Putin The Peaceful?

At least, surely more so than Obama, winner of 2009’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Let’s do it by the numbers. Russia under Putin fought one war, in response to Georgian aggression against Ossetians with Russian citizenship and UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers. In contrast, Obama has participated in two wars of aggression: the Iraq War he inherited from G.W., and a new one in Libya. The latter is a war of aggression because NATO clearly exceeded its UN mandate to protect civilians, instead conducting a campaign clearly aimed at regime change. So Obama has presided over two more wars than Putin, and crucially, has participated in two wars of aggression to Putin’s zero.

If you insist on counting the Second Chechen War, then one must also tally the dozen or so countries in which the US is currently waging shadow wars involving drone strikes on terrorists – or to be more accurate, suspected terrorists. But at least Chechnya was an internal affair and presented a truly direct threat to Russia, with armed bands raiding over the borders. There is far less of a case to be made why the US has the right to prosecute an international “war on terror.”

This is why the adjudicators of the Confucius Peace Prize, in awarding it to Putin, proved themselves far less dishonest than the Nobel Committee. The ridicule they have been subjected to by the Western media is a compliment to their integrity.

Update: Mark Adomanis raises some additional points on this matter.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. How ridiculous. The fact that Putin and Obama are given any prize is laughable.

    But if you are going to compare the two, you need to add that Putin is a judo master, tame tigers, put out forest fires, dive for buried treasure, drive a race car, sing “Blueberry Hill,” and now practice dentistry! http://www.besttoday.ru/subjects/850.html Obama can’t do any of those.

    God Save the Tsar!

  2. Thorfinnsson says

    Anti-Western, revisionist powers staging a “peace prize” and awarding it to the global figurehead of anti-Western revisionism hardly constitutes integrity. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of trolling. And in Obama’s defense, he was awarded the peace prize prior to the Libyan affair or the dramatic expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan (correct me if I’m wrong, the drone war is boring and hard to pay attention to) in response to some of his airheaded, anti-American speeches directed at Moslem audiences. So how is this any different than, say, the Lenin Peace Prize?

    There’s something very off about Russian and Chinese commenters crowing about Western hypocrisy. Are we supposed to believe they’re morally superior because they don’t pretend to have standards? This parallels the “realism” propaganda of Wilhelmine Germany in the early 20th century or of Showa Japan in the 1930s.

    Vladimir Putin is a badass, not a dove. The dude doesn’t pose in menacing photos to make himself look peaceful.

  3. Thorfinnsson says

    Fair enough. I am a big fan of trolling which is why I always support world leaders like Putin, Berlusconi, and Gaddafi. Someone needs to distract us from the charcoal-suited drones who run most of the world.

  4. Anything to get the panties of the sanctimonious west in a bunch is worth it. I am waiting for some great statesman award for Sakashvili from the west any day now.

  5. Moscow Exile says

    Sarkozy awarded Saakashvili the Legion d’Honneur last September.

    Don’t know why.

    It is awarded to both French citizens and foreigners, and is the highest decoration in France. It is supposedly aimed at rewarding people who have actively contributed to the greatness of the French nation.

    Liza Minelli is a member of the Legion d’Honneur as well.

    Can’t understand why.

    • Maybe because of her work in the anti-Nazi musical “Cabaret” ?

      • Moscow Exile says

        Perhaps. Still can’t fathom out what the tie-eater has contributed towards the greater glory of France though.

        • Sarkozy’s brokering of the cease-fire between Russia and Georgia is perhaps the single most significant act in allowing the French to shrug off the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” label the USA awarded them. Because of Saakashvili’s hotheaded lunge for immortality, Sarko got to go back to swaggering. He evidently remembers Saakashvili fondly for it. Can’t be for his strategic skills.

          • Николай Алексеевич Гуляев says

            The strategic skills of Putin -Vladimir Shlapentokh has intresting comparison of Putin . Qote ” Putin’s respect for Stalin is well known. However, it is apparent that Putin does not want to be a blind disciple of his icon, since he has surpassed Stalin’s tactical abilities. Putin certainly does not dismiss Stalin’s primitive strategies. Recently, for example, Putin pulled off a public relations stunt by meeting with the workers of the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works in July of 2011 and answering their well-prepared questions. The incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a serious potential rival, demonstrates how Putin is always ready to apply simple Stalinist instruments to stymie political threats. ”

            Although Putin is Machiavellian in many ways, he deviates from the model of the ideal hero, as he follows the mafia code of loyalty to those who support him. This stands in stark contrast to Machiavelli’s advice of never taking personal relations too seriously, so one can easily betray people if and when necessary.

            • Just keep on repeating this inane drivel. Then maybe your wishes will come true, LOL.

              Stalin ain’t no hero of Putin and most Russians. But it is an undeniable fact that he is a hero in Georgia and has been praised by Sakahsivili. Let’s see some quotes from Putin praising Stalin. Do make an effort.

              • Moscow Exile says

                In April 2010 at Katyn, in the presence of Polish, Belorussian and Russian diplomats and politicians, the following was reported concerning a public statement made by V.V.Putin at a memorial ceremony held at that place in commemoration of the mass execution of Polish nationals by the NKVD at that place in 1940:

                Премьер-министр Владимир Путин заявил о невозможности оправдания преступлений сталинского режима. «Этим преступлениям не может быть никаких оправданий. В нашей стране дана ясная политическая, правовая, нравственная оценка злодеяниям тоталитарного режима, и такая оценка не подлежит никаким ревизиям», — сказал, по сообщению «Интерфакса», премьер в Катыни.

                [translation: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated that it was impossible to justify the crimes of Stalin’s regime. “In no way can these crimes be justified. In our country there has been given a clear political, legal, and ethical assessment of the atrocities of the totalitarian regime, and this assessment is not subject to any kind of revision”, said the prime-minister at Katyn, according to Interfax.]

                Western commentators, nevertheless, regularly state that the Russian premier is an open admirer of Stalin.

              • Why don’t we let Mr. Putin respond to that?

                “I see that not everyone in the West has understood that the Soviet Union has disappeared from the political map of the world and that a new country has emerged with new humanist and ideological principles at the foundation of its existence.”

                Vladimir Putin, July 12, 2006, France.

                You don’t say, Mr. Putin. Well, do you have any words of reassurance for selectively-deaf toads like the one above, who seem to have a hard time taking that in?

                “I certainly do, Mark. Russia has made its choice in favor of democracy. Fourteen years ago, independently, without any pressure from outside, it made that decision in the interests of itself and interests of its people — of its citizens. This is our final choice, and we have no way back. There can be no return to what we used to have before. And the guarantee for this is the choice of the Russian people, themselves. No, guarantees from outside cannot be provided. This is impossible. It would be impossible for Russia today. Any kind of turn towards totalitarianism for Russia would be impossible, due to the condition of the Russian society. ”

                Vladimir Putin, joint press conference 2005, Slovakia (except for the “I certainly do, Mark”. I made that up. I have never personally spoken with Mr. Putin by any medium).

                Well, Mr. Putin; Nikolai seems convinced that Russia is doing exactly the opposite: making a big power grab, upsetting the western world’s peaceful efforts at democratization and raising foolish objections to being surrounded with peaceful and mutually beneficial western missile bases. Western media sources like to provide Nikolai with talking points that suggest he’s right – what have you to say to that?

                “I’m glad you asked, Mark. Not everyone likes the stable, gradual rise of our country. There are some who are using the democratic ideology to interfere in our internal affairs”.

                Vladimir Putin, 26 April 2007 (except for the “I’m glad you asked, Mark”. I made that up, too)

                Well, yes, but didn’t you say the collapse of the Soviet Union was a “major geopolitical disaster of the century”? That implies sympathy for and deep love of Stalin, surely?

                “Not at all, Mark. Those who quote that passage as if it explained everything, like that fat tub of shit La Russophobe, don’t bother to quote the rest of it – As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.
                Individual savings were depreciated, and old ideals destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or reformed carelessly. Terrorist intervention and the Khasavyurt capitulation that followed damaged the country’s integrity. Oligarchic groups — possessing absolute control over information channels — served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty began to be seen as the norm. And all this was happening against the backdrop of a dramatic economic downturn, unstable finances, and the paralysis of the social sphere. Many thought or seemed to think at the time that our young democracy was not a continuation of Russian statehood, but its ultimate collapse, the prolonged agony of the Soviet system. But they were mistaken.

