Foreign Policy

The Road Leads Back to War

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Bill Kristol reacts to the Russo-Georgian war:

Georgia, a nation of about 4.6 million, has had the third-largest military presence—about 2,000 troops—fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of—and perhaps destabilizes all of—a friendly democratic nation that we were sponsoring for NATO membership a few months ago.

You might have thought the American presence in Iraq made it less wise to go plunging into a confrontation with the Russians. Kristol seems to think it obliges us to get involved. He even calls for "emergency military aid to Georgia"—because what America really needs right now is to jump into a conflict that has nothing to do with us while we're already $3 trillion deep in another set of wars.

I propose a compromise. If the Georgians want to bring their troops home from Iraq to fend off an actual military threat, they should do so with our blessing. And if Kristol wants to fly to Tbilisi to lend them his military expertise, I'm sure The New York Times could work up a Neoconservative Phrase Generator ("aggressors aren't intimidated," "fanatics aren't deterred," "nuclear ambitions," "graver dangers," "unchecked") to construct Kristol's columns while he's away.

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  1. [Penn Jillette voice]
    Bill Kristol reacts?! You mean he isn’t homeless? Fuuuuuuck.
    [/PJV]

  2. Obligatory reference to Team America: World Police.

    And BTW, the Georgia situation should be a good lesson to everyone as to why we should pull out of NATO.

  3. It must be nice living in a world where you didn’t have to think before you opened your mouth and you got paid for doing it.

    Is there a war that that “National Socialist Greatness” fuck doesn’t want to get us involved in?

  4. Excellent point, MP. Does anyone know why we are still signed on to obsolete “entangling alliances”?

  5. Can we now agree that NATO expansion into the former Soviet Union is a horrible, horrible idea?

    Can we also agree that allowing Kosovo to declare independence by themselves was a horrible precedent? Because they Russians are already using what we did in Kosovo as an excuse, up to and including talking about “ethnic clensing”.

    Thanks, Bill Clinton and Wes Clark. Assholes.

  6. Bush can’t be worried with that war stuff right now; he’s too busy waving his flag at the Olympics.

  7. Barr has a pretty decent press release on this whole mess…

    kinda makes up for the lame dog-killing police one. kinda.

  8. “nuclear ambitions”

    That’s nucular, buddy. Heh heh.

  9. For those who didn’t RTFA (and somehow believe that irony is alive and well), the following is a direct quote. Yikes.

    “Dictators aren’t moved by the claims of justice unarmed; aggressors aren’t intimidated by diplomacy absent the credible threat of force; fanatics aren’t deterred by the disapproval of men of moderation or refinement.

    Bad guys are like, really bad. *mumbles something about bombs, sharks, lasers and similar*

  10. Good lord, now I’m really convinced had McCain been President and Georgia been in NATO, we would at best have tanks rolling across Poland into Russia, or at worst I’d be under a pile of radioactive slag.

  11. Kagan wrote the same sort of thing in WaPo today.

  12. “Does anyone know why we are still signed on to obsolete “entangling alliances”?”

    So we can become entangled in more wars to make the warmongers happy. They’d be bored if we ever had peace.

  13. Um, if Georgia were part of NATO, we’d have tanks rolling across Poland regardless of who were President.

    I would hope that if this were all really instigated by Georgia, they would have consulted with us first. Their fear and confusion leads credibility to the claim that it was Russia who started this.

    That said, I don’t see a realistic scenario where South Ossetia rejoins Georgia.

    And I *do* think it’s in our best interests to preserve the Georgian government, rather than let Russia install a puppet.

  14. “And I *do* think it’s in our best interests to preserve the Georgian government, rather than let Russia install a puppet.”

    Give two good reasons why.

    Would you be pissed if Russia made an alliance with Mexico, Brazil, and Canada?

  15. Y’all are forgettin how awesome action movies could be for the next 20 years if we got into a war with the Russians. Not to mention video games…

  16. And I *do* think it’s in our best interests to preserve the Georgian government, rather than let Russia install a puppet.

    Its a little late for that. Georgia is dismembered, South Ossetia is occupied by the Russian army. Georgia and South Ossetia are both Russian satellite states, at best, from now on.

    If I lived in the Ukraine, I’d be getting really nervous right about now.

  17. Man, I’d like to see someone punch Kristol in the nuts. Not me, of course, as that would be initiation of force.

    Y’all are forgettin how awesome action movies could be for the next 20 years if we got into a war with the Russians

    WOLVERINES!!!

  18. My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.

  19. Would you be pissed if Russia made an alliance with Mexico, Brazil, and Canada?

    Probably, but if we were just coming off of a 50-year occupation of Mexico, Brazil, and Canada, complete with secret police, autocratic puppets, and systematic looting of their economies, I’d probably have some idea of why Mexico, Brazil, and Canada would want to ally with the Russians.

  20. R C Dean, as long as the Ukraine doesn’t start shelling Russian soldiers they should be OK.


  21. Probably, but if we were just coming off of a 50-year occupation of Mexico, Brazil, and Canada, complete with secret police, autocratic puppets, and systematic looting of their economies, I’d probably have some idea of why Mexico, Brazil, and Canada would want to ally with the Russians.”

    You need to read some Latin American history. Thats pretty much what we did there right up into the 1980s, especially in Central America and the Carribean Basin.

  22. And before you start screamin BUT TEH COMMIEZ! we were doing that loooong before the USSR was even a twinkle in Lenin’s eye.

  23. As the Georgians watch their cities get bombed and face a return to Russian bondage, I guess we can send Jessee over there to do his best John Belushi impression and tell them “look you fucked up, you trusted us.” What is another country that is trying to be a democracy and build itself into a decent country being swollowed up by the police state next door? Fuck them. They are just foreigners anyway. Right?

  24. John Georgia is autocratic. Its a one party state where their ruling President gets 90%+ of the vote. What other country does that remind you of?

  25. “You need to read some Latin American history. Thats pretty much what we did there right up into the 1980s, especially in Central America and the Carribean Basin.”

    You need to read someone besides Che Guivera and Howard Zinn.

  26. Yeah John the military government in Brazil didn’t get any support from the US. Nope, none at all. It just happened on its own!

  27. I’m curious… Is Bill Kristol ever quoted by fellow conservatives in the context of, “The always astute Bill Kristol is quoted as saying…”?

    I ask because the only context in which I’ve ever seen him quoted has been along the lines of, “This quote by Bill Kristol shows that you can be 100% wrong 100% of the time and still keep your job at The New York Times.”

  28. While I don’t want to go bomb Russia over this, I will say that equating the former victims of Soviet oppression with the U.S.’s neighbors is a little unreasonable.

  29. “John Georgia is autocratic. Its a one party state where their ruling President gets 90%+ of the vote. What other country does that remind you of?”

    Fair enough, but Georgia has improved a lot in its human rights record over the last few years. As opposed to Russia who just keeps getting worse.

    I understand the harsh reality, which is that Georgia is not worth World War III. But that said, it would be nice if Reason would at least act like this is a bad thing and offer something besides snark about anyone who really is offended by this.

  30. Pro L, forget that. What I’m saying is Russia wants to be the predominating influence in the former Republics of the Soviet Union (minus the Baltic States for some odd reason). How is this different from the US not tolerating any foreign power having alliance with countries besides the United States? We’ve blockaded Cuba for decades over that!

  31. As the Georgians watch their cities get bombed and face a return to Russian bondage, I guess we can send Jessee over there to do his best John Belushi impression and tell them “look you fucked up, you trusted us.”

    It’s easy for the libertarians to break every promise and deal on all of America’s behalf. They have no power, no responsibility, and they didn’t make the promises in the first place.

  32. “Yeah John the military government in Brazil didn’t get any support from the US. Nope, none at all. It just happened on its own!”

    And supporting a military government is the same as invading and anexing entire countries and forcibly removing their populations to exile. Did I miss when the US moved thousands of Americans to Brazil to ensure that it remained part of the US? Did I miss when the US forced the entire population of Peru to move to Alaska in order to exploit the resources there like the Soviets move the Chechens to Siberia? Stop being a troll!!

