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27 August 2008


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I know that I find picking a fight over a boundary that Uncle Joe drew to be a bit much, even if Moscow went way over the top with this.

While there are legitimate issues involved here one does have to wonder Colonel if the main point from the neo-con noise machine isn't to give John McCain a bloody shirt to wave. That Obama chose Biden as his running mate suggests this is the case, and that the correct response was made.

I'm more optimistic about Obama's chances then you are but for McCain the Russians being beastly is the next best thing to an airplane being flown into a building the week before the election, though only if the media runs with it.


Are the two great powers really going to carry their quarrel over this to the brink of war? Are we really going to do that?

I asked Karl Rove the same question and he answered:

"If it gets McCain elected you can bet we will ..."


There was a post sometime ago quoting Thucydides. Amongst the many words, which are some of the most profound I have ever read (and yes that only points to the paucity of my reading) was the sentence:

"in the discussion of human affairs the question of justice only enters where there is equal power to enforce it, and that the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must"

The Georgia affair is the culmination IMHO, of eight years of sorry mismangement of foreign policy by the Bush administration.

For nearly a century, the US has been able to influence and mould the global stage on the basis of projection of power.

For the Neo-Cons that wasn't enough. The Project for the New American Century, a blueprint for putting boots on the ground of nearly every nation on the planet has led to what?

Groups and nations opposed to US hegemony of the world have gone from strength to strength. The US is constantly sidelined and ignored, even by its allies and now Russia has decided that if every one else can thumb their nose at the US, by God, it can. And since the West did such a good job of rubbing Russia's nose in the former Yugoslavia, they will be enjoying this no end at all.

So the time for the US to "exact what it can" and for the weak to "grant what they must" seems to be over.

The time when you could only claim fair treatment and/or independence on the world stage depended entirely on your accepting Western domination is over.

The weak are either getting strong or getting brave enough to make alliances with those that are strong.

Perhaps, after eight long years, hundreds of thousands of innocent deaths, trillions wasted and lives destroyed, we, that is we who believe in a fair and just world, will actually have reason to say to GW Bush, Mr President, we thank you.


Abkhazia will be a country if they can maintain their territorial integrity, govern themselves in some fashion and persist over time. Circumstances do not seem favorable.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. Of course it is a country measured by contemporary standards. Looks like it has good tourism potential from the beaches and palm trees I saw on TV; nice mountains, maybe some good hunting and fishing. When things settle down I look to some vacation time there, little sun and surf, brush up the Russian...

Abkhazia has a population of about 160-190,000 with a landmass of some 2,156 square miles.

Compare with European countries such as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino country with a population of about 30,000 and a land mass of 23.5 square miles.

Compare with the Principality of Liechtenstein with about 35,000 people in a landmass of 62 sqaure miles.

Compare with the Principality of Monaco with a population of about 33,000 in a landmass of under one square mile (.76).

Luxemburg has about 998 square miles.

Bahrain is 253 square miles.

Barbados is 167 square miles.

Consult the following list of "Small Countries" and Enclaves:

2. Gavrilo P. Shakashvili as leader of the Duchy of Gran Fenwick. Instead of attacking the US, he attacks Abkhazia-Ossetia and Russia and gets an alliance with the US and NATO...what would Peter Sellers think of this "mouse that roared"?

3. IMO, for the United States, the Caucasus (not to mention the Balkans or Ukraine) aren't worth "the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier" so to speak. Or North Dakotan, or Californian, or Virginian...

Brzezinski's phantasmagoric "Grand Chessboard" geopolitical narcissism with is obsessions with Poland, Ukraine, Georgia and its Russophobia is BS. I hope Obama, not to mention the US foreign policy elite, will dispense with it. But I am not counting on it.

Definition: phan·tas·ma·go·ri·a (fn-tzm-gôr-, -gr-) also phan·tas·ma·go·ry (fn-tzm-gôr, -gr)
n. pl. phan·tas·ma·go·ri·as also phan·tas·ma·go·ries
a. A fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as seen in dreams or fever.
b. A constantly changing scene composed of numerous elements.
2. Fantastic imagery as represented in art"

Ah yes, "dreams or fever"...

