into the axis of evil.

What gives the US the right to judge any nation?

Who made it the judge of the world?

May I suggest the US get its own house in order before it starts flinging allegations at others.

The nostalgia craze

I heard on the ABC's AM programme this morning that Russian soldiers are posing for pictures in front of Stalin's statue in Gori, which was Stalin's birthplace, and that bread queues are forming in the centre of town

Just like the good old days.

Marilyn Shepherd : "From the Washington Post today.  Why don't western media report the brutality of Israel in all of these things?"

The Washington Post are western media. And its the Russians who have invaded Georgia, Marilyn, not Israel.

Back to the future, or ground hog day.

Rice said the alliance would punish Russia for its invasion of the Georgia and deny its ambitions by rebuilding and fully backing Georgia and other Eastern European democracies.

"We have to deny Russian strategic objectives, which are clearly to undermine Georgia's democracy, to use its military capability to damage and in some cases destroy Georgian infrastructure and to try and weaken the Georgian state," she said.

"We are determined to deny them their strategic objective," Rice told reporters aboard her plane, adding that any attempt to recreate the Cold War by drawing a "new line" through Europe and intimidating former Soviet republics and ex-satellite states into submission would fail.

"We are not going to allow Russia to draw a new line at those states that are not yet integrated into the trans-Atlantic structures," she said, referring to Georgia and Ukraine, which have not yet joined NATO or the European Union but would like to.

Rice could not say what NATO would eventually decide to do to make its position clear but said the alliance would speak with one voice "to clearly indicate that we are not accepting a new line."

At the same time, she said that by flexing its military muscle in Georgia as well as elsewhere, including the resumption of Cold War-era strategic bomber patrols off the coast of Alaska, Russia was engaged in high-stakes brinksmanship that could backfire.

I think Condi has forgotten who holds all the aces in this game of brinkmanship. How is NATO going to punish Russia? It is the US that was flexing its muscle in Europe by placing missiles on Russia's doorstep. Every day Russia is getting stronger while the US gets weaker. Threats of punishment must make the Russian generals laugh. Taking on Russia would not be as easy as Iraq and Afghanistan. The bully would have to fight someone with similar capabilities and where would it get the Army to do the fighting?

Well written, John Pratt

G'day John,

Ever since WW 2 the American interference in the affairs of world nations has been nothing short of empire building.

It never fails to annoy me when - uninvited - the US send their representatives to correct any so-called "un-American" act in sovereign countries over which they have no rights other than possible financial assistance.

The Howard "New Order" was an example of how a proud nation like Australia can be internationally harmed by his government's blatant servile attitude to the Bush administration.

The situation in Georgia is an example of the brainwashing power of the media.

While the Americans were a major force behind the destruction of the Soviet Union by destablisation policies, they have the audacity to condemn Russia for protecting a small Russian supported nation which was attacked by the American supported and more powerful Georgia.

And to threaten Russia!  America and their servant Howard dragged us down by being involved in a pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation. And against the resolution of the United Nations.

Why do we, and most of the world, accept this destabilising interference by the US while condemning Russia and China for doing the same thing?

Who gave America the right to do so?  Like Howard wanted, the UN is a paper tiger if even one of the Security Council ignores the principles of the Charter by which the UN is bound.

It is a back-handed compliment to the dedication of the members of the UN that it still survives in spite of America and their fellow-travellers.

The US acts are contrary to the very principle of freedom and democracy - and like terrorism - has become a marketing ploy without any real substance.

Because of the corrupt media in our country, I find it hard to keep up with the changes of what we were told before and what we are told now. They exercise their ideas of freedom, not to inform, but to brainwash for what they euphimisticly call "capturing our hearts and minds"!

I know that the truth is out there somewhere if we can find it. Our God given power of reason and logic is our only defence.  "I read it in the newspaper" or "I saw it on TV" no longer carries the dignity of facts or even-handed comments. 

Margo and her staff have created something that I can trully learn from and enjoy.  Not everything written is factual but, so many contributors give power to their views with quotations which are not made for financial or political gain.

Keep up the good work, John.

Cheers Ern G.

Richard:  Staff?  We're just a bunch of folks keeping the torch burning, Ernest.  Glad you like what we do!

Geoff - he may well do

"He'll get around to the Jews eventually."

Geoff old mate; he may well do, but not as often as your dear self.

