Foreign Policy

Two Cheers for the Autocrat and His Lebensraum!

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One of the worst intellectual side-effects of war in far-flung lands is when people insist on seeing it through the parochial and distorting lens of domestic American politics. From that faulty starting point, it's a race to the Booby Prize for dumbest piece of commentary. Some recent candidates inspired by the Georgia-Russia war:

John Derbyshire, National Review:

We are governed by fools. At least Putin knows what he wants, and how to get it. If only freedom had such leaders!

James Pethokoukis, U.S. News & World Report:

Two cheers for Russia's invasion of Georgia. […] There's a big long-term positive in all this. We also now have greater clarity on the need to dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic:

Since Cheney has exactly the same view about the use of American military power as Putin does about Russian power, I'm not sure what grounds he has to complain. Maybe we should start complaining when as many Georgians have perished as Iraqis ? and when Putin throws thousands of innocent Georgians into torture chambers.

Ian Welsh, firedoglake:

NATO, the US and Europe broke their word. They expanded NATO further and further, into what Russia considers its buffer states, states which cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of potential enemies. Russian geopolitics has been obsessed with controlling those states for centuries (along with getting a warm water port). This is not a short term, minor issue. It is at the heart of what Russia believes it needs to be defensible-lots and lots of space. […]

US and Western policy towards Russia in the 90's was based around a shock therapy transition to a free market. The result of that was an actual decline in the Russian population. US neo-liberal economics applied to Russia killed millions of people. No exaggeration.

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  1. …Millions? Sources?

  2. Right, Nigel. Could the population decline be atributed to people getting out while the getting was good?

  3. We are governed by fools.

    I agree with derb here.

  4. I nominate this one for the Booby Prize:

    Russian geopolitics has been obsessed with controlling those states for centuries (along with getting a warm water port).

    They have a warm water port. It’s called Novorossiysk, and it’s on the Black Sea.

    Please refer to maps of the region before publishing such uninformed statements. Thanks, good night…

  5. No exaggeration.

    Not an exaggeration at all, just a simple lie.

  6. US neo-liberal economics applied to Russia killed millions of people. No exaggeration.

    No, no exaggeration at all. Ian Welsh has killed millions of people as well. No exaggeration.

  7. A commentor on that (Firedoglake) blog once said that “GDP is not a good indicator of economic health”. So yeah, thats expected.

  8. I agree, it’s irritating when people project their own ideological interpretation onto complex events.

    OT, does anyone else think this whole episode could have been avoided if Georgia had developed a better system of light rail?

  9. “Since Cheney has exactly the same view about the use of American military power as Putin does about Russian power, I’m not sure what grounds he has to complain.”

    Sullivan was a bigger hawk than I was at the begining of the Iraq war. It wasn’t until it got hard and Sullivan decided Bush and Cheney were evil incarnate and started to pretend that he never supported the war. If Putin and Cheney have the same view of the use of national power, then so does Sullivan.

  10. “If only freedom had such leaders!”

    We kind of do.

  11. coulndt agree more, Joe. If only Saakshivili hadnt suffered from a (now) deadly ignorance of the carbon tax.

  12. Taktix,

    OK, fair enough. The Russians have been obsessed with getting a warm water port that can be accessed without through straits controlled by hostile powers. That is, the Ottomans/Turks controlling the Dardanelles and the British controlling Gibraltar and the Suez.

  13. John, Sullivan has the biggest man-crush on Obama. What do you expect?

  14. There’s a verb that’s supposed to be in there. Something ships do. Sail, pass…it’s sort of like Madlibs.

  15. OK, fair enough. The Russians have been obsessed with getting a warm water port that can be accessed without through straits controlled by hostile powers. That is, the Ottomans/Turks controlling the Dardanelles and the British controlling Gibraltar and the Suez.

    Fair enough, but that doesn’t justify invading Georgia, as ships leaving its port must pass through the same straits.

  16. It is at the heart of what Russia believes it needs to be defensible-lots and lots of space.

    And if you happen to be a non-Russian inhabitant of that non-Russian space, tough shit. You do as Kremlin say.

    Anyone else notice the irony of the country with the largest area in the world needing more space?

  17. light rail: lol. 🙂

    I don’t understand the complaint. US pundits write about the lessons the US should learn from the Russian invasion. Whether or not you agree with their conclusions, isn’t that what they are supposed to do?