                That was precisely the period when the significant developments took place in Russia. Our society was generating not only the energy of self-preservation, but also the will for a new and free life. ”

                Vladimir Putin, 2005. Except for the part where we appeared to be speaking back and forth and he appeared to call La Russophobe a fat tub of shit. I made that up.

                Thanks for taking time out of your busy day trampling on the peasants and crushing freedom to talk to us, Mr. Putin.

                “Not at all”.

  6. Obama’s official count is actually 3 wars of aggression (=Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya). And those are only the official wars, as you note there are lots of other unofficial “wars” going on: drone attacks on Pakistan, Somalia, etc. There are also recent reports that Obama is “droning” Chad and Niger now. Nobody anywhere in Africa is safe from this guy, as he leads imperialist charge to re-colonize Africa.
    Quote from article you linked:

    Putin’s stance on the Libyan uprising was cited as one of the reasons for the committee’s decision.
    “This April or May, Putin was against NATO’s idea to bomb Libya and he appeared to the world in a peaceful manner,” Qiao explained. “This year’s peace prize was given to him because his act this year was outstanding in keeping world peace.”

    Good for them, Putin does deserve some kudos for his words of reproach. However, I am not convinced Putin did enough to deserve this prize. Surely he could have done much more than he did to save Libya from NATO aggression? A Russian veto in U.N. security council might have done the trick. (Not to mention Chinese veto, but they also took the weasel way out.)
    Oh well, is still nice to see Chinese sticking it to Nobel committee. Shows that these supposedly “inscrutable” Asian bureaucrats do have a sense of humor.

  7. I consider Putin to be a modern Gandhi like figure. I look at him similar to how leftists look at Gandhi and I say this as an American. Putin’s service has been a net positive for Russians. Putin kept Russia from falling totally into the Anglo-American globalist elite’s hands. This not only made the lives of Russians better, but has made the implementation of global government much more difficult for the Bilderberg crowd (Anglo-American globalist elites).

    When the globalist elites had their Captains stirring up trouble in Russia, Putin told em’ to get out, or get in a cage. When the globalist elites tried a geopolitical power move on South Ossetia, Putin gave them a smack to the snout. Globalist elites try to encircle Russia, Putin makes deals with Germany, Iran, and China. In short: Russia has been a bulwark against what some refer to as the “New World Order.”

    There was a lot of despair in the 1990’s when it looked like Russia was going to totally crumble. But Putin (and his friends) brought the country back from despair to a point now where at least they have stability and some sort of future to work towards. Putin could have went with the globalist program and probably would be wealthier today. This man believed in something more important than having more wealth. He played a game of chess with very dangerous people and was able to win back Russia. Of course, like tending to a garden this work is never really over.

    I think it was Putin who said something like “it’s better to be hung as a dissident than as a traitor.”

    • Scott Peterson says

      I agree with this to the extent that Russia has avoided falling into the “Washington Consensus” crony capitalist trap; and that Putin seems to be navigating the “great game” in Russia’s interests fairly well.

  8. Николай Алексеевич Гуляев says

    Thank you for informing me Anatoly . Your love for Zyuganov is understandable from your career planning . Zyuganov say things like the following: “
    “94 years ago our country opened a new epoch, an epoch of cultural and economic takeoff, of labor and political victories”

    “the Soviet people, under the leadership of the communist party, defended the world’s first government of workers and peasants”

    “in the 20th century our people build the fairest society on the planet. Soviet education, healthcare, and protection for mothers and children set extremely high world standards. Everyone took our example, including the wealthy West.”

    Russia remains a Communist country, renowned priest believes

    Renowned church historian and professor of St. Petersburg Theological Academy Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov believes the Russian society still has a Soviet mentality.


    Thank you Anatoly , hope you can get interesting job in the communist party’s information department . Love you , In Russia , you watch Big Brother.
    In America , Big Brother watches you!

  9. On the topic of “War on Terror”:
    This article by radical journalist Thierry Meyssan is one of the best summaries I have ever seen of Al Qaeda’s shady history.
    Note: There are differing opinions about the origin of the term “Al Qaeda”, some say it means “the base”, as in a military base, others even claim it means “Database”, as in a collection of information and assets.
    I recommend everybody read Meyssan’s article, but in case you don’t have time here is a summary of his main points; Meyssan’s overall thesis is that Al Qaeda is a “hotbed of mercenaries used by the United States to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Iraq, and now Libya, Syria and Yemen.”
    Main chronology of Libyan branch of Al Qaeda:

    In the 80s, the CIA instigated Awatha al-Zuwawi to create an agency in Libya to recruit mercenaries for the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
    As from 1986, recruits were trained in the Salman al-Farisi Libyan camp in Pakistan,under the authority of anti-Communist billionaire Osama bin Laden.
    In 1994, Osama bin Laden dispatched Libyan jihadists back to their country to kill Muammar Gaddafi and reverse the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

    On 18 October 1995, the group reassembled under the label of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
    According to UK counter espionage agent David Shayler, the development of the LIFG and the first assassination attempt on Gaddafi by Al-Qaeda was funded by the British MI6 to the tune of 100,000 pounds [1].

    At the time, Libya was the only state in the world that was hunting for Osama bin Laden, who still officially enjoyed the political support of the United States, despite his disapproval of “Operation Desert Storm.”
    [Skipping forward to 2001 …]
    During the “war against terrorism”, the organization of the jihadist movement got underway. “Al Qaeda”, which was initially a large database from which Osama bin Laden chose the mercenaries he needed for specific missions, gradually morphed into a cluster of cells, the size of which decreased the more it became structured.
    On 6 March 2004, the new LIFG leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who had fought in Afghanistan alongside Osama bin Laden [2] and Iraq, was arrested in Malaysia and then transferred to a secret CIA prison in Thailand, where he was injected with truth serum and tortured. Following an agreement between the United States and Libya, he was returned to Libya where he was again tortured, but this time at the hands of British agents at the Abu Salim Prison.

    Skipping forward to now: After military defeat of Gaddafy regime this past summer, BelHadj was installed by victors (NATO + Qatar) as Military Governor of Tripoli. I saw something on the news (unconfirmed) that he might have been assassinated yesterday… still trying to confirm that….

    • Meyssan the Conspiracy theorist of the Siloviki ?


      The conspiracists work hard to give their written evidence the veneer of scholarship. The approach has been described as death by footnote. Accompanying the exposition of the theory is a dense mass of detailed and often undifferentiated information, but laid out as an academic text. Often the theory is also supported by quotations from non-conspiracist sources that almost invariably turn out to be misleading and selective. To give one characteristic example, David Ray Griffin’s book about 9/11, The New Pearl Harbor, describes Thierry Meyssan as the head of an organization “which the Guardian in April 2002 described as ‘a respected independent thinktank whose left-leaning research projects have until now been considered models of reasonableness and objectivity.'” This is a masterpiece in disingenuousness, given the full Guardian quote: “The French media has been quick to dismiss [Meyssan’s] book’s claims, despite the fact that Mr. Meyssan is president of the Voltaire Network, a respected independent thinktank whose left-leaning research projects have until now been considered models of reasonableness and objectivity. ‘This theory suits everyone — there are no Islamic extremists and everyone is happy. It eliminates reality,’ said Le Nouvel Observateur, while Liberation called the book ‘The Frightening Confidence Trick . . . a tissue of wild and irresponsible allegations, entirely without foundation.’ ” Not the same thing at all. –Ayman al-Zawahiri, the reputed Number 2 chief in al-Qaeda and the man second only to Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, was trained by the Russian FSB (formerly known as the KGB). That’s the story told by ex-FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who fled Russia in 2000. According to Litvinenko, as reported in the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, on July 17, “Ayman al-Zawahiri trained at a Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB) base in Dagestan in 1998.” “He was then transferred to Afghanistan,” the defector says, “where he became Osama bin Laden’s deputy.”

      Mr. Litvinenko’s brief revelation in Rzeczpospolita provides confirmation for suspicions many counterterrorism analysts have held concerning al-Zawahiri, whom federal authorities have called the “mastermind of 9/11.” As reported in THE NEW AMERICAN in 2001, al-Zawahiri had been very active as the purported top leader of Islamist terrorist operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina during Yugoslavia’s civil war. Throughout that period, he operated from a special headquarters in Sofia, the capital of Communist-run Bulgaria, which had been for decades a primary surrogate for Soviet training and sponsorship of terrorism. It was apparent that the Russians were playing both sides in the conflict, openly supporting the Serbs and covertly helping the Iranian-backed Muslims. After helping establish Iranian control over the Bosnian military, al-Zawahiri embarked on a mysterious trip that took him first through China, where he conducted financial dealings with one of the Communist government’s banks. Then it was on to Chechnya. Al-Zawahiri then crossed the border from Chechnya to Russian-controlled Dagestan, where he was arrested and “imprisoned” for six months. More likely, his “detention” was a cover for a period of training, planning, and debriefing. Through some supposed miracle of Allah, he escaped and made his way to Afghanistan, where he hooked up with bin Laden.

