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Medvedev calls end to Georgia operations

by Jerome a Paris Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:34:28 AM EST

Russia 'ends Georgia operation'

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the Kremlin says.

Note that on the groudn witnesses say that Russia's operations have been limited for the past couple days, despite repeated announcements by the Georgian side. Here's the FT's Charles Clover, reporting from Georgia:

The land battle between Russia and Georgia - which started on Thursday with a Georgian offensive against the South Ossetian separatists and Russia's iron-fisted response - now appears to be static. Both sides continue to trade fire, Georgians shelling Russian positions and Russian jets dipping and diving on the Georgians. But neither side appears to want to move or attack anywhere urgently. (...)

Despite rumours that swept Tbilisi on Sunday night and Monday, stoked by the Georgian government, that Russian troops had broken out from the South Ossetian enclave and were headed for the regional centre of Gori 30km to the south, no such invasion materialised, though a nearby army base was hit by one bomb. "We all evacuated, thinking the Russians were rolling into town any minute, but when we came back in the morning, the people said they'd had a peaceful night's sleep," said a correspondent with Al-Jazeera television.

Beyond a few bombing raids (and some collateral damage, endlessly shown), there does not appear to have been large scale military movement by the Russians. This has not prevented our media from swallowing the Georgian version of things unquestioningly (even when Saakashvili was talking about shooting down 80 Russian planes and other similarly incredible assertions), and the discourse to move uniformly about Russia's over-reaction, thus conveniently avoiding the debate about the prelude to this and our role therein.


Instead, we get this:

The new age of authoritarianism

Yet today, in much of the world, the spread of freedom is being checked by an authoritarian revanche. That shift has been most obvious in the petro-states, where oil is casting its usual curse. From Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, the black-gold bonanza has given authoritarian regimes the currency to buy off or to repress their subjects. In Russia, oil has fuelled an economic boom that prime minister Vladimir Putin, and some of his foreign admirers, mistakenly attribute to his careful demolition of the chaotic democracy of the 1990s.

(no mention of the US or Europe in that trend)

Vladimir Bonaparte

The farther Russia's tanks roll into Georgia, the more the world is beginning to see the reality of Vladimir Putin's Napoleonic ambitions. Having consolidated his authoritarian transition as Prime Minister with a figurehead President, Mr. Putin is now pushing to reassert Russian dominance in Eurasia. Ukraine is in his sights, and even the Baltic states could be threatened if he's allowed to get away with it. The West needs to draw a line at Georgia.

(...)

Vladimir Putin's Russia isn't the former Soviet Union, bent on ideological confrontation around the world. But it is a Bonapartist power intent on dominating its neighbors and restoring its clout on the world stage. Unless Russians see that there are costs for their Napoleon's expansionism, Georgia isn't likely to be his last stop.

(He's so French, ie cowardly, if I remember correctly?)

How the West Can Stand Up to Russia

Georgia's "impertinence" in seeking NATO membership and building close ties with Europe does not fully explain Moscow's blatant display of brute power. In a speech before the Munich Conference on Security Policy in February last year, Mr. Putin made it clear that Russia would no longer accept the rules of the international road as set by the democratic West. It was an in-your-face challenge to the U.S. and Europe, and we blinked. With the exception of John McCain, who warned against "needless confrontation" on the part of Moscow, no American or European official at the conference made any attempt to push back. Ever since, Moscow's contempt for NATO, the European Union and Washington has only grown.

Reversing this course will not be easy, but it is absolutely necessary. At stake are international law, energy security, NATO's future, and American credibility when it comes to supporting new democracies. It is also about resisting Russia's openly hegemonic designs on its neighbors

(...)

What can the West do? The first step is for the U.S. and its allies to rush military and medical supplies to Tbilisi. If we want democracy to survive there, Georgians have to believe that we have their backs. At the moment, the tepidness of the Western response has given them serious cause for doubt. In addition, Washington should lead the effort to devise a list of economic and diplomatic sanctions toward Russia that impose real costs for what Moscow has done. Russia should know that the West has a greater capacity to sustain a new Cold War than Russia, with its petroleum-dependent economy, does.

(...)