    They should be writing about this from a Latvian perspective?

  18. “John, Sullivan has the biggest man-crush on Obama. What do you expect?”

    You would think that someone who had engaged in such a monumental and public flip flop as Sullivan would keep their head down and avoid saying stupid things that reminded people of your former view. That would be unless of course you had no shame or self awareness, which pretty much describes Sullivan.

  19. I think, Taktix, that invading Georgia would meet that other old Russian objective he mentions, ….states it considers its buffer states, states which cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of potential enemies. Russian geopolitics has been obsessed with controlling those states for centuries…, and he just threw in the warm-water port bit to show how smart he is.

  20. Joe wins the thread with the light rail comment. That is funny.

  21. And of course, Taktix, none of that justifies invading Georgia, just explains it.

    It’s important to say that, as there are not a few people who cannot see a description of motives without reading a moral endorsement into that description.

  22. I will praise Putin’s efforts for one reason, however. His invasion, and more specifically the coverage because of it, has increased my chances of getting the “Find Your Russia Beauty Today!” banner on the right site of Hit & Run threads…

    Na zdorovia!

  23. OK, fair enough. The Russians have been obsessed with getting a warm water port that can be accessed without through straits controlled by hostile powers. That is, the Ottomans/Turks controlling the Dardanelles and the British controlling Gibraltar and the Suez.

    Fair enough, but that doesn’t justify invading Georgia, as ships leaving its port must pass through the same straits.

    Stop it, you guys are making me want to play Risk or Civilization IV.

  24. Umm, sorry to be a contrarian, but I think Sullivan’s comment is pretty much on the mark. Having launched our own illegal invasion, we’re not in much of a position to complain, not only because of hypocrisy, but because our forces are too tied up to do anything about it anyway. Although John may be right in saying Sullivan was a hawk, that doesn’t change the truth of what we are saying now.

  25. Civilization IV. Pfft. This makes me want to play Europa Universalis II starting as Muscouvy.

  26. What is thees?

    Ees cease and desist order. This area zoned for Georgians only. All weehicles to turn around! Dmitri, radio Moscow, tell them we file appeal.

    Seriously, would that have been so hard?

  27. John would much prefer that people who change their minds didn’t talk.

    Wha…?

  28. OK, joe, enough.

    I was making a quip that wasn’t intended to be analyzed ad nauseum. Never mind.

    I’m taking my ball and going home…

  29. I concur with Expat.

  30. “John would much prefer that people who change their minds didn’t talk.

    Wha…?”

    The invasion of Iraq was not illegal. It had sanction under UNSCR 1442. You can debaate 1442 all day, but you can at least have a debate unlike here where isn’t so much as a fig leaf of legality. If there is a war that makes the US hypocrical in this is the the Kosovo war. In Kosovo the US launched an aggressive war against a sovereign nation to protect an ethnic minority in a break away Republic without UNSC approval.

    As far as Sullivan goes, it is pretty rich of him to throw out insults about Cheney’s view of the use of national power when Sullivan supported Cheney’s view when it mattered.

  31. Having launched our own illegal invasion, we’re not in much of a position to complain, not only because of hypocrisy, but because our forces are too tied up to do anything about it anyway.

    Our forces couldn’t have done much about it regardless. Look at a map.

    As for not being in a position to complain, I haven’t noticed anybody complaining louder, or getting different results. The Euros hands are sparkly clean on the not-invading-other-countries issue (well, since the ’40s anyway), and their complaints (I’m sure there’ve been some) haven’t made a damn bit of difference anyway.

  32. One other thing, the Russians could not care less about Iraq, but they damn sure care about Serbia and are still pissed we bombed them. They and the Chinese saw that war as a vindication for every ethnicity that wants to break away and form their own country. It is not surprising that they would now use that same principle to justify intervening on behalf of a Russian minority in a border country. Not that that is really why the invaded, but it makes a heck of a convienent justification.

  33. Yup, we sealed the Georgian’s fate with Kosovo. Since Russia is no longer on its knees like it was in 1999, now they too can use ethnic separatist movements to play the Great Game.

    Look for the Chinese to do something like that in a place like Nepal or Thailand if we were to invade Sudan for Darfur over their objections. They’ll invade on of their neighbors ten or fifteen years later to “protect” an ethnic Chinese minority.

