March 3rd, 2014

The Ukraine crisis and competing foreign policy visions: right vs. left

Seeing into the future is easy sometimes when you take a look and pay attention:

So Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. I’m surprised that anyone is surprised. I’m hardly an expert on Ukrainian history or politics, but I’ve been there, and I’ve been to the Crimea, and this was just obvious. It was obvious to me even before Viktor Yanukovych became president…

When the Soviet Union cracked up and Ukraine declared independence, Russia initially refused to cede Sevastopol and Crimea at all and only later relented when it signed the Peace and Friendship treaty with Kiev…Ukraine barely holds onto the Crimea oblast as it is [written in 2009], and on even numbered days I can’t help but wonder how long even that is going to last.

Another correct forecaster—none other than Sarah Palin:

Though she was mocked for it, Palin actually speculated in 2008 that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be encouraged to invade Ukraine after President Barack Obama’s weak response to the nation invading Georgia.

“After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next,” Palin told Foreign Policy in 2008

Ah, but she’s such a stupidhead. And that accent!

Palin has now taken to Facebook to say:

Yes, I could see this one from Alaska. I’m usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did, despite my accurate prediction being derided as ‘an extremely far-fetched scenario’ by the ‘high-brow’ Foreign Policy magazine.

Back in 2008, here’s Foreign Policy‘s Blake Hounshell pooh-poohing Palin’s statement. You should see Hounsell’s Twitter page right about now. He was hardly alone, though; she was universally not only disagreed with by the MSM and Democrats, she was condescendingly mocked for that and almost everything else she said and did.

And of course, we have Mitt Romney’s statement on Russia, and Obama’s snarky juvenile response during the presidential debates:

Here was Romney’s response to Obama, just to refresh your memory:

What about the experts? They got it wrong, wrong, wrong too. But how many will ever utter a word of apology to either Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney?

I will take a wild stab at it: none. If you find any, please let me know.

Today we have a curious editorial in the WaPo. Actually, “curious” doesn’t even begin to cover it; read it. To whet your appetite, let me say that the title is “President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.”

And even that editorial doesn’t really come down all that hard on Obama. Of course, the WaPo won’t come down all that hard on Obama. To do so, its editors would have to come down hard on themselves. They’d have to abandon their own fantasy world, where they were correct to have supported Obama all along, and where those on the right are just aggressive warmongers (stupid, as well) and peace and love can win out over nastiness, if you just close your eyes and wish real hard.

That brings us, of course, to the next question: is this really what the WaPo editors believe? In other words, how hard left are they? Are they merely very very very useful idiots for the left, or are they more manipulative and devious true believers? My provisional answer: they’re probably a mixed bag rather than a unitary bunch.

[NOTE: In the comments, "sergey" indicates that it's not just Obama and the WaPo editors who are in the grip of fantasy:

This morning Moskow stock exchange collapsed, and this downfall still under way. Annual GDP gowth rate this year is 0.71% officially, and capital flight from the country in January and half of February comprises 3/4 of the amount expected for the whole year. There was a panic at currency exchange offices yesterday, in one day ruble lost 1/7 of its value. Inflation is galloping, and all this happened mostly even before Ukrainian crisis erupted. If real invasion would take place, economy will fold in two monthes. But Putin lives in reality of his own, and it has little in common with the reality in which almost everybody else lives. A paranoid delusion also known as Caeserian insanity.

I have no way of knowing whether sergey is correct. But he's certainly closer to events than I.]

42 Responses to “The Ukraine crisis and competing foreign policy visions: right vs. left”

  1. Mike Says:

    The most important issue here is the Palin one (and Romney a close second).

    America can take care of any problem it has…if it starts to grow up again (which is not at all certain).

    The exact locus of the entire problem is that Palin was ridiculed and is still mocked and at best damned with faint praise by people even on the right. They are not on the right; they are on appeasement steroids – in this case appeasing the so-called “culture” that is told to mock Palin, and obeys its orders when they are given.

    Palin is True Blue in every conceivable way. She is exactly, to a T, what the Framers had in mind when they had in mind an America that governed itself and was not governed by a King. She is Everyman who should be President and could be President of We the People.

    Yes that is exactly what she is.

    Except she is female. And talks with a twang.

