Monday, August 11, 2008

August 10, 2008 - "it's better to beg forgiveness"

"It's Better to Beg Forgivness, Than Ask For Permission"
Putin wants Russia's former territories back (or at least paying homage), control of the pipeline, and respect (fear). If it takes Georgia, who's going to stop him? What can anyone do? He'll put the puppets in place, intimidate the hell out of the other break-away countries, and get exactly what he wants. After a bit of whining, it will all be forgotten (again).

It looks like Russia knows who it's dealing with......the craven politicians of the US and Europe. They're going to take over Georgia.......

What's it got to lose?

Name Calling in the press? No big deal, and it won't last long.

UN sanctions (not a can veto anything).

Europe will be mad at them? Russia will squeeze the pipeline and winter's coming.

The US will huff and puff? Who cares.

NATO will allow Georgia to join, and then install radar and defensive missle elements in their border countries? Not a chance.......see all above.

Unless the West acts with boldness and alacrity, it will have to kneel to intimidation of a kind that hasn't been seen for a generation.

"We are in the process of the invasion, occupation and annihilation of an independent, democratic country," said Georgia's President Saakashvili, appealing in English for international help at a news conference. He said Moscow's goal was regime change, accusing his powerful northern neighbor of "ethnic cleansing" in Abkhazia.
Russia's foreign ministry and other officials insisted Moscow's goal wasn't to move on Tbilisi or to occupy the whole country but to create a buffer zone that would prevent Georgian troops from firing into the country's two separatist territories.

Gori and Senaki lie on the main highway that runs east-west across the country, from Tbilisi in the east to the Black Sea coast in the west, giving Russian troops the ability to control movement across the nation. Late Monday, Mr. Saakashvili said his country had effectively been cut in half.

"We no longer know the limits of the invading Russian army," said Kakha Lomaya, secretary of Georgia's National Security Council. The government said Georgian troops were pulling back to protect the capital."

Along with all the other historical issues, Russia can now control the Caspian pipeline, and be in a position to further throttle Europe.

"Some 1.2 million barrels of oil a day flow through Georgia, or around 1.4% of global crude supply. Any attacks on the infrastructure could send shockwaves through the world-wide oil-supply chain.

Alarm was triggered over the weekend at reports that Russian warplanes had bombed near a key pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or the BTC, which brings 850,000 barrels of oil a day from Azerbaijan's vast Caspian oilfields through Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean."

August 11, 2008 - The Bear is Loose

All of the current rhetoric about energy, taxes, the Party Conventions, and now the Olympics, are but chit-chat. What's happening in Georgia right now is truly transformational. If not acted upon rapidly and with significant unity and strength by the US and Europe, our grandchildren will be dealing with the issues of a Soviet-style Russia, and the peoples of Eastern Europe will no longer be on the path to true freedom. The shadow, if not the hand, of Russia will be on them.

Despite many (including at least one who is a Presidential candidate) who would like to think that the world has entered a new era, and that “Change” is upon us, it unfortunately is not so.

George Santayana coined the phrase, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." His phrase was never more true than today.

The old issues that drove the major European powers are still alive; dormant for the most part, but as events in Georgia and Russia proved this weekend, those embers are just waiting to be fanned.

In 1917, the Bolshevik party staged a coup in Russia and established Soviet power. The leading political parties of the Transcaucasus refused to recognize the new power and on November 17, set up a local administration--the Transcaucasian Commissariat. On May 26, 1918, the National Council of Georgia declared Georgia s independence from the Transcaucasian Commissariat. Georgian statehood, lost 117 years earlier, was restored.

Soviet Russia and Georgia signed a treaty on May 7, 1920, according to which Russia recognized the independence and sovereignty of the Georgian Democratic Republic.

In 1920, South Ossetia attempted to declare its independence from Georgia. After the so-called Sovietization of Azerbaijan and Armenia in February of 1921, the Bolshevik armies used the South Osettian issue to invade Georgia and declare the region autonomous. The forces were unequal and on February 25, 1921, units of the Red Army entered Tbilisi. Then Moscow granted citizenship to the Ossetians and provided economic support and autonomy over matters of language and education. In Moscow, Lenin received the congratulations of his commissars--"The red banner blows over Tbilisi."

And so it may again…..
Miheil Saakashvilli wrote today that the war in Georgia is a war for the West

“As I write, Russia is waging war on my country.
On Friday, hundreds of Russian tanks crossed into Georgian territory, and Russian air force jets bombed Georgian airports, bases, ports and public markets. Many are dead, many more wounded. This invasion, which echoes Afghanistan in 1979 and the Prague Spring of 1968, threatens to undermine the stability of the international security system.

