Georgia on His MInd

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Remember that contretemps over whether Barack Obama is too "presumptuous"? If that's the case, what do we make of McCain?

[H]e had offered Americans' prayers and thoughts in a conversation with Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili.

"He knows that the thoughts and the prayers and support of the American people are with that brave little nation as they struggle today for their freedom and independence. And he wanted me to say thank you to you, to give you his heartfelt thanks for the support of the American people for this tiny little democracy far away from the United States of America. And I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, ' Today, we are all Georgians,' " McCain declared.

I was travelling on Monday, so I missed McCain's text message asking me whether or not he could speak for me. I'm sure you got yours. Anyway, it seems like McCain's team clarified the stakes on Georgia and thinks they've provided evidence that their candidate is a leader while the Democrats run with a wimp.

"If you read the statements from the beginning, Senator McCain and Senator Obama, one had kind of moral neutrality to it that comes I think from inexperience," Lieberman said. "The other, Senator McCain, was strong and clear and principled and put America where America always wants to be."

Obama's statement, asking both nations to "show restraint," mirrors what the White House said. McCain's statement, though…

The McCain campaign put something out yesterday about crowds cheering in Tblisi when President Shakashvili quoted McCain's statement. I can't read their minds, but it seems very plausible to me that they were cheering because they read this as a call for the United States to take practical steps to help Georgia not as a piece of hollow political sloganeering. And that kind of thing — Georgiaphilic statements by American elites that lead Georgians to dramatically overstate the level of practical support they could expect from the United States in a confrontation with Russia — was one of the contributing factors to the current crisis. Moral judgments are an excellent thing, but it's cruel for leading politicians in a superpower to go around giving the citizens small countries implicit assurances of support that they have no intention of following up on.

Yep. I'm sure McCain pictures himself as Reagan at the Brandenburg gates, but he sounds more like Jimmy Carter to me. Making grand declarations about human rights from a position of weakness, and getting nothing for it. And doing it, presumptuously, as if he's already president.

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  1. “We are all Georgians.”

    Fuck you, my “friend”. I’m a Roe Dyleiner.

  2. Um, excuse me, but I think “moral neutrality” is the most prudent response to a conflict in which both sides are behaving badly and in which we have no compelling interest.

  3. Oil is involved. Of course McSame will be all over it.

  4. I was on board when “We are all Danes”, but Georgians?
    They still have a statue of Stalin in Gori. Stalin!

    President Shakashvili, tear down that statue.

  5. Isn’t it a bit much to expect a text message from a man who thinks you still have to crank the handle on the phone, then ask the operator to connect you?

  6. They still have a statue of Stalin in Gori. Stalin!

    Stalin was Georgian.

    Perhaps not an excuse, per se, but a reason nonetheless.

  7. Reason to melt it down as soon as possible.

  8. It is interesting the response to this invasion versus the response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Israel invades Lebanon to go after a terrorist group that had kidnapped one of its soldiers and indiscriminately bombed its civilians and no amount of outrage and condemnation of Israel were significant enough in some quarters. Russia invades and subjugates an entire country and no amount of moral equivalence and justification is sufficient in those very same quarters.

  9. @ Ed

    Why shouldn’t they have a statue of Stalin? He’s the most famous Georgian ever.

    The Georgians were stupid, attacking South Ossetia and thinking the Russians would do nothing. Just because they have a democratically elected government doesn’t mean they acted prudently. Mess with the Bear and you get the claws.

  10. “Today, we are all Georgians.”

    A bit OT: This mindless, meaningless sloganeering must end. What is behind it? Does anyone even pause to think about what it means, or do they just use it like a drug to get a temporary feel-good high from a false or half-hearted show of unity?

    I keep seeing “We are Virginia Tech,” “We are Rutgers,” “We are NYPD,” “We are [insert alma mater, employer’s name, etc. here]” banners, T-shirts, stickers and magnetic ribbons all over the place. I don’t know what they are supposed to symbolize or state about the bearer/wearer.