      Is al-Zawahiri an Islamic fundamentalist or a Russian (Soviet) agent? Litvinenko’s disclosures undermine the former and support the latter. After all, why would a devout Muslim do his banking in China, choose Bulgaria for his headquarters, and sojourn in Russia? And why would he be obsessed with jihad against the U.S. when it is Russia that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his co-religionists in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and when it is Russia and China that continue to oppress and persecute millions of Muslims today?

      • News flash: apparently Belhaj was NOT assassinated after all, since Reuters today has him up on the VIP stand in Tripoli reviewing troops:

        At a horse-racing track near the seafront in Tripoli, a parade of ragtag fighters marched past a VIP delegation with Tripoli’s Islamist military commander for the National Transitional Council (NTC), Abdel Hakim Belhadj, sitting at the front.

        “We must build a national army … to rebuild the country. We have to build the country again,” Belhadj told the crowd of fighters, women and children who had been ferried into the area to wave flags and celebrate the liberation of Libya.

        A fighter jet swooped by and parachutists landed in front of the podium to roars of applause.

        Belhaj is one of those guys whose “assassination” is reported every other day, but apparently he has 9 lives, like a cat:


  10. Libya, Afghanistan/Soviet war, “Belhaj led a faction that disavowed al-Qaida and declared its commitment to establishi­ng a democracy in Libya”

    Wanting to rid Libya of Colonel Gaddafi, Belhadj joined other young Islamists who formed a group, but were pursued from the country before they could achieve anything. Leaving the country, via Saudi Arabia he arrived in Afghanistan,[5] and became an Islamist fighter in the Soviet-Afghan war . Russia’s TV!

    Are you to trust what good Mr. Putin and his cronies say. Putin is as much a dictator as Gaddafi. Russia doesn’t have truly democratic elections (like Libya.) The government of Russia doesn’t allow dissent and constructive criticism. Russia needs to realize that in the scheme of things its only inches away from being a 3rd world country. Russia has no business supporting Gaddafi. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/02/abdel-hakim-belhaj_n_946518.html

    • below_freezing says

      I disagree. Neither Putin nor Gaddafi are dictators. The real dictators are the US elites who make up the iron triangle of American power: Wall Street, Federal Government, and US Military. Rothschilds, Kennedeys, Bushes, Watsons, Carnegies, Morgans, etc etc. The biggest terrorist group in the world wears uniforms and has its headquarters in Washington DC.

      Does the US allow constructive criticism? Does it allow real dissent? Then why is it shooting and beating protesters today in 2011? Who can you vote for in the US? Coca Cola Democrats or Pepsi Republicans? There’s only 1 party in the US: the Capitalist Party. The difference between the democrats and the republicans is that the democrats favor looting other countries to give more benefits to the poor to stave off rebellion, and the republicans favor looting other countries to boost the military in order to crush rebellion.

      • Putin appears to be more out of touch with reality than Berlusconi, which happens when “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (To make matters worse, Putin is surrounded by advisers and members of his inner circle who often feed him misleading information, seemingly driven by their own self-interest to remain in control for as long as possible.) Recall, for example, Putin’s statement in 2007, when, in answer to a question from a Der Spiegel reporter as to whether he is a “pure democrat,” he said only half-jokingly: “Of course, I am. … I am all alone — the only one of my kind in the whole world. … There is no one else [for me] to talk to since Mahatma Gandhi died.”

        These delusions sound frighteningly similar to those of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who also had no idea whatsoever when it was time to leave his post — or his country for that matter.

        The real question is whether Putin will be smart enough to end his political career through the back exit a la Berlusconi. The other option — a bloody, violent Gadhafi-like denouement — is hardly an attractive one for Russia. –

        • below_freezing says

          The only bloody, violent revolution that’s going to happen is in the United States against the fascist military regime. It is not Russian thugs beating and killing people in Oakland, OK?

    • Right, Oleg, sorry I forgot that Belhadj is a Jeffersonian Democrat now. He has given up his evil terrorist ways. He even gave up his fatigues and started wearing a business suit! Thanks for linking the HuffingtonPost article, by the way, I hadn’t seen it. Quoting from that link:

      Belhaj has the support of the leader of the rebels’ National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil. Trading his army fatigues for a business suit, Belhaj accompanied Abdul-Jalil on a trip to Qatar, where on Monday they urged NATO representatives and Western officials to extend NATO operations to protect civilians from the remnants of Gadhafi’s regime that continue to fight.

      The next day in the rebels’ temporary capital of Benghazi, Abdul-Jalil pointed to that conference as evidence that Belhaj is someone the council can trust. “He doesn’t pose a threat to the world’s safety,” he said.

      The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group was not a monolithic entity, explained one U.S. official familiar with the group. Some branches have had connections with al-Qaida in Sudan, Afghanistan or Pakistan, but others dropped any relationship with al-Qaida entirely. Belhaj led a faction that disavowed al-Qaida and declared its commitment to establishing a democracy in Libya, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

      So, official USA spin = “Belhadj used to be a bad boy, but now he is one of ours.”
      Belhadj is of course your classic warlord, the idea that he is now a halo-headed “democracy-supporter” is ridiculous. On the other hand, I am willing to go along and believe that he truly has “dropped his relationship with Al Qaeda”. Since I am a follower of the theory that Al Qaeda is basically a ragtag bunch of CIA mercenaries, then it is easy enough for CIA to shift one of the “assets” out of this group and into a different group of mercenaries, namely the Libyan NTC (National Transitional Government).

      • Nothing new here. The US removed the KLA (or UCK) from the terrorist list after it decided to bomb Serbia and sever Kosovo i Metohija from it. I remember all the hysterical bleating in the western media about 2000 dead “Kosovars” (actually 800 dead Serbs and 1200 Albanians most of whom were KLA). This OSCE BS plus the Racak hoax (the dead included two women, no children and elderly and there was no blood where they were supposedly killed; these were basically KLA dead moved into Racak to stage a scene after the Serb forces left the village) were used as a pretext for the whole operation.

        NATO recently killed about 2000 people in Libya supposedly enforcing a no-fly zone. Maybe NATO should be bombed into the stone age in the name of freedom, democracy and human rights.

        • Nine years have passed since terrorists destroyed the World Trade center and burnt the Pentagon. The terrorist cause was Islam, supposedly. The purpose of the attack was economic sabotage, most definitely. One might say that America was pushed as it strolled along the edge of an economic abyss. It is in this context we should consider the allegations of former KGB/FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who said the KGB was behind al Qaeda. Litvinenko claimed that Ayman al-Zawahri, the number two man in al Qaeda, was a longtime KGB agent. What lends credence to Litvinenko’s claim is the well known fact that the Kremlin poisoned Litvinenko with radioactive polonium 210. The substance used to kill him was ridiculously expensive and exotic, indicating a government sponsored assassination. Major media outlets have confirmed the conclusion of official inquiries; namely, that Litvinenko was assassinated by Kremlin agents.

