Russia is not the only bear

Georgia is on my mind. And not because of any parallels ingenious Slugger commenters may find between South Ossetia and NI, ( small, troublesome enclave frozen in time with an unruly paramiltary force laying waste etc, etc). Against the run of coverage, as the tension ratchets up, I’m with those who say the Russians are not the only ones to blame. Being small by itself doesn’t make Georgia right. The case is summed up by Washington post writer Michael Dobbs:

It soon became clear to me that the Ossetians viewed Georgians in much the same way that Georgians view Russians: as aggressive bullies bent on taking away their independence..

Is Bush, with his last throw, talking us into another international crisis?This view is shared by Independent writer Mary Dejevsky, a former Moscow correspondent for the Times and Russia expert.

The American big blogs like Huffington and Drudge along with the establishment east coast press are covering events in detail of course, but in the main seem to be withholding judgment. This from the New York Times is the orthodox reporting line:
Extract:
CRAWFORD, Tex. — “The cold war is over,” President Bush declared Friday, but a new era of enmity between the United States and Russia has emerged nevertheless. It may not be as tense as the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, for now, but it could become as strained.

Huffington runs a rather cumbersome analysis that it is Iran and its supposed potential nuclear threat that is holding Bush back from taking a tougher line against Moscow.

Certainly, the timing of the announcement of the agreement to site a US missile tracking station in Poland as the Georgian crisis flared up, has yet to be fully analysed. Putin loudly complains that this station is targeted against Russia and not Iran as the US claims, and has long warned of dark consequences. But he is more affronted by than fearful of encirclement in the west. The best gambit to trump him would be to renew the offer of extending the developing new US nuclear shield however fallible to Russia, rather than threatening him with expulsion from the G8. In the present climate however, moves like this seem further away than ever.

The FT majored yesterday on the missile shield aspects of the crisis.

Today, as Russian forces linger inside Georgia in apparent breach of their own ceasefire deal, the UK papers before Washington wakes up, have sifted focus to the wider scene around Russia’s borders. Ukraine, a far more formidable entity than Georgia is now in Russia’s sights and a nuclear threat to Poland has been made to Poland. This analysis by Richard Beeston in the Times, has no doubt that the threat is serious.

A slightly over-heated view I’d presume to say, but still worrying. You can follow the escalation of the war of words between Washington and Moscow. We await the first words of cool-down but these are unlikely to be pronounced until the Russians quit Georgian territory proper.

Finally, the Guardian has a useful backgrounder on the PR battle between the agencies representing “motormouth Georgian President Saakashvilli and the more lumbering Russians.

With machismo the default position of both Bush and Putin, the outlook is far from encouraging.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m very suspicious of Russia. I’m pretty sure they have been fermenting things in South Ossetia for quite some time. However, it was very, very stupid of Georgia to push the envelope.

    However I don’t really see that Bush or Brown are in much of a position to criticize. Iraq ?

  • David

    “Is Bush, with his last throw, talking us into another international crisis?”

    I know that those suffering from Bush derangement syndrome seem to think that GW controls everything in the US that tightly that he could inflict 9/11 on his own people without anyone finding out, but this recent addition to the syndrome that made the discovery that he also controls Putin’s actions in Georgia must test the faith of even the most gullible believer.

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes Dave, Bush Derangement Syndrome has now gotten to manic psychosis levels; the Georgians try to reassert their sovereignty over their own territory, the Russian thugs invade and lay waste to their small democratic neighbour and who’s to blame? Why of course, who else but George Bush.

    George Bush, evil incarnate, the man who can conjure up a racist hurricane to lay waste to New Orleans, the man who is responsible for Islam being a misogynistic seventh century death cult, the man who made British shoppers max out on their credit cards for the past ten years, the man who makes China build all those global warming coal fired power stations, blame it all on Bush.

    It’s all Bush’s fault, it was Dubya that made me finish off that second bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon last night and gave me the stinking hangover I’ve had all day, see that irritating verruca I can’t get rid of on my left foot? Yup, Bush’s fault, he’s fuckin’ worse than Ming the Merciless I tell ya!

    Who are yez all going to blame come January 21 2009?

  • IJP

    Firstly, Brian, many congratulations on bringing this issue to Slugger’s attention. Sure beats the endless ludicrous arguments about who’s offended by whom.

    In 2004 I wrote an essay (after my own visit to Moldova on a Soros-sponsored project) predicting war over Transnistria sooner rather than later – happy to make available by email. Substitute “Moldova” and “Transnistria” for “Georgia” and “South Ossetia”, throw in a bit of oil in the latter case, and you have the same lethal cocktail.

    I too am absolutely in the camp that, frankly, the Georgians had it coming – while of course agreeing that the Russian response was disproportionate. I have long thought that the Anglo-American alliance was: a) still mired in the Cold War with regards to Russia, automatically assuming the small ex-Soviet states were the good guys; b) over-estimating of their own power and ability to respond to events within Russia’s sphere of influence; and c) utterly hypocritical given what they did in Iraq and elsewhere (agreed, Comrade).

    The EU too has been weak and hypocritical (e.g. the outrageous recognition of Kosova, unquestionably an integral part of Serbia), if a little more realistic. It has constantly supported Russia’s neighbours in disputes, even where the balance of argument is unquestionably on Russia’s side – e.g. the Estonian Government’s outrageous treatment of its Russian-speaking minority (denied, in practice, the vote). Entry into the EU (and perhaps even NATO) should have been dependent upon an integration policy aimed at treating indigenous residents equally regardless of family origin.