Over the longer term, it is essential that Russia's stranglehold on Europe's energy supplies be broken. The EU's failure to get its house in order by diversifying energy supplies and insisting that Russia, in turn, open up its own market, has created a situation in which Moscow rightly believes it has significant leverage over the policy positions of key countries such as Germany.

Gah.

Display:
"This has not prevented our media from swallowing the Georgian version of things unquestioningly..."

Which is more likely, the media might give more air time to georgian PoW because:
a) independent Western media can't report from South Ossetian / Russian side of the front because they can not get there, or
b) Georgian goverment / neocons / dark overlords have paid off BBC, Reuters, CNN, and dozens of other reputable news outlets?

by teme on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:49:56 AM EST
Or that as a result of being trained by a long-term diet of Cold War propaganda we're still inclined to expect the Ruskies to be the villains of the piece.

Don't underestimate the attractiveness of a return to the Cold War narrative of White Hat West vs. Black (Fur) Hat Ruskies for a lot of serious people. Life was simpler then.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But this is all the more annoying when a paper has its own correspondent on thr ground, and actually prints his account.

To be fair to the FT, their front page article  included the following paragrpah:


In a day of claims and counterclaims, Georgian officials said Russian troops had captured Gori, to the west of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. But there was no sign of them in the city and Moscow denied the claim.

But their editorials ignore those facts.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:03:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If (a), then one would expect a little more prudence from "reputable news outlets", along the lines: we can't actually get reporters there, so we can't be sure. In fact, though some do say this (I heard French public radio this morning, for example, where they had a reporter in Tbilissi who said reports of Russian tanks approaching the Georgian capital were unfounded, everything was quiet, but he couldn't report on other parts of Georgia). But, by and large, we have had and still have noisy reports of Russian ill-doing (see my note below on what Google News was heading its page with).

As to (b), suggesting that the mainstream media are under influence, and that, particularly in America, and particularly concerning editorial commentary, the line taken is clearly "Russia is bad", is not the same thing as wearing a tinfoil hat and imagining conspiracies and pay-offs. There's such a thing as an ideological consensus, and the Cold War habit of mind is an easy one to revive.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:49:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My daily, (Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki/Finland, quite a big news org actually) explicitly pointed out that western media has effectively been denied access to S. Ossetia, and given that Russian media can not be trusted anyway and particullary under the circumstances, S. Ossetia is effectively under the fog of war, and thus Georgian experience of the war gets more pages no matter what.

I very much doubt they were the only news outlet to point this out, even if news orgs would rather not admit that they can not get the news. If the Russians want their side of the story heard, perhaps they should try allowing the press to report from their side?

And demanding unbiased editorials is a contradiction in terms, these are opinion pieces by definition.

by teme on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 08:04:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The contrast between untrustworthy Russian media and "Georgian experience of the war" is already rather biased, isn't it? What we've been hearing from Saakashvili is just as impossible to check as anything said by the Russians. For instance, I heard Saakashvili, speaking English, on the radio this morning saying the Russians might well be heading for Ukraine. Just as it's been alleged they are "deep" inside Georgia. Are there journalists able to report factually on allegations like these? If there's a "fog of war", it's not only in South Ossetia, and not only due to the Russians.

As for editorials, of course you're right - within the limits of each editorial. There can, however, be imbalance in the aggregate between the different op-eds published.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:04:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps I've should been clearer. The daily I was talking about, and this should apply to any decent newsdesk, simply stated that due to the fact that they have reporters on the ground in Georgia, and there are other reputable sources such as Reuters with local presence, they can actually check the stories from the Georgian side and print them. And not so from the Russian side.

I am not a journalist, but I am close to the profession in various ways. And the ease with which charges of bias are thrown quite frankly gets under my skin. Didn't this use to be a right loony wing sport?

No news are ever perfectly accurate, particulary war reporting given the speed of events and the conditions is notoriously unreliable. Good journalists try to make it bit less unreliable. This takes manpower and effort, that is costs money, and the increasingly fewer companies that actually practise it deserve some respect. Such as the benefit of the doubt.

by teme on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine, so what are the unbiased, reporter-checked facts on the ground in Georgia, according to Helsingin Samonat?

