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Georgia: oil, neocons, cold war and our credibility

by Jerome a Paris Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 05:08:31 AM EST

This is another diary critical of the West's position on Georgia. (Update: See also my new story: The warmongers lose another war

Just as a bit of background, let me state here for the record that I wrote my PhD on the independence of Ukraine, and have thus studied how Russia behaves with its neighbors rather intensively. Following that, I worked for several years financing oil&gas projects in Russia and the Caspian; in particular, I worked on te financing of the BTC pipeline that goes from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia (I wrote about it on DailyKos 3 years ago). Oil companies don't need the money: what they want is for other parties like banks to share the political risks associated with their projects. Which means that in turn, the job of a banker working on these projects is to understand those political risks. And it is quite obvious that the relationship between Russia and the Caucasus countries, including Georgia, was at the heart of my work.

But if you think I am just a "lefty European apologist of Soviet atrocities", feel free to move on and ignore this diary.

Front-paged by afew

As an additional preamble, when I say that the West has no more credibility than Russia on this conflict, it does not mean that Russia has any credibility, or that I love Putin, it means that the West has no credibility whatsoever; when I mock the West's claims about human rights and democracy, it does not mean that I think Russia is a defender of human rights and democracy, just that we have no credibility either on the topic.

All of that stated, here are a few facts worth noting about Georgia and the current behavior of its president, Russia, and decision makers in Washington:

  • First, let's be clear: there are two reasons only we care about Georgia: the oil pipelines that go through its territory, and the opportunity it provides to run aggressive policies towards Russia.
  • Second, let's also be very explicit: this conflict is not unexpected: it is a direct consequence of our policies, in particular with respect to Kosovo (and to all those that will claim that "no one could have predicted" this, let me point out to this comment, or this earlier one, or this article). I would even go so far as to say that it was egged on by some in Washington: the neocons.
  • Third, our claims to have the moral high ground are totally ridiculous and need to be fought, hard. This is not about democracy vs dictature, brave freedom lovers vs evil oppressors, but a nasty brawl by power-hungry figures on both sides, with large slices of corruption. The fact that this is turned into a cold-war-like conflict between good and evil is a domestic political play by some in Washington to reinforce their power and push certain policies that have little to do with Russia or Georgia. That needs to be understood.

:: ::


OK, first, the oil angle.

Georgia does not have oil, but it is a transit country. This is valuable because it provides the only outlet for Caspian oil and natural gas which is not going either through Russia or through Iran. (See the maps and the wider context in that diary) And after a 15-year tug-of-war, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was inaugurated two years ago: it takes roughly 1 million barrels per day from the Azeri oil fields run by BP to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, via Georgia. That's over 1% of world production, and it is fully controlled by Western oil majors. There is also a smaller gas pipeline that follows the same route and brings smaller volumes of gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey.

These pipelines have been at the heart of the relationship between Georgia and the USA over the past 15 years, but, oddly enough, they have played a very small role in the current crisis. In fact, the BTC pipeline has been cut off for the past few days, not because of events in Georgia (which are in the north of the country, whereas the pipelines go through the south), but because of a bomb attack in Turkey before the conflict started, with claims by the PKK, the Kurdish movement.

The reason the current conflict is not about the oil is because, now that the pipeline is built, that game is, in effect, over. Now, the only thing that could stop the flow of oil is, other than localised attacks (like the one conducted by the Kurds, something that has long been expected, and which was mitigated by building the pipeline on a route that avoids kurdish territory) would be for Russia to actually invade all of Georgia and physically take control of the pipeline, ie an outright act of war not just against Georgia, but also against the US.

The reason for that is that, as part of the process to put in place the pipeline, Georgia invited the US military to set up a base on its territory, near the route of the pipeline. Thus, any attack on the pipeline by Russia would become an attack on the USA.

But the important thing to note is that this base was not set up by the current Georgian government, but by its predecessor, that of Shevarnadze, Georgia's previous president (and, if you remember, Gorbatchev's - and the Soviet Union's - minister for foreign relations in the 80s), which was kicked out of power by Saakashvili's bunch in the rose revolution a couple of years ago - more on this below. That base was seen as a defensive gambit, and was relatively small. Indeed, with Georgia still hosting Russian military bases (see the map I posted here), anything bigger would be ... interesting. Which is what's happening today.