    The other problem is that the West in general has been very keen to talk of (and often talk up) the “European” futures of countries such as Ukraine, Moldova or even Georgia. What about the “European” future of Russia, 80% of whose population lives in geographical Europe?

    Russia remains a highly significant world power, and one that was poorly treated post-Cold War and always likely to hit back, and to be able to hit back. It was always likely to overplay its interest in neighbouring states, but that interest is nevertheless fundamentally legitimate. Ultimately, it’s all very well bleating about “territorial integrity”, but the truth is that this is completely hypocritial (cf Kosovo) and that, in any case, the post-1991 settlement was no more built to last in the ex-Soviet Union than it was in Yugoslavia.

    The lesson from this conflict – a victory for Russia not just over Georgia but also over the West’s pretensions – is that the West, and particularly the United States and its usual coalition partners, needs to take a fundamental look at its relationship with Russia, and with Russians.

  • Harry Flashman

    “I too am absolutely in the camp that, frankly, the Georgians had it coming – while of course agreeing that the Russian response was disproportionate.”

    Yes and those uppity Czechs and Poles had it coming in 1939 (and in 1968 and 1981 funny enough) too didn’t they? They need to be put in their place, need to know who’s boss, can’t have these jumped up little democracies thinking they’re actual independent states with their own sovereign rights now can we?

    No, better to send in Ivan’s boot boys to “disproportionately” rape their nations so that they don’t get too many ideas above their station eh?

    Russia is a washed up, disease ridden, drunken kleptocracy in a death spiral; currently they’re blowing a few billion petro-dollars that through pure dumb, stupid, good luck the cretinous boors and gangsters have managed to amass in recent months but as the price of oil declines and the rest of the world wakes up we’ll see how well they can make their presence felt with their 1970’s rust bucket military and their sullen, illiterate conscripts.

    The far eastern Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok used to be known by its proper Chinese name of Haishenwai, anyone want to bet by what name it will be known as again in twenty or thirty years time?

    It’s a toss up whether it will be the Muslims or the Chinese who feast most off the rotten carcase of the Russian bear as it drowns in a pool of its own vomit. It’ll be no loss either way.

    Viva Georgia Libre! Long Live Free Ukraine! Hail gallant Poland!

    Pity the poor misfortunate, lumpen Russians, doomed to be the ignorant serfs they always were.

  • William Barton

    Harry Flashman

    you are entitled to your views of Russia and the Russians; I fully support the right to free speech. However, it is subject to certain limitations. Branding an entire group/race of 145 million people as “thugs”, “disease-ridden”, “cretinous boors” and “gangsters” is simply unacceptable and is not a protected exercise of the right to freedom of epression. Your comment above is racist and is likely to stir up fear and arouse hatred of persons on grounds of their national origin. As such it is a criminal offence under the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 so I would request you to stop or I shall report you to the police.

    WB

  • Harry Flashman

    Dear William Barton,

    Kindly go fuck yourself.

    You have no right, no right whatsoever, to tell me what opinions I may hold and how I may express them, we do not yet live under an authoritarian rule such as is favoured by the governments of Russia.

    I am entitled to say what I think of Russia and her stinking government and until such time as criticising the disgusting nature of Russian society, politics and military thuggishness becomes a criminal offence I will continue to do so.

    Nothing I have said about the nastiness of Russia is remotely comparable to what is routinely flung at the United States, Britain, Ireland or indeed the Unionist and Nationalist political beliefs here day in and day out on Slugger O’Toole. Who made Russia exempt from criticism?

    If you have a problem with the free expression of political opinions why don’t you feck away off and join your buddy Vladimir, perhaps you can both come up with an idea how to poison me with plutonium in a London sushi restaurant.

    I remain Sir your obediant servant

    Mr Harry Flashman Esq

  • Harry Flashman

    Sorry but on re-reading Barton’s quite astonishing and frankly repellent post I had to come back, first of all to protect Mick at SO’T, any opinions expressed by me are entirely my opinions and in no way reflect the opinions of Slugger O’Toole or their administrators, Willy boy you wanna come after me? Fine come after me, but don’t try censoring this site.

    Now, to come back to the main issue let us rephrase the above statement that Mr Thought Police Barton objected to:

    “Britain is a washed up, no account, third rate power, binge drinking its way into oblivion”

    Is that a racist statement?

    “The US is a bankrupt bully throwing its weight around while clinging to its religious beliefs and its cowboy ideals”

    Is that a racist statement?

    “The Republic of Ireland has wasted its prosperity on an idiotic spending splurge which has led them to blow their money on drunken sailor type excesses”

    Is that racist?

    Help me out Kommissar Barton, what is the Party line this week? What comments are acceptable to the Politburo?

    I’d hate to make a mistake and end up in the cellars of the Lubianka?

  • Occassional Commentor

    It looks to me like an ill-advised attempt to realize a United Georgia. Maybe a GFA for Abkazia and South Ossetia?

  • Greenflag

    WB ,

    ‘so I would request you to stop or I shall report you to the police. ‘

    Just a suggestion but could you make that the Russian police :). Harry could have an interesting time explaining his ‘political ‘ opinions in the Lubyanka 🙂

    I can already envisage the scene

    Russian Guard:

    So Mr Harry the Flasher as one of the 145 million thugs, disease-ridden, cretinous, boors and gangsters serf minded Russians can you please tell me for the 20th time in two days where you are from ?

    HF , ( tied to chair and looking the worse for wear)

    Norn —Norn Ireland .

    Russian Guard ,

    And which are you a Catholic chimpanzee or a Protestant Chimpanzee ?

    HF,

    I’m not a chimpanzee and I’m not a Catholic nor a Prod . I’m a Moslem .