 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:40:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sanomat, sorry!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check for yourself, www.hs.fi/english/

The English language version is pretty sparse but you get the picture. The Difficult Art of War Reporting is the piece I talked about. No direct link, sorry, I am on a mobile.

by teme on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:09:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am unimpressed. To take the two or three salient points from the article

The main source in South Ossetia has been the Russian media.

However, in the West, confidence in the Russian media has deteriorated ever since the Kremlin and those who are close to the Kremlin took control of all of the most important media outlets.

The threshold to quoting the Russian media directly is high, even though the information that they give would certainly be useful in many cases.

But apparently the CNN and BBC are considered trustworthy enough to quote extensively.

Most [Russian] media outlets refer to the Russian forces as peacekeepers - including the special forces deployed as reinforcements.

The news agency Ria Novosti is very precise when it describes the actions of the Georgians, and rather vague when describing what the Russian forces have done.

According to one item the Georgians “bombard”, “shell”, and “virtually destroy” the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, whereas the Russians “carry out their operation”, and "take control" of areas.

This would actually be funny if it wasn't such a serious matter. There is no commentary I can add to it that anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to how the Western(TM) press has failed to cover the American operations in Vietraq has not already thought for him- or herself, so I'll just let it make the point on its own.

The sharp statements of Dmitri Medoyev, the South Ossetian envoy in Russia, are published eagerly [in the Russian press].

Ah, yes, you see we cannot quote the Russian press quoting the South Ossetian envoy, because he's rude and confrontational and probably not entirely honest.

What's that you say about quoting Bush? No, no, that's different. You see, when the Leader of the (Free) World(TM) says something, it's newsworthy, even if it is an outright lie, so we have to quote him. Yes, extensively. No, of course we can't say in so many words that he's engaging in historical revisionism.

Yes I suppose we could reiterate the facts and let the contrast speak for itself... <thinking>... <thinking>... <eurika>: But y'see we already covered the facts four days ago, so they are no longer news - and we're a news agency. So terribly sorry to disappoint, but that's just the way it is.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:30:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. Here's the link to the War Reporting article.

It's fine as it goes, but only questions Russian accounts, and not the Georgian allegations that were extensively reported (without much fact-checking I've seen), in the American media particularly.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:44:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it would be nice if editorials stuck to offering opinions on facts rather than just making facts up or ignoring them.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:10:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"If the Russians want their side of the story heard, perhaps they should try allowing the press to report from their side?"

The first day, two ITAR-TASS (the Russian news agency) reporters where killed in Tsjinvaliu, Osetia's capital. I suppose that there´s hot, warm and cold moments, and in the hottest  moments is just not a questions of allowing press, but also of being able to guarantee security.

(I anyway agree that the Russian government is not very fond of having Western press in certainn areas. Anyway, I am much more worried right now on the wrong perceptions that politicians seem to get, leading to very bad geopolitical decisions. THEY should, definitely, be better informed, and forget many of the Cold War language that seem to be still fasionable...).

"If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none." (Fahrenheit 451)

by pereulok on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:22:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not even going to bother with this anymore with my fellow Americans over at Daily Kos.

Too many faithfully believe the myth of St. George the dragon slayer taking on the big evil Russian bear and won't even acknowledge what the Georgians did to bring this on.

But, here at ET, I think it may be worth it to bring this to attention from today's Guardian

Tom Parfitt travelled to Tskhinvali, in a trip organised by the Kremlin, to witness first hand the destruction caused by the battle for South Ossetia

It seems that reports of the city being leveled were exaggerated, BUT entire neighborhoods were by Grad rockets.

Also, as I remember from the military, this being illegal and an atrocity in the Law of Land Warfare

Close to the centre of the city Russian officers led the group to the city's main hospital which was hit by small arms fire and shells during the first days of fighting. Doctors at the hospital said they had been forced to carry out operations in corridors and the basement of the building without electricity, water or light.

Tina Zakharova, one of the doctors, pointed out chunks of shrapnel which had hit the building.

