Thursday, August 21, 2008

Russia's "Man Among Munchkins"

"As these words are being written Russian mechanized troops are moving against the Republic of Georgia. The Georgian leadership has been taken by surprise. They did not think the Russians would go this far. So the question has to be asked: Why is Russia invading Georgia now? What would a war between Georgia and Russia accomplish? ... First, the suppression of ragtag forces is always possible if the invader is persistent and determined. In Chechnya the Kremlin's determination has been unwavering and brutal for almost nine years. Nobody thinks Russia has lost the war in Chechnya. ... Fighting partisans was a sign of victory, [Hitler] explained. ... Only those who cannot keep the field in regular warfare hide in caves and snipe at convoys from the underbrush. ... One thing is certain: the Russian invasion of Georgia, if it continues, will mark a turning point. Why are the Russians acting in such a bold manner? ... Already America has been weakened on many fronts. ... There may never be a better moment to paint America as an imperialist aggressor. In Washington, D.C., however, there is no desire for a break with Russia. ... The Russians see America's weakness. First and foremost, the Americans are unwilling to bomb Iran. They have upset the Saudis by building a Shiite democracy in Iraq. The Americans have angered the Turks by supporting the Iraqi Kurds. ... The Russian leadership probably feels it is time to tip everything over. It is time to expose America's weakness. What will President Bush do? By the time you read these words, the White House will probably have issued a statement denouncing the Russian invasion. But will American troops be sent to Georgia? ... The real issue is that Georgia's leadership threw off Moscow's shackles and aligned herself with the United States. ... By invading Georgia, the Russians are assuring the Iranians of Moscow's readiness to confront the U.S. ... It is true that Russia has benefitted from high energy prices. More significantly, Russia will benefit even more when the U.S. dollar collapses. ... If we look at Russian rhetoric and Russian actions over the past nine years we will find a pattern. In recent months the Russians have been acting as if they want to provoke a break with the Americans", my emphasis, JR Nyquist (JRN) at, 8 August 2008.

"Bush did use tough language, demanding that Russia stop bombing. And Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice demanded that Russia 'respect Georgia's territorial integrity.' ... Putin ... appeared ostensibly to coordinate assistance to refugees who had fled South Ossetia into Russia, but the Russian message was clear: This is our sphere of influence, others stay out. 'What the Russians just did is, for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, they have taken a decisive military action and imposed a military reality,' said George Friedman, chief executive of Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis and intelligence company. 'They've done it unilaterally, and all of the countries that have been looking to the West to intimidate the Russians are now forced into a position to consider what just happened.' And Bush administration officials acknowleged that the the outside world, and the [US] in particular, had little leverage over Russian actions. 'There is no possibility of drawing NATO or the international community into this, ' said a senior State Department official in a conference call with reporters. ... "Strategically, the Russians have been sending signals that they really wanted to flex their muscles, and they're upset over Kosovo,' the diplomat said. ... During one meeting on Kosovo in Brussels this year, Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister, warned Ms. Rice and European diplomats that if they recognized Kosovo, they would be setting a precedent for South Osseta and other breakaway provinces. ... 'We've placed ourselves in a position that globally we don't have the wherewithal to to do anything,' Mr. Friedman of Stratfor said. 'One would think under the circumstances, we'd shut up'," my emphasis, Helene Cooper at the NYT, 10 August 2008.

"Russia's only worry is the United States, which currently has a lame-duck president with low approval ratings, and is exhausted after Afghanistan and Iraq. But more importantly, America's attention is preoccupied with a presidential race, in which 'world citizen' Barack Obama has mesmerized Europe as the presumptive new president and soon-to-be disciple of European soft power. ... Most importantly, Putin and Medvedev have called the West's bluff. ... Together with the dismal NATO performance in Afghanistan, the Georgian incursion reveals the weakness of the Atlantic Alliance. The tragic irony is unmistakable. NATO was given a gift in not having made Georgia a member, since otherwise an empty ritual of evoking Article V's promise of mutual assistance in time of war would have effectively destroyed the Potemkin Alliance. ... Indeed, tired of European lectures, the Russians are now telling the world that soft power is, well soft. Moscow doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, the European Union, the World Court at the Hague, or any finger-pointing moralist from Geneva or London. Did anyone in Paris miss any sleep over the rubble of Grozny? ... Russia does not need a global force-projection capacity; it has sufficient power to muscle its neighbors and thereby humiliate not merely its enemies, but their entire moral pretensions as well. The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state. ... We talk endlessesly about 'soft' and 'hard' power as if humanitarian jawboning, energized by economic incentives or sanctions, is the antithesis to mindlesss miliary power. In truth, there is soft power, hard power and power-power--the latter being the enormous advantages held by energy rich, oil-exporting states", my emphasis, Victor Davis Hanson at, 12 August 2008.