    RGQ to assistant Ivan for the 2Oth time

    ‘Ivan -Beat the crap out of this lying bastard and get the truth . If he still does’nt tell the truth try using the waterboard treatment . We should be okay the Americans have approved of it’s use as being ‘legitimate’ and not ‘torture’ so no need to worry about having to appear at the Hague on any charges – I’ll be back when the next shift starts ‘

  • IJP

    Harry

    What have the Czechs and the Poles got to do with anything?

    The usual trick that – draw a ridiculous parallel with WW2 and then defend the (false) logic of that ridiculous parallel.

    Perhaps you’d like to deal with the actual issue? After all, I wouldn’t have thought you’d actually be all that keen on defending boundaries which were brought about only for Communist planning purposes?

  • Comrade Stalin

    IJP, I learned a lot from that write-up. I’m not well informed at all on the details here, so my opinion was little more than a reaction to the media reports.

    Harry, your point of view is almost certainly hypocritical. There are plenty of parallels to be drawn here between Russia’s behaviour, and that of the USA with respect to it’s central and southern American neighbours, or indeed the actions of your hero Mrs Thatcher in the Falklands. Georgia could have handled this better; they could have appealed for international support against what was going on in South Ossetia. Picking a fight with Russia was stupid, in the same way that Argentina picking a fight with Thatcher over the Falklands was stupid. What happened was entirely predictable. I think a lot of people in the US and UK governments realize this, which is why they haven’t stepped in behind Georgia with military aid, and why there has been no serious attempt to stymie Russia in the UN.

    Also, I suspect if you hadn’t been so busy foaming at the mouth you might have considered William Barton’s contribution to be intended humourously. It certainly made me laugh.

  • Harry Flashman

    IJP

    Oh I’m sorry, did I not make my opinions clear enough? I’m dealing with the issue; a gangster regime in the Kremlin is throwing its weight around against smaller, weaker democracies.

    You clearly are siding with the ignorant bullies in Moscow. Me? I prefer freedom, good luck to Georgia, I hope they get through this dark night, I hope their brave people take some comfort from the magnificent free peoples of Poland, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States, Hungary and the other free peoples who have broken off the shackles of the dreadful, dreary, drunken rule of Russia.

    I hope the ghastly government and state of Russia soon sink into the oblivion which history has long preserved for such repulsive regimes. If there are freedom loving Russians I support them, I wish them well, I hope they can drag their obnoxious government into the 21st Century but honestly I don’t hold out much hope. Better that horrible blight of an artificial “nation” (note to Kommissar Barton, criticising nations is not yet a criminal offence no matter how much you may wish it to be so), disintegrates into its various parts.

    Good luck to the Chinese and the Muslims who have the unedifying task of making a go of the mess the Russians leave behind.

  • Harry Flashman

    CS

    If William Barton’s post was a wind up then I’ll admit to having a sense of humour failure, however it didn’t look like a joke to me and frankly you’ll have to help me out in seeing where citing specific criminal legislation designed to silence political discussion on a political weblog is supposed to be funny.

    Let William come back here and say he was only having a wee joke and I’ll eat humble pie.

    Otherwise I am sure you and the other regular posters here will agree with me that it was a disgraceful and totally unwarranted attempt at enforcing political censorship and the criminalisation of political opinions.

    So why don’t you come back Willy and prove old Harry wrong and tell us how ye were only havin’ a wee laugh at Harry’s expense, eh Willy?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Harry, your point of view is almost certainly hypocritical.< >Pity the poor misfortunate, lumpen Russians, doomed to be the ignorant serfs they always were.<

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry, I don’t think your comments were so outrageous as to be illegal and I’d be completely against anybody trying to censor them, and if there were likely to be problems I guess Mick would have be wielding the scissors. It was the “I will report this to the police” thing at the end which made me believe it was a dry joke.

    Prionsa, I’m a boring fence sitter on this one. Russia’s actions were disproportionate and are to be condemned on that basis. This matter could/should have been sorted out diplomatically. However, Georgia’s actions were equally wrong, and they should also have used diplomacy. They might have come out with more friends and support that way.

    I really do not see any difference between Russia’s behaviour towards the ex-USSR/Warsaw Pact states and the way the USA behaves with respect to central and south America, and that’s why I find Harry’s comments so hypocritical. Panama, Chile, etc, all make what Russia just did in Georgia look like a tea party (but not in Boston). There’s a very easy way we can assert authority over Russia, and that’s for us to work together to stop buying their oil and gas. We really need to sort out this foreign energy dependency thing, rather than just talking about it.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Harry, I don’t think your comments were so outrageous as to be illegal and I’d be completely against anybody trying to censor them, and if there were likely to be problems I guess Mick would have be wielding the scissors. It was the “I will report this to the police” thing at the end which made me believe it was a dry joke.”

    Thank you CS for your almost two and a half cheers in support of the right to free political expression against those who would criminalise dissenting thought.

    Let me assure you that should some little jackanape jump up and start threatening police investigations against you or Eoghan, or Greenflag, or RepublicanStones, or LURIG, or Turgon or any of the other posters who express their political viewpoints here that I might happen to vehemently disagree with, then I will support the right to free speech against the claims of the censor.

    I say again if I misunderstood Barton’s threat let him come back and assure us all it was merely satire, if he was seriously threatening me (and by extension all posters at SO’T) with criminal prosecution then we need to get this issue cleared and out in the open now. For all our sakes.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>I really do not see any difference between Russia’s behaviour towards the ex-USSR/Warsaw Pact states and the way the USA behaves with respect to central and south America, and that’s why I find Harry’s comments so hypocritical.<

  • Napoleons nose.

