Russia, Georgia, and the Western Alliance

The Russian war aim in Georgia, inasmuch as it may be discerned after a bare 48 hours of full combat, appears to be what I said it likely is: “the Russians [will] fully occupy South Ossetia, along with the other secessionist region of Georgia, Abkhazia; declare them both independent or somehow annexed; and thoroughly punish the Georgians with a countrywide air campaign targeting what meager infrastructure there is.” As if to swiftly confirm the hypothesis, we see today that the Abkhazians have joined the war, thus opening a second front against the Georgians. Quite nearly everything that can go wrong for the Caucasian republic has: Georgian forces have been fully ejected from South Ossetia; Russian troops are landing on the Abkhaz coast (it’s unclear whether at Sukhumi or Ochamchira); Russian air power is hitting strategic targets throughout Georgia; and at this writing — just after dawn in the Caucasus — a general Russian offensive may be underway.

Mikheil Saakashvili’s government may have declared war and sued for peace in the space of a day, but events are in motion that render its wishes, contradictory as they are, wholly irrelevant.

Georgia’s American-trained armed forces may make it a fight, but there are only two things that will save the little republic now: it’s enemies’ forbearance, or America (and by extention, NATO) itself. It’s the latter that Saakashvili and the Georgians are appealing to now: the latter march in the Tbilisi streets to demand Western intervention; and the Georgian president somewhat histrionically declares, “If the whole world does not stop Russia today, then Russian tanks will be able to reach any other European capital.” Herein lies the tragedy of this war, not just for Georgia, but for the United States and the West in general. Help for Georgia is not on the way, and it will not be. The NATO countries are bound to inaction by their existing commitments and the logic of their own actions — in Serbia.

The Russian assault upon Georgia is justified — inasmuch as it is justifiable — on the same grounds as the 1999 NATO assault upon Serbia. A national minority desired secession, pursued that end with violent means, and called in a foreign protector when its struggle went bad. That foreign protector had its own agenda, of course: naivete, ignorance and self-regard fueled the Western intervention in Kosovo; and Machiavellian revisionism fuels the Russian intervention in Georgia. It must be remembered that the former led directly to the latter. In this space several months back, I warned that Kosovar independence would provide “a pretext for Russian action against American allies,” specifically in the Caucasus. And so it did, with Vladimir Putin retaliating for Kosovar independence by setting in motion the events that led to the present war. The Clinton Administration architects of the original Kosovo policy in 1999, and the Bush Administration architects who acquiesced to its logical end in 2008, bear a heavy responsibility for the blood shed in Georgia now.

Still, the ultimate responsibility is Russia’s, which is now a plainly and violently revisionist power. No amount of Western naivete, ignorance and self-regard, nor Georgian blundering, could create this war without Russia’s will to strife. That will springs from multiple causes, some rooted in the nature of autocracy, and some rooted in the nature of the Russian national character; and it is directed toward the overturning of what is, for Russia, the central strategic outcome of the Cold War’s end. The late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, quoted in Wayne Allensworth’s The Russian Question, expresses the Russian sense of that outcome clearly:

The trouble is not that the USSR broke up — that was inevitable. The real trouble, and a tangle for a long time to come, is that the breakup occurred mechanically along false Leninist borders, usurping from us entire Russian provinces. In several days, we lost 25 million ethnic Russians — 18 percent of our entire nation — and the government could not scrape up the courage even to take note of this dreadful event, a colossal historic defeat for Russia, and to declare its political disagreement with it.

Here, then, the source of the popular resonance of Moscow’s claims that it attacks Georgia to protect its own, with the concurrent surge of Cossack and faux-Cossack volunteers into Ossetia.
As Russian revisionism’s armed expression slowly crushes Georgia, the states with the most historical reason to fear Russia look on with mounting alarm. This extraordinary communique from the Presidents of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, prompted by the Georgian war, denounces Russia’s “imperialist and revisionist policy in the East of Europe” with startlingly undiplomatic language. These nations are members of NATO and the European Union, and they look to their putative allies now to provide them with the protection and assurance that they expect. Thus we see the war in the Caucasus evolve into a litmus test for the basic institutions of the West itself. If those institutions fail, especially in the eyes of its most vulnerable members, then the suffering in Georgia will, in the long run, be mere prelude.


