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Russia expands Georgia blitz, deploys ships

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Interesting dilemma for those on the left, do they dare criticize their beloved Moscow for attacking a helpless country?

Nice timing anyway. This can't make the Chinese very happy as this surely detracts from the peace and goodwill the Olympics is supposed to usher in around the world. And it certainly must be a cause of consternation for the west, as it was looking like the price of oil was finally coming down.

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So your claiming that Russia is after a world war? That is a bit of a long one there. How about this one, Russia attacked an ally of America. America has asked Russia to halt their attacks. Next we will see what happens.

I wonder what the official Chinese stance is, reddragonguy can you find out and get back to us. I would really like to know how the Chinese government feels about Russia making this play while their games are happening.

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What do you expect from the ultimate opportunists?...

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I'm afraid a nuclear bomb is going to obliterate Moscow if this goes on much longer.

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Georgia needs to stop their offensive. They are outgunned vs. Russia and entering into a military conflict isn't going to get the results they want.

If the people of South Ossetia want to be on their own then let them. With or without Russian interference I don't think Georgia is really going to enjoy much control over the region. Add Russian brutality to the mix and controlling the region just got more expensive for the Georgians. What do they hope to gain?

Russia obviously was looking for a reason to turn this into a full conflict and that's what they're doing now. Georgie needs to continue their alliance with the US, build up their army and technology, and defend parts of their country that they can reasonable hope to control. Right now it looks like they're going to war against a much larger army for a piece of land that they couldn't have hoped to control in the first place. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Russia is obviously out of line with their response. I'm betting that claims of genocide and ethnic cleansing will prove to be imaginary. Protecting Russians? Sure. I guess they do that when they aren't killing them with radiation poisoning in the UK. Obviously they are using the situation as a way to punish Georgia. They manufactured a position and now they're attacking from it. But the Russian tanks and troops are there already and attacking them isn't going to get Georgia what it wants.

Let South Ossetia go and move on with your future. If they don't want to be under Russia's flag then let them fight with Russia. You can always arm and fund the separatists... ;)

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VOR: Interesting dilemma for those on the left, do they dare criticize their beloved Moscow for attacking a helpless country?

I think they're mostly struggling with the fact that there's a conflict that they can't blame on the US. Almost every major world event is defined through criticism of American's involvement in the event, and without the ability to do that they're probably going to struggle to say much of anything here.

You can see their initial responses in the first thread. Proxy asked if this has anything to do with American weapons. Sushi and a few others are trying to bring Iraq into the discussion. Sez is loosely comparing Russia to America, then criticizing America, which I guess is a back door way of criticizing Russia through the standard filter of America.

We'll see how they do in the coming days. So far nothing really seems to be sticking. They need more time to read the opinions of the more famous anti-Americans then they can start to reproduce them here.

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They might get parts of Georgia, but wait until they try moving into Florida. People there are armed to the teeth!

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SuperLib: I tip my hat to you for two well thought out posts.

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My strategy for Georgia would have been not to piss of Russia and give them any excuse, no matter how flimsy. Too late now though. However they could have solved their problem by deporting any Georgian citizen that took Russian citizenship as is the case in South Ossetia.

It would have looked ugly internationally, but a war with Russia would have been avoided with no seperatists left in the country to cause this conflict in the first place.

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Sarge - "I'm afraid a nuclear bomb is going to obliterate Moscow if this goes on much longer."

Are you kidding?

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Superlib - "Almost every major world event is defined through criticism of American's involvement in the event, and without the ability to do that they're probably going to struggle to say much of anything here.

You can see their initial responses in the first thread. Proxy asked if this has anything to do with American weapons. Sushi and a few others are trying to bring Iraq into the discussion."

Rubbish. This is my first post on the topic.

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New reports are saying that Georgia has pulled all of its troops out of South Ossetia. We'll have to see how long Russia continues its attack. Hopefully not much longer.

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I think the Chinese govt. will be watching this situation with extreme interest because this - an attack - is what they would dearly love to do to Taiwan to bring that country back into the Chinese fold.

The Russians also want to bring a breakaway state back into the fold, but they have taken the extra - and very dangerouus step, in my view, of actually launching an attack.

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SuperLib at 09:23 PM JST - <-- very good post.

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Allow me to quote from "superlib"; "Russia obviously was looking for a reason to turn this into a full conflict" I agree. And my original question is still valid; Does this, the Russian response; have anything to do with American weapons being deployed in Georgia? I would hazard a guess that the Russian response may seem a bit overboard exactly because they want to punish Georgia for bringing in both American military advisers and American weapons. That is NOT A DIG AT THE US. Why do you thing Russia was looking for a reason to turn this into a full conflict?

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SuperLib,

"Sez" hasn't even posted here, except for this. I do hope you get over your Sez Derangement Syndrome soon.

When I did post on this conflict under another thread, I didn't compare America to Russia, loosely or otherwise. I asked the question about the extent to which the Russian action was calculated as possible based on what had happened in Kosovo. And I directly compared Bush's statement about a dangerous expansion of the conflict far away from the zone of conflict with his decision to expand the war on terrorism outside Afghanistan. I don't mind if you disagree, but don't make stuff up.

However, I agree with most of your prior post. I'm not so sure that Georgia should continue to seek an American alliance and I'm not so sure that we should have been so quick to form one. In so doing we have courted trouble. Unless we are willing to rush to the aid of an ally, a continued conflict will make us look weaker--if not make us actually weaker. I also think there is a bit of spiteful cynicism involved your comparison of the radiation death of a former Russian agent in the UK with the defense of Russian citizens in Tskhinvali. It seems to me that you often like to criticize people for gratuitous comparisons, but perhaps one person's pertinence is another' impertinence.