    How far we have come! How full of ourselves have we gotten! How lazy have we grown!

    Her??? They laughed at her so we may as well too.

    America, writ large, covered itself in shame, absolute shame and disgrace in what it did to her. No exceptions. No excuses.

    But the truth is we only did what we did to her because we have become less, far far less, that what we were and what we are supposed to be.

    And it is not her in particular I am talking about. It is about her and the possibility of her.

    Once America elected real people as President. Really real and actual people.

    Now we don’t.

    That is our problem and until and unless we solve it we are toast.

    She “could see that one from Alaska”? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. If there is justice in the world that will be the title of the Chapter of future American History textbooks where this era is told.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    In order to reduce Palin’s status as a mother and a feminist leader, they had to sexualize her. Even the college bound that normally doesn’t pay attention to politics, were using terms like MILF or some derivative of the same. They only hear what their peers say, and their peers say whatever the Left tells them to say.

    That is both the Left and what people call “liberals”, which aren’t about liberty but slavery.

    However, all that really did was make the Left and the cannonfodder people call the misguided, into non-humans for a significant faction in the US that had its respect for Palin boosted given her enemy status in the eyes of the Left.

    You cannot effect strategic atrocities without there being blowback, and this is one part of it.

    Those that would sexualize a female politician in order to reduce the seriousness with which people take her views… won’t be treated any softer by me. If they think being misguided is a SHIELD that will protect them in the war, they will be shown what happens to HUMAN SHIELDS in war.

  3. waltj Says:

    A bit off-topic, but under its new owners, WaPo is no longer as reflexively hard-left as it was under the Graham-Bradlee regime, certainly not as much as NYT still is. They haven’t gone conservative by any means, but they have tracked well back towards the middle of the road, especially in the area of foreign policy. The Post’s editorial page is still a work in progress, but they’ve pleasantly surprised me a number of times over the past few years.

  4. neo-neocon Says:


    Well, that headline was certainly a shock to me.

    The content, not as hard-hitting. But I had to stare at the headline several times before I could believe it.

  5. OldTexan Says:

    I know a lot more about the Ukraine and the Crimea area today than I did last week and on one hand I am not sure if I give a flip what the heck happens since it mostly appears to be a re-alignment of power and reality. What does concern me is that historically when events start pushing and pulling the outcome due to unintended consequences can rapidly get out of hand.

    I am concerned about all of the power vacuum in the Yucky-Stans including the Afghan one and with Russia and China both looking rather powerful with a ton of internal problems I would not be surprised to see some sort of a chain reaction, kind of like an out of control foot fungus breaking out and spreading in Eastern Europe, the Middle East or Asia where a delicate balance has been in place for a number of years.

    What part, if any could the US play in this new world struggle since it appears to me that we have neutered a good deal of our ability to “walk softly and carry a big stick.” I would prefer to have strong leadership backed up with some scary military equipment manned by young, strong warriors than the “green fuel”, politically correct diversified military who have been trained to report their sergeants when they have been yelled at and their feelings hurt.

    We also need to remember that Mother Russia historically is not a country you want to engage in a war because they have an ability to rise to the occasion just about every time and we have no ability to even bark and growl this time around, much less threaten with force.

    “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die” would not be desirable outcome for US involvement a new Crimean war. But I always did like Tennyson’s poem about that important, expensive bit of dirt on the Black Sea that has had so much bloodshed in the past. Do you think Obama has had much of a sense of the history of the place prior to a couple of 15 min. briefings this past week?

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Well, sergey’s a lot closer than I as well but since Iran survived quite capably under far more onerous conditions than Russia shall ever endure, I see little evidence that Putin’s actions will create insurmountable difficulties for Russia.

    Somewhat in agreement with Mike above, this quote seems especially appropriate;

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president”. Václav Klaus (former Premier of the Czech Republic)

    Personally, I judge Obama to be far more of a knave than a fool but Klaus’ view of the majority of those who voted for Obama is spot on.

