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Georgians: We Helped you in Iraq, now Help us!

The Georgian government is recalling its 2,000 troops serving in Iraq to confront the threat at home, reports The Times:

We helped in Iraq - now help us, beg Georgians As Russia forces its neighbour to retreat from South Ossetia, the people of Gori tell our correspondent of betrayal by the West. (...)
Miriyan Gogolashvili, of Tkviav, said: "The Russians will be here tomorrow. They want to show us and the world how powerful they are. Tomorrow it will be Ukraine and nobody in the West is doing anything to stop them. Why were our soldiers in Kosovo and Iraq if we don't get any help from the West now?" he asked.

So, is the West going to defend Georgia? Nobody seriously expect the EU to fight the Russians, after all we Europeans are from Venus. So what about the Americans from Mars? Is the United States going to help Georgia fight the Russians? After all, the US was Georgia's strongest supporter for NATO membership action plans...

I appreciate James Joyner's honesty and frankness in Outside the Beltway:

As sad as the events of the past few days have been, I do not believe that the United States has sufficient interests in Georgia keeping sovereignty over South Ossetia to justify war with Russia.   Strong words, and perhaps diplomatic sanctions - including ousting Russia from the G8 - are as much as we can reasonably do.
But here's the rub:  It is the position of the United States government that Georgia should be admitted to NATO.  We begged, cajoled, and arm twisted our European allies to that end in Bucharest this past April, ultimately settling for a vague pledge that Georgia will be put on the path to membership soon. (...)
If, however, we have no intention of defending Georgia from an attack by the only country on the planet that could conceivably pose it any threat, what the hell are we doing inviting them into NATO?

Matthew Yglesias asks the same question:

But given that we don't want to back Georgia in these situations, then why were we so eager to support Georgia's bid for NATO membership?

My answer: The US knew that the European countries would block NATO membership for Georgia. Thus it was safe for the US to express rhetorical support for NATO membership action plans for Georgia without coming in a situation to having to defend Georgia. And the beauty of it: It also allowed the US to paint the Europeans as weak countries afraid of Russia.

Oh, wait, there are some brave Americans who want to come to Georgia's rescue. Think Progress writes: Neocons Call For U.S. To Launch War With Russia:

Bill Kristol: [Georgia] 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.

And, of course, you don't have to read very much to stumble upon Nazi analogies in the US media. Robert Kagan needs Nazi Germany to make his case in his Washington Post column Putin Makes His Move. This prompted Joe Klein to write the Time Magazine blog post It's Raining Nazis--Continued, where he criticizes "the endless neoconservative search for new enemies, mini-Hitlers." These comparisons are not limited to Neocons. Zbigniew Brzezinski opines in a Huffington Post interview:

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has correctly drawn an analogy between Putin's "justification" for dismembering Georgia -- because of the Russians in South Ossetia -- to Hitler's tactics vis a vis Czechoslovakia to "free" the Sudeten Deutsch.

So why is not the US stopping Russia's "Hitler tactics"?

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SC on :

Isn't this much too Machiavellian for an American mind to conceive? That's quite a mark of respect. ;)

E.J on :

Although Georgian government play a very dangerous game first, I still think Russia should not revenge Georgian's irresponsible military action against South Ossetia. Georgian is a small coutry while Russia is great and giant coutry. Russia should leave a good reputation for itself even that means russia was insulted by this tiny state. We all know that Georgian desperate guy ,Mikhail Saakashvili, was in deep trouble in his domestic affair. He need to transfer the focus on anything except its awful and bankrupting economy.The military provocation on Russia will be the best way to let its opponents shut up. They (th opponents) had to support Saakashvili or they will be kick out as traitors. unfortunately, Saakashvili can ludicrously initiate this game, but he and his military machine can not decide the whole process. He mismatch with his Moscow's counterpart. I doubt the west dare directly getting involve in this affair. They(EU and US) had no say on Georgian military invasion, had no say on South Ossetia people's rights for self-deciding on its own future. So EU and US had better shut up here. Without their abetting , Saakashvili will not behave this way. It is not a secret that EU and US want to erode Russia, But all of them play this game cautiously. Believe or not Georgian or Kosovo are only tools for the West. They enjoy the role of hypocrites, They will not challenge Russia's core interests no mention to challenge Russia 's dignity,so its a pity for Georgian and Saakashvili. I think Russia should restrain its militray action on Georgian soils. Russia should play its role as a respectable and responsible leader in those region.Guarantee that all the people in South Ossetia and Abkhazo exert their rights to decide their own fates without Georgian or Western power's threats. Russia ! GO !GO !GO !

Kyle on :

As far as I can tell, Europeans are weak countries afraid of Russia. I think the US will back Georgia in any way it can, short of direct force against Russian military. Two interesting things I learned today: 1) It is the US who is flying the Georgian troops from Iraq back to Georgia 2) At the same time, when Georgia gave troops to Iraq it was part of he agreement that the US would return those troops to Georgia whenever Georgia requested, so I am not sure this can be interpretted as the US directly supporting the Georgian war efforts (though I will not be surprised, albeit this belief is completely unsubstantiated, if the US is helping the Georgian military with intelligence and other support to whatever discreet degree it can) We know that the US has been training the Georgian military for a while, so the contacts are definitely there, at least in the very recent past.

Kyle on :

I should rephrase, it is not all Europeans who are scared of Russia. From what I can tell the Baltic and eastern european countries, as well as the UK, are very strongly supportive of defending Georgia (though again, I am not sure if this means through military means).

