Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You know it's a strange day

You know it's a strange day when I agree with Bill Kristol on anything.

Money Quote (of a Quote):

In August 1924, the small nation of Georgia, occupied by Soviet Russia since 1921, rose up against Soviet rule. On Sept. 16, 1924, The Times of London reported on an appeal by the president of the Georgian Republic to the League of Nations. While “sympathetic reference to his country’s efforts was made” in the Assembly, the Times said, “it is realized that the League is incapable of rendering material aid, and that the moral influence which may be a powerful force with civilized countries is unlikely to make any impression upon Soviet Russia.”
Seriously folks, despite our follies in Iraq, the situation in Georgia is perilous and proves that Terrorism is not the only threat in the 21st century. Just look at the news reports today,

Georgians beg for help from US, they helped in Iraq;

Georgians declare a unilateral cease-fire, the Russians do not follow suit, French and Finns try to intercede;

Russians move well beyond South Ossetia into the heart of Georgia;

Folks this is serious stuff, and all we've done so far is transport Georgia's troops back from Iraq to help them defend their homeland. The Russians accuse Georgia of attempting to perpetrate crimes of humanity as their causus belli, but they've been amassing troops for months just north of the border. For years they've given the folks in these breakaway regions Russian passports. What are we in the West to do?

::update:: it appears that the BBC has come to similar conclusions as I originally had and wonder if Georgia should just quit Ossetia.

Andrew Sullivan expounds and indicates that yes, we are neutered and unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it now except move forward.

Amb. Marc Ginsberg has a plan.

There's more information in the comments folks, including additional commentary from both sides of the issue. It's worth checking out and joining in.

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Anonymous said...

The best we in the west to do is to find truth information about this conflict... The truth is that Georgia attack Ossetia, but Russia bombs Georgia... Saakashvili declare a unilateral cease-fire publicly through TV, but for an hour Geogia shelled Ossetian city Tshinvaly killing 2000 civilians... and 12 russian peacekeeper in the region.
For about 30000 cevilians crossed the border with Russia in seeking life-saving... And only then Russia sent its troops in order to stop genocide of Ossetian people.
And besides Geogia has US weapons and US money for War, Geogia has the highest share of military expenditure in the world... CNN, Times just working for propaganda US interest, lieing as usual...

Mattheus Mei said...

I think it's a bit more nuanced than you give the situation credit for, I'd advise you to check out what the BBC has said.

And these people aren't necessarily innocent civilians, they're violent separatists operating under the auspices of the Russian Regime, with Russian Passports, and Russian weapons and support.

Woland said...

Georgians decided to start this war and they really didn't care about civilians in Ossetian capital. They wanted to solve this problem by a military force and it worked well at the beginning until Russia decided to get involved. It now back fired.

There is so much disinformation coming from Tbilisi and it seems like all the western media is focused on that information. There is almost nothing from residents of South Ossetia.

As usual the truth lies somewhere in between, but it is too early to say (information war is part of a modern war) and I just hope the fighting will stop shortly to prevent further loss of life.

Anonymous said...

Russia called an emergency session of UN SC on Thursday night at about 11 pm EDT. Russia was calling for the consul to accept a three-sentence resolution calling for Georgia to cease fire and return to negotiations at South Ossetia. This resolution was blocked by U.S. and U.K.
On Friday after reports of Georgia using artillery, MLRS and assault jets to attack a sleeping S.O. city of Tshinvali at night, killing over 1500 Russian-citizen civilians and 12 Russian peacekeepers Russian government had no choice but to go in to keep the face.
In fact a lot of people in Russia are outraged by the fact that it took so long for the Russian government to react and send troops to protect the civilians. By the time Russian tanks got to Tskhinvali the city was already leveled by Georgian heavy weapons. The only remaining civilians were hiding in basements with no electricity, gas or water.
I do agree that Russia has no business in Georgia, but it was Georgian president that wanted to become a national hero and take control of two de-facto independent provinces who started this war.
He even declared an immunity for the members of the S.O. government on Thursday. He was hoping to quickly overthrow the separatist governments (that were by the way elected by the local population) while the whole world is watching the opening of the Olympics. But he miscalculated the reaction of Russia and the willingness of West to send help. Russia is indeed very close to the stereotype of a sleeping bear. It is big, slow and lazy. But it can be very dangerous when it wakes up.

