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Odds & Ends: 99 Luftballons Edition

by poemless Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 06:51:28 PM EST

Contents:  Neither constructive analysis nor gratuitous Putin photos.  I don't know how to constructively analyze a situation in which multiple insane parties are trying to win an argument and the one sane party in the thick of it is trying to decide if they should take advantage of the fact that everyone else is insane, or resent the fact that they even have to deal with the loonies.  Also, I suspect sentiments like, "Jesus Vova, that is crazy hot how you just went and got your war on.  So manly and in charge like...," would be interpreted as insensitive.  The is just an attempt to purge ridiculous thoughts from my mind.  They call it a diary, don't they?
 


I. Whoa.  9-11 really did change everything!

Heh.  

I guess this is one of those "blahblahblah has changed everything" moments.  Moments which don't in fact change anything, but by proclaiming they do, we grant ourselves license to flaunt the rules and norms of civil society and human decency, and, by acting like savage beasts on a divine mission, we do end up changing everything.  Or enough of it that all the important stuff is totally FUBAR.  And the need to fix the totally FUBAR situation(s) gives rise to a new wave of  "everything has changed" moments.  One vicious circle of creative destruction.  And such is the history of mankind, my friends.  History: fun and educational when it exists in picture books and stock footage documentaries.  Not when you are in the midst of it.  This is one arena in which the method of "learn by doing" is not recommended.  Barack.  This is why little children are made to attend history class and why God invented Ken Burns.  You need to know all of the reasons Russia might have to want to attack you before they hop into their tanks.  Because Russians in tanks make it very very difficult for anyone to concentrate on anything else.  Just look at the BBC.  How is the Euro faring in the current economy?  "OMG.  OMG.  Russian tanks have just rolled by our SUV."  What is the medal count at the Olympics?  "Breaking News!  Breaking News!  Russian tanks have just entered Gori.  What is going on?  Someone tell us what is going on!"  Why are those people in South Ossetia crying?  "Gah!  Russian bombers are chasing us over a mountain!  Help!"  

We will have the rest of human history to debate and decide if Russia started this war.  But I state with absolute confidence right now that Russia is to blame for whatever insanity happens next.  They should know better.  You don't just take a country hell bent on war, in the midst of economic strife and desperation, a nation which, on a good day, is inclined to give little import to rational thought and long term planning, and show it pictures of Russian tanks.  You might as well go around to all of the prisons and mental hospitals and arm everyone with assault weapons and tell them, "You know.  I could kill you right now if I wanted to."  Damn it.  Someone is going to get hurt.

Then again, nuclear annihilation would spare us all the long, hot, slow painful deaths by Global Warming.

Some Odds & Ends, huh?  The scenario of Russia taking over the world is only funny when the scenario of Russia taking over the world is not being used by US politicians looking for votes and cash.  Unlike Russia, America doesn't wait around for good excuses to start dropping bombs.  And unlike Russia, we're on a massive losing streak.  I for one welcome our new alien overlords, but it's a personal opinion, and one not shared widely outside Russia and South Ossetia.  Plus, regardless of the nearly infinite benefits of Russian hegemony, I'm none too fond of the "killing people to achieve it" bit.  I have enough trouble sleeping at night knowing my own government is busy inventing new ways to destroy my life.  I don't need Russians looking to teach us a lesson hanging over my head.

Speaking of trouble sleeping: The annual "Air and Water Military Industrial Complex Show" is going on right now.  I sure hope there are no BBC reporters in Chicago.  If someone gets on the TV and tells you Russia is invading Naperville, just ignore them, ok?

II. Brrrrrr.

Bah!  You've heard this one before.  Whatever.  I'll tell it again.  When I was in the 5th grade in 1985, a boy in my class asked the teacher when we would go to war with Russia.  She said we were not going to go to war with Russia.  That they'd been saying that since she was a kid, and it never happened.  And it is not going to happen now.  I knew it.  Then she showed the class a film of a day in the life of a Russian schoolchild, which confirmed my long held suspicion that they did not have pointy tails and horns.  Probably in past week Sting is back to wondering if Russians love their children too (you so obviously didn't see Nastia and Valeri Liukin), but  I'm left to wonder if U.S. classrooms have enough Mrs. Schoeberle's in them in 2008...  I gather myself.  There is not going to be a new cold war with Russia.  There is not going to be any American war with Russia.  They've been saying that since I was a kid, and it didn't happen then.  And it is not going to happen now.  Perish the thought that, well, yeah, but back then we had the sober and constructive foreign policy of Ronald Reagan.  

The very fact such a thought could enter my mind proves anything is possible, doesn't it?  Usually the credo of optimists, these words fail to comfort me.

You know - I really don't think that Russia and the regime of Vladimir Putin/that other guy who is the "President" is operating under the guiding principles of an imperialist ideology.  Don't ask me under what the guiding principles the American  government is operating.  Unless a profound absence of principles is a principle itself.  Nor do I Russia is so emboldened, so drunk on power, so immune to consequence (er, yet...), that we are about to witness a live reenactment of the establishment of the Soviet Union.  They are really good at diplomacy with non-delusional types who are not shooting at them.  Up until now, they've done a good job of getting what they need before they have to mow your country down.  

In a recent press conference in Georgia with Saakashvili, Condoleeza Rice said, "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia."  She said it like she'd just been passed a memo.  "Bin Laden determined to attack in U.S."  "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia."  Like it were grave, breaking news she was stubbornly determined to ignore.  I don't even think her "Russia expertise" (how's that working out for you, Condi?) extends much beyond 1968 anyway.  Oh, and I totally did not notice how " 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia" was just like those creepy FYI's Republicans use to win elections.  "Hi, Mr. Smith.  We're just calling to tell you Barack Obama is not a disciple of Osama bin Laden.  He does not have a bastard love child with a transgendered Burmese lover who has been committing genocide in the Sudan.  He did not have Tim Russert killed.  Thanks!  Have a nice day!" "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia." Don't think of an elephant.  Whatever you do.

Rice didn't say this wasn't 1938 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, though, did she?  Nor did she mention anything about 2003 and Iraq.

III. Filed under: You have reasons to be concerned, and not just in your paranoid imagination.

There will not be war between Russia and America, of course.  It's probably moronic and irresponsible to even speak in such terms.  A fog has descended and it is impossible to know what lies ahead for us, but certainly we must progress with slow, measured steps.  Saber rattling and mass hysterics and fear mongering cannot be helpful at this moment.  So I am going to just ignore the following items.

Mark Ames, who has been making laughing stocks of irresponsible opportunists behind books with the title, The New Cold War and who calmly explained to us that the hype about a new cold war was just a business deal gone sour, nothing to see here, boys and girls, move along, has just written a little article called, "The war we don't know."

When even Ames stops acting like a know-it-all, your blood should run cold.  But just ignore it.  

These two guiding concepts for international relations-national sovereignty and the right to self-determination-are locked in a zero-sum battle in Georgia. Sometimes, the West takes the side of national sovereignty, as it is in the current war; other times, it sides with self-determination and redrawing of national borders, such as with Kosovo.
In that 1999 war, the United States led a nearly three-month bombing campaign of Serbia in order to rescue a beleaguered minority, the Albanians, and carve out a new nation. Self-determination trumped national sovereignty, over the objections of Russia, China and numerous other countries.

Why, Russians and Ossetians (not to mention separatist Abkhazians in Georgia's western region) ask, should the same principle not be applied to them?