  11. This situation in Georgia w/ SO makes me wonder about the possibility of one of our own states deciding to secede from the Union. SO wanted to break away from Georgia and be independent, much as Georgia has independence from the former Soviet Union.

    What if Florida (one could only hope) or NJ decided to become its own nation? What recourse to another sovereign nation would a state have to defend itself against the US?

    I’m not trying to be stoopid here, the question is sincere. I am slowly expanding my knowledge of PS and the finer points of the workings of American government.

  12. @ John:

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but my response to both invasions was the same.

    We should stay the f$#% out of it.

  13. They blame Obama for being a cosmopolite due to his Berlin, Germany, speech. Now you have McCain saying that Americans should all be Georgians. I’m confused.

  14. “The Georgians were stupid, attacking South Ossetia and thinking the Russians would do nothing. Just because they have a democratically elected government doesn’t mean they acted prudently. Mess with the Bear and you get the claws.”

    And yet, this seems to have worked out remarkably well for the Georgians, hasn’t it? Putin is shamed by the international community, chances are they’ll get at least some EU troops they can stick in likely fire zones as virtual guarantees that the Russians don’t come back, probably get a nice dollop of aid money, the pipeline gets upgraded, two problem territories are now Russia’s problem, etc. – my friends, I think we have been had!

  15. He’s the most famous Georgian ever

    And one of the most famous mass murderers. Keeping his statue in Gori is a senseless exhibition of misplaced pride. Perhaps they deserve what they are getting. History can be brutal in its irony.

  16. What cracks me to pieces is that McCain is trying to wrap himself in an “Ich bin ein Berliner” while his opponent is literally being received in Berlin like a favorite son.

    Epic level fail.

  17. Lieberman- won’t somebody rid us of his odious blather? Preferably by sticking him in a large burlap sack filled with anvils, and depositing him in the Marianas Trench.

  18. SO wanted to break away from Georgia and be independent,

    Not sure what the factual basis for this might be. Was there a plebiscite? A referendum? Maybe so. I don’t know. I would be cautious about attributing the views of a handful of “activists” being supported by a bellicose neighbor to the populace as a whole.

    And the last thing SO will be after all this is independent. I suspect that Russian jackboot comes down at least as hard as the Georgian.

  19. RC Dean,

    for what it’s worth, SO had a referendum in 2006 that went overwhelmingly for independence.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Ossetian_independence_referendum,_2006

    SO was agitating for independence even before the USSR broke up.

  20. David, this post is confusing the crap out of me. Who are you quoting?

  21. Today, we are all Georgians

    No, we’re not. We don’t have a mechanized column headed up I-95 toward D.C. (see Times of London web page for more on that) To say such a thing is not only ludicrous, it is irresponsible. To say that we’re all Georgians is to make a case for defending “ourselves”– which we have no legitimate business (or current capability for) doing.

  22. is reason for obama now?? i can understand not being excited about bob barr but jeeezzzz….

  23. “The other, Senator McCain, was strong and clear and principled and put America where America always wants to be.”

    Right in the middle of other nations’ business.

  24. John McCain is really starting to worry me. If polls in November show Michigan up for grabs, I may vote for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time ever.

  25. For the record –
    I’m a proud Michigander and do not take kindly to being called a peach stater.

  26. You are all silly people, expecting sense from McCain. He’s a maverick! He doesn’t have to make sense!

  27. Pretty idiotic claptrap coming from McCain. This is a complex case, and it is hard to sort it out morally and ethically.

    Georgia did a dumb thing, invading that city, killing civilians, and misreading both the Russian and Western response, all so that they could say “this is mine” to a “country” of 70,000 people.

    No, Mr. McCain, today we are definitely not “all Georgians.”

    Check out the YOUTUBE video of the American who is married to a S. Ossetian. He accuses the Georgians of war crimes. I’m not saying I agree with his position, but he was there when the whole thing began.