I don't think there are many good guys, but I would like the US to be one. However, calling for an immediate ceasefire here while allowing the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon to drag on unimpeded just strikes me as being horribly two-faced. I'm sure that people will have reasons why it is not, but I would hope they amount to something superior to "we like these guys but we don't like those guys".

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The Russian warplanes also struck near the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline which carries Caspian crude to the West, but no supply interruptions have been reported.

Odd how the usual suspects have no conspiracy theories after reading this.

Oil prices drop, the press say the bubble is over, and Russia invades Georgia...

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If the Russians bring Georgia "back into the fold", I wonder where they will attack next? China is watching this as well to "reclaim" Taiwan and perhaps even more. It would seem like the cold war and maybe a hot war is on its way. It would seem that the Russians are reverting back to being Soviets.

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China is watching this as well to "reclaim" Taiwan and perhaps even more.

There's no need to "reclaim" Taiwan when the PRC has the parts it needs, namely its savings and brains (both of which have migrated across the Strait), depleting the island's economy of investment and human capital.

I doubt the Russians want to reincorporate Georgia into the USSR. They simply want to "teach it a lesson." Azerbaijan has a close bilateral relationship with the USA but it's premised on energy security (oil) and lacks a military component (and hence poses less of a threat to Moscow).

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This is going to escalate into real trouble.

And we haven't been an example of diplomancy this past few years. We've shown just how easy it is to attack and justify it with gibberish.

george bush and Putin enjoying the Olympics while 2000 troops are being rushed home from Iraq and 1000 US troops are in Georgia teaching them how to fight against Russians.

This could potentially be a real problem. < :-)

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SezWho: I asked the question about the extent to which the Russian action was calculated as possible based on what had happened in Kosovo.

I was reading BBC.com tonight and they mentioned Kosovo as a thorn in Russia's side now. They were supposedly fighting to keep the area under one government, now they're supporting a different government trying to break away. What they gain in Georgia they might lose in Kosovo.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7552323.stm

The basic thrust is that the previous status quo might have been easier for Russia. They could still manipulate the region but do it from behind a wall with little no to negative consequences to themselves. Now that they're taken a position they've created responsibilities that they'll have to manage.

The article was written before the news of the Ukrane possibly denying Russian ships the right to use their ports. Again, more headaches for Russia.

In the end the capital of South Ossetia will be destroyed, the Georgians will have members of their military killed in a useless battle, and Russia will have their own black eye on the world stage to deal with. Looks like everyone will be a loser in this one.

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SezWho: I'm not so sure that Georgia should continue to seek an American alliance and I'm not so sure that we should have been so quick to form one. In so doing we have courted trouble. Unless we are willing to rush to the aid of an ally, a continued conflict will make us look weaker--if not make us actually weaker.

It can be spun a million ways. For the US to ignore Georgia because we're worried about Russia could be presented as the US looking weak as well.

Besides, Georgia's problem wasn't that they aligned themselves with the US. The problem was that they started shelling Russian soldiers. I can't imagine Georgia tried to start a war with Russia thinking the US would start WWIII, I'm guessing they probably thought they could get away with it in the end. Looks like they were wrong.

I know you like to speak about "sphere of influence" but unless you can come up with some concrete benefits to aligning themselves with Russia then I don't see how you can really sell the point to Georgia. They're the ones you need to convince. What would you say to them?

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Bush has to tell Russia to sort out these problems peacefully. The Russians and Georgians have a lot of respect for the current administration. Peace is a reality in this region, with US intervention.

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European soft power will sort this one out. No worries. Or else the UN will have to step in. I doubt Russia wants that kind of muscle coming down on them.

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The Russians and Georgians have a lot of respect for the current administration.

The problem is they have no respect for each other:

The hostilities between Russia and Georgia that erupted on Friday over the breakaway province of South Ossetia look, in retrospect, almost absurdly over-determined....

Talking to the Georgians about Abkhazia, and the Abkhaz about Georgia, was like shuttling between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Georgians said that they were “always there,” that Abkhazia was a Georgian kingdom, and that only by expelling the ethnic Georgians at the end of the war did the Abkhaz make themselves a majority in the province. The Abkhaz said that they are the descendants of a “1,000-year-old kingdom,” that they were the victims of a massive campaign of Russian deportation in the 1860s, and then that Stalin forced them into the Georgian yoke. The Abkhaz talk about the Georgians pretty much the same way that the Georgians talk about the Russians. On that point, the Abkhaz share much with the South Ossetians. For them, as for the Ossetians, Georgia is the neighborhood bully.

It’s a pretty safe bet that Georgia and Abkhazia will not resolve their conflict on their own. Both breakaway regions are quite willing to live with the Russian-enforced status quo, but even relatively moderate Georgian officials consider that status quo utterly unacceptable. When I asked Temuri Yacobashvili, a cultivated man who is one of the country’s leading art patrons, why Georgia couldn’t focus on the threat from Russia and let the Abkhaz have their de facto state, he said, “These are not two different things, because it’s not amputating hand, it’s amputating head, or heart. No Georgian president could survive if he gave up on Abkhazia.” And, he added, “if the international community by its inaction will not leave any other option for Georgia, then we have to make decision.”

If the West, that is, won’t induce Russia to stop using the border region as a pawn, Georgia will be left with no choice save war. And how will the West do that? Mr. Saakashvili suggests sanctions, like travel bans, on individual Russian leaders. When I posed the same question to Giga Bokeria, another confidante who is deputy minister for foreign affairs, he said, “If Russia ceases to be an empire.” These are not serious answers....

