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The Russian side of the story
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An amazing article in the Wall Street Journal by Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister entitled "America Must Choose Between Russia and Georgia".

Just the title alone ups the ante and immediately pisses me off.

First Lavrov spins the Russian version of things, neatly avoiding the provocation of South Ossetian insurgent forces. You'd think the Georgians simply decided to shell Tskhinvali one night and the poor Russian "peacekeepers" were forced to act.

Then Lavrov plays the Kosovo card:
Our military acted efficiently and professionally. It was an able ground operation that quickly achieved its very clear and legitimate objectives. It was very different, for example, from the U.S./NATO operation against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999, when an air bombardment campaign ran out of military targets and degenerated into attacks on bridges, TV towers, passenger trains and other civilian sites, even hitting an embassy.
No civilians killed in Georgia were there Mr. Lavrov? But the point here is to hold Kosovo up as the reason invading Georgia was "legitimate".

He then takes a second shot at both the UN and NATO:
In this instance, Russia used force in full conformity with international law, its right of self-defense, and its obligations under the agreements with regard to this particular conflict. Russia could not allow its peacekeepers to watch acts of genocide committed in front of their eyes, as happened in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica in 1995.
Of course that's the incident when 400 Dutch peacekeepers stood by and watched a massacre of Bosnian men and boys. Russia claims that was the intent of the Georgian operation.

After blaming the US for Georgia's recklessness, Russia then throws down the gauntlet:
We'll continue to seek to deprive the present Georgian regime of the potential and resources to do more mischief. An embargo on arms supplies to the current Tbilisi regime would be a start.
I'm sure it would. It should also be rejected out of hand by the US.

Then the "us or them" rhetoric:
However, it must be remembered that, as between any other major world powers, our bilateral relationship can only advance upon the basis of reciprocity. And that is exactly what has been missing over the past 16 years. I meant precisely that when I said that the U.S. will have to choose between its virtual Georgia project and its much broader partnership with Russia.
In diplospeak, this is very pointed and belligerent rhetoric. This, frankly, is a threat. And while in relative terms, Russia showed some level of military prowess it hasn't been able to demonstrate in some time, I'm not sure they're in the shape to be making threats such as this.

I have to believe that again Russia is pushing the envelope to see how far the US will go in support of Georgia to further demonstrate that these border countries are essentially on their own when it comes to support from NATO or the US. I'm not sure that's a particularly bright idea at the moment on the part of Russia and they may be overplaying their hand.

But of course, given the story about the Democrats opposing beginning work in Poland on the missile defense system, perhaps they're of the opinion that A) Obama will win and B) this bluff will gain leverage with him.

Lavrov concludes his piece by throwing the situation in America's lap:
It is up to the American side to decide whether it wants a relationship with Russia that our two peoples deserve. The geopolitical reality we'll have to deal with at the end of the day will inevitably force us to cooperate.

To begin down the road of cooperation, it would not be a bad idea to do a very simple thing: Just admit for a moment that the course of history must not depend entirely on what the Georgian president is saying. Just admit that a democratically elected leader can lie. Just admit that you have other sources of information—and other objectives—that shape your foreign policy.
Or said another way, "just admit we have you over a barrel and there's really nothing you can do about it."

Of course, that remains to be seen - and that is why this is situation continues to be both dangerous and important.

[And as to the politics of this, yes, this is something that helps keep the focus on national security and foreign affairs and off of domestic issues - good for McCain.]
 
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Comments
excellent article from Lavrov, right on the money
 
Written By: sashal
URL: http://
excellent article from Lavrov, right on the money
I hope you are being sarcastic. Lavrov’s entire article is a combination of laughable propaganda and outright lies.

Lavrov says:
It is up to the American side to decide whether it wants a relationship with Russia that our two peoples deserve.
Actually it is up to Russia to decide whether it really wants the U.S. as an enemy. It has done little to deserve any sort of good relationship with the U.S., and now it’s beginning to act and sound like the Soviet Union — complete with crude transparent propaganda, threats and blustering.
 