Predictable conflict bigger than bases

A few months ago I did a short interview (PDF) with a Portuguese journalist named Jorge Rodrigues. It was part of the wider background for a series of three pieces he would write for Expresso Economia drawing on some of the work in international political power cycles I had done. A couple of questions and my answers are below:

Jorge Rodrigues: Do you think Russia can develop an historical similar pattern with the Germany power cycle since the beginning of the XX Century? I am not meaning that Putin or his successors are an Hitler copy and Russia will change from the present "mild" authoritarian regime for a fascist and open imperialist one, but due the decline in the power cycle and the inflection with Putin emergence, can we assist in this window of 15 years to a similar strategy of power projection and risk of conflicts, for instance in the shatter belt of Russia, in Europe and Asia, or even in the Arctic?

Dylan Kissane: Of the power curves I mapped, Russia's is closest to emerging in a German-style pattern. A similar argument might be made for the United States, however the rate of rise and decline in the case of the US is less pronounced. If this is the case then a similar strategy to German expansionism of the 20th century might well emerge. Eastern Europe - particularly East Moldova/Transnistria, Georgia and perhaps East Ukraine to start with - would be obvious targets of an expansionist Russia, as would the Central Asian states. The Arctic, though, is an interesting case as not only is the expansionism under Putin already taking place today, I think there is a possibility Russia might actually succeed in having their claim recognized under international law. The question then becomes whether Russia's activities in the Arctic are really expansionist under a soft authoritarian government or just 'righting a geographical wrong' with modern sub-ocean research.

JR: So, do you think the German "model" can be cloned?

DK: Is it possible for Russia to follow a 20th century German path? Yes, I believe so. Is it likely? I think it is more likely than not. The places to watch are where any German-style expansion will take place but I think we can be more specific and point to specific Eastern European territory that would be the equivalent of the Hitler's Sudetenland in the shape of Transnistria, Georgia and East Ukraine. Also we could look to recent moves against the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty by Russia and, perhaps, deployment of new weapons systems by Russia in Kaliningrad.

JR: Benchmarking Russia and China power cycles, it seems that the riskier situation is more in the side of Russia's counter-offensive in its decline cycle, than in the rising cycle of China. Do you agree?

DK: I do. On the long term trend, Russia is more likely to experience a critical point on its power cycle curve than China. Indeed, China's rise remains inevitable and will continue towards 2030. This makes Russia 'riskier' though probably not for Australia (the focus of my study)...

The 'cycles', 'curves' and 'critical points' we refer to relate to maps of relative power amongst the world's 'great powers', a list that (in my research, anyway) currently includes the US, the EU, Russia, China and Japan but has also included, at various times, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary and the USSR. 'Critical points', as the name suggests, are critical in that they are very strongly correlated with war - and Russia has recently passed through a critical period and is heading for another one.

As should be clear from the extract above, I think Georgia was always going to be one of the places that Russia might expand into; indeed, this and the questionable grand strategy of the current Georgian leadership was a big driver in denying Georgia a place in NATO. The West may not get everything right but even they could spot what a dud deal Georgia in NATO would be.

John, I think that what's important in looking at the current conflict is not to reduce it to a reaction by Russia to Polish missile bases or Czech radar stations. Rather, I think it should be seen in a much wider historical context wherein the United States has been in relative decline for half a century (and will likely continue in that direction) and where the European Union on Russia's western border is in relative decline, too.

Whatever started this conflict - and I have to say I am a little more skeptical of the official Georgian line than some others I would normally agree with on such things - the problems for the West in the east of Europe seem to me to be entirely predictable given an assessment of the wider historical context of great powers and their inevitable cycles of rise and decline.

Iranian missiles to Hezbollah good. US uniforms to Georgia bad.

Geoff Pahoff: "It's odd how many people are absolutely determined to go on repeating history and pin it all on the closest Jew."

It's a pretty striking illustration, isn't it, of the rhetorical and political diversonary purposes of the New Anti-Semitism?

You have an utterly indefensible foreign policy programme, like invading a tiny neighbouring country, and so how do you spin that? Easy. You are actually "protecting" it from the perfidy of the insidious global Zionist conspiracy.

You have a completely barbaric record on human rights? No worries. You take over the UN Human Rights Commission and spend every moment of the working day denouncing Israel?

"Look! Look! The Jews!"

Worked well in the case of Czechoslovakia and Poland when "peace keeping forces" rushed to the "defense" of "fellow nationals" in Sudetanland and Danzing.

Jacob A. Stam"Eliot Ramsey, all sorts of big players are running guns all over the place. It's a huge problem, but why focus particularly on Russia and wee Venezuela?"

Why focus on Israel and the US training and equipping a few platoons in wee Georgia, then?

By the way, even this pro-Chavez propaganda site acknowledges the Russian guns going to Venezuela amount to 100,000 Russian AK-47 assault rifles.