But before we go into the internal politics of Georgia, the thing to note at this point is that it is oil that brought the West to care about Georgia, but that this was a settled situation, and no longer a source of conflict in itself.

the color revolution and "democracy"

What changed in the past few years was the series of "color revolutions" in former Soviet republics, started in Ukraine (the orange revolution) and continued in Georgia (the rose one). These have often been profoundly misunderstood, and have been turned into a simplistic "brave democrats fighting to choke off the grip by the evil Putin on their country" narrative, which, oh so conveniently supplemented an extremely aggressive policy by Washington against Moscow.

No longer was Putin an ally or someone that could be worked with, he was evil incarnate. Whether this has anything to do with the fact that he prevented Yukos from merging with a US oil major, or blocked the construction of an oil pipeline and export terminal project to Murmansk that would not have been controlled by the State-owned pipeline monopoly, we'll never know. But the fact remains that the steady policies of encirclement of Russia by bringing former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO, and then former Soviet Republics, and setting up massive military bases there continued and accelerated, despite earlier promises to Russia not to do that. And the rhetoric about Russia's "energy weapon" suddenly turned strident in 2006 as the UK, the neocons's faithful lapdog, suddenly realised it no longer had enough gas and had to find someone to blame for that state of fact rather than its insane 'let the markets provide' policies.

Now, let's be clear about something: Putin's Russia is not quite a democracy. But then it wasn't either in 1999-2004, a time when the discourse about Russia's turn to authoritarianism was rather muted (could it be linked to the fact that its oil sector was, then, almost fully open to foreign investment?). And in the meantime, our own track-record on that topic was rather going in the wrong direction, as painstakingly chronicled on the blogs and elsewhere). Thus my point in pointing out the hypocrisy in the public discourses about Russia is NOT to claim Russia as a model, but to suggest that this public discourse on democracy is hiding something else. And people that accuse me of being too pro-Russian seem to, precisely, miss that point.

The rose revolution that brought Saakashvili to power in 2003 was certainly welcome (the previous regime was terribly corrupt), but it soon had its own problems, and in the most recent elections, turned to pretty anti-democratic means to avoid losing. Feeding nationalistic flames was the time-tested way to try to build up support, and various crises with Russia and Russia surrogates helped the regime maintain its grip on power in increasingly unpleasant ways.

That did not prevent the current occupants of the White House to laud Saakashvili as a great democrat, and to support him against the supposed plots of its neighbors and breakaway republics. The fact that he has been given a quasi-permanent editorial role in the Op-Ed pages of the WSJ (alongside another useful anti-Russian idiot, Gary Kasparov) to blather about how Europe was cowardly betraying democracy and human rights by not standing up to Russia in giving Georgia NATO membership should be a clue. The man is a tool of the warmongering neocons, and a man bent on clinging to his power, at whatever the cost.

Russia has explicitly stated that bringing countries like Ukraine and Georgia, long parts of its empire, into NATO, would be seen as an aggressive act. Is that such an irrational position to take? (I mean, look at US policy towards Cuba...) And yet the US is pushing hard to do that, despite these explicit warnings. Who is being provocative and clamoring for conflict - those that bring military forces to the borders of Russia, or those that say they consider this threatening and will react unpleasantly if it goes on?

Kosove and territorial integrity

This is all the more galling that this is happening in a context where the double standars in the West's policies have never been more staggering.

We talk about the territorial integrity of Georgia after blatantly ignoring it in the case of Serbia, by pushing Kosovo towards independence (again, as I noted above, that this would have immediate, obvious consequences in Georgia was noted long ago by observers not blinded by Washington's rhetoric).

We talk about  diplomacy and international law after destroying both in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

We talk about human rights and democracy after hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, millions are refugees, and after an administration made torture its official policy.

(If you think this is about anti-Americanism, let me note again that I consider that Europe is fully complicit: we authorised or encouraged renditions on our territory, we never protested US policies and generally supported the War in Terror in practice if not in theory. Our leaders are generally happy to participate to the "cover" of these policies by supporting the grand claims about peace, human rights and the like, as if they had any more credibility ourselves, and they love to be seen in Washington or alongside the US on the international scene. Sarkozy and Berlusconi seem bent on being even bigger warmongerers, at their small scale, than Bush)

It does not matter what Russia is doing. We have zero credibility to talk about democracy, human rights, territorial integrity, peace, diplomacy and the like because we have thoroughly trashed these concepts in the past few years.

