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Ear to the Ground

Russia: They’re Baaaaaaaaack

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Posted on Aug 13, 2008
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They aren’t as big, and their iconography is nowhere near Soviet-grade, but according to columnist Anne Penketh of London’s The Independent, the Russians’ Georgia invasion can only be seen as a rank humiliation of the West by a triumphant Vladimir Putin.


Ann Penketh in The Independent:

Russia is back. That is the indisputable result of the six-day war in the heart of Europe which may have changed the borders of a state for ever.

The conflict, conducted with brio by Vladimir Putin, who clearly remains the man in charge of the Kremlin, has ended on Russia’s terms, and there is nothing the West can do about it. Moscow has demonstrated that it is prepared to use military might to further its strategic goals, while the democracies of the West are not.

In the world of international power games, Mr Putin’s newly assertive Russia has chalked up a victory whose ripples will be felt for years to come. The US and Europe, dependent on Russian goodwill and gas, have been humbled. But the most chilling defeat is for Georgia, the former Soviet republic which dared to switch strategic allegiances and stand up to the Kremlin.

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By BlueEagle, August 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Russia please help. The US needs regime change.

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By LibertyWatch, August 14, 2008 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Now with oil and gas wealth, with the EU in need of their energy supplies to heat the homes and fuel the factories and with the US Government incapable of doing anything without destroying years of diplomatic efforts to bring Russia into the circle of international global power brokers. ie Iran and the mid east fuels efforts of natural gas and oil pipelines.

Putin has every reason to feel victorious tonight as Bush et al scratch their heads for a reply that Russia can not snub and sneer at.

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By Bill Witherup, August 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The first U.S. President to say that “We are bringing Democracy to the World” - I paraphrase - was Woodrow Wilson,who decided to commit American young men and women to the WWI conflict. All that George Bush and Lavrenti P. Cheney have done in Iraq, and Afghanistan are merely following Wilson’s concept of American Exceptionalism. At least Woody got Congress to agree to enter the war. Now the U.S. has encouraged one of its sycophants attack Russia, and the Russians have their own ideas of Slavic Exceptionalism. Perhaps U.S.intellgence was too busy watching the Olympics to pay attention to realpolitic. The difference between the weaponry of WWI and the present, is now the U.S. and Russian have nukes at the ready.

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By WARIS SHERE, August 14, 2008 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Faced with threats from al Qaeda and Iran and increasing instability in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States does not need new enemies says Dimitri K. Simes,the founding President of The Nixon Center in his thought provoking piece recently publisheed in Foreign Affairs. Russia’s latest assertiveness and heavy-handed conduct in Georgia have been of great concern in international community. The United States bears considerable responsibility and according to experts in international affairs mismanaged Russia’s transition from an expansionist communist empire to a more traditional great power.  According to Dimitri Simes, “The United States and the West did win the Cold War, but victory for one side does not necessarily mean defeat for the other. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and their advisers believed that they had all joined the United States’ side as victors in the Cold War. They gradually concluded that communism was bad for the Soviet Union, and especially Russia”. However, Georgia continues to suffer from the unresolved secessionist conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Relations with Russia remain tense over these issues as well as Georgia’s aspiration of NATO membership. In August of last year, Georgia was engaged in armed conflict with separatists and the state of Russia. In the Soviet era the region was divided between North Ossetia, now in Russia, and South Ossetia, then within the Georgian Republic. When the Soviet Union was dissolved in the early 1990s, South Ossetia resisted being absorbed into an independent Georgia, and broke away. Georgians firmly believe the Russians are using South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region as an excuse to punish them for seeking friendship to the West. This ongoing battle and conflict will have very major repercussions well beyond this unstable region. From the Western perspective, a long-held strategic aim was to obtain oil from the Caspian Sea region by a route outside Russian control. This was achieved with the opening in 2006 of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the second-longest in the world, which runs through Georgia. Russia has accused the West of contributing to the violence by selling arms to Georgia. The United States has enraged Russian officials by training the Georgian military, which has contributed 2,000 troops to American efforts in Iraq, and backing the country’s application for membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Tensions between Russia and the West have sharpened in recent years. Doug Stone, director of College Relations at Macalester College in St. Paul quotes New York Times this way: “The United States and its European allies faced tough choices over how to push back (against Russia). They seemed uncertain how to adjust to a new geopolitical game that threatened to undermine two decades of democratic gains in countries that once were part of the Soviet sphere.”  It would be a serious mistake for the international community to regard the dramatic escalation of violence in Georgia as just another flare-up in the Caucasus, says Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor, Times of london. He adds that the outcome of the struggle will determine the course of Russia’s relations with its neighbours. Part of the responsibility must lie with President Saakashvili.  “If Georgia succeeds in reimposing its sovereignty over South Ossetia in the face of Russian opposition, it will be a huge setback to Moscow’s influence in the region and embolden other former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine and Azerbaijan. A defeat for the Georgians could signal the end of Mr Saakashvili’s rule and severely set back Georgia’s efforts to establish itself as a modern Western-looking democracy. Either way, the conflict risks further undermining the strained relations between Russia and the West”, concludes Richard Beeston.

