Monday, August 11, 2008

More on Georgia

South Ossetia is not a country; it has never been recognised as a country in its own right but it is recognised as part of Georgia. If you think that this is wrong (if, for instance, you think that the referendums should have been binding) then by all means say so.

However, that lack of recognition of South Ossetia as a country means that the Georgians—however foolish you may think that they were to do so—were perfectly entitled to send troops to quell what they saw as a rebellion in Tskhinvali. It is an internal matter for the Georgian authorities and no other country has any legal right or mandate to interfere in that process (other than if it is determined that there was a genocide occurring, of which there has not even been a suggestion). As such, Russia has no legal right to enter South Ossetia and it has no legal right to attack Georgian troops in South Ossetia.

Russia certainly has no legal right to move beyond South Ossetia and into central Georgia, as they are doing. Let us make no mistake: this is quite clearly an illegal invasion and the West is going to sit by and let it happen.

Britain and the US, the only two countries who would even consider countering Russia's aggression, are in no position to do anything other than bluster: our troops are tied up in other theatres and, let's face it, in situations which would entitle Russia to laugh in our faces were we to moan about them breaking international law.

But this is more about Russian dominance in the region.
If anyone out there really believed that Russia's attack was about South Ossetia or Kosovo, do get in touch with me. I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. Russia is sweeping into Georgia proper, despite pleas for a cease-fire, and we hear the same question as many heard before: where are our friends?

Get used to it - if Russia bullies anyone, the West keeps schtumm. Georgia will get no help any more than the Balts did, or Poland, or Hungary or Czechoslovakia. We shall see no large demonstrations against blood for oil (and believe me, oil comes into it). The UN will not condemn or do anything. How can it, with Russia on the Security Council?

Indeed. Many people are asking why we—that is, Britain—should get involved and they are quite right. There is no reason to get involved—unless, of course, we are really that worried about maintaining oil supplies. After all, if we invaded Iraq purely for the oil, as I hear so many people saying, then surely we can help defend another country in order to maintain the security of oil delivery?

But I guess that my desire to get involved is mainly an instinctive one: I don't like seeing countries like Georgia being pushed about by the Russians. It's also partly strategic: as Helen keeps on saying, if we keep appeasing Russia, she isn't going to stop with Georgia. And having a big aggressive neighbour with nuclear weaponry is not a good thing; sooner or later we are going to end up with a return to the Cold War situation, except that those countries who have been reinvaded will miss their own rule even more than they did before.

Fundamentally, it's about securing the safety of those who look to us to do so: call it a matter of honour, if you will. I am aware that that is not necessarily a good reason to get involved, but that doesn't stop me thinking, instinctively, that we should. Because, if we don't, we will pay for it later; although, admittedly, we won't pay nearly as much as the next states on Russia's shopping list..
Can we, at least, offer real help to those who are the next on that list, Ukraine and the Baltic states?

Don't hold your breath, Helen...


Anonymous said...

Kosovo was never an independent country either. It didn't stop us invading.

Whether we like this or not, the irredentism pursued by Russia in South Ossetia is no different from the irredengism we have pursued in Kosovo.

I have great sympathy for Georgia and, actually, a great love for the country and culture - just as I have for neighbouring Armenia. The Christian Caucasus has a long, sad history that belies a beautiful landscape and a charming people.

Sadly, thanks to some amazingly stupid foreign policy decisions by Clinton, Bush, Major, Bliar and Broon, we have no arrows in our quiver with which to defend Georgia. We can make no appeal to international law because we are the fools who set the precedent for Russia's behaviour and we can make no appeal to arms because we are so overstretched.

Anonymous said...

"....were perfectly entitled to send troops to quell what they saw as a rebellion in Tskhinvali...."

We saw in the early 90s what Georgia's idea of quelling a rebellion involves, and it looks little different from Russia wrt Chechnya. Flattened villages, thousands of civilians murdered, that sort of thing. No wonder the S Ossetians voted 99%+ for independence a few years back.

