Saturday, August 23, 2008

Poland, frozen conflicts and new ‘cold wars’


Stop blogging for just four months over the summer and what happens? The world - certainly this part of it - has changed. And not for the better.

The deal between Washington and Warsaw on the anti-ballistic missile system last week was signed by Condoleezza Rice and her buddy, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski (pictured below) as the guns in the Caucasus were still warm and smoking.

Russian troops were still pulling out - or were they? - of areas in Georgia they had occupied since President Mikheil Saakashvili sent many of his troops to certain death by ordering them, somewhat ludicrously, to take back control of South Ossetia, one of the small, pro-Russian breakaway regions his nation lost after the nasty war in the early 1990s as the Soviet Union collapsed around them.

Poland - in the shape of its government and particularly its president, Lech Kaczynski - has been using the conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi to nail their colours to the mast of “protecting freedom and democracy” of the brave young George against the might of an imperialistic old dragon in the Kremlin.

The Novosti Russian news agency reported Saturday:

Two more NATO ships, a Polish frigate and a U.S. destroyer, passed through the Bosporus strait and entered the Black Sea on Friday evening to boost the alliance's presence in the Black Sea, where it is delivering humanitarian cargoes to Georgia, a source in the Turkish navy said.

But the only people cheering from the sidelines, as politicians and media pundits reached for the ’new cold war metaphors’ were probably a few arms dealers. Georgia needs even more US arms! Patriot missiles coming to Poland! American troops to set up a garrison in Poland! Yippee!

And people like President Kaczynski must have been cocker-hoop! Here was HIS mission - his reason to be. As he said - “Russia has now shown its true [imperialistic] face.” Someone had to stand up to them. Didn’t they?
The war in Georgia galvanised travel-averse old Kaczor into a radical transformation. Suddenly, before our incredulous eyes, he turned into Action Man interested in notching up a few frequent fly miles vouchers. As the war raged in South Ossetia, a duck-like Rambo figure emerged from the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, rounded up fellow New Cold War Warriors from Presidential Palaces and PM Offices in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and set off in Poland’s Air Force One for Tbilisi.

But where Kaczynski goes, farce quickly follows. At one point during the flight the pilot - fearing that Tbilisi airspace was still controlled by Russia - refused to go to Georgia and re-routed the plane for safer climbs in Azerbaijan. But President Kaczynski first ordered that the pilot be sacked - then took control of the plane. Kind of. I can almost imagine him - almost - gripping the joystick in sweaty hands as he said, his voice firm with purpose and intent: “I am the Polish Commander-in-Chief and this plane is going to Tbilisi!”

Sadly, that was just my imagination. Actually the pilot touched down somewhere in Azerbaijan and then Kaczynski and crew were forced to endure a four hour car journey for his date with destiny.

Kaczynski goes to Tbilisi

And what a heady experience it must have been. President Kaczynski is no longer popular at home. But here, in front of crowds of Georgians, he could appear the hero. Here were a few leaders sticking a finger up at Putin, almost daring him to do his worst.

But while President Kaczynski was forging a new reputation for himself as a 21st century Pilsudski - well, he can dream - the rest of us were feeling decidedly nervous. The signing of the anti-missile deal, the war in the Caucuses, are both the result of national and international elites looking for a sense of their own worth - and that goes for Moscow and Washington, Tbilisi, Warsaw and Paris. The price, meanwhile, the average Central and Eastern European- in-the-street is paying is a more unstable region.

We are left with more questions than answers. Why did Saakashvili start a war with Russia he knew he would lose? Did he expect President Kaczynski - his main supporter internationally - to send a few Polish F-16s over Moscow? Did he not realise that Polish F-16s are having a little trouble flying over Warsaw these days, so naff and knackered is consignment given to them by Washington? Did he honestly think that acting like the loose canon he is would make Georgia’s chances of joining Nato any greater?

And why do so many people think that Moscow is acting from a new position of strength when they are actually trying to hang on to what are, realistically, meaningless pieces of territory in South Ossetia and Abkhazia? This is not strength - it shows their desperation, weakness and diminishing influence in the region.

Is the anti-missile shield really needed at all? Are the existential threats more the product of post-Cold War and War on Terror fantasies? Will the shield really make us safer? Is a further antagonised Moscow really worth it? Wouldn’t some creative diplomacy be a better way for international leaders to spend their time?

One of Us?

More questions: What did Bush say to Saakashvili in private as he praised him in public? When the Georgian president was contemplating making his suicidal move against South Ossetia two years ago he reportedly got more than an earful from Colin Powell. “Back off!,” was the clear message.

Bush often says that Saakashvili - in reality an authoritarian who has more in common with someone like Putin than many realise - is “one of us”; Bush often reminds us that Saakashvili is “western educated.” Which is true - but there again, so is George W Bush “western educated.” So what does that say about the state of Western Education Systems?

74 comments:

John Page said...

"This is not strength - it shows their desperation, weakness and diminishing influence in the region."

How so? It looks like they can roam at will, and sets up The Crimea as a possible next destination. Dismemberment of Ukraine, anyone?

Renegade Eye said...

See this.

I had this discussion on my blog. It would have been better with you involved.

Over time I changed one position. I've come to believe in no left/right that matters. On the rightist blogs they talk like this is the cold war. On the left they talk about a neoconservative conspiracy. To me both sides are drunk. A sober view I think is first of all Russia is imperialist. It not being an empire is an anomaly. With the US bogged down in Iran and Afghanistan, Russia realizes it is time to act.