    Gallup recently released a poll that shows that even now 79% of those who voted for Obama in 2012 would still(!) vote for him today and his approval rating is now back up to 46%…

    Which leads to another appropriate quote by noted Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises,

    “Political ideas that have dominated the public mind for decades cannot be refuted through rational arguments. They must run their course in life and cannot collapse otherwise than in great catastrophe…”

    What the American public will do when that great catastrophe arrives, will determine whether tyranny merely threatens or reigns supreme. I see little reason for optimism.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    I remember Sergey saying something about Russia’s legitimate invasion of Georgia or the Georgia devil corruption inviting in natural Russian order or some such.

  8. Richard Saunders Says:

    Russia has permanent interests. It has had the same interests for at least 500 years — exploit the resources of the East, defend against invasion from the West, secure and hold a warm-water port. Mr. Putin knows those interests and acts to protect and expand them.

    Anyone with a brain, e.g., Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, knows that. The MSM are shocked, SHOCKED! to see Putin act thusly. After all, His Onederfulness doesn’t know what the United States interests are, and certainly doesn’t act to protect and expand them.

    I guess it’s just that the foreign polices of the 1680s, 1780s, 1880s, and 1980s are calling and they want to come back, right, Barry?

  9. DNW Says:

    As a last bit of self-indulgence and work avoidance I’ve just followed Neo’s Wash. Post links to David Ignatius’ column.

    The thesis seems to be Putin has overstepped, in some mysterious manner, and as one Ignatius fan approvingly seconds,

    “If the President can manage a measured approach amidst the chickenhawk choir recycling various Cold War mantras (Apparently we’ve “lost” Ukraine, God Lord…) in their faux masculinity fest, perhaps we can give Putin just enough rope.”

    Well I know the metaphor, but exactly in what does the hanging consist? He keeps the Crimea? Yeah let Putin have his way, that’ll show him.

    And of course if progressives could just shut up those “nay-saying” (as the left likes to characterize) neo-cons and conservatives,

    “If we can just get the flippin’ NeoCons here to keep their mouths shut and let Obama handle this without their political meddling… Especially John “Sour Grapes” McCain… Just shut the hell up, John…”

    Yes, the problem is that the conservatives will not join the chorus. That is not free speech, that is meddling. And it empowers Putin against “our President”. How disloyal. Conservative Wreckers!

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    In support of Richard Saunder’s perspective, over at Richard Fernandez’s excellent ‘Belmont Club’ blog, commentor BC Alexis writes,

    “Mr. Putin’s past behavior conforms to game theory. When he sees a strong and trustworthy American president who is backed up by the Senate, Mr. Putin becomes trustworthy. When he sees the same American president undermined by the Senate, Mr. Putin becomes adventurous. When he sees a weak and untrustworthy American president, Mr. Putin becomes hostile. When he sees American intelligence humbled by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, he becomes contemptuous.

    Vladimir Putin is consistent – he mirrors the American political system. He takes his cues from the internal politics of the United States and plans accordingly. In other words, he is a normal political animal who isn’t much different from most of the other political leaders throughout the world. Given that he is a Russian nationalist with irrendentist ambitions to restore the Russian Empire, his actions are normal and predictable. Few Russian leaders throughout history would have acted any differently.”

    Putin is clever but he is not Machiavellian. His motivations are straightforward. BC Alexis’ insight into the alignment between Putin’s actions as they mirror the American political system are IMO spot on and obviously apply to other ambitious regimes, the Chinese and Iranians being the most obvious.

  11. vanderleun Says:

    As cartoonist Ramirez has it today Obama’s foreign policy consists of “Beating swords into food stamps.”

  12. Sergey Says:

    Ymarsakar, I never said a word about Russian order or Georgian corruption as justification of Russian intervention. I do not believe that corruption has anything in common with forein policy: this is purely internal affair, except when it means government-sponsored narcotraffic or export of terrorism. And “Russian order” is, of course, oxymoron. But there was completely another reason for Russian intervention in Georgia. Both de-facto and de-jure, Ossetia and Abkhasia were Russian protectorates, according treaties signed by both Moskow and Tbilisi. These territories previously were in war with Georgia, bloody and cruel as hell, and only Russian intervention stopped these wars in 1991 and 1993. Since then they were protected by Russian peacekeepers, who prevented acts of genocide from both parties of this conflicts.
    And then in 2008 Georgian troops suddenly attacted the capital of Ossetia, Tzihinval, in midnight surprise attack using indiscriminate weapons – multiple rocket launchers, murdering around 200 Ossetians, most of them civilians, and injuring handreds else. Russian peacekeepers were murdered in this attack, too. In these circumstances Russia has not only right, but obligation under said treaties to intervene to protect Ossetians from Georgian agression. Russian tanks rolled into Tzhinval only 24 hours after this attack, when Georgian tanks for the whole day were there killing everybody moving. So these comparisons of Russian-Georgian war of 2008 and Russian intervention in Crimea are completely bogus.

