Thursday, August 14, 2008

Georgia, Russia, Hypocrisy, and Lies

There's a lot of misinformation being disseminated about Russia and Georgia and it's being parroted from the mainstream media to talk radio to the blogosmear. Before we can hope to understand what is really happening, we must know the facts.

FACT: The President of Russia is Dmitry Medvedev, not Vladimir Putin.

Calling Russia "Putin's Russia" is like calling the U.S. between 1989 and 1992 Reagan's America because President Bush the First invaded Iraq in the Gulf War. Putin is not the leader of Russia, plain and simple.

Putin increased Russia's GDP by 72%, decreased poverty by more than 50%, and wages rose more than 150% during his tenure. He brought Russia back from the brink of collapse and as a result is overwhelmingly popular among his people. As a result President Medvedev asked him to serve as Prime Minister. Hell, if Bush had half the economic improvement Putin did, we'd be looking to make him King 'W' let alone the prime minister.

Let us not forget that Putin peacefully stepped down as president after his second term as his country's newly minted constitution called for. Not exactly the act of a mad dictator as some would have you believe.

FACT: Georgia attacked first with a surprise invasion of South Ossetia.

On August 1, 2008 Georgia sent troops into the separative province of South Ossetia and killed six people and injured seven others. [1]

South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the 1990's during the collapse of the USSR. Since that time nearly 1000 Russian peacekeepers have been stationed there to try and quell the violence that erupts periodically. However, on this latest incident Georgian troops didn't just kill six people, five of the six were Russian peacekeepers.

Then, on Thursday August 7th, while the world's attention was directed toward Bejing, Georgia launched a surprise attack to try and reclaim South Ossetia, which has been independent since 1992. [2] Hundreds of civilians were reported killed.
"The timing suggested Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili may have been counting on surprise to fulfill his longtime pledge to wrest back control of South Ossetia"

As a result, Russia sent in an armor division to drive Georgia out of the independent province of South Ossetia. Since that time Georgian and Russian forces have been trading blows. [3]

FACT: The U.S. has invaded two sovereign nations in the past seven years, Afghanistan and Iraq, and is threatening a third, Iran.

Both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Republican Presidential Nominee, Senator John McCain have said that, "this is the 21st century and countries don't invade sovereign nations in the 21st century."

Clearly both of these individuals must have forgotten about the two invasions they were a large part of. Clearly they have forgotten about their crying havoc on Iran. They also must have both forgotten about the U.S. involvement in Kosovo.

Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh has come out saying no reasonable person can draw a correlation between the U.S. war with Iraq and the Russian invasion of Georgia. In part, he is right. We attacked a nation that had not attacked us or anyone else and Russia attacked a nation that invaded its neighbor.

But that's not why Rush believes what he does. He says that we can't connect the two because Saddam was a murderous dictator who funded terrorists by giving money to the families of suicide bombers. However, we don't recall that being the reason we went to Iraq. Wasn't there something about weapons of mass destruction?

If the Bush administration and the bipartisan supporters of the Iraq invasion had said we need to attack Iraq because he is giving $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers that have had their homes bulldozed by Israel do you really think Americans would have supported the invasion like they did? Of course not, because that has nothing to do with the interests of America or its own security.

The real problem here is that there are far too many people in high levels of our government and influential positions in our media that can not let go of their cold war mindset. A free and capitalistic Russia should be our strongest ally. Instead, we insist on putting missiles directed at Russia in their neighbors yards. We continue to call Putin a dictator despite the exact opposite being true.

Is Russia a perfect democracy? Of course not, but are we?

They've been trying freedom out for a little more than a decade. We've been trying it for nearly 250 years and we can't seem to get it right. What makes us think they should have no growing pains and what right do we have to take a holier than thou attitude? None.

The last thing we should be doing right now is flying U.S. planes and sailing our ships into Georgia. All we risk is escalating an already explosive situation. The best thing America can do, is stay the hell out of it.

It's too bad our so-called ally isn't doing the same. [4]


george said...

We now live in our celebrated multi-cultural society where we are taught we have to understand the historical struggles of people to see how they see the world today.

Along those lines it is not hard to see what is motivating the Russians. They were invaded by Napoleon and Nazi Germany from the West. Therefore, it is not surprising they want to ensure friendly nations along their western flanks.

The USA has lost < 2 million soldiers in all our wars from 1776 to 2008. In WW1, Russia lost almost 2 million in 4 years. In WW2 the USSR lost about 25 million people in 4 years.

The US is lucky we have two oceans to protect us from invasion as well as two friendly nations in Canada and Mexico on our land borders. Well maybe Mexico is not a good example here :) Russia is surrounded by potential invaders and it is not hard to understand their present day paranoia.

The US exercises the "Monroe Doctrine" to ensure foreign powers do not setup shop in the Western Hemisphere. It should not surprise us to see Russia do the same especially given their history.

If Russia starts to cross the Bering Strait into Alaska, then pass the ammunition. But what they are doing now is not world domination. It is setting the table to ensure their borders are surrounded by friendlies.

chris said...

Here is a interesting article at StratFor that explains events surrounding this conflict. It also touches on the Russian fears of being surrounded by Nato.