  28. It is interesting the response to this invasion versus the response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. Russia invades Georgia to fight off an armoured assault group that had invaded South Ossetia and indiscriminately shelled and rocketed its civilians and no amount of outrage and condemnation of Russia were significant enough in some quarters. Georgia invades and subjugates a disputed region whose citizens don’t want to be ruled by Georgia and no amount of moral equivalence and justification is sufficient in those very same quarters.

    There John, fixed that for you.

    Remind me again, why are we all Georgians and not Ossetians?

  29. No see I’m not Georgian, because I wouldn’t start a war with Russia. Those tend to not end well.

    Looking at this map, it looks like exactly the sort of fractious 4th world hellhole the US should get deeply involved in:

    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/ethnocaucasus.jpg

  30. @ John:

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but my response to both invasions was the same.

    As was mine. Initially, “what the hell did they expect? It’s too bad, but the Georgians/Hezbollah had to expect retaliation when they launched their attacks,” quickly turning to anger when it became clear that the responding country was taking the opportunitiy to go well beyond an acceptable, proportionate response.

    But it really is interesting to see how “some quarters” have shown dramatic flip-flops.

  31. That map is great. It makes the Balkans look like a happy mono-culture.

  32. I may vote for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time ever.

    I’ve been there for a few months, but it would be a first for me as well.

  33. Wow. That map is just scary.

  34. While campaiging for her husband, Saalikshvili’s wife compared him not only to Stalin, but to Beria. Yeah, that Beria.

    He’s a strong leader who can terrorize – her word – the country and bring about stability.

    Those of us for whom support for democracy and human rights are actually fundamental principles of our political and geopolitical beliefs don’t take very kindly to seeing politicians with agenda use those principles as fig leafs for their great power games.

  35. But it really is interesting to see how “some quarters” have shown dramatic flip-flops.

    Yep. We’re seeing a country with a warm n’ fuzzy communist past and present authoritarian streak thrashing around a country whose government is friendly toward the West/US. The so-called global “anti-war” crowd is popping champaign bottles with every bomb dropping on Georgian cities right now. To them, there’s no room for restraint or diplomacy here. Just git ‘er done. It’s an indirect humiliation for the West (and particularly Dubya), so what’s there not to like?

    That’s not to say Georgia/Saakwhatever are angels and the perfect role model of government, of course. But the double standard shown by those “quarters” you mention in comparison to their reaction to US/Iraq and Israel/Lebanon is as clear as day.

  36. Can we please stop using this particular pun?

    Why not The Devil went down to Georgia? Sweet Georgia Brown? Midnight Train to Georgia? The Night the Lights went out in Georgia?

    Enough with the Georgia on my mind crap, please.

  37. a country whose government is friendly toward the West/US

    Yeah, that’s never turned around to bite us on the ass before.

  38. And I echo MadBiker too.

    The overused “We are all [enter victims here]” sloganeering is getting tiresome.

  39. a country whose government is friendly toward the West/US…which has exactly the same communist past and exactly the same authoritarian streak. But you don’t care about that, because somebody mentioned Munich and now your brain is in its upright and locked position.

    The so-called global “anti-war” crowd is popping champaign bottles with every bomb dropping on Georgian cities right now. Such as? I know you WANT to believe that. Do you have anything but your “gut” to back that up?

    But the double standard shown by those “quarters” you mention in comparison to their reaction to US/Iraq and Israel/Lebanon is as clear as day. Seeing as how it’s so clear, you won’t have any trouble providng evidence of anyone associated with the anti-war movement celebrating the Russians’ response.

    I’ll check back.

  40. Interesting how SQL’s sentence is almost, but not quite, parallel construction.

    a country with a warm n’ fuzzy communist past and present authoritarian streak So, what’s the opposite of that, that’s supposed to make it obvious that their opponent is so much better?

    Is it “a longtime democracy with a free press and a golden human rights record?”

    Why, no, it’s a country whose government is friendly toward the West/US.