The US must have known, the Russians were mobilized. They hung Georgia out to dry. The message to Poland is, if you think you can rely on the US, you are wrong.

McCain made a fool of himself. The harsher the rhetoric, the weaker the US looks.

Putin didn't change the balance of forces, he just acknowledged them. The US is too bogged down to act.

My bottom line is no political support to either side.

Richard said...

Welcome back!

ge'ez said...

Roam at will?

They went into freaking South Ossetia. South what? Isn't it in the north of Georgia?

The Ruskies are more likely to invade Fredonia than the Ukraine.

(That was a Marx Brothers reference).

Russia today is imperialist? What are it's colonies? In what countries does it have military or missile bases?

The excursion into Georgia looks like weenie waving/sabre rattling to me. Rather a vulgar public display and utterly pathetic.

ge'ez said...

And the US is too bogged down to act?

Why would the US act even if it wasn't involved in Iraq? To perserve Georgian control over tiny, economically insignificant South Ossetia? C'mon.

I can't imagine lame duck Bush coming on TV saying we need to move into South Ossetia to fight the Russians under any circumstances.

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said “Poland ………..has been using the conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi to nail their colours to the mast of “protecting freedom and democracy” of the brave young George against the might of an imperialistic old dragon in the Kremlin.”

Because of our history making a fuss about Russian behaviour sooner rather than later is a result of our experience with the Evil Empire (Tsarist Russia/Soviet Russia/ New Russia). I somehow didn’t think etiquette requires us to remain silent until they reach the outskirts of Warsaw. As a democracy we have every right, not to mention the moral obligation to give support to another democracy when it is invaded by a non-democracy.

beatroot said “Mikheil Saakashvili sent many of his troops to certain death by ordering them, somewhat ludicrously, to take back control of South Ossetia, one of the small, pro-Russian breakaway regions”

Are we all conveniently forgetting what happened immediately prior the Georgian move into South Ossetia? Such as several incidence where the Russia puppet administration of South Ossetia had their troops (Russian Army) open fire on the Georgians.

beatroot said “And why do so many people think that Moscow is acting from a new position of strength when they are actually trying to hang on to what are, realistically, meaningless pieces of territory in South Ossetia and Abkhazia? This is not strength - it shows their desperation”

Moscow is acting to protect its(the ruling circle) interests that is the restoration of the Empire at least to the size and position that would once again make it a super power. Also to fulfill it’s need for defence by means of depth of territory. Moscow also needs these conflicts real or manufactured as the reason or justification to extinguish what remains of civil society and freedom in Russia.

beatroot said “Is a further antagonised Moscow really worth it? Wouldn’t some creative diplomacy be a better way for international leaders to spend their time?”

We watched this being tried before with another country and a stupid little man emerged from an airplane waving a piece of paper proclaiming “peace in our time”. I understand it didn’t end happily for us Poles.

beatroot said “Bush often says that Saakashvili - in reality an authoritarian who has more in common with someone like Putin than many realise - is “one of us”; Bush often reminds us that Saakashvili is “western educated.” Which is true - but there again, so is George W Bush “western educated.” So what does that say about the state of Western Education Systems?”

For what ever his failing may be Saakashvili got legitimately elected several times according to international observers, Mr. Putin has failed to do so even once. Mr. Saakashvili did not serve as a colonel of the secret police in a totalitarian state Mr. Putin did.

jannowak57 said...

John Page said... “How so? It looks like they can roam at will, and sets up The Crimea as a possible next destination. Dismemberment of Ukraine, anyone?”
The Russians are not yet a super power but they are a regional power. I don’t believe they can roam at will. They will carefully analyse the western response to Georgia and tailor their move against the Ukraine accordingly.

Renegade Eye said...”I think is first of all Russia is imperialist”

They have a vision of their future and it’s security needs, unfortunately they see security in terms of expansion. I dare say it would be better to embrace your neighbours in cooperation then coercion at the point of a gun. Because of history and culture their vision of the world is at variance to that of the western mind.

Renegade Eye said..” The US must have known, the Russians were mobilized. They hung Georgia out to dry. The message to Poland is, if you think you can rely on the US, you are wrong.”

No you can’t trust the Americans but if you have no other horse to jump on what the hell do you do?

There have been some spectacular failures on the part western intelligence services over the years. I should point out that the invasion by the Russians of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was one where the western intelligence services were found lacking.

beatroot said...

Welcome back everyone. I hope you had a nice summer. I did…but I really should live somewhere like California…summers just ain’t long enough here.

Jan et al…do you really think that Kaczynski is merely reacting to Russia’s decade old, centuries old, aggression against Poland? Is it just history that is informing him or has he bought into the line that many have in Poland - I am talking about the political class and media - of the “good guy, bad guy” scenario in the Caucuses?

Well, I just don’t buy that. It is not a simple morality play.

Saakashvili played into Moscow’s hands. He did exactly what they wanted him to do. Now that was really sooopid! The guy is unstable and is dangerous.

Russia is acting like it is because of its declining influence in the region. All policy relations with them should start with that thought in mind.

There is also massive hypocrisy about the way to deal with these “frozen conflicts” left over from the end of the cold war - the real one, I mean. Policy towards Kosovo is vastly different to policy towards South Ossetia etc. the problem of ethnic minorities being stuck in new nations is a problem in the Caucuses as it is in the Balkans. The “international” community must be consistent on these matters but simply is not. That gives Russia a case and an argument.