  34. Yeah, John, the UN fully backed the Iraq invasion. I guess that’s why there are so many UN troops in Iraq, and the international community has flocked to participate.

    And Dean, I never said complaining is effective, or that we would have intervened. It’s just that this war is a giant testimonial to the current administration’s impotence. We have the military / diplomatic equivalent of a limpy louie.

  35. R C Dean —

    Yeah, but there is the niggling detail of the US being Europe’s strong arm. Of course their complaints go nowhere; they have no stick to follow them.

  36. Our forces couldn’t have done much about it regardless. Look at a map.

    OK. Georgia has a shoreline on a body of water (Black Sea) that also touches several US allies and NATO members. True, that would be a pain in the ass to take advantage of, but the logistics of invading Afghanistan would have looked just as daunting when one looked at the map in 2001.

    Getting into bed with atrocious regimes (think Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) bordering your target atones for a multitude of geographical sins.

  37. WTF, Mr. Welch. I thought Russia invading was a neo-con conspiracy to get McCain elected?!? Why would the HuffPo lie?

  38. US and Western policy towards Russia in the 90’s was based around a shock therapy transition to a free market. The result of that was an actual decline in the Russian population.

    Nah, the decline was because there were no websites to find your Russian Beauty in the early 90’s.

  39. John, do you know what UNOMIG is?

    It’s a security force created by UN resolution authorizing Russian forces to be in Georgia to help enforce the 1993 agreement between the two countries.

    Dumbass idea to include Russians in such a peacekeeping force, but the invasion of Ossetia had exactly as much of a legal, UN fig leaf as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Both were military actions unilaterally undertaken by one party to the conflict, allegedly to enforce a UN mandate that the invade-ee had violated, but actually done to advance the invader’s Great Power aspirations.

  40. US and Western policy towards Russia in the 90’s was based around a shock therapy transition to a free market.

    I hope Naomi Klein rots in hell for perpetuating such moronic analysis of right wing politics. She knows nothing, NOTHING about the American right (or the international right), and even less about economics.

    If I said MoveOn.org is “Clintonian”, no one would take me seriously as scholar of the American left. So when she says the CATO Institute is “neocon” why do people still take her seriously?

  41. US neo-liberal economics applied to Russia killed millions of people. No exaggeration.

    Yup and communism takes no blame.

    I like the implied idea that communist states should stay communist states cuz the transition will kill. Friggin brilliant.

    What is strange is the argument is nearly identical to the lefts argument on why we should not reform social security….sure it is broke but changing it will KILL!!!

  42. It’s a security force created by UN resolution authorizing Russian forces to be in Georgia to help enforce the 1993 agreement between the two countries.

    Dumbass idea to include Russians in such a peacekeeping force, but the invasion of Ossetia had exactly as much of a legal, UN fig leaf as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    Next up: joe tells us why the UN should be disbanded.

  43. Joe,
    Do you know what UNOMIG is? It applies to Abkhazia, not Ossetia.

    http://www.un.org/depts/dpko/missions/unomig/mandate.html

  44. If John writes a repsonse that doesn’t include the phrase “moral equivalence” in response to my comment about the legal status of Russian troops in Georgia, while completely avoiding the substantive point about there being a UN resolution which Russia is using as figleaf, I will be pleasantly surprises.

    Also, what BDB said. Klein’s got the various flavors of right-wingers all mixed up.

  45. OT, does anyone else think this whole episode could have been avoided if Georgia had developed a better system of light rail?

    Your theory neglects to take into account gay marriage and the home mortgage interest deduction.

    Also, this was a more efficient emminent domain condemation than Detroit, New London, or Brooklyn will ever see.

  46. “condemnation”

  47. NoName,

    I do know that. I also know that, just as the UN’s resolutions about Iraq didn’t authorize us to invade Iraq, or even to set up no fly and no drive zones, neither did UNOMIG authorize Russia to go into any other part of Georgia.

    As I said, it’s a fig leaf being used to advance the invaders’ great power aspirations. I’m comparing the two situations, but certainly not to argue that the Russians’ invasion is legal.

  48. WTF, Mr. Welch. I thought Russia invading was a neo-con conspiracy to get McCain elected?!?

    One thing is certain; Obama cannot handle the Russians.

