Archives for August 2008

Schröder, Captain (of What Should be) Obvious

In an interview in Spiegel, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder states the obvious, something that Washington and its British and east European lackies seem to have difficulty grasping.

‘Serious Mistakes by the West’

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder discusses the war in the Caucasus, the possibility of Germany serving as an intermediary in the conflict and his belief in a constructive role for Russia.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Schröder, who is at fault for the Caucasus war?

Gerhard Schröder: The hostilities undoubtedly have their historic causes, as well, and the conflict has had several historic precursors. But the moment that triggered the current armed hostilities was the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. This should not be glossed over.

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The Other Point of View

Russia: Other Points of View, predictably enough, has had a plethora of “rich” (in the “yeah, that’s rich!” sense of the word) materials to condemn the Western’s media’s tendency to present opinion and sensationalist rhetoric as fact in the service of one point of view (the West’s, or more particularly, America’s neocon foreign policy elite). Click on the links in the headings below to read a detailed breakdown of the dirty tricks the authors use to smear Russia in its response to Georgian aggression.

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Military Lessons of the Ossetian War

War is the ultimate crucible where ideas, theories, etc, prove their worth based on outcomes. Russia’s brilliant performance in Georgia, documented by uncompromisable UPI military analyst Martin Seiff, demolished the grounds for the pessimism espoused by the likes of Pavel Felgenhauer or Aleksandr Golts regarding Russia’s real military strength.

The mini-war between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia is less than six days old at the time of writing, but many tactical weapons system and strategic lessons are already emerging from it.

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Saakashvilisms

Georgia’s glorius leader will surely go down in the annals of history alongside other great men of his calibre like Dubya…

Aug 13 (Reuters) – Following are some of the various statements made on Wednesday by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili:

TO CBS TELEVISION

“In Georgia’s far region of South Ossetia… Russian tanks are going through villages inhabited by the Georgian population and throwing people out of the houses, pushing people into concentration camps that they are setting up in those villages and separating men and women and doing worse kind of atrocities I’ve heard of since the Balkans or the war in Chechnya.” “…Several hundred kilometres or miles removed from south Ossetia, where (villages) are again inhabited by Georgians, they are throwing out every single Georgian man or woman and children.”

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Deconstructing Russophobia

Streetwise Professor wrote On Russophobia,

The charge of “Russophobia” is hurled around with some abandon, and I have been the target of such accusations on more than one occasion, especially in the hothouse environment of the ongoing Russo-Georgian War. More often than not, this word is used as an ad hominem substitute for reasoned argument, and as such is intellectually lazy and intellectually dishonest, and hence not deserving of a reasoned rejoinder.

Inasmuch as I have been a harsh critic of the Russian government, however, it is legitimate to question the basis for that criticism, and to try to understand the basis for the emotional responses that it engenders.

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Russia Blog Weighs In

Patrick Armstron in Russia Today penned a polemic on the Importance of Chronology. The issues he raises are so important that I will quote it in full.


On Thursday August 7, 2008, President Saakashvili of Georgia went on TV and addressed his country. There had been outbreaks of shooting in South Ossetia for some weeks. Who started it this time? Who knows? Each side always points to something earlier and it all goes back to the early 1990s. Saakashvili declared a ceasefire, announced that he was sending someone to negotiate and then said this about Russia: “I have been proposing and I am proposing Russia act as a guarantor of South Ossetian autonomy within Georgia.” And “Georgia is a natural ally of Russia”. Saakashvili expressed his “love” for Ossetians. (here is a Georgian source for the text.)

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Comprehensive Outline of Russia’s Point of View on 2008 War of Ossetia

So let’s get this straight – breaking their own ceasefire, Georgia attacked Russian citizens and peacekeepers, and there are grounds to believe they committed war crimes, in violation of the latters’ peacekeeping mandate. All Russian military action is aimed at repelling the Georgian military from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which at times involves bombing the source of attacks originating in Georgia proper. Saakashvili mounts a pathetic, whiny PR campaign of “Russia murdering poor democratic Georgia” and the Western media swallow it line and hooker, despite their own governments’ complicity in making this happen (i.e. offensive arms’ sales).

Putin: “The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing — the attempt to turn white into black, black into white and to adeptly portray victims of aggression as aggressors and place the responsibility for the consequences of the aggression on the victims.”

Interview by Minister of Foreign Affaires of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov to BBC, Moscow, August 9, 2008. Granted, a bit dated as of today, but none the less important for understanding Russia’s reasons for getting involved in maintaining peace. I have highlighted in bold Lavrov’s most important points.

Question: What is Russia’s aim in South Ossetia?

S.Lavrov: Russia’s aim is to keep peace. This is not just Russia’s aim, this is Russia’s obligation. Russian peacekeepers have been brought there under the agreement between the parties after the war which started in the early nineties. The late President Gamsakhurdia who was the leader of Georgia at that time declared his policy “Georgia for Georgians”. He cancelled autonomies of Southern Ossetia, Adjaria and of Abkhazia. He brought his troops into these areas and then the resistance took place. And Georgian army was wiped out of those regions. It was then that after quite nervous and intense negotiations a peacekeeping mechanism was established comprising Georgians, Ossetians and Russians. The peacekeeping force was established and this peacekeeping force has a mandate. The mandate is to make sure that there is no violation of quiet in the zone of conflict and the peacekeepers are required by this document to prevent any violations and to put out any violations. Since Georgian forces for the second time are engaged in aggressive actions in full violation of the obligations under those international agreements and international humanitarian law by attacking civilians, residential quarters, humanitarian convoys, attacking the convoys trying to remove the wounded from the area of the fighting and even, by some reports, finishing off the wounded. So this is absolutely unacceptable and the responsibility of Russia as a peacekeeper could be only sustained by responding to this aggression.

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Saakashvili, Laughing Stock of the Civilized World

Saakashvili has quite simply become the laughing stock of civilized people around the world. The little wannabe Emperor has no clothes.

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Western Hypocrisy Lambasted Before the World

Russia’s representative at the UNSC, Vitaly Churkin, against the dramatic backdrop of Georgia’s criminal assault on Ossetia that is implicitly backed by the US and its closest allies, made a great speech lambasting Western hypocrisy, comparable to Putin’s bravura performance in Munich.

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The Western Media, Craven Shills for their Neocon Masters

I noted in my first post, Flare-Up in the Caucasus,

Even normally Russophobic media outlets, from what I’ve seen, cannot quite manage to spin this in an anti-Russian way (although I may have to retract this point, when the Op-Ed’s have been written up).

Well, I’m retracting it now. The propaganda model has been kicked into high gear in the West and turned squarely against Russia. Although it is acceptable for Georgia to attack Ossetia, with callous disregard for the lives of Russian citizens and UN-mandated peacekeepers (not to mention rumors of genocide), Russia cannot put a single plane over the territory of Georgia without inciting a chorus of condemnation from the Western hypocrites. (It’s totally OK in Kosovo’s case, but let’s not dwell on this uncomfortable comparison, at least for now).

Of course, expanding the conflict beyond South Ossetia is not only fully justified from a moral perspective, but it is also a military necessity. It would be stupid to allow Georgian armed forces to maintain perfect logistics and arrive fully-equipped, battle ready and full of morale, into South Ossetia. The fact Russia has limited itself to spoiling strikes against military and infrastructural targets and a naval arms embargo speaks of tremendous restraint, which can only be applauded.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning, to see just how well the Western media meets its ideals of transparency and objectivity, which it constantly tries to push down Russia’s throat.

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