Russia Iraqifies Georgia

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Putin’s Russia invades, bombs, bisects and terrorizes a sovereign nation.



More photos

The US righteously and rightfully complains.


– “Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis.”

Russia laughs into its Martini: “We learned it from you, pal

Georgia sues for peace,

and is painted as the bad-guy.

GORI, GEORGIA – Russia’s foreign minister declared Thursday that the world “can forget about” Georgia’s territorial integrity, and American and Georgian officials said Russia appeared to be targeting military infrastructure _ including radars and patrol boats at a Black Sea naval base and oil hub.

Russia claims a right-to-invade, that a sovereign nation is not, indeed sovereign, and that they have a special right to over-ride world opinion and historical treaty and boundary agreements. Yes, that’s a familiar tune.

And it is a crime; but it shows how maps will be divided in the era of wars for control of Oil and energy. Borders or no borders.

Development of Caspian oil and gas resources and export routes has been slowed by regional conflict, political instability, and lack of regional cooperation. Many of the proposed export routes pass through areas where conflicts remain unresolved. Most of these are in the Transcaucasus part of the Caspian region, where conflicts in Georgia, the Chechnya portion of Russia, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan, hinder the development of export routes westward from the Caspian.

We’d like to complain, and we are complaining, but it’s hard to accuse a mirror-image, ain’t it?

I’m glad Mr. President is offended by Russia’s clearly illegal and immoral actions. Can he understand why so many of us are offended by the Iraq invasion/destruction/occupation/money pit/death hole?

Or, if we just fill it with soldiers, will it get better?

Or, is the Middle East just too important to leave to Middle-Easterners?

Or, how about we get our asses out of foreign oil, and fast:

Somebody make this a national project:

And maybe we could stop letting this country do all our manufacturing for us, while we’re at it?

How about the U.S. decides to invade and take over…The US…and see if we can make it work here, before we export any more “democracy?” Then, maybe, we can look Russia in the eye, and make our honest disgust with their “nation-building” exercises stick.

Addendum

Have received a number of interesting points in opposition to the notion that the Russian invasion was without cause, or that Georgia is without fault. The basic premise stands – large countries invading smaller ones for their own purposes is, in a word, bad. But, see comments for elaboration on the more complex story.

Liam

10 Comments

  1. Ominous like the Balkans. Ominous like the Black Hand. Ominous like the words “oil war.”

    Ominous, full of specters, ghosts, and harbingers.

    Bubble bubble, toil and trouble.

    Poor Georgians. Who in the Western world has suffered more under a government than the Russians (and the subjects of their empire)? Who, besides the Jews in Europe, have been punished more as citizens of their own government?

    No one, I think, than the Russians.

  2. Evidence in Georgia Belies
    Russia’s Claims of ‘Genocide’

    By ANDREW OSBORN in Tskhinvali, Georgia, and JEANNE WHALEN in Moscow

    August 15, 2008; Page A1

    Russia’s assertions that it was provoked into war by “genocide” in South Ossetia and that it is observing a cease-fire in Georgia came under new challenge Thursday, as the U.S. stepped up diplomatic pressure on Moscow.

    Thomas Dworzak for the Wall Street Journal

    http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-CB341_814dwo_20080814124648.jpg
    -Civilians who fled Gori

    Washington agreed to base missile interceptors on Polish soil, in a new sign of how Russia’s invasion of Georgia is redrawing the geopolitical map.

    On the ground in South Ossetia — the contested region where fighting broke out last week between Georgia and Russia — there was little evidence that Georgian attacks killed thousands of civilians, as Russia has said. Doctors said they had treated a few hundred people and one cited a confirmed death toll in the dozens.

    Russia and Georgia agreed to a cease-fire Tuesday, and Russia has said it is keeping the peace in places such as Gori, the Georgian city where Russian tanks have taken up positions. That was belied by an incident inside Gori Thursday morning: A man seized the sport-utility vehicle of three United Nations officials at gunpoint, in full view of Russian troops who did nothing.