    Those of us for whom support for democracy and human rights are actually fundamental principles of our political and geopolitical beliefs don’t take very kindly to seeing politicians with agendas use those principles as fig leafs for their great power games.

  41. Now joe, that’s truly funny.

  42. It’s an indirect humiliation for the West (and particularly Dubya), so what’s there not to like?

    You’re goddamn right. The world will be much better served with a duo of superpowers in standstill mode moreso than an unchecked Bush Politburo intent on their killing “crusades” into every corner of the earth to sate the lust of their energy partners.

    From just last week –

    Israel proposes crude pipeline from Georgia to Eastern Asia
    By Avi Bar-Eli
    Tags: Israel, crude oil, Far East

    Israel may be on its way to becoming a crude oil transport bridge to the Far East. The Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) is leading an international initiative to channel crude oil from Jihan in southeast Turkey to eastern Asia, using its infrastructure in Israel. A consortium of energy firms and international shipping companies will manage the initiative, and a memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed within three months.

    The capitalists of the world are using their military for economic gain and all this talk of “Western values” is meaningless tripe – unless you are referring to Cheney rolling in oil with his secret “energy commission” whilst planning his Caspian coup.

    The Christ-Nuts who stoop for Bush should check out the ranting of their favorite syphillitic monk, John of Patmos (Revelation 3:12) – ‘The Bear will crush the Chimp, and eat his insides, and piss into his empty skull’ – or something like that, I ‘m not real good with Bible gibberish.

    Bush brought it onto himself – driving the price of crude into the stratosphere, thus enabling these petro-states. Heed John of Patmos and pray for the Messiah.

  43. joe,

    South Ossetia is part of Georgia.

    You can’t invade your own country. Even LSD knows that.

  44. Biden editorial.

    http://www.joebiden.com/news/display/russia_must_stand_down/

    Occam’s toothbrush,

    I guess Lee didn’t invade Pennsylvania, and Sherman didn’t invade Georgia, then.

    Your semantic quibbles doen’t matter much to the dead. I don’t care if you want to call it your Uncle Fred.

    The Georgians Uncle Fredded an armoured column into a city, along with rocket and artillery fire, killing hundreds, as a way to settle a longrunning territorial dispute.

  45. joe, joe, joe…

    Georgia is widely perceived and commonly referred to in various media, both ours and overseas, as a “U.S. ally”, “pro-Western”, etc. You are treading on Shoot the Messenger territory. But thanks for individualizing it to just me, though. (And didn’t I make it clear in my final paragraph that Georgia’s leader is certainly no angel, or did you conveniently ignore that part?)

    And ‘popping champaigne bottles’ is obvious hyperbole.

    If you want some Rah Rah Russia examples, with ample references to “teaching Georgia a lesson”, “Georgians are getting what they deserved”, etc, then one example is to simply trudge through the hundreds of posts in BBC’s HYS.

    Occupation, shock n’ awe, apartment blocks leveled, families displaced, humanitarian crises… because a two-bit Georgian baddie needs to be either taught a lesson or even removed completely?

    Gee, what war does that sound like, and what reaction doesn’t that sound like? I’ll give you a hint…it begins with “I” and ends with “q”.

  46. Conversation A: Patriotism is an ignorant concept

    Conversation B: How DARE you question my patriotism!!!

    I like this one.

  47. Georgia is widely perceived and commonly referred to in various media, both ours and overseas, as a “U.S. ally”, “pro-Western”, etc. And?

    And didn’t I make it clear in my final paragraph that Georgia’s leader is certainly no angel, or did you conveniently ignore that part? Far from it. The fact that you don’t give a crap about his “not an angel-ness,” and only his pro-Westerness, was my point. Do I need to cut and paste that paragraph about cynical imperialists using flowerly language to hide their great power pretentions a third time?

    If you want some Rah Rah Russia examples, with ample references to “teaching Georgia a lesson”, “Georgians are getting what they deserved”, etc, then one example is to simply trudge through the hundreds of posts in BBC’s HYS. Yeah, we’ve gotten some Russians and Russo-philes on these threads, to, but you were making a point about the anti-war movement.

