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Sunday, August 10

To any and all U.S. forces in Georgia: STAND DOWN

Can't I take a few weeks off without my government, the government of the United States of America, otherwise known as Europe's sappy Doberman, stepping into a pile of doo-doo up to their eyeballs?

Now, three guesses who is going to be left holding the bag for the messes in South Ossetia and Georgia?

Will it be the Russian oligarchs who run Israel? Bzzzzt! Wrong answer.

Will it be Germany's government, which wants to have their cake and eat it too? Bzzzzt! Wrong again!

Will it be MI6, which has a habit of batting their eyelashes at Moscow whenever suspicion falls on Britain and lisping, 'We had nothing to do with it. It was the CIA who did it.' Bzzzzt! Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here is the right answer: It will be the United States America left holding the bag. Of course; why break an unbroken record of being played for a fool by Brussels and our dear NATO allies?

This needs to be done yesterday:

> All 1,500 CIA operatives out of Georgia. All U.S. military forces and sundry 'advisors' out of Georgia.

> Both U.S candidates for President keep their yaps shut about Georgia and refer all question on the matter to the U.S. Department of State.

> And State is kindly requested to read the riot act to Israel and request that they withdraw all military advisors from Georgia.

> With regard to any NATO "forces" in Georgia -- I am not sure that report from yesterday is accurate, although there may be some 'advisors' there. In any case, if there are any U.S. forces or advisors in Georgia under NATO auspices: stand down, by any which way.

Also, I do not want to hear a word about protecting "American values" in Georgia. I do not want to hear about the geostrategic importance of protecting Europe's energy supplies. In fact, I do not want to hear the words "oil" and "natural gas" mentioned in any sentence that pertains to Georgia or Russia.

The Europeans got themselves into this mess and unless the U.S. stops playing guard dog, they will continue to prod and poke at Russia. And they will continue to run back to the U.S. and say, 'See? See? Look what Russia did to us this time.'

And they will not stop until they manipulate the U.S. into a war with Russia.
August 11, 7:25 AM ET UPDATE

(AFP-August 10) European Union foreign ministers are to hold a crisis meeting to discuss the bloc's response to the [Georgia-Russia] conflict on Wednesday in Brussels, an EU source told AFP.
So the EU is dragging their feet until Wednesday about convening a "crisis" meeting that should have taken place a week ago. Why the delay? Because they're waiting for the State Department to solve their problem.

America does share in the blame for what happened; there's no doubt about that. Yet this situation did not start with Kosovo, or with the phony Orange Revolution, or the phony Rose Revolution. It started more than a decade ago, when the United States of America should have begun to disengage from a very deep involvement with Europe's relations with Russia and the ex-Soviet countries.

The truth is that the NATO partnership has become toxic for the United States and for the Europeans who have leaned on the United States militarily since the end of World War Two.

One of the worst consequences of the toxicity is that Washington came to serve the interests of Russian oligarchs and anyone else whose interests fell into two categories: destroying Russia, or ruling it.

It is a terrible tragedy that Russia has had to use military force to teach Georgia and the rest of the world that Russia will not be destroyed or ruled by other countries.

But it will be a double tragedy if factions in Washington and Europe's capitals persuade President Bush that Russia's actions in Georgia are a sign that the Soviet Union is rising again. That will happen only if the Western powers keep instigating against Russia.

The United States should take the harsh lesson with good grace, and back off. And rethink the rationale for NATO and US involvement with it.

Also, the White House and all members of Congress need to put distance between the U.S. government and lobbies that are working against Russia's government.

And the United States needs to strongly remind European governments that Europeans have to live on the same continent with Russians, so they've got to stop expecting the United States to intervene in quarrels -- quarrels that are often instigated by the Europeans. And they've got to stop using the USA's willingness to be a good ally as a means to stave off hard choices about energy security and defense spending.

A reader disputed my statement that Israel is run by Russian oligarchs. I'm glad to hear it. I'll wait until the next International Crime Threat Assessment Report before I'll buy it. Oh but that's right: the last one embarrassed so many governments, including the US one, that we may never see a second report. Come to think of it, I might have indeed misspoken. When last I checked Israel was run by Russian oligarchs and Russian mobsters. And of course, technically they're ex-oligarchs.