Even though Bush has been full of praise for Saak, expect in private they will be finding ways of getting rid of this guy. He’s dangerous. And forget Georgia getting in Nato…it ain;t gonna happen now - he blew it.

beatroot said...

For what ever his failing may be Saakashvili got legitimately elected several times according to international observers,

Yeah, Jan...in one election he got 96 per cent of the vote...free and fair elections? :-)

ge'ez said...

What about free and fair elections in South Ossetia to let the people there decide what side of whose border they want to live in?

It should be expected that the breakup -- and I emphasize breakup -- of the Soviet empire will continue to foster all sorts of ethnic conflicts for a decade or so before everything gets more or less settled.

I just don't see the Russian action as a prelude to bigger and worse things -- unless the US continues to go out of its way to stick it's farting ass in Russia's face. This, unfortunately, remains a distinct possibility if McBush wins the election come November. That's about two months away, folks. And I'm thinking at this point that American white racism is holding the trump card.

To be sure, it bothers me that McBush's main foreign policy advisor is a paid agent of Georgia. And that's a fact which he has not disputed. I'm a bit, but only a bit surprised that a much bigger deal is not being made about that. But that, I'm sure, is because South Ossetia is well, South Ossetia.

beatroot said...

the Soviet empire will continue to foster all sorts of ethnic conflicts for a decade or so before everything gets more or less settled.

Well, what is happneing from the process is, basically, a series of exercises in ethnic cleansing. Ir is encouraging a process where people see themselves through a 'nation'based on culture. Gone is any hope of seeing us as having a little more in common than that.

It also breaks this part of the world up into very unstable little blocks. So someone like saakishvili is not that unsual.

So this is not a process that we should welcome.

As for much of the West's - and Poland's in particular - to the Georgian thing is massive hypocracy. Kaczynski, Tusk, Bush, lecturing Russia: "You can;t go around anylonger deciding who is going to be in power in someone elses country. That is no longer acceptable...blah". Well, excuse me: this is exactly what the US, UK, Poland etc has been doing. That was the neocons project. This is the liberal Human Inteventionists project.

Fucking Hypoctits!

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said “Fucking Hypoctits”

Is there no one for the masses to rally around, a champion of truth and justice? Do we give up in despair? Did Obama sell out with Joe Biden a Washington insider who recently visits Mikhail Saakashvili to offer words of encouragement therefore a fellow traveler of Kaczynski?

Just as you thought things were already fucked up beyond recognition it gets better, the missile deal in Poland had nothing to do with Georgia whatsoever. The momentary change of public opinion was harnessed to sign the deal without a lot of public criticism.
All elements of the political elites concurred except for Moscow’s friends (collaborators) the SLD. We can’t agree on the time of day in Poland but suddenly we have near complete unity and agreement at the top levels of government and politics. An event that only happens when a great threat to the nation is perceived.

The deal with the Americans in the end was signed only for two reasons the presence of American personnel and equipment on Polish soil thereby the tripwire also a direct security guarantee. Under normal conditions the deal’s lack of military aid would not have gotten it through.

One of the most important national decisions has been made and the public has been lied to, deceived and kept in the dark. This is not about Georgia its about Berlin and Moscow, did anyone notice the mixed signals coming out of Berlin, the hesitation to do anything well there was a reason.

It is believed by some that President Medvedev has offered Berlin on a bilateral basis a comprehensive security guarantee which would establish close links between the two and provide guarantees for Germanys security, access to energy supplies and access to the Russian market for Germanys products. The deal was not rejected out of hand but informal talk continues. The implication here is for a potentially massive geo-political shift and an end to all of the pillars of European security.

This if true would represent the fourth time in history these two nations made such a move.

man of Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene said...

How stupid Poland would be to obtain access to energy supplies and access to the Russian market for Poland's products!

It's so much better to get a missile base and American soldiers.

Now there will be true security at last!

beatroot said...

jan - of course Georgia was nothing to do with anti-missile shield. But the two are part of the increasing militarism in this region.

Don't you think that making a comparison of the gas thing with Ribbentrop-Molotov etc...is a little ahistorical, in fact, and rather...over the top?

jannowak57 said...

When countries perceive a treat they respond with investing in the means of self-defence, the missile shield for Poland was only a means of acquiring additional guarantees and more resources. They got the guarantee but very little in terms of resources.

Poland has a legitimate right to self-defence proportional to the security treats it faces.

Russia is generating the insecurity with it treats and aggressive behaviour in the region. What conclusions do we draw when people say there going to nuke you and already engaged in economic warfare with us?

Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was directed specifically at Poland and facilitated its destruction. The current negotiations / conversations between Germany and Russia are a replay of the Ribbentrop-Molotov. The pipeline deal was the turning point in Poland’s relations with Germany when Germany acted directly against the security interests of Poland.

It didn’t take long for our old neighbours to behave in the old way.

wlodzimierz l. said...

"Poland has a legitimate right to self-defence proportional to the security treats it faces."

True but a perception of a threat is not necessarily a real threat.

Sometimes an unecessary reaction to the perception of a threat becomes the real threat.

Barrister Ali K.Chishti said...

