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13 August 2008


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This just in from Haaretz
U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for attack on Iran nuclear facilities
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

"The Americans viewed the request, which was transmitted (and rejected) at the highest level, as a sign that Israel is in the advanced stages of preparations to attack Iran. They therefore warned Israel against attacking, saying such a strike would undermine American interests. They also demanded that Israel give them prior notice if it nevertheless decided to strike Iran.
"U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen both visited here in June and, according to the Washington Post, told senior Israeli defense officials that Iran is still far from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran would undermine American interests. Therefore, they said, the U.S. would not allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraq en route to Iran."



And then McCain opens his mouth and proclaims "We're all Georgians now." Helpful, very helpful

knut royce

You are not human, Pat. You keep making sense.


Makes too much sense, Pat :)

Why should there be NATO any longer? It seems to have lived its useful shelf life.

Why not a real alliance with Russia? A similar partnership to what we have with the EU countries and Japan. They have a lot to offer us both politically and strategically. We can both then re-orient (aka shrink) our military spending away from large strategic nuclear forces to more conventional and rapid response forces for regional threats to stability. The Russians are now less focused on ideology and for all intents and purposes part of the western "system". We can possibly work with them on a range of natural resource, space and other projects and reduce instability in global affairs.

Why can't we move beyond Cold War mentality into a new era of cooperation and partnership with these guys? We need time to get our house in order and re-build. We can't afford more bluster!


I don't quite see why a renascent Russia flush with petromoney, and with the promise of much more to come, would agree to the deal you suggest, Colonel. Now that they become capitalist they face the same geographical imperative that we have - they must expand, and the logical place for that is through the former states of the USSR and border states like Iran.

Orwell got it right when he said the British Empire was always a money making concern. Without an ideology to export, the emerging capitalist empire of Russian will be forced to look for new markets the same way everyone else does.



NATO-OTAN has undermined its own crediblity with Russia, as NATO-OTAN reneged on their gentleman's agreement that they made with Russia right after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.

It's no wonder that Russia does not 'trust' NATO-OTAN let alone our forked-tongue D.C.. Both have a dismal track-record of honoring their given word.

IMO NATO-OTAN has outlived its usefulness and needs to be disbanded, but that's my 'opinion'.



i like the phrase 'we're all ossetians' a whole lot better.

when you blow up a barracks with russian peacekeepers in it like the georgians did, and then proceed to bomb and shoot up unarmed south ossetian civilian enclaves and their homes, hospitals, and universities, such 'actions' tends to set in motion 'paybacks'. georgia going up against russia is like an ant trying to go up against an ant-eater.


We are now fully inside the georgian conflict. Just waiting for a GI to get shot then officially we are at war with Russia.

At best now we are propping Saakashvili regime with a very broken georgian economy.

Worst. we are going to have a stand off ala South/North Korea with ever increasing troop in there.

And the russian is going to have serious war gaming party in such mountain region.

Then sooner or later the whole thing will spill over to Iraq by way of armenia-Iran.

I think this will be Bush biggest legacy. Iraq will look like a minor mistake compared to re-igniting cold war.


Mr Bush said the US was launching a "vigorous and ongoing" humanitarian mission.

A C-17 aircraft with humanitarian supplies was already on its way to Georgia, and in the following days the US would use military aircraft and naval forces to deliver humanitarian and medical supplies, Mr Bush said.

US Officials to Deliever Aids

B. BBC report: Saakashvil press release that the US troop in Georgia is a turning point and that they will control the "ports and airport". Immediately US GOV. countered this message from Saakashvil that it will not take over ports and airports at all, just deliver aid. Then Saakashvil reinterates his statement. Watch out for this guy.

Duncan Kinder

Dmitry Orlov in Reinventing Collapse asserts that today's United States is on the verge of collapse much as the Soviet Union had been in the 1980's.

Dmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He was an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late eighties and mid-nineties

To the extent that, like Orlov, other Russians view the United States as an overstated empire on the verge of a Soviet-style collapse, then they are apt to view NATO expansion as more of a tactical problem than as a strategic threat.

If so, they might agree to Col.Lang's deal, but only as a palliative - so they could consolidate their present position and prepare for future events.


The next president needs to end the useless, expensive, and needlessly provocative missile defense "shield." It will never be robust enough to stop a Russian strike, it will just prompt the Russians to build more missiles. We need to allow their stockpile to degrade naturally over time, not provoke them into modernizing it.

The thing has always been a pipedream and Clinton should have ended it when he had the chance.


