Saturday, August 16, 2008

South Osetia and Georgia -- Homework

Update...
The post is only an hour old and already I have an update.


Go over to Duck of Minerva and read Daniel Nexon's post. He links to the Washington Post which (finally) puts this story into proper perspective without getting all messed up with the Munich Corollary to Godwin's Law.

'We Are All Georgians'? Not So Fast.
Actually, the events of the past week in Georgia have little in common with either Hitler's dismemberment of Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II or Soviet policies in Eastern Europe. They are better understood against the backdrop of the complica ted ethnic politics of the Caucasus, a part of the world where historical grudges run deep and oppressed can become oppressors in the bat of an eye.


My post here will make better background reading once you have read these other links.



Like most Americans I can't make heads or tails out of this conflict that so rudely interrupted our enjoyment of the Olympics. Oh, wait... It really didn't interrupt much. After all, the president stayed on to enjoy a couple more days before he decided to return to work. Pesky Russians. Just when you you look into their eyes and they make you think they're eating out of your hand they go and get out of control. But I digress...

The map above helps. It's not easy to find a good map of the area since Google has opted to blank out all of Georgia and a couple other places in the region last time I checked. (Not a bad idea, in my opinion, since today's Google maps could have military use by all sides of any territorial conflict.) As I suspected, much of this conflict is deeply rooted in tribal/ethnic/religious/political history and like most contemporary international conflicts is the fallout of geopolitical maps dating from decades, even centuries ago, which we regard as canonical gospels in what we like to imagine is a modern, civilized world.

We have in this case yet another proxy war still simmering between the two super-powers of the cold war. As usual, the resolution will depend not on who is right or wrong, but on which side will successfully beat the other into submission. God's children could live together in peace, but something in their genes divides them into rival groups forever playing at King on the Mountain. There was a time in history when this kind of conflict derived from actual life-and-death contests over scarce but vital resources, such as food or water. But that era is now obsolete in a world which, thanks to science and technology, could feed, clothe and house the world population. The problem is that we still haven't learned to get along. But once again, I digress...

Here are a few links that I found this morning.

jotman.com is now in my blogroll. New to me, this independent journalist seems to have been doing a lot of homework for some time. This is just one of several impressive endorsements linked there.

When I nominated the English-language blog by Jotman for the Reporters Without Borders award, I wondered whether it would have a chance. It is written by an anonymous Westerner who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, who has written first-hand accounts of the Thai coup in 2006 and the Burmese protests and crackdown in 2007. But I figured he was not someone who had to worry about freedom of speech, as he was not Burmese nor Thai, and he probably didn’t grow up under a dictatorship that was censoring the media.

[snip]

Jotman used the tools of a citizen journalist — a camera, videocamera, blog and street smarts — to find Burmese monks who were hiding out in safe houses. He asked people to send in first-hand reports, and filed his own. Reporters Without Borders felt that this award might lead others to do the same thing, emulatingJotman’s pluck in such difficult circumstances.

Mark Glaser 7 Lessons Learned While Judging World-Changing Blogs

And this snip appears near the top of today's blog entries.

. . In an interview with a Dutch magazine, Sandra Roelofs, the Dutch wife of the new Georgian president and hence the new first lady of Georgia, explained that her husband aspires to follow in the long tradition of strong Georgian leaders "like Stalin and Beria". Saakashvili started his march on Tbilisi last November with a rally in front of the statue of Stalin in his birthplace, Gori. Unfazed, the western media continue to chatter about Saakashvili's democratic credentials, even though his seizure of power was consolidated with more than 95% of the vote in a poll in January, and even though he said last week that he did not see the point of having any opposition deputies in the national parliament.


Uh, excuse me. This man doesn't seem to be any poster boy for democracy. We're told he's pretty tight with John McCain, but if stuff like this gets out I'm not sure it will be all that good for McCain's reputation. At the link you can find "a picture of the Stalin statue in Gori, Georgia, the birthplace of Stalin. The town has been in the news recently because Russian troops have occupied it. And just who is "Beria" -- the other person Saakashvili apparently admires? Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was the chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Stalin."

Enough of that.

My first impulse when I learned of the Russian conflict was to go to my old Russian history texts from college days (I once took a two-quarter sequence of Russian History) to see what I might find about Osetia. Wow. What a mess. Osetia is but one of a dukes mixture of "alphabet groups" that clutter the whole Southern edge of Mother Russia. In the case of Osetia, it may be most famous for being the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, although I notice that Gori, the town where he came from, does not appear to be inside the lines of what now is called "Southern Osetia." Just another of the muddy details of this story.

One thing seems clear. Joseph Djugashvili Stalin is not vilified around those parts as much as by the rest of the world. In fact, he's remembered in part by his association with a Robin-Hood-like character named Kamo with whom he ran as a youngster. Kamo seems to have been admired by the great unwashed in much the same manner that great numbers of ignorant but armed and dangerous counterparts today admire Che Guevara.

Last year's well-received biography of Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore which I read about in passing but didn't bother to read tells this story in a way sure to make a good movie script.

PROLOGUE: The Bank Robbery

At 10:30 a.m. on the sultry morning of Wednesday, 26 June 1907, in the seething central square of Tiflis, a dashing mustachioed cavalry captain in boots and jodhpurs, wielding a big Circassian sabre, performed tricks on horseback, joking with two pretty, well-dressed Georgian girls who twirled gaudy parasols–while fingering Mauser pistols hidden in their dresses.

Raffish young men in bright peasant blouses and wide sailor-style trousers waited on the street corners, cradling secreted revolvers and grenades. At the louche Tilipuchuri Tavern on the square, a crew of heavily armed gangsters took over the cellar bar, gaily inviting passers-by to join them for drinks. All of them were waiting to carry out the first exploit by Josef Djugashvili, aged twenty-nine, later known as Stalin, to win the attention of the world.

Few outside the gang knew of the plan that day for a criminal terrorist “spectacular,” but Stalin had worked on it for months. One man who did know the broad plan was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party, hiding in a villa in Kuokola, Finland, far to the north. Days earlier, in Berlin, and then in London, Lenin had secretly met with Stalin to order the big heist, even though their Social-Democratic Party had just strictly banned all “expropriations,” the euphemism for bank robberies. But Stalin’s operations, heists and killings, always conducted with meticulous attention to detail and secrecy, had made him the “main financier of the Bolshevik Centre.”