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By skyreader7, August 14, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Bush thought Putin would stand by and do nothing, he is a bigger fool than we all thought. Bush playing chess with Putin is like Boris Spasky playing with Gomer Pyle. I guess Bush thought he was Bobbie Fisher.

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By Piero, August 14, 2008 at 7:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

US Goverment said many words about good Georgia and bad Russia… But what do you realy know (not on US media)about this conflict? Zero… Becouse your media lies about it. For example, read the German newspapers… You’ll know many interest about this war…
Russia isn’t Iraq, North Korea and Iran… Your politics may be say words only, but not an actions for My Country.

Sorry for mistakes,
Rgds, Piero

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By Jim Yell, August 14, 2008 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amongst the responses I found amusing was one calling the US officials that have repeatedly mislead countries into thinking that the US would stand up for them in extremis “Yuppies”.

In fact the people who did these things were neocons who think that any strategy to advance and create uniform opinion is justification for lies and encouragement of poorly thought out ambitions friendly to their pock books. They are usually known as Republicans. Who do you think told Sadam, “the US is not interested in what you do in your own back yard.” That was what led into the first Iraq War. What is to be said for a Democracy that keeps electing people to office who did these very things?

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By Andrew, August 13, 2008 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Georgia is just the first step in cleaning out the stables.  Yulia Timoshenko should visit the Kremlin, sorry, confessional, and begin saying a few Hail Marys as penance and think of her people who do not want to join NATO, instead of the yuppie flunkies surrounding her, paid by USAID and Soros.  The yuppies are happy to give advice, and when the chocolate mousse hit the fan, take their first class tickets back to DC, and let the locals they “advised” face the firing squad.  It happened in Vietnam, Iran, and is happening in Iraq and Georgia.

USA has erected a claptrap structure of failed states as “democratic allies” via fraudulent elections, and the whole shitload will collapse like a house of cards.

USA should invest in rail transport, hospitals, nuclear and alternative energy, and NASA instead of needlessly pissing in someone else’s back yard.

It’s not just a question of needlessly provoking Russia, it’s a matter of not-getting our priorities ass backwards.

Jarheads unfortunately equate patriotism with wog-bashing.  While it may be fun, it’s not necessarily productive or in the national interest.

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By jackpine savage, August 13, 2008 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

Pictured as a chess match…

The US moved its rook (Georgia) into a threatening position, but unaware that the positioning had already been defended against by Russia.  The US could easily have lost its rook; however, Russia decided not to trade the knight that it would take.  Still, the move isolated and nullified the rook.

Putin played it smart.  He didn’t/hasn’t pushed far enough to force Europe into turning against him. (And European news told the truth of this splendid little war from the beginning.)  He also didn’t upset Beijing.  We can, however, bet that Beijing is none to happy with Bush and his global minions for stealing some wind from their coming out party.

And, yes, the US (not the “West”, just the US) got smacked around badly.  It showed us A. to be an unreliable ally and B. unwilling to take on someone our own size.  The later may be the most important outcome.  The world saw someone stand straight up to the hegemon and not blink.

If Russia did actually capture an American, everything gets much worse.

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By troublesum, August 13, 2008 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

Western democracies “are not prepare to use military might to further their strategic goals”??  Ann Penketh has maybe been like comatose for a few decades.

http://www.counterpunch.com  lead article for Wednesday, 8/13

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By Gmonst, August 13, 2008 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

Its not surprising.  The United States sets the example of using the military to secure strategic goals and other countries will follow suit.  The US hypocrisy is staggering.  We have many more years ahead of negative consequences for our choice to start breaking the rules and do as we please.  Other countries start doing the same and no one is the better for it.  Once rules are broken, especially by the so called ‘moral-authority’ it just gives the green light for others to do the same.  We can’t even pretend like our shit don’t stink anymore.  I really worry that we have entered a swamp of global conflict of which we are only seeing the beginning.  If war-mongering McCain wins, he has made it clear he will only antagonize the strained relationship with Russia, perhaps the most dangerous attitude one could have toward foreign affairs.

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