The answer is clear: because we say so. That sort of logic, in an era of colossal American decline and simultaneous Russian resurgence, no longer works on the field.

But sadly, this news hasn't been conveyed to neocon hawks like Robert Kagan or to John McCain, who seem to still be living in 2002, when American military power was seen as the answer to all the world's problems. There is even evidence to suggest that America encouraged Saakashvili to think he could solve this conflict by war. Ever since 2002, when American Green Berets dropped into Georgia to train its troops against phantom Al Qaeda cells, the Bush Administration has drawn the former Soviet nation closer into what appeared to be a military alliance, culminating in Georgia's 2,000-man contribution to the Iraq coalition forces (the third-largest contingent), and American joint training exercises in July, just a few weeks before Georgia's blitzkrieg attack on South Ossetia. In the UN, Russian attempts in the early hours of the war to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire were shot down by American and British diplomats, who objected to the clause calling on both sides to "renounce violence"-exactly Saakashvili's position.

The question we must ask is: Are we willing to risk war, including nuclear holocaust, in order to fulfill the aspirations of Mikhail Saakashvili? While Bush and McCain speak of Saakashvili as if he's a combination of Thomas Jefferson and Nelson Mandela, he's seen by his own people as increasingly authoritarian and unbalanced. Last year, Saakashvili sent in his special forces to violently disperse opposition protesters in the capital city, followed by a declaration of martial law. He sacked the opposition television station (partly owned by Rupert Murdoch), exiled or jailed his political opponents, and stacked the courts with his own judges while removing neutral observers, leaving even onetime neocon cheerleaders like Bruce Jackson and Anne Applebaum feeling queasy. Hardly the image of the "small democratic nation" that everyone today touts.

Also ignore all mentions of nuclear holocaust.  

And of a new world order:

Georgia's (still) President Mikhail Saakashvili threw the dice and lost everything. His blind ambition to return South Ossetia to Tbilisi's control through force has resulted in an unmitigated defeat for Georgia's sovereignty. The world needs to take note and it signals things to come.

South Ossetia is a small and poor place. Who would have thought that it would herald the start of a new world order? But it has in ways almost no one could have imagined.

Saakashvili's crazed mission to capture South Ossetia through war ends a paradigm - what is called the post-Cold era. Russia, for the first time as a new and very different state, used force beyond its borders since 1991. It did it in the name of protecting Russian citizens and defending internationally recognised peacekeepers. And both are justified - the West does the same. The world would be advised to get used to this as other ethnic Russians appeal for help beyond Russia's borders.

End of paradigm.  Get used to it.  Signal of things to come.  I feel better already.

I'm also going to ignore the fact that I was incredulous and believed that "New Cold War" nonsense was the absolute height of silliness.  Oh, it is extremely entertaining and a great excuse to put on your "Hits of the 80's."  If I actually owned a tape player, I'd be jumping on my bed listening to "99 Red Balloons" right now.  But come on people!  That's not a political strategy!  That's childhood nostalgia.  Why, you'd have to be morons to base international policy it!  And all of the anti-Russia rhetoric in the media, it is just for ratings, right?  We have to have someone to hate, and it's considered declasse to bait Muslims right now, since we got caught torturing them and everything.  Or else, it it just more of the standard ignorance and incompetence bred in J-schools throughout the English speaking world.  It is not really black propaganda, right?  I mean, look at our leaders: who could exemplify the ideal of "Bromance" more than George Bush and Vladimir Putin?  New Cold War?  Pshaw!  So I'm just going to deflect attention away from my misplaced optimism and faith that reason prevails.  

I'm also not going to read anything into the fact that the peace/nuclear disarmament movement is so incredibly defunct and impotent that even the Hapsburg dynasty has better odds at making a successful comeback.  And how, between the Dr. Strangeloves and Rapturists penning US policy, the possibility is dim that anyone in the room is interrupting to say, "Uhm, so, maybe war with Russia would be bad.  You know.  Unnecessary.  Poor long term thinking.  Even if it were just served cold.  Aw heck, who are we kidding.  You cowboys probably think "cold war" is an oxymoron!  Hahaha.  uh.  Yeah.  Anyway.  Just wanted to ... ya know ...  add my few cents.  I have grandchildren, is all...  Ok.  I'll shut up now.  Ahem."  If we really thought Russia were baaack, you know, in the "You and your little dog too!" way, why is no one trying to talk them down?  As Colman wrote, The Ruskies are back. Praise the Lord!  Indeed there seems to be an explicit desire for this confrontation.  The American commentariat are not on a soapboxes with pleas for peace and cooperation and mutual respect, but breaking out in a cold sweat at the resurrection of this bitter feud .  For our journalists, war is not a profoundly sad consequence of selfish and arbitrary decision-making and planning.  It's S&M with maps.  Sick.  

Ignore it.

IV. The 2nd casualty of war.

The first are the lives sacrificed for the gain of others.  Truth?  If we had enough respect for it during peacetime, there would be no war.  People only bother looking for the truth once the bombs have been dropped.  Truth is a casualty of intellectual laziness, not war.  The second casualty is sanity.  War wracks us with grief for the suffering and loss of our fellow man.  War enrages us at the sheer absence of civility and humanity.  War inundates us with more information than we can process, information meant to overpower not inform us, a different kind of weapon.  How can people remain sane and objective?  How can they concentrate and think clearly?  I can laugh at Saak munching on his tie, but if I had one, I would have eaten it too.  And I'm just a spectator to this.  It frightens me that important decisions are made amidst such widespread panic and confusion and heightened emotions.  How does Putin not lose it such times?  (Bush never had it to lose, and Saak lost it.)  Is it the daily swims, or all that KGB psychological training?  People have said the Kremlin overreacted.  I suspect most of us would have been in less control in a similar situation.  We're human.  We kick the machines that eat our change.  Anyway, I hope he keeps up the swimming or martial arts or whatever keeps him from invading Ukraine out of sheer vengeance.  Because despite what I read in the papers, he appears to be the least rash of all the maniacs that have collectively contributed to this situation.

I recently saw the movie, Aleksandra, which takes place in a Russian army base in Chechnya.  In one scene, a Russian grandmother is being escorted home by a Chechen boy, who tells her the thing he wished for most is his freedom.  Freedom from the Russians.  She says, if only it were so simple.  Then she tells him this little parable, about being able to ask God for one thing, what would it be?  The correct answer is Reason.  Strength comes from reason, not guns, she says.  

I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

V. An argument only a godless heathen like me could ever make...

It occurs to me that while the rhetoric and effect may be eerily similar to the previous Cold War, the actual grievances of the sequel seem to have deviated from the official script.  Well, this is certainly not about Democracy and Communism anymore, since nether party can claim to be a paragon of either ideology. This isn't even about Imperialism v. Sovereignty.  The way America jet sets about the globe invading sovereign nations, Poland and Georgia should be happy Russia is their enemy.  Otherwise we'd attack them.  Just because we can.  Unlike Russia, we don't wait for reasons; we make 'em up.  It's too bad.  I enjoy a good battle of ideas.  It's my idea of a good time.  Ideas armed with militaries is not so brilliant, but I enjoy watching the full-contact wrestling matches.  (Considering the respective sports of Putin -judo- and Cheney -letting birds out of a cage and shooting at everything in a 10 mile radius- it is a good thing we have term limits AND not governmental post of Prime Minister...)  It's not even simply about world domination and personal profit.  Those explain the actions of the interested parties, but hardly the popular hysteria this Caucasus crisis has unleashed in America.  How does one explain that?  On what grounds do our people so eagerly embrace the narrative of Russia as the enemy?   What makes it so easy for people to ignore, even gamble away the gains of the last 20 years?