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/weekinreview/10traub.html?pagewanted=all

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Betzee; Great post. Thanks for posting so much information. I learnt things from your post.

i find the situation somewhat strange that these troubles began at the same time as the Olympics.

Maybe some think, the world will be looking elsewhere whilst this conflict is on going.

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Personally, ReaganLegend, I think the timing of the Russian assault was picked to coincide with the revelations that John Edwards publicly acknowedged that, yeah, he'd had an affair. That meant the citizens of the country everyone knows is the world's policeman would be glued to the latest developments in that saga, not on some place few could find on the map. Confirmation can be found in the number of posts on those threads as opposed to these. Pretty clever move on Moscow's part...

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Betzee; Thinking about the timing, maybe you`re correct.

Ive ad a close family member ill the last few days, and i havent looked into this as deeply as i may usually. I do find the situation rather worrying.I hope the Russians are not trying to control these neighbouring countries through fear like the USSR.

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The Russians are well aware the US needs their support on a host of other issues, such as Iran's nuclear program. Other than to condemn this assault through the UN security council, a move already in the works, we can't really do much. They understand the game of power politics very well. It's smaller countries, like Georgia, which make miscalculations in that regard.

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Reports out of Israel : http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3580136,00.html are talking about heavy Israeli involvement in this conflict, via training and arms sales to Georgia. "We are not operating in any way which may counter Israeli interests." It might be worthwhile looking a little closer at this as the timing for this fight seems very suspicious indeed. In the middle of an Olympics which keeps China occupied, and now Russia. While a US flotilla is heading to the Straits of Hormuz, ostensibly to blockade Iran. Big picture, people, big picture. remember Iran's nuclear plants are owned by Russia and China! What do you think they'll say if Natanz & Beshehr are attacked? Have Rice & Bush thought that far ahead? This Georgia thing is NOT what it seems.

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LIBERTAS - Have Rice & Bush thought that far ahead?

Please, if they thought any farther than their noses, then we might not be tied up in Iraq.

This is going to become a very bad mess in Goergia. Russia making moves toward our friends just as we were getting ready to place anti-ballistic missiles in Europe.

How I recall george and dick and condi telling us how justied they were for a pre-emptive strike. They don't have much to say. < :-)

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adaydream; Bush knows exactly what is going on, and how deal with these conflicts. This is a cased of Russia showboating, when they know in reality the USA macontrols this region. Russia will not over step the mark, as they know we will put a halt to their adventures. Only the US has the support and confidence of the world to use military force for diplomatic reasons.

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As with any country, they should be able to go their own way as the majority rules. Russia should be condemned and world action taken against them as they have the ability to kill so many and seems to be doing just that. If Russia and its ally China wants to cohort with one another in pushing their power out then they should pay with decreased world interaction and squeezed byt he global powers, before they themselves are let to develope into global powers. China has grown and Russia has grown from outside interactions with them, this could be cut and both could be drawn directly to the feet of western powers. Neither of these two nations would be nothing without the west

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Okay ReaganLegend. Believe what you want. < :-)

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adaydream; I beleive in what is best for the world. I hope common sense will end this situation.

Both nations should think how the US would behave in the same situation.

If they did this, the conflict would end,and peace and freedom would prevail.

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SuperLib,

You said that you couldn't imagine Georgia starting a war because it believed that the US would weigh in on its side but rather because it believed that it could get away with it. Why would Georgia believe it could get away with this?

I don't think I said anything about Georgia aligning itself with Russia. I think that what I did was to question the decision to align itself with the US. This isn't the Cold War and there are more than two choices.

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Well so now Georgia will just become another province of the Russian Federation as Putin wanted. And the Russians get their hands on the pipeline. Bush, Nato, UN and all the other ineffective institutions will as usual substitute talk for any real action. Russia will get what it wants and there's nothing to be done about it.

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SezWho: You said that you couldn't imagine Georgia starting a war because it believed that the US would weigh in on its side but rather because it believed that it could get away with it. Why would Georgia believe it could get away with this?

Probably because they thought it could be contained as a localized issue that wouldn't be serious enough to draw Russia into a full blown conflict. But that's just my guess.

SezWhoI don't think I said anything about Georgia aligning itself with Russia. I think that what I did was to question the decision to align itself with the US. This isn't the Cold War and there are more than two choices.

Can you tell me what you think Georgia should have done? Who is it that they were supposed to align themselves with?

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SuperLib,

Thanks for the explanation. I'm not sure if you are saying that you guess that the Georgians thought that the Russians would only lodge a diplomatic protest or if you are saying that the Georgians thought that the Russians would confine themselves to a defense of Tskhinvali. I'm definitely no expert on Russian affairs (calling Dr. Rice!) but the former seems unlikely to me. As for the latter, given the proximity of Tskhinvali to Georgia proper, the action seems foolhardy.

Regarding alignment, I would ask why Georgia had to align itself with anyone. It could have become a member of the non-aligned nations as, for example, did Uzbekistan. Aligning itself with the US was a thumb in Russia's eye and Georgia's attack on Tskhinvali was another thumb and another eye. Even the most benighted politician in the region should know that a blind beast is a dangerous one.

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This is really Georgia's foolhardy decision to invade South Ossetia. They should have instead pressured the Russian peacekeepers to be replaced by UN peacekeepers (since it's these Russian peacekeepers that process the South Ossetians into Russian citizenship), and settle for having the South Ossetians with Russian citizenships be deported.