I'm surprised Venezuela didn't do better in the Olympics air rifle events.

"Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russian weapons sales to Venezuela “do not go beyond any international norms and obligations.” Lavrov said this in response to U.S. “concerns” that State Department spokesperson Adam Ereli reiterated yesterday about Venezuela’s purchase of 100,000 Russian AK-47 assault rifles and several helicopters."

And you'll note that US concerns about this did not extend to bombing Caracas and occupying its frontier provinces.

It's odd how people who have, for example, spent decades bemoaning the presence of British troops in Ulster have no trouble at all with Russian "peace keepers" bombing the crap out Georgia to "protect" Russian citizens who have never lived in Russia?

Or people who still think Kuwait is part of Iraq?

Or people who, while okay with Iran and Syria supplying weapons and training to Hamas and Hezbollah, can without the blink on an eye start barking slogans about the US "meddling" Georgia?

John Pratt: "What would the US have done if Mexico joined the Warsaw pact?"

They'd have called it Cuba.

What would the US have done if Mexico joined the Warsaw pact?

Before then the acutely dangerous policy of enlarging Nato had already begun, partly for the most frivolous of reasons. Bill Clinton ingratiatingly promised a Polish-American audience in Chicago that Poland would join, yet another example of the baleful influence of "hyphenated" American domestic politics on foreign policy.

And so, in this heedless way, Nato was expanded to include not only the former Warsaw Pact countries Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, but the Baltic states that were part of the Soviet Union only 20 years ago. One didn't have to be a Russian nationalist to see this as deliberate provocation of an angry and wounded country. With all its brutality, Russia has legitimate security concerns and national interests. When Georgian membership of Nato is flaunted, one wonders what the US reaction would have been if Leonid Brezhnev had invited Mexico to join the Warsaw Pact.

"There was a lot of talk about how Georgia should join Nato and if only Georgia was a member of Nato this wouldn't have happened, and so forth. I think that is frankly totally unconvincing." The truth is surely as Sir Malcolm says: "The United States, Britain, France and Germany are not going to go to war with Russia over South Ossetia, however sympathetic to the people of Georgia we are.

"We are sympathetic to Tibet, we are sympathetic to Zimbabwe, but we don't contemplate military solutions to these problems. So Nato membership is not the answer." Is it too late for our politicians to learn again that kind of plain speaking and common sense?

Baiting the Bear may be seen as good sport in the US, but it is the people of Georgia who have had to pay the price. The sooner the US comes to grips with its loss of global power the safer the rest of the world will be.

The Bear is back, the Eagle is down, the Kangaroo is weak

From this morning's Australian:

The new Russia will be assertive in its foreign policy and aggressive in its neighbourhood. Moscow is no longer prepared to allow the shift in the military balance on its borders to go unchallenged.

Those theorists who have been proclaiming that future wars will not be between states over territory and will not involve conventional conflict have been proven wrong by Russia, as have those who assert that the major threats to world order no longer come from rivalry between great powers.

The implications of all this for Australia is that an authoritarian Russia, as well as an authoritarian China, is on the move.

And they both perceive America to be a weakened and distracted power. That should have important implications for our forthcoming defence white paper.

Paul Dibb is emeritus professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University. His article The Bear is Back was published in The American Interest in December 2006.

Russia and China are no longer concerned by the US. They will pursue their foreign policy aims with aggression. Australia needs to rethink its dependence on the US for defence. There is certainly no guarantee that the US will be able to come to our aid in a future conflict.

Bush has turned the US into Peking Duck, ready to eat

If only W. had taken the rest of his presidency as seriously as he’s taken his sports outings.

When I interviewed him at the start of his first presidential run in 1999, he took an obvious shot and told me, “I believe the big issues are going to be China and Russia.”

But after 9/11, he let Cheney, Rummy and the neocons gull him into a destructive obsession with Iraq. While America has been bogged down and bled dry, China and Russia are plumping up. China has bought so much of America that we’d be dead Peking ducks if they pulled their investments out of our market, and Russia has transformed itself from a pauper nation to a land filled with millionaires — all through our addiction to oil.

What was so galling about watching W.’s giddy sightseeing at the Olympics was that it underscored China’s rise as a superpower and, thanks to the administration’s derelict foreign and economic policies, America’s fade-out.

The so-called leader of the free world is about to leave office with the US hanging in the world's window just like a Peking duck dripping with its excess oil, and ready to be eaten.

Leo Max Frank M.H.D.S. R.I.P.

Strange thing about Georgia.

It's odd how many people are absolutely determined to go on repeating history and pin it all on the closest Jew.

