Metallic Pea

Frustrating People Since 1971.

All We Are Saying…

with 6 comments

‘…[B]ecause they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.’  ~ Zephaniah 1:17b

  • We are in real danger of becoming a State which is perpetually at war.  Our hypocritical posturing over the conflict in Georgia is just the latest manifestation of our bellicosity.  As a citizen, this is frightening; as a Christian, it is revolting.  When are we going to give up our bloodlust and stop spreading destruction around the globe?  When will the Church say, ‘ENOUGH!’? 

    • The problem with this fairytale script [being promulgated by the U.S. government and media] that is being cut-and-pasted on to the horrendous massacres of people in South Ossetia and Georgia is that it is almost entirely wrong. Georgia is no free-spirited, democratic republic, but an increasingly authoritarian regime that bans overly critical media outlets and criminalises opposition parties. Russia is acting not from an imperialist, expansionist standpoint but out of desperation, behaving recklessly because it feels its sovereign authority challenged by numerous ex-Soviet republics.’ 

    • I think folks should read about events such as this one from a different point of view.  By reading the Russian and European papers (among others)–and you must sift through the propaganda and hyperbole there as well–you can at least get a better understanding of what their perceptions and points of view are.  Fox News and CNN–gasp–do not have a monopoly on the truth.

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    Written by ninepoundhammer

    August 14, 2008 at 11:09 am

    6 Responses

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    1. Sorry this is such a long comment, but in the past you have asked me to contribute instead of just lurking, so here goes. I think your assessment of this conflict and the U.S. role in it is largely wrong.

      I agree that the American media has little or no grasp of post communist politics and Georgia-Russia relations specifically, and has looked foolish while pontificating on the conflict. A week ago, I knew nothing about South Ossetia. I cured my ignorance by having a long chat with a colleague who specializes in post-communist politics. I will not recount the entire political history lesson he gave me, but there are several points that I would like to bring up.

      The conflict over South Ossetia and Abkazia raged even under the prior, much more dictatorial and pro-Russian Georgian regime (in fact Eduard Shevardnadze, Georgian president from 1995 to 2003, was once the foreign minister of the USSR). It is not linked to the fact that Georgia is a U.S. ally, and there is no evidence that we provoked it, in fact it was in our interest to discourage the Georgians from antagonizing the Russians. I fail to see how this conflict is evidence of our “continued bloodlust” and spreading of war throughout the world.

      I have trouble sympathizing with Russia’s insecurities. The source of their insecurity is that many of their former satellites are trying to develop democratic governments and fostering (mostly economic) ties to the U.S. Russia’s reaction to their neighbors’ exercise of self-determination is to (among other things) poisoning presidential candidates (Ukraine) and this clear overreaction to an exchange of fire between the Georgians and the South Ossetians. They could have simply pushed the Georgians back from the border, instead they have invaded Georgia proper inflicting yet unnumbered civilian casualties. What right do the Russians have to interfere in their neighbors’ politics?

      As for the U.S. reaction, the fact is that Georgia is an ally and a democracy, an imperfect developing democracy, but a democracy none the less. We have talked tough, but I think we have a right to be upset when one of our allies is being overrun by a larger power. We have taken no direct action beyond transporting Georgian troops home from Iraq. If we were as militant as you claim we are, we could have taken more direct action, such as putting boots on the ground and daring Russia to engage us. The broader question I have is in your political mindset what is our role in the world? Do we have any allies? Only perfect democracies (from were I’m sitting I see none)? Only those approved by Vladimir Putin? Do we say nothing when our allies are attacked?

      Nate

      August 14, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    2. @Nate:
      Let me explain my position: Going back to 1921, Ossetia (currently North and South) as well as Abkazia were independent countries and members of the Trans-Caucasus alliance. Another oppressive Georgian, one Josef Stalin, arbitrarily ‘gave’ South Ossetia and Abkazia to Georgia and what became North Ossetia to Russia–all in an effort to consolidate power and divide ethnic enclaves so as to prevent independence movements. There was an armed struggle at that time, too.

      During the following reign of the Soviets, Abkazia and S.O. functioned as semi-autonomous areas and were de facto, if not de jure, independent. Following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, they declared independence from Georgia and have acted as such. Throw into the mix that in S.O. they are ethnic Russians, and you see the trouble brewing.

      Following the ‘Rose Revolution’ in which Saashkavili’s party came to power, Georgia sought to reassert control over those independent areas. The Russians entered S.O. as peacekeepers (protecting their kinsmen). The latest incursion into Georgia was a reaction–perhaps an overreaction to the Georgians SHELLING the area and–yes–killing civilians. (In the weeks leading up to Russia’s retaliation, there was a mass exodus of S. Ossetians northward into N.O. and Russia to flee the Georgian onslaught.) It was the Georgians who started the conflict.