  13. Ann Says:

    Let’s hope this is only the first instance in the MSM — the New Republic says that what Romney said in 2012 about Russia “all seems…exactly right.”

    The first comment there: “16 months after the election…don’t hurt yourself TNR.”

  14. Cornflour Says:

    I don’t know much about either the Russian economy or Russian policy towards Ukraine, so my questions are pretty basic:

    1. Most of Europe is dependent on Russian oil and natural gas. Do the Europeans have any trade leverage with Russia? Can’t Russians obtain almost all manufactured goods elsewhere?

    2. The ruble has been weakening, and the Crimean invasion sharpened that problem. On the other hand, a weaker ruble will lead to a lower demand for imports, especially from Western Europe. Combined with increased revenues from higher oil prices, shouldn’t Russia’s balance of trade improve?

    2. The Crimean invasion has already driven up oil prices. If Russia expands the invasion, oil price increases will greatly accelerate. In this way, Putin benefits financially from the invasion. Is there any significant cost?

    I know these questions sound a bit naive, but that’s because I’m almost completely ignorant on the subject. A quick “google” search didn’t help much. Anybody have some links to good data?

    I hope it’s clear that I don’t disagree with most of Sergey’s comments, but I think his remarks support the position that Russia’s economic problems mostly preceded the Crimean invasion. My first reaction to the invasion is that it helps Russia both strategically and economically, and that European governments have little recourse. So far, I don’t see how the US government is even a factor in Putin’s calculations.

  15. Sergey Says:

    Putin’n motivation and logic are exactly those described by BC Alexis. But the same can be said about motivation and logic of Hitler, too. A man can be both consistent and straightforward, on one hand, and completely crazy, on the other. And Putin repeats all Hitler’s fallacies and mistakes. There is a deep resentment and envy in Russia about collapse of Soviet Union among its military and general population, too. Revanchist sentiments are abundant, just as feeling of betrayal of Mother Russia by politicians of Yeltzin era. There is a whole Weimar syndrome in Russia, like in Germany after WWI. But Putin cannot afford this adventure, even less than Hitler could. His only hope is Munich policy of the West, which is deeply despised by Putin for its decadence and hypocrisy. And Putin has a point: in its present shape, West IS decadent and hypocritical. Continental Europe even has no army to defend itself, NATO is in reality only US shop. Combined with empty suit in White House, it is defensless. But there is some important differencies between 1930s and 2010, Germany and Russia. Germans has real nationalistic enthusiasm, Russians are apathic and have no desire to go to war. All this Russian nationalism which Putin wants to exploit really exists only in his imagination. Nobody wants to die for Fatherland in Russia, most young people are deeply cynical and the only people who are fooled by propaganda are pensioners. And even they abhor a war with Ukrainian people: the feeling of brotherhood with Ukrainian people is genuine and widespread.

  16. JuliB Says:

    Living in one’s own reality? We all think that about Obama, and now Merkel just lobbed that insult over to Putin. People are so unoriginal.

    I know people that think Palin is stupid. While I find that thought offensive, it’s a good tell.

  17. Oldflyer Says:

    I would like to agree with OldTexan that whatever happens in the Ukraine, and specifically in Crimea, need not concern us.

    The problem is that this is now the second episode of Russia flexing its muscle, and coming to the aid of ethnic Russians by invading former Soviet states on its periphery. I don’t want to be too simplistic, or make too great of a leap, but there are eery similarities to the chain of similar events of some 75 or so years ago.

    I imagine that much of Eastern Europe is feeling a chill wind that has nothing to do with the weather.