Timothy Post recently hypothesized that Russophobia was a relic of the "godless Russians" associated with the Communism, and Right-wing Christianity was at its roots.

Ok, we did face off for 70 years in a Cold War and so it's only to be expected that people would have some lingering resentments and mistrust. But this historic "hang-over" doesn't really explain the deep dislike of Russia, and in particular the Putin government, on the part of a significant group of the American Right.
Listen to John McCain or Dick Chaney. Listen to the American Ambassador to the United Nations. There's a fundamental distrust and dislike of Russia. Now matter what Russia does or says, it's the "bad guy."

So back to Craig Pirrong. He wrote:

"...It is this fundamental philosophical and moral divide between the
classical liberal views I espouse, and the anti-liberal views of the
Putinists, that explains my intense antipathy for the current Russian
government and state, and which is the wellspring of my trenchant
criticism. It is not a divide that can be bridged, as these are
antithetical conceptions of the roles of the individual and the state...."

After reading this passage I had a heated debate with an American friend of mine who became incensed when I questioned his interpretation of these "classical liberal views" (he used the word "ideals"). Read the last sentence by Professor Pirrong above. "...not a divide that can be bridged..." That's what my friend said too. Basically, if you don't accept their interpretation of these ideals/values you are a "heretic" and the conversion is finished. End of story. Done.

Huh? I was a bit confused by this semi-Religious approach to foreign policy debate. But maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised after 7 years of Bush's foreign policy.

So I did a little research. I "Googled" the terms "American Christian Fundementalists Russia" and the 2nd link was a review of a book by Esther Kaplan called 'With God on Their Side' I thought to myself, can the divide in American foreign policy really by broken down into 2 camps, Secularists and Fundamentalists? Of course not. Not all people fall into those two ends of the spectrum. However, it does seem to me that much of the reaction to Russia from the far Right in Washington can be explained by the fact the Russia is perceived as a God-less society.

I originally dismissed this on the basis that some of my best non-religious friends share that "intense antipathy for the current Russian
government and state," and because a lot of Russians are Christians.  Yet, attempting to grasp the logic behind the way Russia has been singled out as the new Public Enemy #1, I note a disturbing pattern of condemnation couched in creepy religo-thinking.  Examples below:

~ "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

In what circumstances would it be acceptable for Russia to use force?  In what circumstances would it be acceptable for Russia to assert itself?  It is ok for anyone to poke, prod, encircle, provoke, badger and torment Russia.  It is never ok for Russia to respond to anything out of frustration, anger, punishment or, it seems to me, even self-defense.  While we get to play by rules be judged by standards for humans, when Russia is not acting like Christ, they are acting like the Devil.  Being complex and human is not an option we grant them.  

~ "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

In what circumstances do we judge Russia on the merit of the actions in question and not on past history?   Yes, we understand Georgia ignited this particular incident.  But Russia is hardly innocent either.  Russia's done all kinds of bad things.  While we get to play by rules of right and wrong, when Russia enters the scene, there is always enough blame to go around to implicate them as guilty party.  Because Russia is never innocent, Russia should never be meting out punishments for Georgia.  Acknowledgement of and repercussion for actions committed against Russia is not an option we grant them.  

~ "You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."

Putin is a bad person, an authoritarian who will kill or imprison anyone who gets in this way.  He is a murderous thug.  The fact that he is in fact rather popular among his own people is not seen as a sign that he has done anything right, anything beneficial.  It's a symbol of his implicit creepiness.  In whacked out Puritan American logic, Popularity=Idolatry=Anti-Christ.  You saw the McCain ad.  They apply the same symbolism to Obama.   Of course, being crazy popular, esp. among teens, doesn't implicitly mean you are on the side of good.  But it doesn't implicitly mean you are the devil, either.  (See: Rock music.)  

~ Manifest Destiny/City Upon a Hill.

America does not need to justify its actions.  America is good.  America is blessed by God.  Therefore, whatever America does is good and blessed by God.  Furthermore, anyone who interferes with our mission, must, by default, be bad and playing for Team Devil.  What Russia did this week was not wrong because innocent lives were lost.  It was wrong because Georgia is our ally.  Georgia is on our team.  If you're playing against them, you are playing against God.  So you are bad.  Period.  Any 2 year old can understand that.

~ Invoking Communism/Soviet Union.

Nothing new here.  Except, uhm, the little fact everyone seems to be overlooking, which is that Russia is neither Communist or Soviet.  But they are authoritarian.  But they are throwing their weight around.  But they are curbing civil liberties.  But they are sad about the end of the Soviet Union.  Close enough.  Oh, except for the other fact: they are not an atheist State anymore.  Orthodoxy is making a comeback.  Which we would have to acknowledge if we bothered to list off the ways in which Russia were and were not neo-Soviet.  So, er, instead, let's skip that.  We decide if you are godless.  Real Christians love America.  Heretics.

~ Witch hunts and Inquisitions.

Confirmation bias reaches a fever pitch.  We decide up front Russia are heathens hell bent on destroying us.  Witches.  Then we wait for them to do do something witchy.  Soviet-y.  When they go about their business behaving relatively non-witchy/Soviety-like, we test their patience until they break.  The litmus test of training and arming a small neighbor and getting the small neighbor to fire at them to prove Russia is dangerous is just the type of rationale the inquisitors of days past would have appreciated. Then when they lash out, Oh!  Look!  See?  Told ya!  Witches!  Soviets!  The Russians are coming!  The Russians are coming!  Well, I guess we needed those missile shields and NATO encirclement after all.  Nothing like inciting a bit of hysteria to justify your need to lay down the law and incriminate those who are unhelpful.  Nothing like a bit of religious semantics to incite hysteria.  

~ Alle-Gory.

Just in case someone hasn't gotten the message by now that Russia is evil by design, it is always helpful to bust out the photoshop to illustrate your point.  Or, heck, just say what you mean.  Vladimir Putin is the Devil.

For some reason, metaphysical conceit seems to be the only way the talking heads in this country can understand anything.  Opiate of the masses, perhaps, but methamphetamine of the punditry.  And it doesn't matter how shockingly hypocritical it all is.  In a battle of ideas, hypocrisy is a fault.  In religious terms, we are all sinners.  Hypocrisy is not just acceptable, it is downright obligatory.

Oh, I know that the first Cold War was more a struggle of world powers than beautiful ideas.  But ideas were the currency used.  And even though the ideas were armed with nukes, they still had a seat at the table.  There was always the possibility that reason could prevail.  Religion, blind faith, armed with nukes, however, offers no such peace of mind.  Of course, it's no guarantee that we will all perish in one magnificent mushroom cloud of glory.  Leaving a loaded gun the hall closet is no guarantee that your small child will blow his brains out.  Who the hell wants to gamble it?  People who are sure they are going to heaven, I guess...

(...)

I don't have the answers.  I don't understand what is going on.  That's fine.  But I don't think the people running my country really understand what is going on either.  Or they don't care because there are no consequences.  For them, anyway.