Buzz G

To me the question is not if "we" are really going to do that, it is if "they" are really going to do that. "They" being the NeoCons who control our foreign policy and their allies who profit from these policies.
For the NeoCons (and friends) war, any war, means profits, the consolidation of domestic power and possibly the extension of their foreign power and future profits.
They benefit, the rest of the country pays the price.
Do you think William Kristol is willing to die to defend his country? To bring democracy to Iraq? To free the Georgians?


"Are the two great powers really going to carry their quarrel over this to the brink of war? Are we really going to do that?"

Thirst for natural resources has been known to adle the brains of national leaders. The US has already wasted more than a trillion dollars trying to control Iraq's oil and potential pipeline routes from Central Asia via Afghanistan. Now Russia has cast its first vote on Central Asian oil.

Neither the US nor Europe is yet desperate for this oil. What will happen when they get desperate?

Patrick Lang


You quote the Melian Dialogue, but you knew that. pl


Interestingly, Russia has gone East and is talking with China about recognition of South Osentia and Abkhazia.

Also for all the chest beating from the US, they decided not to steam into Poti and instead put the cutter Dallas into a more southern port.

Is there a reason that the USCG is in the Black Sea?

Clifford Kiracofe

Sorry about typo for Abkhazia landmass. Need another cup of coffee. Per Wiki, it is 3,256 square miles or 8,432 sq. km.


"... well-defined borders, a well-established central authority and a populace that strongly desires secession ...."

Doesn't intellectual honesty require adherents of this formulation to say that Lincoln ought to have let the Confederate States secede then, and condemn the result of the consequent war?

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just as a matter of logic....

Population about nine million if I recall, with about 2/3 of same being white and "strongly desiring secession," no?

"What makes the situations murky is each superpower tries to exploit ad hoc situations...."

As do others who want to fuzz this formulation or, even more typically, avoid stating any principle at all. For instance, per Lukes', while Abkhazia would clearly qualify, Ossetia probably wouldn't, nor would various chunks of Ukraine that Russia apparently covets, including (albeit to a lesser degree) the Crimea. (Although it would still seem to somewhat violate common principle in recognizing it as Russian while it's geographically severed entirely from Russia otherwise.)

If force majeur is to be condemned when used by states to restrain regions which have whatever we regard as *valid* breakaway aspirations, it's then equally to be condemned in others attempting to obtain those breakaway regions which *don't* have such aspirations.

Otherwise the formulation becomes ... "I don't believe in force majeur except when someone I like employs it or when someone I don't like is hurt by it."



"Do you think William Kristol is willing to die to defend his country?"


Man, you bring to mind one of my enduring fantasies from the last eight years. In my mind's eye, I see a flimsy pickup truck, bouncing into a restive urban setting - Shia, Sunni who cares? - and sitting on the bed sweating profusely in oven blast Iraqi summer heat made worse by the hand-me-down Vietnam era body armor sit Billy Kristol, Lard Ass Kagan (and any of his like minded namesakes/relatives), Richard Perl, any other sundry neocons and - dare I suggest it? - some of our even more exhalted "leaders". If I had time and photoshop skill, I'd doctor up a photo. Sadly, that's as close to their handiwork as any of these sorry excuses will ever get.



Yes, but I only know it thanks to you.



Abkhazia is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), an organization based in The Hague that has already seen prior members Kosovo, Palau, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Armenia, and East Timor achieve independence. UNPO's web site states: "Abkhazian Statehood stretches over 12 centuries of history. For centuries the people of Abkhazia have had to struggle to preserve their independence. Since the start of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the people of Abkhazia have intensified their struggle for their lost State independence. The adoption on 25th August 1990 of the 'Declaration of State Sovereignty' by the Supreme Council of Abkhazia was a first step to its restoration. The disruption of state-legal relations between Abkhazia and Georgia initiated by the Georgian authorities and the subsequent Abkhazo-Georgian war of 1992-1993 resulted in the independence of Abkhazia both de facto and de jure."


Leila Abu-Saba

This place always educates me on the really important matters. I am now going to look up the Melian Dialogue, thank you Mo and Col. Lang. The quote makes me think of the Palestinians...