@ Atlanticist


No, you cannot, because that might 'qualify' you for being send to the arbitrary mercies of The Hague, after Gordon-the-blanc will have surrendered the last vestiges of British sovereignty to Kappert-like justices on the ECJ.  And that would give Kappert 'immoral' pleasure.

Even-handed # 3

OK, but if I can't ask the little creep difficult questions can I bury him up to his neck in sand, waterboard him ... ??????????????

Even-handed #2

@ Atlanticist

We have been over this many times.  You are not going to get a straightforward answer out of a head-in-the-sand (kopindegronder) leftie like Kappert. He cannot answer your questions, because they present moral dilemmas.  And naive-lefties cannot deal with such dilemmas in the concrete real world.  Like all armchair generals, they live on a phantasy-planet and can only ritualistically restate their simplistic dogmas ("I am against all violence etc..."), and damm the consequences for the real world...That is how they were raised in the contemporary education system. Don't ask 'hard' questions. Just parrot the new dogmas.   


So, I am tempted to say, like it says in the song, let it be....let Kappert be.... On the other hand, you letting Kappert be... would be like Putin being able to walk away from power.  And, you know, Putin is no George Washington.   



My questions are not one-sided at all, for I believe that ALL nations have the right and the duty to resort to war when threatened by an aggressor, while you on the other hand claim that they do not. So, I'll ask you again:


Does your condemnation go as far as to propose that Russia should have stood back and allowed the Georgian side to 'occupy' and 'subjugate' Ossetia and Abkhazia?


Yes or No?



Or, would it have been better if Putin had simply shouted (down the phone) at Saakarshvili and just let the Ossetians and Abkhazians hope for the best?


I condemn the Georgian aggression and the Russian response. In fact, your questions are one-sided.


Does that condemnation go as far as to propose that Russia should have stood back and allowed the Georgian side to 'occupy' and 'subjugate' Ossetia and Abkhazia?

A 'list' of one

@ kappert


"You may elaborate a list of countries in war right now, and be sure I do not 'support' one of them".



Do you:


a) support

b) condemn

c) condone

d) give a moral pass to


Russia's recent military intervention, on behalf of the Ossetians, in the current Georgian crisis?


Could you please argue/respond in an understandable way?


Please, ask the same question relatively to the Georgian side.


Your language becomes senseless, freudian, so to say. Could you please argue in an understandable form. On contrary to you I do not defend wars. You may elaborate a list of countries in war right now, and be sure I do not 'support' one of them.

@ traveller

Our peace-loving 'tavarish' eschews ALL forms of violence, denies the validity of the 'Just War' theory, while at the same time supporting the likes of China, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas (Venezuela, Cuba, N. Korea ?) etc., THAT'S what I don't understand. Does anybody? 

@ Atlanticist911

Masochism coupled with self-hatred, normally originated through certain 'small" deficiencies of the body.
Classic fraud my dear Watson.

Eschew! # 5

Fascinating! Now, let's get back to anal-ysing you and your so-called  value systems shall we? That's not to say that you haven't  made a complete ARSE of yourself already, with little help from me I might add.



@ Atlanticist911

You don't seem to understand the difference between morality discussions with BIG bullies and with small bullies.
Our friend becomes very pragmatic in the presence of BIG bullies out of shouting range of the universal lawyers(I've never seen such an animal), while the small bullies should be court marshalled on the spot for their immorality.
The major question here is where BIG starts and small ends

Eschew! # 4

Kindly provide ONE example from history where shouting at a warmonger has EVER resulted in that warmonger being brought to justice for his crimes.


Eschew! # 3

"If I were a universal-lawyer I would chase the warmongers and put them in court".

Q1: You and whose army?

Q2: And what would you do if those warmongers and their cohorts decided to resort to violent resistance? Would you retaliate in kind? If not, what would be the point of chasing them in the first place? Wouldn't that be a suicide mission?


Q1:Lawyers do not have armies
Q2a: Shout at them. Q2b: No. Q2c:That's the moral issue. Q2d: probable.