  33. I meant “embargo” not “blockade”, obviously.

  34. “And supporting a military government is the same as invading and anexing entire countries and forcibly removing their populations to exile. Did I miss when the US moved thousands of Americans to Brazil to ensure that it remained part of the US? Did I miss when the US forced the entire population of Peru to move to Alaska in order to exploit the resources there like the Soviets move the Chechens to Siberia? Stop being a troll!!”

    Russian populations had existed in places like Georgia and Ukraine for centuries. Theres still a large minority in Estonia and Kazakhstan.

    That wasn’t the Soviets, that was the Russian Empire. Yeah, there was exploitation of the natives and conquest. There was in the Southwest USA, too. I don’t see anyone saying the Southwest should be able to leave the US over that and enter into an alliance with China or Russia over that.

  35. “How is this different from the US not tolerating any foreign power having alliance with countries besides the United States? We’ve blockaded Cuba for decades over that!”

    Okay fine. The Russians are free to blockage all trade with Georgia. Or, in the alternative, they can continue their invasion of Georgia but the US gets to invade Cuba and you have to cheerlead for it.

  36. BTW, there will be no Russian annexation of Georgia outside of those areas with Russian majorities. And even that could have been prevented had the Georgian President not been stupid enough to take George Bush’s second inaugural literally and start shelling Russian troops! I’m sorry but the guy is a fool.

  37. John, if Cuba were to start shelling Guantanamo Bay I’d be the first to cheerlead for an invasion of Cuba, trust me.

  38. “That wasn’t the Soviets, that was the Russian Empire.”

    It was Stalin who exile the Chechens and Lenin who invaded and anexed Georgia. Furhter, even if it was the Tsars that doesn’t make it right. Lastly, if the Souix nation still existed and was a part of the UN and wanted to allign with Russia, I honestly can’t say I would blame them given the history. But since they don’t, your analogy doens’t apply. Further, even if it did, I guess that means that since the US once did something bad to someone, nearly 150 years ago now, the Russians are free to terrorize and conquer any of their neighbors. Yeah, that makes sense.

  39. No, Georgia was part of the Russian Empire in 1914. Actually, it ceased to exist as a Kingdom in 1812 when it was annexed by Imperial Russia.

    People throw around the term “Soviet” without even knowing what it means. Hint: it isn’t synonymous with “Russia”.

  40. “John, if Cuba were to start shelling Guantanamo Bay I’d be the first to cheerlead for an invasion of Cuba, trust me.”

    When did Georgia ever shell Russian territory? Further, if the Cubans did and the Americans responded with even 1/10th of the force the Russians have, you would be screaming to have Bush tried as a war criminal. But since Russia is not the US, you are on here talking about how great it is.

  41. I understand the harsh reality, which is that Georgia is not worth World War III. But that said, it would be nice if Reason would at least act like this is a bad thing and offer something besides snark about anyone who really is offended by this.

    In other words, you agree with what the post actually said (“Georgia is not worth World War III”) but are exercised about some pro-Russian agenda that you imagine is lurking behind it.

    I wouldn’t care if Kristol were merely “offended by this.” What bothers me is that he — a guy who used to have a lot of political influence, and could have it again if McCain pulls off a victory — thinks the U.S. should dive into yet another standoff (against a nuclear power!) in a world where we’re already occupying two countries and sticking our thumbs in oodles of other hot spots.

  42. “No, Georgia was part of the Russian Empire in 1914. Actually, it ceased to exist as a Kingdom in 1812 when it was annexed by Imperial Russia.”

    But it broke away and was reconquured in 1924 by the Soviets. I am well aware of the differnece between Russian and Soviet.

  43. When did Georgia ever shell Russian territory? Further, if the Cubans did and the Americans responded with even 1/10th of the force the Russians have, you would be screaming to have Bush tried as a war criminal.

    No I wouldn’t I would want to kick their ass for attacking our troops.

    They shelled them when they moved into South Ossetia were Russian troops were stationed, who had been stationed there since 1992 (with our permission under Yelstin!)

    Seriously, what do you want them to do when their military is attacked? Run away? You know the US wouldn’t do that, and they shouldn’t.

  44. So if we put boots on the ground in Georgia, will this hurt or help McCain’s run for the presidency? I say help.

  45. ??? — it’s not. But it makes those Ruskies look sooo much more sinister!

  46. I don’t see anyone saying the Southwest should be able to leave the US over that and enter into an alliance with China or Russia over that.

    You are conveniently ignorant of the rantings of La Mecha and the aspirations of Reconquista.

  47. “I wouldn’t care if Kristol were merely “offended by this.” What bothers me is that he — a guy who used to have a lot of political influence, and could have it again if McCain pulls off a victory — thinks the U.S. should dive into yet another standoff (against a nuclear power!) in a world where we’re already occupying two countries and sticking our thumbs in oodles of other hot spots.”

    Where does Kristol ever say we should go to war over this? He just says “Will the United States put real pressure on Russia to stop?” That can mean a lot of things short of war. I read Kristol’s collumn to mean that we shouldn’t let this pass without some response diplomatically or economically. He is right about that.

    What do you propose Jessee?

  48. “It’s easy for the libertarians to break every promise and deal on all of America’s behalf. They have no power, no responsibility, and they didn’t make the promises in the first place.”

    We wouldn’t make such promises in the first place. It’s none of our business to police the world.

  49. What do you propose Jessee?

    He made his proposal in his post, dumbass.

  50. BTW John where do you get this idea I’m a lunatic leftist from? I just think we shouldn’t be shocked, SHOCKED! when countries respond to military attacks by, you know, attacking back. I see whats happening in Russia similar to Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2005, with Russia in the role of Israel.

  51. Where does Kristol ever say we should go to war over this?

    You’ll notice that I said “standoff,” not “war.” Kristol did not call for putting boots on the ground. He did call for “emergency military aid to Georgia,” or as I would have phrased it, “not enough to reverse what happened but plenty enough to get us sucked into a situation that we don’t really have a stake in.”

  52. BDB,

    I understand that Russia has a right to defend itself and will. But this is not Lebanon. Those were Russian “peace keepers” sent to the middle of a breakaway Republic. Further, I don’t entirely believe Russian claims that their troops were shelled. Even if they were, that doesn’t justify the reaction. Even if the Cubans shelled Guantanamo, we would not invade Cuba. We would just fire back and take out their ability to shell. If Georgia were indiscriminately shelling Russian territory and Russian civilians like Hezbollah was, then I would be all for them. But that is not what happened here. This is just a naked power grab on the part of Putin.

  53. This is just a naked power grab on the part of Putin.

    Even if true, there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t and won’t get into hostilities with Russia. So we can bitch about this from the sidelines and watch it all blow over.

  54. You’ll notice that I said “standoff,” not “war.” Kristol did not call for putting boots on the ground. He did call for “emergency military aid to Georgia,” or as I would have phrased it, “not enough to reverse what happened but plenty enough to get us sucked into a situation that we don’t really have a stake in.”

    I think we have a big stake in this. If Putin can stomp Georgia, what is to stop him from thinking he can stomp the Baltic States or other places? Further, if our word to Georgia doesnt’ even mean we will send them military aide much less actual troops, what does our word to anyone else mean? Again, why don’t you just go over and tell them that they fucked up and trusted us?

    If we do send aid to Georgia, what are the Russians going to do about it? Start World War III? I don’t think so. IF we sent arms to Georgia, it would potentially tie the Russians down there and force them to make a reasonable peace. In addition, it would send a message to them that they can’t just run over US allies. Moreover, what is wrong with arming people to defend themselves against agression? Isn’t that really the best sollution? For people to defend themselves so we don’t have to defend them?

  55. Where does Kristol ever say we should go to war over this?

    Gee, John, it would help if you read the article:

    Aggressors aren’t intimidated by diplomacy absent the credible threat of force; fanatics aren’t deterred by the disapproval of men of moderation or refinement.

