Foreign Policy

Sympathy for the Devil

Why is the American left making excuses for Putin's Russia?

|

Last Friday, Salon.com columnist and blogger Glenn Greenwald, one of the Bush presidency's harshest critics, blasted both major party presidential candidates for perpetuating the "blatant falsehood" that Russia launched an "unprovoked attack" on Georgia last August. This, he asserted, was a clear-cut instance of the suppression of legitimate and vital debate in America's political discourse. It so happens that Greenwald's charge is blatantly false—and reveals much more about the mindset of the left than about the state of American democracy.

In Greenwald's view, McCain has championed the false notion of the Russia-Georgia war to further his own neocon agenda, while Obama has "adopted the lie" out of political expediency:

Since all of the major candidates accept the deceitful premise about what happened—that Russia's "aggression" against Georgia was "unprovoked"—nobody refutes it… The propaganda is just asserted to be true by the political establishment and thus accepted by most of the citizenry, and then becomes the unchallenged foundation of all sorts of dangerous, militaristic policy orthodoxies…

Yet, curiously enough, neither of the presidential debates to which Greenwald links to back up his argument contains the word "unprovoked." In the first debate, on September 26, Obama called Russia's actions "unacceptable" and "unwarranted"; McCain spoke of "serious aggression" and criticized Obama for his initial statement urging mutual "restraint," while Obama denied that his statement was soft on Russia and noted that he had warned back in April about the risks of Russian "peacekeepers" in Georgia's disputed regions. In the second debate, on October 7, it was much the same (though McCain came closest to Greenwald's description when he condemned Russia's "naked aggression").

One candidate did use the word. In her September 11 interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, Sarah Palin referred to Russia "invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked." But her claim went anything but unchallenged, with Gibson at once interjecting, "You believe unprovoked." The Los Angeles Times described her position as "at odds with that of U.S. officials who have reviewed events leading up to the military action." In The New York Times, Maureen Dowd chided Palin for not knowing that "as heinous as Russia's behavior toward Georgia was, it was not completely unprovoked."

Indeed, as harsh a critic of Russia as Condoleezza Rice has openly acknowledged that Georgia initiated the military action by shelling the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, on August 7, and that "all sides made mistakes." Clearly, what irks Greenwald is not that Russia's actions in Georgia are viewed as unprovoked but that they are viewed as (to quote Obama) unacceptable and unwarranted. Incidentally, this view is hardly unique to the United States, as Greenwald implies; it is also dominant in Europe.

Why? Well, let's review Russia's actions, not just during and after but before the armed conflict. For years, Russia backed separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia while paying lip service to Georgia's sovereignty. Since about 2002, it has been handing out Russian passports to people in these regions, in a transparent ploy to create a "legitimate" cause for intervention—defense of its citizens. (It's unclear whether these passports, the kind held by Russian citizens abroad, would allow their possessors to live inside Russia.) It engaged in blatant provocations toward Georgia, apparently including the downing of a Georgian reconnaissance drone over Abkhazia.

Georgia has staunchly maintained that Russia initiated the military action in the recent conflict by moving its troops inside the Roki Tunnel, which links Russia to South Ossetia, about 20 hours before the shelling of Tskhinvali began. These claims, still under investigation by European Union officials, are at least partly corroborated by intercepted cell phone calls indicating Russian troop movements before dawn on August 7, and by other intriguing, if inconclusive, evidence.

Whatever is eventually learned about the start of the war, Russia's actions afterwards are not in doubt: the illegal invasion and partial occupation of Georgia; the looting and destruction of Georgian property and military equipment; the abetting of ethnic cleansing in Georgian villages by South Ossetian vigilante squads; the abrupt, unilateral recognition of the two separatist republics. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili may be no paragon of democratic governance or wisdom, but that doesn't change the basic fact of Russian aggression.

These facts are widely known in almost every place where the Russia-Georgia conflict has received attention. Almost. Which brings us to a particularly stunning passage in Greenwald's piece: "Americans are alone in this world in being lied to about what happened. Virtually the entire rest of the world…has access to the truth." Greenwald seems to have forgotten about Russia, where state-run television—the average citizen's main, and often only, source of news—went on a Soviet-style propaganda binge for weeks, and where the pro-government media has repeated outlandish claims of Georgian "genocide" in South Ossetia long after these tales were discredited.

There is something puzzling about the sympathy for Russia evident in many quarters of the American left—from Greenwald to Noam Chomsky to Alexander Cockburn and Katrina vanden Heuvel in The Nation (not to mention numerous commenters at sites like Salon.com and The Huffington Post). When Cold War-era leftists pleaded for a more understanding view of the Soviet Union, they were at least arguing on behalf of a power that, despite its abuses, at least outwardly embraced many "progressive" ideals: free medicine, housing and education, extensive social services, secularism, women's rights, relative social equality. The Putin/Medvedev Russia is the opposite of everything today's left supports: It's a land where billionaires flaunt their $20,000 watches and $350 million yachts, social services are slashed to a minimum, religion is entangled with the state, ethnic bigotry flourishes, labor unions are trampled, and homophobia is rampant and officially condoned.

Why the sympathy, then? A knee-jerk reaction that equates hostility to Russia with red-baiting? Or could it be that to some on the left, the cause of sticking a finger in America's eye is progressive enough?

Contributing Editor Cathy Young is the author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood.