The reader also asked why I singled out Israel for their involvement in Georgia and didn't mention the big French involvement. I suppose because unlike the Israeli press, the French haven't publicly boasted that they're selling weapons to Georgia and providing them with military advice.

And maybe it's also because we don't give France -- how much financial aid every year? Is it ten million dollars a day we give Israel? I don't remember offhand, but the point is that it's Russia's place, not ours, to take up with Georgia any beef about French involvement in the country.

Because we do provide Israel with considerable aid, we have a right to ask them to back off in Georgia, although of course we can't order them to do so. But before we ask, we need to set an example. What use is it to ask Israel, if we're still in Georgia in force as military advisors, and selling Georgia weapons?

None of this is rocket science. If Iran sent a thousand Republican Guards and 1,500 of their intelligence operatives to Nogales, Mexico, what is the U.S. military supposed to think? They're there for the beer?

Even so, Russia did not rise to the bait until Georgia took military action against South Ossetia -- and Georgia was indeed the instigator.

There will be another update at 5:00 PM ET. In the meantime, here is ZenPundit Mark Safranski's advice to Senator John McCain about Russia, which Mark published on March 26. I am very upset that McCain has not yet listened to the advice:
McCain needs some new Foreign Policy Advisers

Kicking Russia out of the G-8 is simply, spectacularly, dumb. What genius gave him that advice? A club of market democracies is great. Form one. But this crackbrained nostalgia for the Evil Empire though, is the yearning of old men misremembering what they consider to have been the moral simplicities of their youth.

McCain needs to take a good, hard, look at his foreign policy team - the real team of day to day insiders - while the Obama-Clinton slugfest allows him to fine-tune matters under the media radar. I have a hard time imagining that George Shultz and Henry Kissinger suggested that we kick the Russians in the nuts as an opening move of a McCain administration.

One war at a time John. One war at a time.
Yes indeed.
For democracy lovers who are weeping buckets about "authoritarian" Russia's bombing of a democratic country, here is Russia Today's Peter Lavelle on democracy, Saakashvili-style:
January 8, 2008

Georgia – Democracy on the cheap

Georgia’s snap presidential poll is being called the country’s most democratic election. In an objective sense, this may be true. However, if this is what observers call democracy, I have to wonder if democracy is worth all the trouble. And whether the term democracy is merely a tool used by the West to lecture and judge others.

I was in Tbilisi before and during the election. Some of my observations include the following:

Tbilisi was awash with Saakashvili agitprop. The capital city didn’t look like it was having election. Rather, all the posters and media blitz made it look like Saakashvili was holding a referendum on his presidency. (Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing such a thing, but it was called an election with a number of other candidates running.)

Officially, Saakashvili ran as a candidate only, not as a sitting president. But that is not how it appeared. And there is ample evidence that suggests overwhelming state resources were used to support Saakashvili’s campaign.

Saakashvili loyalists had almost complete control of the electronic media. And the editorial line was clearly biased.

There is a real opposition in Georgia that is being silenced. I am not talking about the most marginalized opposition groups like in Russia. They are marginalized because the Russian electorate has little or not interest in these groups. In Georgia it is different; there is strong and open discontent with the status quo. The poverty that can be seen on the street in which parliamentary stands instantly strikes any and all observers.

Public opinions polls before the election were completely useless - there was no credible bar to measure results. This was one of the most frustrating elements of the election. It was virtually impossible to compare any electoral numbers before and after the election. We in media were basically told to trust the authorities – the same authorities backing Saakashvili.

The Central Election Committee appeared to be at best incompetent and at worst dishonest. The CEC appeared to be stalling for hours to make any announcement on results. However, the head of the CEC told me and “Russia Today” that all was going well and that claims of vote rigging and other violations were either untrue or only technical problems in nature. How could he know only this when his job also included counting the votes?