    OK, maybe he just wants to credibly threaten to use force. But credible threats of force sometimes get you wars, and you shouldn’t employ them unless you’re ready to go to war.

    Actually, the funny thing about this statement:

    Aggressors aren’t intimidated by diplomacy absent the credible threat of force; fanatics aren’t deterred by the disapproval of men of moderation or refinement.

    …is that if true it means that we shouldn’t use diplomacy or disapproval to deal with Kristol but should immediately advance straight to the use or credible threat of the use of force.

  56. Of course John I agree that hes making a power grab. But its not part of some evil master plan to re-create the Russian Empire borders of 1914. Hes just trying to exploit a current situation to the maximum benefit of Russia. No other country would act any differently, nor should they. Thats what governments tend to do in foreign affairs.

    Georgia could have easily avoided this by not attacking the “peacekeepers”. They did attack them, thats not in dispute. Georgia had been planning that for months and waiting for the Olympics as cover to get back those territories. Sadly for Georgia, Russian intelligence knew about this, and planned a massive counter-offensive for when it would happen.

    This will probably mean annexation of the Russian-majority areas of Georgia and the overthrow of their president. Thats all, an area about the size of Delaware. It doesn’t mean they’re going for the Ukraine next. This isn’t 1938, and Putin isn’t Hitler.

  57. “Even if true, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

    Yes there is. Send the Georgians arms and do economic sanctions. Make them pay a price for this. Don’t just roll over. If you roll over, why wouldn’t Putin move onto the next neighbor? Yeah, you can say the Ukrain or the Baltic are different but I don’t see how. Are we really going to start WWIII or get into a stand off over those countries? If I am Putin I am betting no.

  58. it means that we shouldn’t use diplomacy or disapproval to deal with Kristol but should immediately advance straight to the use or credible threat of the use of force

    So it would be OK for me to punch him in the nuts, by his own logic?

  59. We could have traded Kosovo for Georgia if we really, really, REALLY cared about the Georgians that much. But apparently, we don’t.

  60. John,

    Not that you would believe it (those are evil Russians), but there are/were peacekeepers in SO, on an international mandate. Doing joint patrols with (surprise) Georgian peacekeepers.

    And Georgia did start this mess exactly by indiscriminate shelling of Tskhinval, including both civilians (majority of whom happen to be Russian citiziens) and the peacekeers’ base.

    At least it looks like Poland is already doing what Polands does best and backpedals softly with “Well, we guess Georgian president sorta kinda overestimated what we would be willing to actually do to support him…”

  61. Dictators aren’t moved by the claims of justice unarmed; aggressors aren’t intimidated by diplomacy absent the credible threat of force; fanatics aren’t deterred by the disapproval of men of moderation or refinement.

    He’s right.

    …but that doesn’t answer the question of whether we should be concerned with moving dictators, intimidating aggressors, or deterring fanatics in the first place.

  62. John,

    I really don’t care if the end game is USSR II: The Sequel. I don’t know why I should.

    Oh yeah…our “economic interests”. snort!

  63. So it would be OK for me to punch him in the nuts, by his own logic?

    Exactly. By his own statement, that’s the only language he’ll ever understand.

  64. Mr. Kristol conveniently neglects to mention that about 1,400 civilians were killed in Georgia’s initial assault. If he favors their sovereinty, how about that of S. Ossetia and Abakaisan? What about live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for those hapless civilians?

    Getting Georgia to join NATO is about as smart as getting Taiwan to join SEATO.

    Taiwan is a good lesson for the Georgians. You verbally kowtow to your larger and more powerful neighbor, avoid war, and perserve your defacto independence. Bush, Kristol and their ilk just don’t get it.

  65. Douglas-

    Add, “don’t expect world powers to sacrifice their own national interest to yours on account of some abstract principles. They won’t.”

  66. Douglas, I have no dogs in this fight, but the 1400 number is likely bullshit. Keep in mind the region only has 70,000 people.

  67. When the U.S. invade Iraq, Rumsfeld overruled wiser heads who said we needed 3-4 times the number of troops to do the job right. The number of troops we actually used was “disproportinate.”

    Russia knows that with an overwhelming and powerful response, it will be over much sooner with less loss of life on both sides.

    No wonder Putin’s approval rating in his own country was around 70-80%. Guy knows what he’s doing.

  68. Nigel — and of those, 25,000 used to live in Tskhinval proper. Or what’s left of it…

  69. Bush should tell Putin, “do whatever the hell you want with Georgia, but the Ukraine joins NATO”. That would be a fair deal.

    Ukraine is much more important.

  70. BDB – Indeed. And at this point I would be far more worried about what happens with Crimea. It looks like Ukraine was selling Georgia S-200 anti-aircraft systems, and, well, Tu-22M bombers are expensive…

  71. “If we do send aid to Georgia, what are the Russians going to do about it? Start World War III? I don’t think so. IF we sent arms to Georgia, it would potentially tie the Russians down there and force them to make a reasonable peace.”

    A limited war! What a brilliant idea – and it has such a wonderful track record. The best thing is, this way, we could never get sucked into a shooting war – just some arms and advisors.

    And we get to make de facto treaties of alliance with foreign countries without the fuss and bother of getting a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate as the Constitution (that outdated piece of parchment) requires. Instead, have some boneheaded diplomats make some dumb promises, then say the national honor requires redeeming these promises we never heard or or authorized in advance.

  72. We can have a small war with Serbia to crush the Slavic separatists once and for all. It will be limited and regional, after all we have German backing and I KNOW the Russians will back down!

  73. The Russians did back down, and indeed their government was destroyed in the process.

  74. How is this different from the US not tolerating any foreign power having alliance with countries besides the United States? We’ve blockaded Cuba for decades over that!

    We’ve embargoed Cuba. We blockaded Cuba for a couple of weeks in 1962.

    Sheesh.

  75. Hey Boris, what would you do if I told you your pinko commie mother sucks so much dick her face looks an …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPXH4QrJt6U

  76. Ah, looks like Georgians figured out how to use teh Intertubes…

  77. You are all aware of what the first casualty in war is, right?

    None of us, nobody in the State department or the Defense department knows what really happened as the fighting started in Ossetia. Claims that the Russkies did this or the Georgians did that is just parroting propoganda.

  78. I have to wonder if Jesse bothered to RFTA. Kristol doesn’t argue for military intervention, just pressure on a government that has sent troops across an international border into a democratic country that has been allied with us and asked for NATO membership.

    And a Reason writer objects to… pressure? Against an invasion? Of a democracy? Is this magazine still libertarian, or just reflexively anti-neocon?

    As Kristol points out, Russia is a pretty feeble power, and I would add that this probably isn’t that big a deal unless the Russkies go charging into the Georgian capital and establish a dictatorship, which seems very unlikely for all sorts of reasons.

  79. We’ve embargoed Cuba. We blockaded Cuba for a couple of weeks in 1962.

    I couldn’t help but LOL at this.

  80. I agree with Jesse, it’s a conflict that does not concern us. Kristol is an ass who’s not even pretending anymore to have American interests in mind when he urges us to make war on other nations. It’s not about our interests, to the neoconservatives it’s about continual warfare.

  81. Georgia is a democratic country? Tell that to Georgian opposition that tends to drop dead in London…

    Of course of Kristol says that Russia is feeble, I think it’s time to start digging bomb shelters…

  82. Probably, but if we were just coming off of a 50-year occupation of Mexico, Brazil, and Canada, complete with secret police, autocratic puppets, and systematic looting of their economies, I’d probably have some idea of why Mexico, Brazil, and Canada would want to ally with the Russians.”

    You need to read some Latin American history. Thats pretty much what we did there right up into the 1980s, especially in Central America and the Carribean Basin.