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Kyle [i]the US is helping the Georgian military with intelligence and other support to whatever discreet degree it can[/i] Do you think this kind of help will make a difference?

David on :

Like a broken record, in the bizarro world of the neocons [url=http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/08/its-munich.html]it's always Munich 1938[/url].

Pat Patterson on :

The first question that this transport of troops back to Georgia raised was what happened to Russia's claim of complete air superiority? If that claim is true then it appears that the Russians are very much loathe to directly confront the US under even the most advantageous of circumstances. Plus I was thinking more along the lines of Haile Selassie appealing to the League of Nations to honor its commitments to help Ethiopia resist a second invasion by the Italians. As well as demanding the League do something to stop the Italians from using chemical weapons against civilians and even hospitals. But, deja vu all over again, there had been a secret offer made by the British and French to Italy to partition Ethiopia because the other Great Powers simply didn't want to get involved.

SC on :

Don't forget Zbig's analogy to Stalin and Finland too! It's two-fer: doubly dispicable. As I pointed out earlier, Zbig's recommendation is also interesting: to double down on NATO membership for Georgia. This comes from someone who has advised Senator Obama on foreign policy. Now if you want spin theories, Joerg, how about this: Moscow planned for and seized an opportunity for payback on Kosovo that might just have the added benefit of splitting NATO, and splitting the EU nations from the US, for the US's proclaimed error in supportting Georgian membership in NATO. The added benefit being that the US can be accused of failing to anticipate this Russian aggression, given it's often vocal warning of the same, while at the same time being criticized for having held these views. :) Of course, this is all nonsense, the responsibility lies with a Georgian President and his government's foolish decision taken in the belief - apparently without consultation - that worse come to worse, as it now has, the EU/US would pull their collective posteriors out of the fire. Not what you would want from an upstanding alliance partner. If this in fact is what happened, as appears to be, those are the actions of a fool. Worse though is Russia's unending promotion of ethnic strife in bordering nations for its own self-serving reasons. Pursuit of self-interest, of course, is expected. To do so by repeatedly playing the ethno-nationalist card is despicable.

Marie-Claude on :

I think you are right, Russia is retaliating for her 17 years of humiliation from the west. This is a major proud nation that can't forgive that the west didn't help her, but took profit of her weakness. Now Putin knows that he had the right opportunity to recall who is Russia, OG, the sillyness of the Georgian President, the weakness of the EU position vis-ŗvis US policy, the exhausted situation of the US that has 2 major war fronts, the US election campain... BTW, where is strong Bush ? in vacation in China with his family, so that the non-reaction fault would be put on the others, McCain tried a harsh compensation discourse, though these are only words, and I expect will remain only words. Geargia will crually learn that she chose the wrong Alliee, she should had composed with Russia and EU. Though I don't want that she had become a new EU candidate, we have enough states that don't really endorse the EU position, just that they need our money. Well if these central Europe states had organised themselves as our EU alliance when the had the opportunity in the nineties, then I expect that Russia would haven't dare to show who is the master. Now let it be, the new world order is coming, with Russia as a pole. and France and Germany should show off more their conviction in that new era : independance vis -ŗ-vis adventurous spirit of the US, that was no moral fightings as they want us to believe, but imperialistic style. Though they had the possibility of that policy, I expect now that they reached the bottom line of it.

SC on :

The "new world order" you suggest is a misnomer: sounds a lot like the "old world order" to me.

Marie-Claude on :

that are only "words", seems that is more "reality" policy

Nanne on :

It's what I stated [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1075-Georgia-Conflict-Should-NATO-Marry-the-Small-Kid-on-the-Playground.html#c13923]back in May[/url]: [quote]Georgia has some level of strategic importance, no doubt, and we should maintain friendly relations with it. It's always struck me as unrealistic, however, that we would have the will and the capability to effectively defend Georgia. If we start extending security guarantees that we won't keep, NATO will really become worthless.[/quote] Josh Marshall has a good post on the matter, '[url=http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/207897.php]Beware[/url]' One of the responses he received is a kind of view you haven't seen here yet, which says that it's [url=http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/207946.php]all about the OIL[/url]. If Russia is indeed intent on conquering Georgia, that view will become more reasonable.

Kyle on :

We have often asked the question in this forum if the US and Europe would come to Georgia's aid if it were a member of NATO. I think another question to ask is, would Russia have been so bold against Georgia if it were a member of NATO? The fact that NATO has postponed a Membership Action Plan for Georgia during the Bucharest Summit in April (due largely to opposition from a couple of the Allies, notably Germany) may have emboldened Russia to make a move.

Nanne on :

You know the behind the scenes poker better than I do, Kyle, but I think that it's very likely Russia would have rushed in troops into South Ossetia and Abkhazia immediately had a Membership Action Plan been agreed. A Membership Action Plan, as far as I know, does not include a security guarantee (that comes after membership). Hell, Putin was even hinting that Russia would try to split up Ukraine if we let the Ukrainians in.

quo vadis on :

You seem to be calling for some action on the part of the US, but it's not clear what you recommend that US do. If you were in Bush's place what actions would you take in support of Georgia?