The events that day would make headlines all over the globe, literally shake Tiflis to its foundations, and further shatter the fragmented Social-Democrats into warring factions: that day would both make Stalin’s career and almost ruin it–a watershed in his life.

In Yerevan Square, the twenty brigands who formed the core of Stalin’s gang, known as “the Outfit,” took up positions as their lookouts peered down Golovinsky Prospect, Tiflis’s elegant main street, past the white Italianate splendour of the Viceroy’s Palace. They awaited the clatter of a stagecoach and its squadron of galloping Cossacks. The army captain with the Circassian sabre caracoled on his horse before dismounting to stroll the fashionable boulevard.

Every street corner was guarded by a Cossack or policeman: the authorities were ready. Something had been expected since January. The informers and agents of the Tsar’s secret police, the Okhrana, and his uniformed political police, the Gendarmes, delivered copious reports about the clandestine plots and feuds of the gangs of revolutionaries and criminals. In the misty twilight of this underground, the worlds of bandit and terrorist had merged and it was hard to tell tricks from truth. But there had been “chatter” about a “spectacular”–as today’s intelligence experts would put it–for months.

On that dazzling steamy morning, the Oriental colour of Tiflis (now Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia) hardly seemed to belong to the same world as the Tsar’s capital, St. Petersburg, a thousand miles away. The older streets, without running water or electricity, wound up the slopes of Mtatsminda, Holy Mountain, until they were impossibly steep, full of crookedly picturesque houses weighed down with balconies, entwined with old vines. Tiflis was a big village where everyone knew everyone else.

Just behind the military headquarters, on genteel Freilinskaya Street, a stone’s throw from the square, lived Stalin’s wife, a pretty young Georgian dressmaker named Kato Svanidze, and their newborn son, Yakov. Theirs was a true love match: despite his black moods, Stalin was devoted to Kato, who admired and shared his revolutionary fervour. As she sunned herself and the baby on her balcony, her husband was about to give her, and Tiflis itself, an unholy shock.

This intimate city was the capital of the Caucasus, the Tsar’s wild, mountainous viceroyalty between the Black and the Caspian Seas, a turbulent region of fierce and feuding peoples. Golovinsky Prospect seemed Parisian in its elegance. White neo-classical theatres, a Moorish-style opera house, grand hotels and the palaces of Georgian princes and Armenian oil barons lined the street, but, as one passed the military headquarters, Yerevan Square opened up into an Asiatic potpourri.

Exotically dressed hawkers and stalls offered spicy Georgian lobio beans and hot khachapuri cheesecake. Water-carriers, street-traders, pickpockets and porters delivered to or stole from the Armenian and Persian Bazaars, the alleyways of which more resembled a Levantine souk than a European city. Caravans of camels and donkeys, loaded with silks and spices from Persia and Turkestan, fruit and wineskins from the lush Georgian countryside, ambled through the gates of the Caravanserai. Its young waiters and errand boys served its clientele of guests and diners, carrying in the bags, unharnessing the camels–and watching the square. Now we know from the newly opened Georgian archives that Stalin, Faginlike, used the Caravanserai boys as a prepubescent revolutionary street intelligence and courier service. Meanwhile in one of the Caravanserai’s cavernous backrooms, the chief gangsters gave their gunmen a pep talk, rehearsing the plan one last time. Stalin himself was there that morning.

The two pretty teenage girls with twirling umbrellas and loaded revolvers, Patsia Goldava and Anneta Sulakvelidze, “brown-haired, svelte, with black eyes that expressed youth,” casually sashayed across the square to stand outside the military headquarters, where they flirted with Russian officers, Gendarmes in smart blue uniforms, and bowlegged Cossacks.

Tiflis was–and still is–a languid town of strollers and boulevardiers who frequently stop to drink wine at the many open-air taverns: if the showy, excitable Georgians resemble any other European people, it is the Italians. Georgians and other Caucasian men, in traditional chokha–their skirted long coats lined down the chest with bullet pouches–swaggered down the streets, singing loudly. Georgian women in black headscarves, and the wives of Russian officers in European fashions, promenaded through the gates of the Pushkin Gardens, buying ices and sherbet alongside Persians and Armenians, Chechens, Abkhaz and Mountain Jews, in a fancy-dress jamboree of hats and costumes.

Gangs of street urchins–kintos–furtively scanned the crowds for scams. Teenage trainee priests, in long white surplices, were escorted by their berobed, bearded priest-teachers from the pillared white seminary across the street, where Stalin had almost qualified as a priest nine years earlier. This un-Slavic, un-Russian and ferociously Caucasian kaleidoscope of East and West was the world that nurtured Stalin.

Checking the time, the girls Anneta and Patsia parted, taking up new positions on either side of the square. On Palace Street, the dubious clientele of the notorious Tilipuchuri Tavern–princes, pimps, informers and pickpockets–were already drinking Georgian wine and Armenian brandy, not far from the plutocratic grandeur of Prince Sumbatov’s palace.

Just then David Sagirashvili, another revolutionary who knew Stalin and some of the gangsters, visited a friend who owned a shop above the tavern and was invited in by the cheerful brigand at the doorway, Bachua Kupriashvili, who “immediately offered me a chair and a glass of red wine, according to the Georgian custom.” David drank the wine and was about to leave when the gunman suggested “with exquisite politeness” that he stay inside and “sample more snacks and wine.” David realized that “they were letting people into the restaurant but would not let them out. Armed individuals stood at the door.”

Spotting the convoy galloping down the boulevard, Patsia Goldava, the slim brunette on lookout, sped round the corner to the Pushkin Gardens where she waved her newspaper to Stepko Intskirveli, waiting by the gate.

“We’re off!” he muttered.

Stepko nodded at Anneta Sulakvelidze, who was across the street just outside the Tilipuchuri, where she made a sign summoning the others from the bar. The gunmen in the doorway beckoned them. “At a given signal” Sagirashvili saw the brigands in the tavern put down their drinks, cock their pistols and head out, spreading across the square–thin, consumptive young men in wide trousers who had barely eaten for weeks. Some were gangsters, some desperadoes and some, typically for Georgia, were poverty-stricken princes from roofless, wall-less castles in the provinces. If their deeds were criminal, they cared nothing for money: they were devoted to Lenin, the Party and their puppet-master in Tiflis, Stalin.

“The functions of each of us had been planned in advance,” remembered a third girl in the gang, Alexandra Darakhvelidze, just nineteen, a friend of Anneta, and already veteran of a spree of heists and shootouts.