I wonder if Russia is going to point at Kosovo's bid for independence as an example to justify annexing South Ossetia? Which is never an argument to justify these agressive actions, the "well if they can do it, so can we."

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Sarge: I'm afraid a nuclear bomb is going to obliterate Moscow if this goes on much longer.

Wrong timing. ABM shield isn't ready yet. Not all Russia's neighbors are ready to be vaporized for US cause... Oh, those filthy russians always have an excuse to keep their lives!

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American people can't say nothing. the USA do the same in irak & Afganistan.

2 if Georgian army didn't attacked south ossetia nothing will happened.

they knew that russia will defend ossetia but they attacked. all is like that action = reaction. the Georgian action was stupid. their lone solution is to leave south ossetia.

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SuperLib

Georgia's problem wasn't that they aligned themselves with the US. The problem was that they started shelling Russian soldiers.

Great posts and you're absolutely correct. What kind of response did Georgia think they'd get from the Russians? A UN resolution? At this point, they need to back off and hope the Russians honor their request for a cease-fire. I really don't think the US can do much more right now than to condemn Russia's response. However, if Russia continues its offensive into Georgia proper, things could get ugly.

LIBERTAS

This Georgia thing is NOT what it seems.

I'm impressed. You've managed to bring Israel, Iran, China, the Straits of Hormuz, Natanz and Beshehr nuclear facilities, the Olympics, etc. into the argument. I don't think your average conspiracist could have pulled that off. Well done!

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What kind of response did Georgia think they'd get from the Russians?

That's probably the question of the day. I think it was a monumentally stupid decision to start killing Russians. They followed that up with another monumentally stupid decision to continue to engage Russian troops with a smaller attacks even as they pulled out. Russia decided to respond with their own monumentally stupid decision to widen the conflict, now putting troops in Abkhazia and helping them to attack Georgian forces. Their UN ambassador went ahead and put the icing on the cake by allegedly saying that "Saakashvili must go."

I guess the only question to ask is which side will make the next monumentally stupid decision?

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SezWho: I'm definitely no expert on Russian affairs

What is your personal opinion of Russia regarding this incident?

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sdf - I'm not saying the US would set it off. The Russkies cannot account for all of their nukes. Perhaps the outgunned Georgians will get hold of one or more of the loose ones... of course I hope they don't. But I'm afraid that someday someone is going to set off a nuclear bomb in a city somewhere...

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I guess the expansion plans of NATO have gone a bit awry.

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I'm not saying the US would set it off. The Russkies cannot account for all of their nukes. Perhaps the outgunned Georgians will get hold of one or more of the loose ones... of course I hope they don't. But I'm afraid that someday someone is going to set off a nuclear bomb in a city somewhere...

To me it looks like as one of the myth of 90s - Russian government has no control over its nuclear arsenal. Granted, I can't be 100% sure that these places have a flawless security nobody and nowhere can, even US from time to time is losing warheads.

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Te difference between the US and Russia is if the US misplaces a nuke it is some where in their arsenal. While if the Russians misplace a nuke it is in the trunk of some Russian officer trying to sell it.

Back to the topic at hand, I myself have been dying to see the Russian T92 tank in action.. I would like to know how good it really is and Georgia is the place to test it.

I hope to know if some of the Russian tanks that have been knocked out are T72 or T92?

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It is payback time for Kosovo. Nato brutalized Serbia and humiliated a weak Russia. And now they wanted to rub it in by admitting Georgia into Nato. Well, they tangled with the wrong guy this time.

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WilliB

It is payback time for Kosovo. Nato brutalized Serbia and humiliated a weak Russia. And now they wanted to rub it in by admitting Georgia into Nato. Well, they tangled with the wrong guy this time.

Wow, and the crazy thing is, I have no doubt you actually believe what you said.

NATO bombed Serbia as a DIRECT response to the genocide being committed against albanian muslims in Kosovo, and that was ONLY after Serbian leaders refused to stop their brutal genocide.

Georgia wants to join NATO almost entirely to avoid what is happening now, Russia brutalising a much MUCH smaller and weaker country to force them to stay under Russia's bloated shadow.

You say NATO wants to "rub it in" by admitting Georgia as a member, the mere fact that you can only see Georgia as some kind of object, some kind of pawn between Russia and NATO is an indication of what's wrong with Russians today.

All Russia sees Georgia as is an object to use against NATO, they don't see the innocent people inside trying to make their country whole again, or as fellow human beings trying to move forward.

No they view their smaller neighbours in the cold light of politics between themselves and NATO. Russia has always had an inferiority complex and now they're trying to quench that by brutalising Georgia to show their "superpower prowess" and how much they've recovered from the Soviet days.

But the only thing Russia are showing us is that they are still the brutal country that existed 50 years ago under the Soviet Era, that existed 100 years ago under their ruthless Tsars.

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Yeah WilliB the evil forces of NATO attacked the poor nation of Serbia. Yeah right, so tell me, you actually believe the propaganda of the mighty Russian Military? Hell their T72s and 80s were a joke in Iraq and I bet they will also be a joke in Georgia.

Trust me the Russians dont want any part of a long drawn out land war. Their regular troops like their vodka way to much to waste time fighting. The best bet for Russia is a quick wam bam thank you ma`am. Because if this last longer than 2 weeks, it is all but over.