A German (my more or less informed) voice:

- we don't need NATO. It is by now a tool for U.S. imperialism and no longer in any (western) European interest

- we can set up a European (Carolingian plus boarder countries) common defense based on respect of sovereignty (Westphalian Peace - didn't we learn the very bloody lessons that led to that?) and common defense against real physical threats

- we will align with those who allow us mutual vital profitable relations (like Russia currently does)

- we may align with those who offer us mutual conditional profitable relations (China, U.S., etc.)

- we will be annoyed and may work against those who don't fit the above

- we will fight economically and cultural (NOT militarily) against those who try to counter the above principles

- you really want to screw us? Take that (nuke).

That is the European constellation that is evolving right now. Vote McCain and that is what you will get within 4 years, vote Obama and you will get it within 8 years.


"The Deal: No expansion of NATO on the borders of Russia in return for a commitment on the part of Russia that there will be no further introduction of Russian Republic forces or "volunteers" into former parts of the USSR that are now independent." - so pl

Sensible and obvious surely. Perhaps the only positive course of action that could give the US a sense that it has some power to influence and control the Russians. But is the present administration capable of imagining and proposing such a deal? Would it not interpret any such proposals as nothing more than "appeasement". Far preferable to shout and bluster great (and utterly empty) threats of the dire (and indefinable) consequences that (they wish to imagine)will cascade crushingly down upon the hapless Russians? Shakespeare nicely summarised the words of President Bush and Secretary Gates: "a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (the Scotch play) and "I will have such revenges on you.....that all the world shall - I will do such things, - what they are I yet know not, - but they shall be the terrors of the earth....." (King Lear)


Hit the nail on the head. I thought the NATO expansion under Clinton was problematic. Under Bush it really did get in-your-face. The Russians are extremely sensitive about being treated subserviently -- the American attitude of "we'll fish in your territory and you can't do anything about it" was going to be answered. I think NATO's in a bind now and has to back up on its expansion, or maybe what it means to be in NATO. I have no idea how that is to happen. Putin has a lot of other ways of causing mischief in the near abroad. The problem is that Russia also has a bullying streak (the flip side of its fear of humiliation) and will likely want acceptance of some right of interference in Georgia's affairs. Then they may start feeling the same about the Baltic states. They always seem to have a hard time finding equilibrium on these issues. Hopefully, their slam dunk on Georgia, combined with some effective diplomacy from Europe and the U.S. (yeah, right) will mollify them. Overall, they want integration in the world community. I'd end this post with the usual wailing about what Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons have wrought, but with we've heard so many times before and oh lord it's old.


Sir, while I agree with you in principle, I think Mr. Putin will wish to put Ukraina in its place as well before the hard-ball days are over. That is unless he gets a package that is so much more lucrative that he can not say no.

One idea I have tried to push over here in Norway is to get some ideas for a northern cooperationgroup going: Japan, Canada and the Scandinavian countries offering to build economic zones in the harder parts of Russia, using subsidies to create viable production-factories that would create zones of economic activity. SInce these countries, with the possible exception of Japan, have no place in the russian culture of paranoia, this could be a viable leverage packet since the russian achilles heel is its lack of basic production for the world market.

I think at least that is the way to think if we want to engage Russia instead of confronting them. I do not think any western leader wishes to get into a staring contest with mr. Putin, he is one tough mother. (The looks on his face as he has been serenading mr. Bush the last years, lol. Looks like he visualizes a sharp chop to the kidneys every time there is a photo-op...)

Dave of Maryland

The Deal: No expansion of NATO on the borders of Russia in return for a commitment on the part of Russia that there will be no further introduction of Russian Republic forces or "volunteers" into former parts of the USSR that are now independent.

So what to do with the millions of Russian passport holders stranded in the former Soviets? What if the US, in a moment of economic & political crisis, lost the southwestern states? Which became independent & subsequently allied with Fidel's Castro & Chavez's Venezuela? What would Washington do about the non-Hispanic, English-speaking populations left behind in the former states of California, Arizona, New Mexico & Texas?

No such easy solutions.


Did McCain's senior foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, put Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili up to provoking Russia?


Well, Russia has moved beyond ideology but we haven't, not with our neo-con crazies and the sort of power they have---and the "Return of Russia!" (scary music here) is an old tune they simply LOVE to play!

The US is a militarist operation whose major industries require massive government funds to keep profits flowing. And this payment requires political "reasons", however dubious, for the militarism and massive "defense" spending.

So "deals" are definitely not an attractive proposition.

The neocons ran the US militarism show almost entirely on the "War on Terror" and Evil Arabs for a decade, and man do they want to have their beloved Authoritarian Russian Bear back prowling the back lots and garbage dumps....voila, here he is!!