Not that you're wrong on Russia's oil/imperialist motivations I suspect, although one other factor might be mentioned: Putin has dug a hole for himself with his image of Great Russia strongman nationalism. When Georgia attacked the Russian "peacekeepers" (which were there with Georgian permission, it has to be mentioned), diplomacy was never likely to be on the table - Putin's image was on the line, and a crushing military response was the only likely outcome.

Another point: our idiot UK/US governments crushed a UNSC request by Russia last Thursday for a ceasefire after Georgia attacked, likely based on (justified) suspicion of Russia's motives, and (misplaced) sympathy for Georgia. Now Bush/Brown are calling for exactly the same thing their officials de facto vetoed a few days back.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"Kosovo was never an independent country either. It didn't stop us invading."

I fail to see the relevance of that; are you saying that we should not have invaded? In which case, nor should Russia.

Our justification for invading Kosovo -- or, rather, the UN's justification -- was the same as that applied to Rwanda, i.e. genocide, which justifies legal international action. See my answer to John B.


E. Richter said...

The condemnations of Russia are accurate, but it isn't clear why you would support Georgia. What greater weapon can a libertarian have than the ability to secede from The State? Preferably individually, but en masse will do if said mass wants it. And if that group of people want their own state, fine. If they want to join another country and that country will accept them, what's the problem?

Devil's Kitchen said...

The rule of law is the problem; being libertarian does not mean that you can pick and choose which laws apply to you. Ossetia's referendums were not recognised as being legal.


John B said...

"Ossetia's referendums were not recognised as being legal."

Who would have had the power to thus recognise them? The Georgian government...?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Yes, John, that would have been a start. Also, the international community. Hey! You can read all about it...


E. Richter said...

Just who should be recognising them as legal or not? There's no virtue in following unjust laws anyway.

Of course if the right to secede was recognised in general it would be utter disaster for statists so of course they wouldn't be likely to "recognise" this example.

Anonymous said...

So what are the inhabitants to do? They're never going to accept Georgian rule again, after the brutality in the early 90s. They hold a referendum, observed as fairly done by lots of international observers, and the result is utterly clear. Geopolitics then ensures they get ignored, and the compromise is independence in all but name, with a multi-party peacekeeping force and OSCE diplomats on the ground.

Now along come the Georgian state again, indiscriminate shelling of the capital etc, kill lots of civilians.

Who has the legitimate right to rule here? Should the S Ossetians just accept they're going to be killed, because Georgia is a western ally and can get away with it? Obviously they look to the Russians for shelter, as the only possible alternative (although good luck to them in the future if they ever try to secede from Russia).

Sir Henry Morgan said...

You're tying yourself up in knots here DK - get another good post up and drift away from this one. Only part-related is this from the main post:

"Russia certainly has no legal right to move beyond South Ossetia and into central Georgia, as they are doing. Let us make no mistake: this is quite clearly an illegal invasion"

So in 1945 Russia had no right to move into Germany after pushing the Germans out of Poland? And the Americans/British had no right to do so after pushing the Germans out of France/Belgium/Holland?

The Georgian President is a menace and I don't for one minute blame the Russians if they occupy the whole of Georgia and string the bastard up. Russian soldiers were in S.Ossettia on a U.N. mandated peacekeeping task. Within hours of the Georgian attack on S. Ossettia last Friday the Russians, before any Russian military response, requested that the U.N. Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire. Britain, and USA (and Georgia in the background), thinking their ally Georgia was on a winner, opposed this.

What happened to the last country that launched an all-out war killing Russian soldiers? It's taken 67 years, but we're about to be taught that lesson again.


Old Hungarian joke about Russians (picked up from a CiF comment this morning:
1. They're tough bastards
2. There's a lot of them.

Andrew said...


It's all well and good - but do remember Georgia initiated military action on the assumption that the good'ol West would bash Russia around (hopefully militarily) if they dared poke their nose into south ossetia.

Personally, I'm sick to death of the West being dragged into every other brush war.