          This is an incredibly compelling article, giving evidence of the direct knowledge of the KGB/FSB awareness of 911 prior to its’ occurence, as well as implications that Alexander Litvinenkos’ murder was performed because he was leaking his knowledge of the event. Could 911 have actually been a joint operation, designed to start a chain of events leading to the destruction of America, as planned by the Russians and possibly the Chinese? –

          • I am familiar with this particular conspiracy theory. The testimony and poisoning of Litvinenko prove nothing, since he has been discredited in so many different ways (including recent revelations that Litvinenko had been recruited as double agent by British secret service).
            If you put Litvinenko aside, this particular conspiracy theory has 2 major points to recommend it: First, Al-Zawahiri’s trip to Russian Federation in 1998. From what I understand, Z had sneaked into Chechnya to assist Wahhabists, but was arrested by Russian police, spent a few months in prison, then was released. Conspirary theorists deduce from this that during his imprisonment Z was worked on and “turned” by KGB, then sent back to Middle East to infiltrate Al Qaeda. Given that Z rose through the ranks of AQ and became bin Laden’s second-in-command, this would have been quite a coup for KGB. With their eyes and ears inside the holy of holies they would know everything AQ was up to and maybe even nudge them in an anti-American direction. I hate to admit it, but if this theory were true, it could actually explain some things that are otherwise difficult to explain, like why AQ switched from attacking America’s enemies to attacking American friends and assets, including the American homeland.
            Second point the conspiracy theorists claim, and I admit this one is also pretty good: they claim that the FSB agent spotted in Doha, Qatar after Yandarbaev’s assassination, even though he had significantly changed his appearance, is the same guy who was spotted years earlier as Zawahiri’s KGB “handler”. They claim they have video proof (computer facial recognition software), I would love to see this proof, can they please post it on you-tube? (Being a computer programmer myself, I am a bit dubious of the capability of this type of software…)
            Anyhow, not sure I believe all this skullduggery, like I said, above 2 points are your strongest arguments, I recommend you focus on them and not waste your breath on Litvinenko’s ravings. But let us assume for a moment that it is all true: Then KGB would have infiltrated Al Qaeda at highest level and inserted their double agent, Al Zawahiri, into its upper ranks. Then Z would have worked his magic on bin Laden and somehow convinced him to change from pro-American to anti-American terrorist acts, including the African embassy bombings, USS Cole, 9/11, etc. Okay, suppose this was true. But then what? After bin Laden’s assassination, Zawahiri was promoted to AQ leader. So whey did they not suddenly go on a pro-Russian rampage all over the world? When and why did Al Qaeda switch back and become an American asset again by helping NATO invade and conquer Libya?

            • Maskhadov was willing to cooperate with Russians to get rid of the Wahhabis (the catch-all term for Islamic extremists) and even expelled Khattab and Basayev. His goal was not to fight with Russia. Indeed, that was the opposite of what he wanted. Maskhadov wanted a peaceful, secular, independent Chechnya in peace with Russia and the West. The Chechen Congress of Prefects condemned attempts to impose the Sharia (Islamic law) on the republic. Deputy prime minister of Chechnya Ahmed Zakayev co-authored a book with Y. Chagayev called “Wahhabism – the Kremlin’s remedy against national liberation movements”, where he associated the Islamist fundamentalism with Russia’s global pro-terrorist policy during the Soviet era, and the Kremlin’s support for radical dictatorships in the Islamic world, like Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. Deputy Prime Minister asserted Hamas, Hizballah, Usama bin Ladin, and Illich Ramírez “the Jackal” to be creations of the Soviet policy, while the Chechens did not even know the Taliban or bin Ladin.

              But Moscow was not interested in merely getting rid of Chechen extremists and preferred to invade to re-integrate Chechnya into Russian Federation.

              Indeed, the Islamists were useful to Russia. Basayev wanted to rule over Chechnya and after Maskhadov’s overwhelming victory in fair, free and democratic elections, he felt the need to do something to both undermine Maskhadov and gain support among the Chechen populace, which wanted independence. As such, Basayev engaged in terror against Russia not only to harm Russia, but also to harm Maskhadov. Between Islamism and independence, Basayev and his gang of extremists preferred Islamism. This viewpoint was openly recognized by Islamist fundamentalist and mafia leader Bislan Gantemirov, who even worked for pro-Moscow government in Chechnya.

              Feeding off of fundamentalism from Iran and Arab countries, Islamists were not interested in independence just for the sake of independence. Arabic language does not even have a word for “nation” or “nationalism.” Rather than being part of a nation, they consider themselves to be part of the “umma” – an Islamic community. During the wave of pan-Arabism in the Middle East, nationalists began referring to “umma Islamiyya” (Islamic community) and “umma Arabiyya” (Arab community). That gave rise to other types of “umma” and the word got a second meaning – nation. Arabic language still does not have a word for “nationalism,” instead using the term “tribalism.”

              However, Arab Islamists reject the idea of an umma that is anything other than Islamic community. To them, there are two groups: umma (Islamic community) and Jahiliyya (barbarism, lack of social order). Nationalism, as envisioned by Dudayev, Maskhadov and most Chechens is barbaric Jahiliyya. Arab fundamentalists, who sponsored Basayev and other Chechen extremists, specifically reject the idea of sovereignty and democracy because it is a rule of man, rather than rule of God (Hakimiyyat Allah). Indeed, even de-colonization is seen negatively by fundamentalists because it introduced the idea of nationalism. Nationalism is seen as a Western conspiracy, imposed on the Middle East by “Ataturk and his Jewish adherents,” according to Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, a prominent leader of Muslim Brotherhood which has been active in Chechnya (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the founder of modern Turkey). [40] As far as the Middle Eastern fundamentalists flooding Chechnya are concerned, it is better to have disorder than a nationalist, democratic government because a non-fundamentalist government will damage Islam and would serve as an impediment to Nazim Islami (Islamic World Order). http://www.globalpolitician.com/2990-chechnya-russia

              • Thanks, Oleg, very interesting comment and background information. Not being very familiar with the Islamic mode of thought, I nevertheless had a hunch that secular nationalism (of the Nasser, Ataturk, Gaddafy type) does not fit into the worldview of the Basaev/bin Laden type, and is anathema to them. Your discussion of the “umma” and so on confirms this. Hence the never-ending insurgencies against these secular regimes.
                I dispute your contention that the Soviet Union assisted these Islamist fundamentalists in any way. On the contrary, they had to fight them (particularly in Afghanistan). The idea that bin Laden was a Soviet agent is ludicrous, the ties of the entire bin Laden family to Saudi government and CIA are quite well documented. Main Soviet policy was to support Arab nationalist/secular dictators like Nasser, Gaddafy, the Baathists (Iraq, Syria), etc. Okay, I am not naïve, I am sure there were some shenanigans going on behind the scenes in the “dark world” of spies, infiltration, double-agents, and so on. If the KGB had not infiltrated Al Qaeda in some fashion, then I would be very disappointed in the KGB. At any particular Al Qaeda cell meeting of 10 men I would expect to find at least 2 KGB agents, 2 CIA agents, and the remaining 6 actual sincere jihadists. But putting that aside, Soviet policy was clear, it supported secular nationalist Arab regimes; and in fact Russian Federation inherited those alliances. Russia took a big geo-strategic hit when friendly regime of Saddam Hussein was taken down in Iraq; also took a hit with defeat of Gaddafy regime in Libya, although Medvedev was too busy playing with his new iPhone to notice this; but now Russia has apparently drawn a real line in the sand and will stand up for the Syrian (secular nationalist/Baathist) regime. Which is next on the menu for the pro-American team.

  11. $4 bln down the drain: Libyan rebels won’t buy Russian arms -“We respect all deals with other nations, but they will all be reviewed, since many of the deals were signed thanks to corruption,” the former Justice Minister under Gaddafi said on in an interview with RIA Novosti news agency. Russia continues to back dictatorships in places like Syria, Libya and Iran. Russia is not happy with the demise of the Kaddafi tyranny in Libya. While backing democracy in Syria and calling for the government there to stop slaughtering its own people, Russia opposes pressure for the Assad dictatorship to step down. Despite increasing evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons and backing terrorism worldwide, Russia supports the religious dictatorship there.

    What is this fondness for tyranny in a country that is supposed to be a democracy? It’s all about needing an enemy, and providing a distraction for domestic politics. Neighbor China has the same needs, and is an ally with Russia in supporting the same tyrants, for many of the same reasons. This kind of loyalty arises from several causes. First, there is the need to stick it to the West. The Cold War may be over, but not the antagonism of Russian and Chinese leaders towards those Western upstarts. This is a centuries old antagonism. Both China and Russia resent the Western cultural, economic and military power that led to the decline in Chinese and Russian influence in the world. Secondly, the support for Iran, Syria, Libya and other despotisms is also a way of gaining profitable commercial links with those nations (a source of raw materials, and arms and industrial sales.) Neither China nor Russia sees the terrorist links of their tyrant clients as a major liability. In fact, the connection with terrorist sponsoring states as a form of immunity from some terrorist activity.

    A new international survey found that Russian and Chinese companies are the most likely to use bribes when trying to obtain sales, or anything else. China and Russia are among the most corrupt nations on the planet. –

    • Which proves that Medvedev was a pathetic fool for abstaining on that UN vote. No altruistic deed goes unpunished by the West.

    • Chinese believe in superiority of their culture – undermined only temporarily during the colonial era. Russians are insecure, they try to catch up with the West but always fail to live up to Western standards.