      In addition, the Georgian regime is a democracy in name only. There is no freedom of the press, opposition political parties are outlawed, etc. Saashkavili’s move into S.O. was meant at a distraction from the growing unrest with his rule.

      As for Russia feeling hemmed in–can you blame them? Bush the Elder promised Yeltsin and the Russian gov’t post-1991 that the U.S. would not seek to draw the former Eastern Bloc countries into NATO, yet, that is exactly what we have been doing. How would the U.S. react if Russia was creating a military alliance with Cuba, Mexico, and Canada? We know what happened when they tried to establish a military presence in Cuba in 1962. Russia is being encircled by U.S. military presence–how would one think they would feel?
      Now, as to charge that Russian authorities ‘poisoned’ the leader of Ukraine: A recent report made the rounds in which one of the Ukrainian government’s inner circle admitted that it was in fact a sever attack of pancreatitis that caused Yushchenko’s symptoms and not poisoning. Either way Yushchenko has said he knows who supposedly ‘did it’ but refuses to name him or seek his arrest.
      Regarding coming to the aid of ‘allies’–isn’t that what started both World Wars? Our national interests are not threatened in the least by a civil war in the Caucasus. And I find it a bit difficult to swallow that the U.S.–with troops in 192 countries–is indignant about Russia’s reaction.
      We–WE–are the ones stomping around the globe insisting others march to our beat with the threat of–and with actual–military action. We invaded Iraq based on lies; we are threatening Iran for something they have every right to do–seek peaceful nuclear power. (They are signatories to the NPT and have passed IAEA inspections repeatedly.)
      Again, this is not new–the U.S. has done it almost since the beginning with Florida, Texas, California, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Spain, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, etc……
      In the last week I have heard scores of people demand that we send troops–I assume they mean others and not themselves who will do the actual fighting–to get involved in something that is not our business.
      In fact, the hypocricy stands out all the more when we examine our reaction to the Kosovo ordeal. The same scenario was played out there with us inserting ourselves into a civil conflict. Kosovo was a Serbian provence which we bombed unjustly–and then assisted in becoming independent from Serbia. (There were subsequently NO mass graves found.) How is that not hypcritical?!
      How can the U.S. denounce Russia for taking military action into a sovereign nation? THAT HAS BEEN THE CORNERSTONE OF THE BUSH DOCTRINE SINCE 2002.
      I’m sorry, Nate, but I stand by my comments. The double-standard and hypocrisy is as plain as day to me.

      ninepoundhammer

      August 14, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    3. Just to throw in my two cents:

      South Ossetia/ Abkazia position: Small cultural groups who want to govern themselves because they want to preserve their cultural heritage. So far so good. But instead of going through some sort of relatively peaceful process they take advantage of the animosity between Georgia and Russia. They know that Russia has no interest in them yet they willing use Russia’s military hoping that in the end they will come out better then they are now.

      Georgian position: Though being culturally oppressed by Russia, Georgia seemingly could care less about the Ossetians or the Abkazians, to a point it seems that a viable option for them was to turn to Russia for help. Not to mention their provoking attitude towards Russia.

      Russian position: It has never been a supporter of the small ethnic group in the past but now invades a hated neighbor in the name of protecting the rights of a small ethnic group? Blatantly using the Ossetian rebellian as an excuse to attack and weaken Georgia.

      US position: Immediately sticking our noses into a complex foreign situation. Bush ordering Russia to step down so that he can send in American military for relief aid. When I heard this on American news it seemed like a huge mistake, I can’t imagine how Russia sees it. I agree with Matt: didn’t WW1 start in a similar manner, what with some skirmish between small countries that had bigger and bigger allies until there was a line in the sand drawn across the globe? Man I could vote on a president just based on how much he didn’t suck at foreign policy.

      Anyway, my point is that everybody in this whole equation is being selfish and shortsighted.

      Jacob

      August 15, 2008 at 8:26 am

    4. @Jacob: I disagree with some finer points of your assessment but, in the aggregate, you are spot on: There are no parties with completely clean hands nor completely pure motives. However, the blame for the actual conflagration lies with Georgia.

      As for our foreign policy, that is by other point. Our reaction to this is hypocritcal to the Nth degree and flies in the face of credibility. The U.S. doesn’t have a foot to stand on regarding telling Russia not to be ‘meddling’ in others’ affairs. We are the definition of international meddling.