"This is the humanitarian aid that Georgia sent us," she said, "and that," she said, pointing at a field hospital nearby, "is the help we received from Russia. Which do you think we should chose?" She added: "I've never heard anything so monstrous as people shelling a hospital."

In total, said Zakharova, 224 injured people had been treated at the hospital and two people had died there. Just south of the city centre a group of reporters were shown a street entirely destroyed by a Grad missile attack. Homes along the 100m street had been reduced to rubble.

As far as reporters not getting in there, there were indeed security concerns and they had to go in armored cars because of Georgian snipers.  In fact, it seems the Georgians aren't exactly holding to the ceasefire

Back at the hospital there were sounds of gunfire and then the crump of mortars landing somewhere in the city. First one explosion, then a second. When a third hit, sounding louder, the Colonel said: "It's time to move. Let's go."

But of course, over at Kos, that is just ITAR/TASS propaganda

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:08:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, as I remember from the military, this being illegal and an atrocity in the Law of Land Warfare

No, no, no, when The West(TM) does it, it's Shock and Awe. And Shock and Awe is a completely legitimate military tactic that, however, regrettably causes some limited "collateral damage."

After all, the Pentagun's lawyers say so. And we all know that US government lawyers are very concerned about international law. Just ask Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 11:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which was very abrupt, perhaps 9/11 did change everything after all.  The military I served in, even internally, condemned such actions even with a soft tongue "Mai Lai is an example of what NOT to do" then we repeat in Fallujah and say Hell Yea without any self criticism as we did with Vietnam.

Yet I was a troop who invaded Panama to protect American nationals from Noriega's regime (ok, lot's of other reasons but that is what was used).

The Russian justification is no different here.

I grew up in South Dakota, home of the Plain's Sioux Indians and multiple USAF ICBM missile silos, we were a target of Soviet obliteration in the case of WWIII even before Soviet tank divisions ever made it to the Fulda Gap...

Yet I never once heard the term Homeland Security.

I left the New America for Europe in 2004, always mourning the old America I grew up in, an America that made gross mistakes, but at least could own up to them eventually

I cannot stomach hypocrisy

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 12:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
c) Western media outlets copy and quote each other like mad(*), thereby magnifying greatly the reach and power of single published propaganda pieces.

(*) This is a byproduct of complex mutual business relationships, consisting of syndication agreements, common ownership by media conglomerates, and of failure to consistently acknowledge the ultimate source of presented information.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bingo. To call Western(TM) media "incestuous" would be too kind.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:19:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we go with 'inbred'?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:54:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
um, i think 'narcissistically self-referential' pretty much covers it...

'pure propaganda' comes close second!

'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 13th, 2008 at 06:59:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't need to get into South Ossetia to determine if the Russians have rolled into Gori.  Western media do not seem to be checking facts they can check.
by rifek on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:35:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google News US is still not carrying the Medvedev announcement. A quarter of an hour ago its top story was:

The Associated Press: AP Top News at 4:00 a.m. EDT

ZUGDIDI, Georgia (AP) -- Russian tanks roared deep into Georgia on Monday, launching a new western front in the conflict, and Russian planes staged air raids that sent people screaming and fleeing for cover in some towns. The escalating warfare brought sharp words from President Bush, who pressed Moscow to accept an immediate cease-fire and pull its troops out to avert a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of violence in the former Soviet republic.

Now its top story is: Russia Bombs Georgian City of Gori

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:13:05 AM EST
The google front page is slow (now only headlining the report with a WaPo article). But if you go beyond that into the individual news results, I've found it useful, if somewhat confusing.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 08:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 
http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?sortBy=1&forumID=5212&start=30&tstart=0& edition=2&ttl=20080812115151#paginator

Added: Tuesday, 12 August, 2008, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK

The difference in views on the events in Ossetia has its own explanation. Russian now have the opportunity to receive information from different sources. In addition to Russian television channels we can watch television of GB, US, Germany ... Many Russian speak foreign languages and can read information on the Internet. We can compare different information. People in the West do not have such an opportunity. They are victims of one-sided false propaganda.
We sympathize with their situation

Masha Yelizeeva, Caucasus  




Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:20:35 AM EST
LOL. (Because it's a fair shot, or at least a funny one).