    Well, (a) we never did it to Mexico, Brazil, or Canada, and (b) give me a break – do you have any idea whatsoever how overt, total, and brutal Russian domination of Eastern Europe was? We never did anything to compare in Latin America – hell, even in Nicaragua back in the ’20s, we weren’t there half as long as Russia was in Eastern Europe.

  83. R C — where does the term “banana republic” come from?

  84. And supporting a military government is the same as invading and anexing entire countries and forcibly removing their populations to exile.

    Nobody’s defending the Georgians’ invasion of South Ossetia, John.

    Oh, you didn’t mean the “good guys” military aggression. That’s just fine, because they’re good guys.

  85. Does anyone know why we are still signed on to obsolete “entangling alliances?

    Because everyone remembers what a great job the great powers’ systems of alliances did in preserving the peace up until June 27, 1914.

  86. How blind are you people to history? This isn’t a matter of partisan politics, its a matter of maintaining the peace. Russia has never been happy with its territorial extent; even when places like Eastern Europe and the Caucasus were firmly under their thumb they spent their time trying to pick fights with the Germans, Chinese, and Austrians. Do you remember World War I? How about the Partitions of Poland? Have you even listened to why the Russians objected to Kosovar independence? Here’s a summary; “Slavs are the only people who should run anything in the Balkans, and all Slavs should do what the Russians say, because we’re the Greatest of the Slavs”.

    By acquiescing to Russia’s dismemberment of Georgia, by buying their blatant propaganda on this issue, we are guaranteeing a general European war in the next hundred years. You sit here and tut at a nation the size of Oklahoma being thrashed by the largest land empire on the planet, smug in your own safety, but 20-50 years from now your grandchildren will be in Central/Eastern Europe dying because you chose to look at this invasion through the myopic lenses of U.S. National Politics instead of thinking with some damn perspective. You, like the Russians and the Germans running flak for them on this issue, have failed to learn from your mistakes, and so you will be condemned to repeat them.

  87. Yes, the “Russians are always aggressive” argument.

    Did you know that Germans love war and Jews always want to get as much gold as possible?

    Oh wait. Those statements are offensive, but the statement about Russians is “fact”.

  88. Russia started WWI for territorial conquest? That’s a new one…

    You’d think Georgian schools taught Russian history back in the day…

  89. Hubris and the assumption that ones enemy would always back down if you showed enough “toughness” caused World War I. You know, the kind of thing Bill Kristol believes in.

  90. Since South Osstia is part of Georgia, speaking of a Georgian invasion is nonsense. The real question is how much does sovreignity matter compared to regions desires for autonomy and independence. In our own history, it seems to be sovreignity trumps seperatist movements. With Kosovo, we decided the opposite.

    Which of those is morally flawed? The civil war? Armed support for Kosovo’s independence? Both? Neither?

    Not that easy, is it?

  91. RC Dean that was a SOVIET occupation of Eastern Europe, not a Russian one.

    Stalin and Khrushchev weren’t even ethnically Russian, for God’s sake! Russia was as much liberated form Soviet rule in 1991 as Ukraine and Kazakhstan were.

  92. And of course South Osetia is a part of Georgia because… Oh, yeah, because a certain person known as Stalin gave it to Georgia.

  93. Mad Ivan: I think that’s Russian opposition you’re thinking about there.

    Georgia’s elections are recognized and considered legitimate by everyone but Russia, meanwhile Russia’s elections tend to be the very definition of farce. The only significant complain anyone has leveled at Georgia in recent history are ones regarding the violence with which it reacted to the Russia-backed protests that took place in its capital early this year, violence which consisted of firing nerve gas at the protesters (something every police force in the West does to riots). I seem to remember the last protest held in Moscow ended with a gang of Russian-nationalist street thugs being carted in by the government to smash their heads with base ball bats. Trying to play “Who’s worse” to defend Russia is laughable; you’ll always lose.

  94. I have to wonder if Jesse bothered to RFTA. Kristol doesn’t argue for military intervention, just pressure on a government that has sent troops across an international border into a democratic country that has been allied with us and asked for NATO membership.

    And a Reason writer objects to… pressure?

    Tall Dave, Kristol advocates the “credible threat of force.” That means either you’re willing to actually USE force, or you’re willing to back down if your bluff is called, or you’re absolutely certain your bluff won’t be called. Option Three only works for Captain Kirk, which leaves us the first two. Which do you advocate, or interpret Kristol as doing?

  95. oops that should be tear gas, not nerve. Kind of a big difference 🙂

  96. Julian — That US always accepts elections that result in pro-US government being elected. Surprise, surprise.

    If you haven’t heard about Georgian opposition figures dropping dead… probably because you did not want to. After all, unlike Litvinenko, there was no way to blame _that one_ on evil Ruskies.

    And if your police shoots nerve gas (as opposed to, say, tear gas) at people, let me know where you are so I can stay in more civilised places.

  97. The Georgian President is a thug who uses happy talk about “democracy” to beat up his political opposition. Putin is a first class thug, too, but at least hes honest enough to admit it.

  98. WWI began because Russia was using the issue of Slavic independence to undermine the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Germany hoped to use the issue of Austrian sovereignty as a way to show its status as a world power. The Black Hand was part of a whole network of Pan-Slavic and ethnic nationalist movements supported by Russia.

    Russia’s claimed reason for getting involved was to defend the rights of Serbia against Austria aggression, and this in itself doesn’t seem to be an expansionist claim. However, the Russians always have, and still do, claim the right to lead and protect all Slavs as if they were their own citizens. When you claim rights of extra-territoriality for the entire population of many states, you are in fact claiming that you should be allowed to rule them.

  99. The US claims, under the Monroe Doctrine, that it is essentially the protector of the Western Hemisphere. Does that mean we’re claiming a “right” to rule Argentina and Colombia?

  100. Further, does it mean we have an evil, EVIL master plan to conquer the Americas from the Yukon to Chile?

  101. Sure, it was all Russian fault. Of course, Austia was entirely justified in _their_ ambitions, and Germans had always been most peaceful people on Earth. And British never wanted a peace of Caucasus at all.

  102. The only significant complain anyone has leveled at Georgia in recent history are ones regarding the violence with which it reacted to the Russia-backed protests that took place in its capital early this year

    That’s funny, I seem recall something about rockets leveling city blocks and Georgian tanks this past weekend.

  103. We did not attack Serbia to secure Kosovar independence. We attacked Serbia because THEY launched Operation Horseshoe against the Kosovars – a campaign of genocide, including the filling of mass graves.

    Kosovar independence was the outcome, but it was not the intent.

  104. But those were totalitarian, russia-backed city blocks. Nothing wring with clearing ???? way for more democratic (and of course populated by freedom-living people) ones.

  105. Ummm, Horseshoe? Wasn’t that one debunked years ago?

  106. Joe-

    And now the Russians claim “ethnic clensing” too. Kosovo sure was a bad idea, wasn’t it (regardless of its intent)? This is why I don’t sign up for intervention in Sudan, as horrible as whats happening there is. God knows what kind of justification China would get out of that!

  107. Mad Ivan,

    Ummm, Horseshoe? Wasn’t that one debunked years ago? No, the UN and AI have issued their reports on the mass graves they uncovered. Hundreds of American military and civilians personnel have dug the bones out of the ground.

    And now the Russians claim “ethnic clensing” too. They’re probably right. The Georgian military was using rockets and artillery against city blocks full of civilians. We must ignore this, of course, because we want to. But even if they weren’t, do you really think that Russians would lack for terminology to describe their (grossly disproportionate) response to the Georgians’ invasion if there was no Kosovo?

    BTW, you do know that the Russians were acting in an internationally-certified peacekeeper role within South Ossetia before these hostilities began, and that the Georgians attacked those forces, right? Rather different from Kosovo, no?

    Kosovo sure was a bad idea, wasn’t it? No, an international alliance stopping a genocide campaign is a good idea.

  108. Joe, do you think South Ossetia and the other region of Georgia (I forget which one) should be entitled to declare independence and join the Russian Federation now?