Eschew! # 2

Let's leave the "universal-lawyers" out of this shall we? I'm asking YOU to justify YOUR 'moral' position here, which is something you are clearly incapable of doing.Perhaps you'd care to try again.

If I were ...

... a universal-lawyer I would chase the warmongers and put them on court. Anyway, why are you interested in singular opinions, knowing that on the world-politics-stage only universal-lawyers may criticize politicians, specially 'little' ones, like Milosevics and Bashirs. Not even Sharon was put on trial! So forget about Vlad from Moskva.

Eschew! (gesundheit?)

Q: If you are going to be consistent in your eschewing of ALL violence at ALL times from ANY quarter, shouldn't Putin (actually pronounced POO-tin) also appear in Den Haag alongside Saakashvilli? If not, why not?

you're welcome

Maybe some of the universal-lawyers will accuse him, and the other ones. But that is naïve, you will say.

@ kappert

Well, not even a "glibbering" response from you this time I see. And just how many Ossetians do you believe are sleeping safer in their beds tonight grateful for the support of people like you? Thanks AGAIN for proving me right about you and your ilk.

Another clue?

@ traveller @ mrcfrans


Perhaps you have both picked up on kappert's interesting use of the word "Glibbering" of dutch origin, rather than the English variant "Gibbering".

Kappert, Germam?




slippery eel = paling

@ Traveller


You wrote that "paling" is "an original un-understandable Flemish word".  Two questions. 

1) My understanding is that it is a Dutch word, i.e. that is just as much in use in the Netherlands (Northern Netherlands) as it is in Flanders (Southern Netherlands).   Am I wrong?

2) Of course, the 'original' meaning of the word refers to the slippery fish that is called "eel" in English.  Is it true that only the 'southerners', the Flemish (in contemporary Belgium), frequently use the word "paling" to refer to a slippery (untrustworthy?) person, and that the (northern) Dutch do not?  If this were true, and judging by the way Kappert usually manages to avoid giving direct answers to direct specific questions, then your suspicion of him being Flemish could be justified. Frankly, that would be 'mildly' embarasssing for both of us. 

@ marcfrans

No, it is Dutch also. They don't know river-"paling" though, they only know and eat "zeepaling"(Sea-eel?) which is basically the same but in a different stage of the eel's life.
So there is a small chance he belongs to the other group, but personaally I feel already embarrassed, it sounds too much like a recent catholic schooling and profession.

More on slippery eels and the art and craft of moral hovering

@ kap'


Clearly you support the Ossetian separatist cause. Ok, no problem there because most people at TBJ will tend to side with one or other party in this dispute. However...


In the absence of the recent military intervention by the Russians on behalf of the Ossetians, the Ossetians would now be at the tender mercies of the Saakarshvili government in Tbilisi.


Q: Do you support the violent intervention of the Russians on behalf of the

    Ossetians, or are you going to persist with your absurd and hypocritical

    argument that war is NEVER justified? 


Of course the war=killings have no justification possible. I hope that the responsible, Mr Saakashvili (pronouce: Sackasswilly) will have to appear in Den Haag.

some ossetian demographics

1989: 164.000 inhabitants
1990: Independence as Democratic Sovjetrepublic, soon occupied by Georgia.
1991: 125.000 (66% ossetians, 29% georgians)
1992: 90% of the population expressed desire to link to North Ossetia (19.January referendum)
2006: 99% for independence (21.May referendum), georgian population boycotted the referendum.
2006: 94% for georgian federation (November referendum), ossetian population boycotted the referendum.
2008: 75.000 inhabitants

Thanks for proving me right...

@ kappert


I see we got slightly more sense out of you on this occasion than when we ask you to make a logical comment on more 'profound issues'.


Thanks again, Kap'.

@ Atlanticist911

I knew it before, but now it's confirmed: he reacts much more logically to symbolisms.
He also confirmed he is flemish, palingen is an original un-understandable Flemish word. I was sure about this already.