  48. I guess Lee didn’t invade Pennsylvania, and Sherman didn’t invade Georgia, then.

    Wait, you’re comparing the Civil War to an invasion of one sovereign nation by another?

  49. No, Optimist, I’m comparing the Georgians’ invasion of South Ossetia to Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania, and Sherman’s invasion of Georgia.

  50. joe,

    My first paragraph (the 11:45 am one) was me adopting the snarky viewpoint of someone who bellows about US/Iraq and Israel/Lebanon, but whose tune is noticably different with Russia/Georgia. Sorry the intent flew over your head.

    but you were making a point about the anti-war movement

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you tend to believe the anti-war movement is just as angry about Russia’s shock n’ awe invasion as they are with US military escapdes, but simply do nothing because Russia is not their government nor a strong ally of their government.

    I believe many (not all) vocal anti-war groups are simply anti-West and, in particular, anti-US and don’t care so much about humanitarian crises and civilian deaths as they tend to parrot. They see Georgia’s leader as pro-Western, and therefore doesn’t rankle them as much if Georgia feels some heat falling from the sky.

    The calls were for Saddam to have just been contained, using diplomacy and negotiation to avoid war and a humanitarian mess. Er, why not Saakhavali?

    If you can forward me a press release from InternationalANSWER or StoptheWar Coalition or whoever blasting Russia for failing to use diplomacy or, at the very least, military restraint just in SO, I’ll step back and eat some crow.

  51. Corning Spiral, TAO.

    You could have figured that point out all by yourself if you’d give it 0.9 seconds worth of thought, but you didn’t, because by golly you JUST KNEW you’d caught the wabbit.

    Just a heads up. You’re showing all the signs.

  52. joe, I was actually willing to engage in a conversation with you, but it’s clear that would be a total waste of my time. Fuck off.

  53. Nothing flew over my head, QSL. I got your point, resonded to it, and you still can’t muster a substantive response.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you tend to believe the anti-war movement is just as angry about Russia’s shock n’ awe invasion as they are with US military escapdes, but simply do nothing because Russia is not their government nor a strong ally of their government. No, they are LESS ANGRY about Russia’s response because THEY AREN’T RUSSIAN, and don’t feel as much responsibility for the actions of far off governments as for their own government and those of their democratic allies.

    Have you ever seen Operation Rescue USA stage a protest against Russian abortion policies? (FYI, Russia and other eastern European countries have much higher abortion rates than we do.) Do you think that’s because they aren’t opposed to abortions that happen in Russia, or for some other reason?

  54. TAO,

    You’ve never written anything to me but insults in the past, so I read your quesiton that way. If you’re over that and want to dicuss things civilly going forward, I’m game.

  55. If, as joe says, the “invasion” of South Ossetia is akin to a civil war, that would mean that nothing but unequivocal condemnation of Russia should be in the cards, in that Russia doesn’t have any business meddling in the internal affairs of a country that is making a military move to settle a difficult province.

    For international purposes, SO is part of Georgia, so why did Russia feel it needed to get involved, again?

  56. Sorry joe, not buying it.

    The hundreds of thousands of angry, hooded protestors that marched Oslo, Athens, Berlin, Vienna, and beyond who screamed about our invasion of Iraq is not doing the same now… ONLY because Moscow is not as ‘allied’ to their respective governments as is Washington?

    Bollocks.

  57. You’ve never written anything to me but insults in the past, so I read your quesiton that way. If you’re over that and want to dicuss things civilly going forward, I’m game

    Not true. You take any kind of harping on your position as an insult, and it isn’t.

