Reason Writers Around Town: Michael C. Moynihan on Russia, Georgia, and Putin's Disturbing Soft Spot for Yuri Andropov

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All this week, reason Associate Editor Michael C. Moynihan takes the pages of The Los Angeles Times' Dust-Up section to debate Russia expert Andrew Meier on the question "What Does Putin Want?"

The first exchange centers on Russia's invasion of Georgia—and just how much Vladimir Putin wants to join "the civilized world."

Read all about it here.

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  1. OHHHHHHHHH so manly……he must want Russian Empire.

    Is that how you spell manly?

  2. From what I can gather from Russian web sites, if “civilised world” includes US bombing of Serbia, Iraq war, support of feeble-minded Nazi-lovers in Estonia, etc., etc., etc., then no, Russia has no desire to join it.

    Of course looking at the featured article that talks about “Russian hegemony” over anything in 1979 it’s pretty clear that authors are as clueless as usual for “cremlenologists”, “sovietologists” and their ilk.

  3. I bring audacious hope to Russia. I bring change…

  4. No, you spell manly p-u-t-i-n.

  5. Just recently, the people of Afghanistan expressed outrage at yet another U.S. air raid killing scores of women and children.

    If Russian continues its current behavior, it could, in time, kill as many innocent people as U.S. and other forces have in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

    I still give them a good score for their “disporportinate response” as it brought a very swift end to the fighting and avoided additional casualties.

  6. Thanks

    Is it time for Zombie Reagan!?!?!?!?

    I apologize, all this Russia/Georgia hoopla is quite novel.

  7. Disinformation is as disinformation does. To wit, “the first exchange centers on Russia’s invasion of Georgia.” Talk about propaganda masquerading as journalism.

  8. Russia is actually trying to send a message to the world that she’s back, and also the Russians want a fair share of that capitalism that they never got after the cold war. Instead of treating them like friends we treated them like pure shit, and now we are pointing missiles at them again. I think we have to listen to the bear again because thats what want, they want to be understood as clearly as possible.

  9. This is Russia thumbing its noise at the US. Seeing how the US has f’d up in Iraq, it can get away with invading Georgia for the “sake of saving the S. Ossetians from its own government.”

  10. The american mainstream media has done its job well if Reason writers buy the gibberish that Russia “invaded” Georgia.

    A good libertarian journalist first must ask:

    WHO INIATED THE USE OF FORCE? Every story about this “conflict” should start with setting forth the basic facts such as:

    1. Georgia iniated the use of force.

    2. The united states and israel had special forces and other military advisers on the ground in Georgia.

    3. Georgia deliberately chose the opening of the Olympics to maximize its chances of killing as many civilians as possible while the world was not watching and to snatch south ossetia.

  11. Knuttle-

    Again, Georgia, with the backing of american and israeli boots on the ground, killed over one thousand civilians, Georgia INITIATED the use of force. Why should the Russians tolerate the murder of its people? Why should Russia tolerate Georgian/American/Israeli war crimes?

  12. Really, it looks a lot like monkey see, monkey do to me.

    Why argue over who started it (Georgia/The west…booga booga), and enjoy Comrade Putin trying to kick butt. Or is it just kicking butt.

  13. it was teh joos!

  14. Again, Georgia, with the backing of american and israeli boots on the ground, killed over one thousand civilians…

    Put up or shut up. And no, Russian state news agencies don’t count.

  15. oh noes, they use-a da links!

    Yes. The “israelis orchestrated the georgian attack” = They had military ties.

    Even your linky links point out the obvious =

    “But, by late 2007, Israeli analysts saw war and the horizon for Russia and Georgia, Ha’Aretz observes. “The defense and foreign ministries started ordering military exports to Georgia be cut last year, thwarting a major deal for Israeli-made Merkava tanks… Senior Israeli generals apparently felt a showdown was imminent, and preferred not to get directly involved.””

    …but, of course, this doesnt make any sense when you argue that Israel *wanted* on intended to provoke conflict with Russia. Unless you’re just predisposed to a “the jews were involved!!” tinfoil hat.

  16. Hold on, aren’t the Russians at least Muslim or some other exotic religion? How will we be able to tell their dreams of a military-backed petro empire from ours?

    The moral equivalency is astounding.

  17. GILMORE,

    Who said “israelis orchestrated the georgian attack.” I didn’t see that anywhere on the thread. I saw a comment about Georgia getting military assistance from the US and Israel before the war.

  18. So, Meier writes But what Putin wants, ultimately, in that icy heart of his is for Russia to join what he and his compatriots longingly call “the civilized world” — shorthand for the non-Slavic nations that boast strong cultural traditions, enduring institutions and economies that don’t collapse overnight. China? Japan?

    In other words, Europe and the U.S. He’s just defining “civilized” as “West.” For the Russians. I’m not sure I’m buying it. He could just as easily be looking at Beijing, and thinking that Russia is starting even farther ahead economically.

    Mad Ivan, is that “scratch a Tartar” thing considered racist?

  19. libertymike | August 25, 2008, 6:56pm | #

    The american mainstream media has done its job well if Reason writers buy the gibberish that Russia “invaded” Georgia.