  49. I do know that. I also know that, just as the UN’s resolutions about Iraq didn’t authorize us to invade Iraq, or even to set up no fly and no drive zones, neither did UNOMIG authorize Russia to go into any other part of Georgia.

    As I said, it’s a fig leaf being used to advance the invaders’ great power aspirations. I’m comparing the two situations, but certainly not to argue that the Russians’ invasion is legal.

    Still waiting for joe to proclaim that we need to disband the UN.

  50. Kolohe — Rumour has it that gay marriage is one thing Georgians are ahead of just about anyone.

    Joe — UN Peacekeeping mandate (which also includes Georgian peacekeepers, too, which did not prevent them from shooting at their Russian counterparts when time came…) calls for them ot protect civilian population, which, they csan claim, is exactly what they did. As one might notice, Russian tanks are _not_ advancing on Tbilisi…

  51. Yeah, Sullivan’s remark is pretty much on the spot. He was a major hawk back in the day, something he has repudiated many times since, and more importantly, has learned from. So perhaps he deserves more credit than John might give.

  52. Mad Ivan,

    Not to play the political moralist, but how can the Russians claim they’re protecting civilian populations when YouTube is full of clips of civilians injured by their air strikes? For a really gruesome one, type in “South Ossetia Al-Jazeera International.” (Whatever you make of al-Jazeera’s politics, they know how to get great footage.)

  53. Of course you do, Joe, which is why you wrote “It’s a security force created by UN resolution authorizing Russian forces to be in Georgia…” UNOMIG would be a fig-leaf for Abkhazia, not Ossetia. A small thing, to be sure, but I just wanted to see if you would ever admit to being wrong.

  54. You would think that someone who had engaged in such a monumental and public flip flop as Sullivan would keep their head down and avoid saying stupid things that reminded people of your former view.

    Huh? It doesn’t count as a “flip flop” after it becomes clear that the original justification for the war was a pack of lies.

  55. “Sullivan was a bigger hawk than I was at the begining of the Iraq war. It wasn’t until it got hard and Sullivan decided Bush and Cheney were evil incarnate and started to pretend that he never supported the war.”

    John, not even close to true. Sullivan, as shecky points out, has said he was wrong many times. After several seconds of research, here is one example:

    “What I Got Wrong About the War”:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1169898,00.html

  56. John, here’s another one from Sullivan admitting he was wrong:

    “How Did I Get Iraq Wrong?”
    http://www.slate.com/id/2187098/

  57. All this complaining about people flip-flopping is beside the point. Would you rather trust someone who refuses to admit they were wrong, even as they are about to go over a cliff? Or would you prefer to turn to someone who adjusts his position when he sees that it does not fit with the current circumstances.

  58. why do people still take [Naomi Klein] seriously?

    It’s to balance out taking Bill Kristol seriously.

  59. You keep waiting, corning. Much better idea for you than trying to argue a point. We’ve all seen how that works out.

    No Name,

    Since you can’t find anything I wrote which is wrong, and admit that by quoting me and even helpfully bolding the word Georgia, perhaps you’d do better in your quest to see if I’d admit when I was wrong for a situation in which I was…

    You know…

    Wrong about something.

  60. Your turn, No Name.

    Do you know what country South Ossetia and Abhkazia are in?

  61. You keep waiting, corning. Much better idea for you than trying to argue a point. We’ve all seen how that works out.

    the irony of joe’s criticism of the UN is deeper then simply that he would never advocate for it disbanding but the fact that he is criticizing it for actually doing what it was meant to do…namely acting as a fig leaf for the US and USSR so these two countries can have proxy war fun without the risk of getting in a shooting war with one another.

  62. “War is the means by which Americans learn geography.”

    It is true even today. Two weeks ago, I did not know where Abkhazia was.

    Now, I do.

  63. Same. “Osettian” sounded like something out of a Dr. Suess book to me before this week.

  64. At least quote Derb in full.

    There are some spectacles that are at once tragic and farcical. One such has been the sight of Georgian troops scuttling back from assisting us in whatever it is we imagine we are doing in Iraq, to help defend their homeland, while Condoleezza Rice stamps her foot, George W. Bush watches a basketball game, and John McCain says that he will do such things, what they are, yet he knows not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth.

    Derb is spot on. That guy is the only reason to ever venture over to NR.

