Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Guardian piece on Putin's bedfellows

[not my headline] To Russia with love

Why has an odd alliance of leftwingers, Tories and bankers come out for this fascist kleptocracy?

On Russia, at least, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg think alike. Belatedly and perhaps emptily, all three party leaders have condemned the invasion of Georgia and demanded a tough response. Yet a different and even odder alliance is taking shape on the other side. Its members include such unlikely figures as Andrew Murray of Stop the War Coalition, David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, and historian Correlli Barnett, as well as anonymous but influential City bankers and lawyers.

The Kremlin's most constant allies are the old pro-Soviet left: people such as Bob Wareing, the veteran leftwing MP for Liverpool, West Derby. He recalls warmly the wartime alliance with Stalin's Soviet Union, and the promise of social justice in the communist system. In the Morning Star, Andrew Murray blames the war in Georgia on American imperialism and contrasts it with the success of "Soviet nationalities policy" in promoting "the cultural, linguistic and educational development of each ethnic group, no matter how small or how historically marginalised". Chechens, Crimean Tatars and other victims of Stalin's murderous deportation policies presumably don't count.

A simpler approach is pure Russophilia: people who love Russia's culture or language, and rejoice in what seems to be a national rebirth under Vladimir Putin. A wider group is sparked chiefly by anti-Americanism. If you hate George W Bush then you may cast a friendly glance on the people who make life difficult for him, such as Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, or Putin in Russia. It is countries such as Russia, however spiky and unattractive, that can derail the new world order. Yet that's odd. If, say, you feel that Muslims get a hard deal from America, then surely the Russian torture camps in Chechnya should make your blood boil?

In odd alliance with the anti-globalists are the champions of international business: those who do well out of selling goods and services to Russia. In the City, investment banks, law firms, accountants and consultants have enjoyed a bonanza thanks to their Russian clients. Auditors such as PricewaterhouseCoopers have not flinched at doing the Kremlin's dirty work - for example in withdrawing their audit of Yukos, once Russia's biggest oil company, which conveniently coincided with Kremlin allegations of fraud. For this pinstriped fifth column, business is business, and worries about human rights or the rule of law are tiresome distractions.

David Wilshire, a leading Conservative member of the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly, has lobbied hard to make Mikhail Margelov, a pro-Putin Russian parliamentarian who used to be a KGB language instructor, the next president of the organisation, which is supposedly devoted to promoting human rights. Then come those such as the polemical Peter Hitchens, who have no great liking for tycoons, but a deep admiration for the nation-state. He writes: "I often wish we were more like Russia, aggressively defending our interests, making sure we owned our own crucial industries, killing terrorists instead of giving in to them, running our own foreign policy instead of trotting two feet behind George W Bush." Russia, he says, has come to stand for national sovereignty and independence, while we give up our own.

Correlli Barnett praises the regime in Russia in a similar vein. In the past few days, for example, Barnett has said: "World peace? Give me Putin any day!"; and "the West should jettison moral indignation and global do-goodery as the basis of policy, and instead emulate Russia's admirable reversion to 19th-century realpolitik". The main motive here is dislike for the whole apparatus of modern diplomacy - multilateral organisations governed by international treaties and at least a notional commitment to human rights.

It is all very odd. Russia is an oil-fuelled fascist kleptocracy ruled by secret police goons and their cronies. It is authoritarian: critics risk forcible incarceration in psychiatric hospitals, or are simply murdered - such as the shooting dead in police custody of Magomed Yevloyev, an Ingush journalist, this week. It is imperialist: bullying neighbours with oil and gas cut-offs, let alone the occupation of Georgia, where Russia's proxies have practised ethnic cleansing on a scale that recalls the atrocities of the wars in former Yugoslavia. And it is deeply corrupt and lawless: something that even Putin's successor as president, Dmitry Medvedev, has acknowledged publicly. However bad other countries may be, it is hard to find anything there worth emulating.

· Edward Lucas is the author of The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West

44 comments:

JP said...

So supporting Russia is bad. How about supporting Saudi Arabia?

Idealism doesn't work on this scale: each state behaves as it sees fit, even those that talk the talk about democracy. We do not have the moral high ground (I won't even mention Kosovo, which was stripped from a democratic Serbia!).

Colleen said...

read the comments on the guardian site if you have time

JP said...

Thanks colleen

I had a look (I generally don't read it as it is too left wing for me), and whilst I was there found that Georgia had been using Cluster Bombs:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/01/georgia.russia

The article does not mention that Georgia is in fact a State Party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW), a convention which restricts the use of such weapons. Very naughty.

mpechter said...

@JP

Supporting Saudi Arabia is bad, no doubt. Still, agressive authocratic countries at the doorstep of Europe should be treated as a bigger threat than non-agressive authocratic countries far away.

And please, the Kosovo argument does not mean that the West has lost its authority.

Democratic countries always have the moral high ground over non-democratic ones.

JP said...

mpechter

Democratic countries behaving badly do not have any moral high ground. You would not call a thief to be a witness for the prosecution of a mugger.

But you forget that when Kosovo was made independent, Serbia was a democratic country. In that case the West did lose its moral authority when it came to respecting territorial integrity (and, I'd argue, much more authority besides).

And if Kosovo did not set a precedent for the Caucasus, why did Georgia not recognise Kosovo's independence?

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

Look, why you seem so Russian in your comments? So far I only fond them to selectively choose arguments while trying to defend their choice, while completely ignoring that they’ve done worse. I am getting straight to the point.

On the cluster bombs: if you read that Georgia used them, maybe it will be useful for you to either further investigate, or to recognize some facts, like that Georgia insisted it used cluster bombs only against the column of Russian troops coming to Tskhinvali, and when signs of them were also found by human right organizations in a South Ossetian village, Georgia called for investigation, while Russia kept silence. Russia, in turn, has denied it used cluster bombs, while human rights organizations have found proof of it in the Georgian villages and cities that Russians bombed, Gori among them.

You also say ‘democratic countries behaving badly do not have any moral high ground”. Your parallel with the thief and a mugger was impressive, but wrong. Actually many times thieves are called to witness against muggers and vice-versa, and when you deal with hard facts that you can prove, the “thief” and “mugger” labels are irrelevant.

However, I would like to bring another parallel, and show you a different point. If we suppose the West did violate the international law by launching a military campaign against Yugoslavia, then how relevant is the Russia’s reference to this case, to excuse its aggression against Georgia? Do you excuse a crime by pointing out that someone else has done it before? I don’t think so.

Then, the international law does require that the international community reacts to crimes against humanity and other severe crimes of war. It was proved that genocide and ethnic cleansing took place in Yugoslavia, and it was MANY democratic countries that reacted, creating a legitimacy only by the fact that they represented a significant part of the UN. In case of the war in Caucasus, Russia was not able to prove neither genocide nor ethnic cleansing, she refused the access to the international investigators into the war zone controlled by the Russian troops, or created obstacles making impossible for them to go there.

To the contrary, HRW now is pointing out that ethnic cleansing is taking place on the territory controlled by Russian military against Georgians, with the knowledge of Russian authorities, which did not do anything. More than that, Kokoity has openly stated they are leveling down the houses of Georgians in South Ossetia’s villages, so that they cannot return back. When asked by journalists, Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister responded by saying “the person was under stress because of the war”, and Georgians “will be able to return, but not very soon”. What “the tool” has recognized, “the directing hand” has denied, which did not change a bit the situation on the ground.
Using half-facts and distorting the argument does not mean your point is strong.

BritishRail said...

Totally agree, looking at Russia from inside Russia. Even if Edward writes so sharply, there are enough basis for such point of view. Russia is BMW-driver, keeping no any driving rule, accepted by democratic countries, and imposing this style the neighbors countries. The Kremlin inhabitants(well, and Moscow White House, I mean Mr. Putin) look at the post-soviet countries as at their ownership and you really can to know talking with Russian politicians, that Georgia is unreal country, the Baltic states are geographical misunderstanding and Ukraine is the historical Russian territory, so there can't be any independent Ukraine.

JP said...

Dumitru

My point is that both sides did wrong. One you don't actually seem to agree with.

I look upon my posts as a corrective to the horrible bias repeatedly shown by Mr Lucas.

In terms of Kosovo, I did not say that the Russians did right to follow the 'precedent', merely that the West did wrong if it wanted to retain its whiter than white image (as gurantor of international law). We admit the fault of others, but our hands are always clean. Come on, this is international relations, not supporting football teams.

Dan said...

I'm getting quite sick of the comparison of Kosovo and South Ossetia. In Kosovo, the West acted partly out of guilt from not stopping Milosevic's genocides before, and had no other interest in the conflict. In S.Ossetia, Russia was a party to the conflict and supported one side, so its claims to be a "peacekeeper" are ridiculous, and it's clear that it always hoped to provoke conflict with Saakashvili.

Also, Serbia was democratic when Kosovo declared independence, but not when it was busy crushing the Albanian majority and then driving them out by force. Surely you aren't calling Yugoslavia under Milosevic a democratic state?

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@JP
Both sides did wrong? Again, wrong according to what? Did Georgia violate the UN Charter by trying to defend the Georgian citizens from intense shelling of South-Ossetians and Russians? Well, it did so by attacking Tskhinvali, to be more precise by trying to suppress the “fire-holes”. It killed civilians? – why don’t we send an international investigation team, to prove it, and gather evidence, as well as providing a more clear view of that story, like who exactly indiscriminately fired on civilians? This is what the West wants, this is what Georgia wants, but wait! – this is not what Russia wants. Why – maybe because they do not want to reveal to the international community things that happen there? If Russians are right, whey they don’t allow OSCE observers to go in the South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They say it loud through the mouth of Medvedev that Moscow is ready to cooperate, but when the issue is discussed at the OSCE, Russian diplomats oppose the deployment of agreed 100 observers, insisting that only 20 can go, and only on the Georgian territory but not on South Ossetia’s. They use various diplomatic acrobatics and tricks just to not allow foreigners to step on the territory of South Ossetia. They claim atrocities, crimes of war and genocide committed by Georgians by they base their claims on the opinion of Ossetian leader Kokoity and on the “findings” of their “prokuratura” investigative team. I recall there was a similar prokuratura that found proof to put in jail Hodorkovski and many others.
Instead, it was clear that Russia has violated the many UN Security Council resolutions on Georgian conflicts and the UN Charter, which required her to get a UN mandate to do its “enforcement of peace”. It claimed it wanted to defend its “peacekeepers” and citizens, and stop genocide in a conflict that claimed 200o dead civilians. Well, so far they could not provide any proof of this, neither that Georgians fired at “innocent” Russia peacekeepers (maybe they were in trenches together with Ossetians firing at Georgians), nor that there was genocide, and their 2000 claimed casualties number is questioned by many watchdog organizations even in Russia (see their HRW report on this). The mandate that Russia had on peacekeeping did not have a UN backing, and the format of it violated every single one accepted standard and principle of the UN peacekeeping model. The agreement which informed that peacekeeping operations on Georgians in the early 90s can also be contested according to the international law, which states no agreement that forced upon a party, has a binding power. And every single peacekeeping agreement in the post-soviet area were forced by Russians (both in Georgia and Moldova), who fought on the side of separatists, on these countries. Which party was right and which was wrong? If we judge by the international law, even being exceptionally picky, then Russia is a gigantic violator. Do you want to suggest another framework for analysis than the international law?
You said yourself earlier that everyone is following own interests. That’s a good description of international relations in my view, to the extent “everybody” is able to follow own interests. There is an interesting debate in Russia now (Gazeta.ru, Grani.ru, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Kommersant.ru, Eho Moskvy), that questions the recognition of the two rebel regions in Georgia was in Russia’s interest. There is a strong opinion that it was done on emotional ground, to upset the West and “teach them a lesson”, showing they have to “respect” Russia. In this is correct (and I believe it is so to a big extent) than we are dealing with another type of elite than during the Cold War, and they are so unpredictable, risky, ready to cross agreed thresholds, showing some infant and psychopathic models of behavior in international affairs. Even if the West did not recognized Kosovo, Russia would still have done the same, since it followed a similar path of actions and rhetoric in their foreign policy. That is my opinion.

JP said...

Dan

Sick of hearing about Kosovo? Get used to it. Once you dismember states, the consequences ar far reaching.

When did "Serbia" (Serbia and Monteneggro) become a democracy? Generally accepted as being when Koštunica took over in October 2000. When did Kosovo proclaim its independence? In February 2008. Therefore Kosovo was taken from a democratic Serbia. Fact.

JP said...

Dumitru

Being angry does not make you right. You need to research the agreements as to why Russian peacekeepers were in place. These were accords signed by the Georgian government.