I hate to say it, but why not let Georgia reap the consequences of its actions? Sure, it isn't ideal at all, but they knew full well how it would antagonize Russia. Why the hell do we have the mentality of leaping to everyone's aid no matter how stupid they've been?

We're essentially telling the world - start your moronic wars and have American doughboys and British tommies shed blood in place of your countrymen! You win, and the West gets to 'spread democracy'! Yay!

(I do admit it reminds me, too, of the film 'The Mouse That Roared'...)

On the other hand, Russia's revival of its tsarist tendencies is no surprise especially when the West has spent the last decade or so pretending the Cold War is largely still ongoing.

And if we get involved militarily in Georgia against the Russians, the West will officially be broken, bankrupt and a note for the history books.

National, social and economic obliteration in eight years flat - who'd have thunk it?

Devil's Kitchen said...

"So in 1945 Russia had no right to move into Germany after pushing the Germans out of Poland? And the Americans/British had no right to do so after pushing the Germans out of France/Belgium/Holland?"

International law... blah... legal declaration of war... blah... Germany attacked first... blah... Georgians not set foot on Russian soil... blah... Can we please stop throwing these utterly ridiculous but, more importantly, totally non-analogous examples in?

I take on board all of your objections though, guys; seriously. And you are right that we shouldn't get involved.

However, I also think that we are going to see a continuing expansion of the Russian state. I'm just warning you, that's all.


andrew said...

I guess everyone is so bored of the islamists, the statists need a more tangible enemy to wax about how we'll have to lose even more liberty for the sake of national greatness/defense...

Revving the Cold War into renewed vigor complete with a 'better, faster, stronger' Russia (sans communism; plus tsarism) sounds right up our alley. :P

Old Holborn said...


Nuclear war within hours?

Anonymous said...

Heard whilst living in Poland - 'the only good Russian is a dead Russian"...

andrew said...

As an aside, I'm not implying we ought to give Russia a free pass - but not to expect it to leap through our hoops like a good little Bear.

As a libertarian, you should understand the motive of rational self-interest. It applies to nations, too. It's almost hilariously naive to imagine that Russia exists at the heed and benefit of the West, and not for itself, with its own needs.

We can certainly call them out for stupid decisions, but it's also stupid to expect them to change significantly.

Like it or not, national pride is very important to Russians, and if it can be achieved through war - they've never been much for subtly, have they?

andrew said...

One last comment before I have to go - if south ossetia 'is not a country' then, as a Scot, what does that make ours? North Britain? England's 'Indian Country'/Backyard/Playground?

What gives the south ossetians' less right to exist than the Kurds, the Kosovars, the Israelis, for instance?

I think if the ossetians' want it badly enough, they'll fight for it, as they are. Whether they succeed depends on many things, but the statist arrogance that a budding little republic can be squashed by force forgets one vital aspect - bullets and bombs are no match for convictions and ideals in the long run. ;)

Roger Thornhill said...

The important thing is to resist the temptation to "do something" or, worse, threaten to "do something" that cannot or will not be backed up with action.

Jason said...

I find the repeated use of the word "legal" interesting. International relations are a de facto state of anarchy. "Legality", i.e. treaties, are only binding insofar as the signatories choose to abide by them. As sovereign countries, Russia, Georgia, the U.S., etc. have no superior authorities looking over their shoulders enforcing "international law". Basically there's no one empowered to enforce international law, and hence no point in appealing to it when some other country violates their treaty obligations.

PaulT said...

I'm shocked and saddened by response on this thread. The Georgian president, may not be perfect, but nothing justifies a Russian invasion of the country.

Georgia is democratic. Russia wants to snuff out that democracy and install a puppet regime. Let's be quite clear that this is not about Ossetians, it's about Russia wanting to extend its influence through the Causcasus down to the borders of Iran and Turkey.

Russia sees the US as having a permanent presence in Iraq and thus pressuring Russia from the South. To have a pro-US state right on its borders was too much for Putin. He wants to get rid of it.