LOL. (Because, Masha, we too in the West™ can get TV channels and Internet...)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:50:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As opposed to the Russians you don't speak foreign languages...That's what she was about to say I suppose...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of us may not speak Russian, but we can get news from Russia Today, the Moscow Times, etc.

(On a personal note, this statement does not apply to ET, most people here speak upwards of 2 languages, some even Russian!)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:00:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, here on ET we are trying to be informed best we can...but what about millions of Americans...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:56:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think vbo is correct.

I can't count the number of times I have seen this illustrated on the tv.  Most of the US newscasts seem to be -weirdly enough- relying on Russian footage. Or, well, all the captions are in Russian, not Georgian.  And repeatedly the reporters will be talking about, say, Gori or Tblisi, when the footage on the screen, in Russian, is labelled South Ossetia. The effect is super weird.  I assume most of us do speak multiple languages here at ET, so imagine, Nanne, watching German news, and the footage on the screen is a feed from CNN in English, and not of what the German reporters are talking about.  I guess they are assuming no one reads Russian.  I guess no one in the newsrooms reads Russian.  Makes me wonder how much footage I've seen of Iran is in Iraq or something.  Since I can't read Arabic, how would I know the difference?

As for State-run media & propaganda: I think 1) Russians, used to being lied to, are a bit more cynical about the honesty of the official news in their country than are Americans, who are just now figuring out that they may have been lied to, and 2) both countries have relatively unfettered access to the internets, but average Americans will nevertheless stick to American news or the BBC.  I'm guessing most Americans who are even aware that the Moscow Times or Russia Today exist, already have a bit of background in Russian.  

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

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:18:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for State-run media & propaganda: I think 1) Russians, used to being lied to, are a bit more cynical about the honesty of the official news in their country than are Americans

This can create weird effects. My parents came to this country convinced supporters of the Vietnam war, going on the assumption that the Polish press was just lying. Took them about a year in the US to change their minds.

by MarekNYC on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:23:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow

I just posted that based on my own observations.  Apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed:

CNN blamed for using misleading war video

American broadcaster CNN has been accused of using the wrong pictures in their coverage of the conflict in South Ossetia. A Russian cameraman says footage of wrecked tanks and ruined buildings, which was purported to have been filmed in the town of Gori, in fact showed the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali.
Gori was said to be about to fall under the control of the Russian army but the cameraman says the video was actually shot in Tskhinvali, which had been flattened by Georgian shelling.

Aleksandr Zhukov, from the Russiya Al-Yaum channel, said: "When we arrived and news came that Gori was being shelled, I saw my footage. I said: that's not Gori! That's Tskhinvali. Having crawled through the length and breadth of Tskhinvali, I don't need much to tell from which point this or that footage was recorded. I can swear in front of any tribunal. I can point at this location on the map of the town, because I and the cameraman of the Rossiya channel videotaped that."

Maybe RT isn't the most objective source, but I can tell you this has been happening regularly since Friday.  I see it everyday with my own eyes.

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

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why I am laughing every time when western people are talking about "unreliable sources". I have no ANY trust in your major sources like CNN , or even BBC...During last Balkan wars in ex YU there was so many false reporting, so many false pictures so many misrepresentation that it makes one puke. See, the first news and pictures are important, they make impression and form public opinion. They can apologize for false reporting million times later, people do not remember it. They remember first "picture".
Recently when Radovan Karadzic was arrested some western station (I do not remember which one but I think it was BBC) had footage from Belgrade covering demonstrations and they actually put as a part of the footage video from Hungarian demonstrations that happened some time ago.
DO NOT TRUST YOUR MEDIA! They are lying  big time!


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All sides are lying. Russian media is a joke (an honorable 140th rank when it comes to media freedom, just ahead of Congo), but everyone knows that so that's okay. Except the Russian people I guess.

But western media is if not as bad, still horribly slanted, especially during this war. You can't trust it, and as people think they can trust it, it's even worse.

The only high quality unbiased media on the planet is Al-Jazeera English. Staffed by ex-BBC guys who know what they are doing and take their journalistic mission seriously. I guess that's why the Americans keep bombing them.