So you love to heap all that blame on Russia, but you can never say that Georgia kept its part of the bargain. In 2005 Saakashvili wrote in the Washington Post that "Two significant portions of our territory -- South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- remain untouched by the freedom the rest of Georgia enjoys. We can and must peacefully resolve these disputes to better the lives of Georgians." Of course, it was Russia's fault he could not stick to hiw word. I dismiss your one-sided view of the conflict. Conjecture. Come back to the subject in a year, once the noise of war has died down. I think you take as fact the Georgian press releases.

And what of the other example I gave earlier? You know the one where Russia stuck to its word and evacuated bases in Georgia, but there's some doubt about the Georgians keeping their side of the bargain?

Russia and Georgia agreed to close Russian military bases in Georgia in 2005. Negotiations were complicated. Part of the breakthrough came when

""In the end of April [2005], Mikheil Saakashvili declared that no other foreign military bases
would be created in Georgia after the Russian withdrawal and that Georgia planned to
adopt a law to that effect. This was probably the maximum concession Russia could
extract from Tbilisi; the promise would become part of internal Georgian legislation
instead of an international agreement."

How does that sit with Nato membership?

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

You’re exaggerating so much implying I am angry. But I do agree that angriness does not make one wrong or right. It’s the facts, describing as accurately as possible the reality, that brings one to the point of being right. Actually I did significant research on the Russian so-called “peacekeeping” operations in the post-Soviet space – that’s my job to research. And I do insist on my previous point – the agreement was in fact forced on Georgia, as the side that lost the military encounter with Russia, taking place under a proxy-war scheme. Similar story was in Moldova’s Transnistria. Let’s call spade a spade - the agreement was in fact an act of capitulation on the side of Georgia.
JP, you are either ignorant of the full range of facts surrounding the case we are discussing, or you deliberately play this role. The conflicts in the CIS where Russia is “peacekeeper” are proxy war type of conflicts, they basically are regions occupied by Russia. Look into the origins of these conflicts, which are very much linked to the attempts of the USSR CP to stop the disintegration of the Soviet Union. I can’t write the whole story here – you got the choice of either sticking to your own version of these conflicts, or do some additional research. It’s up to you what you want to believe in. Look into such sources as Vadim Bakatin (ex-chief of the Soviet KGB), find this article (Svetlana Chervonnaya, "The Technology of the Abkhazian War", Moscow News, 15 October 1993) and maybe you could then discuss who’s point of view is one-sided. I can also claim you only promote the Kremlin side of the story. In fact maybe you are on their payroll, since you write under the two-letter cover, while I disclosed myself. You ignore the facts, arguments and logic I put on the table, with no effort to bring counterarguments. The very selective approach that you chose while opposing a point of view also speaks in favor of such a possibility. You did not object to the substance of Edward’s articles, but tried to point out errors in the peripheral things through this attempting to discredit the whole story. This in fact is a trick that ordinary readers do not know, and is often used by masters of propaganda and disinformation as Russians labeled them or PR, as it is used in the West. You seem to play a classic devil’s advocate role, arguing often for the sake of argument, bringing unsubstantiated claims, many times perfectly mirroring the standard answer-packs used by Kremlin’s political technologists and propagandists. That rings the bell, although you just may be a frequent reader of Russian media and Western leftists’ resources. That’s not an accusation, but only a supposition.
My last remark in this post – being a member of NATO does not require from you to keep a foreign base on your territory – so by wanting to join NATO Georgia does not violate their part of the promise, not to have foreign military bases on their territory. Shame on you – that’s very basic stuff about NATO, a Westerner at least should know it.

JP said...

Dumitru

Ok, let's say the agreement was forced on Georgia by the reality of defeat. Makes it even more foolish to attempt to correct such a defeat by a renewed effort using military means. You know, the fabled Georgian offensive into Ossetia.

Sources such as an ex-KGB general. Mmm the height of impartiality.

I think the truth lies somewhere between the accounts put out by the Russians and the accounts put out by the Georgians. What I see from you is argument, I don't see facts and logic. Facts, as interpreted by you to fit your preconceived notions.

On the payroll of the Russians? Well, I could do with a new car. As for being a devil's advocate, or a leftwinger, or a Kremlin apologist ...come on, let's be a bit less emotional. I'm actually none of those things.

Have a good weekend.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

It’s a bit more than that – consider that the victor has portrayed itself not as a party to the conflict, but as a pacifier, an impartial mediator, making it looks pretty much similar like in the story when the wolf became a shepherd. You say it was foolish on the Georgians to use force? Perhaps you’re right, but foolish does not necessarily mean criminal, while the Russia’s acts were definitely violating the UN Charter, and that is exactly what I am trying to point out for so long.
Bakatin actually was not a carrier KGB officer, to my knowledge. And I don’t see how one can question him for revealing the KGB methodology of staging separatist conflicts in the USSR republics to hold them from declaring independence. Why he would invent this? And it was confirmed by other sources anyway, at least in the case of Transnistrian conflict.
I never insisted Georgians were only telling truth to the world. But Georgian journalists are free to speak up, and they can criticize their government, to an extent which is hardly possible in Russia. You will not, I hope, deny this?
I am glad to read you’re not on the payroll of Russian government. But I judge not words but actions and your posts do create an impression that you question for the sake of questioning, or that you might have an issue with the author. Please, get me right, I am not saying you actually are any of these, but that your posts are indicative of such a possibility. I hope you do feel the difference.

joyce said...

Dumitru, I´d like to express my appreciation for your comments. Specially because you´re somebody who´s got facts and arguments, and ask relevant questions. Thanks for posting comments here.

mpechter said...

@JP

No.

Democratic countries have this thing called accountability.

Any decision made in a democratic country has to contest with the views of the political opposition as well as the opposition in the media and independent non-govermental organizations. As the citizens of democratic nations have a good sense of what is right and what is wrong due to the environment they live in, it is more unlikely that they lend support to any actions they perceive to be wrong or (more importantly) fail to hold the decision-makers accountable, if such actions are indeed taken.

Democratic governments fall because of their wrongdoings. Democratic parties and politicians lose their support, money and position. The soldiers and officers of democratic countries are tried and punished for their crimes. None of this applies to Russia.

So the answer to why the West has a right to lecture Russia is as simple as "we are better than you".

JP said...

Of course democracies behaving badly have lost moral authority. By “we” I was not including Switzerland, which has better democracy than most, does have moral authority and the good sense not to preach about it. I meant, of course, the US and its coalition of the willing and the needy. We have lost it with our wars, our invasions, our evident belief that might is right, our selective use of the UN, picking and choosing Resolutions when they fit with our interests or those of our friends, our Guantanomos and renditions, striking across the borders of a sovereign country such as Pakistan, striking down ‘terrorists’ not by trial but by missiles and car bombs (I’m talking here about Israel). Our recognitions of independence when it suits (and against strong global opposition which, in the case of Kosovo, included Romania, Moldova and Georgia, as well as Russia and China).

You talk to me of accountability. True some small fry have been brought to court. Some enlisted men and some junior officers. But even Putin sacks generals for corruption. Accountability of our leaders? Tony Blair, responsible for the UK’s participation in the Iraq debacle is now a peace envoy in the middle east. Is that accountability? Rumsfeld lost his job, but is hardly rotting in jail. Where’s the accountability for Iraq? The ballot box? Once the deed has been done, it is all about how to extricate us from the mess, not about accountability. Does the ballot box prevent cross-border strikes into Pakistan? There is little short-term accountability. And there is none for the long-term. Who will be held to account for making Iran the primary regional power that it is today thanks to the bringing low of Iraq and the implosion of Afghanistan? Who will be held accountable for the civil war in Iraq once the west has left?

So much of the policy of the West is outside of the democratic process in any case. Where is the accountability of Nato? Ask the Afghan government, when they complain that their civilians have been killed. Where is the accountability of Jose Manuel Barroso? He acts in your name, but did you elect him?

So I think it is true that democracies behaving badly have lost their moral authority. I didn’t say that democracy was ‘less good’ than what they have in Russia. But our actions do not match our rhetoric. And that’s all it is, rhetoric. We use it selectively to beat our current enemy, which further diminishes its impact. Do we harp on at the evident inequalities in the democracy that is Brazil. Do we call Saudi Arabia to account, a country where people are less free than in Russia? What do we say about Israel?

That’s my opinion. And I combine it with the belief that preaching is not a particularly effective policy in any case. It looks smug, and as we have given so much ammunition to those who would ‘stand in our way’, its downright foolish. Far better to lead by example. I doubt, given recent history, and who is doing the preaching, that Russia would even sit up and listen. It would take more than homilies to convince the ordinary Russian, after their woeful experience in the 1990s, that we have all the answers.

JP said...

Dimitry

Violation of the UN charter in recent years is relatively common. Operation Desert Fox from December 1998 was a violation of the charter as there was no security council resolution authorising the use of force. You may remember that China spoke up about this in December 1997. Our old friend Boris Yeltsin said the UK and USA had crudely violated the charter and the generally accepted principles of international law. I don't see the US and USA being brough to account. N o the established principle is might is right, unless you want universal application of the principle. Georgia may have lost out, the criminality of taking on a vast power which was holding military exercises in August 2008, with a small army (much of which was in Iraq) defies belief. If there is criminal irresponsibility, let the Georgian leader be found guilty. And, who is to say Russia isn't guilty too. I didn't. Georgia is a free country, but it has not been able to have a completely free and fully functioning civil society in just the three years since the coup. There is a lot more to Georgia than just democracy/

KGB generals write books. German generals wrote books after WWII. I would not base a history of WWII on the accounts of German generals and expect to produce an objective history.

Don't slander me that I'm in the pay of Russia because I think you are wrong.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