Advertisement

NEXT: The "B" is for "Tawana Brawley"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. As soon as I clicked the link I saw a bunch of ads for Russian and Ukrainian women.

    But I only read it for the articles.

  2. Y’know Cathy, it *is* possible that people can be disgusted with most of what Russia does while still believing that the overwhelming majority of the blame for the Georgia-Russia conflict lies with the Georgian government. And that as bad as the Russian actions were in Georgia, they were matched by the actions of the Georgian military. Finding Putin to be an authoritarian who represents a serious threat to his people’s freedom and finding Saakashvili to be more similar to Putin than not aren’t mutually exclusive.

  3. This article makes my head hurt. Cathy Young is mad that somebody else is saying that both sides were bad? Really?

  4. Glenn Greenwald doesn’t accept Cathy Young’s one-sided argument, so he’s a commie.

    There, I saved you ten minutes of your life. Use them wisely.

  5. Cathy Young is on the Left? And she has strange sympathy?

  6. joe,

    Actually, Cathy’s argument is worse than that.

    In the face of overwhelming media coverage painting Russia as a total aggressor in the Georgian conflict, and Georgia as a helpless and hapless Western-style democracy who was just walking down the street one day when Russia jumped out and attacked her, Cathy parses a handful of quotes she found with Google to claim that Greenwald is wrong to say that the coverage was one-sided.

    Even though McCain in particular seized on the incident to engage in a lot of rhetorical sabre-rattling and fear-mongering about a supposedly resurgent Russian Empire, Cathy wants to argue that Greenwald is wrong because her googling didn’t turn up the word “unprovoked”.

    Does Cathy Young not own a TV or something?

  7. Cathy Young says the democrat and republican leaders in america are both basically nice and it is just a crying shame that americans don’t trust their public servant any more….however Putin is literally the Devil!!!! awwwwahh!

    Cathy Young what did you think of the bailout….a good idea i bet huh? those democrats and republicans who supported the massive theft sure are good folks eh?

  8. Cathy,
    Here is the deal. We know our leaders liekt o lie to get us into war or to do anything to distract from the horrible policies they put in place….clinton bombed countries to distract from monica lewinsky and Bush has lied to get us into big million dead people type wars. The MSM went along with both lies. We see more lies now, Sure Glenn Greenwald is a little socialist but he is far more honest about the massive corruption going on than you are.

  9. Cathy,
    When you have lost Fluffy and Joe then you are being too obvious of a shill for the elite who is trying to f the american people.

  10. Fluffy,

    Even though McCain in particular seized on the incident to engage in a lot of rhetorical sabre-rattling and fear-mongering about a supposedly resurgent Russian Empire…

    And, in fact, criticized Barack Obama for issuing a statement McCain didn’t deem sufficiently one-sided.

  11. Cathy Young is mad that somebody else is saying that both sides were bad? Really?

    Win.

  12. Lighten up on Cathy. She’s about 95% right here, which is righter than you clowns are on anything. (OK, that’s an educated guess) Still, Cathy, you could have mentioned that not all Russophiles are on the left. Consider that strange pair, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. I took a whack at them here.
    http://avanneman.blogspot.com/2008/10/moral-obtusities-in-collision.html

  13. No enemies on the left!

  14. Yet, curiously enough, neither of the presidential debates to which Greenwald links to back up his argument contains the word “unprovoked.”

    Gee, you mean Greenwald is an utterly dishonest hack?

    Shocking.

  15. The Russians have always been our friends, and I don’t see why that should change.

  16. You may not have noticed it, but a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times slipped in a story that completely contradicted a narrative that it had been building up for two straight months, one that was leading America into another war-a so-called “New Cold War.” The article exposed the awful authoritarian reality of Georgia’s so-called democracy, painting a dark picture of President Mikhail Saakashvili’s rule that repudiated the fairy tale that the Times and everyone else in the major media had been pushing ever since war broke out in South Ossetia in early August. That fairy tale went like this: Russia (evil) invaded Georgia (good) for no reason whatsoever except that Georgia was free. Putin hates freedom, and Saakashvili is the “democratically elected leader” of a “small, democratic country.”

    Yes, it was only a month ago that we were stupid and crazy enough to think that the United States had no choice but to launch a costly new cold war against a nuclear power, even though we still haven’t closed the deal on a couple of mini-wars against Division-III opponents, and we were on the verge of bankruptcy. Ah, to be blissfully na?ve-and bloodthirsty at the same time-wasn’t it wonderful?

  17. I am 100% against Putin’s Russia. Doesn’t mean I have to be against facts, too.

    Yes, Virginia, Georgia started the war. And pray tell, after they were done firing rockets into civilian areas and moving forces into a secessionist ethnic minority region, what did you think was going to happen? A block party? A conference on understanding?

  18. When someone else starts a fight, which Saakashvili did, I don’t consider retaliation to be aggression. The Russian response was clearly disproportionate, and even if they were egging for a fight, Georgia fired the first shots. Saakashvili is still a dictator and this is a conflict we should stay out of.

  19. People who wonder why the left is generally viewed as unpatriotic need look no further than incidents like this.

  20. Well, duh –

    You are more evidence that no one in the world is more stupid than a neocon.

    Basically, the Captain’s Quarters “revelations” about Greenwald that you link to boil down to this: that it’s possible that, at websites other than his own, Greenwald has posted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

    News flash: it’s only “sock puppetry” if you post under a fake name at your own site. If you post under a fake name at someone else’s site, that is not called “sock puppetry”. That is called “using the internet”.