Russia is imperialist and expansionist. It has already been threatening all countries around its borders. Estonia, a NATO and EU member, came under cyber attack a few months ago. Ukraine had its gas supplies cut off.

Try to see the Georgian war as part of a wider conflict.

The UK is part of this, whether you like it or not. The only question is when we confront the enemy. In Georgia? On the northern Iraqi border? In Moldova and Romania, in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland? Or in the Thames estuary?

Wake up people.

Old Holborn said...

Lol. Thanks for that.

Once again, it's all about oil.

jd said...

DK, I've a lot of sympathy for your position and I can see more reason for us helping Georgia than invading Iraq, but I'm inclined to refer back to PJ O'Rourke's old three requirements for intervention.

One, it has to be in our interests - there has to be a strategical reason for intervention. Well, stopping a new wave of Russky expansionism, protecting oil... looks like a tick to that one.

Two, there has to be a moral case. Slightly more ambiguous as I'm not sure I'm that big a fan of the Georgian regime, and their attempts to suppress independence - strikes me as a bit like defending Kuwait against Iraq using the grounds that the Kuwaity Govt is enlightened & freedom-loving. However, on balance I think you can argue it. Hell, at least the Georgian govt is pro-Western.

Three, we have to actually be able to do something... ah, bugger. Given logistics, bar nuking the Russians and risking starting WWIII, I think we're a bit short of options.

That said, it's a whopping big warning to make sure we are prepared in future, rather than faffing around in the Middle East.

Sir Henry Morgan said...


That president ordered an artillery and air assault on the capital of S.Osswttia that has so far killed somewhere in the region of 3% of the entire S.Ossettian population - proportionately more than all the casualties Britain took in the whole of WW2.

And now he's doing his best to involve us in a war against Russia. Would you want to personally participate in the front line of such a war? Or do you just want to send other people to do it?

May he rot in hell - and may the Russians send him there.


I don't see Russia as our enemy, and I never did, even when I was a serviceman in the sixties/ seventies. No, wrong. I'm BNP.

Patrick said...

Regrettably Mr DK, Russia is merely throwing its weight around, much like we are in the west... I despise the Russian mafia as much as I do the American one.. But this is clearly the aim of states from whatever part of the world they come from...

These big oppressive states have all the guns and weaponry to do as they please... The west is merely feeding us the usual lines regarding their disgust at Russia.. Gestures and sound bites at best... However the west is up to their neck in it as anyone else... Their reasons for avoiding this conflict are entirely to do with oil.. that’s why they’ll let the Russians fight this one...

Andrew R said...

South Ossetia is not a country; it has never been recognised as a country in its own right but it is recognised as part of Georgia. If you think that this is wrong (if, for instance, you think that the referendums should have been binding) then by all means say so.

It strikes me that this is plainly nonsense; not wrong, but utterly meaningless. There is no way of determining what is a legitimate territorial unit, and for you to seriously offer "[South Ossetia] has never been recognised as a country" in defence is plainly circular (by whom is it to be recognised?). All your other 'principled' arguments - international law, rule of law (!) and so on - are based on equally shaky premises, which rather assume that which is to be proved - ie, that the currently existing nation states are legitimate political units against whom aggression is intolerable.

You ought to have written that individuals have a right to self-determination, to choose the government under which they live, and any act - by Russia or Georgia - which violates this principle is equally abhorrent, instead of justifying Georgian imperialism as a bulwark against Russian imperialism. Your attempt to justify the former, by some vague appeal to what constitutes a 'real' nation, is the worst sort of conservative bullshit, and very atypical of the normally clear thinking found here. A return to normal service would be greatly appreciated.

Indeed. Many people are asking why we—that is, Britain—should get involved and they are quite right...

But I guess that my desire to get involved is mainly an instinctive one: I don't like seeing countries like Georgia being pushed about by the Russians.