Impressive speech JP, but let me jump in, and point out to some misleading judgment. You are talking about the moral quality of the West, but you don’t do it in a comparative perspective, you do not compare the West with Russia, and moral can be judged mostly in this context. You are behaving like a street magician, with the only difference he creates visual illusions fooling the spectators, while you are creating verbal illusions trying to deceive the readers.
What is moral, fist of all? Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong, says the dictionary. That means we should judge two actors, the West and Russia, from the point of moral, as a dichotomy of right and wrong, good and evil, or virtue and vice. You do not do this, but instead you only try to point out to the fallacies of one part to make it wrong, evil and full of vices. Is that a right approach or not, let the other readers to judge, but I myself firmly believe that in our world where there cannot be anything of absolute character, we should judge only in comparative perspective.
Next, I would still like to question your examples of “wrong” perpetrated by the West. You say he West (US and its coalitions) were wrong because they “lost their moral authority in wars, invasions, following the belief that might is right, selective use of the UN and picking and choosing its resolutions…” We are going here into the realm of philosophy, law and politics – the realm of Cicero, Aquinas, Grotius, von Pufendorf, Kant, the two of Niebuhrs, Walzer and many others, who did not reject the notion of a just war. They did not reject it, because they understood the world is so overwhelmed by evils that some of them can only be stopped by force. Tell me, JP, was the US entering the WWII against the Hitler’s Germany a thing that made it losing a moral authority? This question is just to prove my initial point that I do agree on the existence of just and unjust wars.
Getting closer to your arguments – while listing them, your starting point was a simplistic interpretation of events and processes, either due to the fact you did not know their intricacies, or because you preferred to not reveal them, willing to make your case strong. If you look on the surface, any war brings suffering and destruction, and is evil. Yet, there are cases (remember my point above there can be nothing absolute), when inaction will bring much more devastating consequences than choosing action, meaning a use of force today can prevent a major disaster of tomorrow. What would be your choice JP, when you are facing such scenarios? I hope I did convince you that some wars are a necessary wrongdoing.
Further, I do not want to be perceived as advocating in favor of whatever US did in its foreign policy. But everything they did during the Cold War, was perceived by the majority of the West as actions to defend them from the Soviet Union. So, as a first conclusion, when one perceives aggressive actions defending one’s existence, they will be praised; but when the aim of these actions won’t be that obvious, the one will criticize them, regardless whether they indeed keep one surviving or not. It is about perceptions JP.
Getting to the UN issue and the resolutions of the Un Security Council: why is UN considered so legitimate, JP? Because it is a platform where countries of the world get together and take decisions by common agreement. It is this mega-representative character of it that makes UN so legitimate. This is why, JP, the coalitions built by US in support of its military operations (Yugoslavia was in fact a European one, assisted by US), representing many countries, DO HAVE a higher degree of moral authority than the actions of just one country, Russia. You also make a huge blunder, but comparing the Western states with Russia, as if they would have an equal initial moral capital. Mpechter did provide few lines, explaining why you cannot make this comparison. It is the question of the Western powers having a benign nature, conditioned by its political system, the functioning of the rule of law, many checks and balances, and the political culture of their citizens. Russia, to the other extreme, does not have any of these, there is nothing to balance potentially malicious intents of an authoritarian Russian leadership, which in fact resemble very much that of the Soviet Union. Just look at how Russian population in its significant majority has perceived the war against Georgia – they cheered the use of indiscriminate force by the Russian military, they were upset why Russian forces did not go further to Tbilisi, and the radical Russian youth started to gather the names of Georgians living in their vicinities, posting on the web-sites and calling for aggressive measures against them. Do you see the difference JP? Do you understand why a Western coalition had to defend Kuwait against Sadam’s Iraq in the early 90s?
Yet there is another side of UN, a reminiscence of the WWII, when the victors have invested themselves with the veto power, and permanent sits in the Security Council. Regardless how virtuous and necessary might be a decision, just one of the big five can bury it, if it goes against some of its evil “national” interests. It is exactly this that happened in 1950, when Communist North Korea invaded the South with military and political support from Soviet Union, and having a USSR veto in the UN Security Council to block any possible intervention of the international community to stop this aggression. Then, the West lead by US managed to push for the Acheson Plan, or the “Uniting for Peace” General Assembly resolution, supported by 52 countries and opposed by 5 (USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukrainian SSR, and Byelorussian SSR). This General Assembly resolution authorized the deployment of a coalition force under UN mandate. This example is to show, how a critical for international peace and security UN SC resolution may be blocked by a veto country, if it involves its interests. In Yugoslavia, there were multiple cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing confirmed by journalists and other sources, going on there. There was a “responsibility to protect” on the side of the West, and a Russian veto in the UN SC was nothing close to moral. It is in this case when the reason of “moral” pushed the West to respond, even though in some friction with a WWII period international law, which was a drop into the sea of despair that contributed to bringing into life the Responsibility to Protect principle (R2P), and the call to adapt the international law. Yet, there was none, and still is none proof of genocide or ethnic cleansing on the side of Georgia, that Russia invoked as the reason for invading that country. To the contrary, as I already mentioned in my previous comments, there is an increasing body of evidence showing that ethnic cleansing is done with the authorization of the Russian authorities in South Ossetia against Georgians leaving there. What moral are you talking JP, a formal one, or a substantiated one?
And my last question, since it will take another 2 pages to go point by point in answering your response to mpechter. You give all other examples, as strikes against terrorists by the US. Can you compare a democratically elected government in Georgia with the world totalitarian governments or terrorists? I think one should do more than that JP, since this is a flawed and dangerous logic. Look into the essence JP, and not at the delusive cover. Any comparisons to be correct and convincing should contain similar cases and processes in essence and not in appearance.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@JP
An additional comment to your last post: you say “Georgia has not been able to have a completely free and fully functioning civil society in just the three years since the coup”. You are so funny JP. Show me any, any country in the world that after hundreds of years of totalitarian and authoritarian rule was able to become a democracy in three years? How many years it took US, or the countries in Europe? Also, you completely ignored my previous posts, that argued Georgia’s democratic development was hindered by the Russian foreign threat, and there is sufficient empiric and theoretical evidence to support such a point. Foreign threats that target the survivability of a country obstruct democratic development in that country.
You object against the “might is right” principle (I assume in the international affairs), but you contradict yourself and defend in a latent way the Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Forget in this case about Georgia’s attack on Tskhinvali, according to the international law, it was an internal issue, since South Ossetia is a part of Georgia. I gave you details on this earlier, and you did not object to them, after which I assume I either convince you, or you do not have anything to object with.
You are superficial again, in the case of my KGB general example. Do you know who Bakatin was? Do you know his story? You don’t, otherwise you would have responded differently. Bakatin WAS NOT a cadre KGB officer, he was an outsider, disliked by the KGB members, being initially a party member, then a Ministry of Interior of the USSR, then for few years before the collapse of the Soviet Union was the Chairman of the KGB. He revealed the methodology that KGB used to force the soviet republics to stay inside the USSR, among others by organizing, staging and supporting separatist conflicts in Georgia and Moldova.
I do not insist you are on the payroll of Russia JP, but looking at the way you debate, very much similar to how Russians do (with superficial arguments, not knowing or willing to go into details, and emphasize important differences, attacking the messenger, etc.) I cannot discard such a possibility. I never had a problem with people thinking that I am wrong – being wrong is quite a human quality. But if you consider I am wrong, be good to give plausible arguments, and not half-informed opinions and superficial views. Otherwise we just risk becoming windbags.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@ joyce

thanks for good words.

JP said...

Dimitry

What I am saying is this. There are rules. The West says it plays by the rules, and others do not. But the West does not always do so, and acts in its own interests.

Either you play by the rules, using those tools which are open to law-abiding democracies, even if it affects your performance, or you do not. Not playing by the rules but saying that you are acting in defence of democracy, or of the Motherland or Fatherland, is, quite simply, not playing by the rules.

We redrew the rulebook when it suited. We stopped playing by the rules. That's the US government (democratic), Nato (less democratic) and the European Union (still need to find a suitable term).

By acting in a unipolar world, we got used to revising the rules and getting away with it. Perhaps its time to revise the rhetoric, which is only brought out to hit our perceived rivals. There wasn't too much moralising when Yeltsin behaved atrociously, but when Russia under Putin asserts itself, we turn the rhetoric on. Is that moral authority, something turned on and off at the whim of governments? Perhaps it is.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

I see your point. I agree that there are rules. But, unlike in a nation state, where you have an authoritative body (Constitutional Court) that has the right to interpret the rules, and whose interpretation is binding on all state actors (talking about liberal democracies), in the international system you don’t have it. There is no world body, whose interpretation of the international law would have a binding effect on the states. Even the UN, which carries the supreme authority in the world, is build on an unjust principle, since basically it offers to 5 countries an overwhelming advantage over the whole system. It would be great if these five were liberal democracies, but the problem is you got 2 of them being authoritarian political systems, with one turned resurgent and a system challenger.
Therefore the current rules are the ones that led to the Cold War. They are good, but because there is no mechanism to implement them, a country like Russia can just violate these, while claiming it is the other side which does it.
A country like Russia is getting laud with the West, claiming its “historical interests” were violated, that it has some privilege to bully its neighbors, and asking no less than recognition of its “right” to subjugate its former satellites. To obtain this it uses its veto right at the UN to block any efforts of the West to solve international security issues. Tell me if a non-nuclear Iran is only in the interest of Germany or France? What would happen, if nuclear weapons would come into hands of a regime that financed the biggest terrorist groups from the Middle East to the Tri-border Region in South America? Do you see how irresponsible is behaving Russia that continues to support Iran’s in its nuclear endeavor, while officially stating it supports the West? What is playing by the rules, JP – is it following the spirit of the rules or only the form of the rules, while violating the spirit?
The West did violate the international law in the case of Kosovo, in my view. However, the West is a benign actor JP, which cannot be compared with Russia. I pointed out to you in my previous comments, and you again ignored it. Why do I write then, if you ignore my arguments, and even do not confront them with your own?
The international law (what you call rules) was created to help avoiding evil and unfair things from happening. They are not very perfect, because consensus of evil actors was needed to accept them. The West acts to respect the spirit of the law, because it is the same spirit that it has at home, in their political systems. Have you lived in Russia or any of the former republics? Russia, unlike the West, aims to violate the spirit of the international law, by using its loopholes. It would like to create an international system like it has at home too – one where the rule of law does not exists, replaced by the rule of the fist (or might, as you call it). If a Russian influential official violates the law, he is not brought to justice. An example is when the son of Sergey Ivanov has hit a woman with his car, and despite the fact that witnesses showed he was guilty, the investigation came up with a conclusion that he was not guilty. Russia wants an international system, where it can do with weaker countries what it wants, where it dictates its law to the others, where it has a region of influence where other big actors will not interfere. It wants a sort of a hunting area that predators have, and which they guard against other predators. Do you think this is right?

My point, is, that you have to play by the spirit of the rules, meaning building a more stable, peaceful and just world, without oppressing anyone. Tell me this: why even though Kosovo was recognized by the West, largely EU, Serbia still wants to join EU very much? Why Georgia does not want to join the Russian-Belorussian Union or any of the Russian-dominated structures, when Russia recognized the two rebel regions of Georgia? Why Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and even others would like to join EU (and NATO with some exceptions), and none of them wants to join any Russian-dominated structures. And these are the three countries in the CIS, where the democratic development is the highest there.
Does this ring any bell to you? It is not about a unipolar world that we are arguing, but it is about a world where peace and justice need to be established. I do not want my country to have a political system like in Russia, where I cannot get justice in court – I want to join EU, where the state cares about the citizens and does not exploit them as expendables. It is my own will, and it is not that EU forces me to think this way, as Russians like to point out. Why do you (or people like you) have to decide for me, pushing me and my countrymen into the Russia’s chaos, in exchange for don’t know what benefits that Russia claims it will provide to you (the West). It is this what Russia views as “playing by the rules” – Kremlin says don’t get involved with our former satellites, give us full liberty to do what we want there, and you’ll be getting in exchange our cooperation on other issues, why would you damage your interests over a Georgia, Ukraine or Moldova?
Where are you from JP? Do you think European countries would have liked it had US pulled out of Europe in 1945, reaching a deal with the Soviet Union? Why then many of Europeans argue that this is what the West has to do (a point which you support indirectly)? What are exactly the rules you are talking about? The rules that Russia uses, aware that it violates the UN Charter, and not a single country would like to join a coalition of the willing with her, providing some legitimacy to their military operation? The rules the Russia claims when it does not want a UN peacekeeping operation in the former Soviet Union conflict areas, because it uses these conflicts to built its influence and Moldova and Georgia under its control? The rules when Russian officials are aware of the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in South Ossetia, but when the case is brought to a UN court, Russia does not deny the accusations, and instead it plays on the loophole that that court might not have a jurisdiction over such a case? Are those the rules you want the West to play by, or do you want the UN to act and stop the genocide in Rwanda, even though the UN Security Council is blocked by the veto of one from the Big Five, which has some “national interests”? Can you allow Russia or any other member to block an important decision, like dealing with Zimbabwe? Is it right or wrong to have Russia restricting , under invented reasons, the access of international investigators in South Ossetia, to gather the evidence of the invoked genocide; or to prohibit international observers and journalists from going there, even though it is the territory of Georgia? These are the rules Russia wants to have in the world JP.
You base your point above on the assumption that Iraq, Yugoslavia and other cases were good comparisons with the Georgian one. But they have nothing in common except for the fact that foreign military force entered their territory. And this is not sufficient to claim they have to be judged identically. This is the biggest fallacy of your point. Sadam’s regime, Miloshevich’s regime, Talibans, and other cases when you accuse the West of violating the law, are not identical cases with the Saakashvili’s Georgia, and cannot be compared JP. I pointed out why they are different, but while you insist they are, nevertheless you did not say why they are identical and should be treated similarly. You missed also my point where I point out to you why a coalition of the willing including most of the Western democracies have moral authority to do what they did, pointing out to what makes UN an authoritative body. The West is a group of states with a different set of rules and morale from what Russia has installed at home. You ignore this one as well – stubbornly keeping your usual mantra. It is knowledge, JP, that makes one more sensible and aware of important differences. And the will to use it.
I’d sum up your approach to this debate:

1. You prefer to look at the small, separate images of the bigger picture, because this way it is easier for you to promote your opinion. But you only can get a good grasp of what have happened and adopt a correct stance only when you see the whole picture;
2. You disregard many arguments based on theoretical and empirical knowledge, or tend to use them away from their context. This can be explained either because you don’t understand this knowledge, or you deliberately reject it;
3. You use fallacious logic, blending together incompatible elements, and provide ungrounded statements. I would explain this either by your superficial knowledge about our subject/s, or by your ill-intention.
4. You talk complex notions, like aggression, moral authority, democracy, moral rules, but without having defined them, or not providing your definition. At the same time I do define them, and your point does not fit the definitions I gave, which are also world-wide accepted. This makes our discussion fruitless, because I talk one thing, while you in complete dissonance talk another.
5. And probably not the last thing – but an important one: I can see a specific pattern in the way you build your debate structure. Last year I was asked to write an article (in Russian) on the Russian and Transnistrian propaganda strategies used in Moldova. Many of these techniques are used by you, JP, in our debate. Now, one could claim it is a coincidence, but I am asking myself – is it?
My last question to you is what is your purpose then of debating on this blog – finding the truth? Promoting a specific point of view? Discrediting another? Enriching the debate on the discussed topics? Improve your knowledge of the subjects? What are your goals JP?

P.S. On what criteria you decided that US is democratic and NATO less so (a weird comparison, since US is a country, while NATO is an international organization where US is a member also)? What about EU, in a longer description, not having yet a suitable term?