The gangsters each covered the square’s policemen–the gorodovoi, known in the streets as pharaohs. Two gunmen marked the Cossacks outside the City Hall; the rest made their way to the corner of Velyaminov Street and the Armenian Bazaar, not far from the State Bank itself. Alexandra Darakhvelidze, in her unpublished memoirs, recalled guarding one of the street corners with two gunmen.

Now Bachua Kupriashvili, nonchalantly pretending to read a newspaper, spotted in the distance the cloud of dust thrown up by the horses’ hooves. They were coming! Bachua rolled up his newspaper, poised . . . The cavalry captain with the flashing sabre, who had been promenading the square, now warned passers-by to stay out of it, but when no one paid any attention he jumped back onto his fine horse. He was no officer but the ideal of the Georgian beau sabreur and outlaw, half-knight, half-bandit. This was Kamo, aged twenty-five, boss of the Outfit and, as Stalin put it, “a master of disguise” who could pass for a rich prince or a peasant laundrywoman. He moved stiffly, his half-blind left eye squinting and rolling: one of his own bombs had exploded in his face just weeks before. He was still recuperating.

Kamo “was completely enthralled” by Stalin, who had converted him to Marxism. They had grown up together in the violent town of Gori forty-five miles away. He was a bank robber of ingenious audacity, a Houdini of prison-escapes, a credulous simpleton–and a half-insane practitioner of psychopathic violence. Intensely, eerily tranquil with a weird “lustreless face” and a blank gaze, he was keen to serve his master, often begging Stalin: “Let me kill him for you!” No deed of macabre horror or courageous flamboyance was beyond him: he later plunged his hand into a man’s chest and cut out his heart.

Throughout his life, Stalin’s detached magnetism would attract, and win the devotion of, amoral, unbounded psychopaths. His boyhood henchman Kamo and these gangsters were the first in a long line. “Those young men followed Stalin selflessly . . . Their admiration for him allowed him to impose on them his iron discipline.” Kamo often visited Stalin’s home, where he had earlier borrowed Kato’s father’s sabre, explaining that he was “going to play an officer of the Cossacks.” Even Lenin, that fastidious lawyer, raised as a nobleman, was fascinated by the daredevil Kamo, whom he called his “Caucasian bandit.” “Kamo,” mused Stalin in old age, “was a truly amazing person.”

“Captain” Kamo turned his horse towards the boulevard and trotted audaciously right past the advancing convoy, coming the other way. Once the shooting started, he boasted, the whole thing “would be over in three minutes.”

The Cossacks galloped into Yerevan Square, two in front, two behind and another alongside the two carriages. Through the dust, the gangsters could make out that the stagecoach contained two men in frockcoats–the State Bank’s cashier Kurdyumov and accountant Golovnya–and two soldiers with rifles cocked, while a second phaeton was packed with police and soldiers. In the thunder of hooves, it took just seconds for the carriages and horsemen to cross the square ready to turn into Sololaki Street, where stood the new State Bank: the statues of lions and gods over its door represented the surging prosperity of Russian capitalism.

Bachua lowered his newspaper, giving the sign, then tossed it aside, reaching for his weapons. The gangsters drew out what they nicknamed their “apples”–powerful grenades which had been smuggled into Tiflis by the girls Anneta and Alexandra, hidden inside a big sofa.

The gunmen and the girls stepped forward, pulled the fuses and tossed four grenades which exploded under the carriages with a deafening noise and an infernal force that disemboweled horses and tore men to pieces, spattering the cobbles with innards and blood. The brigands drew their Mauser and Browning pistols and opened fire on the Cossacks and police around the square who, caught totally unawares, fell wounded or ran for cover. More than ten bombs exploded. Witnesses thought they rained from every direction, even the rooftops: it was later said that Stalin had thrown the first bomb from the roof of Prince Sumbatov’s mansion.

The bank’s carriages stopped. Screaming passers-by scrambled for cover. Some thought it was an earthquake: was Holy Mountain falling on to the city? “No one could tell if the terrible shooting was the boom of cannons or explosion of bombs,” reported the Georgian newspaper Isari (Arrow). “The sound caused panic everywhere . . . almost across the whole city, people started running. Carriages and carts were galloping away . . .” Chimneys had toppled from buildings; every pane of glass was shattered as far as the Viceroy’s Palace.

Kato Svanidze was standing on her nearby balcony tending Stalin’s baby with her family, “when all of a sudden we heard the sound of bombs,” recalled her sister, Sashiko. “Terrified, we rushed into the house.” Outside, amid the yellow smoke and the wild chaos, among the bodies of horses and mutilated limbs of men, something had gone wrong.

One horse attached to the front carriage twitched, then jerked back to life. Just as the gangsters ran to seize the moneybags in the back of the carriage, the horse reared up out of the mayhem and bolted down the hill towards the Soldiers Bazaar, disappearing with the money that Stalin had promised Lenin for the Revolution.


How about that for thrills, suspense, action?!
I came across a rave review of this book from the London Times. The reviewer said good things about the author, but also could not resist talking about his subject.


Much has been written about the beatings Stalin received as a child from his violent father and adoring mother. The townspeople of Gori, where he grew up, were addicted to violent street fighting, and the seminary in Tiflis helped turn this autodidact and poet into a confirmed atheist and rebel.

Stalin soon became a natural revolutionary and terrorist, shamelessly relishing the organisation of hold-ups, raids to capture weapons, and protection rackets. Extortion was not always necessary. The Georgian revolutionaries were sometimes also funded by tycoons and nobles opposed to the Russian Tsarist regime.


Theirs was a world of konspiratzia, with police spies and double agents from the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana. Stalin showed no scruples in killing anyone suspected of treachery, and many more innocent comrades were wiped out in the process than genuine spies. There were even kidnappings and a couple of cases of piracy, when revolutionaries took over ships in the Black Sea and the Caspian delivering pay chests. The vast bulk of the proceeds from these "expropriations" were sent to Lenin to finance the Bolshevik cause.

[snip]

The great Tiflis heist, the ambush of a coach full of money in the main square, became a scandal reported all round the world. Attacking with bombs and guns, Stalin's gang produced 90 casualties, 40 of which resulted in death. It was a huge embarrassment for the Bolsheviks, but Lenin, who was just as unscrupulous as his Georgian acolyte, did not want the money to dry up. Stalin's insanely violent henchman, Kamo, left for Finland with the equivalent of £1.7 million, which he handed over to the cause. The Mensheviks, who received none of the money, set out to destroy both Lenin and Stalin. Lenin truly admired Stalin's ruthlessness. "That is exactly the sort of person I need," he said.


