The Alan Grayson Page

The Anthony Weiner Page

Guest Contributors


  • BN-Politics' administrators respect, but do not necessarily endorse, views expressed by our contributors. Our goal is to get the ideas out there. After that, they're on their own.
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 05/2007

Blog Catalog

  • Liberalism Political Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory



« Hillary Campaign Emails: Dems Shoot at Their Own Feet Again | Main | House Committee to Investigate Forged Evidence re: Iraq »

August 12, 2008


Ralph Dreifus

It is always interesting to receive more than one view of a geo-political event. The truth of the matter is most of the conflicts for the next ten or fifteen years are going to center around fossil fuel. The warning flag was raised over thirty years ago and it has only gotten worse. The greed factor in the long run will be the undoing of mankind.


As I said in a message to Damozel, it's increasingly clear to me that none of the local players are good guys.

For Georgia's part, this is something like Serbia of the 1990s attempting to hold their nation together. Georgia is one of the few true Democracies in the region, and that's great, but it doesn't necessarily make the president a good guy. There's a fierce Georgian nationalism at play that leads to a strong anti-Russian sentiment, both toward Russia the nation and Russian people in general.

For Russia's part, this is part of a broader goal to reassert military hegemony over as much of the former Soviet Union as is possible. Georgia is of particular strategic interest to them because of the oil pipeline. They want to control all the oil pipelines from Asia to Europe.

As Ralph Dreifus observes, there's a big resource motivation here. Of course, that's nothing new. In a real sense, this is just a big long extension of the "great game". That originally began as a battle between the British and Russian Empires in the early 1800s for control over southwest and central asia, with the USA taking over for the Brits after WW2. It's been one long battle to keep Moscow from getting access to the Persian Gulf.

The neocons who dominate the editorial pages want us to help Georgia not because they give a crap about Georgia, but because a friendly Georgian regime is key to outflanking Russia towards the Caspian oil fields.

Seen in this context, fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and agitating for a third front in Iran, is just a continuation of historical norms. It's the classic 19th century answer to our 21st century problems.

Deb Cupples


You make a good point. Please note that I have NO OPINION, because I don't know the facts -- and obviously the media are giving conflicting stories.

Perhaps I'll learn some truths from the history books one day -- depending on who writes them :)

Deb Cupples


What you say makes sense, though I still have too little info to argue anything except that 1) media stories conflict, and 2) that some media seem to be jumping to unquestioned conclusions of others.

Where have we seen that before?

If the BBC quote is correct -- that when Georgia attacked it violated a political/contractual obligation to allow Russia to mediate -- then is it accurate for anyone to say that Russia had no justification at all to attack?

Again, I can't separate the spin from the facts.

Sounding rather neocon-ish himself, Obama said that Russia had "no justification."

Maybe he doesn't mean it -- is just trying to sound tough.

The good news is that Memeorandum headlines indicate that Russia responded to pressure and has ceased.


I think it's fair to say that Russia had no justification to bomb targets in Georgia outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moreover, the idea that Russia was an honest broker in peace talks was a farce. They were agitators in this conflict, supporting the seperatists.

That said, there are humanitarian issues, and I'm not trying to paint the Georgians as good guys.

Deb Cupples


On WHAT GROUNDS do you assert that Russia had no justification?

If various national media are telling different stories, how do you know enough to assess what really happened?

Seriously. If the U.S. and Britain and Georgia have oil interests tied to the conflict that are at odds with Russia's oil interests, don't you think it's possible that various officials are slanting what they say to the press?

I know U.S. officials are capable of it. Remember the Iraq war lead up?

I DON'T know what's really going on either, which is why I'm suspending judgment. But do I blindly believe our political officials?

Nope. Not after 2002-03. And I'm surprised that you do, given that there's no practical benefit from simply taking their words at face value and coming to a judgment at this moment.

Adam Tarr

It's just very hard for me to imagine any reasonable set of explanations whereby Russia bombing targets in Georgia proper, outside of the seperatist regions, is justified.

Deb Cupples


I don't know what's really on. I any case, McCain and Obama have both made it clear that they think Russia is the black hat.

I, frankly, don't know what to believe. And I don't see how you could know either (unless you're moonlighting as an on-the-ground military strategist or diplomat over there).

Haven't we watched politicians and media deceive us on matters of war?


I am not an expert here, but I was in Russia at the outbreak of the conflict and watched Russian TV news reporting for more than a week. I thought the Russian TV reporting had some fairness, as it also showed the headlines about the coverage from European and US newspapers, with translations of the lead paragraphs. So it was not just a question of, you will only hear what we want you to hear.

Russian peacekeepers have been in South Ossetia for a number of years. The Georgian troops are not supposed to be in the area. The border crossing between Georgia and South Ossetia has three guard stations: Geogian troops on the Georgia side, South Ossetian troops on the South Ossetia side, and Russian troops in the middle.

The population of South Ossetia has a majority of ethnic Russians. When the Soviet Union was dissolved, citizens of the member republics were given the choice of which new country they wanted the citizenship of. The ethnic Russians in South Ossetia for the most part are citizens of Russia, not of Georgia.

Georgia is obviously unhappy with having two autonomous provinces, and wants to bring them fully under its control. It launched a full-scale attack on Tskhinvali, the capital/largest city of South Ossetia, on August 8, the opening day of the Olympic games. They killed more than 90 Russian peacekeeping troops. Tskhinvali was just about leveled. Not a single block was unharmed. Even the cemeteries were destroyed. Russian residents fled to North Ossetia, which has been a part of Russia at its own request since the 1770s (calling it Russian-controlled is like calling New York US-controlled: a really stupid choice of words). North Ossetia took in 34,000 refugees from South Ossetia ... not the direction you would ever flee if Russia had launched the attack.

The president of Georgia is English-speaking, and used this to his advantage in disseminating news (I would call it disinformation) to the press. He blamed the Russian troops for the attack on Tskhinvali. The Russians responded in the same way that I believe the US would respond if its citizens and its troops were attacked.

Abkhazia has a reciprocal agreement with South Ossetia, that if one is attacked, the other will help defend. That put Abkhazia into play.

The Western press shows it bias when it reports only what Georgia announces in its press conferences. I wonder why it does not translate any of the Russian news reports?

Deb Cupples


I guess you agree that our media doesn't really understand the conflict (yet).

Thanks for all the info and insights!



I read your comment - cnacubo! - everything is great except one note: the 90+ majority of South Ossetia population are Russian citizens, but they are not ethnic Russians - they are ethnic Ossets


Much of this conflict isn't clear but the hypocrisy of the US&European governments seems very obvious. All media outlets have mentioned that Georgian artillery targeted a population center. No western governments have criticized this. Instead they have been adamant about 'Georgian territorial integrity' - hard to believe US would bring out this argument while their forces are occupying two countries.

Deb Cupples


You too make some good points!

The comments to this entry are closed.