Lu Xun said...
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Lu Xun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lu Xun said...

This comment is in reply to Mr. Lucas' editorial of Sept 8th - "How the west is losing the energy cold war" in the Times Online.

I do believe that the West, and especially Mr. Lucas, speaks with forked tongues.

Let’s go over this article point by point shall we…

Mr. Lucas speaks of Russia's dismemberment of Georgia, and yet neglects to mention that Abkhazia and South Ossetia was never a part of Georgia - they were a part of the Georgian SSR, and put there by another patriotic but mad Georgian, namely Stalin.

As for Mr. Aliyev not wanting “his country to suffer Georgia's fate” – well, I am certain Mr. Aliyev entertains no plans to bomb a city with large numbers of Russian civilians with 300 rocket launchers. But hey, Mr. Lucas is the expert here, perhaps he knows something I don’t?

Mr. Lucas at last then states the real reason, that “Gazprom … has offered to buy … at world prices.” So Mr. Aliyev decided to act in his country’s best interest and sell to the highest bidder. I believe that’s called capitalism. Or is it capitalism only when it suits the Anglo-American interests? Just as it is democracy only when it suits the same Anglo-Americans, as any Iranian reader can testify.

Mr. Lucas believes that the Europeans are doomed to “deal either with the mullahs of Tehran or with the former KGB men in Moscow.” Or better yet, deal with the son of a former CIA head whose government is staffed with men from the likes of Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, and others with interest in the military-petro-industrial complex.

Mr. Lucas writes “The absurdity is that Europe should be laying down terms to Russia” – no, the absurdity is that anyone in the 21st century, when capitalism and globalization reigns supreme can speak like this. Europe should negotiate a commonly acceptable terms. In no time in the past has the USSR or the successor state of the Russian Federation halted energy delivery to Western Europe. That record should speak for itself. If Europe does not like the market price, it is free to invest in alternatives including renewable energy sources. What Europe and especially the Anglo-Americans do not have the right to do is to dismember countries at will in order to place military bases (Kosovo), create puppet states like Georgia to build pipelines, and to threaten the primary supplier with missiles. Mr. Lucas’ attitude reeks of infantilism. Or perhaps Mr. Lucas still secretly yearns for the time when his countrymen can take land and starve farmers at will in one country in order to grow opium to freely sell in the next.

“The magnet of European integration has brought peace to the western Balkans” – sure, by bombing Serbia to pieces, and the Chinese embassy for good measure. Serbia may have chosen the West over East, but it’s certainly not a choice freely made. It was done under the threat of further violence. I believe there is a term for violence propagated for political means… terrorism.

“The West used to be deluded about the former KGB regime in Russia. Belatedly it has shed its illusions.” Let me rewrite this for accuracy. The Russians used to be deluded about the West. Belatedly it has shed its illusions. What happened to all the promises that the West has made—e.g., the one about NATO will not expand one inch to the East? No, it turns out that the West, and to a greater extent the Anglo-Americans, are hypocrites.

I highly recommend that those who wish to see through such blatant British propaganda to read the wonderful book by William Engdahl called A Century Of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order.

JP said...

Dimitry

It seems a bit silly when, in one post, you call yourself an analyst used to working with facts and sifting through complicated material to come up with an objective conclusion, to then turn around and repeatedly say that I'm in the pay of Moscow. This shows a) lack of balance and b) poor analysis.

I actually said that democracies behaving badly do not have the moral authority. I like democracies that behave well. So I don't know what your terribly long and empassioned talk of the benefits of democracy was all about.

I was talking about democracies doing wrong.

My belief is that moral authority has gone; which shows that I do believe that, at one time, it was there.

That's why I think the moral posturing should stop. If the world is governed on the principles of the Monroe doctrine, say so. Or if we need to negotiate a new balance, so be it. But for the west to preach from its high horse when everyone else is laughing in their sleeve (or even out loud), that's absurd.

Interesting view on eastern Europe. I hope too democracy will continue to progress, although that was never a topic we touched upon before. I actually think that what people want is affluence and stability. Once they get that, they generally don't turn up at the polling station. I do mean my own country, but I see that the turnouts for elections in eastern Europe are pretty woeful. But that is an aside from our interesting discussion.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

JP, I did not affirm bluntly you are on the pay of Moscow. If you read carefully, you can see I said that they way you carry out your debate, the techniques you use suggest that you MIGHT be. You have to agree, that there is a big difference between stating it and just suggesting a possibility of it, supporting it with certain logic. In another post, I also said such techniques are also used by PR experts, and I am sure there are other professions that make use of them. What I was puzzled about is your language and the ideas you promoted – they are indeed pretty much similar to what Russian officials like to stress.
My “terribly long” talk was not about the benefits of democracy, but was aimed to show what are the “rules” that Russia wants the West to accept. I agree that democracies behaving badly sound less convincing when they try to promote certain values or policies. But I emphasized how important is to avoid boiling everything together, and see the differences judging by the substance and not by the cover.
I do not see the West doing things that Russia does to its former satellites, and I do not see substantial parallels of what US/NATO has done in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan to what Russia is doing to Georgia or the way she treats other post-soviet countries. And thoroughly explained why do I think so in my “terribly long” previous posts. In fact, I don’t really look at democracy through ideological lenses – to me this is in raw terms means a political system based on institutional checks and balances that allow for the rule of law to function properly and qualified decisions to be taken, while being able to promote efficient changes that benefit the constituency.
You’re right, people want prosperity and stability, but they also want liberty, protection of their rights, and the feeling of belonging to a civilized world. I agree on the low turnouts at the elections, and in the Eastern Europe this is explained by the post-Soviet political culture, where voting was only a formality, and did not bring change. Even today, in most of these states (CIS) voting is still a formality.
Finally, it seems to me we got everything sorted out, and can switch to another blog article?

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@ Lu Xun

I hope you don’t mind if I jump in, and bring to your attention a few things in your claims that I perceive to be errors. First of all, it is wrong to say “Abkhazia and South Ossetia were never part of Georgia”. At the time when USSR collapsed the newly independent states agreed to keep the borders they had while being soviet socialist republics. Russia did agree as well. The “patriotic but mad Georgian, namely Stalin” in fact was the one to play a decisive role in the invasion of the Democratic Republic of Georgia by the Red Army, bringing it into the Soviet Union, and transforming it into Georgian SSR. And if you look at this map (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/41/DRGMap.png) that you can see that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were a part of the independent DRG.
You allow errors in your other claims as well: first of all Georgian military did not have 300-mm reactive artillery (if this is what you mean), it used 122-mm “Grad” system. However, the same systems were used by South Ossetia to shell Tskhinvali, trying to kick Georgians out of the city, and Russia also was armed with 220-mm “Uragan”-type reactive artillery. Now, the number of casualties in the first day of war, claimed by Russians (~2000 killed civilians), the number of refugees to Russia, and the degree of destruction in Tskhinvali were all overinflated by Russian authorities. I can get very detailed on any of these, if you wish, but at this point I am only suggesting you to have a look on this satellite image, showing the degree of destruction of the villages in the war zone (http://test.kp.ru/prislali/1219587703_KP-_Tskhinvali_Damage.pdf) . It is clear that Tskhinvali, (which Russians claimed completely destroyed by Georgian “Grad”) is not that severely damaged, and the pocket damage it has confirms the claim of Tbilisi that they only fired at the areas from where they were shelled. Tskhinvali also is not a city per se, but a big village, with buildings of 3 and more stores mainly in the downtown. You might know this, especially since it seemed to me you assume in a subtle way being an expert (your phrase “But hey, Mr. Lucas is the expert here, perhaps he knows something I don’t?”), do you?
In fact Mr. Aliev is also not waiving away a military solution to Karabakh issue, judging by the military expenditures of his country. However, Mr. Lucas does have a point, given that Russia has supported Armenia in the conflict against Azerbaijan over the Karabakh, and continues to be Erevan’s strategic partner. Mr. Aliev has quite a lot of reasons to be worried given also the history (in 1920s, Red Army fist invaded Armenia and Azerbaijan, and then Georgia; today things might go the other way around).
Further, you give a definition of capitalism, but capitalism is not homogeneous. There is Russia’s capitalism, which gets privileges for its companies by threatening a government, and there is the capitalism of EU, where companies are mainly abiding by the rule of law, or if not then are being punished. Which capitalism do we have in the case of this deal? The tip of the iceberg of this story is that Gazprom has offered world price to buy all Azeri natural gas. It did before too, but Baku then refused. It is in Azerbaijan’s interest to have alternative transportation routs for its energy to Europe, and not depend only on Russian pipelines monopolized by Gazprom. We have the example of BP (I think) which learned the lesson, when it was not able to transport energy from Russia because it did not owe any transportation route. How comes that Baku so quickly has changed its mind on the Gazprom’s proposal and seem to give up a project of a national security importance for itself?
Europe has dealt with USA and CIA for years, in fact it was these deal that kept Europe prospering, since having the U.S. military umbrella Europeans did not have to spend a lot on defense. How dealing again with U.S. can hurt EU?
It is not true that Russian Federation has never halted energy supplies to EU. It did so few times, even though Putin made claims similar to yours. It did so against Balts, it did so against the Czech Republic recently (after it signed the AMD agreement with US), and it did so very few days ago, during the 1 September emergency EU meeting discussing the Russia’s invasion of Georgia. It is another question that Russia invoked technical reasons, which were anyway laughable. So do not confuse the USSR’s record with Russia’s one. I also don’t really understand your logic, when calling Georgia a puppet state. Isn’t that a sign of sovereignty to feely choose partners and allies? If Georgia chose US and EU as privileged partners, why do you imply it did so not according to its own judgment of what is in the best Georgian interest? I’ve spent almost a year in Georgia in various times, and Georgians are really considering the West as ally and see Russia as a threat. Also, how missiles in Poland can threaten Russia – can you elaborate on this? I could bring you few analyses by Russian military experts which recognize that the missiles in Poland and the radar in Czech Republic are no threat to Russia.
I cannot say anything about a claimed deal that the West promised to not expand NATO to the east, I only know Russians are claiming it. But they also claimed 2000 dead civilians in Tskhinvali after the first day of fighting, and they were proved to be misleading the world. However, I find it weird and against the spirit of the international law to refuse membership to countries that want it, and qualify for it. Especially since the former Soviet countries want to join NATO exactly because of Russia’s aggressive stance towards them. Even Finland is thinking about joining NATO, after Russia’s invaded Georgians. Moscow and others should understand, that it is not NATO that forces other countries to join, but it is other countries that literally beg NATO to accept them, because they see a major risk for their security, coming from Russia.
Your recommended book, I have no doubt, is an interesting piece of reading. However there are many books that provide different interpretations of events, and are also worth reading. And useful, since they allow a balanced view of the subject and the ability to understand the details.

Lu Xun said...

Dmitryi,

I believe you are reading what you want into what I wrote, rather than my actual text.

“At the time when USSR collapsed the newly independent states agreed to keep the borders they had while being soviet socialist republics. Russia did agree as well.” – and did anyone ask the Abkhaz or the Ossetians? They never agreed to being a part of Georgia the separate state, and asked for independence even before the fall of the USSR. Of course, Gamsakhurdia’s Georgia for Georgians slogans didn’t help either. There is nothing so noxious as petty small country nationalism—screaming about right of self-rule and sovereignty all the while trying to deny it to someone else! My claim here is that what’s good for goose is good for the gander—if independence is good for Kosovo, as the West claims, then it’s certainly good enough for the Abkhaz and South Ossetia. Now, my claim is not that Russia is fault-free—I’ve watched enough documentaries about Chechnya in enough languages to know better—but rather, the West uses an insidious form of double-speak.

“You allow errors in your other claims as well: first of all Georgian military did not have 300-mm reactive artillery”—except I made no such claim. Please reread what I wrote. I referred to 300 pieces of artillery. I don’t know how many mm they are nor do I care. According to Georgian sources [“Georgian artillery inflicted 'heavy losses' on Russians,” BBC Monitoring, August 25, 2008 translating Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra, August 25, 2008.] in which Georgian military officials have inadvertently revealed that they had brought heavy artillery into the conflict zone very early on, before the Russian intervention. For instance artillery brigade commanders told a Georgian newspaper that Georgian artillery used in the zone on August 7 included: “(a)t least 300 gun barrels of Georgian artillery.” That 300 gun barrels are what I referred to.

You wrote that “It is clear that Tskhinvali, is not that severely damaged,”—again, not according to what I read from various [non-Russian] sources. I am happy to supply you with the sources should you want.