17 August 2008. The ninety-third anniversary of the lynching of  Leo Max Frank.


BTW; Russia should also consider regime change, try Saakashvili for mass murder and hang him. Just as the COW did to Saddam.

The COW precedent for doing that  justifies Russia doing same?

Eliot, and how about Georgia's intial "deployment of weapons" in Ossetia?

Seems to me committing mass murder in an ethic enclave is something worth hanging for.

Venezuelan missile crisis imminent

Eliot Ramsey, all sorts of big players are running guns all over the place. It's a huge problem, but why focus particularly on Russia and wee Venezuela?

Geoff Pahoff, perhaps you could go over to the other thread and put your historical facts up for scrutiny.

The Mufti did nothing

And nor did the Poms while the Stern and Irgun terrorist gangs set about destroying over 550 villages, 13 urban centres and forcing out over 750,000 Palestinians so they could have their state.

The world has moved on since the Israeli archives proved years ago that Israel was the aggressor and that the Mufti had stuff all to do with anything much at all.

Old-fashioned Cold War escalation. EU to the rescue

The US has responded to the South Ossetian crisis with renewed determination to hem Russia in. Its method is to press ahead with plans to include Georgia and Ukraine in Nato and to deploy anti-ballistic-missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. When, in the past, Russia has complained about the 'son of Star Wars' system, the US has insisted it is meant to deter Iran. It now looks transparently like old-fashioned Cold War escalation.

One crucial difference between the current East-West confrontation and the Cold War is that, this time, the economic ties binding the two sides are stronger. Russia needs access to Western markets; the West - and Europe in particular - needs Russian oil and gas. That creates an opportunity for the European Union, the world's largest single market, to play a moderating role, steering the conversation away from military grandstanding and towards economic negotiation.

Let's hope that the EU can play a moderating role in the arm wrestling match between the US and Russia. The US lacks the diplomatic skills and an understanding of European history. These are European problems and will only be solved by Europeans. Again the US needs to get back into its box and accept its place as a minor player on the European stage.

A bit of pre-emptive stuff should do the trick

Now I suppose Russia has every right to occupy Georgia for the next how many years.

After all did not Saakashvili, like Saddam, commit crimes against humanity? Did we not invade Iraq to protect those human beings (after all the other bullshit reasons)? 

Would it not be best if Russia pre-empted any further atrocities by George W Bush's terrorist client and stayed in Georgia for however long they feel like it?

After all, Russia has every right to fight terrorism and from all reports there were many innocent human beings slaughtered, terrorised and displaced just because some fucks thought it would be a good idea.

The stupidity, recklessness, callousness and hypocrisy of Georgia and its US puppet master is beyond belief.

Russia should not leave Georgia until the COW leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

Who's to blame?

Nothing about Jews in this from Pepe Escobar; but with a name like that he must be a bit of a pinko, hey Eliot?

Pepe Le Pew

I don't know or care what colour the man is.

But I do know for certain that Pepe is a complete dickhead. He'll get around to the Jews eventually. Mark my words. 

Tanks for the memory

Jacob A. Stam: "Eliot Ramsey, it's a bit of a stretch to equate a "strategic alliance" between Venezuela and Russia with the actual physical deployment of weapons."

The Russian supply of weapons to Venezuela was part of the deal. And how about Russia's "deployment of weapons" in Georgia?

Ever watchful

Eliot Ramsey, it's a bit of a stretch to equate a "strategic alliance" between Venezuela and Russia with the actual physical deployment of weapons. Within a country which is party to a strategic alliance originating in the Cold War against the former USSR, now Russia.

But I know you're up for it. Keep it up.

It's interesting also to see you do actually read comments by Geoff Pahoff. I guess you must have missed his error in relation to "strategic support" for the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the British authorities in Palestine, otherwise you'd have corrected him, yes?

It's okay though, I took care of it for you; however, you may wish to examine some of his other claims there about British treachery, such as the one about "unilateral attacks [by the British] on Jewish self defence militia". And in British Mandated Palestine, no less.

Bloody disgusting

Incredible as it might sound to the black and white thinkers around here, I'm an Anglophile who has been to Britain more times than I can remember and a proud seventh generation Australian with predominate British heritage. I have many relatives who fought (and some died) in mainly the Australian military, in part helping to rescue the asses of certain European countries who frankly should  pay a little more respect.

What I said about the British support for the Grand Mufti's ugly little gangs of killers, the attacks on the Jewish Agency and Hagannah, and the arming and training of the Arab Legion, including supplying it with British officers who were still at their posts when the Legion attacked and expelled the Jews of Jerusalem, are straight forward matters of historical fact.

