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During Russia’s invasion of Georgia, Tom insisted that he had a “Secret source” on the ground, highly credible, tell him things that were being suppressed by every major media outlet. In spite of this conspiracy, because of Tom’s inside connections, he knew the truth: Vladimir Putin was a world leader on par with Hu Jintao or George Bush, intervening in the lawless frontier to spread connectivity and establish modern rulesets.
When everything died out, the “Secret source” was revealed to be a thoroughly average reporter, whose reports (completely consistent with what everyone else had written) detailed the obvious: Russia invaded Georgia after a time of rising tension, which included the Russians violating Georgian airspace, and the Georgians shelling separatists who had been given Russian passports.
Let’s see some apologies
ARTICLE: Georgia Set Off War, Probe Finds, By Philip P. Pan, Washington Post, October 1, 2009
Ah, I can’t wait to hear all the bloggers’ mea culpas regarding the EU report on the start of the Russian-Georgian war.
Turns out we shouldn’t have all become Georgians then.
Such freak-outs seem limited to those in the oil services sector, though.
There’s more to life (and Russia) than Gazprom.
It’s hard to know what to make of Tom’s great praise for a recent article in the New York Times, “Accounts undercut claims by Georgia on Russia war.” I wonder if C.J. Chivers is Tom’s secret source whose material was being censored by the western media that Tom had mentioned a bit ago.
Tom’s take is short and heart felt…
Read it and learn some truth amidst all the BS fed us.
… though I can’t imagine why, as the piece does a pretty good job reinforcing the consensus that has existed since August.
The point at which you assume that who “wins” an argument depends on whether or not anyone takes claims of “precision shelling” seriously is the point you should realize you are stuck in Cold War thinking.
I’m not kidding about the precision shelling bit, by the way. Here’s the third paragraph from the article:
The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.
In related news, recently unearthed documents from the Peloponnesian, Punic, Hundred Years, French-Indian, and Revolutionary Wars raise questiona about the accuracy and honesty of America’s claim that it’s soldiers in Operation: Just Cause were the most disciplined and brave fighting force in human history.
Sites like The Duck of Minerva were outlining the imprecision of the Georgian Operation all the way back on 8/8/08. Open-source intel about the escalation of the fighting in Georgia is also quite old. Catholicgauze was providing maps back on August 11. No need to get worked up by a takedown of an irrelevant red herring three months after the fact.
Good news on China’s latest symbolic rebuff to Russia: using its position at the Asian Development Bank to offer money to Georgia, to rebuild in the wake of Russia’s aggression:
Russia’s military success against Georgia is having repercussions that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his stand-in president, Dmitri Medvedev, surely do not welcome. Simply put, Putin has alienated China and other countries that share his interest in countering U.S. power.
The Asian Development Bank, in which China plays a leading role, has extended a $40 million loan at the lowest possible rate to Georgia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization – which includes China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as well as Russia – refused to countenance Russia’s recognition of two breakaway regions of Georgia. The rebuff of Putin is all the more striking because – at least from Putin’s perspective – the central purpose of this group was to form an eastern counterweight to NATO.
China is in the New Core of world economy, and is vital to any peace.
Georgia is a Seam State, which should be integrated into the Core.
Russia is in the Gap. It is a threat to the world economy, attempts to disrupt the Seam’s journey into the Core, and possess an existential threat to the New Core.
I don’t know who the neo-coni-sh unilateralists are on the issue of Russia’s invasion of Georgia. I suspect they do not exist.
Rather, most of the hard work in processing the politically bankrupt Soviet Union has been done by the old democracies of Europe — Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. Three classes of reforms, each more profound than the last, integrated members of the former Warsaw Pact solidly into the European scene. A free trade area, a free movement of labor area, and even an integration into Europe’s internal political machinery changed the war that western Europeans do their work, live their lives, and even pass their laws.