Then perhaps you ought to do something about it; whatever you do, though, ought to be with your own property, and not with others through the proxy-thief of the state. If my long-term financial benefit is insufficient reason for me to be forced to pay for another's healthcare or education, it follows that my long-term security benefit is insufficient reason me to be forced to pay for another's defence.

andrew said...


Why on earth are we to shield the Georgians from their own stupidity, exactly? Sure, the country may be democratic and pro-West, but when they pursue actions they KNOW will piss off big bad Mother Russia, it's immediately OUR fault!?

And here's another one - who in their right mind thinks shelling a city is going to win hearts and minds? The Georgians, frankly, only made South Ossetia's case for independence stronger. Heck, imagine if London lobbed artillery at the Scottish borders or Edinburgh and so on in to keep us in line. Indiscriminately killing women and children really makes your case stronger - not!

If you think the Georgians deserve assistance, why not fly to Tbilisi and become a mercenary? Do what Westerners did in the Spanish Civil War. Don't sit back and moan about injustice - go fight it with your own two hands. ;)

I personally have no problem with Georgia, but I'm sick to death of countries starting wars so that America/Britain can jump in to save them from themselves.

Russia is not perfect at all (let me make that absolutely clear), but I'm not remotely surprised by its actions.

Do you really want the government to institute 'war socialism'(for the 'good' of the country!) or worse as we enter into a new Cold War?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Andrew R,

Quite correct, of course. I was attempting to define what was happening under the current method of determining statehood, and how states might currently react rather than an expression of what I would personally desire.

As you know, were we living in the country that I would desire to live in, there really wouldn't be much of a state to offer any kind of action.


Anonymous said...

Then there is this angle to consider too:

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Ahhh, that's better DK. Back into a decent bit of logic. International Law is, always has been, and always will be, law as decided by big boys according to their own perceived interests - political, economic ... whatever.

Personally I like the Swiss position - you may beat us, but you'll never get rid of the scars you got doing it. I advocate that position for this country - (Very very heavily) armed neutrality.

andrew said...

I have to say, after reading this site for a few weeks now, I was surprised by this post, Mr DK. ;)

I believe that we should adopt the approach Westerners took in the Spanish Civil War. Instead of urging the state into action, why not grasp the courage of your stated opinions and go to the hotspots yourself? (See what I mean?)

Why is it always the duty of someone else's sons and daughters? How will you feel when the state raises taxes even MORE to fund your pet causes, as the war(s) will eventually expand and drag on?

And remember, war gives the leviathan state a reason to exist! It positively thrives on conflict! 1984 is a great example of this - which history has also proved. Hell, we live in an all to real enactment of the book as it is...

I seem to remember a little city state called Rome that launched itself into every single war it could find - paid for, of course, by the blood and riches of the population until they were, quite literally, taxed to death by the state.

As the state warmachine went into overdrive, it burned out Roma's flame, turned its once prosperous citizens into slaves and bandits and ushered in the Dark Ages...

The first step of being a libertarian is taking matters into your own hands, for right or wrong. Here's something one of America's Founding Fathers said,

"[Public] Necessity [using state power] is the but the first step to tyranny."

andrew said...

I agree with Mr Henry Morgan.

Although I find the Swiss obsession with rules and regulations rather odious - they have the other aspects absolutely right. Instead of a self contained professional army, the ENTIRE country is the military whose only remit is to defend Swiss territory.

(Switzerland also proves that gun laws are useless, too. Every adult in the country has easy access to automatic weapons - even grenades! - and are they gunning each other down day by day?)

Afterall, a state army is the perfect excuse for politicians to play out their Napoleon fantasies, whereas a national citizen's militia will only fight if it is in their interests to do so.

Imagine trying to start a war when the soldiers will have none of it, eh? Now that's a check on power!

America, God Bless her, originally believed the same. Heavily armed neutrality is the most libertarian approach there is.

PaulT said...

@"Sir Henry Morgan"

There is a massive, massive astroturfing campaign going on by Russia to smear Georgia. You're either part of that campaign, or are victim of it.