Kevin Sampson on :

So why is not the US stopping Russia's "Hitler tactics"? Maybe it's because we've decided that further intervention in yet another European crises isn't in our national interest, ya think? It isn't like there haven't been plenty of people who have advocated that very thing in this very forum.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

But why is the US then supporting NATO membership for Georgia? Germany, France etc do not support this... Do you think the Bush administration is acting honorably by supporting Georgia's NATO membership aspirations while not being willing to defend Georgia?

SC on :

Joerg: Why did the US promote NATO membership of Poland and the Baltic countries? Why has it supported the accession of Turkey into the EU? The former was questioned but ultimately supported by the NATO membership, the later has not been welcomed, as yet. Do you think this is part of some nefarious plan to encircle Russia in the first case, and to weaken the EU in the second? I really am curious. Do you hold these views?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Turkey in the EU would be good for the EU as well. "Nefarious" is the wrong word. Yes, the US is still concernend about Russia and therefore advocates NATO expansion. You know what Lord Ismay said about the reasons for creating NATO? [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/769-Bumper-Stickers-Slogans-What-is-the-Purpose-of-NATO.html[/url] What do you think about that?

SC on :

Well, I find Lord Ismay's quote amusing, being old enough and well enough read to appreciate the context, but quaint as far as its current relevance. To say that advocacy of NATO expansion reflects concern with Russia looks at only one piece of a much larger picture and deprives it of any context. The Cold War is dead; everyone gets it including the, institutionally slow to change, Pentagon which is undergoing some very significant changes. I don't have links at hand but take a look for links related to General Petraeus' chairing of the recent promotions board; i.e. the board that picks the newest members of the general staff for the army. This is a potentially big and yet under reported change. Promotion of NATO expansion has been part of an ongoing effort to expand the western European community that began as far back as the Marshall Plan. To put it crudely: A western European community with enough heft economically, and of necessity militarily, forces Russia into its orbit and not the other way around. Running a western European community right up to the Russian border doesn't allow Russia to hide behind a screen of vassal states. Now there are many things to criticize in this, but the spreading of western European values and culture as widely as possible in Europe doesn't seem to be one of them, at least to me.

SC on :

More questions, Joerg: 1. What does honor have to do with the price of beans? So, what role do you assign to "honor" in the conduct of foreign relations? For example, is it more operative than treaty obligations or international institutions? 2. As far as I know, no security guarantee has ever been extended to Georgia by the US. So, is it your view that mere promotion of a country's membership constitutes a defacto security guarantee? With respect to the questions in part 1, in the absence of any security guarantee, does honor oblige?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Realpolitik is tough. Not much honor there. What I don't like is hypocrisy. Thus heads of government should not boast too much, and talk about their honor and wonderful values etc. [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1052-Holding-America-to-a-Higher-Standard.html[/url] "Standing with you"?

SC on :

Go back to that Kagan article I recommended some time ago: "Neocon Nation: c. 1776". You'll find that statements like that made by Bush have their counterparts stretching back to the beginning of the republic - and they've always provoked voices in support as well as opposition in this country. Like it or not, this kind of rhetoric - and that's what it is - is part of this nation's fabric; always has been, and I expect that it always will be. It's as much about aspiration and inspiration as it is about specific policy - much less about military commitment. Hypocrisy? How so? Was it hypocrisy for Carter and Reagan (to name two extremes) to drum on the Soviets and the Chinese about human rights violations, or for Reagan to label the Soviets an evil empire, without sending in the tanks to free all the political prisoners? Was it hypocrisy then to say that we "stood with" Sakharov and others at the time? If you think so, I believe that surviving dissidents have already disagreed, and would continue to disagree, with you.

quo vadis on :

"Germany, France etc do not support this... Do you think the Bush administration is acting honorably by supporting Georgia's NATO membership aspirations while not being willing to defend Georgia?" You are suggesting that if the US tries and fails to organize multilateral actions, the US is obligated to act unilaterally? There's just no pleasing some people.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Point taken. I am, however, still wondering why the US was sooo keen on offering MAP to Georgia in Bucharest and put so much pressure on Germany, France etc. There is big mismatch. The support for Georgia back then does not match with what I see now. BUT: There might be plenty of "clandestine" support that that I do not see. I have put up one theory for the US support for Georgia in Bucharest in the blog post. Another theory would be: Support for MAP for Georgia was seen as a way to "create work" for the West European countries. A third theory: Bush was hoping that MAP for Georgia and Ukraine would be his presidential legacy rather than some advancement of US interests. He could credit himself with another round of NATO expansion. And some presidents don't care about the troubles they leave behind for others.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ quo vadis Let's assume the Europeans supported the Bush policy on membership for Georgia: Do you think Americans would support their president in starting a war with Russia in order to help a tiny Caucasus republic, whose reckless president has made a stupid mistake in dealing with rebels in poor part of his country? Why should Americans care about South-Ossetia?