Sitting in Pakistan, I see Russia expanding her hands now (thanks to there oil reserves and better economy); it’s about honor and returning to there former position as a super power for Russia then anything else. The recent incident was something which was unwanted and as someone who had seen Russians operate this is not going to end here – especially with the Missile Shield Programme and NATO’s expansion in the East.

Tough times to come…!

Dr. Gumy said...

The missile shield program will be about as effective as one condom for protecting the entire population of Poland against unwanted pregnancies.

It's only purpose is to piss off Putin and his stooges.

It's a waste of money and will only exacerbate tensions.

Let the Russians foist in their own petard rather than stirring up shit to see if it stinks.

Anonymous said...

you have very little care for details Peter - this is shown in your spelling of Caucasus. Or maybe your knowledge of geography is shallow. There is no way you can reach Georgia from Ukraine in a couple-of-hours car trip. So you must have misunderstood a thing or two in your lecture. I know you are prejudiced against the Kaczynskis. Anyway you cannot actually state Lech Kaczynski lost popularity - it was around a quarter of the vote-able population who had chosen him to the office - it is about the current support to him in the oppinion polls. What Kaczynskis have acquired is much stronger negative electorate than before they came to power. This is in great extent thanks to black PR in most of the media.

Daniel Buszynski

Anonymous said...

ge'ez you perhaps happen not to know that the Ossetians have expelled almost all of the Georgians who inhabited the region (South Ossetia) following the rebellion in the early 90's - the rebellion most probably inspired and supported in many different ways by the Russians. This is called ethnic cleansing as far as I recall. This has also happened in Abkhazia to my knowlegde (expelling of ethnic Georgians). The figures where definitely above 20 (perhaps around 30 per cent Georgians in South Ossetia). You can perhaps find more exact figures around in the web.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

daniel

You are right about Ukraine...I meant Azerbaijan. I was going to tie in Ukraine later in the post (but ended up not doing so) ...that kind of thing often happens. It happens often. So thanks for the correction.

But how about debating the points and questions in the post? Saying I have a 'prejudice' against Kaczynski is not a negation of what I wrote.

beatroot said...

and what is...So you must have misunderstood a thing or two in your lecture... supposed to mean?

Anonymous said...

if you had understood that the plane landed in Ukraine and then they continued by car you would definitely misunderstand what you would read (if what I write doesn't make sense - i mean not correct grammar as well - please to correct me)
what you wrote originally in your blog entry was Lech Kaczynski was no logner popular in Poland. Well he sort of never was. The opinion polls suggest a quarter of Poles do think favourably of the president - this is about the same part that managed to vote him in.

beatroot said...

Are you saying that he is now as popular as he was when he was elected president? Are you saying that Kaczynski has increased his popularity since PO took power last year? Are you saying that his popularity has suffered from his almost childish over foreign policy and his determination to run his own foreign policy regardless of what the government wants?

Fact is - Tusk is popular not because he is so fabulous - because he is not - but that he does not act like a Kaczynski.

Anonymous said...

i am not debating wiht the whole of the article - you have your views - I'm just pointing the things that are just aren't right there (to my knowlegde)
or maybe just one point of debate - you cannot convince everyone with talking - if someone is really determined to kick your ass means of persuasion are many times much too weak to stop him. Provided you do not recognise licking his arse, drinking his pee or the kind as means of persuasion. Russian political elites (those in power) are beant on getting Europe in their grip. Perhaps means of war are not their favourite now. If you don't believe their aim is to control Europe consider that once their aim was to control the world.

Anonymous said...

The last remark is to show you what kind of creative diplomacy can be put forward towards Russia.
What I am saying is about as many people support Kaczynski as had voted for his presidency. You can check the numbers. Diffrent factors are in play. And yes many people do not find it outrageous unforgivable and so like - the deeds and traits of Lech Kaczynski. Including myself. I am not saying there could be no better Polish president and so do think many Poles who still support Kaczynskis. Not saying here that there is no personality cult around. There is some sort.

beatroot said...

Personality cult around Kaczynski? Does he actually have a personality?

Russia - all this talk about Russia wanting to take over the world...this is a fantasy. Russia is in no position to take over anything but places like South Ossetia! Forget about the world - Russia has problems looking after its doorstep.

but as I said, thanks for the corrections.

ge'ez said...

Gee, anon, why were/are the Ossetians upset with the Georgians?

You make it sound like all history starts with the Russians.

Anonymous said...

ge'ez you could research it yourself - you just make points basing upon your assumptions - and yes you are not giving enough credit to Russians - communist Russia was actually a spy country - that was a real foundation of the state - the secret police and secret services. In this region anything that was happening recently could well be linked with Russians (meaning KGBist) - e.g. even if there was some resentiment among Ossetians against Georgians without Russian inspiration and support it would not lead to anything like armed rebellion.

ge'ez said...

Some resentment? Just a teeny widdle bit of resentment? Like there was this one Georgian guy who knocked up some Ossetian's sister? Not a lot of resentment? I think you waaaay underestimate how much resentment there is among Ossetians and their willingness to fight the Georgians. Even without the Russians.

Did the Russians aid and abet them? Sure. But the Georgians were/are also culpable and mostly so.

Again, why do you oppose the right of self-determination for the Ossetians? Whose imperialism are you serving?

peter said...

Why is there double standards in the that part of the world compared to the balkans? Eh? Don;t Bush and EU etc see that if you grant independence to a place like Kosovo then sooner rather than later you are going to get or reopen other claims.