  65. “””The invasion of Iraq was not illegal. It had sanction under UNSCR 1442. You can debaate 1442 all day, but you can at least have a debate unlike here where isn’t so much as a fig leaf of legality.””””

    I think you mean 1441, 1442 is about Cyprus. There is a lot of talk about what 1441 authorizes, it’s all BS because 1141 does not authorize any combat activity. 1441 makes a lot of demands and it says there are serious consequences if those demand are not met. But it does not approve what those consequences are and it’s not up to Bush to decide. It would be up to the UN. The UN refused to authorize war, so Bush did it unilaterally. [http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N02/682/26/PDF/N0268226.pdf?OpenElement] or [http://www.un.org/Docs/scres/2002/sc2002.htm]
    Look for yourself. At best, you will see that any means necessary is applied to UNSCR 660 which is about getting Iraq out of Kuwait.

    Besides, I wouldn’t be so quick to think unilateral movenment on UN security resolutions is a good idea or legal. China or Russia could use that excuse someday too.

  66. “From that faulty starting point, it’s a race to the Booby Prize for dumbest piece of commentary.”

    You’re projecting again.

  67. “”””War is the means by which Americans learn geography.”””

    Except for almost 2/3 of 18 to 24 year olds.
    (http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/05/02/geog.test/index.html)

  68. “It’s important to say that, as there are not a few people who cannot see a description of motives without reading a moral endorsement into that description.”

    So how many priests molested you?

  69. When we invaded Iraq, Rumsfeld overruled wiser heads at the Pentagon who said we needed 3-4 times as many troops to pacify the Country.

    Putin is a hell of a lot smarter than Bush and Co., knowing that the NATO allies would wimp out in the end, and Georgia would quickly surrender.

    The first to move and kill a substantial number of innocent civilians was Georgia. By responding with such overwhelming force, Russia killed a good many civilians as well, but at least they acted forcefully and brought a quick end to the whole thing.

    Our problem is that we are supposed to be on the side of freedom and self-determination. So what if S. Ossetia and Abakaisan(sp?) don’t want to be part of Georgia? Do we support them based upon our “democratic principles?”

    At least Putin is a consistent autocrat, and he knows that Russians prefer to be separated based on ethnic groups rather than abstract principles.

  70. Hmm, I think one cheer is more than adequate.

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  71. “Yeah, John, the UN fully backed the Iraq invasion. I guess that’s why there are so many UN troops in Iraq, and the international community has flocked to participate.”

    The reason there are no UN troops is because the UN is a gutless, self-important pussy.

  72. It is true even today. Two weeks ago, I did not know where Abkhazia was.

    Just to follow up, though it pains me to admit it, I just started reading Snow Crash for the first time yesterday. Lo and behold, in the first twenty pages, Abkhazia is name-checked. Had this war not happened, I’d have had to look it up.

    Not saying that in any way weighs against the lives lost. Still, an odd bit of synchronicity.

  73. Whatever authorization the Russians have or the US has in Iraq that is one more authorization than the US had to go into Kosovo. I love how Joe convienently ignores that issue. The US justification to invade Iraq goes back to the original ceasefire in 1991 which did give us to right to invade if Iraq didn’t abide by the terms and all subsequent UN resolutions. Think what you want of it but it is a hell of a lot more than the US had to bomb Kosovo. That really was an illegal war that set a terrible precedent.

  74. “Yeah, John, the UN fully backed the Iraq invasion. I guess that’s why there are so many UN troops in Iraq, and the international community has flocked to participate.”

    The UN has long since authorized our presence in Iraq and Iraq is a sovereign nation free to ask us to leave, which they are about to do. But it is all Bush’s fault. it is a police state now, blah blah blah. The Resonobots never change.

  75. If I have a pistol permit that gives me permission to carry my gun in my house, which is in Pennsylvania, would it be correct to say that I have a permit to carry my gun in Pennsylvania?

    Perhaps if we strip all context and connotation from the sentence, it is true, but the implication is that I could carry my gun anywhere in Pennsylvania (with the exception of places guns are prohibited like courthouses and airports etc.), which means my statement would be misleading.