  109. Which do you advocate, or interpret Kristol as doing?

    Kristol doesn’t advicate threatening the use of force, he merely notes something that is practically a truism: aggrressors are not deterred by diplomacy if that diplomacy is not backed by the credible threat of force — if you’re going to speak softly you’d damn well better have a big stick. And in the next sentence, he notes that Russia is not that big a threat. He then states a course of action:

    “Will the United States put real pressure on Russia to stop? ”

    Just threatening their WTO membership application is probably enough. If they actually try to occupy Georgia proper and seem to be eyeing the Ukraine, an offer of military aid a la Afghanistan in the 1980s is probably not undue (it managed to kick the Soviets out without starting WW III). And you can bet the Polish and the Czechs are keeping a close eye on things, and will not sit idly by if the bear seems ambitious.

  110. Joe — As I recall, everything that mentioned Operation Horseshoe somehow used the Croatian word for the Horseshoe, not Serbian one (one of the few differences between Serbian and Croatian versions of the language).

    UN and AI and that cangaroo court in Hague found a lot of things. Now that it does not matter, del Pointe even remembered that Albanians actually were running that organ-smuggling business, Excuse me if I take this with a gran of salt. BTW, how many Serbs are left in Kosovo?

  111. Ivan, I’m curious. Do you agree Russia’s ambitions probably end at those two provinces?

    If Russia were to go further and overthrow the Georgian gov’t, would you condemn that action? What about the Ukraine?

  112. BDB,

    I don’t thing anything legal should happen “now,” under these circumstances. The parties should return to status quo ante, and then take it from there.

    Mad Ivan,

    You’ll forgive me if I find the testimony of the forensic specialists who saw the sites, as reported by Amnesty International, to be more compelling than your speculation.

  113. Dave — Most probably territorial ambitions end there. They have their hands full with Chechnya as it is, so actual occupation of Georgia probably is not in the cards. Regime change, on the other hand… US had shown them some very good examples in Serbia and Iraq of installing a puppet regime and then trying previous leadership for war crimes. Although I would much prefer they don’t do it.

    Ukraine will bear close watching. Crimea is a perennial sore point there, and Russia has a very good claim on it, historically, what with it being transferred to Ukraine only in 1954 by Krushchev’s decree…

    Joe — while not out of the realm of possibility, the entire breakup of Yugoslavia was done with so much underhanded dealings on all sides that I tend to find all claims of all atrocities being committed by only one side (the one that conveniently was the losing one) to be… less than convincing.

  114. I can’t argue with that, Ivan.

  115. They have their hands full with Chechnya as it is,

    Do they? (serious question.) – It’s been off the radar since that Beslan school thing which has been now 4 years ago. And Putin’s electoral victories* seem to indicate it’s either not a big issue anymore and/or the body politic concurs with the Russian govt handling of ‘the Chechyen question.’ As it were.

    *which I don’t believe are (that much) rigged – rigged elections are normally 80-90% and up, vice the 60 some odd % his party got. Plus, for most the answer to the question ‘are you better off than you were x years ago?’ was ‘yes.’

  116. BDB,

    Sorry, that was glib.

    I understand and respect, and to an extent agree with, your statement about Darfur. There is indeed a danger to undermining sovereignty, the one you lay out.

    The thing it, it’s just such incredibly low-hanging fruit. We could save millions of lives – perhaps up to 5 million – with a force that doesn’t even approach five figures, with probably less than a dozen American dead (maybe none) in less than a weak of combat, just by deterring the Janjaweed and putting the hurt on a handful of old Sudanese aircraft. Millions of people, BDB.

    Out of respect for the sovereignty problem you mention, I’d insist on getting the approval of an international body like the UN or NATO – a real, pre-existing body, not some “coalition of the billing er willing” consisting of the countries already on board, but something similar to how Clark and Clinton and Albright and Cohen got the NATO countries to sign onto Kosovo – because it can’t be a unilateral action.

  117. Do they? (serious question.) –

    I believe their Chechen problem isn’t settled but just simmering on low for the time being while the russian puppet remains in office.
    It will probably flare up again (it’s a very old conflict) soon enough–all the more reason to keep clamping down on the other breakaway republics.

  118. According to season 5 of 24, the Chechens are still active, but they were getting their weapons from Nixon-lookalike-and-Bush-behavealike Charles Logan.

  119. BDB
    do you think South Ossetia and the other region of Georgia (I forget which one) should be entitled to declare independence and join the Russian Federation now?

    No need really–Russia has been supplying S. Ossetians with Russian passports for some time now.

    IMHO, Russia has won this round and won big. And what remains of the shattered Georgian army and gov’t can serve as warning to any other breakaway republics who get any ideas about joining western alliances.

  120. Not surprisingly, Reason has had nothing to say on this important news item until now; it’s a national security issue, and accordingly the typical “Reasonoid” has no knowledge, understanding or comprehension about the subject. Also unsurprisingly, this comment is ignorant, unserious and unintelligent. Another reason why so-called “libertarians” can’t be trusted with any office above county commissioner.

  121. Kolohe — what they said.

    The public is happy enough with the handling of it, and the (Western) press does not pay too much attention to what amouns to a few cops getting blown up here and there.

  122. Thoreau,
    According to season 5 of 24, the Chechens are still active, but they were getting their weapons from Nixon-lookalike-and-Bush-behavealike Charles Logan.

    According to Level 1 of the XBOX version of “Ghost Recon” this was all predicted 7 years ago–almost to the month.

    I’ll have to replay that level to figure out what happens next.

    Tom Clancy as Prophet–who knew?

  123. Matt,

    Another reason why so-called “libertarians” can’t be trusted with any office above county commissioner

    If all positions at County level and below were occupied by libertarians, I for one, would be pretty happy.

  124. Another reason why so-called “libertarians” can’t be trusted with any office above county commissioner.

    Drink!

    (Vodka, right?)

  125. Thoreau,

    Nostrovya!

  126. Tom Clancy as Prophet–who knew?

    Great, we have a very kitsch future ahead of us…

  127. Matt- 8:23

    How about some specifics? Some definitions? You are making some pretty sweeping statements.

    What is a “typical Reasonoid?” Why can’t the typical Reasonoid be trusted with matters of national secuirty?

    What is “unintelligent” and “ignorant” about Jesse’s comment?

  128. Not surprisingly, Reason has had nothing to say on this important news item until now

    I’m afraid there’s a typo here: you accidentally left off the words “not counting at least two previous posts, one of which went up the day the fighting started.”

    it’s a national security issue, and accordingly the typical “Reasonoid” has no knowledge, understanding or comprehension about the subject. Also unsurprisingly, this comment is ignorant, unserious and unintelligent. Another reason why so-called “libertarians” can’t be trusted with any office above county commissioner.

    We’ll have to add the word “unserious” to the Neocon Phrase Generator too. And the use of the term “national security” to describe a situation that has nothing to do with American security.

  129. And the use of the term “national security” to describe a situation that has nothing to do with American security.

    Have we met?

  130. Dave-

    Not every foreign leader who invades another country is Hitler. Why, if you believed that, you would have to say whats going to stop Bush from stopping at Iraq? Why not Iran and Syria?

    As I said before, as long as Ukraine doesn’t shell Russian peacekeepers I think they will be fine. Finland has lived next to the USSR/Russia for decades and they haven’t fought a war with them since the 40s. Even then, they didn’t annex them–they took about two provinces, something similar will happen with Georgia. The problem with you people is for you its always 1938, and every foreign leader we have a disagreement with is The Next Hitler. Get a grip.

    Joe-

    I’d say if any proposed action to stop genocide has the approval of the five permanent members of the security council, go for it. But as long as China is blocking it its too risky. I can only imagine the reprisals they would make in Tibet (or Taiwan) because we thumb our noses at them. For that matter, our international credibility is so shot by Bush everyone would assume we are doing it for oil.

    Of course I wish we could stop genocide everywhere. I wish we could eliminate murder and theft, too, and thats possible, but the cure would be worse than the disease!