I feel like a kid whose parents are on the verge of a divorce.  These are the two countries who have shaped who I am today.  Why can't they just fucking get along?  Jesus!  I just want to run into my room, slam my door shut and blast "99 Red Balloons" on my tape player.  Except.  I'm not a kid anymore.  I don't even have a functioning cassette tape-player.  I am a citizen.  What am I supposed to do?  What can I do?  Any ideas?  Let me know if you come up with something.  In the meantime, I'll be in my room listening to 80s Europop and dreaming about the good old days of the first Cold War, when everything was less complicated because I was 10, because everyone thought it would be over soon, because walls were coming down instead of being built up.  Because back then I had faith in people and the things we could accomplish when we worked together.  

Poll
vote.
. A day late and a dollar short. 0%
. Neo-Soviet Putin Apologist Hysteria. Clearly. 30%
. This is what we've waited for/This is it boys, this is war. 7%
. Bперёд, Россия!!! 0%
. Brilliant. You should do more of these and less of those silly diaries. 15%
. I only come for the hot pics. Where are the hot guys? What is going on here? 7%
. I actually read the whole thing and am now waiting for my prize. 38%

Votes: 13
Results | Other Polls
Display:
great.  I post something and ET crashes and the poll doesn't read cyrillic.  great.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 06:55:40 PM EST
great diary, poemless, oh i feel your pain...

i see giant, methed-up, mentally ill pre-teenagers, playing with matches by a lake of fire, all cursed with such pitiful lives that WW$ seems like a welcome relief, an end to the soul-deep angst and misery that are the inevitable result of living with that kind of mental architecture.

they are disconnected, they are in great pain, and even greater denial, so will stoop readily to do whatever it takes to prove theirs is the correct way to see the world, if there were no reason for ww£, then dammit, invent one!

insecure powerfreaks, in the throes of their bloodlust.

your analogy of the divorce was particularly poignant, heart-rending in fact...

i remember falling in love with nureyev's dancing when i was a child, reading his story of escape to the west, remember thrilling to tolstoy, dr. zhivago...russia, even under its idiot, continent-threatening leadership, kruschev banging his shoe... russia....there was a big key to my, and i believe europe's, soul that resided in russia.

putin is the first leader who's too young to be of the cold warrior generation, and he wasn't megalomaniac, he really wanted, like i believe obama does for the usa, the best for his country, and to be liked by, and get along with the rest of the world.

and the west kept treating him like an idiot, not seeing the moment for what it was, a window of opportunity for rapprochement, thinking him naive.

chechnya sticks in my craw, but i suspect he's throwing meat to his own hardliners, like obama has also done, in order to stay on his perch.

along comes mr mild, medvedev, wagging his tail, telling us how he like western rock music, wanting to be pally. instead of inviting him to the picnic and sharing how we had a deep respect and love for russian culture with him...you know, basic civilisation 101, we fucking piss on his leg and tell him it's raining!

want peace with russia, st. ronnie waves a wand...be careful, now, you know what they say about getting what you want

aaargh

/rant

anyway, you've become required reading for me here. please continue to surprise, educate and amuse us!

an acquired taste....  

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 09:02:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - Odds & Ends: 99 Luftballons Edition
I'm also not going to read anything into the fact that the peace/nuclear disarmament movement is so incredibly defunct and impotent that even the Hapsburg dynasty has better odds at making a successful comeback.

Heh. (But in a scary way.)

It's not even simply about world domination and personal profit.  Those explain the actions of the interested parties, but hardly the popular hysteria this Caucasus crisis has unleashed in America.  How does one explain that?  On what grounds do our people so eagerly embrace the narrative of Russia as the enemy?   What makes it so easy for people to ignore, even gamble away the gains of the last 20 years?

Projection?

Possibly the biggest problem for Superpower Psychology is that evil is always out there somewhere - i.e. somewhere else.

And certainly not in here. Uh uh.

There's also the usual basic profiteering to look forward to as well. (But that almost goes without saying now.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 07:56:26 PM EST
"the peace/nuclear disarmament movement is so incredibly defunct and impotent"

On this side of the pond, at least, the peace movement has ALWAYS been impotent. On NPR this afternoon they were replaying some White House tapes of Johnson worrying about how the U.S. could not succeed in Vietnam--in 1965! There were anti-war demonstrations then, and throughout the remainder of the sixties and into the seventies, but we didn't finally get out of there until 1974. Even though Washington knew it was a lost cause nine years earlier.

by asdf on Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 11:41:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Projection?

It's decades of propaganda still paying dividends to interested parties. Decades of not knowing if the world will be there tomorrow leaves an impression, and 1989 might as well be yesterday.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 03:52:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
99 Luftballoons Edition and no 99 Luftballoons?

fixed


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 08:25:17 PM EST
What is it about this song?

I don't speak German, yet I sing along.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 08:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:10:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What am I supposed to do?  What can I do?  Any ideas?  Let me know if you come up with something.

I suppose that the appropriate Russian advice for this is but one word:

Nichevo.

Nothing can be done.

Then again, there is something that can be done.  If it bothers you write a letter to the editor.  Better yet try  one of the Chicagoland alternative papers:

New City

Chicago Reader

Or even try In These Times

All might be responsive to an informed opinion piece on what is currently happening in Georgia.

I am astonished at the blatant lies being distributed by the media.  That the Russians attacked first.  That civilian casualties from the shelling of Tshkinvali were the result of Russian military action. So on and so on.

I try to explain to my mother, but she thinks that this  conflict is a sign of the "end times."  

Gog and Magog.

And the antichrist.

The hysteria reminds me of the lead up to the Iraq War.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Aug 19th, 2008 at 09:04:55 PM EST
I'm not too concerned about the people who read New City and the Reader.  For the most part, they get it.  It's like the person who said I should listen to Pacifica radio.  Ok.  But ignoring the big name news outlets isn't going to make them go away or their actions any less irresponsible.  I've never understood this line of thinking.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 10:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then try the Chicago Sun Times or the Tribune.  Write letters.  

That's all you can do.

Else than that.

Nichevo.

Either you become fatalistic, or you do what you can realizing that you alone can not change the world.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 03:30:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's disband NATO.  It should have been disbanded in the 90's when the Soviet Union dissolved.  I haven't seen any real purpose for it since then.  

I'm watching my local news and they are telling me that NATO has suspended formal contacts with Russia and have told the Russians to get out of Georgia -- but that there's really nothing NATO can do about it.  The newsreaders were pretty emphatic that there's nothing NATO can do.  heh. Pretty good take on reality for local news.

So basically Putin has made his statement and won his point.  Georgia won't be a part of NATO and neither will the Ukraine.  That's now off the table.  The news media won't report it by saying that Putin won, by next year most people will have forgotten about this, but the current and next governments of the NATO allies understand what happened and will have to deal with that reality.  

by Maryb2004 on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 12:35:20 AM EST
Disband NATO?  But then who is going to bomb and destroy Serbia without UN authorization? cry

Pax

Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 05:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok let's disband NATO.  

Oh wait.  That's right.  You and I have no say in this decision.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 10:54:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no, but we can babble meaninglessly on the toobs...it's that lovely FreedomTM

enough of us come to our senses, someone Very Serious will see it and change their mind, maybe?

this message in a bottle brought to you by last chance cafe enterprises...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:55:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you know I have no say - what do you really know about me anyway ;)

I have no problem with pushing for something to happen that I think should happen even if I think it won't happen.  And I see no real purpose to NATO anymore.  