"The Russian are alcohol-sodden barbarians, but now and then they vomit up a genius. Prime Minister--and now generalissimo--Vladimir Putin is Mother Russia's latest world-class wonder. Let's be honest: Putin's the most effective leader in the world today. ... Not a single free-world leader currently in office can measure up to Czar Vladimir the Great. ... Putin not only knew what he was doing--he knew exactly what others would do. ... Strategy and conflict hinge on character. Pution's character is ugly, but he's certainly got one: On the world stage, he comes across as a man among munchkins. ... The empire of the czars hasn't produced such a frightening genius since Stalin", my emphasis, Raph Peters (RP) at the NY Post, 14 August 2008.

"Russia won. Diplomacy failed. No state or alliance will reverse the decision. When President Bush spoke out strongly on Friday, Moscow ignored him: Words mean nothing to Prime Minister Putin, a man who regards all compromise as weakness. ... Georgia will never be whole again. ... Knocked off balance politically, American leftists rushed to blame both America and democratic Georgia. Their hypocrisy rivals Putin's. ... Putin is sending an unmistakable message to all other independent states that once belonged to Moscow's empire: Russia will not tolerate true democracies or Western orientations on its 'eternal property'. ... Apart from some tactical slovenliness on the part of the military, things have gone perfectly for him. His strategic acumen, audacity and ruthlessness easily make him 2008's 'Man of the Year'. ... Putin's a Russian nationalist. He would have been as at home in the age of Peter the Great as in our time", RP at the NY Post, 16 August 2008.

I agree in part with JRN. JRN writes of "the past nine years". We began bombing Serbia in March 1999, nine years ago. Is that a coincidence? Washington doesn't want a break with Moscow? Huh? What did FDR do to bring us to war with Japan? See Mauritz Hallgren's The Tragic Fallacy, 1937. The next to the last chapter is titled, "Japan the Chosen Foe" and describes FDR's provocations of Japan which exploded across the headlines on 7 December 1941. I disagree with JRN, that the Russians are "assuring the Iranians of Moscow's readiness to confront the U.S.". I think Russia is inviting us to attack Iran! In effect saying: "see what we did in Chechnya. See what we are doing in Georgia. Get off the stick and do likewise in Iran. We border Iran, will join the party and split the proceeds". The Russians are not provoking anything so much as reacting to our provocations. A legal case illustrates. "The fourth assignment was to the following language: 'How can you find a deliberate intent to kill? Do you have to see whether or not the man had that intent or not in his mind a year or month or day or hour? Not at all, for in this day of improved weapons, when a man can discharge a gun in the twinkling of an eye, if you see a man draw one of these weapons, and fire it, and the man toward whom he presents it falls dead, you have a deliberate intent to kill, as manifested by the way he did that act',", Allen v US, 164 US 492, 495 (1896). "The sixth assignment is to the following language: 'The law says we have no power to ascertain the conditions of a man's mind. The best we can do is to infer it more or less satisfactorily from his acts. A person is presumed to intend what he does. A man who performs an act which it is known will produce a particular result is, from our common experience presumed to have anticipated that result, and to have intended it'. ... This is nothing more than a statement of the familiar proposition that every man is presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of his own act", 496. We: attack Serbia, criticize Russia for charging the Ukraine market prices for natural gas, bring countries bordering Russia into NATO, yet expect Russia not to react adversely? I agree with Michael Savage, radio talk show host on this. We apparently learned nothing from Britain and France's 1939 guarantee of Polish borders, which in part led to World War II, see my 24 February 2008 post.

Friedman gives Bush and Rice sage advice: "shut up". Look at Britain and France's 1939 Polish guarantee. Shut up, both of you. Now! Bush and Rice's "demands" show American foreign policy's bankruptcy, as well as considering the "world community", whatever that is. Napoleon once said, "God is always on the side of the big battalions". Which battalions oppose Russia in Georgia? See my 22 October and 12 December 2007 and 28 February and 18 March 2008 posts.

I have talked about "soft power". It's a fantasy of the American and European elite. I cite Napoleon.

Why's RP frightened? Czar Vlad the Great (VTG) is a Russian nationalist. He will do what he believes serves Russia's interests. What's not to understand? RP shows envy here, saying in effect, he wishes the US had a president like VTG.

Diplomacy failed? No, without the military capability of backing up diplomacy, one just has noise. As Carl von Clausewitz wrote in On War, 1812, "War is the continuation of policy by other means". What's wrong with VTG's being a Russian nationalist? Should he be Barack Obama, "world citizen"? Putin is in good company. Stalin was Time's "Man of the Year" in 1939 and 1942. So far, Putin's only made it once, 2007. Let's see if he can make it back-to-back.


Joseph Moroco said...

A good post until you write:

"I think Russia is inviting us to attack Iran! In effect saying: "see what we did in Chechnya. See what we are doing in Georgia. Get off the stick and do likewise in Iran. We border Iran, will join the party and split the proceeds".

You have got to get off the Iran thing. Hey, you said it, they border Iran. If they have the problem, they can do the bombing.

Independent Accountant said...

You and I disagee about Iran. We can continue to disagree.