So what has all this to do with today's conflict? I dunno.

But if America were in a similar conflict today with Mexico over, say, parts of the Southwest, maybe even Texas, my guess is that we would consider tales of the Spanish-American War to have some meaning. Hell, the war's been over for a long time and to hear Americans talk about the Alamo one would think it only falls a short way in history ahead of 9/11.


Meantime, I'm still doing homework.

◄►===◄►
Tehee...
Pat Buchanan may lack finesse, but he can see when someone is doing something really stupid. Like pissing on Russian boots. Or jumping to the defense of someone who did.


Mikheil did not reckon on the rage or resolve of the Bear.


American charges of Russian aggression ring hollow. Georgia started this fight – Russia finished it. People who start wars don't get to decide how and when they end.


Russia's response was "disproportionate" and "brutal," wailed Bush.


True. But did we not authorize Israel to bomb Lebanon for 35 days in response to a border skirmish where several Israel soldiers were killed and two captured? Was that not many times more "disproportionate"?


Russia has invaded a sovereign country, railed Bush. But did not the United States bomb Serbia for 78 days and invade to force it to surrender a province, Kosovo, to which Serbia had a far greater historic claim than Georgia had to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, both of which prefer Moscow to Tbilisi?


Is not Western hypocrisy astonishing?




10 comments:

daikide said...

Well heheh, not so fast:

1) You have a map there that shows that majority of population in disputed regions of Georgia are not Georgian, true. BUT, what about a pre war map??? 85% of Abkhaz population and over 90% of South Ossetian population were Georgians, before brutal ethnic cleansing by Russian military in 1993-94. (As for current map, even in todays shape it is not accurate. All Georgians are cleansed from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and majority of population consists today of Russian military and not of civilians, as crazy as it may sound it is true)

2) South Ossetia:

There NEVER was south or even north ossetia. In fact there was only one Ossetia on the territory of North Ossetia and it was called "Republic Alaniya"(were all those Ossetians lived) before 1989(or so) After Soveit Union collapsed Russians renamed "Republic Alaniya"
to "North Ossetia" as for "South" ... LOL just look at geographical map, there is a HUUUGE wall of mountains between so called "North and South" Ossetias. A Huge tunnel which lies under a mountain called a "Roki" tunnel connects Georgia and Russia (North and South Ossetia)
So in 1994 Russian tanks started to flow into a Georgian territory called "Samachablo" and ethnically cleansed a small city of Tskinvaly and proclaimed it a capital of "South Ossetia"
In 2004 elected Georgian president Saakashvili agreed to call that region "South Ossetia" and proposed a full autonomy within internationally recognised borders of Georgia. Russians rejected and tried to simply use that territory to stall Georgia's progress in development and integration into Europe and NATO.

3) Abkhazia:

It was just a amazing resort were absolute majority of population were Georgians and now there are no Georgians after brutal actions of Russian military and Chechen mercenaries, Shamil Basaev being a war hero of that was hailed by Russian media for those atrocities he has committed against Georgian civilian population. Basaev turned against Russians in a very brutal war in Chechnya just a little later.

4) Basically that ethnic map you got there, is still very inaccurate.

5) And well I just could not take this BS :

"...new first lady of Georgia, explained that her husband aspires to follow in the long tradition of strong Georgian leaders "like Stalin and Beria"."

- I understand that for as anyone who has not hared anything about my country words like Stalin, Beria and Georgia might be self explanatory, BUT you must at least know something about history of those people and the reality on the ground.

Stalin was NEVER a hero of Georgia in fact he was a simple bank robber who got arrested and sent to Siberia(to end his life) This happened in his early life and since than he has revenged himself by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Georgians. The fact that highest amount of deaths(in percent) during second world war were Georgians was also a "gift" for Stalin. Georgians always hated him and he could never forgive that, so he sent EVERY Georgian man to war.
As for Beria he was and is widely hated because he was the man who was coordinating those killings by Stalin. Georgians are not Russians and they value their lives much higher than Russians value lives of their citizens.(comes simply from the history)

So this words are impossible, the first lady who is from the Netherlands btw, would NEVER have said them, this is a simple lie from a news source.

In Geri there is a very small grope(25-35 people or so, literally) of 90+ year old people who still like Stalin, most of them are ethnic Armenians, Georgians and Russians
(they are citizens of Georgia) but this view is not shared by the rest of the country. I mean by more than 99 % of population.

6) I'm sorry since I did not read and analyze everything you wrote there, too much for me but in majority while it may seem true to you, your facts are false, because you don't know the details THAT DO MATTER!

7) As for Georgian "Invasion" to Tskinvali well...
what else would they say? We invaded Georgia just because?

They did this in response to the Kosovo thing and they also feel rich and successful right now...

Who stared what:

1) Russians a finished rehabilitation of the military rail road in Abkhgazia just a week ago before invasion. The Russian military rail road personnel was working over few months, in Moscow they called it a "Humanitarian" mission, but today Russian tanks move by that military.

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=18851

2) Russians had a large scale military exercises Just Outside or "Roki" tunnel from the Russian side of the border. "Caucasus 2008" every soldier was given a paper with war propaganda, wich ended up on the Internet. It was finished just a week or so before war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasus_Frontier_2008

3) The usually anti Georgian Russian media reached a new level of propaganda just few weeks before war.

4) A serious fact that Russians started to evacuate the civilian population from Tskinvali three weeks before war. This was very official in Russian media, but not in the western.

5)Read "The Human Rights Watch" report about this war.(They have been to Tskinvali) Russians claimed 2000 dead civilians, read the report and conclusion.

6) There's also a small fact that two weeks before the Russian invasion, cyber war has damaged many of Georgian news web sites. This is also indication that Russians were preparing it for a long time, but I guess if you want to believe Putin and the rest ofg the KGB like Ivanov or Lavrov go ahead...

I hope it's more or less clear, sure everyone can have their view, but then there are also things that are called facts.

Hoots said...

Thanks for your comments. It looks like my post hit a nerve. Please excuse my American ignorance, but give me a little credit for reading more than just what's been fed to the press.

Before I posted material from JOTMAN's Blog I first checked his list of impressive credits. And that quote from Sandra Roelofs is from the Guardian of London. It's left wing, but not without credibility.