    “Georgian cities remain…subject to hostile and aggressive behavior,” said Georgia’s ambassador to the U.N., Irakli Alasania. “Looting…and murder have become customary.”

    Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said his nation is a victim of a “disinformation campaign of spectacular proportions.” He said Russian troops “have never occupied Gori.”

    http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AM587_GEORGI_20080814182834.jpg
    TENSE STANDOFF: Russian military units, which continued to control the city of Gori, drove journalists back from the scene of a face-off with Georgian military units Thursday.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have repeatedly said that Georgian troops committed genocide against South Ossetians last week when the war broke out. Mr. Medvedev on Tuesday referred to “thousands” of South Ossetians killed in the conflict. Russia has cited this as a main reason for sending troops into the region.

    Other Russian and South Ossetian officials have pegged the death toll as high as 2,000. They have maintained that Georgian troops razed the regional capital, Tskhinvali, and left it resembling Stalingrad after the long siege by Nazi troops during World War II. State-controlled television has shown footage of burning buildings and badly damaged infrastructure.

    But on the ground in Tskhinvali, where most of the fighting during the five-day conflict occurred, there is little evidence of a high death toll.

    In the city’s main hospital, Ada Djueva said she and her colleagues had handled 45 corpses and about 273 injured people. During the fighting, when patients had been evacuated to the cellar, she said 220 surgical operations were conducted.

    Dr. Djueva said the figure of 2,000 dead was “possible,” adding that many corpses weren’t brought to the hospital but buried in people’s yards and gardens.

    She said the situation had been complicated by the fact that a rocket had struck the city’s morgue, rendering it unusable.

    Alexander Ivanyus, the head of a temporary field hospital housed in about a dozen tents next to the hospital, said he and his colleagues had treated about 200 people since the start of hostilities, for gunshot, shrapnel, and land-mine-inflicted wounds. He said his staff had handled three dead bodies.

    The Russian army declined to show journalists the city’s cemetery, where it says many of the dead are buried. Lt. Col. Andrei Bobrun said that local people were hostile to Western journalists because of U.S. support for Georgia and a visit to the graveyard could be dangerous.

    On Thursday, the only dead bodies on show in Tskhinvali were those of five Georgian soldiers. The troops lay in the middle of a road. They had been stripped down to their underwear, and their corpses were bloated from the hot Caucasian sun.

    ‘Sea of Bodies’

    Nonetheless, Russian Col. Igor Konoshenko said there had earlier been “a sea of bodies” in the city’s streets, including many women, children and elderly people. He said many were buried close to where they fell because of the heat and the continuing conflict, only to be reburied in the cemetery on Thursday. A local fighter, Murat Mestayev, added that his father and a young man he was friendly with had been killed. He said they died when a Georgian tank opened fire on the stairwell of the apartment block they had been sheltering in. He said he had buried them in his garden.

    Nazira Guchmazova, a schoolteacher, said three women in her street had been buried in their gardens. Col. Bobrun said it would take a while to ascertain the final number of fatalities. That was because some civilians were still buried beneath rubble, while others had been buried by their loved ones at great speed. The odor of decaying flesh was strong on some streets.

    The civil-liberties group Human Rights Watch, which accused both Russian and Georgian troops of causing civilian casualties, issued a report Wednesday suggesting that the number of dead in Tskhinvali was in the dozens, not more.

    Order for Justice

    Mr. Medvedev this week ordered Russian investigators to gather evidence of the alleged genocide and bring the guilty parties to justice. Russia issued passports to most people in South Ossetia early this decade and has treated the Georgian attacks as crimes against its citizens.
    [Map]

    On Thursday, investigators with the Russian prosecutor’s office obtained a list of “more than 60 dead Russian citizens of Ossetian nationality,” the Interfax news agency quoted an official with the prosecutor’s office as saying. The official, Vladimir Markin, said he expected the investigation to last a while. Before the latest conflict, the population of South Ossetia was about 70,000 people.