I'm reading a novel set in Nigeria/Biafra during the 1960s - my writing group is reading it together, it's sort of an assignment. I knew nothing of Biafra before this. Nor did I understand the nature of the Nigerian state - two disparate regions forced into a union for political motives by the British. Sounds like Iraq...

Massacres, rebellion, ethnic cleansing, corruption, miserable post-colonial mess. It does seem that the nation-state is the dysfunctional unit and the tribes would all be better off retreating to their own, tiny, autonomous areas, and working out how to cooperate in the cities which attract mixed groups. The parallel to Lebanon is instructive. Israel too. Georgia?

The issue of large federal union encompassing many states and many smaller ethnic and religious minorities applies to our own situation here, as well as many other places in the world. We also have our problems with competing regions and ethnic groups. I mean, California is not going to be happy if a few "undecided" voters in Ohio give us McCain for president.


If this were really about the rights of people to be self-governed then Russia would immediately recognize independent states in Chechnya and Dagestan who absolutely hate Russia, have seperate ethnic identities, and strong central leadership and structures (at least until Russia blew them all up).

Clifford Kiracofe


I met General Ojukwu some years back and we had some most interesting exchanges of view. Fascinating man. The Ibo had a good point... and the oil.


1. Meanwhile,

"Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, warned that any NATO attack on the Moscow-backed regions would "mean a declaration of war on Russia," in an interview with Russian newspaper Vremya Novostei."

2. Anent the buildup in the Black Sea, always a sensitive issue for Russia, what about the present status of the Montreux Convention of 1936?

3. SCO meeting in Dushanbe.

4. MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - A senior Russian military analyst said on Wednesday that the U.S. and NATO by arming Tbilisi used the conflict in Georgia as a dress rehearsal for a future military operation in Iran.

Col. Gen Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Studies, told a news conference at RIA Novosti, "We are close to a serious conflict - U.S. and NATO preparations on a strategic scale are ongoing. In the operation the West conducted on Georgian soil against Russia - South Ossetians were the victims or hostages of it - we can see a rehearsal for an attack on Iran. There is a great deal of "new features" that today are being fine tuned in the theater of military operations."

He said the likelihood of a war against Iran was growing with each passing day, "As a result, the situation in the region will become destabilized," and added "causing chaos and instability" was becoming Washington's official policy line.

Ivashov said it was difficult to predict how other countries would react to a conflict with Iran, but according to him, "old Europe" would be reluctant for events to develop and to some degree would become Russia's allies.

With regard to the Georgia-South Ossetian conflict, he said that one of the principal goals of NATO's "geopolitical operation" was to neutralize Russia as a global player."

Of course, we can all be comforted because Cindy McCain, the "swank" (?)globe trotting beer baroness, is holding Gavrilo P. Saakashvili's hand this week. But can she keep him from eating his tie on TV again? That stress thing....

David Habakkuk,

Just what are Miliband, Cameron, and all of that ilk smoking these days? A flighty lot.


"How horrible, fantastic it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing." Neville Chamberlain, 1938.

The Sudeten Germans undoubtedly aspired to unity with the rest of the German Volk and incorporation of their lands into the neighbouring territory of the Thousand Year Reich. Near one million Britons and a million and a half Frenchmen had died in the Great War that ended only twenty years before Munich, and it was this horror of the immense bloodletting in the mud of the trenches that led Chamberlain to insist that Czechoslovakia cede territory to Germany. History has judged this to be a foolish and craven surrender and left us the "A" word - appeasement - forever to be used as a weapon with which to bludgeon those who would look to diplomacy rather than armed conflict to solve any problem of confrontation between the great powers. Personally, I fully agree with Col. Lang's incredulity that war might be contemplated over the issue of the slivers of land bordering on Georgia and Russia; the west - or perhaps, more accurately, the US - has foolishly and arrogantly encroached upon Russia's security and dignity and encouraged the fool Saakashvili to headstrong and dangerous acts of aggression. I am, however, uncomfortably aware of the echo of Chamberlain's words quoted above in what Col. Lang states: "Georgian rule is unwelcome in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The majority of people in those regions are not Georgians." and asks "Are the two great powers really going to carry their quarrel over this to the brink of war?" The bellophiles will accuse those who would avoid armed conflict with Russia over Abkhazia and Ossetia with the A word. How do we rebut those charges?

robt willmann

Quoted above is that splendid passage from the Declaration of Independence.