    The other troublesome fact is that most, if not all, of the natural gas and petroleum pipelines from Russia to Europe pass through Ukraine. The Europeans seem to have gotten themselves much too dependent on Russian fossil fuels. We know the Europeans cannot face their own shadows, so we could hear squeals for help in due time if Putin decides to play really hard ball. And why wouldn’t he if that is what it takes?

    Finally, as Russia takes our measure they are getting very cozy with several countries in the Western Hemisphere, and are reportedly negotiating base rights. They are also make inroads in Egypt; and I expect that as Egypt goes so goes much of N. Africa and the Mid-East. If the Europeans are feeling a chill, Israel may be feeling a hot breath and sniffing the stench of a Bear.

    To many of the generation in power, including our Trusted Leader, the Cold War may just be a historical footnote, or a vague youthful memory, recalled through a herbal haze. To others, it was a very serious period, and not one to be repeated.

  18. Sergey Says:

    Cornflour, Russia depends greatly from food import, most of which comes from Europe. Oil is not the main source of Russian hard currency, natural gas is. Weak ruble means that food prices will skyrocket, which will be disaster for most urban population. Most families now spend 80% of their disposible income to buy food. In two monthes the shelves in food stores will be empty, as in Venezuela now. And all what is needed now to bent down oil prices is to relieve oil quotas imposed on Iran – without them, the oil will be abundant on the market. The present rise in oil prices is purely speculative, it will not last long. Embargo on purchase of Russian oil will put Russia on its knees. Without imported additives to motor fuel most Russian automobiles can not run, fuel for aviation is imported too, there is not enough refineries to produce it, and it is impossible to build them soon enough. In short, Russia has strategic materials to blitzkrieg only.

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    Russian peacekeepers were murdered in this attack, too. In these circumstances Russia has not only right

    Okay, Russian order.

    The idea that this was all cooked up by agent provocateurs, must have been a Western invention. Not known to the area.

  20. Cornflour Says:

    Sergey, thanks for the quick response.

  21. rickl Says:

    We already know that Obama lives in his own reality.

    If Putin does too, we have a problem.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left will make their reality into a totalitarian utopia on Earth. No matter how many people they have to make into sex slaves to get it done.

    Meanwhile, people were ignoring the many headed hydra some odd years ago and hand waving about this that and the other thing. I’ve forgotten what exactly they were creeping out on by now.

  23. Eric Says:

    This needs to be pushed hard.

    The frame of ‘vilified Republicans were right and the mocking Democrats were/are wrong’ is importantly relevant and needs to be pushed hard in the Marxist-method activist battles of the Zeitgeist and the Narrative.

    Related to your points about Palin and Romney’s accurate prognostications, I’ve said before and I’ll reiterate: To strip away the Democrats chief sword that won them the White House and shield that excuses Obama’s failings, Bush’s legacy needs to be rehabilitated in a comparative frame of Bush was right and Obama is wrong.

  24. Mike Says:

    I agree about Bush. He was right about most things and certainly not wrong in the way the Left said. Too many Rs are flat out cowards and abandoned him and went along with the liars and slanderers because it was easier.

    Bush, in reality, is a great and good man as fallible the next person.

    His successor is not good, or great, or even fallible. Would that her were! He is and efficient predatory monster and America is his target.

  25. Ann Says:

    I agree, Eric, about pushing hard on the fact that Romney, Palin, and other Republicans had the clearly more correct view of Russia and Putin.

    But Bush did nothing about Putin’s move against Georgia in 2008, and the MSM are already busy pushing that meme.

    Still, playing over and over again Obama’s “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back” snark should open more than a few eyes. But I’m not holding my breath.

  26. expat Says:

    John Vinocur has an opinion piece at WSJ about where Germany fits into this. It’s quite interesting because former foreign minister and Green Joschka Fisher has some insights about the positions of Gerhard Schröder and current foreign minister Steinmeier ( both SPD) with regard to Russia. Both of them are total sleezebags in my mind. They only care about keeping the Russian gas flowing.
    To get behind the paywall, google wsj john vinocur and the the title of the article.

    A personal reason for my dislike of Schröder: Despite dissing Bush regarding Iraq, selling his soul to Gazprom, and stating recently in a TV interview that he felt no relationship with the US, when was given the traditional military farewell on leaving office he chose My Way as the final song.