    The U.N. said Thursday that the war has created about 100,000 displaced people. That includes South Ossetians who fled to North Ossetia, which is part of Russia, and people in Georgia proper who fled the advancing Russian troops.

    On Thursday, during a meeting with military commanders to thank them for their work, Mr. Medvedev maintained that South Ossetians had “lived through a genocide.”

    But even Russian television channels reported Thursday that life in Tskhinvali was getting back to normal, with people back out on the streets and fresh bread rolling off assembly lines at the local bread factory.

    —Alex Frangos at the United Nations contributed to this article.

    WSJonline – http://www.wsj.com/article_print/SB121874784363742015.html

    http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AM582A_GEORG_20080814191643.gif

  3. Are we entering a world war? If Europe is inflamed by Russian aggression, then we will be fighting on several fronts, with several to emerge.

  4. For all those lazy people out there wiki Ossetia and Abkhazia – Dagestan too (I’m not talking to busy people, but mainly those whose job this is supposed to be). Trust me, there’s bunches of ’em. Yup. Bunches of proud ethnic people who want to be free. In all this great narrative of the resurgence of a Russian Empire bluster, how come these peoples get shoved to the background? John McCain, to paraphrase, said something like “we are all Georgians.” (He also said nations don’t invade other nations in the 21st century… wooooow – mentally disturbing lack of self-awareness) No John, I’m an Abkhazian. I’m an Ossetian. Because I’m an American. We were founded on this sort of thing (anyone remember France? – though any comparison between France’s role and Russia’s aspirations are incredibly limited). Yes, Putin’s (or, er, Medvedev’s – yeah right) Russia scares me. Yes, it’s a repressive one party state with a liberal economic system instead of a planned one. Yes, most of its media is state run, etc. But, after watching all the cable news networks, and Russian state media, I couldn’t distinguish between propaganda and fair, objective journalism in either. There are nuances in the world. Shades of grey (you know, the same color as your brain). Just because Russia is “bad” doesn’t make Georgia “good.” Enough with this Manichaean worldview! Russian is using the breakaway countries (not provinces, or autonomous regions) just as Georgia is using the West to try to gain control of these de facto nations. Russia only invaded Georgia’s sovereignty when they went beyond the borders of Ossetia and Abhazia. And even then, Gori is the provincial capital of the Georgian political unit (or ‘Mkhare’ called Shida Kartli) which “governs” the Ossetians – or at least claims to. God people, do some freakin’ research. Some things are complicated, okay? Russia should get out of Georgia, and the US needs to urge Georgia to grant independence to these nations (you’d think they’d understand, right? The irony of self-interested myopia). So, accusation’s of a new Kosovo, and control of pipeline and open water port issues aside, let’s try to stand by all nations’ right to self-determination. Not the Greater and and lesser bullies (both Russia and Georgia resepectively).

    Oh, and Europe can’t react to Russia anymore than we can to Saudi Arabia’s. Where do you think they import a majority of their natural resources from?

    Oh, and is it just me or is Saakashvili a little TOO much of a media darling? He’s as much cult of personality as Putin, it seems to me. John McCain might call him a “celebrity” if he didn’t have a lobbyist who worked for Georgia on his campaign staff.

    So, who is immoral? Sorry, but it can be relative. Especially if you’re Ossetian or Abkhazian. I was sort of hoping Adjara would get into the mix – but they’re not really a distinct ethnicity anyway. Unlike the previous two, most Adjarian are actually Georgian. The melting pot is great for America and Canada, but in the rest of the world, when things go on for centuries (not ten years, like our wonderful media tells us), these things matter. But try telling that to people who don’t know the difference between a Sunni, Shi’a or Kurd (whom, it so happens, the Ossetians are distantly related to!).

  5. Great post Kurt,

    yes, it’s a muddle, a mess, there are outrages and errors – and it still won’t unravel.

