Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I disagree. It has been very clear from most news  sources I've seen and read that Georgia initiated the violence by invading Ossetia and brutally bombarding and levelling the capital city causing a large number of civilian casualties.  It is also true, from my perspective, that there was very limited coverage of the Georgian incursion and its immediate aftermath vs. the Russian counter invasion.  This could be (don't know for a fact) because the Georgian attack was a surprise to the press while the Russian action was not given the progression of events over time. The other aspect of this was that the Georgian perspective was loudly proclaimed  via interviews of Saakashvili and other Georgian Government officials by the Western press.  The Georgian Govt had a message to get out and the press was very accommodating.  However, I heard the Saakashvili interview and frankly thought he was lying rather unconvincingly.  For someone listening with interest, I doubt he did much for the Georgian side.  The sad fact, however, is that most American could care less about this whole affair.

On the other hand, the portrayal of Russia as expecting the Georgia attack and as having a long and well planned response I find credible and logical. The Russians are not guiltless in this whole thing, so it is entirely within reason that they also receive their lumps in the press.

The NATO split is understandable considering that Western Europe is almost entirely dependent upon Russia for energy needs - so it likely to prefer soft talking diplomacy and less aggressive action.  Eastern European countries have had decades of experience with Russian bullying so they are scared to death.  Mind you, I don't believe World War III is quite the right answer either.  I have always felt that isolating Russia outside of NATO and surrounding it with NATO allied countries is a lousy strategy bound to cause this kind of trouble eventually.

All in all I pretty much got what I expected from the press so it wasn't particularly egregious. Maybe I've just become jaded.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:38:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am concentrating on the US press coverage and portrayal of the conflict.  The LA Times, which I have read for 40 years and now follow on the web, had one article on Saturday, Aug 9, that first mentioned in the fourth paragraph that Georgia had invaded South Ossetia before Russia sent in the tanks.  I found an AP article on Aug 9 from the Houston Chronicle, which I sometimes monitor, that describes Georgia's role in "trying to seize" South Ossetia, and there is the article from the NYT I cited.  Nothing appeared in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

By Sunday and Monday, when the situation was starting to get serious, I don't recall any mention of the role of Georgia in starting the conflict. It is all Russian aggression against Georgia.  Not until mid-week did I see  critical coverage of the role that the Bush Administration and John McCain had played in encouraging Georgia.  And still the preponderance of the coverage seems to be on Russia's actions.  There is a lot more condemnation of Russia's "disporportionate" response than there is to that to which what they were responding.

First impressions can be lasting.  I suspect that not many US citizens became aware of the situation until Sunday or later.  By that time their first impressions  didn't likely include the fact that Georgia set off this round of trouble.

The neo-cons schemes blow up in their faces, they are shown by the facts to be incompetent and impotent and yet they are not called on it.  It seems to me that what coverage there was of Georgia's role was the minimum possible so that US news organizations could say: "well, we did cover it."  That is not good enough for 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 14th, 2008 at 11:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The NATO split is understandable considering that Western Europe is almost entirely dependent upon Russia for energy needs - so it likely to prefer soft talking diplomacy and less aggressive action.

This is a common misconception in the US.

Western Europe has been taking a soft approach towards Russia for decades, and you should read up about de Gaulle's France not systematically pointing its missiles at the USSR, or Willy Brandt's "Ostpolitik". That was in the 60s, for God's sake, way before Russia would sell us any energy.

It's just not written in stone that Russia should be fenced off, and we have learnt over centuries that playing the bully just does not pay in the long run - and this, the US public and politicians will eventually learn it as well.

It's just too bad they cause so much misery in the meantime.

by balbuz on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 01:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course, just to make sure, the US forces its missiles down our throat.

My personal view is that today's Russia would be a far more natural, reliable and peaceful partner than the US, which are just bad news, whatever they do and where ever they go on the world stage.

by balbuz on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Western Europe is almost entirely dependent upon Russia for energy needs

This is simply not true. Russia currently provides 25% of Europe's gas imports (which themselves represent about half its consumption)(note that the numbers can change significantly depending on whether you count Norway as in "Europe" or not, as it is not in the EU) and probably a smaller fraction of its oil.

The gas is a bilateral inter-dependency relationship, which had been stable for the past 40 years (until London started interfering).

Oil is a global market and Russia is only one potentially unfriendly supplier out of many.

Worries about energy dependency tend to look at future trends, whereby oil and especially gas demand goes up while domestic supply shrinks and Russian exports are expected to fill in the difference. So dependency might become an issue only if we continue our (insane) current policies.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 06:59:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series