Joe Noory on :

Taking all these theories for what they are, I have an easier time beliving that if the Europeans had not objected to closer NATO ties with Georgia and Ukraine, that Russia would not have crossed the border into S. Osetia and Abkhazia - Using all the while nutty pretexts, propaganda at home, spokepeople abroad talking chillingly in circles about "peacekeepers", etc. The rest really is just overly broad speculation about how American brain waves caused the Russians to expose their carefully concealed 'inner bear' in ethnocentric DDOS attacks on Estonia, then shutting off the heat on the coldest day in Ukraine, etc. Nothing isn't irreperable, so I don't see the point of risking a direct conflict with the Russians over this. Those who'd like to think right now that the US is falling down on backing the Georgians would otherwise wring their hands at the "aggressiveness" of doing otherwise. It's the same old game. Europeans will do little even for themselves, but still never be pleased by others.

quo vadis on :

It's not clear to me exactly what provoked Georgian actions in Ossetia, nor is it clear exactly what the Georgians did there, but if matters are left solely to the Russians and their former republics, any disagreement is going to end with Russian tanks moving in and smashing the place up. Having other parties with firm commitments in the region would tend to push all parties toward negotiated solutions instead. I believe that once the direction of politics in Russia became clear under Putin, the US hoped to build a regional alliance of democratic, generally pro-western countries out of the former Soviet republics and satellites by leveraging their common political and economic situation. If you noticed the other countries spoke up for Georgia, itís clear that there remains a sense of shared interests between these countries that is not shared by the EU heavies (hence the old Europe vs new Europe meme). Given that many of these countries are, or hope to be EU members, EU participation at some level is mandatory and NATO is an ideal umbrella under which to gather all parties. I think that the US believes that this would be in the best interests of the other NATO countries, but that the EU lacks the will, the means and/or the confidence to face up to the Russian challenge and would rather sacrifice their long term interests and the interests of countries like Georgia and Ukraine to achieve short term stability. The usual response when pushed to take geopolitical risks is that the EU isnít ready to take on responsibilities beyond their borders, but as with any project that will never be finished, the conditions for Ďreadinessí are arbitrary and selected for convenience, not need. Why Georgia? Because little friends matter. When you need to cripple a global terrorist network? Little friends. When you need a global logistics network to support combat, peacekeeping or disaster relief operations? Little friends. When you need to secure your energy supply by routing pipelines around someone prone to fiddling with the tap during tense situations? Little friends. Of course if you are European, you can just ask the US to take care of these things for you, but thatís what little friends do, not big friends who want to run the show.

SC on :

An interesting question you've raised. Quo vadis has responded to why Georgia matters: S. Ossetia is part of Georgia, after all. To answer your question of American support for a war with Russia over Georgia, my best guess would be, "No". But having said that, you've loaded the dice: You've hypothesized a "war" with Russia. If you pose the question that way, most people are going to think of a general conflagration and that is bound to amp opposition. This is not to advocate for a military clash; simply to say that there's much to unpack in your question. It's not clear to me that as bad a direct military clash in Georgia would be that it necessarily would lead to a Congressional declaration of war, tanks rolling through eastern Europe heading west, and nuclear warheads raining on both continents - and that is what "war" with Russia brings to mind. It's not clear to me that people generally would see a general, or wide-ranging war as a necessary consequence of a military clash and it would definitely matter how the clash started: Suppose the US decided to start flying in supplies to Tblisi and Russian fighters fired on approaching aircraft or fired on naval vessels determined on breaking a blockade of Georgian ports. Would that make a difference? I think it would. Would the European support you hypothesize, make a difference? I think it would; but, I can't say to what degree it would matter. If Europeans actively opposed US military intervention, then given that we're in the middle of Presidential election cycle, I'm pretty sure that domestic politics would affect the levels of support.

Kevi on :

'But why is the US then supporting NATO membership for Georgia?' Since I don't think we should be in NATO, I certainly don't think we should be encouraging anyone else to join. 'Do you think the Bush administration is acting honorably by supporting Georgia's NATO membership aspirations while not being willing to defend Georgia?' The consensus of opinion seems to be that the Georgians did indeed shoot first, and did so without consulting us or anyone else. So yes, I think we have acted honorably.

Pat Patterson on :

Kevin-I can only assume you have forgotten about Lend/Lease, US and UK anti-sub patrols in the Northern Atlantic beginning in the fall of 1939, the seizure of Iceland and something I thought had only been used against Japan an unofficial oil embargo against Germany. Mexico tried to snag the contracts but was warned off by Cordell Hull. There were literally hundreds of actions the US took prior to Pearl Harbor that could only be considered hostile. sinking German freighters trying to get to Europe from South America, seizing of German property in the US, loaning PBYs to help the hunt for the Bismarck. And probably the most hostile of acts the signing of the Atlantic Charter in 1941 that settled on the strategic plan for the war, Germany first then Japan.

Kevin Sampson on :

If this was inteded as a response to me at 7, I fail to see what any of it has to do with what I said.

Pat Patterson on :

Kevin-Good point, I think I may have not only posted on the wrong thread but misidentified who I was responding to. My apologies!

Omar on :

By the standards, the US set in the first Iraq-war (after their invasion of Kuwait), was that it is O.K. to invade a country to protect a neighboring country - especially if you have 'special interests' there. Russia is doing exactly this: Georgia invades South Ossetia, Russia, which has a financial interest in South Ossetia goes in and doesn't stop there (we have to remember: the US armee stood just kilometers outside Baghdad, before they retreated!). The only difference is that South Ossetia isn't a souvereign nation as defined by the UN, but they have all the reasons to think of themselves like that: they want to get out of the hands of Georgia!