    Jesus Christ that WB was so funny I nearly fell af me seat!!

    Anyway I agree with Dobbs, McCains use of the phrase we’re all Georgians now was wrong. I still think Bush was a problem. Why did SO wish to join NATO, I’ll bet they were put up to that by the americans. Why offer NATO membership to any in this region? It is simply mad to do so, since an attack on any NATO member is an attack on all, yet they offer membership to these small nations in a very unstable region. Theres no way any member of NATO will go to war over SO or the Ukraine. The only reason it was offered was to push Russias buttons, encircle Russia with NATO members.

    The borders in this region were always going to be a problem at some stage or other. Under the USSR it didn’t really matter but they matter now to the ethnic peoples there, but the west ain’t going to go to war over it. Bush’s currency of influence isn’t worth the paper its written on.

  • Harry Flashman

    OK so we’re all agreed that William Barton’s outrageous attack on free expression above was a bit of oul’ crack, no doubt he’ll be right back on here shortly to confirm his wee wind up.

    I mean it’s not like there aren’t a dozen or so political and media interests that would just love the chance to shut down free expression in Northern Ireland.

    Come back William Barton, I have clearly misjudged you, please explain why threatening to call the peelers on people who don’t agree with your political opinion is a good idea, everyone on Slugger O’Toole would love to know from you what we may or may not say on pain of going to jail if we say the wrong thing.

    William Barton, hello, where are you? What are today’s thought crimes?

  • BfB

    Harry – 3000
    EU, socialist, apologizing, nancy boy, metrosexual assholes – 0

    HA!

    Made my effin day!

  • ggn

    Regardless of the legitamacy of Georgia’s borders (BTW I disagree with them) the fact is that the Russians are advancing on their capital.

    If Georgia is a soveriegn nation then she must be defended.

    If Russia takes Georgia then she will look to Ukraine and the Crimea in particular, Ukraine does have th ability to defend itself but where will it end?

    When we are dealing with an openly imperialist country like Russia, you just cant be too careful.

  • Greenflag

    The USA won’t do anything . Words perhaps but all the open mouth can show now is an embarassing lack of teeth . They will be relying on the Russians to get them up to the International Space Station for about 5 or 6 years 2010 through 2015 . The successor to the space shuttle will not be ready until then . Another major boo boo in planning by the Bush administration .

    So we can all expect the fast growing Russian Bear to ‘bait ‘ the Americans over any number of international issues in the coming years . And it looks as if the Americans have not only put their foot in it again but will end up looking like a eunuch in a harem . Meanwhile Europeans are as dependent on Russian natural gas as the USA is on Middle East oil .

    A version of all of this has of course happened before in the 1970’s . Did anybody stateside learn anything from that time ? Perhaps the USA should never have elected a President with one foot in oil and the other slithering around the White House finding ‘jesus ‘ anywhere and everywhere 🙁

    Anyway Medvedev has signed a treaty with the Georgians so it’s all over -until the next time – with any luck McCain will be hoping for sometime before November . Putin may not oblige ?

  • ggn

    Greenflag,

    BBC our reporting that the Russians are 18 miles from Tiblisi, it is clearly not over.

    The Russians have been filmed literally stealing Georgian military equipment within the last few hours.

    They just dont give a shit.

  • BfB

    Even more troubling…………

    ‘The European Union took the lead in diplomacy, with results approaching Neville Chamberlain’s moment in the spotlight at Munich: a ceasefire that failed to mention Georgia’s territorial integrity, and that all but gave Russia permission to continue its military operations as a “peacekeeping” force anywhere in Georgia. More troubling, over the long term, was that the EU saw its task as being mediator – its favourite role in the world – between Georgia and Russia, rather than an advocate for the victim of aggression.

    Even this dismal performance was enough to relegate Nato to an entirely backstage role, while Russian tanks and planes slammed into a “faraway country”, as Chamberlain once observed so thoughtfully. In New York, paralysed by the prospect of a Russian veto, the UN Security Council, that Temple of the High-Minded, was as useless as it was during the Cold War. In fairness to Russia, it at least still seems to understand how to exercise power in the Council, which some other Permanent Members often appear to have forgotten.’

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    bfb

    And you are so proud of your own country’s efforts here…………………………you forgot to mention them.

    >>eunuch in a harem<

  • Rory

    If we dismiss as we must the strange, though not surprising, intervention from Harry Flashman as having its roots more in the realm of the psychological than the political we might more usefully turn to speculate as to the motivations of US trained Georgian president Saakashvilli.

    What prompted him to think that he could with impunity launch a military attack on Soviet citizens in the disputed region of South Ossetia? Minds might naturally turn to earlier claims that Saddam Hussein genuinely believed that he had been given the green light to reclaim Kuwait by senior US and British players. Whatever if any game US and NATO members might have played in the developments in South Ossetia it seems to be generally regarded by all but the most partisan of observers that “Russia played a blinder” with its deployment of limited but firm military reaction, tough but diplomatic statements and all the time deploying the propaganda of a necessary peace-keeping operation that certainly seems to have gained more credibility than similar claims by the US and Britain to justify their invasion of Iraq.

    That this is a popular perception is illustrated today by crude attempts at damage repair such as today’s front-page in the Sun which shrieks that Russia is threatening to “nuke Poland!”.

    We should be grateful to IJP for drawing attention to the EU’s scandalous role in the bloody annexation of the sovereign Serbian territory of Kossovo this, alas, a story where Western propaganda “played a blinder” in selling the Big Lie to its gullible consumers.

  • William Barton

    Harry me auld flower

    I was trying to wind you up, and I think it is fair to say I succeeded, you self-righteous aul’ eejit ya.