    I don’t know what “Mani” himself would have thought of the world – he would have seen the dualisms, I suppose. (Here’s a link to an introduction to that “good does not defeat evil” philosophy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manichaeism )

    It’s hard to take sides in a shooting match – but I’ll make the mistake of citing the greater power with fault for moving a city of soldiers (four divisions) into a much smaller, weaker nation – and I see you do too.

    The politics of the area will be new to many or most of us, and we’ll run to read what we can. In sum, I think the shroud is off and the new shape of internationalism revealed –

    Boundary is trumped by power when pipelines are at stake. It’s not new, but it’s terrible, and it is terrible that we so quickly abandon even the semblance of discussion before invasion.

    We remember that for Iraq, the US tolerated _only_ the _semblance_ of discussion, and did its will despite the show of UN diplomacy. And the UN is so mired in so many failures, it seems to need a winnowing of fat and failure, and a transfusion of sane, sure blood.

    But, peace be with Georgia, and may its leadership accommodate the internal differences where possible – and may the internal differences accommodate the larger facade of nationhood as well.

  6. And to this point as well –

    “Oh, and Europe can’t react to Russia anymore than we can to Saudi Arabia’s. Where do you think they import a majority of their natural resources from?”

    That’s terribly true. So, let’s get ourselves moving out of a total-oil culture, into a mixed energy culture.

    How to do it? I ask the reader. Is it possible to bribe your congressman and woman to be sane and honest?

  7. In Europe many of us have been appalled by the way the American press has distorted the story of what really happened. Most of our serious newspapers have given a very different interpretation and I have read what I can of what local people have said.

    The story really does seem to be close to what the Russians have claimed – except that thankfully many more of the Ossetians may have escaped the surprise onslaught by Georigian troops than was first apparent in the rubble. It seems, on evidence from many sources, that the Geogians used Grad rocket launchers, planes and tanks to launch a sudden surprise attack on the civilian population of South Ossetia’s main city as they were watching the start of the Olympics on TV.

    Grads are particularly hideous weapons – when used on a city they can level it street by street. They are not very accurate but are fired in mass volleys and spread destruction over a large area.

    It seems the Georgians wanted not only to grab control over this city but also to seal the road tunnel that is the major link to North Ossetia and Russia – they failed to reach the tunnel. Stories have been coming out about them throwing hand grenades into cellars where families were sheltering. Some of these stories may be war propaganda but I feel they have to be taken seriously. Some western tourists caught up in this have backed the Russian version.

    Now that bodies have been able to be identified – the local authorities have listed by name well over 300 dead and say more still need to be identified. There was simply no point in bringing the dead to that hospital morgue you mentioned during the attack – it was far too dangerous and useless as there was no power. The Georgian onslaught was so dangerous that the doctors did not dare leave the hospital basement.

    The Russians have begun a criminal investigation of what they call a horrific war crime inflicted on a peaceful practically unarmed city -and as far as I can see this really is what happened. If Russia after reportedly 36 hours had not intervened with its military, much worse could have happened. They basically saved the Ossetians, are regarded by them as heroes – and the Russians cannot understand why the US press cannot see this and give them the due credit. Germany has now called for an independent inquiry. I think that is the way to go.

    Once the Russians had defeated the Georgian attack – then Ossetians from the north drove into Georgia on vengeance attacks. This too was horrible but it seems few people died in these attacks. Eventually the Russian troops stopped them – too slow for me but our press reported that they did stop them.

    The Russians regard the President of Georgia much as Americans regarded Saddam Hussein. I think they were very tempted to do an American and overthrow him. They decided not to do so – but did humiliate him.]

    The president is not much of a democrat. Amnesty International has repeated condemned his government for using torture. Last year in November the President brutally suppressed the local Georgian opposition causing much disillusionment with him. He is scarcely the lily-white democrat and hero the American media have portrayed

    And the South Ossetians have consistently refused to be ruled by him or by any Georgian.