Since a government claiming a State is a mandatory monopoly over a particular geographical area, force often does come into play, since monopolists do not like competition (neither do oligopolists and oligarchies).

Professor Igor Lukes says that "international law" has "clear standards" for evaluating whether an independence movement should be recognized, including "well-defined borders".

Leila Abu-Saba says that the quote about force in the Melian Dialogue makes her think of the Palestinians. I agree.

But there's more. Professor Lukes makes me think of the Israeli government which, it seems, has never declared the borders of Israel (it also apparently has no constitution).

This raises the fun question: should Israel be "recognized" by "international law" if it has never declared its borders?


Related to topic, here come the loan shark. Georgia will be forever in IMF debt now.


The International Monetary Fund is considering lending Georgia $750 million to help buoy investor confidence after Russia's invasion, according to a fund official involved in the negotiations.

Georgia is dependent on foreign capital to finance its trade deficit, raising concern that the country's economy may suffer if overseas investment slows. The IMF sent a mission to the country to assess the damage and the fund's board is likely to consider a loan or credit line soon, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Georgia's trade deficit widened to $2.8 billion in the first seven months of the year as energy costs pushed up the value of imports, from $2.4 billion in June, the Tbilisi-based statistics department said Aug. 22.


And they want to sell tanks and fighters to Georgia. Who is going to pay? AIPAC?

I don't think the Georgian knows how truly screwed they are now. Zimbabwe style screwed. Forever in debt.

Russia doesn't have to do a thing except lobing explosive down the road every now and then to destroy economic confidence in georgia.

I give Georgian economy 18 months to collapse.


omg. Georgia is beyond screwed....

Georgia's forex was only &1Bm or so with gigantic twin deficits. (this is before the war) And they are asking for $2Billion aids to Washington?

Even Abkhazia can invade Georgia and win a war against Georgia next year.


Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.361 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$4.5 billion (2007)


Col. Lang:

Unreal. Where is 'Mutually Assured Destruction' when you need it?

Froomkin in today's WaPo devotes most of his column to what's happening in Georgia. It's not pretty when one of our Coast Guard vessels is afraid to enter port because the Russians are controlling it.

Regardless, the difficulty with these kinds of inter-nation problems is our inherent need to find a rational if arbitrary basis for their genesis and solution. The Melians tried and look what happened to them.

In our time a world war was ostensibly started because a Serbian nationalist killed an Archduke in Sarajevo of all places.

A second was started because we didn't know how to end the first one.

And a third, also a product of the first, may yet be in the offing.

Clifford Kiracofe

Situation in Caucasus regarding Armenia and Azerbaijan:

"The events of the “five-day war” in South Ossetia demonstrated that countries of the Southern Caucasus largely act according to their own national interests, and not on the assurances of “eternal friendships.” Thus, both Armenia and Azerbaijan behave in a careful and calculated manner, realizing that getting involved in the Russian-Georgian conflict bears a lot of “hidden reefs” which could prove to be more dangerous than the status-quo that is so despised by Baku and so cherished by Yerevan."...

John Howley

(1) Georgia is not far from Iran. Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan EACH have borders with BOTH countries.

(2) Klare, in his 2008 book Rising Powers, put the Caspian at the top of his list of petroleum hotspots. Klare cites Georgia and Kyrgyzstan as being of special interest because they are among the few (only?) countries where active-duty Russian and US military units were stationed within the same boundaries. (That didn't happen in the Cold War I don't think.) Increases potential for mischief and/or miscalculation.

(3) The News Hour had an interesting segment on Abkhazia...sent a correspondent there who found some that spoke English:


And that's not the good part -- if Georgia accepts the IMF 'loan' of $750 Million, they'll be 'forever in debit' to the IMF vampire club.


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