    Regardless…I’m over it. Now, you compared the Georgian move into SO as a move akin to the Civil War. So forgive me if I am confused when you wrote this:

    Russia invades Georgia to fight off an armoured assault group that had invaded South Ossetia and indiscriminately shelled and rocketed its civilians and no amount of outrage and condemnation of Russia were significant enough in some quarters. Georgia invades and subjugates a disputed region whose citizens don’t want to be ruled by Georgia and no amount of moral equivalence and justification is sufficient in those very same quarters.

    For one, the region isn’t really all that disputed; the only recognition of SO is that it’s part of Georgia. This would be akin to Mexico invading Texas, if Texas was a rebellious state. What business is it of Mexico’s?

    Also, I would say that the way that you’re positing it, that Russia just had to invade out of humanitarian concerns for the indiscriminate shelling of SO, doesn’t quite encapsulate the true motivations of Russia.

  58. why did Russia feel it needed to get involved, again

    Because Russia thinks that SO has designs on NO, which is Russian territory–and for all we know, they might be right.

  59. Because Russia thinks that SO has designs on NO, which is Russian territory–and for all we know, they might be right.

    Possibly…but then wouldn’t it have been in Russia’s best interests just to sit back and let Georgia reign in SO?

  60. TAO — because most of people in SO also happen to be Russian citizens, and because Georgia started with firing on Russian peacekeepers posted there. (Before anyone starts wondering about why Russia has peacekeepers there, so did Georgia.)

    Besides, legal status of SO as part of Georgia (international recognition aside for a moment) is if not outright questionable, then open for interpretation.

  61. If Shakashvili had any balls he’d saw the head off that Stalin statue and mail it to Putin.

  62. And if grandmother had balls she’d be a grandfather…

  63. It is interesting the response to this invasion versus the response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia.

    Technically, I don’t think its possible to invade your own country. The Ossetians hadn’t seceded, hadn’t set up their own government, hadn’t been recognized a sovereign by any other nation, unlike the South during the War of Northern Aggression.

    most of people in SO also happen to be Russian citizens

    An excellent reason (among many others) to prohibit dual citizenship. Pick a team, people!

  64. TAO,

    Have you read up on the background of South Ossetia and Georgia? It’s not a purely internal matter that the Russians had no involvement with prior to the Georgians’ latest invasion. There were already Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, working alongside Georgian peacekeepers, when Sali sent the tanks rolling last Thursday. Those Georgian peacekeepers attacked the Russians as part of that offensive.

    Also, I would say that the way that you’re positing it, that Russia just had to invade out of humanitarian concerns for the indiscriminate shelling of SO, doesn’t quite encapsulate the true motivations of Russia. That was not the point I was trying to convey. I thought I made that clear with …the responding country (ie, Russia) was taking the opportunitiy to go well beyond an acceptable, proportionate response.

    I only “compared” the situation in Georgia to our civil war in one specific sense – that it is possible for a national army to invade a territory which is nominally part of that nation. In terms of the Russians’ involvement predating this episode, there is no equivalent to our Civil War.

  65. RC,

    Technically, I don’t think its possible to invade your own country. Sherman didn’t invade Georgia? Anyway, it’s that “their own country” bit that seems to the nub here. Stalin decided he wanted South Ossetia to be part of Georgia, so he broke it off from North Ossetia (which remained part of Russia) and made it part of Georgia. I’m not sure that provides much of a moral argument for that status being the final word. That’s why there has been a process going on to try to find a reasonable outcome, and why the Georgian government had recognized the autonomy of the breakaway regions.

    The Ossetians hadn’t seceded, hadn’t set up their own government, hadn’t been recognized a sovereign by any other nation, unlike the South during the War of Northern Aggression. They have, however, voted for indepdendence in a plebecite in 2006.

    An excellent reason (among many others) to prohibit dual citizenship. Pick a team, people! C’mon, shirts and skins! Line up!

  66. Sovreignity, self determination, intervention, spheres of influence.

    There are no easy answers here.

  67. R.C. Dean,

    What soveriegn state recognized the CSA? The CSA tried to get recognition from both Britain and France but failed to create “facts on the ground” sufficient for them to make that leap.