Is that a good thing?

let's have some balance this, at least. This mess is not s simple 'good guy/bad guy' rap...foreign policy rarely is.

jannowak57 said...

peter said... “if you grant independence to a place like Kosovo then sooner rather than later you are going to get or reopen other claims. “

There is no relationship between Kosovo and the Georgian situation the two beakaway areas of Georgia are creations of the Russian intelligence services in order to maintain instability in the region and have no legitimacy what so ever.

peter said... “This mess is not s simple 'good guy/bad guy'”

Yes it is, the Russians are at fault.

beatroot said...

But seeing it so black and white misses so much of the complexity of these type of situations. But this is the main 'narrative' that people have bought in to these days.

It ain't that simple.

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said...” It ain't that simple.”

In light of Russia’s latest actions i.e. the less then veiled annexation of the two Georgian breakaway regions (set-up by Moscow’s security services), it undoubtedly requires more mental gymnastics to come up with excuses for avoiding confrontation with the Russians. Even the French have had their fill with the Russians.

However Angela Merkel is still playing nice with them, perhaps she sees herself dressed up like Bismarck over looking a Germany extended to the Wisła River.

Lets nuke Moscow and be done with it….oops can’t do that they have an anti-missile shield surrounding Moscow that’s been in place for years.

ge'ez said...

Why do you continue to dehumanize the Ossetians and the Abkhazians, 57?

Are they really bereft of human agency of their own?

And noooobody mentions the Abkahazians by name. What's up with that?

ge'ez said...

BTW, how come Putin-supported former KGB agent Raul Khadjimba lost the Abkhazian presidential election to Sergey Bagapsh?

Seems like not only Abkhazian puppets of the Russians have some issues with Georgia...

ge'ez said...

BTW, do the Ossetians have their own national soccer team made up of players from North and South Ossetia?

jannowak57 said...

ge'ez said...” Why do you continue to dehumanize the Ossetians and the Abkhazians”

Ossetians and the Abkhazians are in fact citizens of Georgia and a small minority within these communities under Russian direction and control have created ethnic tensions to generate instability. They are not players in this game they are tools of Russian imperialism and it expansionist policy. There is no basis for the existence of these entities out side of the constitution order of the Georgian state. The Russians have issued passports and pensions on mass in order to prevent the disintegration of these fabricated entities.

The ethnic cleansing of Georgians living in both Ossetia and the Abkhazia is currently underway, what about humanizing the victims.

The Russians understand full well as an imperial power the value of divide and rule.

Long Live Georgia ..down with Russian Imperialism!

beatroot said...

Lets nuke Moscow and be done with it….oops can’t do that they have an anti-missile shield surrounding Moscow that’s been in place for years.

I am certainly not pretending that Moscow has been googy two shoes....in fact, I find their foreign policy at bit ...pathetic, actually. Like I say this is just them Ruskis trying to get their national pride back. Every Russian I meet is a great person...and then the conversation goes on to politics, and I get a bit lost.

But that being so, there are shades of grey, pastals, and other colours in this war nonsense that you are simply missing, 57.

IT AIN'T THAT SIMPLE. Stop parroting the lines by most politicians in Poland...good guy/bad guys...that's for American western movies...not real life.

ge'ez said...

70% is a minority?

If you want to support democracy, why not let them vote as to their fate?

True, the fate of Georgians in these locales looks pretty bleak.

I'm all for Georgian independence and opposed to Russian imperialism.

But let the people vote!

Do the Georgians really need South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Do the Russians? Do the Ossetians and the Abkhazians?

beatroot said...

Does Russia? I don't think so, really. Is what they are doing actually in their national interest? Maybe not. Is it worth the fuss. But they are saying that they did what they did to protect RUSSIANS ....that was what the Brits did when they went marching down to Falklands Islands ...but that really wasn't in the UK's interests to look after an empire that wasn't there anymore.

So maybe this is that sad kind of nationalism that comes over nations - I remember UK when it was like this - that tries to hang on to the influence that it has, but one that is slipping away?

India and China are gonna be bigger than them.

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said: “IT AIN'T THAT SIMPLE”

Stop yelling at me! It hurts my feelings.

It’s not really about pride; it’s a view of the world that Russia needs to have a certain geo-strategic position in order to feel secure and powerful. It’s a view of the world at variance with the rest of Europe based somewhat on culture and history, but principally driven by the Kremlins need to extinguish the last vestige of democracy in Russia. The Kremlin will soon crack down on all forms of decent and declare them to be foreign inspired treachery, thereby enshrining the Putin System. Which is in essence the old idea of state power before human rights and the idea of the citizen existing to serve the state etc.

Stop looking for good guys just pick one of the lesser of the evils and go with it. Some bastards are a lot worst than others.

beatroot said: “Does Russia? I don't think so, really. Is what they are doing actually in their national interest?”

It’s not in Russia’s interest but it is in the interest of the Kremlin, it about power and the access to great wealth that power provides.

beatroot said: “But they are saying that they did what they did to protect RUSSIANS ....that was what the Brits did when they went marching down to Falklands Islands ...”

Russian passports were handed out on mass creating instant Russian citizens 24 months ago in these areas. This is also being done in the Crimea at present. I understand there was no confusion about the citizenship and ethnicity of the population of the Falkland Islands. I also understood the population of the islands did not want to be under the control of the fascist regime then in power in Argentina.

ge'ez said... “True, the fate of Georgians in these locales looks pretty bleak”

Had the Russians not meddled from the very beginning this would not be a problem today as there is a history of peaceful coexistences prior to Russian agitation.