It is clear from the enthusiastic demonstrations we see on TV that the Georgians are very supportive of their president and what he has said and done. It is not clear, however, that the populations of South Osetia or Gori are equally enthusiastic.

daikide said...

"Thanks for your comments. It looks like my post hit a nerve."

- Well one day I wake up and there are Russian tanks, so how do you think I feel. Heheh...

"Please excuse my American ignorance, but give me a little credit for reading more than just what's been fed to the press."

- I understand your opinion, you don't like that most of media is criticizing Russia and I understand why this may sound suspicious, but you should also understand that Russia is NOT a democracy. There is NO freedom of press in Russia. So you have to judge it for what it is.

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24025

"Before I posted material from JOTMAN's Blog I first checked his list of impressive credits. And that quote from Sandra Roelofs is from the Guardian of London. It's left wing, but not without credibility."

- I understand, but this thing here sounds like complete BS, no seriously. If she anyone has ever said anything like it I think the opposition would start seriously biting.

"It is clear from the enthusiastic demonstrations we see on TV that the Georgians are very supportive of their president and what he has said and done."

- Well there are many different views in Georgia, this is a democratic state no matter how it may seem from outside.Sure it is not a Switzerland, but it simply lacks any conditions to have a shiny democracy, but this country, it's government and people are trying hard.
There is an serious opposition, there is powerful opposition media and sure they have their impact. But everyone understands that this is a moment for unity or the country might not take such pressure from Russia.

"It is not clear, however, that the populations of South Osetia or Gori are equally enthusiastic."

- It depends which population do you mean? In Gori there are many Georgians , Ossetians and many other ethnic groups that have full access to media and different views. Most of them support Georgian government.
In South Ossetia about 50% of territory(before few days ago) was still populated by Georgians, Ossetians and they supported Georgian government. The other 50% or so is under informational blockade, they have only Russian media and their only job is to serve in the Russian financed anti Georgian militia's. So they probably Support Putin.(They even have a banner in Tskinvali "Putin is our president") But the real problem is a HUGE change in a demography because of the horrible violence in the past years.

P.S.

As for Ossetian people, they live in EVERY part of Georgia even today their population is 4 times more in the rest of the country then in those disputed territories.
There never was a ethnic problem here, the problem is in Kremlin, in Prime minister Putin's head.

Many officials in Georgia have Ossetian origin, in government, military and even in Beijing at the Olympics.

Hoots said...

Again, thanks for returning with comments. Your description of Georgia and Osetia as places where a mixture of ethnic groups live all mixed together with "never an ethnic problem" reminds me of similar descriptions from places all over the world. I'm thinking of such diverse places as the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Rwanda, the old British Raj which divided into India and Pakistan, and the list can go on forever.

Your link to RSF is telling. As of last year's report Georgia ranks well ahead of Russia on their list which comes as no surprise. And cyber-attacks targeting Georgian websites only adds to a growing pile of evidence incriminating Russia.

My interest in this conflict is more a spinoff of our presidential election than any personal involvement. I'm just an ordinary American trying to make sense of a lot of confusing information, trying to decide which of two candidates for president will better serve the cause of effective conflict resolution in foreign policy.

It's clear to me that military actions, though sometimes unavoidable, are at the very bottom of the list of ways to resolve conflict. My suspicions of John McCain were raised when I learned that one of his top foreign policy advisers formerly served as a Georgia lobbyist. It's no accident that his instant response to the Russian incursion was, like most conservative and isolationist Americans, sword-rattling.

Interestingly enough, the Obama response was more circumspect and, I might add, more in line with the equally cool response from Washington.

Most Americans are ignorant about these matters and show no interest in learning. Popular entertainment, sadly, gets more attention from the US electorate than foreign policy. Nevertheless a few of us are trying to do the responsible thing by putting a man into office who appears to be more open to creative conflict resolution than others in recent years.

The larger picture to me indicates simmering tensions and political ferment in many parts of the world formerly held in place by heavy-handed, autocratic regimes. When totalitarian regimes come apart, whether in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa or, yes, Iraq... the aftermath is not always pretty. The challenge of what we like to call "freedom" is not freedom at all. It's really how best do we cope with the tensions of a painful past and learn to live together looking forward rather than backward?

Of course that's easy for me to say from a safe distance. It's like telling the alcoholic or cancer victim to "get over it and get on with the rest of your life." And I don't want to sound that insensitive. But somewhere between that place and today's suffering there has to be a middle ground.

I read your glowing description of Baku, awash with oil wealth and looking for all the world like the next Dubai or whatever. In a way I can almost hear the same expectations for Tblisi in the background. And that's good. That's evidence of positive thinking and hope for the future. Even in the darkest days of Saddam's ugly tyranny the people of Kurdistan were making the best of a bad situation (from what I have read) and building a social and economic model that would be comfortable for most world travelers. It helped, of course, that the Peshmergas are among the world's best warriors, but their role in the picture is probably less important than the role of -- we have to say it -- OIL.

Give me your opinion, then, of two questions:

1) How much of the Georgia/Russia/Osetia/Abkhazia confilct derives from the control of oil (either extraction or control after extraction)?

2) Have you any opinion about which of our two presidential candidates will better serve both the future of Georgia and US realtions in that part of the world?

daikide said...

“Again, thanks for returning with comments. Your description of Georgia and Osetia as places where a mixture of ethnic groups live all mixed together with "never an ethnic problem" reminds me of similar descriptions from places all over the world. I'm thinking of such diverse places as the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Rwanda, the old British Raj which divided into India and Pakistan, and the list can go on forever. “

- I really don’t like how you are putting this. Each problem and each conflict is very unique, I don’t like how you are putting all this in a row. The problem is really not about Ossetian vs Georgian people, the problem is that Kremlin wants military bases in a very strategic locations, just across the HUGE Caucasian mountains that separate Russia and Georgia. The Ossetian people and protecting Russia’s citizens is the same pretext that was used by Germany during invasion of Poland, they also wanted to “protect” the minority. Russian citizens live everywhere in Georgia and we are not eating them alive. (On the contrary in Russia last week only 17 people with Caucasian origin were killed, few Georgians, few Armenian and even few Ossetian… we are not so distinct from each other.)
At least 200(yes 200) ethnic groups live in Georgia, it’s a HUGE number for such a tiny country that is of the size of South Carolina and has population of just 3,5 million.