    South Ossetia has twice voted by an overwhelming majority to be independent of Georgia. When Georgia broke away from the Soviet Union, South Ossetians refused to follow. They wanted to stay in easy contact with the rest of their people, the North Ossetians. A famous Georgian Josef Stalin had split them apart – given the south of their country to his birth state – to Georgia. This did not matter so much when the Soviet Union existed – the division between the Ossetians was mostly administrative as South Ossetia retained local autonomy. They are culturally and ethnically distinct.

    when Georgia broke away from the Soviet Union – the South Ossetians refused to follow. They resisted all efforts to include them in Georgia there was a war – and it was settled with an agreement that Russian and Georgian peace keepers would protect the existing borders leaving the South Ossetians effectively independent.

    The Ossetians have had two referenda for independence. The first was back around 1993 but as international observers were not there, it gained little international recognition. So they held another one much more recently -with many international observers – and massively voted never to come under Georgian rule.

    However the current President of Geogia came to power saying he would end this arrangement. He immediately cut the trading links with the Ossetians and vowed to bring them into submission. He got trainers for his army from Israel and the USA – and focussed his spending on armaments. Reportedly he agreed that Israel might use two air strips as based from which their planes could attack Iran. (the Turks had refused – and the Iraqi government also) The Russians suspected his plans but still were caught by surprise – many of their peace keepers died in the sudden Georgian attack.

    Russia recently refused to withdraw until Georgia had signed that it would not again seek a violent solution. When Georgia very reluctantly signed this last week, the Russians withdrew. The Russians have asked for 200 European peacekeepers. They are still heroes for the Osssetians. There is no way they will now agree to be ruled by the Georgians – and most of this also applies to the other break away region on the coast.

    The US group Human Rights Watch I think got this wrong.

    Liam this is so different a narrative for the one on your site – yet you are a very good investigative journalist. Please go to sources on this and check. Even Wikipedia gives a different story to your own. if you prove me wrong – then please do. You will be doing me a favor.

    There is also another story underlying these events – it concerns the American role in Georgia. There is much fury in Washington – and in our UK government as well – because this has upset our current government plans against Russia. It seems we were trying to turn Georgia into our Cuba – and could have installed missiles. But what I have focussed on here is the events on the ground . The key event was a decision by the Georgian president.

    There is also another story about oil and the Russians – but they did not grab the oil pipeline. They had no need to. They are now the dominant power in the region having beaten back a US push into former Soviet territory. The oil producers including BP redirected their oil away from Georgia and used a Russian pipeline as it was safer during the conflict. Turkey also refused to let two major US warships into the Black Sea during the conflict.

    I do not want to infer that Russia is now a reformed state. Just that one has to allow it to get things right once in a while.

    with every good wish,

    Jani

  8. Hi Janny,

    It goes to worldview:

    When a big nation invades a small nation, like the US with Iraq, or former USSR with Georgia (a part of the USSR) without warning, or international discussion, I never feel it’s correct to take the side of the larger nation.

    War crimes and ethnic conflict, are, in my mind, the realm of the UN, (which is, to its shame, a mostly useless organism, I’m often told).

    There may have been bad blood and bad action within Georgia, but in my philosophy, that’s Georgia’s problem – and the international community’s to address – and not Russia’s to invade and “fix”. It’s a worldview, and one that tries to reflect the lessons of history – but I’m always willing to be educated.

    But, for recent history, my country has permanently “fixed” Iraq. It has destroyed much of it, in the process, in too many ways. Iraq lives in oil lands. And when Russia makes a play along a pipeline, I will be hard to convince that ‘human rights’ is their major operating premise.

    I hope you are right, in your analysis, of course – but the US press has not covered this widely, and then has done so sheepishly. That is, any criticism of Russia here looks too much like a hardly veiled criticism of our Iraq policy.

    But, I will read more, and try to understand it better.

    Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for something less hopeful. The world is stirring itself up into a series of wars. We may see a much larger, international armed conflict emerge, I dare say, and pray not.

    bests,

    Liam

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