So, the question as to what our real intentions are when we hide behind these grand words HAS to be asked. The same question has to be asked of Russia, or any other player, but that's precisely my point: we see Russia as brutally playing power games: we have to see our side as doing the same.

We're just as power-hungry and ruthless as the Russians - and probably a bit more reckless and hubristic, lately. saying so does not make me a Russian apologist, just a worried bystander.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 10:22:45 AM EST
.. at Agent Orange, I am sure.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 11:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.. at Agent Orange, I am sure.

so far, so smooth.  as far as i can tell, only two sarcastic/critical comments.  i think the diary was written so well, with so much useful information, and with such an emphasis on looking at the situation with sang froid and balance, that the vast majority of comments are written in a very receptive, thoughtful, and appreciative manner.

Cynicism is intellectual treason.

by marco on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 12:07:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, MtM, I'm sure you meant well, but it took me a few minutes to stop laughing at this one

I do believe that the Soviets funneled some aid to the IRA.....

the biggest more reliable suppliers of funding was the USA. IRA members wanted for terrorist offenses are still legally harboured in the US. When George bush got legislation to intercept funds for terrorists in the wake of 9/11 he specifically exempted the IRA.

Yea, right, the soviet Union was the problem.....not.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 12:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Her Majesty's government responded how? Not at all, we suppose. Never mind that the IRA did considerably more damage to her realms, territories and subjects than the Islamofascist terrists have managed to do, at least so far. Wake me up when they blow up a Mountbatten.

P.S. Can we find the wretched dog that invented the term "Islamofascist" and do something very, very awful to him?

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 10:41:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of the three candidates suggested here

Islamofascism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a 1979 debate with Michel Foucault in the pages of Le Monde over the character of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the French Marxist historian Maxime Rodinson wrote that the Khomeini regime and organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood represented a type of "archaic fascism" ("un type de fascisme archaïque").[4] Albert Scardino claims that "Islamo-fascism" was coined by Muslim scholar Khalid Duran in a Washington Times piece, where "the word was meant as a criticism of hyper-traditionalist clerics".[5] In 1990 the term was also used by Scottish historian Malise Ruthven who wrote in The Independent that, "authoritarian government, not to say Islamo-fascism, is the rule rather than the exception from Morocco to Pakistan."[6]

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 12:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who am I to pour the honey and fire ants on such an illustrious trio?

I'd settle for the three dimwits mentioned in the section "Examples of use in public discourse" namely Mike Huckabee, Clifford May and George W. Bush.

However, I really don't see how the term "fascism" can be used to describe the phenomena in question, even by a "marxist scholar". Especially by a "marxist" scholar.

It's altogther missing the "blood and soil and volk" mythos overlaid, like a Happy Face on Frankenstein's monster, on the political alliance between a militarised "lower upper middle class" and the high bourgeoisie, targeted at foreign sources of resources and the internal working class and intelligentsia. That, at least, is how I have always understood "Fascism."

I question the sincerity and political motivation of those how use the term "Islamofascist" to describe the religiously based opponents of modernity (or of western hegemony) that don't have white skin or the cross of jesus going on before.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 05:31:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maxime Rodinson was one of the best specialists of the history of Islam and I agree with him when he characterizes the Khomeini regime and Muslim Brotherhood as "a kind of fascism". However, the term "Islamofascism" as it is used in public discourse by some American leaders is misleading.

Especially when those who use it are close to the "Christianofascism"...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 07:51:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For my part, what nanomites I know of Islam are interpolated from slight reading of the military history of central asia. However, my sense is that what some want to call "fascism" is what I would call "Abrahamaic patriarchy."

I do not see how the technical term "fascism" can be understood out of the context of the historical development of the european capitalist and imperialist powers between the Napoleonic and Second World wars.

The embrace, by certain militarist postcolonial Arab-world dictators , of a sort of postwar Stalinst economic policy may cause some confusion, but I do not think it is evidence for the claim under dispute.

I would willingly learn more, perhaps in some other lifetime when I am no mere tree.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 09:07:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
don't see how the term "fascism" can be used to describe the phenomena in question, even by a "marxist scholar". Especially by a "marxist" scholar.


They should revoke his Marxism license.

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Aug 11th, 2008 at 02:42:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hereby revoke his/her license, as a former Trot.