What annoyed me the most was everyone was forced to judge election results based on an exit poll paid for by state-controlled-pro-Saakashvili television stations. Later this poll was treated as something "official." This simply insulted commonsense. First, the campaign was run that clearly favored the former president. Then, the entire electoral process was controlled by Saakashvili’s people. And then, we were told to judge the outcome by a paid for exit poll by Saakashvili. If this isn’t the death of outrage, I don’t know what is!

Western election observers didn’t acquit themselves well. The OSCE and other international NGOs deemed the vote "free and fair" even before a small number of the votes had been counted. They did cite numerous voting irregularities and violations – quite a few, actually – but still showed their satisfaction. Listening to the small talk of the observers in the few posh cafes and restaurants in Tbilisi, one easily sensed the script about the election outcome was written well in advance.

Overall, there was a huge deficient of information during the whole process - it was so opaque. This didn't seem to bother pro-Saakashvili Western media or Western monitors. But then again, it appears neither was interested in the democratic process – just the outcome.

What about comparisons to Russia’s parliamentary election? The Russian vote was not without mistakes and errors. Remarkably, many of the same mistakes and errors are said to be found in Georgia.

The democratic process is just that – a process. It is never prefect. But in the case of Georgia, the West deemed its election qualitatively superior to Russia’s. Why is that? Is it because Georgia wants to be a Western vassal state? Is it because Saakashvili desperately desires to please his Western paymasters? On the other hand, maybe it is because Russia and Russians will determine their own democratic path without bowing down to Western hubris and hypocrisy.

Overall, the West has nothing to cheer about when it comes to Georgia’s democratic progress. All I saw was progress in manipulating the democratic process for pre-determined ends. God help the Georgian people – they need a lot of it four years after the Rose Revolution and Saakashvili’s growing erratic authoritarian megalomania.


Peter Lavelle
If the name "Saakashvili" is ringing a bell by now -- you can read my November 2007 Phew! This rose by any name stinketh! to refresh your memory.

Yes, this is the same Mikheil Saakashvili who ordered a brtual crackdown on opposition parties and Georgia's independent media in the run-up to the January 2008 'election.'
Over a period of decades, the U.S. government has shown a tendency to listen to Russia expert -- America's best Russia expert-- Dr. Stephen F. Cohen, only at the Eleventh Hour. One gets tired of saying, 'If only they had listened earlier.'

I don't know what else to say. Here is Steve's conversation last night with John Batchelor about the Russia-Georgia war and his advice for the United States regarding Russia. Listen.

You might also want to read his prophetic 2006 article The New American Cold War, which he updated with a 2007 introduction. Read it and wonder why so few listened at the time -- and now contemplate the price for studious deafness.

Steve's recent article for the International Herald Tribune also has strong warnings and good advice for the U.S. Presidential candidates on the matter of U.S.-Russia relations. Via Robert Amsterdam , July 1, 2008. Steve concludes by observing:
[...] U.S. policies - widely viewed in Moscow as an "encirclement" designed to keep Russia weak and to control its resources - have helped revive an assertive Russian nationalism, destroy the once strong pro-American lobby, and inspire widespread charges that concessions to Washington are "appeasement," even "capitulationism." The Kremlin may have overreacted, but the cause and effect threatening a new cold war are clear.

Because the first steps in this direction were taken in Washington, so must be initiatives to reverse it. Three are essential and urgent: a U.S. diplomacy that treats Russia as a sovereign great power with commensurate national interests; an end to NATO expansion before it reaches Ukraine, which would risk something worse than cold war; and a full resumption of negotiations to sharply reduce and fully secure all nuclear stockpiles and to prevent the impending arms race, which requires ending or agreeing on U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe.

American presidential campaigns are supposed to discuss such vital issues, but neither John McCain nor Barack Obama has done so. Instead, in varying degrees, both have promised to be "tougher" on the Kremlin than George W. Bush has allegedly been and to continue the encirclement of Russia and the hectoring "democracy promotion" there.

To be fair, nobody has asked the candidates about any of these crucial issues. They should do so now.
No serious questions on the topic were put to the candidates until after the war exploded between Russia and Georgia. The answers veered between 'tragically uninformed' and 'stupid.'
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