“Your link to RSF is telling. As of last year's report Georgia ranks well ahead of Russia on their list which comes as no surprise. And cyber-attacks targeting Georgian websites only adds to a growing pile of evidence incriminating Russia.“

- Well not only that, Georgia is trying hard to become a real “beacon” of democracy in the region and if you look for other world indexes like “Ease of doing business” by world bank or “economic freedom” or such you will see how hard this country is trying to be better. Sure it has still ways to go, but it never had any conditions and having all this in the neighbourhood that we live in is a real achievement. I am not a Russia hater, in fact I like many things about Russia, like their writers, composers and their beautiful girls, but Russia is heading to dangerous place and the world has to do something or tomorrow it has to face MUCH worse problems that will also be “closer” and more personal for the west.

“My interest in this conflict is more a spinoff of our presidential election than any personal involvement. I'm just an ordinary American trying to make sense of a lot of confusing information, trying to decide which of two candidates for president will better serve the cause of effective conflict resolution in foreign policy.”

- Well it is a “spinoff” for me too. I don’t dream about geopolitics myself. I am a physicist and I have completely different interests in life, it’s just hard to say “OK this does not bother me” when you see so many Russian tanks in your country.

“Most Americans are ignorant about these matters and show no interest in learning. Popular entertainment, sadly, gets more attention from the US electorate than foreign policy. Nevertheless a few of us are trying to do the responsible thing by putting a man into office who appears to be more open to creative conflict resolution than others in recent years.”

- Well this is the case for whole world actually, when there are no Russian tanks
(Not this much) Georgians are sitting in CafĂ©’s and Restaurants and eating delicious Georgian food with their guests and friends or drinking red wine. They are in no way thinking how to resolve the conflict in Darfur for example either… People want to have happy thoughts nobody wants to think about others problems 24/7.(at least not many people do) Like elsewhere people in Tbilisi would better buy third ipod and a Jeep for 80 000USD that they don’t really need than spend this money to help the poor, so it’s a global thing and maybe that is even normal…

“The larger picture to me indicates simmering tensions and political ferment in many parts of the world formerly held in place by heavy-handed, autocratic regimes. When totalitarian regimes come apart, whether in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa or, yes, Iraq... the aftermath is not always pretty. The challenge of what we like to call "freedom" is not freedom at all. It's really how best do we cope with the tensions of a painful past and learn to live together looking forward rather than backward?”

- True, but this does not matter that much. World today is much more dangerous than before war in Iraq. While Saddam had to be removed and I’m sure that Iraq will succeed in the end. I have met one young Iraqi in a bar in Geneva few months ago and was so surprised to see how optimistic he was. He told me “Yeah just give us 10 years and we will be one of the richest nations on this planet, we just have to get through this.” But that war had very serious side effects like making Russia Insanely rich, which would have been not a serious problem if there was a normal democratic government. But with Vladimir Putin and Ivanov and such
KGB style rulers… it’s going to turn into MUCH bigger problem than Georgia quite soon.

As for the west, I do not up rule the fact that for some blaming Georgia may sound like a good idea. While I’m often very critical of my people I know most of good and bad they are capable of.
As for the west, it really is a bit unfortunate situation. Their ally (And Georgia was the third country
After US and UK by the military presence in Iraq about 2000 soldiers that were recalled after Russians invaded)
has been marched on by Russia, so saying “Hey but Russian’s say that Georgia did wrong” actually may be even more politically correct right now. Sure west really can’t do anything to stop Russia doing what it wants to it’s
neighbours so idea that those neighbours where also quite guilty is a good way of masking the west’s inability of protecting small democratic Georgia from it’s big autocratic neighbour and inability of West’s punishment of today’s Oil rich Russia.

“I read your glowing description of Baku, awash with oil wealth and looking for all the world like the next Dubai or whatever. In a way I can almost hear the same expectations for Tblisi in the background. And that's good. That's evidence of positive thinking and hope for the future. Even in the darkest days of Saddam's ugly tyranny the people of Kurdistan were making the best of a bad situation (from what I have read) and building a social and economic model that would be comfortable for most world travelers. It helped, of course, that the Peshmergas are among the world's best warriors, but their role in the picture is probably less important than the role of -- we have to say it -- OIL.”

- Well in Baku there is a soft autocratic regime, quite comparable to what is in Saudi Arabia, only much softer I guess. People there are really nice, but by god it is so corrupt and still very unreformed. Like in Russia Oil is a blessing and a curse.
As for Tbilisi, it’s economy and construction was booming unlike I ever expected, until few days ago. The many constructions seem to go on, but I don’t know how long this can go on with the Russian tanks rolling just in 30km from it. Even if they pull out. They will never go far. Their huge military bases are few months complete in Ablhazia and South Ossetia so now they seem to think that they have legal reasons to have those tanks and stuff on our soil. To protect their “peacekeepers” or whatever…

1) How much of the Georgia/Russia/Osetia/Abkhazia conflict derives from the control of oil (either extraction or control after extraction)?

- Oil, well that’s the point that there are MANY MANY small pile of reasons for this war. As there are many small reasons why it happened right now. Oil is the only one of this details. Georgia does not have lots of oil, but Azerbaijan does as do other central Asian counties like Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan or Iran. Georgia could serve and is serving as only alternative transit route bypassing Russia and reaching EU. So by controlling Georgia Russia gets a complete monopoly over Oil going to EU from this continent.

- But Oil is only one part of the problem. For many years Russia has launched an unprecedented scale propaganda against Georgians and especially against president Saakashvili. The main reasons are that he got his education in US, not somewhere else but US. Also his will to get Georgia to NATO is also a reason for their hatred. I’m absolutely sure that even 8 year old child in Russia that has never seen any real Georgian or does not even know were that country is full of hatred towards our people. Russian media does a amazing job here, that’s why it is scored so low in that index. And trust me there is not a very big difference between how much free independent opinions can Russian citizens get or how much say people of north Korea. Sure Russia is still not NK, but it is not as far from it as you may think. I watch Russian media myself and can tell you that they are messing with their heads. Idea’s like “Russia is surrounded by enemy” is blown on their screens and in their papers every day.