  12. Yeah, yeah yeah, now you’re just getting silly, Oleg. Russia and China don’t have any particular fondness for dictators. Frankly, they don’t really give a sh*t what kind of government they are dealing with, so long as it meets its contractual obligations to them. Would be more correct to say that AMERICA loves and supports dictators (so many examples, so little time…read Chomsky, he provides all the details…)
    Russia and China have their traditional relationships and alliances, mostly based on regional concerns. It has always been their practice to deal with whatever existing government rather than fomenting revolution and replacing it with one more to their liking. Russia and China do business the way all countries always did business, via Realpolitik. It was the Americans who radically changed the rules of the game starting with Iraq invasion in 2003. American propaganda is so brilliant that they can destroy sovereign nations at will, then somehow succeed in making more peaceful countries feel guilty for NOT joining in on the carnage. As as far as Libya goes, the fact that the new government is anti-Russian just made my argument above: if the Russian government truly controlled Al Qaeda, as you claim, then they would have unleashed it as a pro-Gaddafy militia. As it is, Al Qaeda allied with the rebels and overthrew Gaddafy, whose defeat harms Russian national interests.

    • yalensis – Chomsky analyzes the Russian mafia -state under Putin . Politkovskaya’s cowardly murder has directed global attention to the dark side of Putin’s control of the country: the muzzling of the press and the relationships between law enforcement agencies and organized crime. Chomsky analyzes the influence that the imperialist mentality in the Russia . Chomsky qualifies Putin’s actions in Chechnya as “murderous”, which they most definitely are. I only wish that more progressive analysts dared to depart from the tendency to praise everybody who opposes the US regardless of the atrocities they perpetrate. As usual, Chomsky’s analysis of the issue is one-sided and biased. Israelis are all villainous nationalists and religious fanatics, while the Palestinians are without an exception languishing and tolerant victims. When he describes the Israeli “information campaigns to instruct the world on its errors and misunderstanding, arrogant self-righteousness, circling the wagons, defiance . . . and paranoia,” he avoids mentioning that this exactly the pattern adopted by every single nation-state with a very weak and diluted national identity (Russia is a great example of precisely this kind of paranoid nation building. , In Yugoslavia Chomsky went the extra mile in to the chauvinist Serbo-Russian camp – http://www.david-campbell.org/2009/11/14/chomskys-bosnian-shame/

      • Oleg: I respect Chomsky, anything he writes about politics is worth reading and studying. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he writes, although I would say I do agree with his politics probably around 90%. I think I disagree with Chomsky regarding Chechnya, I believe that was a war that was forced on Russia. It was Russia’s war, not Putin’s war. Well, people have debated that one for many years, and there is not much that I personally can add to that debate other than stating which side I am on. As for Israel, I dispute that Chomsky could be considered anti-Israeli or even anti-Zionist. He stated in one of his autobiographical essays (sorry, I cannot find the link, I will search for it, so I am quoting from memory now) that as a young man, being Jewish himself, he believed in the original Zionist ideal, with Israel as a socialist bi-national state incorporating both Jews and Palestinians. Obviously, it did not happen that way. Despite that, and his socialist convictions, Chomsky continued to defend, and has always defended, Israel’s basic right to exist as a sovereign state, basing himself upon the United Nations resolution of 1948 which granted a “birth certificate” to Israel. Of course it goes without saying that Chomsky is fiercely opposed to the anti-Palestinian actions of the Israeli government and has been a champion for Palestinian rights as well as a critic of Israel’s role in the Western imperialist scheme.

  13. If you go out and ask any random 500 educated literate Americans, they will tell you that Russia is an oil and gas banana republic run by gangsters with Putin calling all the shots. What’s true is that Russia has yet to learn how to play the soft power game with sophistication and sensitivity to political realities. The name of the game is to control the BOD/BOA of corporations, especially in key strategic industries (like software), then let them run interference for you. The job of the media is to run cover for the corps. There are protocols and norms for incarceration and treatment of citizens which the Russian state totally disregarded and now are paying a political price for. While Putin generally shows a steadfast demeanor, he also at times manages to come-off like a flaky and flamboyant slavic thug. Medvedev let Sarko flake him out which allowed the western media to paint Russia as an aggressor. Russia now has a cease fire agreement hanging over their collective heads, and predictably, no chance of getting reparation or non-use of force agreements from Georgia. It will be interesting to see how Putin reacts when their economic interests are destroyed in Syria by the true aggressor nations and alliances.

    • How can Russia control the western media propaganda campaign? Obviously it can’t, no matter how many “soft” tactics it undertakes. All that it takes to make Russia a pariah in the west is for it to resist colonial occupation (don’t need soldiers for this, just lapdogs). Judging by the events of the last 20 years, the west is more about bark than bite. It can do basically nothing against Russia’s independence and Russia’s economy is growing rapidly despite what basically amounts to economic sanctions (non-investment from the west).

      • We should also remember the career of Yevgeni Primakov, KGB operative in Egypt in the 1960s, chief of the SVR from 1991 to 1996, foreign minister from 1996 to 1998, and prime minister from 1998 to 1999. His appointment into Chernomyrdin’s government in December 1996 followed two months after the sacking of Aleksandr Lebed, the popular general who made peace in Chechnya and advocated strong measures against the Taliban. “The rivalry between SVR and foreign ministry … ended in decisive victory for the SVR with Primakov’s appointment as foreign minister … in December 1996.” (Andrew & Mitrokhin, p. 562)

        Primakov appears to have carried with him a sharp policy change: instead of negotiating a final peace deal with the Chechens, as had been agreed by Lebed, the FSB encouraged provocative Islamists, who committed murders and kidnappings from 1997 to 1999, scaring most foreign aid workers and reporters out of the land, and providing the Russian government with an excuse for a renewed intervention. Obviously, this was a method successfully exercised in Afghanistan to oust the Rabbani government from Kabul.

        During his travels in the Middle East in the 1980s, Primakov had been known to talk about Free Mason and Jewish conspiracies. (Andrew & Mitrokhin, p. 573)
        When the Soviet colonies had nevertheless declared independence in 1991, militant Muslims like the Chechen Basayev brothers, and some of Hikmatyar’s “Afghan Arabs”, were invited by the GRU to join an “Islamic cause” on behalf of Abkhazia against Georgia. Although the war of 1992-1993 was depicted as a war of independence for the traditionally Muslim Abkhazians, the Basayevs and other Muslim volunteers soon found out, that this was far from the truth. The so-called Abkhazians were old-time Communists who refused to accept democratic changes. Instead of gaining more autonomy, Abkhazia – just like Karabakh and Transdnestria – became practically operated by Russian secret services, and engaged in international arms trade and training of terrorists.

        According to American Turkish researcher Ali M. Koknar, Shamil Basayev went
        through military training in Afghanistan from April until July 1994; Indian researcher Vinod Anand dates his visit from March to May 1994 – anyway before the Taliban emerged. His host must then still have been Hikmatyar, or one of his Soviet-trained subordinates. There has never been evidence of any contacts between the Chechen leadership and the Taliban, except for a private mission of the former Chechen vice president in early 2000, when Russia had already invaded Chechnya for the second time.
        The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria had declared independence in 1991, and for the first three years, Russia tried a variety of tricks to overpower it. What had succeeded by 1993 in Georgia, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan, failed to bring results in Chechnya. In the end, Russia started two full-scale invasions against this tiny Caucasian nation. Very few Islamists have shown any sympathy for their fellow Muslims. Both Iran and Iraq have applauded Russia’s invasions. Although Russia has blamed Muslim terrorists (“Afghan Arabs”) for the tough Chechen resistance, more Ukrainian or ethnic Russian (!) volunteers have been sighted among Chechen freedom-fighters than Arabs or Afghans.

        There are tactical similarities between Chechnya and Afghanistan. Equally sinister forces operated in both countries. Provocateurs were used by Russian secret services to destabilize governments, and the world media was largely kept disinformed about what was going on. At some point, while Afghans were accused for fighting in Chechnya, Chechens were accused for fighting in Afghanistan. Such astonishingly illogical accusations were uncritically transmitted by Western media. Few journalists bothered to ask, why these “mercenaries” remained invisible, immortal (no bodies found on battle grounds), and impossible to be ever caught alive (unless Russia had its prisoners-of-war executed before they could be interrogated), or what sense would it make to have such a bold “students’ exchange” between two countries without a common border or even a common neighbour. The logistic risks alone would certainly discourage such practices.