    And unless your real name is “Well, duh” [in which case you have my sympathies] you’re doing the same thing right now. Are you a dishonest hack?

  21. People who wonder why the left is generally viewed as unpatriotic need look no further than incidents like this.

    Patriotism means loyalty to ones own country.

  22. Even more fundamentally, why should we be arguing about a war between Russia and Georgia? The only reason I can think of is the oil angle, but I’m a “no blood for oil” kind of guy, myself. Anyway, McCain is an admitted economic ignoramus, so I doubt he cares about any realpolitic, economic rationales for a war with Russia. Just as well, because a war with Russia would tend to be, you know, bad for the economy.

    (Yes, war with Russia, that is what we would have been pledged to wage, if (per McCain’s suggestion) we let Georgia join NATO.)

    This is about painting a moustache on Putin and comparing him to Hitler or Stalin, two famous moustached dictators. So, like, you know, Georgia is Czechoslovakia, and, see, like, being neutral in the Russo-Georgian war would be *just like Munich!* Nazi, nazi, nazi!

  23. You know one can believe that Putin sucks and believe that Georgia started this mess. I expect these types of articles from Michael Young.

  24. It’s not just the left that thinks the predominant story of naked Russian aggression against Georgia is a little one-sided. Take a look at The American Conservative magazine (Buchanan, Larison, et al).http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/sep/22/00008/

    Maybe it’s not knee-jerk anti-Americanism that drives people to this position. Maybe they think we have enough real enemies–like Al Qaeda and whatnot–without looking to create new ones, like Putin’s (admittedly authoritarian) Russia. Possible, Cathy?

  25. Or could it be that to some on the left, the cause of sticking a finger in America’s eye is progressive enough?

    Ah, even you libertarians are not free of the “liberals are anti-American” trope. Also, despite the fact that the name of the magazine you write for is entitled “Reason”, you clearly don’t use any of it in failing to realize that a critique of the hawks in and out of the administration is not really a defense of Russia.

    Also, your history of the conflict strangely begins in 2002, years after the the most incendiary period in the region’s history (at least until the recent war.) For a more nuanced portrait of the situation, try Robert English instead.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22011

    Now look, I don’t like the Russians, and I despise Putin. Strangely I am capable of these feelings even though I am a liberal. But just as I don’t care for Russian hard-liners, I don’t care for my own either, because in combination hard-liners in separate countries have a striking ability to get their countries in wars with each other over the objections of their more rational countrymen. Greenwald is right to lay into those bozos who ignore the complex history of Russian-Georgian relations, as well as Georgia’s own complicity in it’s troubles, so they can make some case against the “Soviet” enemy they clearly miss.

  26. Who gives a flying F**k what the sockpuppet says. No communist can be wrong in his eyes, real or cutout.

  27. She’s about 95% right here, which is righter than you clowns are on anything.

    If by right you mean “agrees with me” then yes, you might be onto something.

    People who wonder why the left is generally viewed as unpatriotic need look no further than incidents like this.

    People who wonder why the left is generally viewed as unpatriotic need look no further than people like “Observational” and Cathy Young, who are always saying such things.

  28. Who gives a flying F**k what the sockpuppet says. No communist can be wrong in his eyes, real or cutout.

    And the link to Greenwald’s stunning defense of communism is where, exactly?

  29. jbd, you stole my thunder. There are actually four articles in that particular issue of AmConMag that expose the mythology of the Russo-Georgian conflict for what it is. Several, including yourself, have stated quite eloquently how bizarre the drawing of this particular ‘line in the sand’ is given this country’s plight both domestically and on the international front.

  30. “Also, despite the fact that the name of the magazine you write for is entitled ‘Reason,’ . . .”

    Oh, shit, just when I was recovering from my previous bout of alcohol poisining…

    The name of the magazine, by the way, is *Reason.* I don’t know what the name is entitled. Does the magazine’s name itself have a name?

  31. The name of the magazine, by the way, is *Reason.* I don’t know what the name is entitled. Does the magazine’s name itself have a name?

    I’m sure you’re the sort of person who people enjoy flubbing their pronunciation around. As a trick of the mind, trying imagining that I wrote that sentence as you would, and then reading everything else I wrote and responding to that instead.

  32. Patriotism means loyalty to ones own country.

    Yeah, but we are all Georgians.

  33. Moscow by Christmas!

  34. Cathy,
    I’d really like to hear more about your conspriacy theory in russia. You accuse Putin or otehr russian elites of committing a false flag attack in Russia. You say they probably did it to help “generate public support for the war in Chechnya.”

    If this is so then why don’t your neo-con heroes call out Putin on this? why do they instead claim that Putin has jesus christ in their heart? Are you vastly smarter than these angelic neo-cons and they are just fooled by Putin? or are the neo-cons also legitimately evil people who’d be willing to do a false flag attack just as most of militaries thorughout history have?

    Why is it that neo-cons and various other so called “conservatives” refuse to analyze our “defense” from any other point of view than….more military spending = a safer US?

    How does it make sense to borrow a couple trillion from China and Russia to fund our military expenditures? if they are so evil and we are so good then won’t they use their creditor status to screw us when we are most financially vulnerable?

    Alan I wanted to insult you for the 95% crack, but upon reading your blog it seems pretty good…

  35. link to cathy’s conspiracy theory article:
    http://www.cathyyoung.blogspot.com/

  36. “And the link to Greenwald’s stunning defense of communism is where, exactly?”