The US gets nothing out of NATO that it couldn't get with decent diplomacy. The US made clear after 9/11 that it doesn't need or want any NATO countries coming to its defense if it is attacked.  The effort in Afghanistan exists by negotiation anyway.  If the first George Bush had been president instead of his idiot son, the entire world would be in Afghanistan helping there with or without NATO existing.  So the only thing the US gets is the ability to pretend (at this point) to have some control over Europe.  Isn't Europe tired of that at this point?  Isn't Europe unlikely to engage in massive early-20th century style wars again?  And can't Europe do it's own combined defense against external threats (including Russia) without needing us there?  I think so.

You may think disbanding NATO won't happen, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be pushing for it.  

Now ... maybe you like NATO.  I don't know. I couldn't tell from your response.  

by Maryb2004 on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 05:16:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now ... maybe you like NATO.  I don't know. I couldn't tell from your response.

If it hasn't been clear from just about every comment and diary I have written here, I am firmly, absolutely, unabashedly opposed to NATO.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 05:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh.  I don't think that response was nearly emphatic enough.  :)
by Maryb2004 on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:05:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
:D

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:11:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the only thing the US gets is the ability to pretend (at this point) to have some control over Europe.  Isn't Europe tired of that at this point?  Isn't Europe unlikely to engage in massive early-20th century style wars again?  And can't Europe do it's own combined defense against external threats (including Russia) without needing us there?  I think so.

Go, read the comments in this diary from MarekNYC, then you know, why (eastern) Europeans need NATO and why western Europeans thereby can't tell the US to get out, even of they wanted to.

There is no reason to believe that at current levels of armorisation, even French and German military would be enough to defend Europe against Russia, not to speak of the rest of the 3 times such big EU. Eastern Europeans will go nuts, when the US dissolves NATO, independent if the EU has a stronger army than Russia.
With the history of the 20th century, would you, if you were a Pole, be happy to depend on the German military to secure your country from a Russian invasion?
OTOH, if western Europeans will throw out the US, the eastern Europeans will cease the EU to function very well. Dissolving NATO is an issue to be done by the US, not by Europeans.
And while you are right, that George Bush 41 would most likely have managed to get international support for Afghanistan without NATO, his son would not have managed. NATO thereby insures, that the US doesn't need to invest presidential brain cells in foreign policy to have a mercenary army. That's good for the US, as most recent history puts in doubt, if all US presidents always will have spare brain cells.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:06:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean the comments of Marek in the diary of Frank..., just if it isn't clear in the above statement...

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aw, now you're talking about Russian invasions like they're a bad thing!

;)

</ducks, runs>

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that NATO should have been dissolved in the 1990's.  Eastern Europeans weren't even a part of NATO at that time.  So the idea that they would be upset by this doesn't move me at all.  They may need something like NATO but it was a huge mistake to let them into NATO.   NATO should have been dissolved - but instead everyone treated it like a defense version of the EU with everyone begging to get in.  If the countries of Europe want to have a mutual defense treaty, that's up to them. If they don't have the military to support it then maybe they need to allocate more resources to that.    

I don't think a decision to dissolve NATO needs to be an immediate decision.  Certainly it can be decided in advance to give Europe time to prepare and increase current levels.  

You think Bush II wouldn't have gotten support to go after Al Qaeda after 9/11.  I disagree.  For afghanistan even that idiot would have gotten support.  No one doubted that Al Qaida was in Afghanistan. Remember ... most of the world didn't know what an idiot he was when 9/11 happened.  That became clear later.

by Maryb2004 on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 12:29:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that NATO should have been dissolved in the 1990's.
It wasn't clear from your initial comment, that you spoke exclusively about the 90s. Actually your use of present tense was for me an indication, that you were even predominantly speaking about today.

If the countries of Europe want to have a mutual defense treaty, that's up to them. If they don't have the military to support it then maybe they need to allocate more resources to that.
We are already overmilitarised compared with realistic need, or at least sufficiently armored. You speak of the countries of Europe. Thereby my comment distinguishes between different EU countries. Never occured to you, that there are drastic differences between the interests of different countries in Europe. I think it will be to Europe'a advantage, when NATO is dissolved, but it is the US which has to announce it, for reasons given in my comment.

Seriously, have you read my comment before hitting the reply button?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 04:06:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously?  Yes.  Did you read your comment?

You said:

There is no reason to believe that at current levels of armorisation, even French and German military would be enough to defend Europe against Russia, not to speak of the rest of the 3 times such big EU.

But now you say:

We are already overmilitarised compared with realistic need, or at least sufficiently armored.

I suggest you pick one story and stick with it.  

Yes I know that different countries have different interests.  I'm tired of that being an excuse for why the United States needs to be involved.  Figure it out among yourselves.  Stop waiting for the US to take the lead in everything - including the future of NATO.  

by Maryb2004 on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 01:07:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, sorry, in the first statement a "not" is missing, otherwise the sentence and the comment is inconsistent.
Now I understand part of the confusion. But the point remains, that there are serious differences in the interests of European nations.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 09:31:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that Germany and France would (i) step in to defend Poland and (ii) be capable of doing it should Russia be crazy enough to make a military attack.

Now that Poland does believe it or trust it to happen is another thing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 05:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's good to hear.  Because if France and Germany were unwilling to do that, then NATO as a more than half-century project would have to be considered a spectacular failure.  
by Maryb2004 on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 01:13:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you're saying the European nations are totally incapable of looking to their own defense, and must ally themselves with the USA forever, because the USA alone has the strength to ward off the Russian tank armies. The ones that are never coming...

As far as I can see, the only point of NATO is to prevent an effective economic and military union of European nations sufficient to guarantee their independence. That, and allow the USA to subvert the UN and international law whenever the whim bites.

Down with NATO, sez I. And Canada should join the EU.

(where's my bucket of pixi-dust?)

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 10:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here probably the same misunderstanding. My first comment misses a "not". The core point isn't that Europeans aren't able to defend their continent, but that there are some feuds inside Europe, which undermine the exclusion of the US.

Funny thing is, Canada is member of the ESA. So at least with regard to space travel, Canada is already stronger allied with Europe than with the US.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 09:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, Martin, if I misunderstood you. I'm finding lately that my comments are missing whole words, even entire sentences that I apparently typed while in some alternate universe. Maybe, someone should ask me to draw a clock at halb-twei.
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 12:07:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When Russia takes exactly zero medals in gymnastics, I think anything is possible. Good or bad.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 03:44:31 AM EST
Alright alright, the men took 2 bronze medals.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 03:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also this is pretty cool.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 03:59:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, and Nastia Liukin, born in Moscow, has been a rock star.  Ok.  She is American.  Russian-American.  

I had this mind-bending long debate on another site about "Who is Russian?"  It's all very murky.  In America, if you come here and score yourself some citizenship, it's a done deal.  You are American.  However, as we saw with this little war, Russia considers anyone Russian in any way (citizenship, language, ancestry, ethnicity) Russian.  

The Olympics are so weird.  Some countries will pay you to be on their team regardless where you are from.  A lot of athletes live and train in America but represent their country of origin.  And then there is the whole Soviet Union or Yugoslavia phenom where athletes who would have represented one country 20 years ago now represent another, even if they never moved.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 10:52:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fell asleep last night before I could get the "Nastia is probably a Soviet apologist" joke in.

I'd like to do away with the national anthems, personally.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 01:14:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Proof!