There is plenty of evidence that Georgia's possible shelling of parts of South Ossetia was in response to Russian sponsored Osstian's shelling Georgia-proper.

@Andrew. Are you another victim of the Astroturfing war? You say Russia is 'not that bad'. Which part of Russia do you find not bad? The part where they murder journalists? The part where they murder people on British soil? The part where they throw people in gaol on trumped up charges, confiscate their assets and destroy them? Or perhaps it's the part where they put dissidents in mental institutions?

Wake up!

P.S. What's all this talk about Switzerland? What's that got to do with anything? Switzerland's a hole.

Exile said...

Not so fast...

S. Ossetia was only dumped into Georgia for administrative reasons during the days of the USSR. It has fought a war of independence against Georgia and its people voted for independence twice in referenda.

Russia was allowed to keep 500 troops in the territory as was Georgia, and by signing that agreement Georgia implicitly accepted that things were not as simple as you are trying to make out.

Finally, by agreeing to a ceasefire at 6.00pm on Thursday and then breaking it four hours later, Georgia ensured that all bets were off.

I'm with Russia on this one.

no longer anonymous said...

An important long-term strategic question we also have to take into account - the rise of China. In the event that it ever threatens the West, we will need Russia on our side. Obviously that puts us in a tricky situation re condemning Russia. Question is, what do we do?

andrew said...


I have never said the Russians were saints. I said I am not surprised by the country's actions, because I believe Georgia instigated a war it KNEW it COULD NOT WIN.

When the Georgians decide that shelling civilians will make them think twice about seceding, how does that make them any better than their enemies?

Why is it assumed just because a country 'loves the West' that they are next to sainthood? Why should we give Georgia a free pass when they stupid things? How many dictators have 'loved the West', hmm?

This whole war is stupid - especially when people like you gleefully call forth WW3 and watch as the West is obliterated piece by piece.

Haven't you heard? America is $10 trillion dollars in debt! The UK isn't in a much better state of affairs, either, and we both have militaries overstretched on goodness-knows how many fronts. The British Army is a bloody farce, as it is!

But hey, let's have the state spend money like water, let's rob citizen's of life and wealth for the chance of enforcing democracy at the point of a gun! Go on!

If they institute conscription in the coming months - I sincerely hope you embrace your role as cannon fodder, eh?

Please actually think about the implications you advocate.

Shug Niggurath said...

Russia is flexing it's muscle and will continie to do so in abence of anyone who can or will stop it.

And we are not immune, they killed a dissident on our soil.

Know what? Our government is inept. Think that the rulers of Russia can't see that?

I have to respect the bastards because they more politically astute than the cunts who have dissembled the UK in the last 18 years (aye Major and his mates too).

Russian leaders know exactly what they are doing, and know that their reasoning works on the feeble minded in our societies (think left) and in the impotence of our elected (hahaha) leaders.

'Mother Russia rain down'

Jones said...

My question is; Who shot at South Ossetian civilians first?

No, the answer is not 'Russia'. I think this is one the democratic West is better off leaving well alone. All the bellicose talk of Russia 'flexing it's regional muscle' etc is just that, talk. This is no Gleiwitz incident or other cassus belli. Georgia may be 'democratic', but the as for the democratic west getting involved - not a good idea.

Over this issue I'm in favour of the 'heavily armed neutrality' option, damn the oil.

cabalamat said...

Britain and the US, the only two countries who would even consider countering Russia's aggression, are in no position to do anything other than bluster: our troops are tied up in other theatres

That's nonsense for two reasons:

(1) the NATO countries most supportive of Georgia have been the baltic states and Poland (no bdought because they've until recently been under Russian domination)

(2) the Russians could have been seriously hurt by air power -- aircraft like the Eurofighter of F-22 are only marginally useful in COIN wars like Iraq or Afghanistan, but are very useful in fighting a conventional war against the Russkis (not surprising, it's what they are designed for). We all remember the pictures of the Iraqi army destroyed on the road north out of Kuwait in 1991 -- well that's what the Russian 46th Army wouldn't looked like after a going-over by Typhoons armed with Brimstone missiles.

