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12 August 2008


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What did the US think it was doing encouraging little Georgia to provoke the bear?

it seems it was more than encouraging. It was arming and training them for this very action.

What did the US think it was doing encouraging Dahlan to take on Hamas in its own backyard?

And again, millions spent arming and training Dahlans merceneries.

What did the US think it was doing encouraging March 14th to try and terminally weaken Hizballah?

And again millions spent arming and training March 14th's "Secure Plus" militia.

Add to those the only moderately successful move against Sadr by Maliki, but only because Sadr didn't believe the bloodshed was worth it.

Desperation and woeful inability to judge its opponents reactions.

And refusing to learn that no matter how well armed and trained a mercenary, against the patriot, the devout and/or the man simply protecting his faimily, the mercenary doesn't stand a chance.


top Israeli military experts have been involved in training Georgian armed forces.

That would explain the move into South Ossetia - they reckoned it was Gaza.

Georgia is to South Ossetia as Russia is to Georgia as Israel is to the Occupied Territories.


If Russia controls access to Georgia (or at least the denial of such), arms shipments wouldn't make it through a de facto naval blockade and a destroyed port. The Israelis have nothing to lose by pledging to cut arms shipments they can't deliver anyway.

When your clock ends on Jan 20th, every little bit helps..


Be assured that Israel did a speedy calculus assessing the dozen or so players in the Russia-Georgia dust-up, stuck a calibrated finger in the air to determine the prevailing winds, carefully estimated their possible courses of action, and quickly defined their best interests and likely outcomes. Then they simply acted in their best interests as states are expected to do. There should be no surprise in their actions. This is the time-honored method of honing Israeli’s priorities and interests weighed against costs. Similar machinations produced the decision to include striking the USS Liberty in their June 1967 attack plan for the Six Day War. There ain’t no such thing as forever friends.


Israel realizes that it needs the oil flowing through the BTC pipeline.

Also, it looks like Israel chose not to start demonizing Russia as an "existential threat," because it would have been pointless. Now if they could learn the same lesson regarding Iran...

Larry K

Isn't Israel Today (the source for this story) a fairly tendentious outfit? I don't see any stores to this effect in Ha'aretz or the Jerusalem Post, which in my experience don't pull their punches. Not that that's proof one way or another, but my memory, again, is that Israel Today is etc.


uping the ante:


Russians move 2 SS-21 Medium Range Ballistic Missile Launchers into South Ossetia

Col. Sam Gardiner notes, in an interview with Amy Goodman on http://www.democracynow.org/ Democracy Now, Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons to South Ossetia. The SS-21 Missile launchers are relatively weak compared to bombs that have already been used against Georgia by the Russian air force. However, this move does indicate Russia is potentially upping the game from a conventional weapons war to a tactical nuclear weapons war. Gardiner notes that at a news conference on Sunday, the US Deputy National Security advisor has noted these weapons arriving in South Ossetia.

Business Wire confirms the subject matter of the news briefing in Beijing.


it now appears that the russians are factoring in their tactical nuclear weapons into the mix to defend their citizenry from aggressors like georgia.

i have doubts that anybody in d.c. wants to play a game of let's fire some tactical toys mumbly peg. no?


The Georgians were obviously counting on US/Europe military involvement.

Epic fail.

What's amazing is how no media talks about how tiny Georgia is. It's the size of Philly or DC+burblands.

It's like Philly decides to launch and attack to annex Camden New Jersey.

Same with Israel. That country economy is only the size of Singapore, but with military expenditure the size of Korea and geopolitical aspiration the level of India or Russia.

Without US 'gifts', money and free military equipments. That little joke will collapse in about 3 months. It can't even refine it's own jet fuel if come under attack, let alone sustained long distance military campaign.

Amazing. The level of delusion.



A question:

As far as I know, SS-21 is a tactical artillery rocket (replacing FROG-7). It is nuclear capable (but then, so are 8-in artillery pieces, as far as I know.), but how do we know if the Russians are actually sending tactical nukes and "upping the ante"?


I'd guess that both the U.S. and Israel didn't think of Georgia as an ally, but rather as a customer. And you drop a customer when they're no longer profitable.