Throughout this, America’s contribution has been easier but still important. We expanded NATO, providing the ‘security guarantees’ necessary to make it easier for European connectivity to flow.
Moving forward, the struggle against Russia (which has reverted to behaviors typical of a gap state stuck in time) will continue to be heavily multilateral. The actions that America can perform on its own are limited, the most serious being granting security guarantees to the seam states on Russia’s edge. However, real victory will come from working with Europe. Tying the European Seam to the European Core will be the job of Europe, as it integrates Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova into the multilateralist institutions that have been post-War Europe’s greatest achievement.
Keep faith with our friends. Don’t give in to an isolationist unilateralism on Europe, where we abandon the Seam to the Gap in exchange for a return to the pre-8/8/08 world. Closing our eyes and keeping to ourselves is not a good way forward. Rather, we should work through multilateral institutions, keep patience, and focus on integrating Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Armenia into the European Union and NATO.
GUAM stands for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova: four former Soviet states that are increasingly menaced by Russia. Indeed, Russia invaded Georgia a few weeks ago. These four countries have already formed the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. Fortunately, the international community’s balancing against Russia is providing additional support for the GUAM states, both from Europe and the United States.
The Eastern Partnership was already in the works — the May 2008 plan to begin bringing in the remaining countries of central Europe into the European Union:
“To the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours…they all have the right one day to apply [for EU membership],” Mr Sikorski said, urging the eastern countries to follow the example of the Visagrad Group set up in 1991 by Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as part of their EU integration efforts.
“We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes something natural,” the Polish minister said.
The preperation was well prepared… now there is talk of a visa and free trade area. See this article published today, by China’s Xinhua news agency
BRUSSELS, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU) is to launch the Eastern Partnership to boost ties with its eastern neighbors by the end of the year, an EU commissioner said here Tuesday.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, made the announcement at a joint press conference after meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze.
The Eastern Partnership, proposed by Poland and Sweden and approved at the EU summit in June, would cover countries including Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, she said.
“We will have to see how far we can go. There should be greater economic integration, more mobility and more tools to help solve the security situation and resolve frozen conflicts,” the commissioner said.
Under the partnership, the EU will enhance regional cooperation between these countries and open bilateral negotiations with each one of them on a visa regime and free trade areas.
The EU is expected to make decisions on such a partnership, an extension of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), in late autumn or by the December European Council, according to Ferrero-Waldner.
The EU is able to make life easier for GUAM from an economic perspective. The US is able to assert its interests in other ways:
As he starts a tour of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, Mr Cheney will try to allay fears that Russia’s campaign in Georgia has fatally damaged a cornerstone of the West’s energy policy.
That message will be particularly potent in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, once the capital of the Soviet oil industry and now a pivotal ally of the United States.
The Caucasus region, between the gas-rich Caspian Sea and Turkey, provides the only energy pathway from Central Asia to Europe that does not traverse Russia or Iran.
Is there any reason (aside from politics, obviously) why Cuba is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism but Russia is not?
It seems that Cuba does not publicly sponsor terrorists, but Russia does. Most recently, Russia has been arming and funding the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia by non-state actors who use organized violence against civilians as a means of achieving political objectives.
Dr. Nexon’s latest post on the Georgia conflict is so excellent, that it defies description. I’ll just post this “update” he later added to the bottom of it, to show the sort of insightful, behind-the-news thinking that he applies to the Georgia situation
The Duck of Minerva
One more thought: I can’t help wondering if one of the ironies of the Russians having effectively kicked out American oil companies is that the United States, unlike Germany, has no large domestic commercial lobby in favor of good relations with Russia. Contrast with a far more authoritarian country: the People’s Republic of China.
Read the whole thing.
Three recent articles linked to by Tom present some interesting perspectives on on Russia’s invasion of Georgia.