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
America Must Choose Between Russia and Georgia
Done. Now what?
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
So the Russians got what they wanted after WWII: an empire. It was one of the largest in the world, and they had complete control over it. Eastern Europe was a series of vassal states, and the USSR was considered to be co-super-powers with the US.

The result? A ruined economy, a ruined environment, and a ruined people who never learned how to take care of themselves because they were never given the chance. The empire crumbled, in fact in short order by historical terms. (Fifty years isn’t very long for an empire to last.)

So now Putin and his buddies look at the world and think "Hmm, let’s try that empire thing again. It beats working for a living."

The old saw about those not understanding history being doomed to repeat it comes to mind.

The differences this time are mostly against the Russians. They are not dealing with shell-shocked populations confronted with a victorious, powerful Russian army. The Russians are a lot weaker, and the people of Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltic Republics have had over fifteen years to stabilize as independent entities.

As for the WSJ column, can’t the Russians come up with some original ideas in the propaganda? The moral equivalence thing is getting really old and far too easy to spot (except among post-modern leftists who eat it up). Plus they seem out of practice at producing propaganda targeted at the West. This whole thing has the flavor of a defiant essay from a clueless and self-centered teenager.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
"Keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole!"

Russia does have a good hand. Georgia is at the end of a very tenuous supply line and our defense commitment to them is not yet cemented. Add in the fact that they can substantially cut electrical power output in most of Europe as well as home heating from natural gas this winter and their hand looks very good.

Assuming we want to stay in the game, our immediate decision is do we make a strategic retreat from Georgia and put US troops in Ukraine or we insert our air force and navy into the current battle on Georgia’s side.

Reagan warned the Europeans about depending on Gazprom’s pipelines into the West but they went ahead and got cozy with the Russians, especially the Germans.

Some decisions create tragedy years later. Turning away from nuclear power in the ’90s and embracing Russian natural gas was one of those. Now, California want s to do the same with LNG from Saklin Island.
 
Written By: Joseph Somsel
URL: http://
Joseph, I don’t think Billy was specifically talking about Georgia, where they have at least a tolerable hand and perhaps a good hand. I think he was talking in general.

Note that in Georgia they have a "good" hand... and that is where their hand is the strongest. We can’t even call that hand excellent. If they stick around too long, expect them to be on the receiving end of the most skillful asymmetric warfare campaign ever seen, something they can not afford.

Elsewhere, they may have cards but they aren’t very good. Sure, they can turn off gas... if they don’t mind forgoing the money. Not a very good card. A card, yes, but not a very good one.

The range of options for Russia is much more constrained than those of the people they are making enemies out of.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
In other news: less than an hour ago, Vladimir Putin said that the Russian response to Polish ABM installations would go "beyond diplomacy".

Drudge links Breitbart with the AP story.

Ain’t we got fun?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Interestingly, the recent news Billy points out seems to indicate that the bear did indeed bet on appeasement from the west.
 
Written By: Boogs
URL: http://
Eastern Europe can always point out they’d rather be the target of Russian nukes which might not actually function, than the American tactical nukes they faced when they were members of the Warsaw Pact.

And.

Yeah, the Russians expected everyone to get all appeasy.
Frankly I figured the Euro’s would too.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Sec. Rice certainly isn’t sounding very appease-y in that story. I think the Russians are trying to raise the stakes to get us to appease them, but I think that misreads America’s national character pretty badly; in general, we’re likely to take that as proof this was a necessary step. (And I’m not talking about "people like me" or "people who read QandO", I’m talking about "the American street", which I don’t always agree with.)