At this point I would agree that let the people vote but some territory must be return proportional to the size of the expelled Georgian population. And all of this done under international supervision, lets not have anymore cynical fiction such as “Russian Peace Keeper”.

ge'ez said...

Well, lightning strikes twice vis-a-vis that last paragraph and women's beach volleyball...

But your contention, 57, that "it's about power and the access to great wealth that power provides," which while true in general, just doesn't ring true in the case of two tiny little backwater regions, ie., South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

jannowak57 said...

In of itself the Russians don’t care about South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it’s all about destabilizing the Georgian state or eliminating it all together. The Georgians have committed three unpardonable outrages for which the Kremlin cannot forgive them:

Tried to joint Nato, which would end Russian influence and guarantee it’s sovereignty.

Tried to join the EU, locking in democracy and the rule of law, not exactly a political position championed by Moscow not to mention a bad example for nearby Russia.

Constructed a transit pipeline to Turkey thereby denying Russia a monopoly on the shipment energy from the Caucuses to Europe.

The Kremlin gang is about power, keeping it and expanding. This could just as well been the Ukraine but a target of opportunity presented itself not to mention better to test the waters with Georgia before tackling the Ukraine.

A river of money flows trough the Kremlin, Putin keeps order amongst the rival groups/gangs and it’s business as usual with everybody getting a piece of the action. A great nation being looted by a tiny minority. What they cannot afford is to have someone rock the boat, as Nato and the EU creep eastward they become the principal treat to the arrangement (but not to Russia).

jannowak57 said...

Putin like Hitler the practitioner of the great lie, you can read it right from the victims of Russian aggression:

“Our first duty is to highlight Russia’s Orwellian tactics. Moscow says it invaded Georgia to protect its citizens in South Ossetia. Over the past five years it cynically laid the groundwork for this pretence, by illegally distributing passports in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, “manufacturing” Russian citizens to protect. The cynicism of Russia’s concern for ethnic minorities can be expressed in one word: Chechnya.
This cynicism has become hypocritical and criminal. Since Russia’s invasion, its forces have been “cleansing” Georgian villages in both regions – including outside the conflict zone – using arson, rape and execution. Human rights groups have documented these actions. Moscow has flipped the Kosovo precedent on its head: where the west acted to prevent ethnic cleansing, in Georgia ethnic cleansing is being used by Russia to consolidate its military annexation.
Other Russian lies have also been debunked. The most egregious was Moscow’s absurd claim on the eve of the invasion that Georgia was committing genocide in South Ossetia, with 2,000 civilian deaths. A week later, Moscow admitted that only 133 people had died. These were overwhelmingly military casualties and came after the Russian invasion. But the genocide claim served its goal. In a media era hungry for content, the big lie still works.”

By Mikheil Saakashvili
August 27 2008

copydude said...

Anyone who believes an undemocratically elected, Georgian mafia mobster like Saakashvili needs their head tested.

Of course Ossetia concerns Russia in the sense that Georgia is one of Rumsfeld's 'lilypad of bases'.

If the US attacks Russia, Russia will have to blow away a growing number of NATO countries within the first 4 or 5 minutes. But there's a limit to how many countries it can defend against at once.

Beatroot correctly observes that the Missile Defense System doesn't work and never will. It has failed six years of flight testing. The Euro version launcher hasn't even been built to be evaluated.

Russia's latest Topol missile splits into 10 warheads after launch and the chances of intercepting one is less than a lucky shot chance.

Clearly, Poland's missiles are deployed for a first strike strategy - and if someone in Poland is as crazy as Saakashvili - and as encouraged by Cheney & Co - they'll be itching to push the button.

So that's why Russia has to act. It's now surrounded not only by bases but also crazies.

beatroot said...

principally driven by the Kremlins need to extinguish the last vestige of democracy in Russia.

Jan - I promise never to 'yell' again. but there are many pragmatists in Russia who think the country isn't ready for western style democracy. It's the same in China. They fear that the place would break into a thousand pieces. And maybe, these days, they are correct. Imagine a thousand South Ossetia's?

beatroot said...

Jan - georgia Tried to join the EU, locking in democracy and the rule of law...

To "lock something in" it has to be there in the first place. That isn't the case in Georgia. Nor, may I say, is it in the EU...but that's another argument.

ge'ez said...

copydude wrote: "if someone in Poland is as crazy as Saakashvili - and as encouraged by Cheney & Co - they'll be itching to push the button."

<<>>

Uh, it's going to be a US military base, no? That means neither Kaczynski or Tusk get to put their fingers anywhere near those buttons.

And istm that if Georgia is granted admission into the EU, then it will be obligated to follow through on certain democratic reforms and to fulfill other obligations. Not a bad idea for a place like Georgia. Make 'em take down that Stalin statue, though, before their application for membership gets voted on again, though, heh?

jannowak57 said...

copy dude said...“Anyone who believes an undemocratically elected, Georgian mafia mobster like Saakashvili needs their head tested.”

Anyone who believes an undemocratically elected, Russia KGB Colonel like war criminal Vladimir Putin needs their head tested.

“Monitors hail Georgian election

A snap presidential election in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia was democratic and the outcome should be respected, foreign observers say.