No, but seriously, such scholarship of that sort as I once had is summarised in my comment upthread, entitled "we need some definitions." I freely confess I may be way wrong in some strict sense. But in the concrete situation, I think that to adopt the term "Islamofascist" is to give credence to a more dangerous enemy. It should not be too hard to find another less fraught term to refer to the Taliban and the Wahaabists (sp?) and such.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Mon Aug 11th, 2008 at 08:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps we could call them "Talibans" and "Wahabists" and such.

For a somewhat broader term, we could could call them fundagelicals or "Islamic fundagelicals" when we need to distinguish them from the vanilla version.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Calling things by their names; usually a powerful move. I agree entirely!

Somewhere, I read an article to the effect that the term "fundamentalist" was not applicable to Islam because the history of disputatious biblical exegesis to which it refers does not exist in Islam. I have no idea if that claim makes sense.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 10:06:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While technically speaking that's probably correct, most of the Christian factions being called "fundamentalists" are not fundamentalist in the technical sense of the term. "Fundamentalism" refers to a specific historical sect/movement within US protestantism, centred around the periodical Fundamentals. I'm a bit hazy on the details of their particular version of theology, but I'm pretty sure that Catholics, for instance, can't be "fundamentalists" in the historical sense of the term.

However, like "evangelical" - and to an even greater extent - it has in common parlance become a catch-all derogatory term for religious wingnuts. And I don't think it's worth the bother to try to salvage the original meaning of the word (at least not outside scholarly discourse).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 01:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well written, balanced and factual.  Can't ask for much more.

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 09:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A very good summary of recent events. thank you. Even tho' I still understand the reasons for the Kosovo partition, I now accept the West was wrong to support it. But who could have foreseen eh ?:-)))

But you'll get pasted on dKos. Any even-handedness regarding Russia, especially coated with european realism about the motives of the US, means you must be an apologist of Soviet atrocities as well as obviously hating on America. And all the weasel words and explanatory paragraphs in the world won't matter.

If it's not USA !! USA !! USA !! then you're wrong and your village must be bombed until you love America.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 11:51:27 AM EST
RussiaToday : News : The Georgian war - minute by minute
15:45 - 76 Airborne Brigade of the Russian Army arrives in the conflict region - Russian military officials.

15:20 GMT - Prime Minister Putin arrives in Russia's republic of North Ossetia to discuss aid for the refugees arriving from South Ossetia.

14:19 GMT - Russia's Interfax news agency quotes locals in Georgia claiming convoys of `NATO military vehicles' are travelling to South Ossetia.

by Fran on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 12:24:12 PM EST
I hope not.

Possibly vehicles sold/donated by NATO member countries to the Georgian military, but the only NATO military in the region is the US base and pray god they're not stupid enough to get involved.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 12:44:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. That would be very bad.

Have we been blindsided? Now that Iran seems to be off the menu, have teh crazxies decided to attack Russia?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 01:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they can only wait until I'm hiking in the Alps to start the missile lobbing...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 01:30:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should be a fine view from there.

Who still thinks this won't affect oil prices?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 01:38:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm getting there by nuclear powered TGV...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 01:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Russia stages raid near key oil pipeline: Georgia

TBILISI (AFP) — Russian warplanes on Saturday staged a raid near a major international oil pipeline that runs through Georgia but did not damage it, Georgia's prime minister said.

The 1,774-kilometre (1,109-mile) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline is the world's second longest and takes oil from Azerbaijan to Western markets.

Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze told Georgian television: "The area of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was bombed by Russian planes. Miraculously, the pipeline was not damaged."

Given that no oil is moving now, it would have had no immediate consequences, but I must admit that I'm surprised they'd attack the pipeline so early on. As this is just a Georgian assertion, which talks about 'the area of the pipeline', let's wait to have more info.

If this has indeed happened, this is a direct sign to the US, and a pretty ominous one. Russia would be raising the stakes massively.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 01:25:04 PM EST

BP Says It Is Unaware Of Bombing Near Georgia Oil Pipeline

LONDON (AFP)--U.K. oil giant BP PLC (BP) said Saturday it was unaware of Russian bombing near a major international oil pipeline in Georgia that it operates.

A BP spokesman told AFP: "We've seen reports attributed to a Georgian minister saying that the Russians have bombed the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

"We are not aware of that and I think we probably would be if it were true."