@ Atlanticist911

Since I was called a liar here I dug up some facts about Ossetians:
They are Iranic apparently and became othodox christian under Georgian influence. Under the Ottomans they had a large minority sunni muslim.
Today's figures are not known.
Anyway there are only 70.000 of them with a Russian component since Stalin.
The pictures of women I have seen is with black shawls, which can be for both orthodox and muslim.
Given the demographic tendencies of muslims and christians and the small population, anything is possible. The people who told me they were largely muslim could still be right.

re: Cartoon for Kappert

@ traveller


Sorry, can't find a suitable cartoon but how about this instead?



"Een savarnaguhs otsatsknerov tetsoon e " - (Western Armenian).


"Howwamti mumtilah bianqalaysun" - (Modern Standard Arabic)


"Hoverfraftimin ici yilan balIyI dolu" - (Turkish)



"Mijn hovercraft zit vol palingen" - (Dutch)

EU flag in Georgia

I wrote somewhere that it is unlikely that Georgians think of themselves as European, since they have preserved their sense of national identity.
But still, it appears that the Georgian government makes use of the EU flag.
Google Search: Georgia + EU flag
Strange !

@ Akira

You are extremely lucky that you are not in my presence.
I am not in the habit of conversing with people who call me a liar.
End of conversation between us, whatever you say.


It's remarkable that there are still some fellows arguing with 'race' and absurdly referring to 'Europeans'. If you consider Georgians as 'European', you must consider Turks, Armenians, Syrians and Kurds as well – they all are living in the same geographic sphere for centuries, having the same economic and cultural laces to the Middle East, Russia and Europe. What they have in common with 'our' Europe is probable that they are fighting each other – which, as you might remember, was a European reality for most of the time.

@ Atlanticist911

Can you find a simple cartoon site to explain kappert that Europeans are people with a European origin, that is originated between the Atlantic Ocean, the Urals and the Caucasus, between the Mediterranean the Black Sea and the North Pole. That this is not necessarily a race, but that mostly the ethnicity of those Europeans is referred to as Caucasian.
Further that people who originated in Central Asia, like Turks, are not European, no matter what their race is.
That Russians who are mostly of Mongolian descent are not Europeans but that Russians of European descent are Europeans.
That most European Russians live today in what was originally called Lithuania and covered most of the present European Russian territory.
I give up.


The first 'Europeans' found in the Grimaldi caves had black skin. 'Caucasian' is an invention of the 19th century and clearly out of date (except US-American customs). 'Turks' were nominated after some centuries of the Ottoman Empire to discriminate Romans (Europeans) and Syrians (Arabs) - in fact, 'Turkmen' live from Dubrovnik to Urumqi.
The most 'Mongolian' country in Europe in Hungary.

Who is European and who is Caucasian

Akira said: "I myself couldn't care less who is European or Caucasian and who is not. / I mention it because some people seem to think that ethnicity has something to do with this crisis."

I am the one who mentioned the fact that Georgians are not European. I did not say it had anything to do with the conflict. I was only referring to the way the mass media report the conflict, and about how a non European country is said to have been westernized if its government believes in free market and democracy, as if free market and democracy were the essence of "the West".

You said in another thread that if Ossetians were Muslim, then surely the US would be rushing to fight for them. And this is true. Western governments and journalists will preferably support the muslim side. If there is no muslim side, they will preferably support the non-European side. Ossetia is on the European side, since Russia is its ally. Incredibly, that is how the western media takes sides.

Kappert said: "It's remarkable that there are still some fellows arguing with 'race' and absurdly referring to 'Europeans'. "

It is not about race (or not only about race), but there is a traditional geographical delimitation of Europe. According to the traditional definition, the Caucasus is not in Europe. In the New York Times article that I mentioned earlier (Taunting the Bear), it is said that "from the time of Pushkin, Russians viewed Georgia as a romantic, exotic frontier". It means they saw Georgia as a non-European place.


As you advogate 'genetic differences', it should be clear that you are very ignorant on genetics and human beings. Also, living in the Caucasus (Kavkaz) region, there are no 'caucasians', as I said before, it's a 19th century invention by racists. At most, you may speak of a Caucasian language family, but even this is rather sloppy research.

@ kappert

The Turks come from Central Asia. That's where today the Turkmen are and they speak a Turkish(Turkmeni) language. Uzbek is also a Turkmeni language.
Again, as before, I give up.