What a funny world when the freest media is run and financed by a Mideast despot...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 12:07:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I suppose you are right!Everyone is lying.
We are all manipulated big time!

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 02:28:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All sides are lying. Russian media is a joke (an honorable 140th rank when it comes to media freedom, just ahead of Congo), but everyone knows that so that's okay.
Who is preparing those ratings? US government?
by blackhawk on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 03:45:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. Reporters without borders.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Aug 17th, 2008 at 09:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which is why I, an American, read almost exclusively the overseas press. Americans, our wealth and relative freedom notwithstanding, are a poorly educated, provincial people posing as globalists. It's really frightening to me that our frame of reference ("does this-or-that enhance our might in the world or not?") is so narrow.

This brings to mind Germany at the turn of the 20th century, i.e.: The same players (wealthy industrialists and the professional classes) are expressing the same attitudes and going largely unchallenged in our national discussion.

I don't know the truth of the fighting in Georgia...yet. Is it a move of a pending Russian reconquista? An effort to maintain some stability on Russia's borders? A shot back at the West for recognizing the autonomy of the Kosovo enclave? All of the above?

I'll reserve judgement at this point. And watch. . . .

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:29:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to posting on European Tribune papicek!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, thank you....

Here's something interesting. Though I come here through Jerome's posts on DailyKos, I note also that on the blogroll of this blog, Foreign Policy Magazine's Passport blog, the first tab which comes up every time I fire up my browser, is...The European Tribune.

Small world :)

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 02:31:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, not speaking Russian doesn't mean "not speaking foreign languages". Unless "foreign" means "non-EU"...

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 Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:10:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK for those of you who read Russian here is blog of the man from Tskhinvali.It may be genuine and you may get a picture of the atrocities of Georgians and understand why Putin and Medvedev are talking about international court in Hag.It can also be propaganda.Who will decide?

http://rupor-naroda.livejournal.com/


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 10:16:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We won't know until the war is over and everything has quieted down. Maybe not even then.

The stupidest pieces of propagande this far is the Georgians claiming to have downed 80(!) Russian aircraft and the South Ossetsian clowns claiming that negroes ("negri") have been found among the Georgian dead. Supposedly Americans. Strangely the corpse had a black face because it had been pretty much turned into charcoal. The rest of the body was white. Obviously a negro...

Oh yes, another stupid thing was some tin-foil American news-show claiming the Russian had deployed tactical nukes in South Ossestia because someone had spotted SS-21 launchers. That the Russians use SS-21's with conventional warheads for high value targets hadn't struck them...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Aug 17th, 2008 at 09:44:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide News | Newspaper
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a halt to military operations in Georgia today, just before French President Nicolas Sarkozy was to hold peace talks in Moscow.

lovely, isn't it? Amazing how these guys always underestimate the Russians.

by Fran on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:16:42 AM EST
Nah, Medvedev just realised that ending the conflict before Sarkozy inserted himself into the story was the only way to avoid World War III. Carla was already on her way to meet with South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:22:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The link doesn't actually lead to the article itself, and I've had trouble finding it (their search engine isn't the best in the world...). Do you still have it in our browser history?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 12:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting editorial by Mikhail Gorbachyov in the Washington Post:
A Path to Peace in the Caucasus

By Mikhail Gorbachev
Tuesday, August 12, 2008; Page A13

...
The roots of this tragedy lie in the decision of Georgia's separatist leaders in 1991 to abolish South Ossetian autonomy. This turned out to be a time bomb for Georgia's territorial integrity. Each time successive Georgian leaders tried to impose their will by force -- both in South Ossetia and in Abkhazia, where the issues of autonomy are similar -- it only made the situation worse. New wounds aggravated old injuries.
...
What happened on the night of Aug. 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against "small, defenseless Georgia" is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity.
...
The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of U.S. instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of NATO membership, emboldened Georgian leaders into thinking that they could get away with a "blitzkrieg" in South Ossetia.

In other words, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was expecting unconditional support from the West, and the West had given him reason to think he would have it. Now that the Georgian military assault has been routed, both the Georgian government and its supporters should rethink their position.