    Nothing from the pen of the sockpuppet is stunning.

    http://www.usmlo.org thinks enough of him to publish his “work”.

  37. Nothing strange about it at all. The left was highly sympathetic to Stalin as well.

    Were Greenwald’s ancestors from Russia? He strikes me as a classic Red Diaper Baby. I suspect he may well have spent the entire day crying when the Soviet Union collapsed.

  38. Moscow by Christmas!

    Mad Max is now contemplating how that is not a complete sentence.

  39. http://www.usmlo.org thinks enough of him to publish his “work”.

    If you think that no one can link to someone else’s work to either prove or disprove their separate agenda, then…well, you didn’t read Cathy Young very closely.

  40. Why should anyone be surprised that the left, which for generations defended imperialist Russia (in the rather thin disguise of the USSR) against the West, is now defending Russia’s newly revived imperialism against the West?

  41. The left was highly sympathetic to Stalin as well.

    Let me complete that for you, so as to make your statement more accurate: “A tiny minority on left was highly sympathetic to Stalin as well, except of course that was all a very long time ago and communism now has about zero defenders on the left.”

  42. Why Cathy Young’s strange sympathy for an outright fascist thug like Saakashvili, whose vision of “democracy” prominently features suppressing dissent at machinegun point? Why does she plug so hard for the US to pick a fight with a nuclear power, over an issue of no strategic import to the US?

    Perhaps because she’s a neocon – the group which poses the clearest and most pressing danger to American liberty and the strategic interests of the US?

  43. People on the left like zbig and barack are not defending russia they are prepared to get us into a war with them. or at least use them as jsutificationt o boost military expenditures.

    It is mostly the faction of left wing folks who tend toward anti-war leaning stances that are against lying about the russian-georgian conflict.

  44. Why should anyone be surprised that the left, which for generations defended imperialist Russia (in the rather thin disguise of the USSR) against the West, is now defending Russia’s newly revived imperialism against the West?

    Strange you should mention that:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/20/what-about-the-russia-lob_n_120123.html

  45. It seemed like just yesterday the left was socialist. Now we’re all the way to communism. Amazing how these things happen.

    I really feel sympathy for the right on this one. It must be hard to maintain message discipline when your message is both ridiculous (COMMIES EVERYWHERE ZOMG) and provably wrong with even the slightest hint of googling (Georgia started the war). I mean, one could try being occasionally intellectually honest, but we all know that’s just not in the cards.

  46. Aw, give ’em a break, MAX.

    Some of them are honestly propaganda victims.

    And now that the Stalin card has been played, it’s very hard for them to suff their brains back in their ears.

  47. Yeah yeah yeah.

    I wrote suff.

    joez law.

  48. Why are right wigners praising totalitariansim domestically? The USSR I hated as a 8 year old was based on stuff like “they restricted peoples freedom to travel, required papers to go anywhere” or “they treated the labor of the people as a property of the collective to be used only for what an elite wanted”.

    Unfortunately this sounds like republicans in america today…why do the people who claim to be “anti-communist” keep making america more communist?

  49. Xanthippas,

    Sorry for my grammar [Godwin edit] behavior; I was simply riffing on a discussion between Alice and the White Knight in Alice Through the Looking Glass about songs and their names, and what the name of the song is called, that sort of thing.

  50. The really fun thing about Cathy’s article is this:

    Greenwald’s article was a complaint that the media closed ranks on this story and overwhelmingly portrayed the conflict as Russia Bad, Georgia Good [with a dash of “Russia is Imperialist Again, So Naturally We Should Elect McCain – Right? Right?”

    And according to Young, not only is not siding with Georgia not to be permitted, even questioning the media lockstep on the issue is proof that one is not patriotic.

    Tell me, is questioning your critique of Greenwald’s questioning of the media lockstep also not patriotic? I’m trying to figure out how many meta levels the stain of treason persists in.

  51. The unorthodox being protective of the Orthodox, is that the issue?

  52. Gabe,
    Half a year ago the New York Times published an article reporting on completely undemocratic presidential elections in Russia. It was so difficult for NYT commenters to accept the fact that something bad was happening and America led by the evil Bush regime cannot be easily blamed for it that many of them simply had to state that Russia’s elections were almost as bad the Florida recount in 2000. Your post:

    The USSR I hated as a 8 year old was based on stuff like “they restricted peoples freedom to travel, required papers to go anywhere” or “they treated the labor of the people as a property of the collective to be used only for what an elite wanted”.

    Unfortunately this sounds like republicans in america today…

    is written in the same vein.

  53. Does Cathy Young not own a TV or something?

    I don’t….and i have read plenty about how Georgia called Russia’s mom a slut and so provoked Russia into invading them with guns and tanks and helicopters.

    Yes those evil Georgians calling people names…bad bad bad Georgia…plus you know Georgia was wearing skimpy provocative clothing. They were asking for it.

  54. Grizzley,
    I don’t think my questions were written in the same vein as the NYT. My question is why did bush talk so glowingly about Putin’s morals?

    Why not show that he kills his own people and blames it on “terror” groups he is trying to fight wars with?

    Why not show all the proof our intelligence agencies have that Putin engaged in semi-demonic false flag terror attacks?(I enthusiasticlally believe that he did) I am not a commie sympathyzer, I actually agree with Cathy Young on this, Putin did engage in false flag attacks…I really do dislike commies. That is why Cathy Young’s article is so maddenning.