You also wrote “Tskhinvali also is not a city per se, but a big village, with buildings of 3 and more stores mainly in the downtown”—and who cares what the size is? This is blatant bias on your part. To a Chinese, any city with less than 5 million people is a big villiage—size is relatively after all. Georgia has less people than any Chinese city I’ve ever seen. In fact, I can’t even name a Chinese city with so few people as the country of Georgia. So why are we even discussing this? Let Russia have the village that is Georgia. And if Tskhinvali is indeed a big village, then “at least 300 gun barrels of Georgian artillery” is definitely over-kill for an attempt to “restore constitutional order” as Saakashvilli called this botched operation.

“You might know this, especially since it seemed to me you assume in a subtle way being an expert”—actually, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just well read enough to not buy into the typical Western spiel on this issue.

“Europe has dealt with USA and CIA for years, in fact it was these deal that kept Europe prospering, since having the U.S. military umbrella Europeans did not have to spend a lot on defense. How dealing again with U.S. can hurt EU?”—how about being pressured to accept the Iraq Invasion, or being pressured to accept the mini-SDI system being installed in the Czech Republic (which does not seem to have popular suppor). Nothing is free in this world, and the US (as well as what Rumsfield called “New Europe”) is dragging the EU into a conflict that most do not want.

“It is not true that Russian Federation has never halted energy supplies to EU.”—again, you’re claiming something that I simply did not write. I wrote “In no time in the past has the USSR or the successor state of the Russian Federation halted energy delivery to Western Europe”. Again, please reread what I wrote. This is the now the third time you have claimed something which I didn’t write—so please read what I wrote carefully. I said Western Europe, and said nothing about the Balts or the Czech. Your anti-Russian bias is really showing here.

“Also, how missiles in Poland can threaten Russia – can you elaborate on this?”—this is because the missile defense system enables a decapitating first strike by neutralizing MAD. “I could bring you few analyses by Russian military experts which recognize that the missiles in Poland and the radar in Czech Republic are no threat to Russia.”—oh really? Stratfor calls the system a mini-SDI (Google for Stratfor and Missle Defense) an attempt to “solidify for the U.S. military the same dominance of space that it now enjoys on the planet’s blue water”. There are plenty of research papers on BMD from non-Russian sources on this topic—just Google for it.

“I cannot say anything about a claimed deal that the West promised to not expand NATO to the east, I only know Russians are claiming it.”—since I generally do not read Russian news sources except in translation, I can tell you categorically that this is false. Try Googling for Stephen Cohen’s articles in The Nation.

I’m not going to bother replying to your claims about Russian claims being false. I will say this, while I have no doubt that Russia tries to spin its case, Georgian propaganda has been absolutely over the top, for example even using a JPM investor conference to sell its case. But my axe to grind against the typical Anglo-American view, and Mr. Lucas’ in particular has less to do with who is right (neither, though in this case Russia is more in the right than Georgia), but rather that Mr. Lucas is being hypocritical.

You are obviously of Eastern European descent, and obviously very anti-Russian. I won’t bother to comment on this case further. From my experience, most Eastern Europeans are no less prone to anti-Russian propaganda espoused by their governments than a typical Nashi member.

JP said...

Dimitry

Even so, suggesting I might be in the pay of Russia is an attempt to discredit me because you don't like what I write. It isn't the kind of behaviour I'd expect from a careful analyst. It is something else.

You can take Russia out of the debate, on this one. Western democracies behaving badly can't lecture. If they do, they can't lecture in an effective way. It doesn't matter who the audience is. If you are allowing Israel to illegally occupy territory or breaking up Serbia or crossing borders to shoot and kill, that's new rules. It does not matter if it is in the interests of democracy. That's a fallacious argument. Our intentions are good, so we can get away with it. If you have a government behaving like that in the international level, what is to stop it from changing the rules in the domestic realm so that it can promote the 'security' of its people.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@ Lu Xun

I disagree with your claim that I am reading selectively from your text. While partially it was a question of not fully understanding your point (with 300 artillery pieces, which was partially your fault because usually artillery is counted by military units, type and caliber and not pieces) it is also the fact that I disagree with the utility and correctness of your arguments.

Now, it is your choice whether to comment further or not, but I do feel it necessary write my view, in contrast to yours. You printed a rhetoric question whether anyone asked Abkhazians and Ossetians after the collapse of the Soviet Union if they wanted to stay part of Georgia. Perhaps this is a useless point in our discussion, because the arrangement was to keep the republics as they were, to avoid disintegration of Russia, which has got more non-Russian territorial structures than there are flees on a homeless dog. I would assume it was in Russia’s own interest, it was an accepted deal, it is how the international system works and you could probably hear more from an expert in international law on the principles of sovereignty, right to self-determination, territorial integrity and other notions and how they are used.

Further, there is sufficient evidence showing that the post-Soviet conflicts were fomented, supported and used initially by the Soviet Union communist leadership to stop republics from leaving USSR, then by Russia, to maintain its control over the former satellites. This suggests there is more in the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflict than just the “mad Gamsakhurdia” argument. The same goes about the slogan “Georgia for Georgians” – this is a standard product of the Soviet propagandist machine, you can find very similar things in many conflicts where Soviet Union/Russia was involved. It mostly appeared in the Russian media describing the Russian view of the conflicts – i.e. in Moldova there was a similar one, which sounds very well in Russian, but does not have an analogy in Moldovan/Romanian language. These were expressions mostly created by Russians in Russian language, and were used to scare and antagonize the Russian audience.

Now you may claim that I’m making it up, and that shows my bias, however that is my side of the story and you are free to accept or reject it. My core point here is that these conflicts are very much insufficiently studied in the West, carrying many unknowns, and given the massive coverage of the conflicts by Russia, obviously presenting its story, this is what mainly goes into the open world.

Your comparison of Kosovo with South Ossetia and Abkhazia is based on the idea that the conflicts and their developments were identical. Because you can only treat two events in the same way if they are identical, you respond to two similar crimes by assigning a similar punishment, and you assign different punishment to crimes that are different. Do you agree? If you follow the other maybe too lengthy comments of mine you could find there that we’ve already went through many of your points.

But I do want to get back to your use of 300 artillery pieces argument. I will quote you, so that you will not accuse me again of cherry picking your words – “I am certain Mr. Aliyev entertains no plans to bomb a city with large numbers of Russian civilians with 300 rocket launchers.” Your first of all insist these were 300 rocket launchers, which is wrong, as you have made it clear yourself in the second comment, listing the type of artillery used by Georgians – actually few of it was rocket artillery, while the majority of it was tube artillery with a higher precision capability. Second, you do claim that Georgians used these amount of artillery to bomb a city (meaning I would guess Tskhinvali), which is again very much wrong. I did a search of the BBC Monitoring article that you referred to as your source, and there is nothing there confirming that artillery was used to bomb the city. To the contrary – it is crystal clear that Georgians insisted they bombed the columns of Russian military equipment (tanks, APCs, vehicles)ON THE ROAD, that were moving from the Rocky Tunnel towards the city, using people deployed in the vicinity to correct fire through “advanced optical and laser devices” – see the full original article (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/chechnya-sl/message/55785).

On the degree of damage that Tskhinvali suffered – I already provided you with a satellite image, showing the degree of destruction in the city. You however disregarded my evidence,alike my argument showing it supports the Georgian version that they did not target specifically the city (but only the areas that were used to fire upon them and surrounding Georgian villages). TO me it looks like you were selectively picking sources – why don’t you analyze both sides and see how substantiated they are? Russians claimed the city was completely destroyed, which is not what the image shows, taken after Russians controlled the city. You should also consider the fact that to kick Georgians out of Tskhinvali, Ossetians and Russians have also bombed it, using tanks, aviation and heavy artillery. I would love to see your sources on the destruction of the city, since my own investigation so far has proved that Russian mainstream media was very dishonestly misguiding their readers, a point confirmed by some Russian reporters that visited the city.

In your paragraph where you show how big are Chinese cities you again use a faulted line of 300 pieces of artillery shelling the city. See above, where I disprove this with the original article you referred to. Did you read it before, on you’ve built your judgment based on some other piece referring to this article?

As such I cannot see anyway how I am biased by pointing out that Tskhinvali is in fact a big village (which is true)– what is my bias? And I wrote this, in case you have seen videos of few destroyed 3-5 stores buildings in Tskhivali, that Russian media broadcast largely, every time the same buildings. If you’ve seen such videos than you might ask yourself why they don’t show larger views of the city and more evidence of destruction?

"...or being pressured to accept the mini-SDI system being installed in the Czech Republic..." Did anyone from the Czech government or people involved in these negotiations tell you that they were pressed to accept the ABM elements on their soil? Did it appear in the media? Why then do you say US pressured them? BTW, I did follow your suggestion, and Googled for Stratfor and Missile Defense.
My efforts were rewarded with this interesting piece that say things very differently from those you insist upon (http://www.stratfor.com/russia_using_missile_defense_geopolitical_lever). Freedman’s view (which I fully share) is that Russia is not as much endangered by US missiles in Poland, as it is by a US presence there. In retrospect, that would not allow Russia to take over Poland again (either trough direct or indirect aggression), but this is already my point. Stratfor’s article also does argue that a MAD principle with Russia will not be violated by these pity interceptors. Just think how 10 interceptors can jeopardize Russia’s strike capabilities of hundreds of missiles, many launched from submarines? So your argument again is faulted.

However I realized you meant a different article, so I did another search (http://www.stratfor.com/u_s_real_reason_behind_ballistic_missile_defense). The author here insisted that the system in Poland and Czech Republic are a “rudimentary technological precursor to a series of systems that are truly the technological beginnings of the full-fledged national missile defense shield”. I don’t see how anything rudimentary might be challenging the Russian ability to support the MAD principle. Especially that Russians don’t oppose the idea of that system per se, but are against its deployment to its former Warsaw Pact satellites territories. In my view your argument is weak, and if you want I can provide you some analysis of the Russian military analysts recognizing that system is not threatening Russia.

I could not find the specific article of Stephen Cohen that you mentioned. However, even if there was such an agreement, I am sure it implied obligations on both sides. Russia, I am mostly sure, was to refrain from trying to get back control over the former Soviet republics or any aggressive acts against them. Since Russia put a lot of effort into attempting to control its former satellites, they tried to preserve their independence, looking for protection, and turned to NATO. So instead of protesting why NATO accepts these countries one better think why they are afraid of Russia, and what it is that Russia cannot accept having friendly relations with its neighbors.

I won’t bother providing a detailed response to your unsubstantiated claim that “Russia was more in right than Georgia”. It is just an empty declaration. However, ask yourself, in case Russia starts to give out passports to the people in the Chinese provinces where Uzbeks are fighting for independence, and then supports an armed rebellion there, claiming it has rights to defend the Russian citizens – would you then believe that Russia has rightful claims against China? How different would be this theoretic scenario from Georgia's one?

You are right that I am of East European descent, but you are wrong that I am anti-Russian. I just don’t agree the foreign policy of Russia against ex-soviet republics is a right thing, and is in accordance with the international law. Being not sure what your last sentence involving Nashi members was meant to say, I can tell you that Nashi is a pro-Kremlin organization, very Russian-chauvinist. They don’t support anti-Russian propaganda, and my government actually does not promote anti-Russian rhetoric for quite a while. On the other side, there are many East Europeans (in Ukraine, Moldova) that are actually very pro-Russian, so your categorization is again far from being correct. In fact it follows the same pattern of erroneous analysis that most of your counterarguments do.

One more thing – in my analysis of events, I use lots of Russian-language resources. It so much useful and correct to read the initial sources (especially if you find different opinions) than to judge a very complex issue by reading a secondary source, which is also a translation (making it even worse).

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@ JP
No, suggesting you might be in the pay of Kremlin has nothing to do with my disagreement of your point (I don't suggest the same about Lu Xun or others), but instead with your language (expressions) and style of debate, that resembles very much what I see everyday in the Russian governmental media. Well, I will not suggest it anymore, and I apologize if this offended you.

I see your point on the need to play be the rules, albeit by international law. I agree with you, but I do say there is a need to adopt the international law to new threats and challenges, as well to the new realities. Of course, I don't mean accepting the Russian project of a new international security system, which should by their design basically divide the world into areas of "responsibility" and legalize the control of bigger powers over them.

Thanks for the interesting debate.

Lu Xun said...

Dima,

Let me start by stating that none of what I'm arguing has anything to do with my personal feelings on the Georgian situation. I personally think that 1) this whole episode was idiotic and was bad news for everyone involved, 2) Kosovo legally should NOT be independent, and nor should Abkhazia or South Ossetia, but 3) Georgia and the US started this stupid conflict and deserve most of the blame. 4) Let's hope this can be resolved peacefully, but neocons wanting Full Spectrum Dominance and shills like Mr. Lucas certainly doesn't help. 5) It's not China's business, so I'm glad they pretty much keep quiet and try to distance themselves from this whole mess.