I joke.  She seems like a normal American kid.  All Americans are from somewhere else.  ...  Her papa is probably a commie, though. ;)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 01:54:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gorby making sense, again...

NYT: Russia Never Wanted a War

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

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

In recent days, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush have been promising to isolate Russia. Some American politicians have threatened to expel it from the Group of 8 industrialized nations, to abolish the NATO-Russia Council and to keep Russia out of the World Trade Organization.

These are empty threats. For some time now, Russians have been wondering: If our opinion counts for nothing in those institutions, do we really need them? Just to sit at the nicely set dinner table and listen to lectures?

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

There is much talk now in the United States about rethinking relations with Russia. One thing that should definitely be rethought: the habit of talking to Russia in a condescending way, without regard for its positions and interests.

Our two countries could develop a serious agenda for genuine, rather than token, cooperation. Many Americans, as well as Russians, understand the need for this. But is the same true of the political leaders?




"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:17:31 AM EST
One thing that should definitely be rethought: the habit of talking to Russia in a condescending way, without regard for its positions and interests.

aaaah, someone in the tradmed gets it

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:55:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL.  I'm not sure Gorbachev is "someone in the tradmed."  But he certainly does get it.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 12:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, silly, i meant the tradmed in the sense of the organ, not necessarily the writer himself. the surprise is that they printed it...

but you knew that, you're just yanking my chain!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 12:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most days I do a blog search on Russia.  For a good year, it was a handful of the usual suspects (Russia Blog, LaR, Robert Amsterdam, etc...).  In the last week, it's been everyone and their mother Monday morning quarterbacking the Georgia situation.  Today, however, we have...  National Terror Alert Response Center!  The kids learn fast.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 12:19:29 PM EST
You're simply brilliant.


The 2nd casualty of war.

The first are the lives sacrificed for the gain of others.  Truth?  If we had enough respect for it during peacetime, there would be no war.  People only bother looking for the truth once the bombs have been dropped.  Truth is a casualty of intellectual laziness, not war.  The second casualty is sanity.  War wracks us with grief for the suffering and loss of our fellow man.  War enrages us at the sheer absence of civility and humanity.  War inundates us with more information than we can process, information meant to overpower not inform us, a different kind of weapon.  How can people remain sane and objective?  How can they concentrate and think clearly?

Tell me again why you're not coming to Paris in September?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 12:30:16 PM EST
Yet, attempting to grasp the logic behind the way Russia has been singled out as the new Public Enemy #1, I note a disturbing pattern of condemnation couched in creepy religo-thinking.

I fear that a substantial portion of the US population are in abject fear of having to go through cold turkey withdrawal from their long accustomed Manichean world-view, with evil so conveniently realized in concrete courtesy of GODLESS COMMUNIST-SOVIETS turned lately into Evil Russians pretending to believe in Jesus.  We had to give the Ruskies the benefit of the doubt after Gorby and Boris, and damn, that was trying!  

GWB did his best to conjure up a respectable alternative in the form of THE AXIS OF EVIL, but we knocked down or talked down all of the members except Iran.  Doing something about Iran looked too likely to make Cheney and GWB look worse than Jimmy Carter to be worth risking, but McCain looked to be in trouble in the election.

So like Merlin whispering into the ear of sleeping Morgana in Excalibur, we were able to egg on Saakashvili into an act of virtual national suicide and at once recreate the old Manichean Evil against which the Fundamentalist Christian Good could be defined and  provide a frame within which McCain could look good.  Saak chewing on his tie showed that he is finally realizing how he has been used.  

Georgia is the red meat for the Christian Right.  There may be risks, but for the Cheney wing a nuclear war might be preferable  to a Democratic victory in November.  It would also have the advantage of incinerating the books and records just when their massive looting of the economy was going to be revealed for what is has been.  Maybe that is what the Rapture looks like.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 04:12:24 PM EST
Good grief, now that you mention it...  Are you American?  I was pretty young during the first cold war, and a teenager when it ended.  But I remember a lot of talk about Georgia, and how they'd stubbornly held onto their Christian faith during the Soviet Union.  It was all icons and churches.  This must have been about the time they gained their freedom.  Religious freedom was not some secondary concern after elections and free enterprise, in our condemnation of the USSR.  It was front and center.  I actually vividly remember watching the tv in those days and learning about the deep Christain faith of the Georgian people. The US was very pro-Georgia even then.  They were a posterchild even then.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 04:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder how much of the warmth towards Georgia is the result of Shevardnadze who helped bring down the USSR, and was of a more neo-liberal mindset than Gorbachev?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 05:06:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps it's my Catholic upbringing, but I recall hearing as a kid in the 1980s much more about Poland and how they had turned to their faith and their pope to battle back the great godless heathens. Folks in my parish were especially fond of arguing that Fatima was all about the Virgin Mary warning the world against the Soviet menace, and how she would redeem the long-suffering Poles. Oh, and that Reagan was awesome. I was rather surprised to learn he wasn't a Catholic given the way the parishoners talked about him.

Still, that doesn't negate your point about Georgia and just deepens poemless' broader point that much of this country's silly fear of Russia is rooted in our damnable Christian militaristic mission.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 08:11:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To my knowledge, my most recent immigrant ancestors were the parents of my maternal great, great grandmother, America McInnes, who came over from Northern Ireland, Scots -Irish stock.  America was their first born here.  My paternal great, great grandmother was Cherokee and came over the Trail of Tears, but stopped in Arkansas.  My father used to joke that they didn't have enough sense to go on to Oklahoma, where the oil was.  English, Welch and Dutch round out the family tree.

I was born in Houston, Texas during WW II and grew up in Whizbang, Oklahoma in the 50s.  Neither budr or myself are exactly typical Okies.  But we are far from the only ones of similar persuasions to come out of that fair state.  I returned to the Ozarks of my grandparents upon my retirement.  I find enough people here of persuasions similar to mine to feel at home.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 05:24:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh.  This is a European blog - I don't know here people are from.  Perhaps the coverage was different outside the US.  I've been repeatedly yelled at over the past few days for not qualifying media observations as American.  That's all.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 05:28:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to disappoint. There are a lot of us here. I have not found an American blog nearly so congenial to my sensibilities or with a comparable, consistently high level of discourse and civility as I find on ET.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 06:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are you speaking like this?  Sorry to dissapoint?  Who said anything about dissappointing?  I wanted to know if you remembered seeing the same things on tv in America.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 10:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't offended by your response and perhaps I was a little too flip in mine. Perhaps I should have given more weight to the last sentences.  

What I recall from the 50s was traveling at night by car and listening to Billie James Hargis on the radio railing on about GODLESS COMMUNISM and the need for a Christian Crusade Against Godless Communism.  I found him annoying at age 16, even though we listened mostly to laugh.

By the time I got to OSU and was taking Russian language and Russian History the official atheism  was the thing I liked best about the Soviet Union and would gladly have seen some of these fundamentalist clowns thrown down the well head first.  At least I wouldn't have had to listen to them rant any more.  Each semester we were asked to fill in a religious preference.  By my final year I was listing "League of the Militant Godless," Trotsky's old organization.

I enjoy your posts, even if we seem to mis-communicate in the comments.  Please bear with me.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 01:19:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To me it's clear that Poemless was just asking you whether you were an older american who would be able to remember the media coverage around the breakup of the USSR more clearly than her.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 11:35:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of that "brave Georgian Christians triumph" line was US post-Soviet trumphalist gloating and seriously misrepresented the history of Georgia, especially by minimizing or ignoring the Russian contributions.