I think Russia won last week, but every step they push it now, they are losing more, and at this rate it’s going to go net negative for them very soon. Arguably, they’re already there diplomatically, and if they dilly-dally long enough in Georgia for the asymmetrical attacks to get going... what’s the Georgian military with American advisors been doing these past few days? I wonder...
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
Interestingly, the recent news Billy points out seems to indicate that the bear did indeed bet on appeasement from the west.
Of course!
Isn’t that the bet Iran has been making?
And Iraq before that?
And Chavez?
And Cuba?
and... well, you get the idea.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Anyone read Spengler? Americans play Monopoly while Russians play chess?

In the long run, our high stakes move is to buy Poland a CANDU reactor.
 
Written By: Joseph Somsel
URL: http://
Anyone read Spengler? Americans play Monopoly while Russians play chess?
Monopoly simulates and reinforces free market forces, actually at play in the real world. Chess is all theory with no sensible application to the real world. Kinda like Marxism-Leninism.

Check the history of the Cold War. Monopoly won, brainiac.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
It is very depressing to me. I have seen the conservative movement, (Which I was attached to as a conservative libertarian.) Turn into a bunch of attack bot’s whose rhetoric comes from Ann Coulter, and now on top of that, they have all become fanatical neocon warmongers.

No where in the right blogosphere have i read anything like a reasoned view of what our obligations would be in eastern Europe, or whether it would be sound to grant Russia a sphere of influence. It has all been 100% ultra bellicose calls for confrontation.

And woe betide thee if you dare to issue a word of caution. You are undoubtedly a stupid left wing appeaser and you need another long winded lecture on the dangers of isolationism. If you ask the question of just where might we make some decommitments in order to push the Russians out of eastern Europe, you are ignored.

In fact the quality of our forces, the war weariness of the public, and the state of our currency and economy are also ignored. By god fighting rooskies is GOD’S work, and ya gotta do GOD’S work boy!

 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
I don’t mind if Russia has a sphere of influence. I just want them to project it via some other mechanism than the range of their missiles and the threat of their army.

If Poland and Ukraine and the Czech republic decide they don’t WANT a Russian sphere of influence in their capitals again, are you saying we shouldn’t help them?
whether it would be sound to grant Russia a sphere of influence.
Who are we to ’grant’ Russia anything?
If the Russians want those things they can earn the trust of Western and Eastern Europe, and knocking over small neighbors and telling everyone else you’re pointing your missiles at them is not the way to earn it.

As to our bellicosity I haven’t seen anyone here abouts sounding boots and saddles for a modern day Operation Barbarossa.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Seriously, Kyle. If we had the ability to grant it, wouldn’t it be "our" sphere of influence? And who, exactly is banging the war drums around here? Besides Russia, that is?

Eastern Europe has had their turn under the Soviet yoke and now they’ve had their generation of freedom. Unsurprisingly, they’d rather not go back to the Warsaw Pact days.

No one is postulating that Russia and/or China can be contained using our current force structure with today’s OPTEMPO. Even with the improved lethality of today’s Army, Congress is going to have to increase it’s endstrength. Two regional conflicts, my ass.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Can we say Javelin anti-tank missiles by the planeload? A whole lot cheaper than the tanks they destroy, and much harder to spot....
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Georgia is either very, very far away if Turkey is not on board, or Georgia is right next door to a reliable NATO ally that has ports in the Med and Black Sea and has a US airbase on its soil.

So, the question is, what is Turkey’s opinion?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
So, the question is, what is Turkey’s opinion?
I think that’s an excellent point, Harun - perhaps hearing from Turkey is the next "counter-punch". If they get on board, suddenly Russia’s position in Georgia is less attractive.

However, to this point, they’ve shown no indication or interest in doing that.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I wonder if they’re pushing Kurdish bargaining chips onto the table right about now.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
hLTTxn xnfqkmsklnen, [url=http://yhfdvwynrcpk.com/]yhfdvwynrcpk[/url], [link=http://uazuzisxnbcl.com/]uazuzisxnbcl[/link], http://poveolmuyrzw.com/
 
Written By: 8
URL: http://zxulhlzieosk.com/

 
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