Don't abandon Georgia to Moscow's 'sphere of influence'
From Friday's Globe and Mail
August 15, 2008 at 7:30 AM EDT
Foolish Georgians for baiting the Russian bear. Silly Americans for egging
Armchair strategists are wagging fingers over the supposed
naiveté of Georgia and its superpower ally over the conflict in the
Caucasus. In this blame-the-victim analysis, Georgian President Mikhail
Saakashvili started the whole thing by attacking separatists in South
Ossetia, giving Russian leader Vladimir Putin the perfect excuse to respond
in force. Washington encouraged the Georgian hothead by pumping him up with
praise and making him think that it would gallop to his aid, while in fact
it has no power at all to help.
The facts are somewhat different. While Mr. Saakashvili blundered at the
start and Washington underestimated the Russians, it is wrong to place the
blame on the Georgians and their American allies. That blame rests squarely
with Moscow, which orchestrated the whole business with the skill of a
It has been clear for months, even years, that Russia was determined to
teach Georgia a lesson. Moscow was unhappy when the birthplace of Stalin
broke away after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and furious when
the enthusiastically pro-American Mr. Saakashvili came to power vowing to
join the Western military alliance, NATO.
To undermine him, Moscow slapped sanctions on Georgia and upgraded ties with
the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As tensions rose, it sent
tanks to the Georgian border, staged a sabre-rattling military exercise on the
border with South Ossetia and started cyber-attacks against Georgia's Internet
system. It was a classic squeeze play, straight out of the old Soviet manual.
Far from urging Mr. Saakashvili to lash back, Washington urgently and
repeatedly urged him to show restraint. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
privately told him he should not get into a fight with Russia that tiny Georgia
could never win. Only when Russian troops were rolling through the Roki tunnel
linking Russia to South Ossetia, says Mr. Saakashvili, did he unleash his own
That was a disastrous mistake, supplying the Russians with the pretext they
needed to launch an all-out assault. But the idea that Georgian aggression
forced Russia to intervene is as absurd as the Nazi claim that Polish aggression
started the Second World War. Indeed, without drawing exaggerated parallels, the
Russian claim to be defending minorities in Georgia has unsettling echoes of the
Nazi claim to be protecting ethnic Germans when it invaded Czechoslovakia. The
claim looks especially thin coming from a country that only recently laid waste
to a minority nationality, the Chechens, who dared to seek independence from
Russia. Death to Free Chechnya! Hail Free South Ossetia!
With Russian jets threatening Georgian skies and Russian armour trundling
along Georgian roads, it should be clear to everyone who the aggressor is here.
The conflict in Georgia was a deliberate, premeditated assault designed to
punish the Saakashvili government and send a message to the West about who rules
the roost in Russia's hinterland.
Yes, Washington's warm backing of Mr. Saakashvili and his bid to join NATO
made Georgia an especially inviting target. But it's been the policy of all
Western governments since the end of the Cold War nearly 20 years ago to
encourage post-Soviet and former East Bloc countries to embrace the democratic
ways and economic freedoms that have worked such wonders in the West.
When the Rose Revolution of 2003 brought Mr. Saakashvili to power, it was
right and natural for the West to embrace him as an example of democratic
evolution. It was equally right and natural for Washington to speak up for
Georgia's territorial integrity when Russia began threatening it. Simply
abandoning Georgia to Moscow's "sphere of influence," as those armchair realists
suggest, would send a signal to democrats from Warsaw to Kiev to Tallinn that
they are on their own against an increasingly aggressive Moscow.
True, Washington can't back Georgia with military might, any more than it
could back Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968. But there are other ways
to respond to Russia's aggression: downgrading political and military ties,
revoking its status as a G8 country, barring it from the World Trade
Organization. Georgia has been a setback, but it's wrong to think the West has
no options for response. It has several, and it should use them.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre in the Globe and mail
Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada) wrote: Who paid
Marcus Gee to write US Propaganda?
Marcus Gee just painted black, white and did a complete spin doctor job that
would have done Gobbles proud, sorry, George Bush proud.
The Georgian invasion was predicted by a financial analyst, the Georgian
president is well know to be as mad as a hatter and a liability. He knew that
the next American administration might just cut him loose or worse still,
provide Georgia with some good reasons as to why Georgia should send him back to
The US has been pumping billions of dollars into Georgia, part in payment for
their sending of 2,000 troops to Iraq and in part to protect their "investment"
or "foreign interest" aka "oil interests".
Marcus Gee's article is so blatantly biased and fake it begs the question as to
how much he was paid and by whom to write the story or that his political
connections force him into the writing of propaganda for the White House.
Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: Mr.
Saakashvili blundered at the start? Marcus Gee refers to the premeditated
genocide of thousands of South Osettians who also choose to hold Russian
Passports as a "blunder"? Marcus Gee then calls Russia the devil incarnate and
the madcap Georgian president as some kind of saintly gift to the west aka
What kind of objectivity / journalism is that?
When I read the major newspapers, many Canadian newspapers have columns on the
genocide in South Osettia that is written by Americans for the American
Lets look at the facts, The mentally ill Georgian president chose five minutes
before the opening of the Olympic Games to launch an barrage on civilians
designed and aimed at residential homes not military targets, HOMES, he killed
thousands of women and children, if children walked outside they got mowed down
with machine guns, they threw grenades into the basements of already shelled
The Russian response has been remarkably restrained. Even when the Arabs
launched a similar preemptive strike against Israel, they did not specifically
target civilians. Israel responded and spectacularly and seized a large amount
of territory to limit Israels enemies from doing it again. Georgia has a long
track record of breaking agreements. Now wonder Russia has sought out those
military supplies and destroyed them.
If you look at the pictures, Georgians are not afraid of Russian troops, quite
the opposite. Speak to real Georgians, with few exceptions, they will tell you
they have a US puppet president who is very obviously hell bent on war and chose
the Olympic games as a diversion for his American sponsored and funded genocidal
Gee, Marcus should apply for a job as a speech writer for the Republicans, only
problem is, by the time the next administration gets into power, they will
probably realize that Bush backed a mad murderer and lost.
Expect the political powers will have the above comments "pulled" as were
several other comments. Amazing the power that Washington has over foreign
Russian News. If you think CNN has the news, think again. Its
polluted and or sanitized by Washington and bears no resemblance to an objective
view of the facts. Unfortunately, too many Canadian and western press take the
lead from Washington and repeat Washington's propaganda. If you really want to
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Russia Today is a cross between CNN BBC National Geographic and the old Radio
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Aljazera in ENGLISH is found on the same Satelite at 11999 Horizontal symbol
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This has got to be the best most objective news channel available in English.
Their standards and quality not just surpass but set an example to the world of
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The best Russian Channels are in Russian. RTR Planetta (not free) and Chanel One
(not free) are the best you can get in Russian language. I only wish they
offered subtitles in English. If you like Russian culture, Ch One is probably
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Russian TV is very obviously state sponsored with no expense spared that results
in a quality that you just don't see on western TV. Its a pity we just don't see
any with English subtitles on western TV. www.OttawaMensCentre.com