    Reminds me of a joke I once heard:

    Employee says to boss after being refused a pay-rise: “If I said you were a wanker, what would you do?”

    Boss: “I would fire you”.

    Employee: “And if I thought you were a wanker, what would you do?”

    Boss: “Well nothing you fool, I do not yet have the power to read minds, even one as empty as yours”. Employee: “I think you are a wanker.”

    William

  • Greenflag

    ggn ,

    ‘They just dont give a shit.’

    The wolf never does when dealing with lambs . Our history in Ireland should have made us acutely aware of the phenomenon. We too have had a ‘Russia’ as next door neighbour. However unlike the Russians our neighbour seems to have got used to the loss of empire . We got so used to the ‘neighbour ‘ thieving our country that we considered it normal and ‘legal’:( Some of us acquiesced willingly in the plunder and many still do although it could now be the other way around when one considers the ahem 7 billion reparations sorry subvention every year to NI .

    Our American ‘defenders ‘ of democracy and oil supplies are now discovering the meaning of imperial overstretch just like every other Empire before them . To be fair to the Russkis their Empire in Soviet form lasted only 70 years and probably would have collapsed earlier had the Germans not been consumed by irrational nazi race hate propaganda . Millions of Russians actually welcomed the Germans as liberators in 1941 only to turn against them due to the ‘nazification ‘ nutters of the German SS.

    Wonder what would have happened had Georgia been inducted into NATO a year or two back ? World War 3 ? According to NATO doctrine -an attack on one member is an attack on all and all members are duty bound to go to war to restore a member countrie’s territorial integrity .

    And on that point why are we not members of NATO ? As of now we can only now officially rely on the UN to plead our case should the Russian bear decide to ‘drop ‘ in . ?

    So if the Russian Bear ever decides to have some Irish ‘lamb’ we know who to call on to help in our defence ? Don’t we ? Looks like it’ll be Ourselves Alone 🙁 Just where will we find room for all those Russian prisoners of war :)?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry,

    Sometimes you really do have to stop digging 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Meanwhile not too far away from war torn Georgia and South Ossettia and a hop and a skip from the Iraq another of Mr Bush’s ‘allies’ is looking into a pitiless pit .

    “A spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, a pro-Musharraf party, said that the president’s advisers were considering his options.

    Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled in the 1999 coup, said he was opposed to any deal which would give his old rival a “safe passage”.

    He has said the president should be tried for treason, which carries the maximum sentence of the death penalty.

    The BBC’s Mark Dummett in Islamabad says support for the president in a recent vote of confidence in the provincial assemblies has almost entirely collapsed.

    Mr Musharraf’s best way out would now seem to be a dignified exit before parliament meets to debate the impeachment, our correspondent says.

    Talks are going on behind the scenes.

    The ruling coalition parties will have to decide where the former army chief, a key ally in Washington’s war on terror, is allowed to live and what protection he will receive, our correspondent says.

    Mr Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

    He gave up control of the army last year and his allies were defeated in February’s elections but he retains the power to dissolve parliament.

    But his public standing suffered a huge setback in 2007 when he sacked Pakistan’s chief justice and nearly 60 judges to prevent them from overturning his re-election as president.”

    The thing about an ill thought out foreign policy is that once the fit hits the shan – it soon becomes a never ending avalanche of one domino after another .

    Wonder what the post Musharaff plan is ? Don’t the Pakistanis have ahem nuclear weapons too ? I guess that doesn’t matter as long the Pakistanis don’t become like the Iranians?

  • 6countyprod

    Brian: Is Bush, with his last throw, talking us into another international crisis?

    Crisis, what crisis?

    Is it not about time we started to acknowledge some of the major achievements of Bush’s foreign policy, instead of hiding the facts and trying to perpetuate a false narrative of his presidency?

    It is gradually dawning on some of those suffering from BDS that they have been conned. Others, I suppose, will never recognise their delusion.

    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10309

  • BfB

    Bush has stood up to the whining bitches, worldwide, and protected America. He has faced down the muslin terrorists and beat them down. They have no where to hide.
    He is a man of his word…history will show that, and expose the cowards who tried to thwart his noble efforts. Useful idiots can suspend reality for only so long.
    ‘A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
    America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.’

  • Greenflag

    6 county prod ,

    Did you read the article ? In particular re what it says about Pakistan and Musharaff ?

    I quote

    ‘ But it was in Pakistan that Bush forced the most dramatic reversal of policy. He had said that it was with us or against us, and he meant it. President Musharraf was given a stark choice: stand with the US to destroy the Taliban that Pakistan itself had created, or be destroyed.

    It would appear that Mr Musharaff see post 6 above is facing just that – i.e ‘destruction’ as of now . Has the USA a plan B for Pakistan ? They are after all a nuclear power ?.

    BTW

    How exactly was Bush going to destroy Pakistan as per the quote ? Nukes ? Invasion ? Sanctions ? Bombs ?

    Bush is no Truman -more of a Herbert Hoover but with a more affable personality than the latter . It would be too much to hope that Obama could be another FDR .

  • 6countyprod

    Greenflag,
    time, of course, will tell. You take the rough with the smooth, as it comes.

    The Pakistani, whoever it is that takes over from Musharref, will, no doubt, be pro-west. Otherwise we will all be in big trouble.

    The lines have been clearly drawn by Bush, in terms of anti-American terrorism, and more recently, in relation to Georgia. Those who have previously suffered under the Soviets are flocking to the West for help and assurance. Hopefully we will have the moral courage to back them up. But you have to wonder, sometimes.

    We, especially us Europeans, are more concerned with our own well-being than that of others. Shame on us!