OSCE and Council of Europe officials said the poll had been consistent with international democratic standards - though they did refer to some problems. “

BBC 6 Jan 2008

Georgian elections are hailed, as examples of democracy while Russian elections remain lamentable deceptions of the war criminals in the Kremlin. Putin and Medvedev remain un-elected criminals.


“Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart.”

Vladimir Putin

“Rather than remembering Andropov as the infirm, enfeebled leader who succeeded Leonid Brezhnev, I prefer to remember Andropov as the KGB boss who orchestrated the crushing of both the Hungarian and Czech uprisings.”

Vladimir Putin

jannowak57 said...

Beatroot you been saying Saakashvili is not legitimately elected and this is Russian fiction.

“Monitors hail Georgian election

A snap presidential election in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia was democratic and the outcome should be respected, foreign observers say.

OSCE and Council of Europe officials said the poll had been consistent with international democratic standards - though they did refer to some problems. “

BBC 6 Jan. 08

Have you contacted the OSCE and Council of Europe to inform them that they made an error?

jannowak57 said...

copydude said...” Beatroot correctly observes that the Missile Defense System doesn't work and never will. It has failed six years of flight testing. The Euro version launcher hasn't even been built to be evaluated.”

It’s good to have a Russian prospective on things here, if such is the case that the missiles just don’t work and can’t work, please explain the irrational reaction on the part of the Kremlin. If as you say the American missiles are harmless then shouldn’t the Kremlin be laughing and not threatening people?

You say in one sentence that you agree that the missiles don’t work and in another say that the deployment in Poland is for a first strike, please explain.

Perhaps you can give us some insight about the performance of Missile Shield around Moscow:

The A-135 or ABM-3 anti-ballistic missile system is a Russian military complex deployed around Moscow to counter enemy missiles targeting the city or its surrounding areas. A successor to the previous A-35. The A-135 system is currently operational although its SH-11 component is deactivated
An integrated system, it is composed by:

The Pushkino Don-2NP (aka Pill Box to the west) large battle-management phased-array radar with 360º coverage for the long-range interceptors supplementing the Dog House and Cat House radars The ABM-3 phased-array short-range battle management radar, replacing the Try Add radars.

16 launchers of long-range SH-11 Gorgon exoatmospheric interceptor missiles at two launch sites with eight missiles each and), though originally designed with nuclear warheads.

68 launchers of short-range SH-08 Gazelle endoatmospheric interceptor missiles at five launch sites with 12 or 16 missiles each, though originally designed with nuclear warheads.

Command, communications and intelligence services.

Looking forward to your reply!

beatroot said...

jan - if you are happy with a 96 percent vote for someone or one party then, OK.

As to the Russian elections. They certainly don't come up to standard. But there again, nobody chalneges the fact that Putin is the most popular politician in Russia. That's the irony: they don't actually need to fix elections.

On the war itself. The Russians have been encouraged over the last 15 or more years by the west, US, UK etc's military inteventions in the balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan etc etc etc ....this is what gave Moscow the green light to cliam that they went to war with georgia for "humanitarian reasons".

So before poo pooing Russia let's have a little closer look at the west. Moscow is copying Washington, London, ...Warsaw.

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said “jan - if you are happy with a 96 percent vote for someone or one party then, OK. “

Get your facts straight it was 52%, I would suggest getting your information from state controlled Russian media might lack both credibility and accuracy.

There is no relation between western actions and Russia’s war of aggression against Georgia and there is no defence of totalitarianism.
Either you’re committed to democracy or your not.

By the way what was your alternative to invading Afghanistan after 911?

Did you plan to have the Bosnia Muslim population get exterminated to the last man women and child?

Your historical silence on the genocide in Chechnya?

If your fundamentally apposed to our western way of life and values go stay with your friend from Kalingrad it short move.

jannowak57 said...

Copydude check this out!

Just for fun let’s look at the Battle Management Phased Array and Command centre near Moscow. If you travel north on highway A104 to the junction of highway A107 then turn right travel for approximately 16 kilometres there is a road going off to your left. Pull in and ask the nice man with the assault rifle when the guided tours start.

Alternatively check these coordinates out in google earth or similar service 56.175000, 37.765000 for a nice overhead view of their bunker.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

If your fundamentally apposed to our western way of life and values go stay with your friend from Kalingrad it short move.

That is such a pathetic way to debate! “If you don‘t like it then why don‘t you go and live in Russia,” I have heard all my life. And I have always thought it was a ridiculous thing to say.

Nowhere in the comments I have posted above says I am opposed to “our western way of life and values …”. I honestly believe the west has no clue as bto what those collective values are.

And by pointing out the hypocrisy of Washington/Warsaw’s position - and admit it that it is - is not in any way support for Russia. That is simply illogical reasoning and poor argument.

ge'ez said...

Rooting about the web, I was surprised to learn that Soros's $$$ was very much behind Saakashvili's Rose Revolution bouncing out Shevarnadze.

Looks to me like 57's persistence and tenacity is holding sway here...

ge'ez said...

Although the "go live in Russia" quips are indeed snide.

jannowak57 said...

Ok you don’t have to move to Russia forever but at least a brief stay in Russia or Belarus would help clarify a few things for you. This instant resort to moral equivalence drives me nuts. The moral equivalence game is great when you need an excuse not to take a stand.

When Poland rejoined the western world, restored democracy and the rule of law, we demonstrated to our neighbours what was possible. We are not supermen as you may have noticed but we have demolished the argument that “the country isn't ready for western style democracy. It's the same in China”. This argument has been used against democracy since the days of the American Revolution.