  27. expat Says:

    It’ true that Bush didn’t succeed in Georgia, but there are some big differences. He was being attacked relentlessly on foreign policy by all the Dems; the press never covered for him; and he only had a few months before the election, so he had no reason to assume that any policy he pursued would be continued. Indeed, about 7 months later, Hillary presented the reset button.

  28. expat Says:

    OMT, I’d love to eavesdrop on BO and Valerie discussing the WaPo headline. Could we possibly have an if I’ve lost Cronkite moment here, or are they ordering a new bus that is large enough underneath to accomodate the WaPo?

  29. Ann Says:

    I agree with all that about Bush, expat. I brought it up only to show that the MSM is running with his inaction.

  30. Ann Says:

    What’s happening in Russia seems to have snapped the New Republic back into its pre-Obama, Martin Peretz–influenced foreign policy mode, as least for now.

    Good piece up there right now — Meet Vladimir Putin’s American Apologist — all about the Nation magazine’s Stephen Cohen. It fits rather nicely with Neo’s “change” post today in that he’s one of those diehards who would more than likely have stood by Stalin to the very end. From the piece:

    But I especially love the mention of Putin’s popularity, as if Cohen thinks we should care deeply about the approval rating of someone who has helped stymie a free press, and cracked down mercilessly on all opposition and civil society. Presumably even Cohen would admit that you need a free press for people to be well informed about their leaders.

    Or perhaps not. I suppose Cohen could offer himself as a defense. He is well-informed, and yet also completely clueless.

  31. Matt_SE Says:

    Sorry to disagree with Sergey, but the ruble did not lose 1/7 of its value in one day. According to Bloomberg, it has lost about 1/10 its value since Jan 1, and about 18% in the last year.
    I think it took about a 2% hit on the day he mentions.

  32. Matt_SE Says:

    Putin will do what he wants, and Obama won’t stop him. The Europeans won’t stop him because they rely on Russia’s natural gas.
    Ukrainians will be abandoned due to RealPolitik.

    They can’t hope to win against Russian military forces, so in my opinion, that leaves one option that will make the entire world yelp in pain: Blow the pipelines.

    I would start as far east as possible, and continue moving west. Even if Russian troops invade wholesale to protect the pipelines, they would be hard-pressed to cover them all, and the indigenous support would fade the farther west they got.

    If you really want to take it to the “guerrilla war” level, have Ukrainian saboteurs cross into Poland and blow the pipelines there.

    The cost of countrywide martial law would be ruinous to Russia.

  33. Matt_SE Says:

    Note also: due probably to political differences as much as lack of money, the Ukrainian government reduced gas purchases from Russia recently by 80%.
    That means their exposure is much less than other players.

  34. Sergey Says:

    In one day 3 March Russian companies lost 55 billions dollars. That is 2 trillions rubles, 500 billions rubles more than the cost of Olympiad. This was before Yanukovich asked Putin to use Russian military to “restore constitutional order in Ukraine”. That means that Putin wants not only Crimea, but the whole Ukraine, with Kremlin puppet Yanukovich as its President. Putin decided to go full Hitler.

  35. Beverly Says:

    “Do you believe in fairies? … If you believe,” he [Peter] shouted to them, “clap your hands; don’t let Tinkerbell die!”

  36. Eric Says:

    Ann: “But Bush did nothing about Putin’s move against Georgia in 2008, and the MSM are already busy pushing that meme.”

    expat: “It’ true that Bush didn’t succeed in Georgia, but there are some big differences.”

    If I recall correctly, the Georgia situation was murkier than the Ukraine situation insofar the Russian military action sprang from a fairly long engagement, and the alarm was more over the seemingly disproportionate heavy-handed actions by Russia than the origin of the conflict.

    Also, again, if I recall correctly, the US and EU weren’t prior involved in the Georgia situation like we are with the Ukraine situation.

    The Ukraine situation is more clear cut as an act of Russian aggression compared to the Georgia situation, which is murky enough where Russian action was possibly justifiable in origin, if not in its extent, of action. Therefore, it made more sense to contain mediate, which if I recall correctly, did happen in Europe (France lead?).

    This is not to say the two actions by Russia aren’t related, but that the Georgia situation on Bush’s desk in 2008 is not the same as the Ukraine situation on Obama’s desk in 2014.