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billabong:

" NATO bombed Serbia as a DIRECT response to the genocide being committed against albanian muslims in Kosovo, and that was ONLY after Serbian leaders refused to stop their brutal genocide. "

That is the propaganda line that many people believe in, but it does not stand a fact check. There was longstanding guerilla war against the KLA, but not even the most ardent Milosevich haters would call that a "genocide". The whole conflict with the KLA had a toll of of a few thousand internal refugees and a couple of hundred dead. And yes, of course, there were murders, both by Serb government forces and by the KLA. But "genocide"?? Pure phantasy. In fact, the ethnic cleansing carried out by the KLA in Kosovo since it was put into power by Nato comes closest to a genocide. Serbs, Gypsies and other minorities without UN protection are murdered very predictably.

As you remember (or perhaps not), the EU and the Clinton government brushed aside any protests from from the (then impotent) Russia, and broke the stated promise that Russia would be involved in the handling of the situation.

They were so eager to create a KLA terrorist statelet, they just could not wait. And dysfunctional Boris Yeltsin was left standing as a fool. Now, the EU and US bullies find out that Putin is no Yeltsin.

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RAH!! RAH!! RAH!!

So much warmongering.

This will not be beneficial for anyone. < :-)

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William Kristol, resident NYT's neocon, makes a case the US owes Georgia (a position shared by many Georgians):

Georgia, a nation of about 4.6 million, has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of — and perhaps destabilizes all of — a friendly democratic nation that we were sponsoring for NATO membership a few months ago.

For that matter, consider the implications of our turning away from Georgia for other aspiring pro-Western governments in the neighborhood, like Ukraine’s. Shouldn’t we therefore now insist that normal relations with Russia are impossible as long as the aggression continues, strongly reiterate our commitment to the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, and offer emergency military aid to Georgia?

What he conveniently overlooks is the fact the US is not in a position to take on all the world's bad guys at once.....

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Borders being re--adjusted in the Caucuses yet again, same as it always been just like in the Balkans, all depending on who has the most influence and power at the time. 3000 years of this.

When we will ever learn?

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SuperLib,

My personal opinion of Russia regarding this incident? That seems to me to be a somewhat baited question.

Nevertheless, and in short, I'm disappointed that Russia has extended the attacks into Georgian territory. However, there is ample precedent for attacking sovereign nations and I don't know why Russia has chosen this moment to exercise its power to do so. I can't believe it is to seize control of Georgia so I can only think it is to send the strongest possible statement to Georgia or to try to effect a regime change in Georgia--maybe both.

My opinion of Russia is generally favorable. I think it has received rather rough treatment from the West (as it has for centuries) after the break-up of the Soviet Union and I think that the West, still fearing Soviet-like power, has done as much as it could to weaken it. Nations who perceive themselves to have been emasculated often tend to push back.

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Shades of the old USSR I think, the Georgian's should have let this lie as they are militarily no match for their old masters. This is what Russia has done throughout the 20th century starting in WWII where they never returned the countries they occupied during the war. I have sympathy for Georgia and understand their motives but tactically a very bas decision.

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The Russians have taken the city of Gori, birthplace of Josef Stalin.

I reckon they're signaling the international Left that the 'dream' still lives...

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The bush administration has shown how easy it is to attack a sovern nation and get away with it.

Russia has just taken the bush administration's actions as a model for aggression.

It has nothing to do with the left 'dream', it has to do with taking innocent lives for granted and killing as a way of discussion. < :-)

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They have also taken Senaki. These two pincer movements southwards threaten to break Georgia into three pieces, attack the pipeline and cut her off from her sea ports. The idea that this Russian invasion was planned way in advance does make sense. Even if it was only a contingency plan...

One interesting development is the port of Sevastopol who say they might not let the Russian fleet back in. Ukraine sympathizes with Georgia's desire to join NATO.

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My personal opinion of Russia regarding this incident? That seems to me to be a somewhat baited question.

Not really a baited question. You've talked mostly about America, a little about Georgia, and nothing about Russia. So, I asked. Sounds like you're disappointed but forgiving?

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The Russians have taken the city of Gori, birthplace of Josef Stalin.

My guess is that they'll keep pushing further into Georgia to provoke a response, then use the response to remove the Georgian government. But I could be wrong.

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Their UN ambassador went ahead and put the icing on the cake by allegedly saying that "Saakashvili must go."

Or regime change. When the US claimed the right to engage in toppling governments deemed a security threat it opened up the door for others to follow. "Well, we got this pesky guy and life would be a whole lot easier if he were gone." The Russians are well aware that the US is tied down in Iraq and NATO in leadership disarray and unable to mount a military response.

Sooo the US has few options other than scolding Russia (and providing bus service to get the Georgian troops in Iraq back to Georgia). The news is hardly good:

Armed volunteers have already been flooding into South Ossetia from other parts of the Caucasus to fight against Georgian forces and help finally "liberate" the Ossetians from the Georgian yoke.

Despite welcome efforts to end the fighting, the Russo-Georgian war has created yet another generation of young men in the Caucasus whose worldviews are defined by violence, revenge, and nationalist zeal.

Like we don't have enough of those already....

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0811/p09s03-coop.html

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When the US claimed the right to engage in toppling governments deemed a security threat it opened up the door for others to follow.

Garbage.

Mostly this is a statement by people to express their own hangups about Washington. You can usually tell these people apart from others because they never give their own opinion (i.e. they don't say what they think about Russia's actions), they only talk as if they're responding directly to the US government's statements/actions because their psychosis prevents them from seeing any situation beyond America. This represents a very dangerous new breed of internet politician....the one who will sell out their own ideals and allow a country like Russia to get away with what they're doing as long as it gives them some satisfaction that the situation can be used to indict America.