        Beside this, the origins of such inconsistent claims could be traced quite easily. The myth of Chechens in Afghanistan was invented by the Times of India in December 1999, concerning at first only refugees, women and children. By April 2000, there appeared in The Indian Express and The Hindustan Times articles, distributed in the internet by well-known disinformation agents, stories about Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants, who allegedly had been to Chechnya in August 1999, but returned to fight in Kyrgyzstan before retiring to Afghanistan. (Vinod Anand: Export of Holy Terror to Chechnya From Pakistan and Afghanistan, Strategic Analysis 24.3/2000) Indian newspapers have been always useful for launching Russian disinformation.

        • “Abkhazia – just like Karabakh and Transdnestria – became practically operated by Russian secret services”

          This is true enough for Abkhazia and Transnistria. Not true for Karabakh, though — Karabakh is pretty effectively integrated into Armenia now.

          Doug M.

        • Oleg: I recommend the following monograph by Gordon Hahn, called “Getting the Caucasus Emirate Right”. Hahn goes into a lot of these various relationships and how people and arms moved around from country to country. Chechens in Afghanistan and vice versa – not at all far fetched. The Saudis and Qataris are omini-present as well. In this modern world that we live in people are able to get around quite easily. If you click on the link and then scroll down, the author allows you to download a free .PDF version of his 34-page monograph, rather than purchasing. I felt a bit guilty doing this, but, hey, he does give you the option…


        • I would actually respond to Oleg and his ridiculous Russian in bed with jihadists theories from western sources but it is unlikely he would see them since his postings are from 2011.

          1) His assertion that Maskhadov government were willing to work with Russia to expel Basayev, Khattab and the Wahabbis is a lie.

          Despite the contradictory evidence continued to deny Basayev had any form of foreign funding or there was a foreign element.

          2) Chechens were trained by Pakistan ISI, Turkey and Afghanistan under Taliban that had an Embassy and was the only country to officially recognise it as an independent state and various western intelligence connections like the MI6 contracted Al-Majaharoun and private British security firms that was used to recruit and train Muslims to fit in Chechnya.

          3) No terrorist captured or convicted has omitted to having any Russian intelligence ties unlike with western intelligence.

  14. Two points.

    One, Georgia’s attack didn’t come out of a vaccuum. Months before it happened, various observers were pointing out that Russia was poking the animal with a stick. My personal take on it is that Russia had Tbilisi wired for sound, and quite deliberately set out to game Saakashvili — who played right into Putin’s hands.

    FTR, I have zero sympathy for Saakashvili, and Ossetia is a useless patch of mountains with very little value to either side; if the Ossetians truly want to be under Moscow instead of Tbilisi, well, whatevs. (Abkhazia, OTOH, was a pretty foul injustice — several hundred thousand Georgians got ethnically cleansed, and they’re never coming back.) I didn’t, and don’t, have a dog in that fight. But “who started it” is a lot less clear than you’re suggesting. See, e.g., the Tagliavini commission’s report — which basically says “Georgia started it, but only after months of deliberate provocation by Russia.”

    Two, you’re somehow forgetting to mention Russia’s troubles in the north Caucasus. Do guerrilla wars not count as wars? Because that’s what Russia is fighting in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria.

    It’s been going on for years, it has cost Russia billions of dollars, and casualties are comfortably into five figures. You can argue whose fault it is — I’d say it’s complicated, with plenty of blame to go around; YMMV — but putting that aside, it’s unquestionably a war. Nobody much notices because (1) it’s a LIC, a steady trickle of unhappy news rather than a war with tanks and jets and battlefields; and (2) it’s in a part of the world that is really not well covered by outside media. But over the last three years, it’s certainly killed as many people, and cost as much money, as the brief shooting war with Georgia.

    Doug M.

    • Doug: South Ossetia is not completely useless patch. They have one outstanding piece of hardware, which is control of the southern mouth of the Roki tunnell that crosses entire Caucasus mountain range in under an hour. Ossetia has one other asset, which is that they have some water. An under-reported element of the war was the struggle of rival ethnic communities (Gruzians vs. Ossetians) over water rights.
      P.S. what does YMMV mean? I am trying to guess but I cannot come up with anything.

      • That would be the Roki Tunnel which currently gets something like three vehicles per hour.

        The Tunnel was important during the days of the USSR, and it was important for a while in the 2000s because of smuggling. (Neither Ossetia nor Georgia liked to discuss it, but this was a huge, huge business for many years.) But it’s pretty meaningless today, because the Georgia-Ossetia border is mostly closed. All it does now is connect South Ossetia (population: ~70,000 and falling) to North Ossetia and Russia.

        The water is an issue, but only because Georgia would like to build reservoirs and dams. South Ossetia is on the southern side of the Caucasus mountains, so the water naturally flows south down the Liakhvi to Gori. Most of the rain that falls on South Ossetia ends up flowing through the middle of Tbilisi, so obviously they’re going to have an interest. But it’s not like Georgia is desperate for fresh water.

        YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary. Old Usenet term, polite way of saying “you (or others) may disagree”.

        Doug M.

        • Thanks for reply, Doug. The point I was attempting to make about the “water supply” is not so much that Gruzia wants Ossetia back for the water (obviously, Gruzia wants Ossetia back because she believes this is a breakaway province, although the Ossetians beg to disagree) — my point is that a lot of the back-and-forth shooting between villages prior to August 7, 2008 involved local ethnic issues. For example, Ossetian village claimed Gruzian village cut off their water pipes, then both sides shooting at each other, while peacekeepers (who originally included some Gruzian soldiers too) attempted to keep the two sides separated. At a certain point, a couple of days before August 7, the ethnic Gruzian peacekeepers slinked away from their posts, which is another clue that Gruzian army was about to open fire on peacekeepers and pre-warned their own guys.
          I say all this to make my point that I totally disagree with American/European narrative about Putin “provoking” the Gruzians. All the evidence shows that Putin was as shocked as everybody else by the Gruzian surprise attack. This is a criticism of Putin: he SHOULD have been more prepared. It took the Russian tanks more than a full day to reach the Roki Tunnel. They should have been there much quicker, and it was only by a miracle (and good old-fashioned heroism) that the Ossetian militias were not overwhelmed in the first few hours.
          In other words, I dispute the Tagliavini report, it is barely worth the paper it is written on. The Europeans were not neutral, they were fully in bed with Saakashvili regime. They spun a big propaganda blast against Russia, they expected for Saakashvili to easily take back Ossetia and Abkhazia, just as he had Ajaria previously. Then, when their bully got knocked down on the playground, they had to spin their propaganda in a different direction. Hence the story about “Yeah, our guy did start it, but he was provoked.” As if!

          • All the evidence shows that Putin was as shocked as everybody else by the Gruzian surprise attack.

            To refresh your memory, here’s an excerpt from Medvedev’s recent interview:

            ALEXEI VENEDIKTOV: … And another question that all our colleagues would like answered: who called whom first? Did you call Prime Minister Putin in Beijing first or did he call you? How did you and the prime minister co-ordinate the move?

            DMITRY MEDVEDEV: To be honest with you, no-one called anyone. The first time I contacted him about the conflict was about 24 hours after it had broken out.

            I can think of three possible explanations for such a bizarre lack of urgency:

            a) Nobody was really “shocked by the Gruzian surprise attack.” On the contrary, things were going more or less to the Kremlin’s plan.

            b) Putin is a mere figurehead. When something serious happens, serious people have more urgent things to do than entertain him.

            c) Medvedev is not being honest with us.

            What say you?

    • Giuseppe Flavio says

      I have a different recollection of what was going on before the conflict. There were skirmishes that both sides blamed on the other. Each side could cite some observer that agreed with his view, and I don’t assume that Western observers and the Tagliavini commission to be neutral, but rather pro-Georgia. One point that can explain the Georgian decision to start the war, a point was quickly, quietly and conveniently forgotten was the Georgian and Western delusion about Russia’s weakness. Until Aug. 9 there were various articles arguing how the weak and scared Russia would not dare to intervene, and even if Russia would try to intervene, the rusty and corrupt Russian army would arrive too late. And even if the rusty and corrupt Russian army arrived in time, the “Israeli-trained” and “almost at NATO-level” Georgian army would be “a difficult nut to crack”. After the Russian army arrived in time and crushed that joke that is the Georgian army, which went into panic mode after three days of fighting, the music changed. All of a sudden “military experts” turned into “international law activists”, the realpolitik of force gave way to the rule of international law.
      In other words, the Georgians and the West thought Russia was unwilling and incapable to intervene. And they were wrong.