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 07:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Western media is translating the Georgian government announcements as is without checking and Georgian government is in full  propaganda mode.

Russian forces only now been able to unblock Tskhinval and  from the reports that are starting to come the city is completely leveled by the artillery and 3 days of Georgian occupation. Civilian casualties are more than 2000, according to the coming reports.

Mikhail Romanoff is one of the 20+ Russian journalists who managed to hide in the basements of several buildings over the course of the Tskhinval siege and fighting is saying they are safe, mostly in one piece and left for North Ossetia. He says not to believe "neither Western (=Georgian) nor Russian TV" and there are more casualties than reported and that it is "worse than Beslan or Chechnya".

by blackhawk on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 08:03:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...for this top notch diary.
Next time I am at a dinner in town somewhere, and someone goes about those pesky Russians being at it again in Georgia, I'll have some ammunition to lauch a counter-offensive...
Can't wait.
by balbuz on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 01:39:52 PM EST
Whataboutbob asked for the link to the UNSC stories over at DKos, so I thought I'd post it here too, just as a resource.  They're basically liveblogging the scene at the UN on Inner City Press.


Good stuff.

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

by poemless on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 02:17:04 PM EST
Excellent piece, Jerome.

It should be noted the press is not entirely on the side of Saakashvili. See this Time piece, which is very critical:

Plainly, the offensive was a gamble, because Saakashvili should have had little doubt about Moscow's readiness to defend the separatists. Moreover, NATO officials had repeatedly warned the Georgian government against launching any attempt to resolve the dispute through military means. Still, he pressed forward.

Russia's initial response was to convene an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, hoping to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Georgia and South Ossetia. But the Russian draft resolution was contentious. The United State and others objected to language that appeared to exempt Russia from condemnation over the use of force.

Saakashvili is appealing for Western support, based on international recognition of South Ossetia as sovereign Georgian territory. "A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," he said, calling for Western intervention. But given NATO's previous warnings, its commitments elsewhere and the reluctance of many of its member states to antagonize Russia, it remains unlikely that Georgia will get more than verbal support from its desired Western protectors. Saakashvili appears to have both underestimated the scale of the Russian backlash, and overestimated the extent of support he could count on from the U.S. and its allies.

(my bold throughout)

I do not see Time writing this when there is an active effort from the White House to move towards intervention.

My guess, based on the media response and its own statements, is that either the White House really was not informed beforehand, or it cut Saakashvili loose.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 02:27:45 PM EST
My guess, based on the media response and its own statements, is that either the White House really was not informed beforehand, or it cut Saakashvili loose.

Or it sandbagged Saakashvili?

by rifek on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 01:43:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, with Georgia still hosting Russian military bases (see the map I posted here)

Actually, all the bases located on the Georgian territory that is controlled by Tbilisi were transferred to the Georgian control ahead of schedule in 2007, see this Wikipedia article for the relevant references. There's only the Gudauta air base in Abkhasia which Georgia claims hosts Russian jets and Russia tends to claim isn't used for air forces.

I guess Le Monde journalists couldn't be bothered with checking their facts.

by Sargon on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 02:35:15 PM EST
Thanks for the diary, Jerome. FYI, Steve Clemons has a piece on it here, as does lenin here.

The Heathlander
by heathlander on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 03:03:37 PM EST
From CNN

TBLISI, Georgia (CNN) -- Georgia's parliament Saturday approved a request by President Mikhail Saakashvili's to impose a "state of war," as the conflict between Georgia and Russia escalated, Georgian officials said.

The Georgian "state of war" order is not a formal declaration of war, and stops short of declaring martial law, according to Georgian officials who described it to CNN.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 03:22:41 PM EST
About an hour ago a high ranking State Department official declared under conditions of anonymity that Georgia was also responsible for the present crisis, all the more so after repeated warnings by the US to moderate its actions.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 04:57:25 PM EST
A few points on Georgia made in the article I mentioned yesterday by Vitalij Tret'jakov, director of the review Politiceskij klass that bolster your argument. Tret'jakov sees three principal reasons why Russia will never allow the Ukraine and Georgia to become part of NATO.

  1. It would be the first time territories that were historically Russian would pass under the control of NATO;
  2. The Black Sea would become essentially a US-NATO lake;
  3. Any future war engaged by the US-NATO, especially against Islamic regimes, would directly involve these border states with direct repercussions on Russia.