Betzee is simply laying the context for which she can find a new angle for American criticism as the talks roll into T'bilisi. And it's not because she supports regime change in Georgia. Quite the contrary. But she won't tell you that. There's no way she's going to let her own opinions get in the way of her criticism of the United States.

But don't be fooled. Russia is not acting due to some mythical "green light" given by US foreign policy. Russia could nuke Georgia tomorrow and people like Betzee would be here telling you that the US opened the door for them with Hiroshima. Every action from here on out will be defined as a response to the United States. I guarantee it. If they can't say that then they won't come here to post.

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When the US claimed the right to engage in toppling governments deemed a security threat it opened up the door for others to follow.

This is a very valid statement. It's only wrong to those who agree with this administration's policy. Those folks don't want copycat actions to be interpreted as justified because they have been compared to our own stupid action in Iraq.

It always easy to attack and claim the right to, when it's more justified than to sit down and talk. This is what should have happened more in Georgia. But didn't. So Russia attacked.

It is almost identical to our attack of Iraq. After claims and inuendos were proven wrong and no time could be wasted or george's lies would be all brought to the open, we attacked.

Russia is taking the same course.

But, heaven forbid the comparison. Damn you for even the thought. < :-)

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There is one very BIG difference between the Actions of the Americans and the actions of the Russians. The United Nations VOTED to allow action by the Americans. I do not remember a voted being taken by the security council to allow action to be taken by Moscow. Remember that Russia and China voted to support America in its conflicts. Its makes them just as accountable. Please tell me of the United Nations resolutions supporting the Russian conflict. What "legal" ground do they have to invade Georgia?

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It is a shame the people are comparing the Russian attack with the US liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Russians will destroy anything in their path. They don`t have the US military form of self control. The Russians do not care about civilians, and you can sure many will die.

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If the West, that is, won’t induce Russia to stop using the border region as a pawn, Georgia will be left with no choice save war. And how will the West do that? Mr. Saakashvili suggests sanctions, like travel bans, on individual Russian leaders.

I really don't think the US can do much more right now than to condemn Russia's response.

Dear Vladimir "The Pig" Putin,

You have 48 hours to withdraw your troops from the sovereign soil of Georgia. If you fail to meet our deadline, diplomatic and economic sancions will follow.

Best of luck in the Olympics.

Yours,

W

The Russian elites are particularly vulnerable to having their ill-gotten gains (stashed in Western bank accounts) frozen.

Next, we need to rush javelins and stingers to Georgia so they can wreak havoc with the Russian advance.

The Russians have adopted a confrontational tone with the West. We can't allow them to bully a long-time ally.

The Russians may try to disrupt energy supplies, but this costs them money and its customers may find alternative suppliers in the future.

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YuriOtani - The United Nations VOTED to allow action by the Americans. I do not remember a voted being taken by the security council to allow action to be taken by Moscow. Remember that Russia and China voted to support America in its conflicts.

When did this happen? Russia and china and the UN never voted to allow the unilateral attack of Iraq.

That's how george bush gets so much credit. People attribute trash to himn that never happened. They told george bush that he did not have their graces.

Just like Russia attacking Georgia. Nobody told Russia they had their support. Russia just attacked. < :-)

But YuriOtani, I'd love to see your link. < :-)

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Where is the US aircraft carriers, where is NATO...when those talking loud about commitment....where they are now. Georgia has 2000 troops in Iraq and the US owed them much. What s hame to US and her allies!

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Russia is aiming at hegemony in the area. Georgia's actions gave Russia the excuse they needed. Old habits die hard.

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I think it is interesting that when the US went into Iraq, after it had violated the sanctions imposed by the UN after the first Gulf War 17 times, was up in arms about the US. Now, Russia just roles into Georgia, and the UN and the world is silent. No loud protests in the streets with "down with Russia" and the Russian troops are heading towards the oil areas and other vital parts.

I forsee the rest of the nations of the former USSR will ease back on thier moves towards the West. Poland had better take a close look at what is going on, since Russia has stated that the deployment of Anti-missile technology is a threat to them.

I also notice, there has been no strong denuncinaiton from China on this invasion by Russia either.

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SuperLib,

If I have talked mostly about America here it is because of your false claim that I was comparing America and Russia. Absent the refutation of that claim, I have talked mostly about Russia and Georgia. As I feared, your question concerning my feelings about Russia was a baited one, asked to get an answer against which to post dismissive response.

To play your game further, however, you ask--or pretend to--if my attitude is disappointed but forgiving. I would say my attitude is disappointed but that my judgment is suspended. Although I have expressed my thoughts about Russia's motives here, I don't think this situation has fully played out.

The only pure opinion about Russia that I have seen you express here is that its response was obviously out of line. I would say that, on the contrary, it is not obvious that its response was out of line. And the reason for that is that there is no standard for what and where the line is.

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Although I have expressed my thoughts about Russia's motives here, I don't think this situation has fully played out.

Yes, yes, when Emperor Vlad takes the Ukraine then we can talk...

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YuriOtani,

I think the UN Security Council voted to allow the American-led coalition to continue its occupation of Iraq. But that was after the fact of the attack itself. It never voted to approve the attack. Furthermore, it was because it looked like it would not vote to specifically approve the attack that the American administration "interpreted" previous Security Council resolutions to have already conferred that right.

In this situation Russian troops (and Russian citizens) were attacked by Georgia and Russia is using this as an attack on Russia itself. Russia seems to be responding rather more vigorously than required. Its response is definitely disproportionate. But it is rather difficult for us to practice disproportionality ourselves and remain silent on it in other cases and now wring our hands over it in Georgia, which we really do not care about except as a token of triumph for democracy in an erstwhile Soviet republic and, possibly, for the oil.