In the decades leading up to the incorporation of Georgia into the Russian Empire, (formally begun in 1801,) the local potentates had been actively seeking protection from the Tsar against the Turks.  Much of the modern Georgian identity was forged after it was incorporated into the Russian Empire.  Small detail.

It was not all sweetness and light.  The Monarchy that ruled over parts of the area inhabited by Georgian people was destroyed, and, in the process, the Georgian Orthodox Church lost its autocephalus status and Russia set up local organizations along the Russian line.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amsterdam has this photo from Georgia on his front page

Don't bother about it having been taken in 2003.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 05:12:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russophobia is not simply creature of the right. In fact,  before the USSR it was a left wing talking point. The current Russophobic talking points are straight from that left wing playbook (not that most of those using them are aware of that).

 In Poland the right tended to actually be rather accomadionist towards RUssia, and some still are - they hate the godless masonic neoliberal judeo-marxist spirit that runs Western Europe, and the heretical (Protestant) neo-liberal judeo-capitalist spirit that runs America. Plus they believe that Poland's big enemy is Germany, that the EU is basically a German empire and want a close alliance with Russia against the German threat. This is part of what makes the anti-Atlanticist camp so weak in Poland. FIrst it's very much a minority, and then it's split three ways between fascists, leftists, and nostalgics for the old regime. The first and the third might be willing to uneasily cooperate, as might the second and third, but that's it.

by MarekNYC on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 at 09:42:30 PM EST
This is really interesting, thanks for your insights. It seems the Poles have lots of enemies, and manage to keep their friend sufficiently far away, across the Atlantic.

Still, how come France has managed to get into the business of repairing its relations with Germany right after WWII (Adenauer, de Gaulle) ?
Is there any hope that Poland will one day realize it's time to work towards having friends in Europe ? Is it on the agenda for anyone over there ?

by balbuz on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 10:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's been a lot of work in repairing relations with Germany. There are three catches. First is the large viscerally anti-German segment of the Polish population, which includes the twins - so that sort of didn't help things. The issue of how the Germans treat the history of the postwar expulsions is another - and there's blame on both sides of that dispute, with German political pandering to the Vertriebene lobby and Polish nationalists objecting to any commemoration of what was a horrible tragedy for the Germans.  Finally, the issue of German relations with Putin has recently caused problems, particularly under Schroeder. But overall, it's not that bad.

On Russia, with the current mindset of the Russian elites, not a chance. You would need a Russia willing to consistently and strongly express regret and apologies  for 1939-41 and 1945-89 while treating the break up of the Soviet Union and it's East European empire as a clearly positive event. I don't mean that they can't express regrets at the turmoil and suffering that accompanied it, but the actual loss of empire itself has to be seen as a good thing by the Russian elites. At the moment they are doing the reverse. As long as that is the case, the Poles will treat the Russians the way any former colony would treat it's former imperial masters who clearly see the loss of the colonial empire as bad, and believe that they deserve a certain deference in their former colonies.

by MarekNYC on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 10:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I was talking about Russophobia in America.  Today it is alive and well on the left (if you click on the link to Timothy's site, you can find more of my thougts on that) but even before the turn of the century in America, the leftist socialist trade-unionist movement in America was associated with Russia.  I just finished a book based on the case of a man in Chicago who was murdered by police in 1908, ostensibly for being an anarchist, on the sole basis that he looked like a Russian Jew. And then of course there was McCarthyism.  

There seems to be little or no association left in American between the left and Russia, as there was in the early to mid 20th Century, thanks to a combination of blacklists over here and Stalinism over there.  What's noteable now is how the neo-cons use tenuous arugments like civil liberties and democracy for demonizine Russia, and the left plays right into their hands, buys it hook line and sinker, even though the neo-cons could give a hoot less about civil liberties and democracy.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 10:48:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't call it playing into their hands, anymore than complaining about US abuses is playing into the hands of various human rights abusing critics of the US abroad. Just because the North Koreans and Cubans criticize certain things doesn't mean that the critiques aren't valid, ditto in reverse for the neo-cons.
by MarekNYC on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 10:57:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about valid.  Valid would imply we actually give a f* about human rights abuses.

Insincere, inflated, manipulative and distorted - yes.  It's a Trojan horse of concern.  It's like the SNL skit with the killer shark and the candy gram.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 11:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who Started Cold War II? by Patrick J. Buchanan

The United States must decide whether it wants a partner in a flawed Russia or a second Cold War. For if we want another Cold War, we are, by cutting Russia out of the oil of the Caspian and pushing NATO into her face, going about it exactly the right way.

Vladimir Putin is no Stalin. He is a nationalist determined, as ruler of a proud and powerful country, to assert his nation's primacy in its own sphere, just as U.S. presidents from James Monroe to Bush have done on our side of the Atlantic.

A resurgent Russia is no threat to any vital interests of the United States. It is a threat to an American Empire that presumes some God-given right to plant U.S. military power in the backyard or on the front porch of Mother Russia.

Who rules Abkhazia and South Ossetia is none of our business. And after this madcap adventure of Saakashvili, why not let the people of these provinces decide their own future in plebiscites conducted by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe?

As for Saakashvili, he's probably toast in Tbilisi after this stunt. Let the neocons find him an endowed chair at the American Enterprise Institute.



"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 01:29:08 PM EST
Good ole Pat.  Sometimes I just have to agree with him.  Saak should be an entirely appropriate, even emblematic ornament to the AEI, combining as would academic, political and real world accomplishments in that institutes highest traditions.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 02:09:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I watch the McLaughlin Group just to watch him go on about how smart Putin is. :)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 02:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who knew?  Is McLaughlin deaf or does he just like to shout?  The content is not so bad, but the presentation is off-putting.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 02:52:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he just likes to shout.  He kinda has to over his guests...  Personal story:  My mother was a liberal hippie lefty, and my stepfather is republican neo-con type.  They were actually really great togther, but always getting into political debates, and our home was often like an episode of the McLaughlin Group.  We called it the "I'm right, You're wrong Show."  "Issue Number One: I'm Right - You're Wrong."  LOL.

I assume they don't have the McLaughlin Group in Europe.  Here's a clip:



"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 03:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How can you wear such a jacket?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 06:53:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH GERHARD SCHRÖDER "'Serious Mistakes by the West'

Read the whole thing.  Here are some gems:

SPIEGEL: The US government claims that it warned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili against taking military action. But wasn't the whole thing only too convenient for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin?

Schröder: These are speculations in which I prefer not to participate. I assume that no one in the Moscow leadership has an interest in military conflicts. There are enough internal problems in Russia that need to be solved. For instance, corruption and abuse of authority must be addressed. Russia has plenty of deficits, an issue I've addressed many a time. President (Dmitry) Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are addressing these problems -- together, by the way, in friendship and mutual respect, not in competition with one another, as journalistic fortune-tellers often imply.

SPIEGEL: That may well be, but something else is now at stake: Russia has never overcome the loss of its superpower status, and in recent years it has felt cornered and humiliated by NATO. During the wars in the Balkans, the Iraq invasion by the "Coalition of the Willing" under Washington's leadership, the Kosovo declaration of independence ...

Schröder: ... don't forget the development of an American missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic ...