  76. Welch, what’s the problem with Sullivan argument? He is right.

  77. JOE I KNOW YOU ARE DEADLY SERIOUS ABOUT THAT LIGHT RAIL STATEMENT AND THOUGH I AM NEW HERE I AM HERE TO YELL AT YOU FOR IT BECUZ YOU IS LIBERAL

  78. US and Western policy towards Russia in the 90’s was based around a shock therapy transition to a free market. The result of that was an actual decline in the Russian population. US neo-liberal economics applied to Russia killed millions of people. No exaggeration.

    I groan every time I hear “shock therapy” in reference to anything that isn’t medical (as if communist regimes haven’t been instituted by scare tactics and faulty economic logic?). But goddammit, man. Communism in Russia killed far far far more and had the potential to start WW3. Send this man a time machine and a plane ticket to the USSR, please!

    Anyway, I hate Naomi Klein for poisoning the mind of gullible liberals with rhetorical trite about right wing economics and politics. No doubt that she will go to a very special hell, reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the movie theater.

  79. I am surprised not to hear more from Bob Barr about this, when it’s all going on in his home state.

  80. Occam’s toothbrush said:
    OK. Georgia has a shoreline on a body of water (Black Sea) that also touches several US allies and NATO members.

    Uh-huh. You mean the same Black Sea that’s dominated by the Russian Black Sea fleet? With all of Georgia’s ports either under Russian control (Abkhazia) or within range of Russian land-based air?

    Sure, we could sink the Black Sea fleet and bomb the hell out of every Russian airbase in range of Georgia in order to secure a route across the water. I mean, hey, just because it would be starting a general war with Russia doesn’t mean we can’t. It just means we’d glow in the dark for a while.

  81. As is the favorite sport here at H & R, I call for a massive helping of … the STRAWMAN GAME! (full-cap yelling and flaming commence).

    This year’s “Ad Hominim Award” goes to the “dumbest commentary” by Matt Welch. Dumbest commentary, indeed. (note self-referential irony, oh joy!) Guilt-by-noncontextual-association placed a close second.

    “Master-of-the-Blindingly-Obvious Award” goes to John Derbyshire.
    Yes John, we ARE governed by fools. And Putin DOES know what he wants. And thus, we too must also elect fools that know what they want. Wait, you mean Putin is NOT a fool? Well, why didn’t you say so!

    James Pethokoukis wins the “Death-by-a-Thousand-Qualifications Award” for “two cheers” for invasion. As if three cheers was too much, we can now conclude that the USA must have political “clarity” in order to reduce the use of foreign oil or otherwise we’ll only have one cheer remaining.

    Meanwhile, The “Moral Equivocation Award” goes to Andrew Sullivan for the notion that Cheney has the same view of military power as Vladimir Putin. Andrew deftly slipped his main premise of moral equivalence in the first sentence of the quote, ahead of the outrage-inducing oppressed-country death-toll found in the second sentence. The argument of tit-for-tat, combined with a severe case of satirical irritable-bowel syndrome, impressed the judges mightily. Said one, “I think Sullivan’s combination of apathy, cynicism, and populist indignity almost gave me whiplash.”

    And finally, this year’s “Award for Best Ideological Harrumph” goes to Ian Welsh for his jaw-dropping claim that US policy actually killed the population of another country. Russia, that is. And thus, the methodology of one credible claim– namely, that USA policy toward Iraq has led to the death of Iraqis– is merged with an incredible claim that anything that the USA government does can affect somebody, somewhere, very badly.

    Well, we apparently deserve this disjointed display of quote-trolling from Matt Welch. It just goes to prove that somebody somewhere will say something stupid to try and prove a point. Whether or not the points are actually valid remains to be seen.

    (clap, clap, clap)

  82. POOR KOREAN MENACE IS RONERY…

  83. “firedoglake” ?
    You made that up, didn’t you.

  84. Well, it’s the morning of August 13, and I’m still waiting for those principled “anti-war” protestors to be out in the city streets across the globe soon, with their oversized puppets, setting fires and chanting slogans and banging makeshift drums.

    Are they putting the finishing touches on the ‘Putin Lied, People Died’ signs? Affixing the little Hitler moustache to posters of Medvedev?

    Hmmmm… guess it ain’t gonna happen, is it?

    I mean… we’ve got wayward bombs smashing apartment blocks and killing innocents, infrastructure in shambles, thousands of families stranded or displaced, and military looting. All enough to get any truly peace-loving protester riled up. But I guess bloodshed is only bad when it’s America or Israel roughing things up. And if it’s a pro-Western country that’s on the receiving end of the roughing up, all the better, I suppose.