Pat Patterson on :

There was a little matter of UN Resolution 678 and unless the definition of "...just kilometers" has changed the First Gulf War allied armies stopped more than 150 miles from Baghdad in essentially the middle of nowhere and sat their for weeks before being sent back to Kuwait! In hindsight not the smartest of moves but well within the authorizing powers of the UN and the US Congress. I think under the present circumstances the US has done about all it could do to at least help the Georgians keep their army intact. But recently there have been three things that might indicate some action on the US's part. Exclusive of diplomacy. First, many of the summer training missions for both the National Guard and the Air National Guard have either been cancelled or suspended. The local air base near to where is live is operating 24 hours a day. Even though I'm at least 10 miles away the noise is constant throughout the day and night though quite a bit less this morning. But close to the base is one of the two USN weapons depositories on the Pacific coast that have, according to rumour, tons of left over Soviet era munitions. One of the carrier battle groups of the 6th Fleet is coming back to the Mediterranean from the South Atlantic. While the last, simply through a friend in the Navy, is that many of the foreign NATO personnel have been put ashore as many of the destroyers and frigates of the 6th have left Italy. But as far as I can find out no move of these assets toward the Dardanelles has happened. Obviously some kind of cooperation with Turkey has been secured to allow the 6th to pass into the Black Sea else there would be no point in moving these ships closer to the area of conflict. If that is what the US is planning. But I suspect that if the Georgian government survives then there will be more formal ties made between the US and them.

SC on :

Training canceled? Was this planned or sudden? Suspended sounds like sudden. Interesting development for the 6th if it does move that way. Moving elements of the 6th into the Black Sea would be amp things quite a bit because I suspect it would almost require the tacit or overt support of both Turkey and the Ukraine. The question then would be whether Russia decides to go for broke and take Tblisi and it's airfield. The problem for Russia could be that if they stop short of fully conquering Georgia or destroying its military in detail they leave an opening for a country with time on its hands and a tremendous grudge sitting on southern border. If that does happen, be prepared for the chorus of "America made us/them do it." :)

Pat Patterson on :

I should have been a little clearer, this change in training is not part of any general mobilization. Many of the units have not been placed on standby nor activated but much of the air units have been pushed to the East Coast. From the people I talked with these changes were just over the last ten days or so. Technically the Dardanelles are international waters but Turkey renouced that ruling before World War II. It is better to ask nicely rather than create a nasty situation. Russia was very careful not to send any of its naval assets from its base in Syria but rather used only those from the Crimea. And I certainly agree with your last point in that it would make sense to either make Georgia a protectorate or at least destroy the military. The former might have some possibility but the Georgians, by retreating, have emulated George Washington in seeing that the survival of the country exists in the survival of the army.

SC on :

Well, probably in part an exercise in "prepping for all possible eventualities". It will be interesting to see if any elements of the 6th venture into the eastern Mediterranean. It wouldn't surprise me if only to give a little more credibility to the EU representatives. Time for jaw-jaw, I suppose, unless the Russians decide to go-for-broke either by blitz or siege.

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest comments and responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear, which enable you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

leftclick on :

One of the more friendly desasters for the Bush administration, I would say. In a way, a progress.

joe on :

Joerg You asked the question about why support a tiny nation so far away. I am both surprised and sadden by your remark. Then again what you have displayed and continue to display as your understanding of the cost of freedom, the remark is not that surprising. I guess you missed a lot ot The Chosen One's comments in Berlin. Why would the US spend millions and millions of dollars supplying a tiny city so far away?

StopGang on :

Why? That's simple. In 1939 many though that support of Poland and Chech Republic is not so important. Looks like the lesson is still not learned. Instead of money, US and european countries payed millions of lifes. What's the bigger price?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Well, the US kept Berlin alive with the airlift because so much was at stake for the US. I don't think Georgia has the same kind of importance to the US. I don't do rhetorical hotair about values. I am being realistic. I don't write stuff like it would be nice to end poverty, bring peace and we should all love each other. What's the point to talk hotair about wishful thinking. I noticed that you did not respond to my question: "Do you think Americans would support their president in starting a war with Russia in order to help a tiny Caucasus republic, whose reckless president has made a stupid mistake in dealing with rebels in poor part of his country?" Or am I supposed to take your comment as an answer of "Yes, absolutely." Aren't you overestimating your compatriots support for freedom in far away countries, if that requires sending your sons and daughters to war? The US did withdraw from Vietnam, Somalia etc. etc... I am sure you have read the commments from Pamela and other Americans on this blog, who wrote something like "This time, don't call us." Which let me to believe that Americans don't want to deal with another war. Perhaps someone has made a poll on this already. And what is the latest poll regarding withdrawal from Iraq and supporting Israel against Iran?

joe on :

Joerg To answer your question. Yes I do think they would support military action if it came to that. It really would not take a lot to stop this. Of course who would support this and with what would be key. I would not expect anything in the way of support from germany. In fact, germany presents as great a danger to the West as Russia does maybe even more so. The other key would be if Turkey would allow basing rights. But why was Berlin so important? Given where we are today and the results of that effort realpolitic the US should have let the russians have Berlin. Maybe the more current question is Berlin important enough today for the US to commit military forces? That question would also apply to the other Centeral European nations.

SC on :

"I don't do rhetorical hotair about values. I am being realistic." "I don't write stuff like it would be nice to end poverty, bring peace and we should all love each other. What's the point to talk hotair about wishful thinking." Dear, God! I hope you aren't planning a political career. You'll starve, man!!

drapierhubert on :

# 11 Joe Joerg is doubtless a follower of the real politik. Why to help a small nation? The freedom and the security are reserved for the powerful countries, too bad for the weak.

Joe Noory on :

Look - it's even simpler. Berlin matters to the Berliners. Europe is like this in large part - unless it's cheap and garners an affectionate image, there will be all manner of grand rationalizations to let the rest of the world hang. The realpolitik of taking powers for what they are on tyhe basic level is a resignation, when in reality, integrity and creativity are required.