- Russia is such a huge country that it can create it’s alternative world vision for it’s population. As you know all the media is controlled by Kremlin so they can totally manipulate what the population thinks and they are doing this 24 hours a day. Even my Russian friends that live today in Russia have emailed me and wrote how they hate all of us. I’m so shocked… I thought that they were friends. So their propaganda is “Russia is strong like never before, thanks to the leadership of Putin”, “Russia is going to revenge for it’s humiliation in the end of the cold war” and “The world has to understand that we are a superpower and there should be a new world order”.Today Russian people are in euphoria, they are being told that they have saved the day and they want to turn it to a demonstration of return of their might. Also the president of Georgia has been portrayed in Russia like a complete madman that has been appointed by Americans and that is being paid by Americans. Well to be honest I have lot’s of young Georgian friends in the best Universities across US, EU and I can’t say that any of them are working for CIA or whatever…
- Where else should they learn in Russia where skinheads might kill them, just because they are not Russians? If Russian government acted differently they could have achieved everything through soft power and “friendship” but I guess sophisticated politics are too difficult for the soviet style leadership of current oil giant.


2) Have you any opinion about which of our two presidential candidates will better serve both the future of Georgia and US relations in that part of the world?

- Well it’s a tough question, but in any case I think the next leader will be much better than the current one. Georgia and the US will probably stay in good relationship no matter who gets elected.


Mccane:

I would still prefer him, because I think in the time when the autocratic leaders are so reckless and aggressive there is only one language that they can understand. The world needs a new Reagan. US stance should be very principled or the future will hold far grater threats. What’s important however is striking a balance and not going back to the full scale cold war. But still the party’s don’t fight if the both sides do not want that, I think the pragmatism is not always the key, sometimes the principles should be protected or the next day autocratic regimes will have more and bigger demands.


Obama:

I like Obama for many reasons, I like how he does his speeches and he seems very pragmatic and very open, but still this are not the only qualities the US president might need. I think that you can’t always strike the balance and sometimes you have to chose between left or right path.
I don’t like when politicians are just too careful, yes I really mean it. Sometimes you have to make a choice and defend you opinion and not emulate Coffi Anan Or Ban Ki Mun of the useless organisation that UN is. You can’t make everyone like you.

Probably you now like ex president Clinton… well as successful as he was inside US politicly/economicly as failed he was as a world leader. Russia was on it’s knees.(1992-1997) US could have done ANYTHING to it. Instead the world was making jokes about Boris Yeltsin and laughing at “poor and drunk” Russia. Well that was the time to help Russia’s democracy. That was a moment for action and I’m not sure if there will be another chance for hundreds of years now. Clinton shockingly did absolutely NOTHING to turn Russia to an ally and there was a real chance for that. That was a time for a war in Iraq and pulling out Russia from the economic hole. Instead what happened was that Russia was pulled out by Oil prices but that was already very different Russia, under KGB and under Putin. Make no mistake, under Yeltsin Russia was NOT a democracy, but it also was not a real authoritarian country. It could have evolved into a democracy if only US did something.

Future of your country: (Well my opinion lol)

I think that US will manage to get out from the current economic and political hole under a new president. The problem will be to play a role of a one single leader of the world. China is coming actually slower and is acting more careful than Russia in the global politics.

Russia:

Well Russia will continue it’s triumphant march towards “Return of power”, however I have seen huge flaws in their military. They won because they invaded y country with an absolute overwhelming force, but their soldiers have a low morale and are equipped really poorly compared even to Georgian army. I have seen a video done by Russian soldiers that captured a military base.
They say “Look, look at them! They have everything and we live like bums. Clean nice beds, nice uniforms…” They were saying all this as they were looting everything from that city’s like Gori, Senaki, port city of Poti and such…(I’m sure that video should be online somewhere) So I think that their army is still way behind because of the horrible corruption and still quite soviet approach to everything governmental. Also there is no doubt that Russia is really trying hard to rival US and European media power, it is limited even today but they have many people on the pay check even in the most respected media outlets of the west. Not to mention a strange array of new web “analytical centres” that post very strange propaganda style articles… (Like “Crossfire war” web site) Don’t remember the link…
This is how they do this and the rest of the world tries to balance the things, problem is that they are balancing a mixture of truths and direct lies… in the end they got something that is hard to understand… And often it is hard to understand that Russia is bad, if you need Russia for many other reasons like Iran, North Korea, Nuclear safety or yes… oil.
In the future it seems that PM Putin will once be back as a president again. I guess during the next presidential elections in Russia.



Georgia’s Future:

Georgia is a democracy today, a very venerable democracy and fragile. While the opposition and the government are not fighting right now. I’m sure that the lack of democratic experience will play it’s role as soon as Russian tanks leave the country. I think that there might be a change of the government and if that happens, this will mark the end of the European future for the region. Also probably there will be far less relying on the US and EU as partners as for Russia, she has chosen it’s role for this country once and for all.
I mean that unlike Putin and other Russian officials Saakashvili will have to face some tough questions from the opposition in his country and that may be a catalyst for some unrests. Besides Russian minister of foreign affairs has stated in a phone conversation that “Saakashvili must go” and “change of government” was high on the agenda in UN security consul sparring between Russia’s Vitalii Churkin and US representative. So I think Russian’s will do their best and inexperienced Georgian political system might be used to topple the current government.
This country will have to drift, the west will not accept it because Russia will not let it be part of EU or NATO. Russia will simply do it’s best to show others what might happen to them if they try to be like Europe.

As you can see I am not very optimistic here.

Georgians are very religious people, if you ever visit Tbilisi, you will see that every corner, every mountain has a church or a monastery. Georgia is one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, to be honest I believe that this is just the way of living between the crossroads were Georgia lies. People that are desperate need something to believe. I’m not a religious person myself, but from the history that I have seen with my own eyes, I understand why my people need god so much, they need something to rely on.


... phew, well I guess I better get back to othet things.

Good luck.

Hoots said...

Thanks once more for your insights. I took the liberty of putting this comment thread into a main blogpost where more people will be apt to find it. Exchanges such as this will advance the cause of conflict resolution far more effectively than any military encounters.

I tagged the post Conversation with a Georgian man on the street. I hope that title meets with your approval.

I want to think about your last comment before responding. This is not the time or place for sound bites and word games. I have an idea that when you comment here you are speaking from the heart. For that I thank you.

(I had one afterthought... All that is missing here is a Russian with an equally good command of English. Maybe that one visitor from Moscow will join in. Unless, of course, it is the watchful eye of the security service.)

daikide said...

I understand. You can use my comment as you wish.
I had no plans for any "bites" or "word games" this indeed was just my opinion.