  55. Things I learned today:

    1) All countries have a fundamental right to genocide within their own borders.

    2) Having ones troops attacked and citizens besieged is insufficient basis for a nation to take arms against another.

    3) A country where the ruler was re-elected with 90% of the vote, and where political opponents have a nasty habit of getting hurt, qualifies as “the good guys.”

    4) Communists are everywhere.

    Reality check – the cold war is over. Sorry to be the bearer of good news.

  56. It’s high time we learned that some things just aren’t our fight. Don’t go abroad seeking monsters to destroy and all that.

  57. MAX — not quite correect. Only freedom-loving, democratic, McCain-supporting nations can do genocide. Others need not apply.

    In the end there’s absolutely nothing to argue about here. From (personal and through reading) acquaintance with Mrs. Young, her knowledge of Russia ranks somewhere near Condi Rice’s or W’s.

    Libertarians will say that Russia is evil unless Russians start erecting Ayn Rand statues on every corner (ain’t gonna happen, I suspect). Neocons will rail against imperialist Russia unless and until all Russians commit mass suicide, and people who happen to use their brains will agree that Russia has its problems but actually happens to be in the right in this instance…

    And nobody will be persuaded of anything.

  58. Young is not a libertarian. She is a republican who was making hopeful sappy columns about Iraq becoming a great peaceful democracy as late as 2005.

  59. What an absurd article. Pointing out that Georgia is not innocent does not in any way suggest sympathy for Russia. They are both bullies trying to control regions where the majority do not want them. They are both evil. But let us not allow facts to get in the way of demonizing the left.

    If modern political discourse is toxic, it is because the right continues to administer poison to the American body politic.

  60. Why are right-thinking Americans providing sympathy to Russia? Pretty obviously, it is because the danger to this country exists in an irrational attachment to Georgia, and the substitution of Georgian interests for our own. That is what the McCainite, neo-conservative rhetoric is intended to lead us to. To that extent, bring on the counter-propaganda and the quicker the better…

    Meanwhile, why is Alexander Cockbourn making cooing noises at his old totalitarian flame? ya gotta be kidding me…

  61. Sounds like some people in this thread haven’t read my article very closely.

    I never said that Georgia is an unqualified “good guy” in conflict. (I wrote about this at the start of the war.) What I said, and I think backed up with fairly extensive evidence, is that contra Greenwald, there is no consensus in the Western media that regards Russia’s attack on Georgia as “unprovoked.” (Although I will add that even the Spiegel article Greenwald cites in support of his position acknowledges that Georgia’s attack on Tskhinvali was preceded by years of provocations from Russia and Russian-backed Ossetian separatists.)

    To Gabe: you seem to think I’m a Bush supporter. Wrong. Actually, I’ve written about Bush’s cozying up to Putin, in pretty harsh terms.

    Re the “fascist” Saakashvili: again, in my first article on the Russia/Georgia conflict, I acknowledged Saakashvili’s less than democratic actions. However: Georgia currently has a thriving opposition. (Saakashvili was re-elected with 52% of vote in 2007, not 90% as “MAX HATS” claims. (To quote from the Russian classic The Master and Margarita: “?????????? ???, ?????????, ????????!”, or, “Congrats, citizen, you done lied!”) In 2007, Georgia ranked 66th out of 169 countries on the Press Freedom Index of Reporters without borders, while Russia ranked 144. (In 2008, Georgia’s ranking dropped to 120th on the index as a result of war-related press restrictions — still well above Russia, at 141.)

    Any more questions?

  62. Sure Glenn Greenwald is a little socialist

    Not even sort of. (What evidence can you present for such an assertion?)

    He’s been an enthusiastic Reason subscriber and has a cordial working relationship with Cato. He might not be totally libertarian, but is close on most things that count.

    Cathy Young has no clue from what ideological direction Greenwald comes from. He just does not find that the Russia v. Georgia issue breaks down into a simple Good v. Evil, where Russia is the thoroughly evil side.

  63. What a vile cesspool of moral relativism! Most of these comments clearly demonstrate why “libertarians” can never, ever be entrusted with the defense of liberty in the real world.

  64. Were Greenwald’s ancestors from Russia? He strikes me as a classic Red Diaper Baby. I suspect he may well have spent the entire day crying when the Soviet Union collapsed.

    Greenwald’s ancestors hail from Germany. He despises Stalinism and has never had a Communist impulse in his life. Hate to break it to you folks, but I’ve known him for some time, and he is as Communist as Radley Balko.

  65. For far too many people on the left, their hate for capitalism trumps all other values.

  66. “… and communism now has about zero defenders on the left.”

    You should hang out on a college campus sometime.

  67. Here’s a solution: until either government attacks us, our allies, or commits acts of mass genocide or some other morally reprehensible act that calls for international intervention (not that we’ve had a problem with genocidal dictators in the past, as long as they are friendly to us), it’s… hang on here… none of our business and not our problem

  68. What a vile cesspool of moral relativism!

    JohnL, what exactly do you think ‘moral relativism’ means?

  69. Commie, pinko, fuckers.

    Pretty easy explanation.

  70. Speaking of moral relativism, what is Rand’s solution in a situation where both possible sides are bad? Stay out of it? Destroy them both? Rational self interest seems to dictate the former unless there is something to be gained by the latter, especially considering how unlikely it is. Seems to me its Georgia and Russia’s citizens’ own problem to liberate themselves and until they start making serious efforts toward it and asking for our help it really is none of our business.