Mattheus Mei said...

Woland, I find your argument that Georgians simply don't care for Ossetians a little incredulous. It's true that what the Georgians initiated in their attempt to reclaim their land was boneheaded and dangerous, but so to is the fact that Russia has been slowly subverting both regions by giving out freely passports to Georgian separatists in an effort to annex the regions through the back door. Originally Russia was called in as a peacekeeper in the 90s. Perhaps this was a failure of the international community, but then again the Russia of the early 90s wasn't militarized and hegemonic as Putin Russia..
The Truth does lie somewhere in between and I'm sure we'll be discovering more of it in the coming weeks. One thing is certain, both sides hands are dirty and both have lots to hide as journalists from outside the conflict have not been allowed in to sort out the facts or present an unbiased report, all you have now is the word of Tiblisi and Moscow, and if the western media is focused on the information from Tiblisi as opposed to Moscow you only have to look at the state of Media in both countries to realize why.

To Anon II: The fact that so many Russian "Citizens" perished in a military action against Separatists in Georgia is a travesty and miscarriage of justice, though more importantly the fact that these people had illicit and smuggled passports as provided by the Russian government while conjuring their civil war plans to seaparate from Georgia and Repatriate as part of Russia is even more outrageous.
It's not a matter of dispute that the President was copying our won cow boy tactics trying to bring two renegade provinces back to order, but until they are recognized by the international community en masse as sovereign states (other than Russian Recognition) how one country handles internal conflict is there business and is infact a police action, unless sufficient evidence is presented that such actions are crimes against humanity, such as specific targetting of civilians. We're hearing evidence of such acts from both sides. And like Woland says, it'll be some time before we know the full truth, but until then, Russia needs to pull out.

Mattheus Mei said...

And according to the UN's website
no resolution was offered to be blocked by the US or Britain, though the council did meet and the US representatives pleaded for disengagement from both parties.

In fact no resolution was even mentioned until the third meeting on the events in Georgia when the US said it was drafting a resolution calling for immediate cessation of hostilities by both parties, something the Russians are likely to veto.

Scotty said...

Anonymous sounds alot like the posts I just read on the Pravda.ru site... namely, pretty bald propaganda. I agree with Mattheus, there is much more nuance than these posts indicate. My opinion is the greatest truth is to be found in the position of the opposing forces... all inside Georgia, all threatening Georgian sovereignty and escalating conflict.
To me, the physical facts tell me what the truth is despite the retro style cold war nuttiness launched by Moscow and on many of these blogs. I observe that most of the world has figured it out as well.

Woland said...


I do not believe Russia can completely pull out in the near future. They will just kill each other. As you might know they have blood for blood type of war in that region. Russian troops do need to return to Ossetia region as soon as possible though. And there should be internation peace keeping units in the area, I wonder if Georgia will be open to that?

And now some speculation, does this seem to be very similar to a situation in Kosovo but in this case Georgia has a good carrot in form of Oil pipeline?

Mattheus Mei said...

Woland, I'm going to have to disagree with you, yes historically some Caucasian cultures like many of their neighboring cultures in central asia and the near east have subscribed to such revenge doctrines, but I think we're underestimating the liberalization of Georgia.

Oh check out my previous post on the Neutering of NATO and by extension the US, it was one of my first posts on the topic, and it supposes just that that this is Russia's Kosovar War and Georgia (if allegations are true) is our Serbia.

Woland said...

Mattheus, reading what the refugees are saying, this is what is going to happen exactly. There was a lot of hate before, and now Georgians destroyed their capital and killed a lot of people in Ossetia. That brings even more hate into that old conflict. I do not think they can live peacefully for a long time now. There will have to be a force seperating them. So now it is a matter of what force it needs to be.

Mattheus Mei said...

You have a point Woland, perhaps there will be internecine fighting for the next generation, but I do believe that some peaceable agreement can be reached where International peace keepers help the two groups of people transition from the current status bellum to a suitable, peaceable end.

So far from the US perspective, I like Obama's approach, but the opportunities for the next American President are just that, opportunities for the next President. Unfortunately we have to deal with the current Administration, here's hoping they don't drop the ball on this - though Mount Cheney even now grumbles.