Now, regarding South Ossetia... I do think you're being utterly pedantic in arguing about the type of artillery used et al. I don't care if Georgia used 300 pieces of mortars or 300 howitzers or whatever, the fact of the matter is they started the military offensive, with probably the explicit backing of the US, and got their ass kicked. Thus, Georgia started this.

See Stratfor's commentary:
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/russo_georgian_war_and_balance_power

Nor am I going to look a sat images, since I am not an expert satellite image interpreter. And frankly, without an independent third party checking provenance, it proves nothing.

I also disagree with your assesment about the amount of damage caused by the Georgian military vs the Russian military et al. (See attachment at the end.)

Since I discount equally Western mass media as well as Russian media, I can only rely on independent sources like Stratfor, RGE Monitor, the various discussions on Johnson's list et al.

In addition, I didn't start this discussion about the size or the amount of damage caused by the Georgians. NOR DO I CARE! My point was that Mr. Lucas was being one-sided--as are you--and hypocritical in his overly negative assessment of Russia.

As Georgia vs Russia and who started this, I'm going to quote an entire piece from Johnson's list--did I double check each and every piece of info? No, but I did check some of the background info, and they jive. Furthermore, this guy, unlike you, is a serious American researcher with no axes to grind.

Apropos, my point originally (mistyped) was that many people from Europe are as brain-washed by the propoganda from their own governments as any nashi member--i.e., many young Poles with a political view point on Russia are just as biased as a typical nashi member, just in the opposite direction.

---

GEORGIA’S PROPAGANDA WAR
By Gordon M. Hahn
[A more complete report with detailed sources is available from Gordon Hahn] Dr. Gordon M. Hahn - Senior Researcher, Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program and Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate School of International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group; and Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View ­ Russia Media Watch, www.russiaotherpointsofview.com. Dr Hahn is author of two well-received books, Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), and numerous articles on Russian politics.

The five-day Georgian-Russian saw Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and other Georgian officials waging an aggressive propaganda campaign and, in many ways, a disinformation war in the Western mass media. This media offensive was the result either of a carefully planned disinformation war or a rush by Western governments, mainstream media, and think tanks to get the Georgians’ side of the story and their side only. Either way, the Georgians were able to wage an effective and constant barrage of propaganda and disinformation against the Russians.

In some 40 appearances in the Western media and at Western think tanks, Georgian President Mikheil Saakasahvili and his ministers made numerous statements in their effort to convince the West that it was obliged to defend Tbilisi from Russia’s incursion. The following is a review of Georgia’s official version of events and a comparison of their claims with the facts as we know them as of late August and early September 2008.

RUSSIAN PLANNED WAR AND ATTACKED FIRST

CLAIM: President Saakashvili and other Georgian officials repeatedly accused Russia of undertaking a ``well-planned invasion'' of Georgia and attacked first in order to sieze the country and remove him from power. [Mikheil Saakashvili, “Russia's War Is The West's Challenge,” Washington Post, August 14, 2008 and CNN interview with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, CNN News, 8 August 2008, www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/08/08/intv.saakashvili.cnn?iref=videosearch.]

FACT: Both sides planned for war as a
contingency. They both held maneuvers in late July, used them to move forces and equipment near
(Russian) or into (Georgian) the conflict zone, and ratcheted up the confrontation from the usual summertime tit-for-tat sniper and small arms fire to mortars to light and then heavy artillery until approximately midnight August 7-8 when Georgian forces opened up a massive heavy artillery barrage and sent at least two battalions into South Ossetia’s capitol of Tskhinvali. Russian forces were ready and responded with a full-scale invasion and air war.

Georgian military officials have inadvertently revealed that they had brought heavy artillery into the conflict zone very early on. For instance artillery brigade commanders told a Georgian newspaper that Georgian artillery used in the zone on August 7 included: “(a)t least 300 gun barrels of Georgian artillery.” Among these
were: “the 203-mm Pion systems, the 160-mm Israeli-made GRADLAR multiple rocket launchers, the 152-mm Akatsiya, Giatsint and Dana self-propelled guns, the 122-mm Grad and RM-70 multiple rocket launchers, as well as the D-30 and Msta howitzers of the infantry brigades.”
[“Georgian artillery inflicted 'heavy losses' on Russians,” BBC Monitoring, August 25, 2008 translating Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra, August 25, 2008.] It takes many days if not weeks to bring in the kind of heavy artillery about which the commander is talking into or near the conflict zone through the mountainous terrain around South Ossetia from Georgian army bases in Tbilisi, Senaki or Gori.

THE RUSSIANS BROKE SAAKASHVILI’S AUGUST 7 CEASEFIRE

CLAIM: Saakashvili claims the Russians broke his late afternoon August 7 ceasefire.

FACT: In fact, no cessation of fire occurred; both sides continued with more sporadic fire.
Moreover, as Saakashvili was declaring his ceasefire, Georgia began moving reinforcements to the conflict zone to back up the two battalions and materiel’ they had already positioned there in violation of the ceasefire agreement. [Peter Finn “A Two-Sided Descent into Full-Scale War,”
The Washington Post, August 17, 2008, p. A1.]

GEORGIAN FORCES OCCUPIED ALMOST ALL OF SOUTH OSSETIA

CLAIM: As Russian and Ossetian forces engaged the Georgian army on August 8, Saakashvili claimed:
“The Georgian government’s forces, according to information as of 21:00, completely control the entire territory of South Ossetia except the highland settlements of Dzhava.” [“Saakashvili:
voiska Gruzii kontroliruet vsyu territoriyu Yuzhnoi Ossetii,” KavkazMemo.ru, 8 August 2008, www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/printnews/news/id/1226844.html.]

FACT: In fact, Georgian troops never even controlled all of Tskhinvali and began withdrawing from there at 20:30 and only held a slice of the city in the south as Russian troops began to enter it. [Timeline from the Georgian Foreign Ministry, accessed 28 August 2008, www.mfa.gov.ge/index.php?lang_id=ENG&sec_id=461&info_id=7484p]

CONTACTS WITH RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES

CLAIM: In his August 14 Washington Post article, Saakashvili stated: “Our repeated attempts to contact senior Russian leaders were rebuffed.
Russia's foreign ministry even denied receiving our notice of cease-fire hours after it was officially -- and very publicly -- delivered.
This was just one of many cynical ploys to deceive the world and justify further attacks.”
[Saakashvili, “Russia's War Is The West's Challenge”] The Georgian president was reiterating a claim he made in his televised address to the Georgian people on August 7, when he Saakashvili stated that the Georgian authorities had not been in touch with Vladimir Putin or other Russian authorities “for days.”
[CNN interview with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, CNN News, 8 August 2008, www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/08/08/intv.saakashvili.cnn?iref=videosearch.]


FACT: On the next day in his television address to the Georgian people Saakashvili said: “We have been in constant contact with the leadership of the local Russian peacekeeping forces. Several hours ago, they told us that they have completely lost control over the actions of the separatists.… We are in constant contact with the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the ministry tells us Russia is trying to stop the separatists from engaging in armed action, but without any success.”
[“Sakashvili’s Televised Address on S. Ossetia,”
Civil Georgia, 7 August 2008, 21:45, www.civil.ge.]

HOW MANY RUSSIAN TANKS AND ARMOURED VEHICLES?

CLAIM: At an August 18 Heritage Foundation conference ‘The Russia-Georgian War: A Challenge to the U.S. and the World’ Georgian Ambassador to the US Vasil Sikharulidze stated that “1,200 tanks and 15,000 soldiers” entered Georgia “within 12 hours” bringing the number of Russian troops in all of Georgia to 25,000 as of August 18. Georgian Minister for Reintegration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia Temuri Yakobashvili told the conference by video phone that 1,200 tanks and armored personnel carriers entered Georgia in the first 48 hours of the Russian incursion. [Transcript of a Heritage Foundation Forum on the Russian-Georgian War “A Challenge for the U.S. and the World,” Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, August 18, 2008, Federal News Service, August 18, 2008.] Three weeks after the war Yakobashvili also escalated his figures to “2,000 tanks.” [Nikolaus von Twickel, “Theories Swirl About War's Beginning,” The Moscow Times, August 28, 2008.]

FACT: No independent source has confirmed the deployment of such a large Russian invasion force. The respected Janes’ Defence Weekly reported that in fact the “invasion force consisted of 15,000 and 150 tanks and heavy self-propelled artillery pieces.” [Giragosian, “Georgian planning flaws led to campaign failure.”]

RUSSIA’S 3,000 ARMORED VEHICLES AND 80,OOO TROOPS

CLAIM: On August 24, Saakashvili claimed that the Russian military operation “planned for many months" brought “80,000 servicemen and mercenaries" and "about 3,000 armored vehicles"
into Georgia. [“President says 80,000 Russian soldiers, 3,000 armored vehicles invaded Georgia,” BBC Monitoring, August 24, 2008 citing Channel 1, Tbilisi, August 24, 2008, 1600 GMT.]

FACT: Such a deployment of equipment would mean that Russia’s entire 58th Army (and then some) was deployed from its jihad-plagued North Caucasus to South Ossetia. No other source has made such a claim.

RUSSIAN ATROCITIES

CLAIM: In his August 18 Washington Post article, Saakashvili wrote: “Within 24 hours of Russian forces of “brutally purging Georgian villages in South Ossetia, raping women and executing men.”
[Saakashvili, “Russia's War Is The West's Challenge”] On the same day as well, Saakashvili stated in a CNN interview that Russian planes were “specifically targeting the civilian population, and we have scores of wounded and dead among the civilian population all around the country, not so much in the conflict area.” [CNN interview with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, CNN News, 8 August 2008, www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/08/08/intv.saakashvili.cnn?iref=videosearch.]
At an August 12 press conference, Saakashvili asserted that despite a ceasefire the Russians were continuing to attack “purely civilian targets.” [“’Georgian Will Never Surrender’,” CNN News, 12 August 2008, www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/08/12/sot.georgia.saakashvili.surrender.itn?iref=videosearch.]
In an August 13 press conference, Saakashvili
stated: “Russian tanks are attacking the town of Gori and rampaging through the town…The worst kind of marauding I ever could imagine. There was a rampage through Georgian-controlled villages of South Ossetia and through upper Abkhazia ­ Kodori, and scores of people, according to the reports which we cannot totally confirm… Internment camps were set up, and we are getting reports of large-scale violation of human rights of the worst case…What we are seeing in the area is classical Balkan-type and World war II-type ethnic cleansing and purification campaigns.
…(T)he worst kind of atrocities are being committed in my country against my people of all ethnic groups.” [“Tensions Still High in Georgia,” CNN News, 13 August 2008, www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/08/13/sot.georgia.presser.saakashvili.ap?iref=videosearch.]
Minister Yakobashvili told the Heritage Foundation that Russian forces had engaged in “ethnic cleansing” and inflicted “enormous atrocities, unbelievable suffering” on the Georgian population. [Transcript of a Heritage Foundation Forum on the Russian-Georgian War “A Challenge for the U.S. and the World,” Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, August 18, 2008, Federal News Service, August 18, 2008.]

FACT: As of two weeks after hostilities ended no campaign of ethnic cleansing or atrocities and no internment camps have been found. There have been no reports of Russians “raping women and executing men,” as Saakashvili claimed. There were later reports of destruction and perhaps a few murders committed by Chechen battalions (irresponsibly sent by Moscow to fight on its
behalf) and Ossetian militiamen. The alleged large scale killing, raping and internment camps have not been mentioned again by Saakashvili or any other Georgian official. Human Rights Watch has reported one occasion on which Russian air forces appear to have used of cluster bombs, banned by international convention. The Georgian side has stated a official civilian death toll among Georgians of 69 as of August 25 with several hundred civilians wounded. [“Senior MP:
215 Killed in Conflict,” Civil.ge, 19 August 2008, 23:05 www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=19215&search=civilians%20killed]
This hardly amounts to the massive Russian atrocities being claimed by Tbilisi. Also, there are reports of rather good behavior on the part of Russian soldiers. [See Saba Tsitsikhashvili, “The Ramifications of the Ten-Day Blockade of Georgia,” HumanRights.ge, 27 August 2008, www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=article&id=3057&lang=en.]
As the respected military studies journal Janes’
Defence Weekly reported on August 15, it was the Georgian army that targeted the residential capitol of South Ossetia with an indiscriminate, all night artillery barrage on 7-8 August with “notoriously imprecise” truck-borne GRAD missiles. [Richard Giragosian, “Georgian planning flaws led to campaign failure,” Janes’ Defence Weekly, August 15, 2008 in Johnson’s Russia List, #152, August 19, 2008, www.cdi.org/russia/johnsonwww.org]

THE RUSSIANS, NOT THE GEORGIANS DESTROYED TSKHINVALI

CLAIM: On August 13, Saakashvili told a press conference that Russian aerial bombardment, not Georgian artillery fire, “leveled the town of Tskhinvali.” [“Tensions Still High in Georgia,”
CNN News, 13 August 2008,
www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/08/13/sot.georgia.presser.saakashvili.ap?iref=videosearch.]