SPIEGEL: ... the Kremlin has been forced to look on. Isn't it possible that an economically and militarily strengthened Moscow now sees US friend Saakashvili as the best possible opportunity to retaliate against the West? And that Putin wants to assert imperial claims?

Schröder: In my view, there have indeed been serious mistakes made by the West in its policy toward Russia. Can we conclude that this bears some relationship to the recent events in the Caucasus, as Russia's response, so to speak, to the Georgian provocation? I think it's wrong to combine these two notion

SPIEGEL: You don't share the newly erupted fear among many in the West of a "Russian threat?

Schröder: No, not at all. There is a perception of Russia in the West that has very little to do with reality.

(...)

SPIEGEL: The Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, followed up by saying: "Today we're all Georgians."

Schröder: I am not.

(...)

SPIEGEL: Robert Kagan, an idol of the neoconservatives and still the Republicans' leading foreign policy thinker, has defined the day of Russia's invasion of Georgia as the beginning of renewed territorial conflicts between the major powers and "as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell."

Schröder: I read that, but it too means nothing to me. Kagan, after all, was one of the men who strongly advised intervening in Iraq. The consequences were not pleasant, neither for America nor Europe. Perhaps one should simply not listen to his advice.

(...)

SPIEGEL: This sounds very optimistic. You don't see a remake of the Cold War developing?

Schröder: No. At least it would not be in the Russian leadership's interest. I am completely opposed to demonizing Russia. And I believe that Moscow will soon see the need, once again, for greater integration into the international community.




"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 01:29:57 PM EST

Perhaps one should simply not listen to his advice.

You can't say that and be taken seriously.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 02:50:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought this was a very good interview.  But why should Schröder give two hoots what neo-cons think of him?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 03:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But criticizing neocons ensures you'll be called a traitor, a communist, both or worse. And indeed this has happened with Schröder, who is regularly accused of having sold out to Gazprom, as he is a member of the board of the (German-Russian) Nordstream pipeline.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 03:24:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is how the interveiwer closes....

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 03:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is an article which calls Putin a neo-con, and the most moral and humane leader today.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 03:36:53 PM EST
A must read, really cold-blooded and sharp analysis. Here is the conclusion :
So how should we deal with the Russians?

For a start, look at a map. Russia's real enemies are to the south and east, and none of those folks, Chinese or Islamist, wish us well, either. Second, take a page from the Russians. Our foreign and defense policies have to take a back seat to fundamental economic restructuring because it is our wealth that enables us to implement our policies. Then let's start acting like adults: adults make foreign policy based upon a realistic assessment of their interests and capabilities, and the interests and capabilities of those around them. They don't pick fights they can't win and have nothing to gain from, with people who don't want to fight them.

The real world is a nasty place and America needs friends and allies. Why are we making an unnecessary enemy of a power that by all rights, as well as by logic and morality, ought to be our friend?

by balbuz on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 09:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It really is a great article.  There are a few minor bones I have to pick with it, but it is a must read.  I really wish I could post the whole entire thing here.  I'm trying to pick out a few representative paragraphs, but I can't decide among them all.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 10:58:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The real world is a nasty place and America needs friends and allies. Why are we making an unnecessary enemy of a power that by all rights, as well as by logic and morality, ought to be our friend?

Time for seven years of peace and good relations right after the election.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 02:11:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
whatatune

A friend used to be in the socialist party here in Ireland. He ran as a candidate in an election. 99 votes! This was his theme tune ever afterwards.

by irishhead on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 at 06:58:41 PM EST
From European Tribune:

Wannabe NATO member on war path by Jerome a Paris Fri Aug 8th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2008/8/8/61525/48497

Georgia: oil, neocons, cold war and our credibility by Jerome a Paris Sun Aug 10th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2008/8/9/102157/8633

US Transporting Georgian Troops Out of Iraq to Fight Russia by ManfromMiddletown Sun Aug 10th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/9/164938/8032

The warmongers have lost yet another war by Jerome a Paris Mon Aug 11th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2008/8/10/8619/75006

Medvedev calls end to Georgia operations by Jerome a Paris Tue Aug 12th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2008/8/12/53428/6983

What does Russia Want? by wiseprince Tue Aug 12th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/12/8236/82430

The Polish press on the Ossetian conflict (LQD) by MarekNYC Tue Aug 12th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/12/11425/6716

So. What to do with Russia? by Jerome a Paris Sat Aug 16th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2008/8/16/144635/777

99 Luftballons by poemless Tue Aug 19th, 2008

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/19/185128/391

Recent Articles & Editorials:

A Path to Peace in the Caucasus By Mikhail Gorbachev  August 12, 2008

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR2008081101372.html

Russia Never Wanted a War By Mikhail Gorbachev  August 19, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/opinion/20gorbachev.html?hp

Blowback From Bear-Baiting by Patrick J. Buchanan August 15, 2008

http://www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=13305

Who Started Cold War II? by Patrick J. Buchanan August 19, 2008

http://www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=13323

Georgia's Miscalculation By Anatol Lieven August 9, 2008

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/needtoknow/2008/08/georgias_miscalculation.html

Vladimir V. Putin: Neo Con by Erin Solaro at August 21, 2008

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/civicfeminism/archives/146751.asp?from=blog_last3

Vladimir Putin's mastery checkmates the West by Michael Binyon August 14, 2008

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4525885.ece

Georgia Tries out the Bush War Doctrine, Loses Badly By Gary Brecher August 12, 2008.

http://www.alternet.org/audits/94706/georgia_tries_out_the_bush_war_doctrine,_loses_badly/?page=enti re

Has Georgia Overreached in Ossetia? By Tony Karon Saturday, Aug. 09, 2008

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1831073,00.html

Why South Ossetia, why now? by Peter Lavelle August 9, 2008

http://www.peterlavelle.com/?p=36

Background Articles:

The New American Cold War By Stephen F. Cohen June 21, 2006

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060710/cohen

The Missing Debate By Stephen F. Cohen May 1, 2008

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080519/cohen

Cheney Starts New Cold War Over Oil By Mark Ames Saturday 03 June 2006

http://www.truthout.org/article/mark-ames-cheney-starts-new-cold-war-over-oil

Multimedia:

Worldview: George Freidman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor

http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/content.aspx?audioID=27675

Charlie Rose: Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative (Ambassador) of the Russian Federation.

http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2008/08/12/1/an-update-on-the-conflict-between-georgia-and-russia

Inner City Press at the UN: UNSC coverage

http://www.innercitypress.com/


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 05:40:12 PM EST
For my own reference...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 05:41:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On ET

Things to know and understand about Russia. Now. by US expat Ukraine - Aug 13

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/13/23944/1208

Contradicting the 'West' bashing by Martin - Aug 14

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/14/161312/502

Bush sends U.S. troops to Georgia to deliver humanitarian aid by Magnifico - Aug 13

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/13/134559/608

Blackwater in Georgia? Now We Can Call Them Mercs. by ManfromMiddletown - Aug 11

http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2008/8/11/2572/15085

Others

Anatol Lieven: The West shares the blame for Georgia

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/95713d6c-6966-11dd-91bd-0000779fd18c.html

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 06:16:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks

I had the other Lieven article in the first draft, but it looks like it dissappeared.

Here's the version I can access:

The west shares the blame for Georgia By Anatol Lieven Aug 13 2008
http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto081320081503415412

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Aug 22nd, 2008 at 06:23:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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