What we have witnessed is the complete impotence of the West - ie the USA - over Georgia. The maverick Saakashvili had assumed that the US would back his gamble and come riding in like John Wayne and the Seventh Cavalry to aid him in his rash and ludicrous assault against Russia. He seemingly had no understanding of the weakness of the US and grossly overestimated the strength of his own forces. Military action by America is out of the question. Bush's land forces are tied up and overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are no toops to spare. Georgia is at the eastern end of the Black Sea, access to which by aircraft carriers involves pasage through the Bosphorus - Turkey, after American support for the Kurdish mini state in northern Iraq, is now profoundly anti-American, and would be very reluctant to support an expedition through into the Black Sea. (Actually, the last time a western fleet went through the Bosphorus to attack Russia was in 1853 when a Franco-British force sailed in with Turkish co-operation and landed on the Crimea to fight the Czar's soldiers for three frustrating and inconclusive years; not a good precedent.) Air power would achieve nothing - answer bombing with bombing? Bomb whom? Bombers based on which country? Note that the Israelis, who had been supplying the Georgians with massive military aid, cut off all aid yesterday; they know that Saakashvili's audacious provocation of a resurgent Russia is a dangerous gamble with which they want no connection. Saakashvili meantime has demonstrated that American support will be entirely verbal and nothing more. America has zero power in this matter. And the message will have gone out loud and clear to Latvia and Estonia and Kazakhstan etc that friendship and alliance with the USA is, when the crunch comes, worth absolutely nothing. Nuclear threats? Forget it; no president would trade New York for Tibilisi. Remember Budapest 1956 and Prague 1968? Gordon Brown's statement that the Russians have ceased their assault because of international pressure is laughable. He is living in fantasy land. The Russians ended their aggression just when they were ready to, and not before. Mission accomplished. They have got away with it as Mussolini got away with the Abyssinian aggression, or Hitler with his annexations of Austria, Sudetenland and the Rhineland.


Thank you, Col. Lang, for running a blog that's pretty much free of the spin zone that's coming out of 99% of the Western media outlets.

Its hilarious to see the think tanks spin spin spin this as a "loss" for Russia while trying to ignore the huge cracks that have become apparent in our own foreign policy foundation.


Seems Medvedev and Sarkozy have not only sketched out the terms of a peace programme together, they've also been talking about bringing in EU (note: EU NOT Nato) peacekeepers - shades of the Franco-Italian force called in to shoehorn Israel out of its disastrous attack on Lebanon and prevent recurrences!

Russia to withdraw troops from Georgia

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian and French leaders negotiated conditions Tuesday for ending fighting in Georgia, agreeing on a plan that calls for both Russian and Georgian troops to move back to their original positions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said after several hours of talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev that the European Union could send peacekeepers to Georgia if all parties agreed to the plan. (...) The peace plan endorsed by Medvedev and Sarkozy calls for an international discussion on future status of Georgia's breakaway provinces and ways to ensure their security. It demanded that Russia and Georgia immediately end all hostilities and allow free access to the region for humanitarian assistance.

Medvedev said the residents of both breakaway provinces must be allowed to decide whether they want to be part of Georgia.

"Ossetians and Abkhaz must respond to that question taking their history into account, including what happened in the past few days," Medvedev said grimly.

Sarkozy was heading to Tbilisi later Tuesday to talk over the plan with Saakashvili. (...)

See also:
Russia, France agree on 6 principles to resolve S.Ossetia crisis (RIA Novosti)

The Italian press - which seems to have been the first international source to report the 6-point agreement? - is also stating that Italy's defence minister has already declared willingness to send in an Italian peacekeeping contingent, also willing to host an international peace conference in Rome.



I think it is far more interesting that neither China nor India has made any noise in this new crisis. Both countries purportedly have stood against imperial intervention, and both have geostrategic reasons to balance Russian and American advances. This crisis may also turn out to be a low-investment-high-payoff case for them. Yet both have done nothing in mediating this Russian invasion, or pony up peacekeepers/observers. Perhaps they're not ready to ascend to major power status yet.


South Ossetia is nominally in Georgian territory. It is more akin to Arlington seceding from the original "District of Washington" to rejoin Virginia, say, than Philly annexing Camden.



Well, ya can't send the 7th Cav into every battle. See Little Big Horn.


David Brooks:

"Sometimes in my dark moments, I think [George W. Bush] is "The Manchurian Candidate" designed to discredit all the ideas I believe in."

Is there anything that Bush and his neo-con artists won't leave in a smoking pile of ruins before their departure from the stage?