Patrick Lang


Sorry, but justice seeking in international relations is the road to war. pl

João Carlos

Mikhail Saakashvili: "The commitment by US President George W. Bush to send assistance to Georgia means that US troops will take control of Georgian air and sea ports"

I really fear that some mistake happens and US troops get killed by russian troops or vice-versa... and the THING get out control.

Rice too is not helping. It is not time for bravatto, but diplomacy.


If George Bush was a professional football or basketball player, he’d be one of those marginal players who “taunt” opponents with his mouth rather than with his ability. The bluster about Georgia is taunting on a grand scale.

McCain is the same. Any tough sounding rhetoric that flows through his shrunken brain comes out of his mouth. He is perhaps more dangerous than Bush because a lot of people actually take his words to heart. He’s a “military hero”, after all. Except for Olberman and Froomkin of the WaPo, the main stream media has done little to present a balanced background surrounding both sides of the story in Georgia.

I spent a lot of time in Russia (working on Nunn-Lugar programs) and it was (and still is) my sense that one trifles with the Russian military at their peril. NATO membership for former Soviet states and ABM-type systems in Russia’s backyard is taunting thus foolhardy and dangerous. In my working days (80s and 90s) with the DOD, NATO was perceived by many in the military as a joke. NATO member nations are showing their contempt for years of American lip-service with token representation in Afghanistan.

We are indeed sliding down that slippery pole. Given the grim state of the economy, the last thing we need is another military adventure. I can’t wait to see and hear the fairy tales Cornholio Lieberman and Cornpone Graham recite to the Georgians.


The small states around Russia, China, India will always feel threatened. Even if they aren't actually threatened, it generally works for politicians of those small states to compete with each other on nationalism.

So that the world can concentrate on alleviating poverty, and fixing environmental problems, a general pattern of institutional arrangements to make everyone feel reasonably secure would be useful (and IMO, merit the Nobel prize for peace).


Oh yeah, here come the Ukrainian part. Yushchenko is definitely gone without his patron saint, Bush.

(anybody has scenario for caucasus already? I got the feeling where everything is heading is obvious and predictable.)


Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree on Wednesday imposing new restrictions on Russia's Black Sea fleet, which is based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

The restrictions included a requirement that the Black Sea fleet seek the permission of Ukraine's armed forces at least 72 hours prior to ships or aircraft crossing the Ukrainian border, said the decree.

If Russia does not fulfill the new requirements, Ukraine may demand that naval ships and aircraft of the Black Sea fleet leave Ukraine's territory immediately, according to the decree.

The move ratcheted up tensions between Russia and Ukraine, which has given political support to Tbilisi during Russia's military conflict with Georgia.

However, the Ukrainian president's decree will not apply to the ships of the Black Sea Fleet currently off the coast of Georgia.

"It is not a retroactive act. Therefore, no legal grounds unfortunately exist today to demand a liability from the Black Sea Fleet crews," First Deputy presidential chief of staff Oleksandr Shlapak said at a press briefing in Kiev on Wednesday.


Col Lang,
I absolutely agree that your compromise seems the best approach. That means, of course, that it will NOT be followed by this admin. So much propaganda being spewed by the usual suspects on the Russia-Georgia conflict and the eagerness by the admin to get involved - "humanitarian aid" being airlifted as we speak. US advisors still in Georgia?! McCain and the aids he shares with the Georgian gov are clearly itching for the US to go after Russia.

Was it you that described this whole fiasco as a "Guns of August" moment? Yes, yes, it has that potential.

Oh, and I love that Condi is flying first to Paris to confer with Sarkozy and then to Georgia. I thought she was a Russian expert. Why then no negotiating with Russia at all (a template of US/Iran policy?) Others (ie. the Europeans) running the show on this? Of course the Isrealis are also knee deep.

Mark  Logan

On CSpan today (Aug 13th):

The AEI gave their take on things. Fred Kagans military
analysis is worth watching for the irony, if nothing else. Ralph Peters had
a memorable quote: "Russia
is a land of drink sodden barbarians that occasionally
pukes up a genius...Putin."

For them, happy days are here again.

Let's hope the next administration has better councilors.

ta ruane

Good idea. The knee-jerk reaction (see The Wash Post editorial on the Russian intrusion into Georgia) is to vilify Russia. While Putin an Co. are by no means squeaky clean, understanding their psyche and where the old Rusks are coming from is the harder but stronger route.
We dissed Germany after WW I, and look where that got us. Even the Russians deserve common, decent respect.

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