StopGang on :

Just see answer above.

P. Mauboussin on :

"So why is not the US stopping Russia's "Hitler tactics"?" Well, if I remember correctly, the US didn't do anything immediately to stop the original "Hitler tactics" in 1939 or 1940 either. This is a good example of the typical sophomoric reasoning that goes on in Europe. You raise a false dichotomy as though the only possible courses of action are a) appeasement accompanied by pious platitutdes (the preferred European solution) or b) full scale war with Russia. Since (b) is impossible, you then conclude that (a) is the only course of action. Since the Georgian state has survived and has an unassailable border with Turkey, the US will simply continue to train and upgrade Georgia's military and wait for a more opportune moment. The more interesting issue to me is Merkel's statement clearly blaming the Georgians and ignoring the recent attacks coming out of South Ossetia that provoked the Georgian response. Is this the usual Teutonic impatience with 'little countries' that ought to shut-up and not disturb the bigger ones; or, has Putin bought and paid for the current German government's foreign policy just as he did the Schroeder regime's?

Fuchur on :

[i]the US didn't do anything immediately to stop the original "Hitler tactics" in 1939 or 1940 either [/i] And I guess we all agree that this was a desastrous mistake. [i]sophomoric reasoning ... false dichotomy... [/i] Escuse me for laughing. Who was it again who declared that "you're either with us or with the terrorists"? All these years American neocons have lectured the world that "nuanced" European diplomacy is wrong and morally depraved... And now you come along and declare sanctimoniously that there are more possibilities than just appeasement or full scale war?! [i]The more interesting issue to me is Merkel's statement clearly blaming the Georgians [/i] Naturally, there have been loads of statements regarding Georgia recently - so, frankly, I don't know what you're talking about. I for one am not aware of any statement "clearly blaming the Georgians". (Although I might add that IMO it's clear that Saakashvili acted extremely stupid.) [i]has Putin bought and paid for the current German government's foreign policy just as he did the Schroeder regime's? [/i] There were many very good reasons not to agree on everything with the Bush "regime"... so there's no need to construe inane conspiracy theories.

SC on :

Well, actually Fuchur, I'm rather sure that the Russians are clearly blaming the Georgians to the exclusion of anyone else. Or, do you mean anyone other than the Russians? Also, you shouldn't assume automatically that anyone who disagrees with you is a "neocon" - whatever that means: that would be rather Manichaean wouldn't it? Put aside the soundbites that you like to cite: Do you sincerely believe that it is now, or has been, the policy of the government of the United States, even restricted to the current administration, to categorize the foreign policy of European governments as that of appeasement or worse that the foreign policies individually or collectively are "morally depraved"; or that its own view is that the choices before all are restricted to appeasement or war?

Fuchur on :

[i]I'm rather sure that the Russians are clearly blaming the Georgians to the exclusion of anyone else. [/i] Oh, come on. Work with me. Isn't it obvious from the sentence I was responding to that I was talking about statements from Merkel and the German government? [i]you shouldn't assume automatically that anyone who disagrees with you is a "neocon"[/i] I never did. I merely pointed out the position of the neocons. I never even said that I disagree (IMO, they do have many good points). As for your question: There's no denying that the kind of moral grandstanding I'm talking about is frequently to be seen from American journalists, commentators, talk show hosts, bloggers etc. . Just look at Kagan already invoking Hitler again... Thing is: When you're talking about "a Hitler", then it's clear that there's no wiggle room for diplomacy or negotiations any more: It's fight or die. I repeat my point: In view of this, it's ludicrous that Mauboussin tries to put things upside down by claiming that it would be "typically European" to raise this "false dichotomy". In reality, this kind of arguing is overwhelmingly to be heard from American neocons. Whether this kind of thinking is also to be found within the Bush administration is another matter. Especially the way the Iraq war was handled gives me strong reason to believe so. I think they indeed were disgusted with the European or paleo-con (whatever you want to call it) way of handling things with intricate diplomacy, which they perceived as harmful appeasement. And they kinda saw Iraq as their chance to prove their point.

SC on :