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SuperLib,

Perhaps not surprisingly I agree with Betzee.

When the US claimed the right to engage in toppling governments deemed a security threat it opened up the door for others to follow.

You say that this is garbage, but you do not explain why. Instead you fulminate against those who criticize the United States. That fulmination is entirely a distraction.

There cannot be one standard for the US and a different standard for everyone else. The US and its citizens cannot reserve the right to say who is and who is not a security threat to whom nor can it legitimately play a double game and sometimes seek and sometimes reject the authority of the Security Council. I think it likely that the US under this administration has exaggerated its moral standing, its ability to make moral judgments and its political and military power.

That is not simply the judgment of some people who "have hangups about Washington". That is a fear of many Americans and it is one of the reasons why our current administration is enjoying such low popularity. Betzee just happens to speak a little more forcefully than average.

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When the US claimed the right to engage in toppling governments deemed a security threat it opened up the door for others to follow.

Did I miss something?

Was Georgia on the receiving end of dozens of UN resolutions condemning its actions?

Did Georgia have a history of sponsoring terrorism?

Did Georgia, aspiring EU member, have nearly all its neighbors wary because of its military adventurism?

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Euphoria spreads throughout the Pentagon, the rest of the U.S. military establishment, defense contractors etc., as the realization dawns that they will not have to pretend to find post-Cold War enemies anymore, hey, Russia is back! We are in the money!

"There cannot be one standard for the US and a different standard for everyone else. The US and its citizens cannot reserve the right to say who is and who is not a security threat to whom nor can it legitimately play a double game and sometimes seek and sometimes reject the authority of the Security Council."

Nice post, SEZ. Not to worry about the "fulminating" of SuperLib, you did an excellent job of fumigating afterwards. The air is clear now. Some of us understand the truth, some here at JT never get it. Such is life.

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Gee, what a warped sense of values some posters here exhibit. I mean it's OK for someone to use human carnage as an excuse to get into puffed up armchair general mode to offer such insightful predications as this: My guess is that they'll keep pushing further into Georgia to provoke a response, then use the response to remove the Georgian government. But I could be wrong. (Don't think anyone needs the qualification.) Yet the same poster self-righteously launches into a long-winded diatribe about the politics behind my post while never addressing the substance.

Analysts, BTW, never accept that leaders are "stupid." Not because there's any shortage of idiots running around but rather it's unlikely someone lacking a minimal amount of brainpower could get the top job. Hence this doesn't provide any insight of any use in understanding the origins of this conflict:

I think it was a monumentally stupid decision to start killing Russians.

We start with the premise leaders make rational decisions but they may be ego maniacs working with limited information leading to miscalculation. Indeed the Christian Science Monitor (linked above) offers some insight:

Russia must be condemned for its unsanctioned intervention. But the war began as an ill-considered move by Georgia to retake South Ossetia by force. Saakashvili's larger goal was to lead his country into war as a form of calculated self-sacrifice, hoping that Russia's predictable overreaction would convince the West of exactly the narrative that many commentators have now taken up.

Until I read something more persuasive, I'm going to accept this. The president of Georgia seems to have provided his people with very poor leadership owing to this miscalculation. In reaction to the Russian invasion, he alternates between giving interviews to CNN and hiding under the bed.

And for all the jokes about European impotence made on this site, the US can only chime in condemning Russia as it willfully ignores the advice of the world to observe the ceasefire. Moscow has clearly calculated they can get away with this and they are probably right. Is anyone going to boycott their oil and gas after all? Doubt it.

Where they've miscalculated, is the cost of an occupation which follows regime change. It's always considerably higher than what leaders convince themselves (and their taxpaying citizenry) it will cost. The Vietnamese learned this in Cambodia, we've learned it in Iraq, and the Russians of course found out the hard way in Afghanistan.

Now some will say the Russians would have done this anyway and the US preemptive strike against Iraq had nothing to do with it. Maybe. But we've lost the moral basis from which to criticize. I'm waiting for GWB to tell the Russians what Condi told the Chinese in the midst of their Tibetan uprising earlier this year: "violence doesn't solve anything." You gotta practice what you preach if you want to be taken seriously.

Betzee just happens to speak a little more forcefully than average.

In fact, not. My paycheck comes from the federal treasury and amongst the people I work with, my views are quite moderate.

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Betzee,

...than average on this board--which was the point of SuperLib's contention, I think. Well-reasoned arguments are, in my opinion, more forceful than invective. But if you wish to be modest (or moderate) I promise to try not to magnify your abilities.

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undecidedbout08,

As far as I know, Georgia has not been the subject of UN sanctions, does not actively support terrorism, and not all of its neighbors may be wary of its military adventurism--although the South Ossetians are probably a bit ticklish about that at the moment. So what?

The point that you are missing is that you are of the people who are positing that in these circumstances it is OK to be the aggressor but in those circumstances it is not. There simply is no agreement that what you posit is, or even should be, the standard.

Absent a standard, we are simply left with the fact that invasion and or disproportionate response is OK under some set of facts and circumstances. Now we need to try to haggle over what those facts and circumstances are. I give you long odds against an international agreement on that any time soon.

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One of the attractions of a site like this is that we can "meet" people we wouldn't cross paths with otherwise in daily life. And we can dispense with the social pleasantries that are necessary to keep the balance in a group situation from which you can't come and go (like your office). But, as a former colleague of mine observed once about me, "I wouldn't want to go up against you in an argument." I hope that's reflected here as well....