It's there for anybody to see for themselves. Except those who are highly selective about the humans who have rights. Including of course people who show their hands, over and over again, by allowing nasty little slurs go by without never a comment while jumping at every opportunity to attack Israel, the country's origins and the very concept of historical truth.

Nostalgia over at Direct Action, er I mean Green Left Weekly

And here it is! The Israeli connection...

"Under his rule, Georgia has become a close ally of the West, with the US and Israel providing arms and military advisors."

- Green Left Weekly, 16 August 2008

Some other hilarious Cold War era "moral equivalence" stuff from Green Left Weekly to cue the usual suspects on how to "analyse" the Soviet liberation of George, er I mean Russian invasion of Georgia....

"The hypocrisy of Western leaders and media in condemning Russia’s actions is striking. It is justified largely by claims that Georgia is a “new democracy” — a code word for “pro-West”. The brutality of the US-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan leaves the US and other Western powers with no moral high ground from which to deliver lectures to Russia."

Oh, okay. We shouldn't criticise Russia's actions then. Okay lads, carry on then!

This must really take the crusties at the Democratic Socialist Party back to the good old days, mustn't it?

Green Left Weakly

Eliot Ramsey, thank you for alerting me to the Green Left Weekly. It is better than reading the Sunday comics.

However, I could find no references to Rudd and Smith's concentration camp in Christmas Island. Probably of no interest to them.

Georgia's breach of Russia's sovereignty

"Western sponsors of a UN Security Council resolution to formalise the ceasefire agreement pushed for a vote by week's end. However the text is being held up by Moscow's balking at inserting any reference to Georgia's territorial integrity."

Selfish of Georgia to insist on that.

Russia a superpower? And Israel's invasion of China

"The US has told Russia that the Russian attacks on Georgia will damage US-Russian relations for many years. What does the US think the placing of missiles in Poland was going to do for that relationship?"

I know. It would be as if Russia was putting weapons in Venezuela. Oh, wait:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met on July 22 in Moscow with his Russian counterparts President Dimitri Medvédev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They seemed to enjoy every moment of the occasion, even though it was rather short when it came to hard developments. The encounter was arranged to formalize a military and defense alliance between the two countries, dubbed the “Alianza Estratégica.

Why shouldn't Georgia have a democratic, independent existence? Why should the Russians be allowed any more to bully their way around Georgia, which they occupied for three centuries?

What next? They should re-occupy Poland and Hungary?

John Pratt: "It is time the UN was restructured to give a voice to all not just the bullies."

I agree:

The UN Human Rights Council has now passed 60 per cent of its resolutions on Israel alone and nothing on China and Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia.

... get rid of the bullies.

John Pratt: "Why does the US feel it has to go around the world punishing other nations?"

Why does Russia?

Geoff Pahoff: "I haven't had a chance to read this thread so could somebody tell me whether they are blaming Israel yet?"

They're still trying to find Israel's link with the Tibet uprising.

Yes Geoff

Not only was Israel up to her eyeballs in arming and training Georgia but they were gloating about it in the Israeli papers in the first few days.

Read part of the interview with Eric Margolis.

It's all you know who's fault

I haven't had a chance to read this thread  so could somebody tell me whether they are blaming Israel yet?

Nauseating hypocrisy

THE outcome of six grim days of bloodshed in the Caucasus has triggered an outpouring of the most nauseating hypocrisy from Western politicians and their captive media. As talking heads thundered against Russian imperialism and brutal disproportionality, United States Vice-President Dick Cheney, faithfully echoed by Britain's Gordon Brown, declared that "Russian aggression must not go unanswered". George Bush denounced Russia for having "invaded a sovereign neighbouring state" and threatening "a democratic government". Such an action, he insisted, "is unacceptable in the 21st century".

Could these by any chance be the leaders of the same governments that in 2003 invaded and occupied — along with Georgia, as luck would have it — the sovereign state of Iraq on a false pretext at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives? Or even the two governments that blocked a ceasefire in the summer of 2006 as Israel pulverised Lebanon's infrastructure and killed more than a thousand civilians in retaliation for the capture or killing of five soldiers?

It is time the world stood up to the bully nations and refused to trade with any nation that thinks it can win its way by the use of force. The UN and the Security Council are hamstrung because both Russia and the US hold the power of veto. It is time the UN was restructured to give a voice to all, not just the bullies.

Hold your nose and pull the chain

John: "It is time the UN was restructured to give a voice to all not just the bullies."

I could not agree more. Abolish the filthy thing. Run it out of town.

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