  68. RC — South Osetia has its own government, runs its own affairs, voted many times that it does not want to be part of Georgia etc. etc.

  69. What soveriegn state recognized the CSA? The CSA tried to get recognition from both Britain and France but failed to create “facts on the ground” sufficient for them to make that leap.

    I think you’re right, Seward. Now that I think about it (talking to joe always lowers my IQ), the South never got past limited recognition as a “belligerent”, or somesuch.

    I only “compared” the situation in Georgia to our civil war in one specific sense – that it is possible for a national army to invade a territory which is nominally part of that nation.

    Still, use of the term “invade” seems to presuppose that the Russians, and not the Georgians, have the better of the argument. Its pretty contentious. Its not really possible to invade an area that you are sovereign over, might be a more accurate way to put it.

  70. *Now* do you folks understand why I moved all the Cherokee?

  71. Possibly McCains effusive statements about Georgia were related to a few hundred thousand in donations.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080813/ap_on_el_pr/mccain_lobbyist

  72. Those of us for whom support for democracy and human rights are actually fundamental principles of our political and geopolitical beliefs don’t take very kindly to seeing politicians with agendas use those principles as fig leafs for their great power games.

    Global warming

  73. unlike the South during the War of Northern Aggression.

    The South attacked first.

  74. Its not really possible to invade an area that you are sovereign over

    Little Rock Arkansas.

    Waco.

    That Mayor’s house where those dogs got shot.

  75. Russian peacekeepers

    Kudos, joe. Best oxymoron I’ve seen today.

  76. ed — Almost as good as “bombing for democracy” right?

  77. Or “Christian Scientist.” But we digress.

  78. Indeed. More to the point would be counting how many times Saakishvili screams “Russians are coming” and sprints for the nearest hiding place in any goven hour…

  79. in?vade Audio Help [in-veyd] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation verb, -vad?ed, -vad?ing.
    -verb (used with object)
    1. to enter forcefully as an enemy; go into with hostile intent: Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
    2. to enter like an enemy: Locusts invaded the fields.
    3. to enter as if to take possession: to invade a neighbor’s home.
    4. to enter and affect injuriously or destructively, as disease: viruses that invade the bloodstream.
    5. to intrude upon: to invade the privacy of a family.
    6. to encroach or infringe upon: to invade the rights of citizens.
    7. to permeate: The smell of baking invades the house.
    8. to penetrate; spread into or over: The population boom has caused city dwellers to invade the suburbs.

    Those are all of the definitions provided by dictionary.com.

    You aren’t complaining that I used a term that “presupposes” anything, RC. As usual when you act as the grammar police, you are complaining because I used a neutral term that doesn’t presuppose the argument you want to make.

  80. I think the most apropos definitions are:

    to enter forcefully as an enemy;

    Now, a nation can’t really be an enemy of itself. It may send troops into its own territory, forcefully even, but do we really say that the National Guard “invades” a coastal area after a hurricane?

    to enter as if to take possession

    A nation already possesses its own territory, so it can’t enter it as if to take possession, any more than you can burglarize your own house.

    As usual when you act as the grammar police, you are complaining because I used a neutral term that doesn’t presuppose the argument you want to make.

    No, I’m pointing out that your use of a term that you think is neutral actually reveals your biases on an issue.

    I’ll stick with my statement that a nation can’t “invade” territory that it is sovereign over. If you want to argue that Georgia lost its sovereignty over SO, go right ahead, but I think that opens up the rather more interesting question of just how that happened.

  81. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this conflict. Is this a reasonable comparison?

    1. California declares independence from the USA.
    2. Later, SoCal declares independence from California.
    3. NorCal and the US federal gov’t still have troops (“peacekeepers”) in SoCal.
    4. NorCal starts bombing SoCal.
    5. US federal gov’t sends troops into NorCal, declaring it is defending US citizens living in SoCal.