  85. This just in: people protest their own governments and their governments’ allies.

    But first, dog bites man.

  86. “firedoglake” ?
    You made that up, didn’t you.

    As far as I can tell, a “fired O.G. lake” is where you dump one of your old gangster henchmen when you find out he’s been skimming, and shoot him.

  87. This just in: people protest their own governments and their governments’ allies.

    So, just to clarify and that we’re on the same page here…

    1. The global “anti-war” movement isn’t really about protesting horrors of war and the impact on civil society wherever it happens.

    2. The global “anti-war” movement isn’t about denouncing *any* military machine that brings havoc to defenseless civilians and infrastructure; the ideological background of the aggressor is what matters most.

    Okay. I understand.

    If you’d like to be amused, however, just catch up on the latest posts on ‘anti-war’ blogs or, better yet, BBC’s Have Your Say. According to many, Georgia’s seedy government messed up by sticking their nose into places it didn’t belong, and its entire country is now getting the well-deserved thrashing it deserves by a much stronger neighbor protecting its ‘interests.’ I mean, who cares if whole neighborhoods are reduced to rubble? For them, regime change is necessary, restraint and diplomatic solutions be damned.

    I don’t think I need to point out the stark (ahem) ‘difference’ in the attitude toward this skirmish compared to the one directed at a certain 2003 adventure.

  88. Expat — So, check Russia Today channel on YouTube. There’s more than enough footage of what Georgians did to Tskhinval. There are also quite a few posts on blogs and elsewhere that, seemingly convincingly, show that some photos of alleged bomb damage in Georgia were repurposed from car crashes…

    I don’t have any definitive opinion on that so far, but if half of what is said about Georgian actions in Tskhinval is true, being Georgian anywhere near S. Osetia border will be very unpopular for a very long time.

  89. Ivan,

    When the US takes out “bad guys” and bombs up a country while doing so, using overwhelming force, it is met with global condemnation (and usually, rightfully so… I was/am against the Iraq invasion).

    But with this, the overall reaction in the ‘international community’ is remarkably different. Why is that?

  90. QSL — beats me, I don’t run with the anti-war crowd.

    May be, in this case, simply because Russiands are doing it, they get enough codemnation on governmental level, and protesters do not find it sufficiently interesting to protest together with their governments…

  91. “””The US justification to invade Iraq goes back to the original ceasefire in 1991 which did give us to right to invade if Iraq didn’t abide by the terms and all subsequent UN resolutions.”””

    Show me the text that says it.

    1441 does not authorize force. At best it says any means necessary to enforce 660 and here’s what 660 says. It’s about Iraq invading Kuwait, not the WMD arugment.

    RESOLUTION 660 (1990)

    Adopted by the Security Council at its 2932nd meeting, on 2 August 1990
    The Security Council,

    Alarmed by the invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 by the military forces of Iraq,

    Determining that there exists a breach of international peace and security as regards the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait,

    Acting under Articles 39 and 40 of the Charter of the United Nations,

    1. Condemns the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait;

    2. Demands that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally all s its forces to the positions in which they were located on 1 August 1990;r

    3. Calls upon Iraq and Kuwait to begin immediately intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences and supports all efforts in this regard, and especially those of the League of Arab States;

    4. Decides to meet again as necessary to consider further steps with to ensure compliance with the present resolution.

    The purpose of in the 1991 invasion was to kick Iraq out of Kuwait, and it makes sense that the UN would authorize resuming war if Iraq tried to re-enter Kuwait. I’ve looked through the resolutions for an hour or two and I didn’t find anything that authorized restarting the war over weapons dispute. I did some hollow tough talk and threats but nothing supporting your claim.

  92. Georgia has a shoreline on a body of water (Black Sea) that also touches several US allies and NATO members.

    And Russia has a navy on the Black Sea. Using it to access Georgia to fight Russian troops would force a full-scale naval confrontation, in an area where the Russians would very likely have air superiority. I think we all learned what air superiority means in naval situations in WWII.

  93. Do you know what country South Ossetia and Abhkazia are in?

    As of today? I doubt anyone could say for sure. You certainly can’t claim that Georgia is sovereign over those provinces.