YAY - Georgia too has agreed to the peace programme! :-)
NOT the end of the slanging match but hopefully this may be the end of the corpse-pileup: Tsar-Kozy has woven his peace-web, continental Europe will back him to the hilt - to transform the words into a solid reality will of course require lotsa patient diplomacy and very probably an impartial peaceforce to reassure all concerned. Could be with new-EU "easties" protecting their Georgian friends, Russian-friendly "old-EU" protecting Ossetians? but in any case all under unified-n'-helluva-cooperative EU joint command working to foster Russsian/Georgian détente... or am I pipedreaming again?.

Anyway/whatever - hopefully this small but deadly little war is now over/nearly over. Both sides have their reasons, both sides have their wounds - they need time to bury their dead.. while US bemoans the failure of its powergame-scheming, Europe offers understanding and respect to both sides and offers them a way out, offering our own flesh and blood to guarantee its fairness. Hoping against hope that all will go well, hoping against hope that for the sake of Ossetians Georgians Russians and Abkhazians alike, the tiny light flickering at the end of the tunnel can herald an honourable exit from this bloody impasse.. for all alike.


Bush is doing double down or nothing.

(Why is zbig out on TV again? Can't we at least get a new young face to do cold war smack talking? Bad enough we had Rumsfeld.)


NATO Should Affirm Georgia Entry Potential, U.S. Says (Update1)

NATO should affirm the potential of Georgia and Ukraine to become alliance members in the face of Russia's incursion into Georgian territory, senior U.S. officials said today in Washington.

Russia shouldn't regard the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's consideration of Georgia and Ukraine a threat, according to the Bush administration officials, who spoke to reporters on the condition they not be identified. The prospect might even help focus attention on resolving ethnic divisions such as those that prompted the conflict in Georgia, they said.


Russia must stop treating its neighbors as ``subordinate provinces'' and should draw a lesson from China, which is building its power in Asia ``carefully and patiently'' and with a partnership approach to other countries, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told Bloomberg Television.


The prize is of course the terminus of the pipeline, capital of muslim and ethnic Russian autonomous region of Arjaria, former Russian naval base, to wit: Batumi.

If Putin is truly bold, he will restore this port to the Russian Navy and free the populace from Georgian rule. He would also give the NeoKons a black eye by capturing the terminus of the pipeline built to evade a Russian route.

All the while, Cheney et al, steam with their carriers toward the Persicos.

An irony of sorts to the Lebanese must have been Dumbya pontificating about disproportionate application of force in the 21st century when his regime paid for the aviation fuel and bombs for the merciless bombing of Lebanon in the 2006 War. After the ceasefire was declared, Israel dropped a million dud surplus American cluster bombs. In other words it sowed indiscriminate land mines from the air on the farms and orchards of South Lebanon, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

David Solomon

Colonel Lang,

Upon reflection one thing bothers me. What if the "Bushies" and their accomplices are smarter than we are giving them credit for?

Even rats learn with experience.

Suppose, they only encouraged the Georgians so that they could tie the Russians down in Georgia while Bush and crew bomb the hell out of the Iranians.

After all, our fearless Congress is on vacation and the mighty press is also busy in Georgia.

And of course we have the nice distraction of the Olympic games to provide further cover.

I am just musing, but one should be extra careful when dealing with this crowd of lunatics.



Mr Merdle

Mr. Saakashvili has joined a very small but exclusive club, men who have taken on Russia, (other members include Mr. A Hitler and Mr. N Bonaparte.)


It is not only the Israelis who tend to their (business) interest:

Russia's Novolipetsk Steel to buy U.S. John Maneely for $3.5 bln

MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - Novolipetsk Steel [LSE: NLMK], one of Russia's largest steel producers, said on Wednesday it had signed a final agreement to acquire the U.S.-based pipe manufacturer John Maneely Company (JMC) for $3.53 billion.

Under the deal, Novolipetsk Steel will acquire the U.S. steel pipe and tube producer from a group of shareholders, including global private equity firm Carlyle Group and the Zekelman family, on a debt free, cash free basis. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be closed in the fourth quarter.

"The acquisition of JMC fits with NLMK's stated strategy of portfolio diversification and downstream integration in the core markets of the company. It strengthens NLMK's position in North America and provides an entry point into an important and high-margin end market," Novolipetsk Steel said in a statement.

Established through the merger of John Maneely Company and Atlas Tube in 2006 and headquartered in Ohio, JMC operates eleven plants in five U.S. states and one Canadian province. The company has annual production capacity of over 3 million metric tons of steel pipe and tube, Novolipetsk Steel said.