Georgia forever # 3

@ onecent

No, I do not think that it is "obvious" that every reference to (what you refer to as) "racist fools" or "antisemitic jerks" and "idiotic" lefties, cheapens the discourse.   I have stopped conversing with the particular persons you mentioned quite a long time ago, essentially because they do not respond to specific arguments/points or, in the case of Armor, cannot read and therefore argumentation is fruitless.  But, nevertheless, you might have a point - not an obvious one though - and I will (try to) keep it in  mind. 

 I think that you are wrong in suggesting that the particular racists and antisemites that you mentioned are given "legitimacy" by me.  On the contrary, I have been an outspoken critic of the racism and antisemitism of both silly and not-so-silly commentators, and of certain authors on TBJ as well.   I also do not believe that such characters "stay" because of me or anyone else for that matter.   You misread their psychology, I think.   Finally, I do not agree that "some idiots in this world" are not worthy of a response.  But, I do agree that they often cannot be debated with.  Therefore, one must try to find ways of "responding", not so much directly to them, but to some of the silly ideas that they have expressed or asserted.  And that is what I usually try to do in a variety of contributions, either directed to others or to no one in particular.   

Georgia forever # 2

@ Atlanticist

Given that Armor makes his judgments based on looks, I wonder if 'Argonauts' and 'Amazones' would come under his definition of "European".  I know that Paris Hilton would pass his 'test', despite her love for Obama.    


Isn't it obvious that every reference or response to a racist fool like Armor, an anti-semitic jerk like amsterdamsky and the idiotic keppert just cheapens the discourse here.

BJ stuggles in my opinion for legitimacy against its distactors such as LGF that it is a racist site because those posters are fed here by other posters. They stay because they have a legitimacy that you give them. There are some idiots in this world that just aren't worthy of a response. Debating fools only drags everyone down to their level.

The content on this site is thought provoking and a good thing, it's too bad it is cheapened by debating the foolish trolls that have found a home here.

Georgia, Russia, and the mass media

I don't know how close Georgians are to Europeans, racially speaking. But if the media presents them as half-Europeans, while presenting Russians as non-Europeans, it can only mean that the media shares my view that Russians are European while Georgians are not!

Machiavellian, indeed

Machiavellian revisionism fuels the Russian intervention in Georgia.

Paradoxically, I can't help having respect for the skilled way Russia does this. This is classical, no-compromise foreign policy backed by some serious firepower and a credible threat of using it. Like the West used to do things some decades ago, but has now largely been replaced by compromises, monetary support to odd groups such as the Palestinian terrorists etc.

Further, I see the Russian reaction as a 'response' to Georgia working for NATO membership. The way NATO expands looks, from a Russian point of view, like encroachment, not partnership. Taunting the Bear, as has been noted, can be a costly way to spend the 'peace dividend'.

Worse, however, these skirmishes with the Russians distract us from the much more severe challenge of Islamists undermining democracy, with violence as well as without.

It could have been avoided.

Georgia is effectively crushed.

Georgia's admission into NATO would have made a difference. So, again, the energy starved Europeans can ponder their hubris and stupidity on that failure. It's all so typical and historic, the European capacity to appease and then collapse under threat from fascist bullies.

Georgian Westerners

One of the links in Trevino's column refers to a NY Times article called "Taunting the Bear".

(Here's the link: "with Vladimir Putin retaliating for Kosovar independence by setting in motion the events that led to the present war")

I point to this article because it reminds me of what J.Laughland wrote yesterday in his column.

James Traub, the NYTimes journalist writes: "while Russia has a massive advantage in firepower, Georgia, an open, free-market, more-or-less-democratic nation that sees itself as a distant outpost of Europe, enjoys a decisive rhetorical and political edge."

--> Being free-market and democratic doesn't make them European. (But it makes them better partners than the Turks). Georgia is like Armenia, which is a civilized nation surrounded by muslims. Being civilized does not make them European.
I think Georgia mainly enjoys its edge over Russia in the "western media".

another excerpt: - "Georgia has become a poster child for Westernization"

another one: "The Georgians never accepted their Soviet identity, and preserved their language, culture, religious practice and sense of national identity"

--> I think the Georgians are right to hold to their language, culture, religious practice and sense of national identity. I wish Europeans were allowed to do the same and say that Russia is European while Georgia is not.