FACT: Every independent source reports that Gerogian artillery bombarded Tskhinvali for twelve hours through th night of August 7-8.
Saakashvili is the only person to claim that Georgia did not bomb Tskhinvali and that the Russians caused all or most of the damage.

RUSSIAN DESTRUCTION OF GEORGIAN CIVILIAN INFRASTRUCTURE

CLAIM: Saakashvili, as we have seen, accused Russia of destroying civilian infrastructure. His underlings, Ambassador Sikhuralidze and Minister Yakobashvili ministers told the West that Russian forces were systematically destroying Georgia’s civilian infrastructure, including burning its forests and national parks and blowing up bridges to sever Georgia from its neighbors, Armeina and Azerbaijan. [Transcript of a Heritage Foundation Forum on the Russian-Georgian War.]

FACT: Reporters on the scene have reported a very different story: “In west Georgia, few signs of damage by Russia” shows, the Russians in fact “used force minimally” and “avoided any inadvertent high-profile attacks on civilian targets.” “Early in the conflict, Georgian officials in Tbilisi warned of an impending disaster as Russian tanks from Abkhazia massed at Zugdidi's edge. But residents said there had been little or no damage to their town.” Even Russia’s air attacks on the port of Poti destroyed the military side of the port but left the civilian side intact. [Borzou Daraghi, “In west Georgia, few signs of damage by Russia,” Los Angeles Times, August19, 2008.] Regarding the torching of Georgian forests, a Georgian newspaper noted that the Russian military set fire to forests during the occupation of Kartli because it was searching for Georgian artillery weapons that Georgian artillerymen hid there during the Georgian army’s retreat; a fact left out Minister Yakobashvili’s comments. At least two major bridges were destroyed by Georgian forces in targeting Russians making crossings. [“Georgian artillery inflicted 'heavy losses' on Russians,” BBC Monitoring, August 25, 2008 translating Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra, August 25, 2008; Roman Anin, “Kto v sopagakh ­ tot i srochnik. Ikh zdes’
polno,” Novaya gazeta, No. 62, 25 August 2008.]

RUSSIAN TROOPS ENCIRCLING TBILISI

CLAIM: On Wednesday, August 13, Saakashvili said in a CNN interview that Russian troops were “circling,” “closing on” and planning to capture the Georgian capitol, Tbilisi, and install a puppet government. [See Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili, “Georgian president's Russia claims raise eyebrows,” Associated Press, 13 August 2008, 8:12.]

FACT: The Russians undertook no military operations against the Georgian capitol throughout the five-day war.

RUSSIA WILL BOMB TBILISI DEMONSTRATION

CLAIM: On August 12 Saakashvili mentioned and therefore gave credence to supposed rumors that Russia would bomb the August 12 rally in Tbilisi.
[Dzhindzhikhashvili, “Georgian president's Russia claims raise eyebrows.”]

FACT: There was no Russian bombing of Tbilisi throughout the war.

RUSSIA BOMBING THE BAKU-TBILISI-CEYHAN OIL PIPELINE

CLAIM: Minister Yakobashvili tried to pique American fears that Russian forces sought to interdict the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline by saying that the Russians had repeatedly tried to bomb it. [Transcript of a Heritage Foundation Forum on the Russian-Georgian War.]

FACT: A Russian force that included tens of sophisticated fighter jets and, according to the Georgians’ own statements, some 1,200-3,000 tanks and armored personnel carriers would have been able to bomb a pipeline and much else in the course of five days if it had wanted to.

CYBER WAR

CLAIM: Minister Yakobashvili and other Georgian officials claimed that Russian authorities initiated a large-scale cyber-attack on Georgian government websities before and during the war.
[Transcript of a Heritage Foundation Forum on the Russian-Georgian War.]

FACT: Experts on cyber warfare have grave doubts that the Russian military or intelligence agencies conducted cyber warfare against Georgia.
They argue that the suspected attacks were consistent with independent hacker networks that hit Georgian pornography and gambling websitas part of an extortion racket. Moreover, these attacks were only launched after Georgian forces had already engaged Russia forces, suggesting that they were either attacks by independents or that the Russians were not ready for war, since cyberwarfare is a part of the Russian arsenal.
[Shaun Waterman, “Analysis: Russia-Georgia cyberwar doubted,” United Press International, August 18, 2008.] On August 5 Georgian hackers targeted SOTR (South Ossetia Television and
Radio) after it reported that Tbilisi was covering up the killing of 29 Georgian servicemen during an exchange of fire between Ossetian and Georgian forces on August 1-2. [Osetinskie saity atakovany khakerami posle publikatsii o tainykh pokhoronakh gruzinskikh soldat,” Regnum.ru, 5 August 2008, www.regnum.ru-news/1036460.html.]

U.S. IS TAKING OVER GEORGIA’S PORT AND AIRPORTS

CLAIM: On August 10 Saakashvili claimed on Georgian national television that the arrival of U.S. military cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid meant that “Georgia's ports and airports will be taken under the control of the U.S. Defense Department.” [Dzhindzhikhashvili, “Georgian president's Russia claims raise eyebrows.”]

FACT: The U.S. Defense Department Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell immediately refuted this:
“We have no need, nor do we intend to take over any Georgian air or seaport to deliver humanitarian aid. ... We have no designs on taking control of any Georgian facility.”
[Dzhindzhikhashvili, “Georgian president's Russia claims raise eyebrows.”]The U.S. never did so.

RUSSIA HAS LOST MORE PLANES THAN IN ANY CONFLICT IN ITS HISTORY

CLAIM: In an August 13 television address Saakashvili said, “Russia has lost more airplanes than in any conflict of this scale since 1939.”
[Dzhindzhikhashvili, “Georgian president's Russia claims raise eyebrows.”]

FACT: The entire Soviet air force was destroyed in the first days of Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, and in the present war Russia is claiming the loss of four airplanes.

CONCLUSION

American support for Georgia in the present crisis is based in part on the belief that Russia is to be blame for instigating this war. Much of this belief is founded on Saakashvili’s and other Geoergian officials’ statements to American officials like the State Department’s Matthew Bryza. Western publics and decisionmakers should not take the statements of Georgian officials regarding this war or much of anything else at face value. They should think twice and then thrice about whether backing President Saakashvili, his aspirations for Georgian membership in NATO, and the resulting ‘hot peace’
with Moscow are in the West’s interests.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

Dear Lu Xun:
I would like to start my another reply to you by agreeing with your point 1 and 2, partially with 4, and fully with 5. To your number 3, I should tell you the following. While you accused me of being anti-Russia, I suddenly realized reading that point that you judged the whole affair not through the lenses of facts and pragmatic assessment but through a bitter anti-Americanism. To you, Russia’s invasion of Georgia was not a violation of international law, but a long awaited blow to the United States.
You say “Georgia and the US started this stupid conflict and deserve most of the blame”. However you don’t have evidence of U.S. direct involvement into the conflict, except the fact that it has trained Georgian military in the framework of an anti-terrorism program. On the other side, I already pointed out to you that it was not Georgia who started, because this conflict is not similar to many other separatist conflicts, but it is an engineered one, having its roots back in the times when Soviet Union was disintegrating and was trying heavily to extend its existence. You don’t buy this, and I can only suggest once again studying the conflict more thorough and only then judge it.
Your mistake, in my view, is that you ignore details, without which is impossible to read the whole picture. The type of artillery is important, because it can prove whether Georgians could have reached the road on which Russian military were coming to attack them, or if they could have only hit the city, and not further. It also shows if they had the capacity of precise strikes, which is important in judging their claims, and Russia’s claims, deciding who the biggest liar is. In your second paragraph you already say “with probably the explicit backing of the US” which goes against your straight accusation few sentences before. Let’s agree to not say things we are not sure about, or that we cannot back with uncontested evidence.
I look at the whole affair very simple and effectively. I only look at the incontestable facts, when judging who is guilty. It is a hard fact that Russia has violated the UN Charter (Chapter VI, art. 33, 36, 37), and many UN SC resolutions on the conflict. It did not even have a UN mandate to do peacekeeping in South Ossetia, Moscow it has basically authorized itself, through the CIS, which it dominates. Why Russia did not ask for a mandate for peace enforcement at the UN, even as a formality? Not, Georgia – according to the international law, it was its own region, its territory, over which it had sovereignty. The South Ossetian armed forces backed by Russian military under the disguise of peacekeepers were basically violating Georgian laws. What Georgia did, attacking these military people in Tskhinvali was its legitimate attempt to regain control over its territory. I believe no country would contest the right of another country to fight armed rebels on its territory, and having the ability will do itself this, when confronted with armed rebels.
There were accusations by Russia that Georgia has killed during the first day around 2000 civilians, which was disproved by the Russian office of Human Rights Watch later. The Russian accusations of genocide were also not taken seriously by anyone informed, and it was a weak point since Russia did not want to allow international investigators deployed to the region to look into this case. I already wrote a detailed account on this in my previous posts while talking to JP.
On you suggested Stratfor article- interesting piece, proving my point that there was more than usual intense shelling of Georgian villages by South Ossetians, and that Russians were actually waiting for Georgians to attack. What else – again showing that Americans were involved? It proves again that you look at this case through the lenses of your anti-American feelings. Btw, US has also misread the Iraq intentions to invade Kuwait, according to many analysts, even though they did have images of troops at the border. It is useful to know that on August 2nd Russia has finished a major military exercise just to the north of South Ossetia, involving some 10,000 personnel, many armored vehicles and aircrafts.
On the satellite images – it was not prepared by Americans, but by the UN Institute for Training and Research Operational Satellite Applications Program. It is a routine job that they do with the conflicts to help development agencies. And the third party confirmation – I supported the link with references to Russian journalists in Tskhinvali as well as HRW people supporting generally what that image suggests.
Talking about independent sources – they also use BBC, CNN and many other open source information. An earlier article of mine went on Johnson’s list, they give you different opinions, to ensure a balanced coverage, allowing for the reader to do the analysis and assessment.
Actually on your posted article: I did find it myself, but as always I like to work with the very initial sources. That is why I gave you the link to the article it referred to, so that you see there is no single word there that Georgians shelled Tskhivali.
And honestly, it will take quite a long writing, but I can tear apart into pieces this analysis of Mr. Gordon M. Hahn. He might be a renown expert and I am not yet (my time will come), but he is human, and not secure from errors and mistakes. Besides, I have the advantage of reading so many Russian articles by journalists who were present in the region during the war, both with Russian military and on the Georgian side (primary sources). While they did provide different points of view, even those who were promoting the Russian point do provide valuable information, like the length of the Russian military column going to Tskhinvali (if I remember correctly it was around 10 km), how Georgians bombed that column and severely wounded the commander of the 58th Army (the journalist that wrote about it later in the day was kicked out of the Russian army premises during the night, a young girl in a destroyed city), how to the north of Tskhinvali there were reactive artillery firing at the city, while there did not belong to Georgians, because they were at the south, and many other things. I follow prestigious in Russia resources like Kommersant, Grani.ru, Gazeta.ru, Eho Moskvy, which were the most balanced in covering the war. Mr. Gordon only refers to some sources, but first of all what was the source of information of these sources of Gordon? Why Mr. Gordon picked up these sources and not others? I can go point by point and show his errors. At this moment I’ll point to two of them:
On his first claim and facts – while he refers to an article (weekly Kviris Palitra, August 25, I provided the link in my previous response), he basically provides a inaccurate assessment of it, because he quotes the article on the type of artillery that Georgians used, but in conclusion says it was brought “into the conflict zone very early on”, and that “It takes many days if not weeks to bring in the kind of heavy artillery about which the commander is talking into or near the conflict zone through the mountainous terrain around South Ossetia from Georgian army bases in Tbilisi, Senaki or Gori”, which is nonsense. I used to be a professional military officer, and I spent on various assignments with OSCE around a year in Georgia. It is around 25 km from Gori to Tshkinvali, and does it takes many days or weeks to send an artillery brigade over this distance? Such a column would move on march with the speed of 20-40 km/h, depending on the road and visibility, and considering the size of Georgia it takes hours to get these troops to the vicinity of Tskhinvali from Tbilisi or Gori. Actually the Independent Artillery Brigade is based in Akhalitsihe, which is around 170 km to the south of Tbilisi. It takes another 100 km to reach Tskhinvali from the Georgian capital, which makes a total of 270 km. Marching with 40km/h on the Military Highway it would take probably some 8-10 hours. I just show what a poor research has Mr. Gordon done, given that he not only provided a wrong assessment of the march time for a column of military vehicles, but also was not able to get the right base name for the artillery brigade, which is available in open sources. I assume a part of the artillery was pre-deployed to Gori, but not 300 pieces, given the whole Georgian artillery makes up for only 300-350 heavy and medium artillery pieces (not including the 82-mm mortars which are used by their infantry). That means many of them should have been deployed from Akhaltsihe.
His claim on the contact with the Russian senior officials has also many mistakes. In fact even Russian journalist reported on the contacts that Georgian leadership had with the Russian Ambassador to Georgia, and asked his assistance to get Tskhinvali ceasing the fire (Yulia Latynina reveals an interesting story how Russian ambassador in Georgia according to her sources, did not pick up the phone, when he was invited to go to Tskhinvali and convince South Ossetians stop the artillery fire. While I did not have a chance to confirm this one through other sources, it does provide some food for thought). They were in contact with Moscow as well, and with the Russian Permanent Representative to UN, as the latter himself recognized in his interviews given at the UN HQ.
My favorite one, which shows how superficially Mr. Gordon has approached the task of writing his piece (perhaps the audience is not very sophisticated and can swallow it?). He insists Georgians were wrong in the evaluation of Russian forces sent into Georgia. While after I did a very quick investigation (few minutes) I do agree that Russia did not bring 2000 tanks into Georgia, I still believe Mr. Gordon’s accounts are also misguiding. One also has to understand that to the civilian president Saakashvili, armored vehicles, including APCs, self-propelled artillery pieces may seem like tanks. But, I want to bring to your attention that few Russian journalists mentioned the length of the Russian column entering Georgia (considering there were few of them), was “many kilometers”. Considering the length of a armored vehicle/propelled artillery piece around 7-10m and the distance of 25-50 m at march between the vehicles, there can be some 20-40 vehicles per km. 10 km of vehicles would include 200-400 vehicles, and there were more than that. While Russian General Staff did not reveal the number of troops deployed into Georgia, journalists have found out that a considerable part of 58th Russian Army went there (one of the biggest and most combat capable of the Russian military). They claimed some 4-4,5 divisions (personnel wise) were deployed to South Ossetia, while some 9,000 paratroopers with ~350 armored vehicles were reportedly deployed to Abkhazia. Apart from this Russia has deployed units from the Military Intelligence Special Forces (GRU), plus three tactical groups 800 people each deployed from the 76th Pskov Airborn Division, 98th Ivanovsk Airborn Division, and 45th Airborn Special Forces Regiment (Moscow). That would at least make for the 25,000 personnel or Russian troops claimed by Georgians, while in fact there were significantly more of them. And don’t forget the Abkhazian and South Ossetia’s military forces of few thousands each. These are very rough calculations, but they do support the personnel numbers, and there were definitely more than 1000 armored vehicles (tanks, APCs, AIFVs, and self-propelled artillery) deployed to Georgia with this number of troops. See the data from the Russian media:
http://www.newsland.ru/News/Detail/id/285383/cat/42
http://www.trud.ru/issue/article.php?id=200808111470301
http://www.newsland.ru/News/Detail/id/285772/cat/42/
I have many more to say on the “Russian atrocities paragraph” but I don’t have time at this point, and my posts acquired the nasty habit to be excruciatingly long .