As for the topic of this thread, it's clear the next administration will have to manage America's relative decline. We have no more leverage over the Russians than the frequently derided Europeans.

It's also clear once you get into this, who's the bully depends upon where the accuser stands in the food chain. Many point the finger at Stalin's geographical engineering, in fact the disputes over land rights may go back to the Ottoman empire.

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I dont think I can say anything that Superlib hasnt already said. Good show mate!

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Where they've miscalculated, is the cost of an occupation which follows regime change. It's always considerably higher than what leaders convince themselves (and their taxpaying citizenry) it will cost.

Betzee, it wont cost the leaders anything, not their lives nor their treasure. If they dont profit from the other bloke's gold, they will use the situation to profit from their own country's. If the American elected officials can do it, then its going to be 3x easier for the Russian oligarchy.

I still have to agree with Superlib that the Georgian move was stupid. Even if the Georgian goals are all met, it was still stupid. War is stupid. People who get others killed for land and cash are stupid. They may be clever in certain ways, but they are stupid in a fundamental way, as only the selfish and greedy can be.

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Many point the finger at Stalin's geographical engineering, in fact the disputes over land rights may go back to the Ottoman empire.

This old woman has a good point:

“The Georgians burned all of our homes,” said one elderly woman, as she sat on a bench under a tree with three other white-haired survivors of the fighting.

She seemed confused by the conflict. “The Georgians say it is their land,” she said. “Where is our land, then? We don’t know.”

The land belongs to the individuals who hold it. Then they choose their government. This process should not work in reverse, except in some very particular circumstances that I dont see here. A majority of South Ossetians do not want to be part of Georgia. So Georgia can never control South Ossetia without slaughtering or displacing a majority of South Ossetians. There is simply no good reason to do that to people, only bad ones.

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No one wants to let go of something they once controlled. As for Russia and its energy supplies, they better take advantage of it while they can because the world will compose itself from those with energy supplies and use that as the forceful hand in which they base decisions on, especially decisions made that goes against the basic rights and freedoms of others. Russia has developed into such a governing state as for, cutting off supplies to its neighbors and now with this excessive force against Georgia, The world is trying to set the future for alternative fuels and many nations will have enough of its own oil reserves once all is taken off total reliance on oil as the only energy source, Even if Russia holds this as its ace in the hole, they will not have this advantage forever, same with Venezuela’s rise from their economic gains from their oil. All the craziness from Hugo Chávez and rants and crazy exaggerated statements outward towards the US, this seems to be in character with the appearance of Russia over the last few years. We have seen both of these countries find themselves a sudden rise in power from their energy sources and begin this outward approach towards others with an attitude lased with threats and aggression. Now Russia has shown how wealth can change the demeanor of how they treat their one time adversaries and take an opposite approach to issues where at one time would have taken a softer approach.. The disadvantages and advantages of wealth and the use of ones power, but again this falls in line with individuals as well..

But as to some of the comments above,,,as much as one does not like the actions of the US, Those of you that wish to condemn the actions of the US, this does not and should not be used as an excuse for others to perform actions against another. Do you believe because US attacked Iraq, that this gives Russia a reason to invade Georgia?? This is what you are implying and I find that something like a child’s argument! So Russia has the right because we did it, and besides, this is against a country based on democracy which no matter what, we should support, and if you can not bring yourself to support democracy and the spread of democracy, and also support one of our allies, then go live in another country without such values or that are based on such values. I hear voices continually bashing the US here and who’s words seem to say that are from the US, if that is the case then you should stand for the values the US is based on in support of Georgia and its development and against what Russia is doing to them. Georgia has its boarders, the majority voted to go with the western alliances, and Russia is helping to divide the country. That is wrong no matter how anyone wants to compare it to how bad the US is and that they have the right to do what they have done. I say they don't.

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TonyUS,

It's not that Russia has a right because we did it. It's because we have no standing to criticize because we did it.

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SezWho,

This is the final paragraph from an article in the NYT's today about Putin:

It may take time to work out the messages Mr. Putin has sent in the past week, but this one is clear: Russia insists on being seen as a great power. “The problem is, what kind of great power is emerging?” said Mr. Trenin, of the Carnegie Center. “Is this a great power that lives by the conventions of the world as it exists in the 21st century?”

What are those conventions, however? They were redefined by the GWB administration in the name of national defense.

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Georgia has its boarders, the majority voted to go with the western alliances, and Russia is helping to divide the country.

South Ossetia also has its borders. And the majority of people of that area dont want to be part of Georgia. Either one supports self determination, or one does not.

I really do not see the problem with letting South Ossetia go, except the meaness of a child.

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Betzee,

Yes, what are those conventions?

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Well, Vlad the impaler has thrown down the gauntlet on this, SezWho, (which will no doubt provoke outrage from the usual quarters):

'"Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages . . . And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed 10 Ossetian villages at once, who ran over elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilian alive in their sheds -- these leaders must be taken under protection.

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ReaganLegend at 04:39 AM JST - 11th August Bush has to tell Russia to sort out these problems peacefully. The Russians and Georgians have a lot of respect for the current administration. Peace is a reality in this region, with US intervention.

I wish your dream was a reality, but Bush is as loved and respected as a gnat is on Parris Island in summer. Hell at least with a gnat you know what he intends to do.

But that is not here or there, the only thing the Russians respect is brute force. Pound their forces into dog meat and they will respect you. What we need to do is supply the Georgians with enough weapons and maybe a merc or two dozen and go to town on them.

Only good Russian...well you know what I mean. Russia is a toy bear, kick it and they will just look at you.

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