Streetwise Professor

August 2, 2009

Deja Vu?

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:38 pm

Things are hotting up between Georgia and Russia:

Russia accused Georgia of firing at South Ossetia and warned that its troops may fight back, as the countries prepare for the first anniversary of the war over the separatist region. Georgia denied the claims.

Georgia launched mortars and grenades at observation posts near Tskhinvali, South Ossetia’s capital, over the past four days, Russia’s  Defense Ministry said on its Web site today.

“The August 2008 event developed along similar lines,” the ministry said. If civilians or troops are threatened, “the Russian Defense Ministry reserves the right to use all forces and means at its disposal.”

Unconfirmed reports from a less than reliable source state that 300 Russian armored vehicles, including MLRS batteries, are in motion towards Georgia.

Given that, in no small measure thanks to a Russian veto, there is no EU or UN peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia, it will likely be impossible to verify independently the Russian claim, or to determine what exactly is happening there.  Which was probably the point of the veto in the first place.

Pavel Felgenhauer states that the likelihood of a renewed war is 80 percent.  I am not so sure.  The publicity that Russia is giving to the alleged event suggest to me that although it may be establishing the basis for reopening hostilities, it is more likely waging psychological warfare against Georgia and Sakaashvili, and attempting to gauge American and European reactions.  Coming hard on the heels of the Biden visit to Georgia, and his provocative statements, and reports that Obama warned the Russians against moving on Georgia, it would seem sensible for the Russians to create an incident, or exaggerate and exploit a real one, in order to see how the US responds.  I would not be surprised to see more high volume hysteria emanating from Russia in the coming days.

I sincerely hope that the administration is keeping an eye on this, and taking it very seriously.  Some of the very things that Biden emphasized in his WSJ interview–namely, Russia’s dire medium-to-long term prospects, both demographically and economically–can make short term adventurism quite appealing to Putin.  Bush wasn’t ready for it.  I hope Obama is, and he would have even less excuse for being unprepared, given the events of almost exactly a year ago.

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  1. It would be great to bring Saakashvili to justice for his war crimes against Ossetians. If the Georgians themselves can’t do it (because of this suppression of the opposition), then someone else must shoulder the burden of enforcing international law.

    Unfortunately I agree with you that it’s unlikely Putin has any real wish to do so.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 3, 2009 @ 10:33 am

  2. I’m completely stable and logical at making this argument.

    1) It is a fact Georgia attacked S. Ossetia, hours after Saakashvili promised them peace and dignity.

    2) It is a fact that Georgia indiscriminately bombarded Tskhinvali, a densely populated civilian area, with Grad missiles. It also attacked UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers. This cannot be forgotten or forgiven.

    3) As I noted at the time (, the Western media spewed the most propagandistic bilge imaginable. E.g. – headlines about Russia attacking poor little Georgia, while showing Georgian Grad rockets being fired at Tskhinvali!

    4) Only the most diehard neocons and Russophobes still deny that Georgia was mostly responsible for the war. Occam’s Razor would suggest they are wrong.

    5) After the fact, most media outlets did ended up quietly admitting their mistakes – see here for a partial list I compiled:

    E.g. the BBC on Georgian atrocities –

    6) Then they turned a blind eye to Saakashvili’s repression of the opposition –

    (It’s only anti-democratic if he’s not our bastard, e.g. Ahmadinejad).

    7) Maintaining the belief that it was Russia that attacked Georgia appears to be some kind of test of faith amongst Russophobes. A completely illogical viewpoint that one must nonetheless accept as fact to be counted as part of their community (to which belongs SWP, Lucas, LR, McCain – who electorally profited from the war, etc).

    8) But since this Russophobia predominates in the West (to a certain extent, regretfully, even amongst the Obama-Biden team, whom I otherwise love), Russia could see that the West couldn’t care less about integrity or democracy when it came to its geopolitical interests. Whether Russia does the morally right or wrong thing, it will always be condemned by the champions of Western chauvinism.

    9) As such the logical thing is to ignore them and hang Saakashvili by the balls. Too bad Putin was probably jesting when he raised this excellent idea.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 3, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  3. Professor

    On your EU and OSCE point, over the years others have prevented international obervers from viewing their manner on the basis that such an observation had a good likelihood of bias.

    In such instances, some have been sympathetic to the countries rejecting such observations.

    Your point about Russia staging an incident can apply to the Georgian government as well. With his overly bombastic CNN appearances as an example, other besides myself sense that Saakashvili glories in playing the innocent victim.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — August 3, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

  4. The argument that Georgia was a poor helpless victim really is a fantasy that Russophobes cling to…only in the U.S. do they believe this nonsense, I don’t even think the Georgians believe it. The best they can do is ignore what happened on August 7 and argue that their boy Saako is hanging in there, like Andre Glucksmann does for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, mentioning that Saakashvili has allowed opposition protests while omitting the beatdowns and resignations of his own cabinet officials who accused him of starting the war. Complete propaganda.