Dan Vevers said...

Okay, there's been a fair few throwaway comments people have made on this thread without much further analysis, but there's been one big one that's stuck out like a sore thumb:

"Georgia is democratic".

Actually, Georgia barely fulfils the requirements of a democracy. Pretty much, they hold elections and not much else. Oh, and Saakashvili won 96% of the vote last time. Yes, I smell shite. Iran, by the way, also holds presidential and parliamentary elections, but one wouldn't describe them as "democratic".

DK, your points about the recognition of South Ossetia are invalid - the West, and particularly America, invested a lot in Saaksashvili when he came to prominence on a stance of retaking Abkhazia and S. Ossetia, so of course a formal recognition of the provinces as independent states in the Security Council would be impossible! However, Russia recognised them. States can reoognise other states, and great powers like Russia need adhere only to their own rules. Maybe not the way it should be, but the way it is and has been for a long time. Russia acted in S. Ossetia's defence based on Russia's recognition of South Ossetia as an independent state. It's a matter of perspective.

What's more, the South Ossetians (and Abkhazians) have had de facto independence since 1991, when they rose up against the central government and beat Georgian troops back, after - and this is another tick against the "Georgia is a democracy" crap - Georgia banned regional parties from electoral participation.

Mikael Saakashvili ... there's no nice way of putting it: he's a fucking evil authoritarian scumbag. Politicians who oppose him are locked up and charged with "treason" for being pawns of the Russians. He has also been having fun shutting down opposition media. Police have beaten demonstrators on the streets - even Western media spotted that one, funny how everyone's forgotten now. Georgia's prisons are notorious for torture and full of political dissidents. The country is an economic basket case. What better way to divert attention from his domestic problems than to openly engage in a military build-up for the past year, shouting for all to hear of his plans to retake the breakaway provinces, despite the vehement and forceful condemnations and warnings from Russia?

This whole sorry episode has been entirely predictable - indeed. I remember one commentator predicting it last year as "a war to watch out for". A lot of people have being going on about how "pro-West" poor old Georgia is, without really considering what that means. I'll tell you what that means: that means Georgia has been armed and funded by the US, and all Saakashvili's actions as President thusly backed implicitly by the US, through loud silence and wads and wads of cash in aid. The "Rose Revolution" Saakashvili led in 2003 to come to power was one of a fair few "colour revolutions" backed and funded by America in former states of the Soviet Union, and like many of the US's foolish, short-termist, meddling foreign policies, it was done under the transparent "pro-democracy facade, and this one is now blowing up in their faces somewhat.

The aim of these colour revolutions was to encircle the former Soviet Union and keep the Russians in their place, as it were. There was the possibility - now probably less likely - of an eastward expansion of NATO to encompass Ukraine and Georgia, despite explicit promises by the US to Russia during negotiations after the fall of the Soviet Union that this wouldn't happen.

So let's not bullshit around this: what's happened has happened because the US backed a tinpot tyrant as part of a wider plan to encircle Putin, cut off routes for Russian oil to flow freely to Europe, and strangle a resurgent Russia in its cradle. Tinpot tyrant then thought he'd try his luck at retaking provinces Russia had sworn to protect. The libertarian position of a non-interventionist foreign policy has, once again, had to have been vindicated by horrifying events. It is sickening to see Saakashvili's ugly mug on the tax-paid fucking BBC babbling about the values of "freedom" and "democracy" in the face of the big bad Russians. I think it's horrendous that Russia are killing Georgian civilians too, but Saakashvili picked the fight. He's a fucking idiot and a total cunt to boot. With the backing of Western governments, which makes them fucking idiots and total cunts too. How long did Bush and Saakashvili think they could keep prodding, provoking and throwing dirt in the face of the Russian bear before it bit back?