      • Looks like they are getting it wrong again but this time on Syria. Supposedly when NATO gets serious in its breaking of international law and fomenting of militants in independent states then chicken-sh*t Russia will run away. You would think all those machine gun toting irregulars in Syria are all peaceful demonstrators if you follow western media coverage.

        Assad needs to go, but not to be replaced by some NATO sponsored stooges.

        • Yes, Russia turned out to be totally badass — which is to say, the Russian military was able to beat a country with 1/30th Russia’s population and about 1/100th of its GDP. To make matters even harder for Russia, the enemy was led by an utter incompetent, and opened the war with a major strategic and diplomatic blunder.

          Anyway. The point is not whether Georgia presented a meaningful threat to Russia — it didn’t — but whether Russia provoked the war. Which, you know, it did. The Georgians didn’t suddenly wake up one morning and say “oh hey, after fourteen years it’s suddenly time to invade South Ossetia”. Saakashvili was of course a complete fool to allow himself to be provoked, but that’s something else again.

          The only question is the level of deliberation in the provocation — was it field commanders independently deciding to start shelling Georgian positions, the Ossetians getting off the leash, etc., or was it orchestrated from Moscow. I’m actually giving Putin credit here. I think it was deliberate, cold blooded, and utterly effective; I think he wanted a war, and wanted to win it, and got what he wanted. There was an element of calculated risk to this — not so much in the war itself (whatever silly stuff outsiders may have said, Russian intelligence certainly knew the precise state of Georgia’s military) as the aftermath. An embittered Georgia could have been a serious strategic nuisance for Russia in the north Caucasus. I suspect Putin figured that into his calculations and decided that Saakashvili, once defeated, would not have the grit to do anything but bluster. So far, he’s been proven right — Georgia has made noises about supporting Islamist insurgents, but has actually done very little.

          So from a purely realpolitikal point of view, it was a sensible move by Putin — a tidy little Bismarckian exercise in border correction. But saying it was a war of “self defense” that’s consistent with Putin being a “peacemaker” is, let’s say, a bit one-sided. I appreciate that Anatoly is arguing the Russian POV, but what happened in 2008 was a bit more complicated.

          (Fun fact: we all remember Bismarck as the guy who used a series of wars to hammer Germany together. What gets forgotten is that in his last and biggest war, Bismarck wasn’t formally the aggressor. Instead, he mousetrapped the idiot leader of France, Napoleon III, into declaring war on *him* and launching an invasion of Germany. When the dust had settled, France had been crushed, Germany was united, and Prussia had gained the new territory of Alsace-Lorraine.)

          If you disagree with this — that’s fine! Go read the Tagliaveri report, then come back and tell me which parts they got wrong.

          Note that official Russia simply ignored the parts that implicated Russia. (The formal Russian response was to praise the report because it affirmed that Georgia shot first.)

          Doug M.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says

            …Russia provoked the war. Which, you know, it did.
            No Doug, I don’t know and you don’t know as well. Yours is just a conspiracy theory. The point you refuse to understand is simple: Georgia and the West thought that Russia would not intervene and even if she would, it couldn’t do much. It is crystal clear, you just need to read what the western media were saying up until Aug. 9. Later, the music changed to hide this gross miscalculation, allowing the average westerner to save his pride by blaming the failure on the treacherous Putin and the “incompetent” and “fool” Saakashvili. Just like the US instructors that “trained” the Georgian army blamed the abject failure of their pupils on a mysterious inability of the Georgians to fight, rather than admitting their incompetence or that they went in Georgia just to chase the local girls. The West is never wrong, and when shit hits the fan, it is someone else fault, either by incompetence or treacherousness. It is this belief that inspires your conspiracy theory.
            Another couple of point you have missed.
            1) The quick melting of the Georgian army came unexpected for everyone, including the Russian army.
            2) Just after the war started, Russia requested a meeting of the UN security council. Obviously, Russia could not expect a resolution authorising the bombing of Georgia, what could be achieved was a resolution ordering a cease-fire. In other words, Russia wanted the Western godfathers of Georgia to put some pressure on Saakashvili to stop the war. The US and UK refused, making it clear who wanted the war and who didn’t.
            Don’t worry Doug, as you say, YMMV, that is to say feel free to believe your conspiracy theory.

            • … Russia wanted the Western godfathers of Georgia to put some pressure on Saakashvili to stop the war.

              To refresh your memory, Russia actually wanted “the Western godfathers of Georgia” to remove Saakashvili altogether.

              • Giuseppe Flavio says

                It’s just the usual idiotic innuendo that feeds an idiotic public. Re-read the article you linked and this time try to understand what it says. Not that I have much hope you’ll succeed.

              • Re-read the article you linked and this time try to understand what it says.

                It says in the very first paragraph that “Kommersant has learned that Moscow is indeed pressing for the ouster of the Georgian president,” and proceeds to explain in detail what exactly this means. I can’t quite see what you’re so upset about.

              • Giuseppe Flavio says


          • So, according to you, Russia got Sack-of-sh*t-vili, the darling of the west, to launch a midnight MLRS and artillery barrage on Tskhinval on the night of the 7th of August, 2008. Hilarious inanity. No point discussing this issue at all with you.

            • I’m going to guess I’m the only person on this thread who has actually looked at the Tagliavini Report.

              Not that the TR is the final and objective truth. Ha ha! No. But it’s the closest thing we have to a neutral, good faith effort to investigate the causes and conduct of the war without bias or favor.

              Remarkably, neither side made serious criticisms of its methodology, and neither side claimed it was biased or otherwise severely flawed. So, while it’s not perfect, it’s pretty clearly the least bad source we have. So if you want to talk seriously about that war, you need to spend the time.

              Yes, it’s long. But most of the good stuff is in Volume I, and you can skim.

              Doug M.

              • Alexander Mercouris says

                Dear Doug,

                I too have read the report. I did not get the impression that it said that Russia provoked the war. Patrick Armstrong who is a retired diplomat and who has studied the report in detail and who has kept a careful track of the entire conflict comes to the diametrically opposite conclusion, which is that Saakashvilii is responsible for the war. His analysis has appeared in Russia Other Points of View.

                The blame for the conflict rests wholly and entirely with Saakashvili whose forces attacked Tskhinvali immediately after he declared a unilateral ceasefire.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says
      • Giuseppe Flavio for example read this – http://azerireport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2942&Itemid=53 5. (C) The President did probe Inglis about the timing of the Georgia invasion in relation to the PKK attack on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. He did not explicitly endorse the following conspiracy theory, but was interested in Inglis’ reaction. Aliyev linked the following events: — The PKK, formerly sponsored by the KGB, attacks the BTC. — Three days later Russia invades Georgia. — In a seemingly random act, the Russians blows up a key railway bridge halting rail export of oil. — A stray bomb falls 10 meters from the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline. — Transneft reports a technical fault along the Novorossiysk Line threatening one of the last remaining oil export route.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says

          Oleg, just out of curiosity, do you come from The Asylum? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that for the mentally challenged, but this film studio. Do you work there as a scriptwriter?

          • Giuseppe Flavio , do you have arguments ? Russia’s Vladimir Putin would personally like to tighten the noose around Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and hang him from a lightpost on Rustaveli Boulevard in Tbilisi. The former KGB agent loathes the man and the vibrant, pro-American democratic regime that began to flourish on Russia’s southwestern border. [See the author’s “Georgia on My Mind,” November 2007]


            There’s no doubt that Putin is dedicated to undermining Saakashvili’s government, one that seeks to join NATO and that provided — until last week — the third largest contingent of troops to the American coalition in Iraq. Frankly, some analysts thought that Georgia’s pro-American policies would lead to Moslem terrorist attacks from al Qaeda or Chechyan bombers. Not enough attention, however, was paid to the champion of a resurgent new Soviet-like hegemony, Vladimir Putin, who may have just wrangled a treacherous diplomatic agreement that effectively gives him control of Georgia.

            But pay attention to Putin’s energy designs, as well. He’s not only the new Russian czar; he’s the energy czar. His aggressive foreign policy is buoyed by Russia’s oil exports. High oil prices helps him; competition, particularly from new oil fields in nearby former Soviet vassal states, hurts him. And the new oil pipelines that go around Russia also deny him royalties. –

            • I’D like to hang Saakashvili from a lamppost – the man appears to be a pathological liar, and his leadership has been a disaster for Georgia despite western attempts to prop him up and “find the silver lining”.