  71. Red-baiting happens no matter what you do.

    A Palin Conservative if you tell them something like

    “Nixon stole the south with his Southern Strategy” and like them to Wiki, they say Wiki is biased because “anyone can edit it.”

    And all they know about economics is “Karl Marx” and “Pravda” and “Lenin/Stalin”

    Basically, anything the American government doesn’t do is Communism. Therefore, Reason is a “socialist rag in the tank for Obama” like Forbes and “The Economist.”

    We need to stop Joe McCarthyism.

  72. The GOP base wants to restart the cold war with Russia.

    Russia, I’ve studied, is a plutocracy. They are what we will become.

    The rich buy government assets and rob the people, and it is called capitalism, though it is not free markets.

  73. Does Cathy really think Greenwald really harbors sympathy for Putin/Russia? Lets get serious. Does that mean just about everyone in Europe harbors a secret desire for a Russian takeover as well? The European papers were more fair on the issue than here in America. Just because you blame Georgia for starting that mess of a war doesn’t mean you have Putin-love.

  74. I never said that Georgia is an unqualified “good guy” in conflict. (I wrote about this at the start of the war.) What I said, and I think backed up with fairly extensive evidence, is that contra Greenwald, there is no consensus in the Western media that regards Russia’s attack on Georgia as “unprovoked.”

    Cathy, this is the sort of parsing nonsense that you really don’t need to be doing.

    This is not the first time Greenwald has written about the Russia/Georgia conflict.

    His claim has always been – even in columns contemporaneous with the conflict – that the media overwhelmingly supported a narrative of the conflict that paints Georgia as an innocent victim of Russian brutality, and that the mainstream of both parties play along with that narrative because it supports American interventionism overseas. And while you can dispute the second clause of that sentence, I don’t see how you can dispute the first.

    Was our media overwhelmingly on Georgia’s “side” in the way they reported these events, or not? In the face of that media narrative, was there overwhelming political pressure for “mainstream” politicians to make anti-Russia pronouncements like Obama’s, or not?

    You may want to argue that the media was on Georgia’s side because they “should have” been, but that actually is not pertinent to Greenwald’s point.

    You can google for the word “unprovoked” and think it makes you clever all you want, but it’s not really addressing the issue. At all.

  75. Ring a nation that’s not threatening us with missles; enlist all the countries around them into NATO; don’t expect them to be a bit testy in their behavior. It’s all Russia’s fault! Yeah, that makes sense.

  76. Dear Ms. Young,

    Blow it out your ass.

    Very truly yours…

  77. There, I saved you ten minutes of your life. Use them wisely.

    If only joe p. stalin would take his own advice.

  78. Greenwald eviscerated Cathy Young this morning over at Salon. Just smacked her upside the head over and again. If you listen to his radio show from Friday, he does the same with Kenneth Katzman who blithely and casually discusses the new “Bipartisan” Iran strategy to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranian civilians with big American peace bombs. A word of caution to neocon hacks like Cathy Young – do not take on Greenwald, he will destroy you.

  79. Yikes, that is quite an asskicking.

    The comments section on that Greenwald post is chock-a-block with Reason drinking game moments also.

  80. Glenn Greenwald’s complete and thorough take-down of Ms Young this morning illustrates why he has earned the moniker, “Glennzilla”.

  81. Glenn Greenwald is truely an honest intellectual. People like the latest crop of republican neobimbos (Palin) dont have a prayer…but there are not enough Glenn Greenwalds and too many Cathy Youngs…

  82. Yes, Greenwald has entirely dismantled Young in his article this morning.

  83. I also think that Greenwald has a good point in his article. It is indeed possible to despise Putinism in Russia while at the same time understanding that Saakashvili is not just a peaceful and innocent head of state. If one tries to reduce this whole situation to a mere polar opposition–Russia bad, Georgia good–then one is doing no service to understanding the issue.

  84. How do seemingly intelligent neocons like Ms. Young block out whole swaths of facts and information to create their own separate reality? And how do such people attain and hold their lofty positions in our national chorus? It boggles the mind.

  85. … intriguing, if inconclusive, evidence …

    One man’s provocation is another man’s precaution. Ascribing every escalating incident to Russian or Georgian malicious intent is foolish.

    We may never know the truth about who did the nastier thing first, but there is one fact that’s regularly evaded (and not noted by Greenwald):
    Saakashvili campaigned for office on the explicit promise to repatriate by military force all three autonomous regions (including South Ossetia).

    With U.S. and Israeli help, he had been preparing for an invasion over many months. Foolishly, he didn’t pick the time and place for his confrontation and wasn’t at all prepared for the prompt Russian response to heightened tensions.

    Greenwald has a point: the issue was swept under the rug by Obama, who simply didn’t want foreign policy nit-picking to be prominent in the campaign. He’s also correct about most media “falling into line” with the view that it was all about Russian “provocations” and their “excessive response” to the Georgian military incursions.

    What it’s really all about is needing icons of boogeymen and saints to frame our political debate. We have a visceral craving to anthropomorphize the pure evil of “Them” … the facts be damned.

  86. Can we just point and laugh at the silly neocon? Or is that considered rude?

  87. Yes, Ms. Young, I have one more question: Given that Glenn Greenwald is not making excuses for Russia, as you claimed in your title, but rather critiquing the media narrative about Russia vis-a-vis Georgia, when will acknowledge that you based your entire article on a false premise?