    Comment by Vic — August 4, 2009 @ 2:37 am

  5. By the “logic” of SUBLIME DURAK, if NATO begins violating Russian airspace with its warplanes and lobbing shell into Rostov-on-Don, Russia just has to take it. No matter how long it goes on, regardless of the fact that NATO will not allow UN peacekeepers into the region, Russia just has to take it. If Russia moves to silence NATO’s guns and protect its airspace, Russia is the aggressor and is to be condemned.

    By the “logic” of SUMBLIME DURAK, it is irrelevant that Russia used cluster bombs against civilian Georgian targets and moved forces into Abkhazia WHERE THERE WAS NO HINT OF GEORGIAN “AGRESSION.”

    By the “logic” of SUBLIME DURAK, it is irrelevant that THE ENTIRE WORLD has repudiated Russia’s claims in Ossetia and Abkhazia by refusing to recognize them, including China, and equally irrelevant that Saakashvili has won election after election.

    By the “logic” of SUBLIME DURAK, it is irrelevant that Russia has ejected BOTH UN AND EU peacekeepers from the region.

    Russia was 100% responsible for the August war in Georgia because it failed to silence Ossetian guns, invaded Georgian airspace and encourage Ossetian separatism. All Georgia did was to defend its territory as any nation in its place would have done. Only the most drunken, crazed Russophile lunatic continues rationalizing Russian agression in the face of the TOTAL FAILURE of Putin’s policy in the region. These evil enemies of Russia are fiddling while the Caucasus burns, inviting yet another national collapse.

    Comment by La Russophobe — August 4, 2009 @ 4:44 am

  6. Europe understands what is going on in Georgia and what is at stake:

    Terrified by Russian energy terrorism, Europe is building Nabucco, a huge win for Saakashvili. VP Biden’s recent visit was another huge win. Russian aggression in Georgia has been exposed for what it is, and any further aggression by Russia will relegate Putin to the ashcan along with the likes of Hitler.

    Comment by La Russophobe — August 4, 2009 @ 4:46 am

  7. SWP:

    You are missing one whole side of this story:

    Russia has made yet another territorial grab against Georgia, something no nation in its right mind would tolerate, certainly not Russia. That Russia is not satisfied even now with its outrageous land grab, and wants EVEN MORE territory, tells you all you need to know about which party is the evil one in this dispute. Not even the likes of the slimiest Russophile sycophant can justify unlateral Russian action to seize more territory or the ejection by Russian of international peacekeepers. Russia’s malignant aggressive intentions are plain for all the world to see.

    Comment by La Russophobe — August 4, 2009 @ 5:01 am

  8. “All Georgia did was to defend its territory as any nation in its place would have done.” That is not what Congressman Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) told the UK Daily Telegraph. Or for that matter, what several former Georgian cabinet officials who saw Saakashvili preparing to take back the “lost territories” for months have said since the war.

    And on another note — LR’s traffic is still only about four times less than Russia Blog’s according to Alexa. I guess that’s why she spends so much time trashing that particular blog.

    I’m using Alexa in spite of its flaws since LR has used this measure in the past.

    Even Andy Young blows LR out of the water. And at the current pace, LR will catch up with English Russia sometime in 2030.

    570,297 Andy Young’s Siberian Light — beating the pants off LR, in spite of his lack of daily posting or an institutional budget that LR is apparently sworn to secrecy never to reveal. LR’s lame attempts to fake her traffic so Jamestown/Berezovsky whomever will think she’s doing something useful with their money by counting comments from spambots and multiple sock puppets makes for good laughs. If you can’t believe LR about her own traffic, how can you buy what she’s selling on behalf of her bosses regarding Georgia?

    809,677 Traffic Rank

    LR’s average visit is four minutes, so that suggests a heck of a lot of commenting by “me myself and I” sock puppetry. Or maybe it’s all driven by the “Shamapova” attacks and Russian cheesecake photos. Contrary to LR’s lamenting the exposure of Russian womanhood, she doesn’t mind using it to get a few extra pings. There’s a method to the madness.

    Posted here, where “she” can’t censor it, but will see it in t-minus two seconds.

    Comment by Steve J. Nelson — August 4, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

  9. That entity is such a waste as shown by how he/she/whatever (I recall “group blog” being used) conducts itself here and elsewhere.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — August 5, 2009 @ 12:41 am

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