  • BfB

    Obama is more like a Ted Kennedy, with his first wife.

  • 6countyprod

    It would be too much to hope that Obama could be another FDR

    Greenflag,

    What is the world has Obama ever done to even entertain the thought that he would be anything like FDR? A couple of mediocre speeches? Come on!

  • Greenflag

    6 county prod ,

    ‘The Pakistani, whoever it is that takes over from Musharref, will, no doubt, be pro-west. Otherwise we will all be in big trouble.’

    You might think that – I would’nt be so sure . Part of Musharaff’s problem was that he appeared too pro west .

    ‘The lines have been clearly drawn by Bush, in terms of anti-American terrorism, ‘

    Indeed and that’s why I for one supported the USA attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan . But it now looks in retro like the Afghan invasion proved to be a handy excuse for getting large numbers of troops into the region to make a grab for Iraqi oil with the removal of the tyrant Saddam providing an ideal backdrop . It’s no coincidence that the three top officials of the USA Government all had and still have extensive ties with the oil industry .

    Iraq has the most extensive oil deposits in the world and they’re the least expensive to extract – I believe the total ‘resource ‘ is somewhere near 700 trillion dollars .

    The whole history of Anglo American involvement /interference in the Middle East since the 1950’s has been by one means or another to grab or take control of the ‘oil’ . Whether through defence agreements to support degenerate Arabian monarchs or engineeered coup d’etats against elected democratic governments ( Pre Shah Iran ) among others , it’s been a long history of trying to keep these countries within the western sphere of control . At the same time the USA has made few friends in the region because of it’s virtually unqualified military and financial support for Israel . With the rise of militant Islam and the ‘nationalisation’ of oil among the emerging energy powers such as Russia , Venezuela , Bolivia , Mexico , Iran, Saudi , etc etc almost 80% of the world’s oil is now in the hands of national states who are not ‘enamoured ‘ by the USA’s ‘grab’ for Iraq . Those who bought the ‘bringing democracy’ line were not listening to Mr Greenspan who spelt it out pretty clearly . The Iraqi war was for oil !

    Now if and when the USA withdraws from Iraq and the Iraqi Government is ‘allowed’ to take control of it’s ‘oil fields ‘ and issue licenses to whoever it wishes or nationalises the resource for the benefit of the State and it’s people then I’ll ‘eat ‘ my hat .

    You and I know that as of now the USA is pulling every trick in the book to make sure that as many of the oilfields as possible end up in the control of whats left of the Seven Sisters ( Western oil majors)

    Overall I;m of the opinion that Bush’s foreign policy will have been seen to have been a disastrous exercise in ‘imperial ‘ overeach at a time when the American economy could afford it least . He has destabilised the entire Middle East region in a way that even the tyrant Hussein could not . With Afghanistan on the boil again and Iran up in arms and possibly Pakistan ending up as another anti USA State what more damage could Bush’s foreign policy achieve .

    It’s entirely possible of course that Bush’s foreign policy has actually been achieved i.e the entire destabilisation of the region in the hope that out of whatever misery ensues somehow the US oil interest will benefit.

  • Dave

    As an exponent of the doctrine of liberal nationalism (buffs nails), I support the right of secession from Georgia of the two nations of Abkhazs and Ossetians. Both of those nations have a right to self-determination that neither Georgia, America, the EU, NATO, or a host of other self-serving external interests have the right to deny. The EU, in particular, deserves most of the blame for its intervention in the region. The corrupt and dangerously deranged Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, stood behind the EU flag (which flies from every government building in Georgia despite Georgia not being a member of the EU) when he made his ludicrous declaration of war on Russia (a country with a population of 142 million people compared to Georgia 4.6 million), believing that his backing by the EU for his suppression of the autonomous nation of Abkhazs and Ossetians gave him the authority to back belligerently toward Russia. The poor hapless fool badly miscalculated and quickly reversed his gung-ho belligerence when reality became apparent, calling a ceasefire and dramatically intensifying the support of Abkhazs and Ossetians for full independence from Georgia.

  • Dave

    “…believing that his backing by the EU for his suppression of the autonomous nations of Abkhazs and Ossetians gave him the authority to belligerently attack Russia.”

  • Harry Flashman

    @William Barton, for those who claim he was joking

    “You are entitled to your views of Russia and the Russians; I fully support the right to free speech. However, it is subject to certain limitations…Your comment above is racist and is likely to stir up fear and arouse hatred of persons on grounds of their national origin. As such it is a criminal offence under the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 so I would request you to stop or I shall report you to the police.”

    You’re a lying bastard Barton, (mods, I’m on this one occasion stepping outside the ball playing rule as the poster in question deserves it) the above was no joke, you tried to get me to back down and I stood up to you, so now you come back saying “Ohh, I was only havin’ a larf, wern’ I?”

    No you weren’t, don’t dare try to shut down debate again, you’ll be the sorry boy if you try that stunt with me.

    Up yours mate!

  • Shades of the Sudetenland crisis in 1938, when Hitler, on the pretext of defending a ‘persecuted’ German minority in that region of Czechoslovakia, was appeased and allowed to annex it, followed by the conquest of the entire country 6 months later. Russia is seeking Anschluss with Russocentric regions in its former Soviet empire. As an Irish nationalist, I have somewhat mixed feelings on this affair. While anxious that Russia must not be appeased, I instinctively sympathise with nationalities seeking to go their own way in an historic homeland. But in the case of the 2 separatist Georgian regions, I think the merits of their independence differ in gravity.