Edward Luttwak, “Georgia conflict: Moscow has blown away soft power,” is deceptively titled. The subject is perfectly right, but the analysis is wrong. Russia’s President Putin has indeed destroyed his country’s soft power. But the article makes the same mistake that Putin does, saying
It was in that other world of “soft power” that has just ended that the admission of both Georgia and the Ukraine to NATO was being rapidly prepared. That was precisely the strategic setting of an attack on Georgia’s independence by the former Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Sadly, Tom doesn’t pick up on this, and instead makes a strange analogy to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As far as I can understand the analogy, Tom’s arguing that Russia naturally supports a policy of assassinating and removing foreign critics of the regime, and that attempts to change this behavior are futile.
Another piece with a great title nd so-so-writing is Spengler’s “Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess.” My first reaction was of course. Chess is a zero-sum bipolar game in which there is no economy: Monopoly is won only by increasing your wealth to the extent that, in real life, you could easily buy off your opponents and leave everyone better off than they were before. But no. Spengler mistakes Putin for a very smart man, correctly diagnoses Russia’s fall into demographic irrelevancy, and concludes with a list of mixed-up priorities. Spengler even shows himself to be one of those gun control nuts–on the international level, that is)“!m A very disappointing piece. Tom’s contribution is to call Ukraine and Georgia “immature/pseudo-democracies,” by which I assume he means client states that Putin managed to alienate so much that they have begun importing European rulesets.
Lastly is “The Russians doing joint ops right,” which appears to be a recognition of high-level Russian competence in the war, even if their attempts have been largely betrayed by an unprofessional and violent ground force Tom’s reaction is to praise the Russians for their ability to fight a long war against radical extremism, as if generating hatred on the ground and maximizing one own’s energy-export revenue are signs of being a viable partner..
Yesterday’s surprise endorser for Georgia in NATO was Angela Merkel. Today’s in Eduard Shevardnadze:
War could have been prevented, says Sheverdnadze – The Irish Times – Mon, Aug 18, 2008
But Shevardnadze supports the enlargement of Nato to former Soviet republics: “There was a referendum in Georgia and 70 per cent of Georgians said Yes to joining NATO. It’s true the Russians don’t like it . . . But I don’t consider Nato an aggressive organisation.
The Atlantic alliance had its reasons for dampening Georgian and Ukrainian hopes for rapid membership at the Bucharest summit in April. “Our democratic development didn’t correspond to their standards,” Shevardnadze said.
“But if we had been members of Nato, what is happening today would not have happened. All the countries who refused support our membership today.”
As if to confirm Shevardnadze’s words, German chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Tbilisi yesterday afternoon, said Georgia should join Nato.
Shevardnadze (the former President of Georgia, and before that the Soviet Union’s Foreign Minister) is, along with Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Islom Karimov of Uzbekistan, and Viktor Yushchenko, part of a constellation of post-Soviet leaders that were formerly closely tied to Russia. Russia’s “soft power” was made possible by Boris Yeltsin, the last President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the first President of hte Russian Federation. Yeltsin, along with Lukashenko, Karimov, Yuschenko, and others, grew up in the Soviet system, and were used to a world where Moscow acted as a model and guide for the smaller republics in eastern Europe and central Asia.
Unfortunately for Russia , this web of soft power was dismissed as the oligarchs by internal revolutionaries, such as Vladimir Putin. Similar to the British National Party after the fall of the British Empire, or the National Front after the fall of the French Empire, Putin’s factions set about building a national identity by destroying the remnants of the old cosmopolitan empire. One should give thanks for Putin to the extent that one has suspicion of Russia’s ability to function in the global economy neighbor.
Putin’s invasion of Georgia is only the latest of his seemingly calculated attempts to weaken Russia as much as possible. With Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein dead, Vladimir Putin must have decided thank the world needed another incompetent goon for everyone to unite against.
Obviously, such an analysis is predicated on other actors behaving rationally. But as we’ve seen from Russia’s former employee and client Eduard Shevardnadze’s endorsement of Georgia-in-NATO, a rational reaction may be just what Russia gets.