    Both NorCal and the Fed have financial interests and (possibly reasonable) historic claims to SoCal, even if 99% of SoCal voters voted for a referendum on independence declaring “SoCal should preserve its present status of a de facto independent state.”

  82. Now, a nation can’t really be an enemy of itself.

    I’m pretty sure the South Ossetians consider the Georgian government to be their enemies at this point. The Georgians certainly understood they’d be “entering as an enemy,” since they laid down a rocket and artillery barrage first, then followed up with a column of armor. Not exactly how the National Guard enters a disaster area.

    And, once again, you choosing language to define your conclusion – the South Ossetia is Georgia “itself.” That’s the issue under dispute, RC.

    A nation already possesses its own territory And once again, you define your conclusion, that the disputed area of South Ossetia is Georgia’s territory, as opposed to the Ossetians’ territory. Facts on the ground: they had to lay down a rocket and artillery barrage in order to allow their tanks to enter. Doesn’t sound like they were “in possession of” that area to me.

    No, I’m pointing out that your use of a term that you think is neutral actually reveals your biases on an issue. I am arguing completely neutrally on the question. You are arguing to define the conclusion you want. It’s that old “with us or against us” bullshit again – if I’m neutral on the question of who South Ossetia belongs to, that means I’m against those of you who are leaping to take Georgia’s side against South Ossetia.

  83. Fuddy Duddy Judge,

    Hmmm.

    Let’s try this: John McCain becomes president, and declares that half of the Inland Empire of California is now part of Arizona. The locals want to stay part of California.

    A few decades later, the United States splits up.

    The people from the Inland Empire try to secede from Arizona and join California. They are backed by the government of California.

    Arizona tries to put down the rebellion, California gets involved on behalf of the rebels. After some fighting, a cease fire is reached. The parties engage in UN-mediated truce talks. The Arizonan part of the Inland Empire is given autonomy. Arizonan and Californian troops are joined by troops from other nations as a peacekeeping force, but they’re still at each other throats. The Inland Empirites are still agitating for secession, occasionally violently. The Californians can be pretty nasty themselves.

    After a few years of this, the Arizonans launch a military invasion of the Arizonan section of the Inland Empire, and drive out the Californians. The next day, a much larger Californian army launches their own invasion, and drive out the Arizonans. They also invade other parts of Arizona.

    Now, if you imagine that there was a Californian Empire for a few centuries before the United States came into being, and Arizona was part of that empire, we’re getting close.

    In other words, it’s a bloody mess, and anybody who tells you that an objective observer from the outside should be siding with one or the other of the combatants is pulling your leg.

  84. The vast majority of people publicly calling us to “confront” Russia – including and especially McCain – 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!

  85. Thanks for the clarification, Joe. As a (pretty nasty, apparently) Californian, “Georgia” and “Russia” seem like abstractions from the news and maps. It’s helpful to use familiar names and faces to get some comparative context.

  86. I suppose this implies if China ever attacks Taiwan, the US won’t pierce China’s “national sovereignty” with a military response? It’s a similar circumstance, is it not? South Ossetia was an autonomous region with its own government, as is Taiwan. Georgia reasserting “control” over South Ossetia is equivalent to China reasserting control over Taiwan, both in the name of national unity. I’m not “pro-Russia”, but Russia reacted in a similar way to how we might respond if China attacked our ally, autonomous Taiwan. By claiming Georgia’s national sovereignty gives them the right to militarily attack an autonomous region of their own country, aren’t we also justifying the Chinese reasserting military control over autonomous regions like Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong?

    Of course, consistency is not really an important part of politics…

  87. Speaking of Taiwan, were they invited to the Olympics?

  88. I believe they are competing as “Chinese Taepei,” ed.

  89. If you think joe’s analogy gets across the complications as it stands, notice that he’s left out the string of color revolutions in former Soviet republics fomented and funded by the US and George Soros, overthrowing pro-Kremlin autocrats and insulting Russia almost personally, and the recent developments in Kosovo, and also the whole Abkhazia problem.

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