  131. The only reason the United States would get involved is the same reason China and Russia would, simply oil.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20080811/wl_mcclatchy/3015429_1

  132. We could save millions of lives – perhaps up to 5 million – with a force that doesn’t even approach five figures, with probably less than a dozen American dead (maybe none) in less than a weak of combat

    Yes, and the people of Baghdad will greet us as liberators, with flowers and candy.

    You never see so much similarities in the two sides than when they insist that their war is the right war and that other guy’s war is barbarous and unnecessary.

  133. joe | August 11, 2008, 8:01pm | #

    BDB,

    Sorry, that was glib.

    I understand and respect, and to an extent agree with, your statement about Darfur. There is indeed a danger to undermining sovereignty, the one you lay out.

    The thing it, it’s just such incredibly low-hanging fruit. We could save millions of lives – perhaps up to 5 million – with a force that doesn’t even approach five figures, with probably less than a dozen American dead (maybe none) in less than a weak of combat, just by deterring the Janjaweed and putting the hurt on a handful of old Sudanese aircraft. Millions of people, BDB.

    Forgive my nasty cynicism, but I seem to remember something about helicopters and the bodies of US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.

  134. US had shown them some very good examples in Serbia and Iraq of installing a puppet regime and then trying previous leadership for war crimes

    Well, free and fair elections are obviously not “puppet regimes,” but I think you and I had the best read on Russia’s aims as they now appear to be winding down the offensive.

    There’s a bit too much paranoia about Russia these days. They aren’t as liberal as one would like, but they are basically a democracy.

  135. Yes, and the people of Baghdad will greet us as liberators, with flowers and candy.

    People keep tossing that out like it’s ironic, but in fact the Kurds and Shia did greet as liberators in 2003 (remember the statue falling and the cheering?), and even most of the Sunnis greeted us as liberators in 2007 after we threw out the “light footprint” model and started guarding them instead of saying security was an Iraqi problem.

    It was just a lot more difficult to establish a civil society than was generally appreciated, due to our poor intelligence. Saddam had really and truly broken that country.

  136. Yes, and the people of Baghdad will greet us as liberators, with flowers and candy.

    You never see so much similarities in the two sides than when they insist that their war is the right war and that other guy’s war is barbarous and unnecessary.

    You know, the fallacy of pretending every war is the same, and fits into a neat little scheme that fits your preconcieved ideology, to the point that you don’t even need to know any facts in order to hold a strong opinion, isn’t limited to neoconservatives like Kristol.

  137. Aresen,

    Forgive my nasty cynicism, but I seem to remember something about helicopters and the bodies of US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.. Mogadishu was hostile territory. We went into an area controlled by Aidid’s militia and launched an attack. That’s rather different than a defensive mission in area governed and occupied by the people we’d be defending from an external military force.

  138. Dave — I am not sure that I would consider elections in Iraq particulkarly free and fair (and one could remember Afghanistan, too), and in Serbia… pumping lots of money to the opposition, while maintaining sanctions and a threat of more bombing makes any elections results a bit fishy.

    And indeed, looks like attack on Tbilisi existed only in Saakishvili’s inflamed imagination.

    On the other han? it was very cute how Bush was complaining about invading sovereign countries..

  139. That’s rather different than a defensive mission in area governed and occupied by the people we’d be defending from an external military force.

    Joe, the record of Westerners in understanding the intricacies of African religious and ethnic loyalties is extremely poor. Even among aid groups and development-assistance NGO’s who have nothing but helpful intentions, the fuck-up rate is very high. If NGO’s can’t get it right I have zero confidence that the State Department and Pentagon can get it right. A Darfur intervention would probably produce lots of official government spokesman statements that start out, “No one anticipated that…” and “It turns out that we misjudged…” and “The situation was more complex than it appeared from…”

  140. Dave — I am not sure that I would consider elections in Iraq particulkarly free and fair (and one could remember Afghanistan, too), and in Serbia… pumping lots of money to the opposition, while maintaining sanctions and a threat of more bombing makes any elections results a bit fishy.

    Then there’s the billions of dollars of cash we’ve provided Maliki to hand out as walking-around money in Shiite areas, and the billions of dollars in bribes that we’ve handed out directly in Sunni areas.

    Economic statistics out of Iraq recently show a predictable effect – namely, that a lot of that bribe money is going to buy imported consumer goods, creating a collapse of domestic production.

    So our deliberate corruption of Iraq’s republic is also undermining their domestic non-oil economy.

    The Saigonification of Iraq is nearly complete. Anyone confident that Iraq’s security improvements can be maintained when the bribe money spigot is eventually turned off is probably showing a lot of overconfidence.

  141. Fluffy — well, what else is new?… All as expected.

  142. Fluffy,

    Joe, the record of Westerners in understanding the intricacies of African religious and ethnic loyalties is extremely poor. Even among aid groups and development-assistance NGO’s who have nothing but helpful intentions, the fuck-up rate is very high. If NGO’s can’t get it right I have zero confidence that the State Department and Pentagon can get it right.

    It’s true enough that there has been a lot of blundering into complicated situations. That’s why any intervention should be limited to a straightforward military mission – stopping the Janajaweed from launching attacks into Darfur – and not get bogged down in “nation building.”

    Separating waring parties – especially when the populations from which they came are already geographically separate – is something that the UN has able to do pretty well.

  143. I’m just reveling in the fact that joe is copping to the fact he’s a “humanitarian” warmonger.

    Y’see, guys, THIS one’s different! joe knows enough about THIS conflict to tell us it’s going to be easy-peasy lemon squeezy.

  144. That’s rather different than a defensive mission in area governed and occupied by the people we’d be defending from an external military force.

    joe, Darfur is governed and occupied by the government of Sudan which is behind the arming of the Janjaweed and giving them their marching orders.

    Any US intervention would be an invasion of Sudan’s sovereign territory even if it got UN sanction* which ain’t gonna happen, what with China on the Security Council and all. There may be plenty of reasons to invade someone’s sovereign territory, but I’m not seeing it here.

    *And going into Africa with a NATO “mandate” would be beyond stupid for reasons that should be obvious. Best to leave the troop supplying up to the African Union and limiting European or US participation to heavy lift transport and logistics. Oh, wait, we’re already doing that.

  145. Isaac,

    joe, Darfur is governed and occupied by the government of Sudan which is behind the arming of the Janjaweed and giving them their marching orders. No, it is not. The governmet of Sudan has statutory jurisdiction over Darfur, as part of Sudan, but they have virtually no actual presence there. Both the populace that lives there, and whatever government there is, are Darfuri.

    Any US intervention would be an invasion of Sudan’s sovereign territory Yes, it would. I’m talking about the practical situation on the ground when I write that the Ddarfuris are geographically separate from their tormentors.

    Poorly-named Angry Dude,

    I’m just reveling in the fact that joe is copping to the fact he’s a “humanitarian” warmonger.

    I’ve been arguing for helping the Darfuris, defending the Kosovo War, and articulating a liberal foreign policy philosophy that encompasses support for the use of force for humanitarian reasons since I started commenting here seven years ago. Uh, congratulations.

  146. strange, then, that you get your panties in a wad whenever the Republicans talked about defending the rights of the Iraqis not to be tortured.

    like I said, you’re just one side of the same coin. nothing new there.

  147. Mmmm, and a justification for Kosovo would be? Oh, right, if you are pro-Western, you can engage in a little ethnic cleansing of your own and get support for it.

  148. strange, then, that you get your panties in a wad whenever the Republicans talked about defending the rights of the Iraqis not to be tortured.

    Such as? Clearly, you must have examples of such a thing.

    What’s that? You don’t? That’s because I never “got my panties in a wad whenever the Republicans talked about defending the rights of the Iraqis not to be tortured.” For about a month in 2002, I actually considered it a tough call whether to support invading Iraq, specifically because I found the humanitarian argument so persuasive. It was the combination of the incredibly complicated, large-scale action the Republicans were advocating, and the immense incompetance and dishonesty and ignorance with which they intended to go about it, that made me come down against the war.