Well, on second reading it is clear that you have Merkel in mind and that you are not characterizing Mauboussin as a neocon: Fast and sloppy; my bad. I do think it a rather broad brush you use when characterizing the "neocons" characterization of European foreign policy; but, as a matter of rhetoric, fine; this hardly an academic forum here. One small point I would make is this: Those you would probably identify as neocons - the usual suspects, in other words - are not the only ones drawing the analogy. Take for example Brzezinski, I don't think you would identify him as in that camp, would you? Hell, Brzezinski, as I noted elsewhere thinks that not only is the Hitler comparison apt, but even Stalin's invasion of Finland counts too. And I think - but can't back this up with a link at the moment - that Holbrooke has also drawn on the Hitler comparison. Historical analogies are going to grabbed at moment like these, and I don't think folks like Brzezinski are trying to insinuate by the analogy either that Europe is weak or that armed force by NATO, the EU, or the US should be employed in response. The assumption that the use of these analogies means "fight or die" just might be an issue of personal sensitivity. I don't deny that you can find somewhere a commentator calling for a military response - though, frankly, I haven't seen it - but I don't think that even among the so-called necons there's a call for this. Remember too that this all appears in a context when the use of "Nazi" has for years been debased to the point of becoming some generic epithet; particularly so, in the US. I'll take issue with one point you raise in your last paragraph; not as it applies to your belief, though perhaps it is the case. I don't think the Bush administration has had an ideological allergy to intricate diplomacy, not with Doha, six party talks, and the list goes on and on. But then how could they, they sit at the top of a government that while it changes with time has structures built around a historical memory of more that 60 years of unending diplomatic engagement over the entire planet. How anyone could think that any administration of the US government during this period was averse to, or worse, actively opposed to even the most intricate diplomacy, is beyond me. But, in particular, during the lead up to the war in Iraq, my recollection - and this stretches back into the final years of the Clinton administration - is that there was far, far, greater concern that diplomatic efforts were falling apart and had become more and more a venue for grandstanding, and venal politicians and leaders of all kinds. One can argue about that, but I can assure you that this was the clear take-away by people watching from the sidelines at the time and was much discussed; at least in the US. If there was disgust, it was with a sordid picture of cynical manipulation of diplomatic process. And for those tempted, save the snark about the last sentence applying to the Bush administration. All that came in the aftermath of the invasion, lack of WMD, yada, yada. The picture I describe preceded the invasion and clearly did not apply to either the Bush or the preceding Clinton administrations.

joe on :

Gee - the germans surely could not blame russia. Too much risk there.

jpg on :

The political philosophy of Joerg would thus be to be strong with the weak and weak with the strong.

Anonymous on :

That's Realpolitik, my dear. That is what the US (and other countries) have been doing for centuries. Why is the US making big statements about human rights violations in Cuba, while kissing the Saudis? For instance re human trafficking: [url]http://www.atlantic-community.org/index/Open_Think_Tank_Article/Human_Trafficking:_A_Global_Malady[/url]

jpg on :

Certainly. But the realpolitik led to the extreme compromise completely the ideals which the West claims to defend or to represent. A policy understood by the peoples necessarily has to integrate a moral dimension if we want that it is effective long-term.

Anonymous on :

Yes, the West "claims" to defend and represent those values, but the public at large just does not support it. The US pursues very honorable interests in Iraq: Democratization. But less and less Americans are willing to die for it. Thus it is irresponsible to start a policy (Iraq war, Georgia defense etc), if you know that it will take years and your people will not support it for years.

jpg on :

If we follow you up to the end, the western democracies would not thus have to intervene against the Nazi regime. In fact, if the Americans do not support any more the war in Iraq, it is because they understood that their government did not fight for the democratization but essentially for economic interests. This war was thus inequitable. So that people follow his leaders, you should not lie to him and you must maintain a coherence between the values which we defend and the politico-military objectives that we settled.

Marie-Claude on :

I find it laughable how our American friends always push moral principles ahead with their wars concerns, that is mainly powder into the naive eyes ; though the "objective truth" is in the back yards, we all know that in Europe, 2000 of life existence and conflicts lectured us, that is why when we intended to make war there wasn't such a moral claim but more an instinct for surviving and defend our interest, therefore politically incorrect for an american spirit

Joe Noory on :

Laughable? Really? What's IS all this atmoshperic "peace and love and tranzi end-of soveriegnty" nonsense that we hear parrotted out of Europe? Are yo admitting that those aren't really values, and are at best, uneducated narcissism? Sarko's mission was "permitted" to happen by the Russians to whitewash their role as opportunistic aggressor. The Russians promptly tore it up. Their tanks started rolling out deeper into Georgia a few hours ago. TV pictures. Handshakes. Getting a foreign leader to repeat some hypocrity demanded of them by Europe... These are what teh EU define as a great role in the world, and a diplomatic success. On the other hand, non-old-Europe appear to [url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121858625630435059.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks]have their heads screwed on straight[/url]: [i]If both sides agree to a cease-fire, Mr. Sarkozy promises that Europe will consider sending peacekeepers to enforce it. We trust he will find volunteers from the former Soviet republics, which see the writing on the wall if Russian aggression in Georgia is left unchallenged. The leaders of Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia flew to Tbilisi this week in a show of solidarity.[/i] What's missing here is the same thing that's missing in the mission to Sudan that's been "just about ready to go" for 4 years... no actual involvement by the large EU member states, just a use of their leverage to try to get (unsuccessfully) other states over whom they have a kind of economic power over, to deploy in their stead.

Marie-Claude on :

Joe, my friend, If I want to play on the cynical level, I would say that the Ossetian vs Georgians conflict is an inner affair, likewise it would be if our Basques or Brittons would rebel against a central french power (it did, a few centuries ago), now the problem there is that Ossetia had an autonomy statut since 1922 given by Stalin, and that they wanted their total independance since the end of the URSS mendate, the other problem with Georgia is that they are Russians speakers, Georgia was a bit presomptuous to say they are plainly Georgians, this should have been a topic for UN or wathever international organisation to discuss their statut. The Russians there played the retaliation part to what the western world did in the Balkans wars, ignoring the Serbs and promoting an independant Kosovo pro Great-Albania, the fact that this was their agenda is that they said that the President of Georgia should be pursued in La Haye for his faults within human rights. It is evident there that they wanted to show us that from now we have to count with them. Georgia unfortunately gave them the opportunity to demonstrate it. Well, now, if I want to stay optimist, then I would say that the Russians will stop there the lesson, hoping that our American friends won't step ahead for the next retaliation

Anonymous on :

"If we follow you up to the end, the western democracies would not thus have to intervene against the Nazi regime." Well, they did not intervene, when they learned about the planned genocide of the Jews in Germany. They did not intervene, when the genocide started. They only joined the war, when they were attacked themselves.

jpg on :

Your assertion is historically inaccurate. France and Great Britain declared the war in Germany, on September 3rd, 1939, because it represented a danger for the peace but also for the civilization (anti-Semitism,...). Furthermore, when the genocide began, after the conference of Wannsee which took place on January 20th, 1942, Great Britain, the Free French and the United States were always at war against Germany.

jpg on :

Just in case, I clarify that I am French and that a little of morality in policy is not exclusively American.