    Abkhazia is particularly undeserving of independence, given that its pro-independence demographic is a creation of ethnic-cleansing of Georgians – before the 1992-4 war 46% of the population and a majority in the capital Sukhumi – resulting in the Abkhaz, who were never a majority in the region, becoming the largest ethnic-group. The 1989 census said that the Abkhaz were 18% of the population, whereas now they are closer to 40% according to the 2003 census. Around 190,000 ethnic-Georgians were expelled and 15,000 massacred by Abkhaz, pro-Moscow militias and probably Russian troops too. The Sukhumi massacre was a gruesome attocity against the ethnic-Georgians, including a woman being cut in half to symbolise that Abkhazia would never reunite with Georgia. They could not have driven the Georgians out without massive military-aid from Moscow. To grant Abkhazia international recognition as an independent state would be to reward ethnic-cleansing and should be unacceptable to the international community. The Georgian refugees expelled in the 1990’s must be allowed return and then perhaps take part in a referendum on independence. But the existing yes votes cannot stand, considering their basis in ethnic-cleansing and their non-recognition by the international community, and their defiance of UNSC resolutions respecting Georgia’s territorial integrity. Abkhazia’s place in Georgia goes back to the ancient kingdom of Colchis, with a break during the independent kingdom of Abkhazia, which nonetheless may have been a primarily ethnic-Georgian kingdom, judging by the names of its kings. It was reunited with Georgia by marriage.

    On South Ossetia, the Ossetians have been a majority since at least 1926, with a 26% Georgian minority prior to this conflict. But then Georgian claim on the territory is legitimate in moral terms because they were there first and the Ossetians migrated to SO in the 1300’s following expulsion from parts of European Russia by the Mongols. In any case, North Ossetia, a Russian republic, has 10 times the Ossetian population, and as such the Ossetians already have a homeland (considering they don’t want independence and have always been remarkably loyal to Russia). There is evidence that pro-Russian militia are ethnic-cleansing Georgian villages according to Human Rights Watch. I do not agree with the Georgian military-intervention here, and regard it as them falling into Russia’s carefully laid trap. Russian troops have poured into the region since the NATO summit in Bucharest that refused to give Georgia and Ukraine a date for admission to the alliance. Furthermore, the Russians have been intermittently bombing parts of Georgia in a previously unsuccessfull attempt to provoke Tbilisi. Now Russia has the excuse it needs to meddle in Georgian affairs with something approaching an occupation.

    Russian influence in the region has been the real winner here. The word has gone out that the US cannot be relied on to defend its non-NATO allies. This may well deter some from pursuing NATO membership and closer ties with the West, while in the case of the stronger Ukraine, it may cause them to push harder for it. Meanwhile the crucial Baku-Ceyhan-Tblisi oil pipeline, owned by BP and carrying 1 million barrels worth of oil a day from Azerbaijan to Turkey (before it was temporarily put out of action by a terrorist attack in Turkey) and on to the Mediterranean, risks falling into Russia’s hands. A number of attempts were allegedly made by them to bomb it already. A crucial part of exerting leverage on Russia is to develop pipelines bypassing the country. Without Georgia, this strategy is dealt a crushing blow, as Armenia – occupying 20% of Azerbaijan in a war over the ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabkah – is hardly going to help the Azeris sell their oil. One thing I would say to those naive enough to believe the Russians on their ‘humanitarian’ motives for intervention, is to remember the lack of concern by the Kremlin for Chechnya’s right to self-determination and its destruction of Grozny and the litany of reports of genocide from the region since 1999.

  • Dave

    FT, why would America, the EU, NATO, et al, give a toss about a country with a population of 4.6 million if not for selfish strategic geo-political and economic interests? The West wants its oil pipeline; the EU wants to further its expansionist agenda, and America wants a base to target weapons at Russia, etc. The courted patsy among these self-serving jackals is Mikheil Saakashvili, who would better serve his people by steering his country well clear of those swindlers. Russia, rightly, sees the EU as imperialism by other means, and the EU is meddling dangerously in matters that are absolutely none of its business. Member states would do well to observe how the EU will engineer wars that will eventually involve those who would otherwise not engage in them, i.e. if it gets its longed-for army, we’ll all be involved in its neo-imperial warmongering. This wretched organisation should be disbanded. 99% of South Ossetians voted in a referendum in 2006 to secede from Georgia, so that battle is already lost. Likewise, in excess of 80% of the Abkhazian population hold Russian citizenship and 98% of non-Georgians within Abkhazia voted to remain part of the Soviet Union when Gorbachev called a poll on it in 1991. The question is should the minority Georgian populations with those two countries hold a veto over the will of the majority? Absolutely not. Indeed, even if the non-nations within the two nation-states became the majority through a policy of plantation, the will of the indigenous nation must take precedence over stultifying machinations. Independence must occur, and the belligerence of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has ensured that it will occur. The solution is simple (no, it really is): get the fuck out before the Georgians within those countries take the force of the anti-Georgian backlash that will follow Georgia’s anti-democratic aggression. The people have declared independence, and the government of Georgia has no authority to deny it and – trying to deny it is only making a bad situation worse.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Harry

    God love ye, but calm down. Your reply in the first instance was good enough. Now you have let so many smears on Bush and America pass you by that we can only assume a la Rory that you are indeed in a psychological flummox.

    >>Hopefully we will have the moral courage to back them up. But you have to wonder, sometimes.

    We, especially us Europeans, are more concerned with our own well-being than that of others. Shame on us!< >I support the right of secession from Georgia of the two nations of Abkhazs and Ossetians.<

  • William Barton

    Harry Flashman at 16 above

    The last thing I wanted to do was shut you down. On the contrary, having observed that you are an extremely self-important little man, I gauged that such a threat would provoke a torrent of righteous abuse. I was not disappointed; even your supporters are now telling you to calm down.