  94. Besides John, The President stopped trying claim a right to restart war when he realized he wasn’t going to get the UN support. That’s when Bush started rolling out the bad intel.

    The reason Powell tesified at the UN was an attempt to sway the UN to authorize ending the cease fire, which they did not.

  95. Besides, both Abkhasians and (South) Osetians had said many times that they do not want to be anywhere near Georgian sovereignty.

    I don’t personally know any Osetians, but the Abkhasians I do know (including some very liberal, well known Soviet-era dissident kind) would, at best, prefer to see Georgians somwhere on the moon…

  96. Okay. I understand.

    Clearly not, since nothing you wrote has any connection whatsoever to anything I wrote.

    For example, “their own governments and allies” has nothing to do with “ideology.”

    I wrote a statement about people protesting events that have a connection to them and which their governments have some connection to, which their protests have some possibility of influencing. You responded with two statements that don’t have any logical connection to that idea, and then pretended they did.

    According to many Who you don’t name. Or quote. Immediately after you completely mischaracterized my statement into something unrecognizeable. And oh, by the way, both your mischaracterization of my statement and you description of what other people, who you won’t quote or name, are saying just happen to make a political movement you have long opposed look bad.

    Gee, I’ll have to give your idead more thought. OK, done.

  97. joe,

    Read my points again, specifically focusing on the capitalized part.

    1. The global “anti-war” movement isn’t really about protesting horrors of war and the impact on civil society WHEREVER IT HAPPENS.

    2. The global “anti-war” movement isn’t about denouncing ANY military machine that brings havoc to defenseless civilians and infrastructure; the ideological background of the aggressor is what matters most.

    Here’s what you said:

    “I wrote a statement about people protesting events that have a connection to them and which their governments have some connection to, which their protests have some possibility of influencing.”

    Where’s the disconnect?

    We disagree on the reasons and motives, but we both say they do not protest every and all wars wherever they happen.

    I’m not sure how to make this any clearer. Instead of plowing through a post and snobbishly saying “OK, done”, maybe it might serve you better to actually slow down and read what others are typing.

  98. I think the problem, SQL, is that you are postulating this existence of some “global anti-war movement” when, in reality, there are numerous national anti-war movements which often work together across national boundaries.

  99. Global anti-war movement? I have to go with Joe on that one.

  100. “””But with this, the overall reaction in the ‘international community’ is remarkably different. Why is that?”””

    I don’t remember too much protesting one week into Iraq. Once things started looking bad, it became a different story. The longer Russia stays and continues military operations, the more likely you’ll see protests in the future. Personally, I think Russia is aware of that and will try to mimimize the impact.

  101. Even Cindy what’s her face didn’t start protesting until her son was killed.

    Another reason could be burnout, Protesting the Iraq war didn’t do crap and they are tired.

    Maybe they got jobs.

  102. Sullay is largely on but misses another point:

    Its not just about so-called “Morality”. The vast majority of people publicly calling us to “confront” Russia know damn well that it is logistically impossible and simply can’t be done. Like the kid who talks tough about a fight he knows will never happen, they grandstand because they know they will never have their bluff called!

  103. Would you rather trust someone who refuses to admit they were wrong, even as they are about to go over a cliff? Or would you prefer to turn to someone who adjusts his position when he sees that it does not fit with the current circumstances.

    Sadly we have a large number of people in this country who think that it is a sign of moral fortitude to refuse to change your mind even in the face of evidence that you were wrong.

  104. I just started reading Snow Crash

    I’m sorry to hear that.

    I have never read a book that was so highly recommended and yet sucked so very very very very very very very very ….. very much.

    I felt like I was reading a 15yr old’s first attempt at SciFi he wrote for his 10th grade English class.

  105. Yeah, Sullivan’s remark is pretty much on the spot. He was a major hawk back in the day, something he has repudiated many times since, and more importantly, has learned from.

    Learned from? I see the same arrogant, name-calling, hystrionic stupidity in Sullivan today as was present in 2002. He simply flipped it. He’s still a wacko, but in the progressive conspiratorial vein instead of the Neocon conspiratorial vein.

  106. Libarbarian,
    Yeah, I’m curious if the same people are behind military action if the word draft pops up.

  107. From that faulty starting point, it’s a race to the Booby Prize for dumbest piece of commentary.

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