Georgia: Other lesson points, big guns, a few lies, comments, rants, etc.
The fighting continues in Georgia, with Russian air strikes on Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, for the first time. The Russians have insisted that the Georgians withdraw from South Ossetia and declare a cease fire before Russia will even consider a cease fire. Pretty much the same “deal” the USA offered the Serbs in Kosovo and Saddam in Kuwait. It’s the modern version of insisting that your enemies surrender unconditionally, a precedent started by the USA. Am I the only one who thought this level of arrogance would come back to bite the USA in the butt some day? I hope not. For their part the Georgians claim already to have withdrawn entirely out of South Ossetia, which may be true, in fact they more than likely were driven out in the face of Russian firepower. The Russians haven’t confirmed this yet and have continued their attacks.
For their part, it’s notable that the people of Georgia have rallied around their president, Mr Saakashvili, opposition leaders who a few months back were claiming he wasn’t the legitimate leader of Georgia now stand by him, and Georgians of all stripes are rallying around the flag. Not surprising, I would likely be doing the same if I was Georgian living in Georgia. Especially since there’s every reason to believe that Saakashvili has wildly misrepresented his role in starting this mess and exaggerated the extent and purpose of the Russian attacks.
Bush has accused the Russians of a “disproportionate response” in Georgia. Coming from America, the land of the disproportionate response, this is pretty rich. Bush invaded two countries in response to a crime committed by a guest in one country. In fact hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died as a result of Bush’s response to 9/11, and there are numerous examples in history of the USA responding with extreme violence to the slightest provocation. And where was Bush when Israel responded to a minor border raid by systematically destroying the entire civilian infrastructure of Lebanon? And this isn’t limited to America either, it’s one of the great discontinuities in almost everyone’s thinking. People commonly think it’s perfectly justified for their side to respond with extreme violence to teach those other people a lesson, or “trim the crabgrass” as someone put it…but if someone responds to their side in kind, OMG, they’re committing genocide! It would be almost funny if only soldiers died, but alas it’s the innocent who pay for this hypocritical global delusion.
It gets worse. The Bush administration is now claiming that Russia is trying to topple the Georgian government, based on a single ambiguous statement by a single Russian diplomat. That’s like trying to claim that Iran plans to nuke Israel based on a single ambiguous statement by a single Iranian official, no one would fall for that, right? Sigh. And while the basic US line is that Russia attacked Georgia, I’m at least somewhat pleased to see that it doesn’t seem to be “sticking” the way previous deceptions like this have. And as one last example of bizzaro diplomacy, Bush threatened Russia with worsened relations with the USA if they didn’t stop their attacks on Russia. Maybe most Americans aren’t aware of it, but the USA’s policy toward Russia since the end of the Cold war can be summed up in five words: “Kick them while they’re down.” Since the Soviet Union’s collapse the USA has reneged on numerous agreements and done everything in its power to weaken, isolate, demonize, and marginalize Russia. It’s a pretty safe bet the Russians have noticed this, and their response to threats to “worsen relations” is going to be something long the lines of “You’ve lied to us and fucked with us and treated us like garbage for nearly two decades, how can it get worse? Bite me.” It will be stated a little more diplomatically though, but the message will be the same.
In any event as of Sunday night PST the situation is still unstable, with Russia still reportedly launching strikes in Georgia, and the USA making a lot of noise. My current thinking is that this will end up with Russia in de facto control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Georgian president Saakashvili having seriously overplayed his hand. That would be the best result at this point, I mean, the vast majority of ethnic Abkhazians and South Ossetians never wanted to be part of Georgia in the first place.
I can only hope I’m not writing a frantic update Monday morning as the situation deteriorates.
(The above image of Russian 152 mm self propelled artillery is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. Credit and copyright: Reuters. It came from this non-english site which has a number of lesser seen photos of the conflict. The guns are 2S3 Akatsiya self propelled guns. It’s a Cold War era weapon, basically a very expensive piece of heavy artillery. The armour on these types of weapons is only thick enough to stop bullets, just enough to protect the crew from snipers and such. It’s a little creepy because yesterday I saw You-tube footage of these guns rolling into South Ossetia, and here they are (possibly even the same exact guns) set up and firing at Georgian positions.)