DK, whatever South Ossetia is formally recognised as, the fact is the place is full of people who consider themselves Russian. What if say Colombia started raining bombs on the thousands of Americans living in Panama? Colombia would get razed to the ground! So why do different standards apply here? Kosovo has been used as a rather bad analogy, but think of it like this: when Milosevic was doing to Kosovo - then an officially unrecognised breakaway province - what Saakashvili is now doing to S. Ossetia - an officially unrecognised breakaway province - why was it an acceptable response for us to rain our bombs down on Yugoslavia and technically breach their sovereignty but unacceptable for Russia to now do the same to Georgia? (I actually personally think both were unacceptable, but that's something else altogether!)

Part of the reason why your blog is probably my favourite one out there DK is because of the relish with which you demolish the lazy consensuses of the media and the general political establishment, whether that be on statism, the NHS, global warming etc. Well, I consider the "big bad old Russians attack innocent little freedom-loving standard bearers of democracy Georgia" media narrative to be another of these. I know you're far too wise to fall into the black-and-white typecasting which is so prominent in this country's dead-tree press, but I do feel you've missed the mark on this one. If you don't, as you put it, like seeing "countries like Georgia getting pushed about by the Russians", maybe Saakashvili - and US policymakers - should have thought of that before embarking on their anatagonistic path and, essentially, pushing first.

A few other points elsewhere: pault, think it might be you who needs a wee "wakey wakey". I read the Western media, I research, and I reach my own conclusions. I don't read enough (or really any) of the Russian media to be affected by their alleged anti-Georgian smear campaign. However, I have been all too painfully aware of the ongoing and ridiculous demonisation of Russia in the Western media as returning to its old Soviet ways, with Putin as the new Stalin. Russia is no haven of democracy by any stretch, but it has come a long way since the days of the Iron Curtain and the Gulags, and sure, they have recently become more assertive in tandem with their rise in fortunes, but so what? What else would we expect from them? Why not make things easier for ourselves and adhere to the Jeffersonian ideal of peace, commerce and friendship with Russia, rather than the continuous antagonism and meddling of international power-realpolitik, which Russia understandably has seen as attempts by the West to stifle its progress and limit its prosperity?

Finally, shug niggurath, please tell me you don't actually believe Litvinenko was killed by the Russians with polonium-201 or whatever it was? Do you know how much that stuff costs, as opposed to a bullet and a pistol?! It makes zero sense. Why would the Kremlin kill an insignificant dissident, the equivalent to a 9/11 Troofer in America, with $10 million of a substance that would create a rather conspicuous radioactive trail in London? Then the evidence came out that Litvinenko was in fact quite possibly a smuggler of ... you guessed it, secreted polonium. Maybe someone in his smuggling ring killed him, or maybe he did it to himself, or maybe it was a botched smuggling operation, but what has now been firmly established is that no one he met on the day of his death worked for Russian intelligence. In fact, most of them worked for Boris Berezovsky, who is in fact a longstanding enemy of the Kremlin who funds most of the flecked-spit anti-Putin Bolshevik opposition and has said he plans regime change in Russia "by force if necessary". Who else smells shite? Just thought I'd point that out, so in future we can leave the anti-Russian conspiratorial nonsense to the Sun and keep the facts at the forefront of the debate here.

FlipC said...

Dan - "Russia acted in S. Ossetia's defence based on Russia's recognition of South Ossetia as an independent state."
Nope Russia has not formally recognised S. Ossetia (or Abkhazia), they merely recognised the legitimacy of their referendum. From Russia's legal point of view S. Ossetia is part of Georgia.

"What's more, the South Ossetians (and Abkhazians) have had de facto independence since 1991,"

And previously to that they were semi-autonomous since 1921 through to the 80's until Georgia started clamping down in 1990.

I have to agree with some of your points, but from a legal point of view Russia has invaded Georgia. This fact has been repeatedly lost by the media's constant use of the terms S. Ossetia and Georgia that suggests we're discussing two different countries here.

Georgia is having a civil war and until they (or the rebels) start a programme of genocide no-one, legally, can step in.