James Traub's own opinion: "For the West, the core issue is the survival of democratic, or at least independent, states along Russia’s frontier."

He doesn't say if he is referring to the independence of Georgia or of South Ossetia. I am very much in favor of everyone's independance and everyone's survival, from Tibet to Ossetia, but I think our priority in "the West" should be the survival of Europeans in Europe and America. The Georgians know who they are. We need to know who we are too. We should forget about "the West". We are Europeans, and Georgians are not. It makes no difference whether their government favors democracy and free market. I don't know who is right in this war, but we should recognize that the European side is Russia, not Georgia (and this is why the NY Times will tend to support Georgia).


Hey, Armor, if being "free-market and democratic", "civilized" and Christian doesn't make a group "European" in a cultural sense I don't know what does. But, I suspect you've betrayed your underlying prejudices. Is it skin tone that's the barrier to your acceptance of them as acceptable Europeans? There isn't much left to rule out reading your comments, is there?

Your last paragraph is disgusting. Basically the Georgians..."We are Europeans, and Georgians are not"... are expendable. It really underscores your ugly racist mentality.

This is my last response to you because people like you need to be identified as the racists that they are and then ignored into oblivion.

Georgia for ever

"Hey, Armor, if being "free-market and democratic", "civilized" and Christian doesn't make a group "European" in a cultural sense I don't know what does."

Tell that to the Georgians. It is unlikely they think of themselves as European. Unlike westerners, who are brainwashed by their mass media, "the Georgians have preserved their language, culture, religious practice and sense of national identity".

another source (I don't know what it's worth):
"Despite some superficial resemblance and intermingling, The Georgians, ethnically and linguistically, are unrelated to the Indo-European origins."

"Your last paragraph is disgusting. Basically the Georgians..."We are Europeans, and Georgians are not"... are expendable. It really underscores your ugly racist mentality."

I didn't say I support Russia against the Georgians. I said the Russians are European, like me, whether or not Putin is right. The Western media like to blur that distinction by claiming that Georgia is on our side, the "Western" side.

"This is my last response to you because people like you need to be identified as the racists that they are and then ignored into oblivion."

What a shame! I would have asked you why you think South Ossetia should be denied its independence. Alas, I will never know the answer.

@ Armor

Russians are Europeans???
You really don't know anything about Russia do you?
The only Russian sector where you definitely find ethnic Europeans is Northern European Russia from Petersburg to the Ural with a large contingent of Europeans in Moscow.
All the other sectors have a majority non-Europeans.
On top of that, if you scratch a European Russian you will probably find a large dose of Mongolian blood in his veins. The mix is very obvious.
I never found a real Georgian who didn't look European.
South Ossetia has a total population of 70.000 people, muslims from the Ottoman time, mixed, from Stalin's time with "ethnic" Russians.
The original Georgian kingdom comprised today's Georgia, most of today's Azerbaidjan, North Iran, even Tabriz was in Georgia,most of Armenia and around that kingdom were "dependent" kingdoms under the Georgian protection, like Trebizon in today's Turkey.
The moslim Persians and Ottomans nibbled slowly territory away and converted Caucasians to Islam, settling different areas as moslim "countries", like Alana which is Northern Ossetia today. Those moslim countries were in old Georgian territory and the people were Arians and definitely European ethnics, except the imported Ottoman Turkmens.

America cannot be involved

If Russia decides to go beyond those regions that have opted to secede from Georgia, then it is encumbent on Europe, not the U.S., to respond...


As regards to the U.S., there are a few interested parties, like Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China...that can capitalize from America getting involved. America must not get involved.

Certainly, this is another reason to convince Americans that it is best to drill in Alaska for oil..and leave the oil politics for good. 

@ Joshua Trevino

Correct analysis and conclusion.

May I add that this could be a very critical test for the EU, which the EU is going to lose.

I don't see a big problem for Poland, but definitely for Ukraïna very shortly from now.


The EU will talk about it and not do anything, except criticising the US if they take some action, which I don't see either.