"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:18:25 AM EST
To which one could add that Russia has shown considerably more restraint than - say - the US would have. Imagine if Serbia had attacked Kosovo and bombed Camp Bondsteel <shudder>. Beograd would be reduced to slag in the space of less than 48 hours.

Of course, refraining from using shock and awe tactics terror-bombing against their enemies is just basic civilised behaviour and thus hardly qualifies Russia for brownie points, but recent events coughfallujahcough have made it noteworthy at least...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:27:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While I consider all violence excessive, I can't help but agree that they have been far more restrained than they could have been. Russia could have just all out occupied the entirety of Georgia, if that's what they desired (notwithstanding that they'd possibly have guerrilla war on their hands under such a scenario).

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:47:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
good point.

it's done russia good to take time out from being the 'other gorilla'. medvedev and putin don't win beauty contests (sorry poemless!), but they have their feet very much on the ground and i trust them more than any rapture-sipping crusaders.

....to screw europe with the same capitalism we taught them, but without the sickly glaze of hypocrisy and moral posturing western leaders affect.

the difference between yeltsin, kruschov, brehznev and others in that old mould, and the new sleek, precision-machined, unsentimental face of power russia shows today is nothing short of amazing.

of course EU slowness to get off the oil/gas tit will serve to tempt the russians to swell too fast, which is another good reason to stop feeding them so many billions, keeping our fossil-fool middlemen high on the hog and calling the political shots from behind the curtain.

'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 13th, 2008 at 07:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re the Gorbachev comment:

The Georgian leadership could do this only with the perceived support and encouragement of a much more powerful force. Georgian armed forces were trained by hundreds of U.S. instructors, and its sophisticated military equipment was bought in a number of countries. This, coupled with the promise of NATO membership, emboldened Georgian leaders into thinking that they could get away with a "blitzkrieg" in South Ossetia.

I refer to my quote from Russian Komersant yesterday that was prompted by the diary by ManfromMiddletown, who also used a Komersant report to support a claim that US based Blackwater Security may have mercenaries participating in the conflict.

Unnamed U.S. Diplomat Held Georgia Partially Responsible for War in South Ossetia

Georgia is partially responsible for the start of military standoff with Russia in South Ossetia, a top ranked representative of the U.S. Department of State announced August 9 on condition of anonymity.

The United States long urged Georgia to avoid military conflict with the Russians, to avoid any escalation. The standing of Washington was clear from the very beginning, the unnamed diplomat said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for immediate cease-fire. "We call on Russia to cease attacks on Georgia by aircraft and missiles, respect Georgia's territorial integrity and withdraw its ground combat forces from Georgian soil," Rice said in a statement.



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 Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:32:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another perspective of US "encouragement of Georgia" from Reuters.  

Simes said U.S. encouragement of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, one of Washington's staunchest allies, may have led him to believe he could get away with military action to take back control of South Ossetia.

The Bush administration has pushed hard for Georgia to join NATO, against European misgivings and Russian fury at the idea.

"Saakashvili was discouraged from attacking Russian troops in South Ossetia but he clearly never was told point blank 'If you do it, you are on your own,'" said Moscow-born Simes, who was an informal adviser to President Richard Nixon.

'MISCALCULATION'

Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, agreed that U.S. encouragement may have made Saakashvili "miscalculate" and send Georgian troops into South Ossetia.

"I think in many respects Saakashvili got too close to the United States and the United States got too close to Saakashvili," Kupchan said. "It made him overreach, it made him feel at the end of the day that the West would come to his assistance if he got into trouble."




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 Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 01:56:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it fascinating that so many comments to articles and editorials in papers and websites like the NYT, the Washington Post, the BBC, show that many people have clearly seen through the "official" line with regard to the "good" Georgians and the "bad" Russians. While there's plenty of sympathy for the real suffering of the folks under attack in both S. Ossetia and Georgia, I find that the only hard-line supporters of the Georgian president are the same folks who think the US should wipe out Iran tout de suite. And ex-President Gorbachev's article in the Washington Post this morning got lots of favorable comments, along with the usual "Commie pinko" ones.
by Edouard (edouard@salebetedeletethis.net) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:22:00 AM EST

NATO says membership pledge to Georgia stands

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO said on Tuesday that its summit pledge this year that Georgia will one day become a member of the alliance still stands despite fighting with Russia over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.

