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Saturday, August 16, 2008


The Sun headline headline shows Vladimir Putin saying "We'll nuke Poland" & the rest of the media is only a little more restrained. Technically they aren't lying since they don't actually say Putin said this they simple publish it beside the photo of a "furious" Putin. (There was once a joke about using the same photo of John Major to show him angry, happy & sad - same here.)

In fact, of course he never said any such thing. What actually happened is that a Russian general, not even a politician & certainly not Putin, explained that in the event of an American attack on Russia

"The USA is engaged in an anti-missile defence for its own government, and not for Poland. And Poland, in deploying (elements of the system) opens itself to a military strike. That is 100 percent," Interfax quoted Nogovitsyn as saying.

Well of course it would. If a missile base on Polish territory were being used as part of a nuclear attack on Russia it would be an act of war. If a nuclear missile were fired at the US from Cuba the Cubans would get it back. If Afghanistan were to provide logistical support for an attack on America the Americans would undoubtedly retaliate - indeed they did. So did we during WW2 when we bombed places in occupied France - even though we knew they didn't like being occupied. So would any nation suffering aggression.

What the general is pointing out is that by giving the US this base they take the decision of whether their country have war or peace out of their hands & put it in America's. This is the reason countries are correctly uncomfortable about giving their territory over to the unconstrained use of other countries military.

Since last Thursday we have seen our media day by day ratcheting up their enmity of Russia. It is indeed similar to the way, in 1984, the authorities always needed at least one enemy to focus popular fear on. After all "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary" as the heading to this blog explains. When the USSR crumbled they ratcheted up global warming. Now that global warming has crumbled they ratchet up Russia.

Unquoted is "Preserving the territorial integrity of Georgia will not be possible without preserving the territorial integrity of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija province", Russian Ambassador to NATO Dimitry Rogozin said in Brussels.

"It is unacceptable to recognize the unilateral independence of Kosovo province from Serbia and, at the same time, keep repeating the territorial integrity of Georgia must be respected when it comes to South Ossetia and Abkhazia", Rogozin said at the press conference.

"If we all respect the territorial integrity of Serbia in regards to its Kosovo province, then we are also going to honor the territorial integrity of Georgia. But if someone doesn't respect Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty over Kosovo and Metohija, then they better shut up about the territorial integrity of Georgia", Rogozin said.

That contains the seeds of a deal & it is very difficult to argue that this is an unreasonable position. If anything it is overly reasonable since it accepts NATO's original carve up of Yugoslavia keeping Srpska & Krajina under the control of our ex-Nazi friends. For that reason it isn't being mentioned by the MSM.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Radio Scotland's morning phone in today was about Georgia & what "we" should do about it. It was not entirely biased having a Russian spokesman on & callers in on both sides, though the first one, who said "Russia timed this for when the Olympics were on" got quite a lot of time.

I rang up & got on at 9.35 though for a very short soundbite.

I said that this was clearly the result of an attempt by Georgia to repeat the extermination of the 250,000 string Krajina community, in Croatia, which had been done with US & British officers & NATO airpower. I pointed out that there had been 1,000 US soldiers "training" the Georgian army for something until a few days before.

Garry asked me a rather silly question about whether we didn't have a duty to support Georgia as a democratic nation to which I replied that Russia has a democratic system too & indeed that Serbia had had one when we attacked it.

He said thank you & moved on to the next caller.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Even in an age where events move fast this has been a remarkably short war.

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.
Russian-backed South Ossetian separatists claimed 1,400 civilians had died, while Georgia accused Russia of inflicting heavy losses in bombing raids.

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
"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.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


John Redwood MP has recently done an interesting series of posts entitled "Crumbling Britain". While my comments on them do not agree with him in all points it is an informed & forward looking set of articles & I cannot think of any other British politician who could have done it. Frankly most of them not only couldn't have discussed the subject without relying on platitudes they wouldn't even have understood why it is important to.

Crumbling Britain: introduction

Crumbling Britain: water More competition

Crumbling Britain: rail He knows his stuff & proposes increasing capacity by making trains lighter & with better braking. I mention automation.

Crumbling Britain: roads Get rid of "traffic calming" ie traffic slowing measures & focus on improving motorway bottlenecks. I write against tolling.

Crumbling Britain: power Get on with nuclear.

Crumbling Britain: oil and gas If we "windfall" tax utilities more we will discourage them from exploration.

Crumbling Britain: telecoms

Crumbling Britain: new technology and future projects I comment in favour of X-Prizes

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