    But, hey, you have this nice little partisan model built in your head – one that actually allows you to be on the top, hooray! – so don’t let the fact that I don’t actually fit it disturb it.

  149. Mmmm, and a justification for Kosovo would be?

    The United States didn’t engage in any ethnic cleansing. We stopped the Serbs, after they had carried out several such campaigns in Bosnia, and were starting again in Kosovo.

    A more honest reader might have noticed that I’ve never written anything in support of the KLA.

  150. A more honest reader would’ve noticed that Serbian operations were aimed against the KLA (remember, the organ-smuggling good guys), t???? KLA is running the show now, and… remind me… how many KLA members got dragged to Hague, let alone convicted?

    Right. It was all humanitarian.

  151. Dave — I am not sure that I would consider elections in Iraq particulkarly free and fair

    That’s why there are international observers who judge these things.

    Then there’s the billions of dollars of cash we’ve provided Maliki to hand out as walking-around money in Shiite areas,

    ZOMG next they’ll have earmarks and be as bad as us! Oh, and that’s their oil money he’s handing out, not ours.

    and the billions of dollars in bribes that we’ve handed out directly in Sunni areas.

    If paying Iraqi CLCs to act as security guards and police is “bribing” them, then every police force is “bribed.”

    Economic statistics out of Iraq recently show a predictable effect – namely, that a lot of that bribe money is going to buy imported consumer goods, creating a collapse of domestic production.

    This makes absolutely no sense. “Bribe” money is no more likely to go to imports than any other money. So your arguing for… protectionism? So much for free markets. Anyways, you’re wrong — the World Bank, IMF, and UN all estimate that Iraq’s economy is growing — yes, even the non-oil portion.

    Anyone confident that Iraq’s security improvements can be maintained when the bribe money spigot is eventually turned off is probably showing a lot of overconfidence.

    Good thing Iraq has decades of oil production ahead.

  152. It was the combination of the incredibly complicated, large-scale action the Republicans were advocating, and the immense incompetance and dishonesty and ignorance with which they intended to go about it, that made me come down against the war.

    Wow, the old “it was a good war, but the Republicans messed it up?” campaign shtick of 2006? And you wonder why I call you a partisan hack, because all you did right there was parrot Hillary Clinton and the rest of the party?

    so, joe, seeing as how the Iraq “adventure” seems to have turned demonstrably in favor of the humanitarian situation you would want, I suppose you’re going to backtrack on all of your criticism up to that point?

    It’s just SO damn hard to believe that you really hatesses Iraq but lovesses the Sudan, and Kosovo (and any other Democrat war) so much on your own. I really don’t attribute that much intelligence to you.

  153. A more honest reader would’ve noticed that Serbian operations were aimed against the KLA

    Not according to those noted pro-American propagandists at Amnesty International, it wasn’t. You don’t fill ditches with women and children in a campaign against an armed rebel group.

    You can keep talking about how terrible the KLA is all you want. I don’t care, because my argument has never had anything to do with the KLA being good guys.

  154. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2008/car021308b.htm

    Iraq Makes Progress on Economic Front

    Inflation, which spiked at 65 percent at end-2006, was sharply reduced with a policy package that included exchange rate appreciation, monetary tightening, and fiscal discipline. These policies, together with measures to reduce fuel shortages that resulted in declining black market fuel prices, limited the increase in consumer prices to less than 5 percent during 2007. Core inflation, which excludes fuel and transportation prices, fell to about 12 percent from 32 percent in 2006.

    Aside from improving macroeconomic stability, Iraq also made progress on structural reforms. The authorities significantly increased the initially very low domestic official fuel prices to levels that are in line with those in the region’s other oil-exporting countries. Direct subsidies on fuel products, which amounted to almost 13 percent of GDP in 2004, were eliminated in 2007, except for a small subsidy on kerosene. This has released much-needed resources for reconstruction and reduced the incentives for smuggling fuel products out of the country. Other achievements include amending the new pension law to make the pension system fiscally sustainable and modernizing the payments system.

    In light of Iraq’s large reconstruction needs, the government has prepared an ambitious investment program for 2008. It is taking steps to speed up projects that could not be undertaken in previous years, in particular to rebuild infrastructure and improve the provision of electricity, water and sanitation, education, and health care. Provided that further security improvements allow execution of the public investment program and a return to a more normal functioning of the economy, economic activity outside the oil sector should pick up.

    Although much remains to be done, Iraq has registered a number of successes. Significant progress was made in stabilizing the macroeconomic environment and in advancing the structural reform agenda. The 2008 program will focus on similar objectives to capitalize on the momentum achieved by the first program

  155. Heh, the “money spigot” theory must be the new popular wacky theory of why Iraq is doomed, doomed, DOOOMED!

    All the Iraq pessimists now have are crazy conspiracy theories. I think the last one was that Al-Sistani was going to start a new civil war (that one still makes me chuckle).

  156. Wow, the old “it was a good war, but the Republicans messed it up?” campaign shtick of 2006?

    Not exactly. For one thing, making that argument in 2002 is quite a bit different from making it in 2006. Acting suprised that the Bush administration is a bunch of screw-ups isn’t a very good argument.

    For another thing, you glided right over the the incredibly complicated, large-scale action the Republicans were advocating, part, which is even more important. It wasn’t just that the administration was incompetant, but these incompetants had put together an operation that was so large, complicated, and difficult that even the most able, serious administation would have had difficulty pulling it off.

    all you did right there was parrot Hillary Clinton and the rest of the party? Man, where to start? Well, there’s the fact that Hillary herself didn’t make the argument I just laid out (just some other argument which a superficial thinker like yourself can’t tell the difference). There’s the fact that the majority of the Democratic Party was always against this war, voting by a margin of 58-42% against the AUMF even in the political atmosphere of 2002. Then there’s the fact that Hillary argued loudly in favor of the war, which is precisely the opposite of my argument against it.

    Some might consider these relevant points. YMMV.

    so, joe, seeing as how the Iraq “adventure” seems to have turned demonstrably in favor of the humanitarian situation you would want, I suppose you’re going to backtrack on all of your criticism up to that point? There are somewhere between 200,000 and 2 million people dead and about 4 million Iraqi refugees. It is more dangerous to live in Iraq than it was under Saddam, and even this relatively-low level of violence is almost certainly not going to hold. Not exactly the humanitarian situation I’d like to see.

    It’s just SO damn hard to believe that you really hatesses Iraq but lovesses the Sudan, and Kosovo (and any other Democrat war) so much on your own. And there’s the problem I was just describing – you hate me so much, you shut your brain off and attribute idiotic positions to me, ones at odds with what I actually think, and flail away at them in ignorance, making it easy for me to out-debate you, because you don’t even try to contend with my actual arguments and positions.

    I really don’t attribute that much intelligence to you. You stick with that. It’s always worked out very well for people who pick fights with me when they do that.

  157. Joe — right, and that’s why it was KLA that was supported, installed in power, and not one among them was brought to justice. That makes it a just war, silly me.

  158. remind me… how many KLA members got dragged to Hague, let alone convicted?

    No where near the number of Serb war criminals; but more than zero.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_indictees_of_the_International_Criminal_Tribunal_for_the_former_Yugoslavia

    right, and that’s why it was KLA that was supported, installed in power….

    Only some of the several political parties in Kosovo had have ties to former KLA leaders. And some leaders of those parties have stood trial.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_League_of_Kosova

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramush_Haradinaj

    At any rate, NATO doesn’t decide who can stand for election or who people vote for, they merely retain the rule of law and perhaps apprehend people indicted by the Hague.

    The only thing that bothers me about that war, I read somewhere that they were close to a peace agreement in Rambouillet that would have allowed for an international peacekeeping force. But at the last minute US negotiators added a condition that would have allowed for NATO occupation of the all of Yugoslavia. I don’t know if that is true (or if there are other facts about this that significantly change the picture), but if so that’s kind of fucked up. Does anyone have information on this?