"I think that the Bucharest communique stand," NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after allied ambassadors met Georgia's ambassador to discuss the crisis.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:22:14 AM EST
"one day" in a far away galaxy, in a far away future...?

Maybe he thought he had to say that so that NATO doesn´t look like it´s following Russia´s wishes.
But after what happened in the last few days I really can´t see Germany changing its mind.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like its time for sane countries to leave NATO, then.
by IdiotSavant on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:39:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daniel Davies is too flippant about serious things for some, but I think here he sums up my view on the situation overall better than I have been able to:

D-squared Digest -- FOR bigger pies and shorter hours and AGAINST more or less everything else

The D^2D position on this horrible mess? I fall back on the old LBS proverb: "Not all problems have solutions". Other than to note that this sort of thing is more or less an inevitable consequence of any policy of encouraging people round the world to believe that they have a commitment of military support from NATO when they don't. Christ, we in the West are making a pig's ear out of that End Of History that we won.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:24:41 AM EST
FT.com / World - Georgia defiant after Russian ceasefire
Hours after Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russian troops to end hostilities, Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili on Tuesday continued to present a defiant front, telling tens of thousands of his countrymen gathered at a rally in the capital, Tbilisi that Russia `would pay' for its actions.

Russians can't turn Georgia "into another Grozny," Mr Saakashvili told an estimated 150,000 protesters crowding outside the country's parliament. He said Georgia would quit the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a Moscow-led group of former-Soviet countries.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, called for Mr Saakashvili to quit accusing him of "criminal acts against his people"."Our position is that Mr Saakashvili cannot be our partner, and the best thing would be if he left office...I don't think Russia will be in a mood to conduct negotiations or even to talk with Mikheil Saakashvili".

Nato on Tuesday said that the situation in Georgia must be restored to "the way it was" before the hostilities started in the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia last week.

A Russian army official earlier told the Interfax news agency that Russian forces would continue active duties in the region despite the ceasefire."If we have received an order to cease fire, that does not mean that we will stop all action, in particular investigative (action), " Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of the Russian armed forces said.

"Russia is awaiting a reaction from Tbilisi to Medvedev's order" Colonel Nogovitsyn said. He warned that Russia would retaliate against any `provocation' from the Georgian troops.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:49:37 AM EST
Although, given how much of his presidency he staked on seizing control of the region, and given how he just failed miserably at doing just that, you can't help but wonder how firm a grip he has on his office. Especially if the perception among the Georgians is that "the West" did little to nothing in return for Georgian efforts to "westernise".

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:40:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.rambler.ru/news/events/georgia/564985650.html

I don't know how reliable this Russian site is but if you scrolled down you'll find list of the countries that armed Georgia and list of weapons. My Russian is even worse then my English but I would say that list goes like this:
USA
Bulgaria
Hungary
Greece
Latvia
Litany
Turkey
France
Czech Republic
Estonia
Israel
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Serbia
Ukraine
--------
Can you believe Serbia is on the list?And this is not the only one list on web...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:26:53 AM EST
So what? Most of these countries will sell arms to whomever got the money to buy them. And Russia is doing the same for many other countries.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:26:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]



Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:58:48 AM EST
Yesterday's Danish newspapers claim that the Russian military has secured Gori and a couple of other strategically important cities (including Georgia's Black Sea port).

They source it from a statement by a Georgian envoy and the last thing I heard was that no independent newsies could confirm it on the ground, so I'm inclined to believe it's bullcrap, but does anybody here know anything?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 11:47:43 AM EST
US media are generally pro-Georgian and anti-Russian, but The New York Times had an interesting article of a different nature yesterday.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/washington/13diplo.html?ref=europe

by Anthony Williamson on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 01:37:46 PM EST
This line I find particularly striking:

“The Georgians figured it was better to ask forgiveness later, but not ask for permission first,” said one administration official.

I know that it's an idiom, but still...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 04:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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