Someone should tell McCain ...

Yours Truly

" Same with israel. That country economy is only the size of singapore, but with military expenditure the size of Korea and geopolitical aspiration the level of India or Russia.

Without US 'gifts', money and free military equipments. That little joke will collapse in about 3 months. It can't even refine it's own jet fuel if come under attack, let alone sustained long distance military campaign.

Amazing. The level of delusion."

Delusional indeed. The usual "biting off more than you can chew" syndrome. What a strange pair of bedfellows, georgia & israel.

David Habakkuk


We may not know for certain if bringing the SS-21s in represents 'upping the ante'. But as the interview with Sam Gardiner to which 'J' linked brings out, it fits with what we know about the recent evolution of Russian contingency planning.

It is an extremely ominous development -- if not necessarily for the obvious reasons.

A range of factors -- particularly the vulnerability of command and control systems -- mean that nuclear war planners face intractable dilemmas in reconciling the conflicting requirements of what in the jargon are called 'positive' and 'negative' control. The requirement to ensure that your arsenal cannot be disabled by an enemy first strike is inherently in tension with the requirement that the risks of unauthorised or accidental launch be minimised.

Put very crudely, if the only people who have both the legal authority to launch nuclear weapons and control the codes required to make such launch possible are a small number of senior leaders, a 'decapitation strike' would render your nuclear arsenal inoperable. If, on the other hand, the physical ability to launch nuclear weapons is widely disseminated, the risks of accidental or unauthorised launch become very serious.

There are no very good resolutions to these dilemmas. On the American side, the tendency was to emphasise positive control over negative. By contrast, the emphasis in Soviet planning came to be very strongly on 'negative' control. This was bound up with the focus of Soviet planning as it developed from the second half of the Sixties onwards came to be not on nuclear war-fighting, but on trying to keep any general war conventional -- and limiting escalation should that be impossible. The now abandoned no-first-use commitment was part of that strategy.

On all this, a key work is the 1993 study The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War by the former Minuteman launch control officer turned academic Bruce Blair, who had the benefit of very extensive interviews in Russia. His 'nuclear column' on the Center for Defense Information website is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in these issues.

(See http://www.cdi.org/program/issue/index.cfm?ProgramID=32&issueid=110.)

In January last year, in his keynote address to the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, the Academy's President, General Mahmut Gareev, commented that Russia needs to rely on its nuclear arsenal given the unfavorable balance of conventional forces in all theaters. He also observed that, due to the deterioration of Russia's space-based observation capabilities, ground-based early warning systems, and offensive weapons, the country's 'ability to launch a strike on warning, much less a second strike is becoming problematic.'

(See http://www.wmdinsights.com/I13/I13_R2_RussianAcademy.htm.)

There are very real Russian fears -- and not in my simply groundless ones -- that American policy has been geared towards exploiting these new vulnerabilities to give the United States effective 'nuclear primacy' -- to quote the title of an important 2006 article in Foreign Affairs by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press.

Claims that missile defence installations in Eastern Europe are intended to defend against Iran are regarded in Moscow as sanctimonious drivel. Their real purpose is seen as to make it possible to neutralise the kind of feeble Russian 'second strike' which could be expected after a successful U.S. first strike. Accordingly, the United States would enjoy effective 'escalation dominance', making the kind of action the Russians have taken in Georgia impossible.

To counter this, it is necessary to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the ground in areas where American allies may be tempted to take military action under the shelter of American power. The logic of the situation, moreover, points towards an adoption of the American emphasis on 'positive control' -- decentralising the ability to launch nuclear weapons, so that even if Russian retaliation following a first-strike was ragged, it would be damaging enough.

But there is however, an obvious and immense difference between the situation in the U.S. and the situation in Russia -- which has to do with the very real strength of criminal groups and also fundamentalists in that country, which is particularly acute in precisely those places where tactical weapons are likely to be stationed: South Ossetia being an obvious example.

Accordingly, the directions in which Russian strategy have been moving are likely very significantly to increase the dangers of nuclear weapons being obtained by criminals and terrorists. But -- as Gareev's address to the Academy illustrates -- the Russians now distrust you (and us) so much that they would rather live with that risk than with the risks associated to being vulnerable to the kind of military action taken against Serbia or Iraq, and threatened against Iran.

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