    Incidentally, I would tend to agree with much of
    what you say, especially your admiration for the USA. I am in perpetual awe of its ability to renew itself and adapt, and lead and protect the world.

    Over and out.

    William

  • Wilde Rover

    William Barton,

    “The last thing I wanted to do was shut you down. On the contrary, having observed that you are an extremely self-important little man, I gauged that such a threat would provoke a torrent of righteous abuse.”

    I have always found that the best trolls can cause veins to pop on people’s heads by suitably baited arguments. However, I have also found that the ones who resort to threats of a legal variety have not spent enough time under the bridge honing their talents.

    They don’t make trolls like they used to.

  • earnan

    It’s a damn good thing that NATO didn’t accept Georgia yet; the country is not capable of defending itself and has no business being in NATO. (It’s not anywhere near the North Atlantic)

    You all talk about the US being weak and being toothless. What do you expect them to do? Go to war over some 3rd rate country in central Asia? Even if the military wasn’t stretched right now, would that change the US’s response? I don’t think so

  • Dave, you are wrong if by “independence must occur” you are including Abkhazia. The 1989 Soviet Census showed 46% of the population where ethnic-Georgians, compared to 18% Abkhaz. 200,000 ethnic-Georgians were ethnically-cleansed from the region in order to create a separatist majority. On the referendum on independence there, the Georgians boycotted it like the Catholics in the NI referendum on remaining in the UK in the 1970’s, making it unrepresentative. What should happen is that the Georgian refugees from the 1990’s should be allowed return, with a referendum then being held on independence. Georgians used to be the majority in the Abkhaz capital Sukhumi, before a terrible massacre by Abkhaz and Russian forces. 15,000 Georgians were massacred by them in that war. To give Abkhazia independence with the current demographic mix would be to reward ethnic-cleansing, and with the exception of a short period in the early Middle Ages, the region has always been part of Georgia (and even then, the kingdom of Abkhazia may have had ethnic-Georgian rulers and demographic makeup). On SO, I think there should be a similar solution, but bear in mind where this might lead if Tbilisi gives in to all demands for independence – the Caucusus countries are very ethnically-diverse, with Georgia having 7-8% Armenian/Azeri minorities. If Georgia has to give these regions up, then the latter groups may make similar demands, possibly sparking off more wars across the region. The Ossetians only arrived in SO in the 1300’s following expulsion by the Mongols from modern-day Russia – it was always part of Georgia except in the 1921 Democratic Republic of Georgia. Personally I believe that considering Russia’s role in stirring up separatist conflicts in the former Soviet Union, and its mischief-making in Ukraine in 2004 and presently in Crimea, that their word on this conflict does not deserve to be trusted. Their motives are not humanitarian – as events in Chechnya since 1999 have shown.

  • PaddyReilly

    On South Ossetia, the Ossetians have been a majority since at least 1926, with a 26% Georgian minority prior to this conflict. But then Georgian claim on the territory is legitimate in moral terms because they were there first and the Ossetians migrated to SO in the 1300’s following expulsion from parts of European Russia by the Mongols.

    Oh that’s all right then. The Unionist presence in Northern Ireland must be illegitimate as they’re only there post 1600. It’s a 32 Republic you’re expecting to be Taoiseach of, I take it?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Paddy

    You know what he is saying. In an area that has always been Georgia there has been a slight population change. This does not stop it being Georgia. Just like in Kosovo, the cradle of the Serb nation a drift of Albanians over the centuries resulted in it now all of a sudden not being Serbia. Not dissimilar is the Greeks not happy with the Macedonians. Who are a slavic people, perhaps even Bulgars laying claim to an ancient Greek tribes name, and coveting the currently Greek part of Macedonia. A bit like the Germanic English laying claim to Britishness………………tangent over.

    Anyhow a new day a new Russki withdrawal. Last seen on the outskirts of Tbilisi. They must be going the long way round, or else Armenia is getting it next.

  • Dave

    FT, those who don’t belong to the nation don’t have a veto over the creation of a state for those who do. The Georgians are not Abkhazs; and they already have a right to self-determination as a people (next door in Georgia). Abkhazs should not be denied their right to self-determination simply because Georgians within Abkhazia don’t want them to have it. The fine thing about liberal nationalism as opposed to ethnic nationalism is that it doesn’t have an ethnic basis for the nation-state: it accommodates all ethnic groups who are united by a common nationalism as opposed to a common ethnicity. Abkhazs tried the liberal nationalist route and it was rejected by ethnic nationalists (the Georgians). It is now a zero-sum game. Democracy doesn’t count when there isn’t a common nationalism – there was just a large group of people who were not loyal to the emergent nation-state and tried to impede its progress toward full independence. They moved back from whence they came, and now it’s a case of establishing an independence nation-state for Abkhazs. This process is unstoppable; and had the jackass for Georgians elected as president grasped this reality, he’dstill have an army instead of a pile of dead soldiers thanks to his declaration of war of Russia.

  • Dave

    By the way, Tom McGurk has a good article in the SBP.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Dave

    You only have the beginnings of a case if your premise regarding Abkhazia as a nation is true. It isn’t. They are but one of scores of ethnic groups spread around the caucusus and surrounding regions.

    >>They moved back from whence they came, and now it’s a case of establishing an independence nation-state for Abkhazs.<

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    http://www.reliefweb.int/mapc/cis/reg/ethnic_caucus.html

    Disentangle that! And I’d wager this is out of date considering the Armenia-Azeri war and ethnic cleansing of Georgians from Abkhazian region