  88. In 2007, Georgia ranked 66th out of 169 countries on the Press Freedom Index of Reporters without borders, while Russia ranked 144. (In 2008, Georgia’s ranking dropped to 120th on the index as a result of war-related press restrictions — still well above Russia, at 141.)

    Any more questions?

    The U.S. is ranked 48th on that list. Why would you prove Greenwald’s point for him?

  89. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Contrary to the opinion of at least one of your editors and some of your readers, current U.S. foriegn policy is probably the least libertarian aspect of our current government. It’s one thing to disagree with this statement – reasonable minds may differ – but it’s another thing to actively support said foriegn policy. Ms. Young’s mendicous, misleading attack on Mr. Greenwald and non-interventionists generally (hint: they don’t just reside on the left) is the kind of thing I expect from the statist media – hardly the kind of thing I expect to find at a “libertarian” magazine. Perhaps Ms. Young’s next two projects should be a defense of the war on drugs and the welfare state. That would be in keeping with the tripe that you link to here.

    Interesting that this post is unsigned. I suspect that the usual contributors to this blog refused to endorse this embarrassment.

  90. Interesting that this post is unsigned. I suspect that the usual contributors to this blog refused to endorse this embarrassment.

    Indeed — I’d be quite interested to know who posted this promo of Young’s piece.

    In the meantime — and for those who speculate Greenwald is a “Read Diaper Baby” and other such bullshit — I would refer you to my interview with him here. Do note his views on the drug war, hate speech “crimes,” and that he supports gun ownership rights, as well as his objections to resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine.

    Yeah, he’s a real leftist, a virtual commie, that Glenn Greenwald.

  91. Why is Cathy so angry that a larger, stronger bully state invaded another one? I think Obamas position is, “Hey, there are plenty of battles to fight, but let’s leave this one alone.”

  92. I have the proof for the Ayn Rand lolbertarians to vote Obama.

    Peter Keating = Keating 5 = John McCain. (Look at the rolling stone story)

    Obama = Roark. New guy comes in, does something that’s supposed to be done by the government by the free market and he makes $600+ million from grandmothers in kansas, kids in every state and they are “greedy.”

    And McCain’s the true socialist. He just randomly lurches from position . He wished 9/11 did not happen. He wanted to run against a corrupt “Enron Bush.”

  93. And Bush seems to know the markets more than McCain in his latest statement. He didn’t misspeak or call anyone racist. He just said we should stick to “Free market principles” which is vague but not bad!

  94. Oh, dear, quite the takedown by Mr. Greenwald.

    I feel a little sorry for Ms. Young; I got taken to task by Mr. Greenwald myself (albeit much more politely, because I myself was disputing one of his points politely), and I had to concede that he was right and I was not.

    Mr. Greenwald is a very rational man, with many facts at his fingertips, consistent and well-thought-out opinions, and a deep, deep regard for fairness and truth. You’re going to have a tough time refuting him.

    But then I’m not being paid as a political writer, either…

  95. with our wide-open free-speech media it’s always easy to find examples where mainstream assumptions are questioned, but that doesn’t mean that a mainstream narrative of events doesn’t exist — the narrative that generally informs most Americans. And that narrative was pretty much just as Greenwald described it.

  96. This is the dumbest thing I have read all day. Are you kidding Cathy? Nothing written here challenged Greenwald’s points at all. You only went on to prove his point. Your dismissal of Georgia reveals more about your mindset than anything else (sound familiar?)

  97. I understand the emotions founding Young’s opinions, but they have nothing to do with the reality of what Greenwald actually said. There’s a “reason,” no pun intended, why we have intellects. They force us to not stop at our emotions, which is what the author has done. Greenwald does not love Russia “sticking its finger in America’s eye.” Greenwald’s criticism of the media has been over its laziness, its moronic cover that it provides for not questioning propaganda, because it somehow “can’t,” because to do so would be somehow beyond the pale of journalism. This is bunk. Simply writing down what someone says is not the essence of journalism or what is meant by truth or facts. This is where his criticism is coming from.

    Really. It seems that the McCain-Palin devolution in which you wave a magic wand and POOF!, someone is “anti-American” is catching. Someone get the anti-virus out and give Young a good booster shot.

  98. Since she grew up in Russia, Cathy Young automatically knows more about the South Ossetia situation than Colin Powell, who happens to agree with Glenn Greenwald’s position.

    But we all knew Powell was just a pinko commie liberal, right?

  99. Does anyone read anymore?

    Even the DoD has reported that US troops have been training Georgian troops since 2002.

    U.S. Troops in Georgia to Begin Counterterrorism Training

    Georgia in US-financed arms race for war on Abkhazia, South Ossetia

    This “conflict” had been long in the making with U.S. military training & arms support of Georgia. There’s a bazillion articles out there PRIOR to this showdown happening – if only you will look. Why doesn’t anyone talk about that? Try the Google.

  100. IS CATHY YOUNG A LIBERTARIAN?

    It was my understanding that libertarians are against aggressive incursions of the state and in favor of *reason* as a tool for both understanding the world and dealing with others.

    Glenn Greenwald’s posts are eminently reasonable, as he uses facts and quotes to bolster his argument instead of relying on smears. His liberal political views by themselves are not relevant to his ideas about Russia and Georgia. Cathy, ad hominem attacks are not reason.

