Another Side: More on the Georgia Story

map fromGlobal Guerillas

The American stance, condemning Russia for “aggression” against Georgia, is dominating the American news media, but it is useful to look at some more nuanced views of the situation not excluding the placement of missiles on Polish territory despite Russian objections and not excluding the role of American military trainers in building up Ossetian military capabilities. Whatever blame does or does not rightly fall upon the Russian government, it is clear that a renewal of enmity between the U.S. and Russia falls within the Bush/McCain permanent-warfare geopolitical gameplan. Several recent commentaries raise what I consider to be important reasons not to succumb to the Bush/McCain propaganda machine and the U.S. media barrage, both of which seek to demonize Putin.

Moscow born and educated, Dimitri K Simes was a policy advisor to President Nixon, with distinguished credentials, including a stint as chairmen for of the Center for Russian and Eurasian Programs at the Carnegie Endowment for Internal Peace. He now resides in the U.S. A Reuter’s piece today by Susan Cornwell, RPT-ANALYSIS-US has few options in Russia-Georgia conflict quotes his views prefaced by her own commentary.

The United States has few options for stopping Russia's military advance deep into Georgia and is partly to blame for encouraging Georgia's pro-Western government to overreach, analysts said.

Despite warnings by President George W. Bush for Russia to "reverse the course it appears to be on" and withdraw its troops to avert a "dramatic and brutal escalation" of violence," U.S. military intervention in the small former Soviet republic is nearly unthinkable, analysts said on Monday.

There also is little Washington can do diplomatically to restrain the Russians, according to foreign policy experts. …

In short, as usual Bush has put himself between a rock and a hard place. Simes elaborated on his views in a guest post at Washington Note, What Exactly Did Saakashvili Think Would Happen?

So it would be interesting to know what President Saakashvili was thinking when, on Thursday night, after days of relatively low-level shelling around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali (which both South Ossetians and Georgians blamed on each other), and literally hours after he announced on state-controlled TV the cessation of hostilities, he ordered a full-scale assault on Tskhinvali. And mind you, the assault could only succeed if the Georgian units went right through the battalion of Russian troops serving as international peacekeepers according to agreements signed by Tbilisi itself in the 1990s.
Under the circumstances, the Russian forces had three choices: to surrender, to run away, or to fight. And fight they did - particularly because many of the Russian soldiers were in fact South Ossetians with families and friends in Tskhinvali under Georgian air, tank, and artillery attacks. Saakashvili was reckless to count on proceeding with a blitzkrieg in South Ossetia without a Russian counterattack.

Now the Bush administration and outside commentators are appalled by Russia's disproportionate response. But proportionality is in the eye of the beholder. In July 2006, after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others--smaller losses than those inflicted on the Russian troops in Tskhinvali--the Israelis launched a massive bombardment of Lebanon, including Beirut, killing more than a thousand Lebanese, many of them civilians.
When some in the U.N. Security Council sought to condemn Israel's "disproportionate response," the United States acted as Israel's staunchest defender and prevented any resolution critical of Israel.

Getting back to the Reuter’s story, Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations had much the same analysis as Simes.

U.S. encouragement may have made Saakashvili "miscalculate" and send Georgian troops into South Ossetia.

"I think in many respects Saakashvili got too close to the United States and the United States got too close to Saakashvili," Kupchan said. "It made him overreach, it made him feel at the end of the day that the West would come to his assistance if he got into trouble."

What appears to be a conservative news source, Cybercast News Service has a report from Moscow. On their website they explain where they stand in the news spectrum.

Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets – bias by commission and bias by omission – that results in a frequent double-standard in editorial decisions on what constitutes "news."

This to me, makes the following dispatch from Moscow by Patrick Goodenough, International Editor & Sergei Blagov that much more interesting. This is from their report, featured on CNS news, Russian Lawmakers Blame U.S. for Crisis

As the fighting continues in Georgia, leading Russian lawmakers are keeping up a steady flow of rhetoric, accusing the U.S. of fomenting the crisis and advocating tougher action by their government.

Some of the critics charged that the Republican Party sought to use the conflict to benefit the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, a longstanding and vocal critic of Russia.

… snip …

In the lower State Duma, speaker Boris Gryzlov said the conflict in the Caucasus should be viewed in the light of the U.S. Republican presidential campaign, with McCain trying to exploit the issue to pick up electoral support.

Gryzlov even suggested that some type of “Wag the Dog” scenario was being played out in Georgia, a reference to a 1997 movie about a Washington operator who distracts domestic attention from the presidential campaign by fabricating a distant war.

And today, Robert Barnes of the Washington Post reports McCain's latest statement.

Sen. John McCain said he talked with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili this morning and told him he and his country have the support of Americans in their struggle for "freedom and independence.''

McCain considers himself a close friend and fervent supporter of Saakashvili and Georgia, and has taken a hard line against Russia since hostilities between the two countries began last week. He told a town hall meeting here today that Russia's aggression had ominous implications.

Lastly, I would recommend taking a look at the online Israeli news http://www.debka.com/index1.php” in Georgia in which they are directly involved.

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so I have "follow the money" type questions about all this.

Georgia is at the crossroads of the oil roads.

Who stands to gain by controlling it?

Which Multinationals who don't give a rat's putui about community or country stand to gain the most?

Is it the Russian Oligarchs, the Chinese Princelings, the American Robber Barons -- which group of the world's richest 1 percent is gonna make out like, ah, bandits and take the money and run?

But I do know that Israel gets its oil from the pipeline that goes through Georgia, and I believe Afghanistan does too. I believe that it is an alternate way of getting oil that flows through the Russian pipeline. But its location is also significant.

Myself I think that the geography in and of itself is also important. Obviously the Russians do not welcome a situation in which hostle forces supported by the U.S. and its allies are surrounding it.

I'll repost the map from my other article.

carol

there is a good run down in Seeking Alpha by James Quinn, about the US military budget which is far in excess of any other country The Economic Cost of the Military Industrial Complex

The United States, the only superpower remaining on earth, currently spends more on military than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined. The U.S. accounts for 48% of the world’s total military spending. Where did the peace dividend from winning the Cold War go?

carol