Tuesday, August 12, 2008
On Friday night it started when the Georgians announced a ceasefire with Ossetia & 2 hours later attacked, presumably hoping to be able to destroy the place before the Russians, with Putin in Beijing, reacted.
RUSSIA and Georgia were last night on the brink of all-out war after a long-standing dispute over a breakaway province erupted into violence.One interesting & widely unreported fact mentioned in Scotsman comments strongly supports the comparison with Krajina & in particular that the US had organised & trained local troops for this as they did in Krajina
Russian-backed South Ossetian separatists claimed 1,400 civilians had died, while Georgia accused Russia of inflicting heavy losses in bombing raids.
"One thousand U.S. troops began a military training exercise in Georgia on Tuesday against a backdrop of growing friction between Georgia and neighboring Russia."
(MSNBC July 15th 2008)
I also said of the Russian non-destruction of the oil pipeline that this is a smart move on Russia's part to keep the west placated.
On Sunday the Georgians were in disarray. The media swung in to exploit the pity of it all;
AN ELDERLY woman lies battered and dazed in the twisted rubble of her home, her face streaked with blood and soot as she reaches out a despairing hand and begs for help.
Well yes but were there not among the Ossetians too?
On Monday the media were quoting Georgians in Britain but amazingly unable to find any Russian citizens.
Meanwhile Iain Dale did 2 separate posts on how this was a Munich moment & we should not engage in appeasement to which I replied
"The problem with the Tory use of the term appeasement is that history shows that they have practiced it repeatedly with "right wing" regimes & continuously denounced it in diplomacy with "left wing" ones (though Russia isn't actually left wing now by any real standard but some people are always fighting the last war. Not just Hitler but, as an extreme example, the refusal of NATO to accept that the Munich agreement was illegitimate throughout most of the cold war was justified on the grounds of needing to placate the German "right wing".
Regrettably like the term "another Hitler", "appeasement" is a buzz word used when those in charge want to bomb somebody....
Russia is not merely not wrong to intervene in Ossetia it would have been morally wrong not to. Legally wrong as well since they had peacekeepers & were parties to the peace agreement.
Having ourselves intervened in Kosovo, not to prevent genocide, but, as Foreign Secretary Robin Cook admitted at the time, to assist the people engaged in genocide in Kosovo (& Croatia & Bosnia) we are in no position to censure & here
Last night it was reported they were about to capture Gori, which effectively divides the long valley that is Georgia & Georgian soldiers were obviously in complete panic. This morning they had announced they were halting & the story was already slipping down the listings.
Now obviously Russia is a very much bigger country than Georgia so its victory is not unexpected but the speed & thoroughness of it is. Big countries can get into a mess in wars with small ones. In the winter of 1939-40 the USSR invaded Finland & got a very bloody nose indeed. It took them 3 months to win yet here, from a standing start, In a place & timing of Georgia's choosing they had total victory in 4 days. I suspect part of this is that the Georgian soldier's hearts were not in this. Even the BBC were, last night, reporting the general attitude of complaint against their New York lawyer President. It is an open secret that the election which brought him to power was fixed by the application of vast amounts of CIA & NGO money. Nonetheless it will be a considerable satisfaction to the Russian leadership that the did so much better than Stalin.
It also took 3 months of bombing for NATO to beat Yugoslavia & even then it was done by dishonest negotiation promising that the KLA would be disarmed & Yugoslav sovereignty respected. Despite all the promises of hundreds of tanks being destroyed in fact at the end it turned out to be 3 so it is likely that, had it come to a soldiers rather than bombers war NATO's nose would have been bloody indeed.
The other thing which has really gratified me is that public opinion, at least as expressed in newspaper comments & the relatively right wing parts of the blog I frequent has been on the Russian side, & overwhelmingly against supporting the Georgians. Part of this may simply that even armchair generals who were keen on bombing Serbs consider Russia an altogether less attractive option but there is also a thorough understanding that what Russia is doing is, at the very least, far more justified, even in its own terms, than our behaviour in Kosovo.
I think this has been a major turning point in the world. The "unipolar world" in which the US was the source of all power is dead & buried. America is still mired in Iraq & indeed still wants Russian support, indeed intercession, in Iran. It is now clear that such intercession will not be had for a bountiful nod from America.
Putin has played masterfully. Nonetheless he could still screw it. Iraq shows that the best thing to do when you have won a modern war is not to hang around. This would also allay European fears. Russia is not the pygmy we pretended but nor has it become a giant. It would be nice to bring the Georgian President to justice as a war criminal but I suspect the Georgians will do that on their own unless he gets a fast plane to New York.
I would like to reccomend Byzantine blog for more in depth coverage of the sort our media don't give (& the posed photos they do give) with heavy comparisons with our behaviour in Yugoslavia.
"Russia was the pygmy we pretended"
Apart from that, top stuff, we can rely on you to support the unfashionable minority view on just about anything. Having read today's papers a bit more closely, it would appear that the South Ossis were doing a shitty Hamas type shelling and the Georgians rose to the bait with a bit of unfashionable Israeli-style collective punishment.
On many things my opinions are quite respectable, perhaps even fashionable. It is just that my purpose here is to move the world a little & saying that parliamentary democracy beats dictatorship or an enforced prices & incomes policy won't work isn't going to change minds.