    Also, why are libertarians supporting Georgia vs. Russia? Both are dictatorships, and neither is in our interest, either as Americans or people interested in “free minds and free markets”, to fight.

    Cathy Young should be fired, immediately. She shames Reason magazine with her anti-reason views.

  101. News flash: it’s only “sock puppetry” if you post under a fake name at your own site. If you post under a fake name at someone else’s site, that is not called “sock puppetry”. That is called “using the internet”.

    No — what makes it sock puppetry is commenting on yourself while pretending to be a a third person (or, worse yet, a group of third persons) — whether or not the comments appear on your site is irrelevant.

  102. No — what makes it sock puppetry is commenting on yourself while pretending to be a a third person (or, worse yet, a group of third persons) — whether or not the comments appear on your site is irrelevant.

    That’s idiotic.

    We’re not talking about someone reviewing their own book at Amazon here.

    We’re talking about commenting on a political article at Captain’s Quarters. If John McCain shows up at Hit and Run and decides to post in one of the threads here about the election, guess what – it’s not “sock puppetry”. It’s using an anonymous ID on a political thread.

    I wouldn’t use a real email address or real name on that sack of shit’s Captains Quarters site either.

  103. Is Reason Magazine oriented towards libertarianism or neoconservatism? For the libertarians that I read share the views of the “left” with respect to this issue – that is to say their sympathy is with the truth.

  104. I just wanted to echo the sentiment that you basically prove Greenwald’s point here.

  105. Dear Cathy,

    How does it feel to be a shill for the war machine. Don’t think that we have forgotten that you are a cheer leader for the Iraqi war. Your brainless analysis and conclusions play right into the neocon’s grand scheme of things. They have a name for people like you: “useful idiot”. You know what? You remind me of Judith Miller. Maybe you could spend a little time in jail to give yourself a chance to think a bit. Frankly, you’re a clone, and you’re a drone.

    Sincerely,
    Mossad

  106. Cathy,
    So whenever there is a war the US taxpayer should autmoatically fund the country that is ranked higher in the “freedom index”? send money to # 120 to battle against # 141? this seems to be a idiotic policy as teh taxpayers themselves have plenty of good things they could do with the money, like buy guns to make our country safer, educate our children, fund anti-income tax initiatives or put out hits on dictators.

    Cathy, You say you don’t support Bush, but your supporting MSM, CFR, Military industrial complex foreign policy….that means you support tin pot dictators and the rape of US taxpayers. Libertarians don’t buy your BS….and you forgot to tell us more about your conspiracy theory of Russia’s use of false flag attacks and your naive assumption that the US would never kill innocent people. Ever read the chicago tribune’s account of the USS Liberty?!

  107. Mindlessly assuming that what one hears from the media and our political leaders is correct is, in my mind, quite possibly the most anti-American thing ever. Have a mind of your own, do some research using a variety of sources who see from different points of view, and make your own opinion. Not being a part of the herd is perhaps the most American thing to do.

  108. Speaking of press freedoms, why was it that Russian media had very many very pro-Georgian articles right during the fighting (and nobody got hauled away for treason). Anyone ever seen any pro-Russian POV in Georgia’s “free press”?

  109. I had a dream last night that I was married to Cathy Young. It went like this:

    CATHY: Danny, are you even listening to me? I said, I want a war with Russia, right now!

    ME: But honey, I’m still finishing up Iraq, and Afghanistan is a heck of a mess, there’s all those oily rags right next to the water heater, the whole thing could go up like a torch —

    CATHY: I don’t care about that! Did you hear what they did to our Georgia? I want a war with Russia, NOW!

    ME: OK, honey, I’ll get the ladder.

    It was a bad dream.

  110. I return after a few days, and find that Young has indeed inspired a flurry of writing supporting the belief that you can criticize neocon warmongers without actually “supporting” Russia, so in that sense she only did her own personal cause (invading Russia? Marginalizing “leftists”?) harm by writing her column in the first place. Nothing please me more than to see people who in acting to support their ridiculous cause, do it more harm instead. Well done Ms. Young.

  111. I most wholeheartedly agree with the above posters that the super-genius Glenn Greenwald has indeed “shown up” or “destroyed” the sub-human Cathy Young in his missive today. \

    The magnificant prose set forth by the enlightned Mr. Greenwald should shine as a light in this vast neo-KKKon darkness.

    Putin is a close personal friend of mine, and I eagerly await any advice he will be giving to our soon ascendent Messiah! (Peace be upon O!)

  112. It seems Libertarians as well as leftists have jumped on the Fuck America Bus in mutual admiration of beloved Putin.

  113. All depends on your point of reference…

  114. Because the left is a representive sampling of “Putin’s Russia”. Simple!!!!!!!

    I propose that the Hollywood left donate all their excess goods, monies, etal to the beloved Obama. For example: Barbra Striesand owns 10 houses….she only needs one!!!!! Therefore, she MUST GIVE the financially indigent populous nine (9) of her houses + all monies in excess of what is necessary to her survival, so that they may enjoy a similar life-style. Never mind that they never worked a day in their lives.

    Tome Cruise, an ardent Obama supporter, should give up his jet plane, his 6 extra houses, etal…so that the less fortunate can live according to his style: never mind that they never worked a day in their lives.

    Alec Balwin, who is a passionate supporter of Obama, should give all of his goods and property (in excess of his absolute necessities) in the cause of the Obama socialistic agenda. Hey Alec, stop complaining. You love this man, thus, condescended all things adverse to his ideological ilk!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.