Lu Xun said...

Dima, I tried to read some of the links you provided, but couldn't finish, because I was distracted by the blinking headlines for articles such as "Секс на Олимпиаде: о чем НЕЛЬЗЯ МОЛЧАТЬ!" and "Девушки в сети какие они?".

You wrote that "you judged the whole affair not through the lenses of facts and pragmatic assessment but through a bitter anti-Americanism". That’s not true. I happen to love the USA, Russia, and Georgia. This whole episode feels like as if my wife beat up my sister's best friend who happens to be my mistress. I like the USA quite a bit—it is its foreign policy that I find obnoxious. In fact the US foreign policy is far more worrying than Russia’s—Russia is primarily worried about its near-abroad, while America wants to establish the “Project for the New American Century”, “Full Spectrum Dominance” and projecting force all over the world.

To me, Russia’s invasion of Georgia may be a violation of international law -- but it would be the same international laws made irrelevant by America and NATO.

What Russia did is exactly what the US would have done if the Russians provided military assistance to a small nation near the US or that small country "got out of line". Panama, Cuba, Venezula, Columbia, Granada, all comes to mind. Russia learned very well from American examples.

I will say this again--what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Again, I am no military expert, so all this information you quoted is pretty meaningless to me. But that same Stratfor article wrote that:

"On the night of Thursday, Aug. 7, forces of the Republic of Georgia drove across the border of South Ossetia, a secessionist region of Georgia that has functioned as an independent entity since the fall of the Soviet Union. The forces drove on to the capital, Tskhinvali, which is close to the border. Georgian forces got bogged down while trying to take the city. In spite of heavy fighting, they never fully secured the city, nor the rest of South Ossetia.

On the morning of Aug. 8, Russian forces entered South Ossetia, using armored and motorized infantry forces along with air power. South Ossetia was informally aligned with Russia, and Russia acted to prevent the region’s absorption by Georgia. Given the speed with which the Russians responded — within hours of the Georgian attack — the Russians were expecting the Georgian attack and were themselves at their jumping-off points. The counterattack was carefully planned and competently executed, and over the next 48 hours, the Russians succeeded in defeating the main Georgian force and forcing a retreat. By Sunday, Aug. 10, the Russians had consolidated their position in South Ossetia."


Reteurs even wrote about this:

The conflict began last month when Georgia tried to retake the separatist pro-Moscow region of South Ossetia.

So who am I supposed to believe? You or Stratfor? Stratfor as you may know, is also edited by ex-military and intelligence people.

I’ll buy that Georgia walked into a Russian trap, but it’s certain a trap that they themselves walked into it. To quote Ambasssador Jack Matlock, “when President George H.W. Bush spoke in Kiev on August 1, 1991, and warned the non-Russian republics to avoid ‘suicidal nationalism,’ he was referring to Gamsakhurdia's attempt to subdue South Ossetia by force.”

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

Lu Xun:

It is funny that you allowed to be distracted by such insignificant banners/links. Does it mean you cannot focus your attention to really important things? I am not
sure what you alluded to by writing this, therefore I should wait for any direct objection in order to answer to it. However, this does not discredit the credibility of the info that the links provided about the strength and deployments of the Russian military into Georgia.

I happen to make a difference between Russia and USA, as their political system concerns, their checks and balances, etc., which makes their foreign policy different. I also believe in the benign quality of what may be left of a US hegemony, and I do believe in the fact that Russia’s foreign policy is not different from the USSR’s in its bloody methods and aims. US is a beam of hope to a Eastern Europe country, squeezed between a resurgent and cunning Russia, whose leadership is dominated by a Middle Ages feudal mentality, and an insensitive, apathetic and sharing or accepting a similar mentality accomplice “old Europe”.

I don’t understand what your value system is, if you approve (or defend) a crime by referring that someone you don’t like has committed it before. A crime should be judged out of any context except for the law that covers the area and particularities of the crime. You make too irresponsible suppositions, claiming that had Russia helped a country in the vicinity of US, then Washington would have attacked them. There is a difference between the US that I mentioned and you seem to ignore (checks and balances, governance listening to the people) and Russia (no checks and balances, authoritarian regime bind only by the extent of its caprices). There is a difference between Georgia and Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia.

Your “what's good for the goose is good for the gander” principle for judging the war between Georgia and Russia is completely faulted, because you do look at it through the lenses of your dislike of U.S.

You don’t need to be a military expert to make sense of the information I wrote – it’s simple math, and you only pretend to not understand it. You also quote Stratfor, but you fail to mention (intentionally?) some other things that article accepted, albeit trying to diminish its importance. ”Why did the Georgians choose to invade South Ossetia on Thursday night? There had been a great deal of shelling by the South Ossetians of Georgian villages for the previous three nights, but while possibly more intense than usual, artillery exchanges were routine.” Heave artillery exchanges were not routine, automatic fire exchanges were routine, involving seldom low caliber mortar fire. For many years there has not been shelling of such range and destruction power.

Reuters did not write anything wrong but they did provided only the half-truth, since the precondition for Georgian attack is important to mention (see the bold text above).

I should ask you: who is working for Stratfor? Ex-military and intelligence people you say. But they are just people. In the Cold War, when McNamara came as a Secretary of Defense and he asked different services on the number of nukes that Soviet Union had, he got different numbers from different services’ intelligence branches, which latter proved wrong. How Stratfor people write their analysis – they get the information mainly from open sources. They did mention what preceded the attack but made their evaluation that it was probably routine, diminishing its importance, ignoring the scale of it, even though they did recognize it was something unusual about it. It is their evaluation that I believe is faulted. You don’t have to choose to believe me or Stratfor, but if able, read through the additional info that is becoming increasingly available on the Russian internet resources, where many unclear things are explained now.

Also, I do not see the reason for you mentioning Gamsakhurdia in our discussion. With the same success I can mention how Russian empire first obliged to defend Georgia against foreign threat from the south, only as an ally, only to disband then the Georgian state, making it a Russian province, or later, how Russian Bolsheviks have send the Red Army to invade the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1920s, or how Soviet Union Communist Party was forming various “popular fronts” in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to foment separatism and avoid Georgia declaring its independence.

We talk about a concrete case of today, and there is a clear framework of international law that we should use – that’s it. Anything else is just pure speculations and attempts to lure us away from an objective assessment of the case. Leave apart Afghanistan, UFO, and the Large Hadron Collider. Otherwise we get dragged forever, and I might suspect you don’t want to learned what have really happened, but argue for the sake of argument. If that’s what you are up to, then I’m not playing this ball.

JP said...

Just a small clarification.

"[Georgian] artillery brigade commanders told a Georgian newspaper that Georgian artillery used in the zone on August 7 included: “(a)t least 300 gun barrels of Georgian artillery... ”

So the artillery was in position and firing before the main force of Russians arrived.

I'm only adding this because the Georgian Deputy Defense Minister is on record as saying that the Georgians did not expect a Russian response, so these guns were likely to have been used initially for bombarding existing positions only.

Sounds to me that these 300 'guns' were for a massive preliminary bombardment of the village/town, to be followed up with infantry and tanks.

JP said...

Dimitry

I hate to start a new argument with you but when you write "US is a beam of hope to a Eastern Europe country squeezed between a resurgent and cunning Russia ... and an insensitive, apathetic and sharing or accepting a similar mentality accomplice “old Europe”" I wonder if you are joking. Old Europe has injected money and investment into the region, and as economic stability is a necessity for a correctly functioning democracy, I'd take issue with your comments about Old Europe.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@JP 10:43 AM

I gave the link to the original translated article distributed by the BBC service. It did not say Georgians shelled the city, but that they fired at the approaching Russians columns. The artillery described in the article has a range of 20-40km roughly, and it would be stupid to get such artillery close to the city to fire at it, so Georgian words sound reasonable to me.

Дмитрий Мынзэрарь (Dumitru Minzarari) said...

@ JP 2:16 PM

I am not joking a single bit. Theoretic and empiric evidence says convincingly that in order to build democracy in a country one first of all needs to take care of its major security threats. Russia is a major security threat for Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, fomenting separatism on their territories, distributing passports, and militarily occupying their territory, disguised as peacekeepers (or claiming bilateral agreements). These countries will not be able to build any decent democratic system, as long as there is a Russian threat against their territorial integrity and sovereignty. In the "old Europe" politicians and experts understand it, but they don't want to "upset the Russians",and tacitly accept the outrageous Russians claims of "sphere of interests", as like its neighbors would be just some objects that can be claimed, traded, changed, etc. What does this look like? - Like selling out a number of countries for the benefit of the national business, which is lobbying a minimal interference in the Russia's "affairs" abroad. The money injected that you talk about are peanuts and look more like an attempt to pay off being able to claim latter "look, we've tried it". You just don't seem to know many things. Have you ever thought that France or Germany can block very little funds for a project aimed at addressing deforestation in one of these countries (because someone thought a more active involvement of EU may upset Russians)? And investments - there is quite little of it, so little that Russian companies massively buy everything of value to be able to influence these countries economically. And you tell me if I am joking?

Anton said...

Russian gas and oil mean more to the Europeans, than democracy and security of Georgia and Ukraine.
Realpolitik, simple as that.