  159. Mad Ivan,

    Joe — right, and that’s why it was KLA that was supported, installed in power, and not one among them was brought to justice. That makes it a just war, silly me.

    The outcome of America’s war against Nazi Germany was that the Soviet Union was “supported, installed in power” throughout eastern Europe “and not one among them was brought to justice.”

    Nonetheless, we didn’t go to war for the Soviet Union and their desire to control Eastern Europe.

  160. BG — I believe this is correct about Rambouillet. Haradinaj was acquitted and the whole trial was a sorry sight.

    Joe — America’s war against Germany? Oh, sorry, I forgot, you won the WWII. And if you don’t see a difference between WWII and Kosovo… well, I guess you might suppoirt Georgia in this, too…

  161. Swing and a miss, Ivan.

    YOU raised a point about the political outcome of a war and its relationship to the purpose of America’s involvment in that war, and I raised the example of another war and its political outcome in relation to the purpose of America’s involvement.

    Settle down, you Russian chauvinist, nobody said “American won the WWII.” I was talking about America’s decision to get involved.

    PS: Nicholas II wore ladies’ undergarments, and Catherine has sex with a horse.

  162. Well, maybe thats not the only thing that bothers me about the Kosovo war. I am still bothered by the civilian casualties – and the posibility that some operations that caused them were unnecessary, illegal, etc. But by all accounts, this was a “clean war” (at least for the most part) – with a high degree of effort taken to avoid civilian casualties.

    Haradinaj was acquitted and the whole trial was a sorry sight.

    I don’t know the details of Haradinaj’s trial. But even if the trial was corrupted in a manner to ensure his acquital, its hard to pin that one on NATO.

  163. Joe — not sure about Nicholas (wouldn’t be surprised, he was a dork). The horse sex story was debunked long time ago, though.

    And painting me as a Russian chauvinist is rather laughable, assuming you even know what chauvinist is.

    In case of WWII political outcome was less important than surviving and defeating Nazis. In Kosovo on the other hand, political outcome of installing a friendly (if criminal) government in the province was the purpose.

  164. BG — Well, cleaner than firebombing of Dresden, that’s for sure. I am still sceptical about Serbian TV being a valid military target (and it was not the only location bombed in Belgrade and other population centers).

    The ICTY trials… Who finances it, where do judges come from, and who calls the shots?

  165. Mad Ivan,

    I was just joshing you about the old stories about the czars.

    In Kosovo on the other hand, political outcome of installing a friendly (if criminal) government in the province was the purpose. I think you misunderstand the Clinton administration. To Russians, the geo-political aspects of having an unfriendly Kosovo vs. one controlled by an ally was the primary consideration, but it’s a mistake in politics to assume that your opponents’ motivation is the mirror image of your own.

    Here in the states, the loudest opponents of the war rallied to the battle cry, “America has no national interests there. We shouldn’t be getting involved in faraway wars that have nothing to do with us for mushy humanitarian reasons.” The rejoinder was twofold – there was an argument for the use of force on purely humanitarian grounds, and then there was an effort to articulate a case that we did have a national interest there.

    But the national interest was not about Kosovo, or even about Yugoslavia. The national interest argument was as follows: Milosevic is a dangerous aggressor who’s shown his eagerness to start wars in the Balkans. We saw in 1914 how aggressive Serbian nationalism can set of events which threaten our allies in western Europe and draw us in. We need to nip that thread in the bud.

    In other words, even the national interest case had nothing to do with U.S./Russian competition or the expansion of U.S. influence into a Russian sphere, but about stability on the continent of Europe.

    Now, maybe the Bushies have seized on the situation to push an agenda that really IS about expanding our presence into the Russian sphere of influence, but the Bushie’s weren’t running things when the Kosovo War happened. The Clintonites were, neo-liberal hawks who saw in Milosevic a threat to Europe, especially after Bosnia, and who didn’t want him to rack up another big body count. That KLA were just some lucky bastards who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

  166. Joe — Actually, I would believe the one about Nicholas 😉

    You can add as much humanitarian sheen to Kosovo as you want, but claiming that there were genocide (as opposed to so,me nasty reprisals against criminal gangs and unlucky civilians who got caught in thE crossfire) OR THAT Milosevic was in position to start wars outside of Serbian territory is disingenious.

  167. RC Dean that was a SOVIET occupation of Eastern Europe, not a Russian one.

    Potato, patahto.

    I’m just reveling in the fact that joe is copping to the fact he’s a “humanitarian” warmonger.

    Oh, he did that weeks ago. With the caveat that we should only do the humanitarian thing when it looks easy.

    But the national interest was not about Kosovo, or even about Yugoslavia Georgia. The national interest argument was as follows: Milosevic Putin is a dangerous aggressor who’s shown his eagerness to start wars in the Balkans former Soviet republics. We saw in 1914 1945 how aggressive Serbian nationalism Russian imperialism (albeit under the “Soviet” brand) can set off events which threaten our allies in western Europe and draw us in. We need to nip that thread in the bud.

    Works for me.

  168. So in the end, this is all about the Russians. That kind of explains a lot.

  169. “I’m sure The New York Times could work up a Neoconservative Phrase Generator (“aggressors aren’t intimidated,” “fanatics aren’t deterred,” “nuclear ambitions,” “graver dangers,” “unchecked”) to construct Kristol’s columns while he’s away.”

    I’m sure they could do the same thing for you here at Reason, Jesse. All they have to do is think of some really lame jokes and input them into a computer. Ask Nick Gillespie to do it for you. His jokes are almost as bad as his haircut.

  170. “You might have thought the American presence in Iraq made it less wise to go plunging into a confrontation with the Russians. Kristol seems to think it obliges us to get involved. He even calls for “emergency military aid to Georgia” — because what America really needs right now is to jump into a conflict that has nothing to do with us while we’re already $3 trillion deep in another set of wars.”

    I guess the word “ally” joins the word “funny” in being absent from the Jesse Walker dictionary.

  171. I guess the word “ally” joins the word “funny” in being absent from the Jesse Walker dictionary.

    Haw haw! With rib-ticklers like that, no one will ever doubt your credentials as a comedy critic.

    And what an astute point you’ve made! If I argue an unwise alliance would draw us into an unnecessary war, clearly that could only mean I’m unfamiliar with the concept of a military alliance.

  172. You can add as much humanitarian sheen to Kosovo as you want, but claiming that there were genocide (as opposed to so,me nasty reprisals against criminal gangs and unlucky civilians who got caught in thE crossfire) OR THAT Milosevic was in position to start wars outside of Serbian territory is disingenious.

    You may have a point about the second part, but there were atrocities in Kosovo. It is implausible to say that all civilian casualties were accidents with civilians “caught in the crossfire”; or even that they were merely sporadic instances of crimes by lower level people without coordination from the top.

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/kosovo/undword-03.htm

    The ICTY trials… Who finances it, where do judges come from, and who calls the shots

    The United Nations is the international body that operates that court and provides most of the funding. The judges are elected by the UN general assembly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Tribunal_for_the_former_Yugoslavia#cite_note-0

  173. What actions can ORDINARY US citizens take to STOP Russia’s aggression against Georgia?

    StopRussianAggression.com

  174. What actions can ORDINARY US citizens take to STOP Russia’s aggression against Georgia?

    “I fear we must pull out of Georgia, sir. The Americans, they’ve…”

    “They’ve what? Invaded us? Bombed our forces? Launched nukes?”

    “No, sir. They’ve started an online poll!

  175. BG – I’m not denying that atrocities were committed. By both sides. It just seems a little bit too convenient when you invade in support of one group, that commits atrocities. was listed by you as a terrorist organization, but happens to be pro-American, and bomb the other side, which at least has some legal basis for running law and order on its territory, but happens to be not sufficiently friendly to US…

    Randy — What Russian aggression?!

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