……Ostensibly, this war is about an unresolved separatist conflict. Yet in reality, it is a war about the independence and the future of Georgia. And above all, it is a war over the kind of Europe our children will live in. Let us be frank: This conflict is about the future of freedom in Europe.
No country of the former Soviet Union has made more progress toward consolidating democracy, eradicating corruption and building an independent foreign policy than Georgia. This is precisely what Russia seeks to crush.

This conflict is therefore about our common trans-Atlantic values of liberty and democracy. It is about the right of small nations to live freely and determine their own future. It is about the great power struggles for influence of the 20th century, versus the path of integration and unity defined by the European Union of the 21st. Georgia has made its choice.

……Over the past days, Russia has waged an all-out attack on Georgia. Its tanks have been pouring into South Ossetia. Its jets have bombed not only Georgian military bases, but also civilian and economic infrastructure, including demolishing the port of Poti on the Black Sea coast. Its Black Sea fleet is now massing on our shores and an attack is under way in Abkhazia.
What is at stake in this war?

Most obviously, the future of my country is at stake. The people of Georgia have spoken with a loud and clear voice: They see their future in Europe. Georgia is an ancient European nation, tied to Europe by culture, civilization and values. In January, three in four Georgians voted in a referendum to support membership in NATO. These aims are not negotiable; now, we are paying the price for our democratic ambitions.

Second, Russia's future is at stake. Can a Russia that wages aggressive war on its neighbors be a partner for Europe? It is clear that Russia's current leadership is bent on restoring a neocolonial form of control over the entire space once governed by Moscow.

If Georgia falls, this will also mean the fall of the West in the entire former Soviet Union and beyond. Leaders in neighboring states -- whether in Ukraine, in other Caucasian states or in Central Asia -- will have to consider whether the price of freedom and independence is indeed too high.”
Mr. Robert Maginnis a retired Army lieutenant colonel, a national security and foreign affairs analyst for radio and television and a senior strategist with the U.S. Army. has this perspective:
Three elements associated with this crisis indicate Moscow is using this event to create a foreign policy tipping point for East-West relations.First, Russia’s deployment of such a large and carefully prepared force into South Ossetia (as well as the rest of Georgia) is significant. This is the Kremlin’s first use of military force outside of its homeland since the end of the Cold War and demonstrates that Moscow has the confidence and resolve to back up its increasingly confrontational rhetoric.

Second, the invasion defines Russia’s sphere of influence: the former 15 Soviet-era satellite states. President Saakashvili surmises that the “people in the Kremlin” don’t like a democratic neighbor. So, he suggests the rumble of Russian tanks across the Georgian countryside is Moscow’s wake-up call to other former satellites that might be entertaining thoughts of a western orientation. Moscow hopes those states will understand its message, but ultimately their reaction will depend on the West’s response to Moscow’s aggression.
At this point, it appears that the U.S. is between a rock and a hard spot. NATO has committed what few fighters it has to the war in Afghanistan, and the US is stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, Russia holds a trump card -- Iran.

Russia can easily make Tehran more dangerous for Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan by giving the radical Islamic government more and better weapons. The US is already in a dispute with Russia over Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile threat, and Moscow is positioned to make that situation into a real nightmare by giving Tehran more technical data. The timing of Russia’s invasion of Georgia signals an ominous new dawn for East-West relations. If Moscow defeats the democratic forces in Georgia and the West remains stymied on the sidelines, the rest of the former Soviet satellites could again become the Kremlin’s puppets, and Moscow could become more provocative with its words and its armed forces.
The NY Times reported today that the question “But where are our friends?”, was the question of the day from fleeing Georgians leaving the borders. As Russian forces massed Sunday on two fronts, Georgians were heading south with whatever they could carry. When they met Western journalists, they all said the same thing: Where is the United States? When is NATO coming?

Georgians around Gori spoke of America plaintively, uncertainly. They were beginning to feel betrayed.

“Tell your government,” said a man named Truber, fresh from the side of the Tbilisi hospital bed where his son was being treated for combat injuries. “If you had said something stronger, we would not be in this.”

He had not slept for three days, and he was angry — at himself, at Georgia, but mainly at the United States. “If you want to help, you have to help the end,” he said.
There aren't any light links today........

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