Putin is at fault for destroying Russian democracy.

Russia is at fault for what happened in Georgia, the hopes of all the peoples of Georgia rest with the western world’s determination to restore its sovereignty and integrate it into a collective defence alliance as well as the European Union.

beatroot said...

This instant resort to moral equivalence drives me nuts.

I am not making a moral equivalant. I would have a problem living in Russia right now and Poland has much better freedoms of speech etc than there.

What I am saying is something different. Russia has been empowered to act like it has becuase of examples given to it - post cold war - by the West that has emboldened it into into South Ossetia etc.

And the disaster in Iraq is much much worse than what is occuring in the Caucuses. So no equivalant there, either.

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said: “Russia has been empowered to act like it has because of examples given to it - post cold war - by the West that has emboldened it into into South Ossetia etc.”

I have just been arrested for car theft, now I will tell the judge to let me off because a few weeks ago my neighbour stole a car and simply got away with it. I don’t thing so.

Yes I agree with you on Iraq it did not meet the requirements of international law.

A US state department official made this comment:

“Russia is going to have to come to terms with the reality it can either integrate with the world or it can be a self-isolated bully. But it can't be both. “

We are at a junction point in history, I think what happens next is up to the Russians.

beatroot said...

I agree that this situation is very serious. But it can’t be a junction because there is no clear strategy on both sides of the Georgia conflict. The junction happened post 1989. This is what remains of the fall out.

About the people wanting democracy bit. Talk to Russians. There is a pragmatism there. I imagine many Chinese agreeing. If the economy is going well, and people are feeling they are getting MORE, then things will be Ok and that’s enough. For now.

If the economic growth stops then the Kremlin etc are in trouble.

ge'ez said...

Guess what American wrote this:

"What do we do if Russia responds to our Patriots in Poland with the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system in Iran and Syria?

If the United States intends to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and arm them to fight Russia, why should Russia not dissolve the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe and move her tank armies into Belarus and up to the borders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania?

Would we send U.S. troops into the Baltic republics to signal that we will fight Russia to honor our NATO war guarantees? Which NATO allies would fight alongside us against a nuclear-armed Russia?

If we bring Ukraine into NATO, what do we do if Russified east Ukraine secedes and Russia sends troops to back the rebels? Do we send warships into Russia's bathtub, the Black Sea, and commit to fight as long as it takes to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity?"

jannowak57 said...

It’s Buchanan who was a senior adviser to American presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Got into politics but failed to attract any serious support. Often in trouble for some wacko views, often labelled as an anti-semite and or a fan of Hitler. An old fashion American isolationist on foreign policy issues. Not a voice of the mainstream.

jannowak57 said...

What did you think of Obama’s speech? Certainly a speaking ability equal to best orators in the last 50 years of US politics. This is going to be the most exciting election campaign in my memory. What do you feel his chances are?

ge'ez said...

I'm thinking that racism and militarism are still the trump cards and hoping that I'm just a cranky, overly skeptical curmudgeon.

ge'ez said...

What's the difference between Gypsies and Romanians?

No joke. I dunno. Are Gypsies in Europe sorta like Polish DPs? Or like Poles in Ireland and GB nowadaze?

http://www.myspace.com/fanfareciocarlia

jannowak57 said...

ge'ez said...” I'm thinking that racism and militarism are still the trump cards and”

I would have said racism and experience. It is unlikely that his campaign can alter those already incline to oppose him on the basis of race, however on the issue of experience they can have considerable effect. Neither man has actually ran a government at municipal or state level also neither has run a large corporation; this puts them on equal footing. Depth of experience in foreign policy matters, I expect McCain has more experience.
These two men don’t have the type of resume that would suggest that either would be an optimum choice for the job when considering what’s possible with Americas 300 million population. A thoughtful voter will have an agonizing time with this selection.

ge'ez said... “No joke. I dunno. Are Gypsies in Europe sorta like Polish DPs”

Some Romanians are Gypsies but most Gypsies aren’t Romanian. The politically correct term is Roma people. They’ve been on the European landscape forever with a culture at drastic variance to the your basic European they have had problems with the authorities and encountered prejudice from large segments of the population.

Great Musicians.

ge'ez said...

Aren't they all "Romani" which is derived from Romania?

Seems that their exodus was from Romania in 1831, going all over the place, thus the idea that they are not altogether Romanian. But it seems that's pretty much their common origin, no?

And the experience factor seems short circuited when Obama makes the case about the lack of wisdom from that experience -- McCain just doensn't get it as he put it in his speech.

Now with McCain's selection of the young lady from Alaska, I'd add reverse sexism as another trump card. A lot of white middle class women, a significant number of former Hillary supporters, will now vote for McCain. So much for experience as being important to McCain or such voters.

ge'ez said...

Great quote from an AP story about the Republican VP nominee to be:

"She has more experience catching fish as a former commercial fisherwoman than dealing with foreign policy or national affairs."

jannowak57 said...

At least they can going fishing together which is a hell of lot smarter than say Bush going hunting with Chaney.

ge'ez said...

Freaking bizarre. I just heard Pat Buchanan say she was a big supporter and fundraiser for him:

"failed to attract any serious support. Often in trouble for some wacko views, often labelled as an anti-semite and or a fan of Hitler. An old fashion American isolationist on foreign policy issues. Not a voice of the mainstream."