    Anyone who knows the details of the Georgia-Russia conflict, feel free to correct me.

  37. Sergey Says:

    Eric, there is a good sourced description:
    The part about the 2008 war:
    “On 8 August, the starting day of Beijing Olympics, Georgia launched a military offensive to “restore constitutional order in the whole region.”[54] Georgia started a full-scale attack on the breakaway republic overnight, using tanks, aircraft, heavy artillery and infantry.[55]” Media sources reported that Georgian MRLS started shelling separatist capital, Tskhinvali. South Ossetian authorities and others accused Georgia of committing “planned massacre of Ossetian civilian population: children, elderly and young women”.[56][57] The Tshinvali’s central hospital, university[58] and some of its schools were also hit.[citation needed]

    Georgian military forces attacked suddenly[59] with the strong support of heavy artillery (BM-21 122 mm (5 in) and 152 mm),[60] tanks,[61] and aircraft.[citation needed]

    According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Annual Report, during the military conflict, the Georgian military used indiscriminate force against the civilian population of South Ossetia, with tank and machine gun fire directed at buildings in Tskhinvali, including an apartment building where civilians were sheltered. The Georgian military used Grad multiple-rocket launchers, an indiscriminate weapon, to destroy targets situated in civilian areas, HRW claims.[62]“

  38. Sergey Says:

    There is also a good politological analisis of this situation in broader ethno-historical context:

  39. Ymarsakar Says:

    This was before Yanukovich asked Putin to use Russian military to “restore constitutional order in Ukraine”. That means that Putin wants not only Crimea, but the whole Ukraine, with Kremlin puppet Yanukovich as its President.

    And did the territories around Georgia ask Putin for aid, is that why tanks rolled within 24 hours or was the diplomatic agreement made before those 24 hours?

    How long did it take Putin to mobilize the tanks this time? Or were the tanks already there.

    Most of the human rights watches are either propaganda arms or controlled by one side or the other. Similar to the Pali conflict.

    Now the propaganda momentum isn’t on the side of Putin. Is that because Putin wasn’t the one controlling the chaos in Ukraine?

    How long were Russian troops near the border of Georgia and were they flowed there artificially for military exercises or only as a result of extremely slow diplomatic request for help?

  40. blert Says:


    Putin built a military railroad specifically to support the campaign.

    It was completed — with a rail head up into the northern face of the mountainside — just weeks before the ‘problem’ erupted.

    Just a coincidence. … Move along, move along.

    The very first Georgian clashes were instigated by Spetsnatz fellows and SVR/ KGB players. These gentlemen had been inserted long before the ‘troubles’ began.

    In every way, Putin has mastered Adolf’s opening chess moves.

    We’re seeing the exact same gambits in action in the Donbas at this time.

    There is NO WAY that Putin will not move in to protect the Sudeten Russians — nee Westish Russians — in the Near Rodina.

    Because of modern realities, the Crimea is going to have to be rejoined to Ukraine.

    Its water, power, telecoms, and everything else come from the north.

    Putin will resolve the matter by absorbing the rest of Ukraine – - probably in stages — with suitable referendums/ plebiscites.

    Even Adolf had his “Ja!” campaign to buttress his Enabling Act.


    Sudeten Russians in the Crimea are now in the Rodina — replicating the dynamics of the Anschluss.

    The Donbas will replicate the dynamics of the Sudetenland.

    Instead of ‘Southernland’ we’ll be treated to ‘Westernland.’

    Fascist is as fascist does.

  41. Sergey Says:

    If Putin could do everything he wants, this would be a probable scenario. But the truth is that he cannot. So this morning he gave full reverse gear and said that there is no anymore tensions in Crimea, so no military operation is needed. My guess is that the loss of $55 bln in one day in collapse of stock exchange was a watershed for his economy ministers and many oligarchs too. Abramovich was rumored to loose a half of his fortune. Probably, in 3 monthes there will be no such leader named Putin, and only a humble pensioner.

  42. Matt_SE Says:

    I have been wondering to what extent Putin can exist in his own fantasy world. In truth, there are no dictators…they are always supported by a power base.
    If Putin costs his base too much, they will remove him if they can. Otherwise, they will withdraw support in more covert ways.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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