Pamela on :

I can't stay long for the discussion - bit of a family crisis going on (our beloved Beagle may be dying and we have not slept) - but I'll try to come back later. I have a question. Well, it's not my question, but I would like the opinions of people here. http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2008/08/why_did_we_not.html ---------------------------- The question is, how the hell did US intelligence assets miss the Russian Black Sea fleet movements? How did they miss the massive transport job of the troops and their logistical tail? They did not just materialize in position. It takes time and planning to make such moves. I will leave the detail of that to Perry as he seems to have been thinking about it in great detail. --------------------------- Good question. Apparently EVERYBODY missed it. Or maybe not. Maybe everyone just did nothing. However, this raises another question about the timing. This took some planning. I can't see how it could be in response to Georgia's idiocy (and idiocy it was). And no, I'm not getting into a shooting war with Russia without a damn good reason. And Georgian stupidity is not it. And if anyone is the praying type, please send up a few for our pup. Her name is Molly.

SC on :

While skepticism should obtain, this link is making the rounds: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/255/story/47631.html Maybe there was intelligence available and more going on diplomatically that heretofore reported. If this story is true, then it puts Saakashvilli's judgement in an unflattering light, to say the least, and makes the US appear more active diplomatically in the past and in the present. Clearly, it's going to take time to sort out the details of this mess. Hope you have a good outcome for Molly.

Nanne on :

Pamela, First of all, all the best of luck to you with your puppy. Note that the Russians have the 58th army in the region and may have had some ships out on sea. The distance from Sevastopol to Georgia, moreover, can be crossed overnight. There were apparently around 16 hours between the initial shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgians and the movement of the first column of 150 tanks and armoured vehicles into Georgia. In total, it seems about 10,000 regular troops moved into Ossetia, and a further unnamed thousand (about 5,000 from memory) into Abkhazia. This was a rapid and planned response, which indicates that... Russia had a contingency plan. Which is nothing to write home about. I note that the US Army 82nd airborne division, that John Barry apparently [url=http://www.newsweek.com/id/152012]wants to send to Georgia[/url], has the task of being able to intervene within 18 hours of notification, anywhere in the world. The Russians merely had to cross the border... Whether the US really did not notice that the Russians were moving in, after Putin had pretty much said that there would be retaliating, on Friday morning, I don't know.

SC on :

Lest anyone miss it, Barry isn't calling for the 82nd to engage with the Russians. He's proposing use of them as "peacekeepers" in a manner analogous to the current US deployment along Korea's DMZ. This is not so far fetched given Bush's declared intent to send humanitarian relief via air and sea. Here's Bloomberg's story indicating that US military air and naval transport is to be used: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=anGKoC74FVIA&refer=worldwide. This ties in with Pat Patterson's 8.1 report of conversations with naval sources relative to US naval movement in the eastern Mediterranean h. (Hey, we've got something of a news generating service here!) Also seems that Secretary Rice has a scheduled visit to Tblisi. By the way, for those who haven't looked at a map recently note that aside from trainers currently in Georgia. There is a sizable presence of US land force not far away: Iraq. One more reason why the US might have some interest in Georgia's fate; which also ties in with quo vadis' 7.1.3.2.2 comments on the concern with "little friends" when dealing with issues of counter terrorism.

Pat Patterson on :

Plus another carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf carrying 90 different air craft as well as the Med. Most importantly the F-18 which has a range of 2,000+ is well within creating a CAP(Combat Air Patrol) over The Ukraine and Georgia from either the Mediterranean or the Persian Gulf launch points. The other curiousity is that neither the USS Abrahm Lincoln nor the USS Harry Truman can be found using Google maps at this time. At this point, considering the overflight from Iraq to Georgia, it appears that the Turks are cooperating with the US. Maybe PM Erdogan has decided that those godless materialists in the US might indeed make better partners than the godless materialists in Russia. It also appears that the DDOS attacks against the country of origin(I think that's the correct term) .ge began two days before the Georgians acted in South Ossetia and three days before the Russians tipped their hands. The Ukraine also has a few of the government and news sites under attack. Now all we need is someone emulating Gavrilo Princip to start taking potshots at either Putin or Saakashvili.

SC on :

You know, Pat, for all the firepower in the region, I doubt seriously that the US has any interest in mixing it up: ultimately, just not important enough. Unless the Russians are now being driven by some kind of klepto-oil-nouveau-riche testosterone storm, this will eventually settle out with the Russians having made their point, the EU and the US their points, and the Georgians wondering, "What the Hell was the point?"

influx on :

The War Nerd's got an [url=http://exiledonline.com/war-nerd-south-ossetia-the-war-of-my-dreams/]interesting take[/url] on the situation.

Consul-At-Arms on :

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/09/re-georgians-we-helped-you-in-iraq-now.html

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