As for Russian opinion that's easy"

1) Russia was just defending it's citizens and peacekeepers. It had to save it's people.

- My answer to this is that this was exact same story as was when Nazis invaded Poland. Russians gave away they passports, without any legal background on the other country's territory and now they want to "protect" their citizens.
History does repeat itself.

And again I INSIST you read the "HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH" report!!! I'm sure it does resolve many questions. In the end both Putin and me are just the sides of this conflict. The HRW is a international organisation that is monitoring such developments in the world.

2) Saakashvili is mentally crazy and American puppet.

- Well this is in regard to the Russian state propaganda. They tell Russians this 24/7 so what do you expect? They are people and people tend to believe what they are being told all the time. Only in Russia there is completely no alternative opinion.

Alexaner said...

Good day to you Hoots!
I'm Alexander from Russia, where is everything "controlled by Kremlin" :)
Thank You that you TRIED to get a clear view of what is going on.
It's many things in a masive posts of Daikide that makes me smile, but (and it's about democracy) this one is a pearl:

daikide said...
"- Russia is such a huge country that it can create it’s alternative world vision for it’s population. As you know all the media is controlled by Kremlin so they can totally manipulate what the population thinks and they are doing this 24 hours a day. Even my Russian friends that live today in Russia have emailed me and wrote how they hate all of us."

--- It's nonsence. Im living in a medicore sity (Stary Oskol), so it can be used as an example. As you can see, I'm now in your blog, and can read everything. Also we have a cable and sattelite television, where alongside with our "Vesti" coexists "CNN" and "BBC"(with and without translation to russian language - you can watch what you want).

P/S
Sorry for my English (I have no speech writers like Daikide)

Hoots said...

Thank you, Alexander, for your comment. As the days pass the situation is getting a little more clear. I am left with two impressions at this moment...

First, when the word "democracy" is used in America the meaning is very different from what is meant in much, if not most of the world. As practiced in Georgia and most other places where autocratic forms have been the norm for centuries, anything less seems to pass for "democracy."

Second, Saakashvilli overplayed his hand imagining that the US would rush to his side in the conflict. He made the mistake of interpreting our president's cowboy rhetoric as more than it really was.

Come visit again.

Hoots

Daikide said...

To Alexaner

- "It's nonsence. Im living in a medicore sity (Stary Oskol), so it can be used as an example. As you can see, I'm now in your blog, and can read everything."

- So how many people in Russia do have access to Internet?(in percent) How many are even remotely interested in watching the alternative news? How many even understand any other language than Russian? How may have still critical thinking and CAN QUESTION THE OFFICIAL POINT OF VIEW? (Especially when it comes to foregn policy?)

"Also we have a cable and sattelite television, where alongside with our "Vesti" coexists "CNN" and "BBC"(with and without translation to russian language - you can watch what you want)."

- Yes, that is great. too bad that you can't watch alternative Russian channels from NY for example RTVI that gets some Russian opposition on air sometimes. CNN and BBC are world news.(They cover just everything and do not have aims to get Russian oposition to speak to Russian people... They have their own commerical goals) They can in no way be a compensation for a complete lack of media freedom in Russia and total control. Can you see any real opposition leaders live briefing on interview on ANY Russian channel?? For example can you watch Gari Kasparov's or Yabloko's briefings live or at all on any Russian TV? Unless those are used to mock them by the state.

"P/S
Sorry for my English (I have no speech writers like Daikide)"

- Sure, we all have "speech writers" and are payed by CIA.

- Hoots

"First, when the word "democracy" is used in America the meaning is very different from what is meant in much, if not most of the world."

- Well yes, BUT there is a set of basic DEMOCRATIC RULES. Unless you follow those rules you are not democratic.
We follow those rules, Russia goes completely other way.

"As practiced in Georgia and most other places where autocratic forms have been the norm for centuries, anything less seems to pass for "democracy.""

- I can't say that "autocratic" forms have been the norm in Georgia, ever. But we have a HUGE autocratic neighbour. Georgia had it's democracy, it had it's democratically elected Parliament and president and constitution and the laws. This ended in 1921 when Russians have occupied Georgia and
the rest of the century was filled with what you have described, but it was in no way a will of Georgian people that have lost their Independence.

And damn it, how can we be a "beacon" of democracy if Russia has a full scale invasion to our country every now and then...

1921 -Total occupation!
1993 -Occupation of Abkhazia region
1994 -Occupation of Samachablo(South Ossetia, renamed after 1922) region
2008 - Occupation of huge chunks of Georgia and formal annexation of those to regions.

HOW THE FUCK CAN WE BE A BEACON OF DEMOCRACY UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES?? Who can be?

"Second, Saakashvilli overplayed his hand imagining that the US would rush to his side in the conflict."

- I think you are oversimplifying Saakashvili.(Trust me he is really not a stupid man) He did make mistakes in the past, but he is a president of the country that by it's simple choice to be free/independent and democratic irritates Russia. Russia wants military bases and "zones of influence" and erm... what they call "respect"... They have portrayed this invasion as a great military victory over incredibly militaristic and aggressive Pro-American Georgia. They even stated that NATO and US where activly fighting during a war, with putin waving a US citizen passport and claiming that this US citizen was fighting along georgian military. (later that US citizen claimed that he has never been to georgia and lost his passport in Moscow airport 2 years ago, he did sign all the papers about this loss of documents)

"He made the mistake of interpreting our president's cowboy rhetoric as more than it really was."

- Well you know it's not like you have a huge set of choices, when you tell to everyone that Russians are putting their troops along the border and will probably create some pretext to invade. At this point the Europe and US were too busy and were simply not listening.

I do think that biggest mistakes of Saakashvili were in his foreign policy. He had to balance, instead he was too honest with Russians and told they "Yes we want to be friends, but we want to join NATO and EU... so what we are independent neighbour right?" - I do think this was pretty wrong and naive thing to do. As for US at least Bush is gone, that is already a big plus. I do not think that Hillary as a sec. of state will be successful with Russia, but oh well.

Also Hoots you ashould take a loot look at some of G.Bushes decisions to recognise kosovo or to push Polish missiles. (I think I explained before why Kosovo is a DIFFERENT case) BUT Putin has said few times in January and once before: "If the west recognises Kosovo and Pushes missiles in Poland we can recognise Georgian separatists, we are also cooking things here..."

If you did understand Russian and have heard his remarks as some other remarks and propaganda on their TV's... you would perfectly understand what I mean.