      My vote for Ron Paul looks better every day.

      ninepoundhammer

      August 15, 2008 at 10:33 am

    5. I never said that the Georgians were not at fault for this latest incursion. I understand Russian peacekeepers were retaliating for the Georgian incursion into S.O., and I think that is understandable. Georgia was politically stupid at best, but at the same time the Russian reaction has been excessive, splitting the country, threatening the capital, and again killing innocents.

      You really did not deal with the questions I asked in my first comment, which I asked desiring clarification more than anything. First, I interpreted your comments here and in your previous post to mean that you believe that the fact that we are friendly towards Georgia was the reason for the conflict. Am I right? If so I do not know how you could substantiate such a claim. Second, you are clearly disastisfied with U.S. foriegn policy as a whole and based on your statements are disatisfied with the historical conduct of our foreign policy since the Spanish-American War (if not earlier). I was asking that since you have such a low view of U.S. conduct, how should we behave towards the rest of the world? Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be against any conflict not caused by an invasion of our shores. This would rule out any having any allies and isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. Is that possible in the modern global political and economic environment?

      Nate

      August 15, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    6. @Nate:
      Many, many pundits who follow international events have indicated that the Georgian regime is a semi-puppet of the U.S. At worst, we gave them the ‘green light’ to assault S.O.; at best (and probably more likely), Saashkavili interpreted our interest in having them join NATO and be our ‘ally’ as tacit approval of his actions and he thought we would come to his rescue. Either way, our influence in the region–and the former Eastern Bloc in general–has caused Russia’s gitters. Again, look at things from their perspective: They are historically a paranoid people–which drove THEIR invasions of other countries over the centuries in order to establish buffer zones around the Motherland. Now, they see themselves being encircled by the U.S. and NATO. Couple that with the U.S.’s eagerness to invade and inact ‘regime change’ as well as try to dictate to other countries how to behave and bend to our will, and–yes–our influence in Georgia, which is on Russia’s southern border, becomes a big deal to them. (Not to mention our actions in the Balkans and our missile defence system we are trying to put in Poland–also on their border!)
      As for my claims, I substantiate them by the fact that I have been following world events for quite some time and I was not caught by surprise when this occurred. Just as I have been predicting the invasion of Iran since 2003, I will not be surprised when that happens. I am not an expert in world affairs by any means, but I don’t spend my time reading celebrity magazines and watching Entertainment To-night (not that you do that either). (Fox News is not the only outlet for information in the world.)
      As for the U.S.’s foreign policy: Yes, I am very much against our interventionism, belligerence, and meddling in the affairs of others. George Washington warned against ‘entangling alliances’ and Eisenhower cautioned us against the Military-Industrial Complex. We should behave towards the rest of the world by minding our own business. Non-intervention is NOT the same as isolation. We should establish diplomacy and free trade with the world but we should mind our own affairs and not try to dictate how others live.
      You and I have diametrically opposed views in that area; that is fine as far as it goes. However, unlike most of the folks making the decisions to send OTHER PEOPLE’S sons to kill and die, I have seen war and it ain’t just a Clausewitzian ‘extension of politics’–it is life and death. I find it hard to believe that what happens in Georgia is worth our blood and treasure. Lord willing, my son will be born in a couple of months and I do not want him being chewed up in the Endless War Machine.
      Make no mistake about it, if we screw around and start WWIII with Russia, et al., it won’t be the academics and policy makers who go fight–it will be the Austin Ayerses, Joshua Colemans, and Andrew Gustafsons who are forced to do it.
      I’m not prepared to tell Kevin Ayers and Bob Gustafson that Georgia–or Iraq, Iran, etc., are worth their sons’ lives.
      War remains abstract for the very fact that it IS so far away and we don’t have to face day in and day out. It’s easy to compartmentalise when it is not at your doorstep. It is horrible–horrible–and not to be taken as lightly as our society seems to take it to-day.
      It should not go without mention that most of the folks who advocate such an aggressive foreign policy are doing so from the comfort of their own homes–they are not marching down to the recruiting station to fight themselves.

      As for to-day’s ‘modern global and economic environment’: Switzerland seems to be doing just fine. They have been neutral for at least 300 years–and have not suffered invasion nor terrorist attack during that time. (Even Hitler didn’t fool with them.) They also are a giant in the world of trade and international finance. Minding your own business and trading with the world CAN be done–they have been doing it for centuries.
      I still love ya, Nate–but I vehemently disagree with you on this issue.

      ninepoundhammer

      August 16, 2008 at 9:44 am


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