During the NATO summit in Bucarest last April Putin bluntly told Bush that Ukraine is not even a nation save for a small territory in Eastern Europe. Putin is not one to mince words. In short, if Georgia and the Ukraine want to play soldier in NATO they'll have to do it without the historical Russian territories. The causus belli in this crisis was the killing of Russian "peacekeepers." I needn't cite other nations that routinely retaliate for the killings of its citizens.

Putin and Medvedev have clearly stated- and enacted- their foreign policy. Despite neocon ranting there are cooler heads in the NATO that disagree with admitting the two states. NATO doesn't need more shit. It's already got its hands full with the Baltic republics and the ex-Warsaw Pact, whose members once prone always prone.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 05:43:52 PM EST
Ukraine threatens to bar Russian warships-Interfax

MOSCOW, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Ukraine said it reserved the right to bar Russian warships dispatched to the Georgian coast from returning to their Ukrainian base of Sevastopol, Interfax news agency reported.

    "Ukraine ... reserves the right to bar warships and vessels which could take part in the action (conflict with Georgia) from returning to Ukrainian territory until the conflict is solved ..."

"Georgian Attack Killed 1,600 S Ossatians

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 05:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Ukrainian base of Sevastopol

Sevastopol and Crimea consider themselves to be Russian.

by blackhawk on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 06:16:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here we fucking go...

I told them the Kosovo decision was a mad one, I told'em! But does anyone ever listen to me?


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

by Starvid on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 02:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be the first time territories that were historically Russian would pass under the control of NATO;

Um, what? Define historically Russian. If we're talking Tsarist Russia the Baltics and Poland. If we're talking the USSR, Baltics. The other two reasons make sense.

by MarekNYC on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 01:32:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by blackhawk on Mon Aug 11th, 2008 at 07:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a late reply. Tret'jakov kicks off his argument with Putin's blunt remark to George Bush last April in Bucarest of the tenure, -Come on George, there's no such thing as the Ukraine except for a small eastern European enclave. Everything they have, we gave to them.

This refers to when Kruschchev, a Ukrainian, "gave" the Ukraine all its present territories which have a vast majority of Russians in 1954. Today's Russia has this perception of the situation whether propaganda or not.

As for the past centuries you are right. A look at the changing borders and empires that have come and gone makes for much confusion. What remains is the present day contention that does echo Hitler's claim over territories with a strong German "ethnic" presence, were it not for NATO enchroachment since the cancellation of the USSR. I suppose that if the Warsaw Pact were cozying up to Saskatchewan the US would be touchy, too.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:34:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

IT'S impossible to overstate the importance of what's un folding as we watch. Russia's invasion of Georgia - a calculated, unprovoked aggression - is a crisis that may have more important strategic implications than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

We're seeing the emergence of a rogue military power with a nuclear arsenal.

The response of our own government has been pathetic - and our media's uncritical acceptance of Moscow's version of events is infuriating.

LATEST NEWS: Russia Calls for Halt in Action

This is the "new" Russia announcing - in blood - that it won't tolerate freedom and self-determination along its borders. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is putting it bluntly: Today, Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine (and the Baltic states had better pay attention).

Georgia's affiliation with the European Union, its status as a would-be NATO member, its working democracy - none of it deterred Putin.

Nor does Putin's ambition stop with the former Soviet territories. His air force has been trying (unsuccessfully) to hit the new gas pipeline running from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The Kremlin is telling Europe: We not only have the power to turn off Siberian gas, we can turn off every tap in the region, any time we choose.

Let's be clear: For all that US commentators and diplomats are still chattering about Russia's "response" to Georgia's actions, the Kremlin spent months planning and preparing this operation. Any soldier above the grade of private can tell you that there's absolutely no way Moscow could've launched this huge ground, air and sea offensive in an instantaneous "response" to alleged Georgian actions.

As I pointed out Saturday, even to get one armored brigade over the Caucasus Mountains required extensive preparations. Since then, Russia has sent in the equivalent of almost two divisions - not only in South Ossetia, the scene of the original fighting, but also in separatist Abkhazia on the Black Sea coast.

The Russians also managed to arrange the instant appearance of a squadron of warships to blockade Georgia. And they launched hundreds of air strikes against preplanned targets.

An unprovoked attack against a WSJ op-ed columnist....

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:17:15 PM EST

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