    A good libertarian journalist first must ask:

    WHO INIATED THE USE OF FORCE? Every story about this “conflict” should start with setting forth the basic facts such as:

    1. Georgia iniated the use of force.

    If you are speaking about the August 7-8th time frame, then you are way off. Georgia was responding to seperatist shellings. You can argue it was an over-reaction, but a reaction it was. If you want to go back before this time, you pretty much go back to the beginning of history, following an endless string of tit-for-tats. There is no “started it”, as is often in these types of situations.

    However, this is a legitimate question of who escalated it, and the answer is Russia all the way. They funded the seperatists, provoked the Georgians, and massed troops on the border who were waiting for the lamest whiff of an excuse to over-react.

  20. Those poor Georgians. They just couldn’t help it.

  21. The Russians didn’t have to settle for a lame whiff, did they?

  22. Russia is a third world nation.

    Expect more instability, more failure, and more oligarchy.

    Da!

  23. Is that a cross he is wearing?

    joe you can stop supporting Russia now, they are not communists.

  24. WHO INIATED THE USE OF FORCE? Every story about this “conflict” should start with setting forth the basic facts such as:

    1. Georgia iniated the use of force.

    After the FBI burned down the WAKO compound Canada really should have invaded the US. 9 out of 10 libertarians agree.

  25. Eh, the only people who ever explained anything about Russia to me that made any sense to my Western sensibilities were Dostoevsky and Nabokov. Somebody help?

  26. joshua, you can keep supporting Georgia now. Cheney peeled your lips off his sphincter to hide out there during the convention.

  27. “support of feeble-minded Nazi-lovers in Estonia”

    A entire nation of people written off as Nazi lovers how convinent for you.

  28. I’m sorry, but the Poles were massing on our border. We had no choice.

  29. I’m too sexy for my shirt.

  30. Who said “israelis orchestrated the georgian attack.” I didn’t see that anywhere on the thread. I saw a comment about Georgia getting military assistance from the US and Israel before the war.

    Well joe, either such assistance was significant in some way that makes it meaningful to bring it into the conversation, or it wasn’t. libertymmike obviously brought it up for some reason, though he neglected to tell us what that reason is. If the responses to him included some unsupported speculation regarding why he brought that up, libertymike opened the door to that by bringing up that stuff without telling us what was significant about it. He still can, if he so chooses.

    libertymike does make a good point about bearing in mind Georgia’s complicity, and Chad has a good response. But if it’s difficult to impossible to literally say who started it, perhaps it’s fair to say both sides escalated it unconscionably. And if Russia retaliated by invading, it’s still accurate to call it an invasion.

    Joshua, Canada didn’t have peacekeepers at WACO. (There’s a few other differences too, but that’s the one that can be expressed succinctly.)

    And libertymike, why the scare quotes around “conflict”? You think this is all paddycakes?

  31. Hasn’t Russia been granting citizenship to Ossetians for quite some time despite the fact that it isn’t considered a part of territorial Russia? Wouldn’t that be considered a provocation of sorts?

  32. If Russia really has balls, it would move some of the 2014 Winter Olympic events into Abkhazia. Let them have figure skating or curling.

  33. Joe — It’s “scratch a Russian and you will find a Tartar” and it’s a classic and not really considered racist.

    Travis — did I say anything about _all_ Estonians? The official government position is to recognize Nazi collaborators and Waffen SS veterans as national heroes and “freedom fighters.” You will have to excuse me but but that strikes me as a sign of either feeble mind or even feebler morals.

  34. “support of feeble-minded Nazi-lovers in Estonia”

    Ivan, that makes it sound like you’re talking about the entire nation. You made no distinction between the Estonian government & the Estonian people.

    I agree with you about the Estonian government.

  35. Although you can stretch the “who started this” question back to pre-history regarding the tribal/ethnic bullshit that has always plagued the Balkans, from a modern perspective you only have to go back as far as Kosovo in 1999. You all know what happened when Yugoslavia dissolved, and the Western hand-wringing which followed.

    Anyway, when the Serbs started rubbing out ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, NATO (which fundamentally means the USA) decided to throw their weight around in the region. No UN sanction* because the Russians and Chinese objected and would have vetoed a UN resolution. NATO decided they were a defacto UN, and initiated a bombing campaign, which the Russians objected to strenuously.

    In their eyes,an anti-Russian alliance attacked a Russian ally without sufficient provocation; and to their humiliation, they didn’t have the chops to do anything about it. When the bombing didn’t get the desired results, we (the West) looked to Yeltsin to broker a truce involving a multi-national peace-keeping force (which included Russia). We then gave Russia the back of our hand on the peace-keeping mission.

    After we pissed on Russia during their economic meltdown, these were strikes two and three. Yeltsin loses face, and Putin’s faction rose to power.

    *BTW, the UN can tongue-bathe my exit ramp.

  36. Travis — Well, US/NATO supports Estonian government, not people. Agreed that I could’ve phrazed it better…

  37. Ivan,

    I never said that I support Nato or American foreign policy. I think President Washington was right when he warned America against getting involved in european politics.

    Now having said that I can see why the Estonian government has acted the way they have. The Estonians didn’t like being conquered & colonized by Russia.

    The Estonian governments racist policies against people of Russian heritage are extremely short sighted & foolish for a country as small as Estonia.

  38. Travis,

    True, I can understand that Estonians may not particularly like Russians, although with the lack of historical precedence for Estonian statehood, they could have been either under Russia or Germany in either case. Still, even Polish, who hate Russia as much as anyone, do not lower themselves to the level of gloryfying Nazis.

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