              My favourite source for laughable material regarding Saakashvili was Georgia Media Centre, but that seems to have disappeared; they used to print some real howlers, like Saakashvili’s contention that tourism would increase to ridiculous proportions that I can’t now remember without assistance. He also claimed in a speech that Georgia was so safe that Georgians frequently did not lock their doors, which was directly contradicted by U.S. State Department guidelines for tourists visiting Georgia. Again, that information came from Georgian Media Centre, which was mostly an opposition site. I have plenty of links to the site among my comments, but all now result in a “page not found”.

              Under Saakashvili, the trade balance has precipitously declined in favour of imports, growth has stalled and the population has contracted. The unemployment rate jumped from 10.8 % in 2000 to 16.5% in 2009. GDP growth plummeted from 1.8% in 2000 to -3.9 in 2009, and the national debt went from 269 million in 2000 to 1.325 Billion in 2009.

              There was a lot of bibblebabble about Saakashvili “cleaning up corruption”, but all he really did was remove Shevardnadze’s cronies from political appointments, and install his own. Good enough for the west, which reported he had done an awesome job cleaning up corruption.


              His latest contribution to the news cycle is speculating that whistles and boos at Putin’s appearance at a professional sporting event (which may not have been directed at Putin) heralded “the beginning of the end for the authoritarian rule in Russia”, and mused that “some Georgian politicians miss licking Russian soldiers’ dirty underwear”.


              You stay classy, Mr. President – what a statesman. And you wonder why Russia hates you.

              • Very funny to read the lies from Putins henchmen -In a rare instance of truth telling, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appeared to reveal on Monday the real reason Moscow went to war with Georgia in August 2008.

                Speaking to officers of the Southern Military District in Vladikavkaz, Medvedev seemed to suggest that the goal was preventing Georgia from joining NATO (h/t to Civil Georgia for flagging this story): Time goes by fast – more than three years have already passed, but what is the most important our approaches towards and our assessments of those events have not changed. We of course consider that it was absolutely necessary action by our army to save large number of our citizens and, if not to remove totally, to curb the threat which was coming at the time from the territory of Georgia.

                If we had faltered in 2008, geopolitical arrangement would be different now and number of countries in respect of which attempts were made to artificially drag them into the North Atlantic Alliance, would have probably been [in NATO] now.


  15. Two days and 20+ comments later, and nobody’s even touched the North Caucasus. It’s like the war everyone wants to forget.

    Doug M.

    • North Caucasus? Well, everybody knows what is going on, low-level but fairly widespread Islamist insurgency, involving the usual players, both regional and international…

    • Alexander Mercouris says

      Dear Doug,

      Hardly! I wrote a response to one of your comments yesterday. Please see.

      • Alexander Mercouris says

        Dear Doug,

        Apologies. You are of course now referring to the two Chechen wars and the jihadi insurgency, which are of course in the North Caucasus whilst Georgia is in the Transcaucasus.

        Putin was not responsible for the first Chechen war since he was not a major political figure when it began. The second Chechen war was launched by the Caucasian jihadi movement when it attacked Dagestan in 1999. Contrary to expectations Russia won that war.

        The subsequent jihadi insurgency in the North Caucasus and elsewhere is discussed very fully in a succession of outstanding posts by Geoffrey Hahn on Russia Other Points of View. He shows that whilst it grew out of the original Chechen conflict it is independent of it and should be understood as a typical jihadi insurgency of the sort that governments all over the world have had to face. Putin did not create that insurgency, which had already begun to take shape before the second Chechen war and before he came to power. I would add that though this insurgency remains dangerous and is capable of acts of extreme violence the Russian authorities seem to have been largely successful in containing it. Though experience shows that insurgencies of this sort can take decades to suppress (consider how long it has took the British and Spanish states to defeat ETA and the Provisional IRA) I suspect that time is on Russia’s side.

  16. “Very funny to read the lies from Putins henchmen -In a rare instance of truth telling, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appeared to reveal on Monday the real reason Moscow went to war with Georgia in August 2008.”

    Yes, that’s a pretty typical response – if you can’t support the argument any further, it must be because I’m working for Putin. Why don’t you supply references to back up your position? And as to the one you did supply, above, I have already addressed it in the comments of the linked article. It’s pretty hard to establish military goals of military action you didn’t initiate, wouldn’t you say? Saying that keeping Georgia out of NATO was a goal of the Russian response is like saying Japanese market democracy was an American goal at Pearl Harbor. Both were CONSEQUENCES of what happened, not goals.

    As far as you Russophobe nutjobs are concerned, it doesn’t matter what international reports established or what news networks have learned after dissecting war reports – Russia attacked Georgia, and that’s all there is to it. You have more in common with Saakashvili than you might think.

    • In Putin we trust. Less. – Is it a problem for Putins henchmen ?

      Levada-Center, the Russian poll agency, registers an increase in public awareness of the cult of Putin’s personality. The Center interviewed 1.600 people in late October this year; statistical accuracy is up to 3.4%.

      Thus, 25% of the Russians believe that the personality cult does exist in Russia (only 10% believed so in 2006). 30% claim that the cult is not evident at the moment, yet there are prerequisites for the cult’s development.


      In Russia they use Russian television as an instrument to rule, since they control it. They give the people what they want to see, as evidenced by polls. They manipulate them, but they’re also giving them what they think they want. So it’s a very clever kind of policy.

      • Yawn. Let me know when all your frantic scratching around means that United Russia is going to lose and some liberal in a stars-and-stripes T-shirt is going to win.

        Putin has tricked the Russian people into believing that under his leadership poverty has been cut in half, average monthly wages have more than quintupled, Purchasing Power Parity has increased sixfold and GDP increased by 72%.

        No, wait: that’s true.

        • You are arguing from observable facts, “Oleg” and his endless spew of cut and paste tripe is arguing from dogma. There is no chance for you to get any information across. Much like arguing with a religious zealot or with a global warming denier. It’s all conspiracy and hoax for them.

  17. People, could you please stop replying to Oleg?

    He is a troll who pushes an agenda as opposed to participating in conversation. He is a plagiarist whose arguments are limited to copying and pasting third-rate muck from the Web. Ideally, I would like to spam and remove his posts for repeated violations of #6 and #8 of the blog’s Comments Policy, but this is tricky when there are 5 comments in reply to every one of his.

    • Nice to see censorship in action . Good luck with the Russian people .


      AK edit: Choosing not to tolerate plagiarizing trolls is not censorship. I had the same response to a Russophile who used to troll here, Averko.

      • Oh, Michael Averko! The professional “analyst”! I remember him — he used to pop up on Balkan threads over at the Fistful of Euros.

        He was amusing as much as annoying:

        “The sky is green!”
        “Um, looking outside I see it’s actually blue. Though sometimes, at night, it’s black.”
        “You’ve just CONCEDED my point! Ha!”

        — but yes, he was a definite waste of bandwidth.

        Doug M.

    • Well, I was trying to engage Oleg in a civilized debate on specific points. But he seems more interested in posting chapters of his anti-Putin thesis, complete with footnotes.

  18. commonsense says

    Look, I am not an Obama supporter. He was put in power to pacify minorities and the down trodden without actually doing anything real to help them.
    But, to hold Putin up as any kind of humanitarian is forgetful at best. He is a dangerous person, foremost to his own people. A KGB stooge propped up by the old kremlin powers that miss the “good old” Soviet times.
    The U.S. place in the world needs to change, for sure. I am tired of flipping the bill to maintain order in the world. But, the truth is, no other country has the will (or the military resources) to be the world’s policemen. Certainly not the wishy washy europeans, who want to retire at age 55 and continues to have 6 weeks of vacation each year. And China is just waiting to crush democracy at an opportune time. I wish that were not the case, but, until another (democratic) superpower shows some sign of morality and concern for world peace, the U.S. will be intervening (for better or for worse).

  19. “Old Kremlin powers”. I have to break it to you but there is nothing left of the Soviet era elite in Russia. Look where the money is and who are the names tied to it. Do you see any high ranking Kremlin communists? No.

    Throwing the KGB label around is meaningless. Putin was a low ranking operative stationed in Eastern Germany and not some fifth directorate thug or high ranking member. Meanwhile, George Bush Sr. was head of the CIA in 1976 at the time when the CIA was installing death squad juntas in Latin America. So cut the phony moral superiority tripe.